Sunday, March 29, 2009

Where Am I?

Just got back from a wonderful week skiing in the Alps, as any of you who follow me on Facebook will know.

This vacation has seen a shift in the way I record my personal comings and goings for posterity. In the past, I would usually take a laptop with me to enable me to offload pictures and videos from my cameras and do the odd bit of blogging while I am away.

Now I take a Belkin card reader with an old 20GB iPod to offload pictures (plus with 4GB SD cards costing $1 on eBay why not just take a whole bunch of them with you and swap them out as needed?) and my iPhone gives me all the on-line access I need while I am away. The laptop stays at home these days.

But whilst the iPhone is great for ad hoc browsing and keeping up with e-mails and social networks, it leaves a lot to be desired on the blogging front due to the lack of normal keyboard (I WISH Apple would let us use Bluetooth keyboards on these things, but that's not even going to be an easy option in the new 3.0 software).

Hence my switch to "micro-blogging" technology such as Twitter and Facebook. For those of you not up to speed with Twitter, it provides the ability to make short 140 character posts for when a full-blown blog entry is simply overkill. I use Twitter extensively to post quick tips, interesting links and short rants and opinions. Although it is easy enough to sign up for Twitter, you don't need an account to follow me on there - you can see the 10 most recent posts on my blog page in the sidebar, or just point your web browser to @bwalder and you can see everything I have posted.

As you can see, I tend to use Twitter for "serious" or "techie" stuff in the main (though not always). Personal stuff will usually go on Facebook, which provides the same micro-blogging capabilities via its status updates. Once again, you can point your browser to my Facebook profile here, but this time, unfortunately, you DO need an account to view it. Bummer, huh?

If only there was a way for you to view all of this stuff in one place. Hey, there is! It's called FriendFeed.

FreindFeed is an "aggregator", which means it can pull together lots of different stuff such as blog entries, status updates, micro-blogs, picture uploads, etc, etc and present it in a single place. No account or special software needed - just go here to view my FriendFeed feed.

There you will see my Twitter posts, Facebook status updates, LinkedIn updates, Goodreads book recommendations, picture uploads to Flickr and Picasa, links to interesting news stories, YouTube videos, and even my blog entries (like this one) will make it over there.

The list can look daunting at first, but you can click on any one of the service icons at the top of the page (next to where it says "Filter:") in order to view only posts from that service. So clicking on the little"F" will show you all my Facebook updates, and nothing else. Clicking on the "Feed" tab at the top of the page will clear the filter and show you everything again.

If you only visit one place to see what I am up to, FriendFeed should probably be the one. But if you want to continue dropping by my blog, all my other social network links are in the sidebar on the right. If you don't see a blog update for a few days but you notice recent Twitter posts, then it is always worth popping over to Facebook or FriendFeed to see what I am up to.

I would encourage you to take a look at these sites (take a trip through all of those Social Network links in my blog sidebar), not only to keep up with what I am doing (yawn!) but to get a feel for what they are about and have a think about how you could use them yourself. They can be fun, and a lot less onerous than keeping up with a full-blown blog - especially when you are on vacation and have better things to do!

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