“a Twitter profile directory of inspiring women in the design industry.”
I’ve used a Multi-column app for Twitter for a few years now, as it is e one way for me to compartmentalize and prioritize the people and topics that I’m interested in. Of late, I vacillate between Tweetbot and the new, Twitter-owned Tweetdeck, both of which are solid, while having a couple of flaws that keep me from adopting either 100%.
This is a bit frustrating, but also provides an opportunity to break down what does and doesn’t work for me in each app, with the goal of outlining the changes that would result in a “perfect” app for my needs.
I’m not going to enumerate over all of the feature of each as their respective Web sites can sell the products. Instead, I’ll highlight some of the features and gaps that impact how I use the apps. For reference, I use both on two different screens: a 13″ MacBook Air and a 27″ iMac. I’ll leave a review of the mobile apps for another day.
Columns & the Timeline
Tweetbot’s column layout is clunky – if I add another column, I have to minimize and maximize the app in order for it to appear. I’ve found reordering of columns to be more intuitive with Twetdeck. Plus, in Tweetbot, the main Timeline column cannot be moved – I prefer to have the first column display a subset of the overall list of people that I follow. Tweetdeck provides this flexibility.
Tweetbot’s display of attached media, such as photos and videos is cleaner, showing the thumbnail to the right of the text. But, this is also the place where it shows my avatar when I tweet, so I don’t see the thumbnail. While this isn’t a huge deal, I post quite a few images via Flickr and Pinterest, so I like to see the thumbnail to confirm everything is working as expected.
Tweetbot’s integration of history syncing is a killer feature for me, as I access Twitter on four different devices. Tweetdeck lacks any form of cross-device history sync such as Tweet Marker
Muting & Filtering
Tweetbot’s Hashtag mute functionality is excellent and convenient to use. All it requires is that I right-click on a hashtag, select Mute and choose a duration. Tweetdeck’s filtering capability is strong, but it is buried, so it isn’t convenient to use when I want to mute a specific hashtag.
I miss the column functionality of the old Tweetdeck, which didn’t rely on Twitter lists, but instead allowed you to create a column that is post-filtered. The problem with using Twitter Lists, is that they don’t include @replies between two users that I follow. So, if @patramsey replies to @atxryan, that tweet doesn’t appear in a List, even though they are both in it. The conversation will appear in my main timeline. Neither app provides the functionality, but I still see it as a gap.
“customer service is no longer about telling people how great you are. It’s about producing amazing moments in time, and letting those moments become the focal point of how amazing you are, told not by you, but by the customer who you thrilled.”
It’s time for another installment of the State of the Hostile Web, a series that I’ve never officially started, yet have many entries examples of user-antagonism to highlight.
I don’t know about you, but for me, I immediately heard Kenny Rogers. Maybe that’s because I was born and raised in Texas, but that’s besides the point. This was a crystal clear opportunity to blast the Internet with a reminder of the awesomeness that is The Gambler.
To ensure I got it just right, I did a quick search for the lyrics, and the first site to pop up is called LyricsFreak (they don’t get any link love from me – you’ll see why), which displays the words in all of whiskey-soaked glory. But when I go to cut-and-paste them (you can call it lazy – I call it efficient), nothing is selectable. At all. The normal click-and-drag to highlight doesn’t work and the right-click menu is taking the day off.
I was perplexed. I was annoyed. But I also know a little bit about these here Web pages, so I figured that I would just view the page source to disable the code that was blocking me, or I might copy the lyrics from there.
…and I stopped dead in my tracks, confronted with this:
On a warm summer 's evenin' on a  train bound for  nowhere,
That’s the very first line of the song: “On a warm summer’s eve on a train bound for nowhere”.
Beyond disabling all of the standard methods for copying a bit of text, Lyric Freaks encoded every single character of the song.
Part of me understands that their goal is to not have other people copy their database in bulk. Assuming they paid for the transcription, it has value to them that they want to protect in order to make some money . I get that. I’m a happy little capitalist myself.
But this practice has instantly made the site useless to me, when there is a sea of lyric sites available. Beyond that, any developer can tell you that this won’t make the least bit of difference to someone specifically scraping the Lyric Freaks site to snag their content. None.
So, the people who actually use their service, see, and hopefully click, their ads and tell others to visit are hamstrung.
Which I used oh so cleverly in under 140 characters:
This is a very long blog post that boils down to the fact that LyricFreaks has lost site of what’s important, hurting prospective users before they even have a chance to turn them into fans. All this in an attempt to protect something, using a method that won’t work, making the Web a little less friendly and a little less usable.
User-hostile practices do not work on the Internet. Your site or service is one among many competitors, and it won’t take long for a competitor to eclipse your work, so do yourself a favor and build solutions that reward the user for visiting instead of making their day harder in an attempt to protect a castle made of sand.
For the last couple of years, one of the most important columns in my TweetDeck setup was the one tasked with presenting tweets that mention Refresh Austin. The search itself is pretty straightforward, though it includes several variants to account for all of the possible ways that people might reference our group:
refreshaustin OR austinrefresh OR “refresh austin” OR “austin refresh” OR @refreshaustin. This worked beautifully for a long time, but a little while back (I don’t know when exactly) I noticed that the feed included many tweets that have nothing to do with our group. A significant portion of these are written in languages other than English, so it’s been hard to detect a pattern.
The photo shows five recent tweets, three of which do not apply to our group at all. The key detail is that all three link to bit.ly/ra, which I set up a long time back to point to the Refresh Austin site. But in these cases, the problem appears to be due to the fact that a longer URL, which starts with ‘ra’ was cut off when the users retweeted or simply posted a tweet greater than 140 characters.
Twitter’s search now follows links within tweets to determine that they are both valid (non-spam, no malware) and also to provide additional context. So, in this case as bit.ly/ra resolves to RefreshAustin.org, the tweets appear in my search feed even though they have absolutely nothing to do with us.
So now I understand why this happens, but I do not have a solution for it. While I do not want to filter out tweets that contain the bit.ly/ra link as it is a valid link, I’d love to reduce the overall noise. This is a bit frustrating, but seems solvable with a bit of time and effort. Should I figure something out, I’ll post it.
“If this then that” – this looks awesome and maps against a couple of different services I use and hacks I’ve put into place to automate parts of my digital life. Hopefully I’ll get an invite soon