7 April 2007

My software and social networking websites

I know it's bit of a busman's holiday but I've spent the start of the Easter break sorting my technology out on my PC. This is the oldest of five PCs in the house and is the only one running Windows98, the others run XP, MAC OS and Ubuntu. Despite this low technology base I can do all that I want so I'm in no rush to upgrade.

I have been using Netscape 7.2 for email and browsing for some time but this is a technology dead-end (I did upgrade to Netscape 8 once but it was far too slow on my PC) so I have now moved to Firefox and Thunderbird. Both of these are based on the same source at Netscape so the user experience is much the same and the installs copied most of the settings across. The only minor problem was that Thunderbird copied my message filters to the wrong email accounts, but I can live with this.

I use OpenOffice for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations, and had great pleasure in uninstalling Office97 recently. There is a new release of OpenOffice out, v2.2, and I installed this as well.

Having got the PC software sorted I did a bit of work on my social networking websites. Much of this was prompted by David Gurteen whom I am continually indebted to. Buying him the occasional gin and tonic seems scant reward for this.

I am now using del.icio.us to manage my bookmarks. The main advantages of using this over the browser bookmarks menu are that it uses tags and it's server based so is not tied to one PC. There is also the bookmarks sharing element but that's something to experiment with on another day.

I am using Bloglines to aggregate RSS feeds from the blogs I read and sites like BBC News to one website. Basically, this presents new postings on the websites that I monitor much as Thunderbird presents new emails. RSS, the technology that does this, is very common and is used by most major websites, like the BBC, Guardian, Business Week etc. Even UK Government sites like DfES and DCLG use it, though DoH is a notably exception and the lask of an RSS feed was the main criticism of the site made by doctors in a recent survey.

I still use MyBlogLog but now that I have Bloglines for reading blogs I use MyBlogLog for monitoring my sites' statistics and, more importantly, seeing who else is interested in the sites that I subscribe to so that I can see whether other sites that they subscribe to are also of interest to me. It's like getting like-minded friends to recommend books or albums to you.

There is still a role for MySpace and I use my account there mainly for keeping track of the bands that I am interested in.

My Facebook account is currently only really used for communicating with the Czech and Slovak community in London.

As a consultant I have to have an account on LinkedIn but this seems to be a network that you only go to when you need to, i.e. when looking for somebody with specific expertise, rather than for social interaction.

That may seem like a long and complex list of social networking websites but I acquired them over time, I have found them all to be useful and they are all low-maintenance.

If any of this technology is new to you then I recommend that you give it a go and see how it works out for you. I went in with no great expectations but am now a firm advocate ~ hence this post!

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