Tag Archives: web

Firefox 28 Nightly “Australis”

Screenhot by getaustralis.com

Almost a year after the first mockups, the new Mozilla design paradigm “Australis” finally made it to the Firefox Nightly build. Time to leave the safe Beta channel behind and take a deep dive into the future (a stable Australis release can’t be expected before spring next year).

The most obvious change is the rounded tabs, resembling Thunderbird or Firefox for Android (they don’t look like Google Chrome at all, in my opinion). The menu button has moved to the right and now contains a collection of icons instead of classical menu entries. Extensions can also be moved here from the navigation bar, the separate extension toolbar at the bottom has been removed.

Preferences unfortunately have not changed much, but after 10 years you probably know were to look for a setting. Advanced options like about:config and userChrome.css are still available, too, so the simplification of the UI does not mean a loss of features or flexibility.

Sadly the new Firefox generation still has differences between Windows and Linux versions, there are different texts, icons and keyboard shortcuts, and I really can’t understand why tabs in title bar still don’t work on Linux, it was 14 versions ago that the feature was first introduced in Firefox 4 for Windows, and Chrome and Opera have been doing it for years … but, as always, there’s an extension for that, HTitle hides the OS window decorations (officially just for Gnome 3, but “Legacy Mode” works for Cinnamon and probably for other desktop environments, too).

The other addons I’m using work fine with Australis, too, like the Moment start page, WOT, AdblockPlus, FireIE (Windows only), Disconnect, HTTPS Everywhere, and so on. Some icons are not yet placed perfectly in the navigation toolbar or the menu, but extension developers have plenty of time to fix these glitches until the stable version comes out. The current Firefox Nightly is surprisingly stable for a pre- alpha version, all web sites work perfectly and performance is great, especially startup time on Linux with Pipelight plugins has improved a lot.

Overall Australis is something to look forward to, for my part I’ll stay on Firefox Nightly for the time being, and I hope the changes really make it into Firefox 28, which would mean they would be released into the stable branch by next March. Even if you don’t like the new UI there’s no need to be afraid, the extension Classic Theme Restore reverts to the “old” Firefox 4+ interface.

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Diaspora revisited

After one year as community project, Diaspora has just released version 0.2 – time to revisit the project that has been aiming to be “a better Facebook” since 2010.

The new release offers various improvements, the most remarkable probably being a new single message view that includes comments again and an automatic preview for links.

diaspora020

Compared with pump.io, Diaspora has lots of nice features, you can preview posts, use Markdown for formatting, search for users and tags, follow tags, block single posts or users, mark posts or your whole account as NSFW and share web pages or pictures with the bookmarklet or Firefox addon.

After a couple of days with the new Diaspora I’m fully reconciled. A lot of bugs have been fixed and the new set-up as  community driven non- profit organization is probably the way the Diaspora project should have been organized in the first place.

There are still some glitches with Federation and comments on shared posts are still not merged with the original post (two things pump.io does exceedingly well), but the overall experience is really pleasant and the community is still (or again ?) more lively and diverse than in other alternative social networks.

I don’t know if Diaspora is a better facebook yet, but for me it’s definitely worth considering again. And please don’t judge it by the performance of joindiaspora.com or diasp.org – other, smaller pods are running much better, so pick your favourite from podupti.me or diasp.eu/stats and give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.

InoReader – A Google Reader Replacement

inoreader

After trying out Netvibes, Feedly, Digg Reader, The Old Reader, self hosted TT-RSS and a couple of other services I already forgot, I finally settled on InoReader as my Google Reader replacement of choice for the foreseeable future.

So why InoReader – first and foremost, because it fulfills all my requirements:

  • Single Stream of News
  • Runs in browser on the desktop
  • GReader shortcuts (j,k,Home)
  • Dedicated Android App (or at least a good mobile page)
  • Hosted (synced across locations / devices)
  • Registration possible without Google / Facebook / Twitter / … account
  • Considerably fast (or at least faster than tt-rss or The Old Reader)
  • Sharing option to a public RSS feed (to put into my pump.io account via brdcst.it)

InoReader does all that out of the box, the only thing which has to be configured manually is sharing “Favorites” (starred articles) in a public RSS feed (Preferences / Folders).

Another configuration option I’d recommend, is setting the “Disable all social features” check box on your profile, if you don’t use the integrated FB / Twitter / … integration this makes the web UI look a lot cleaner.

InoReader also provides an Android app, which is very clean and to the point, you can read your RSS and star articles, which is all I really need (of course it works offline, too, once the articles are downloaded). Here’s a screenshot:

Conclusion: InoReader is fast, realiable and configurable, it has everything an RSS reader needs. If you’re still looking for a Google Reader replacement, look no further.

yourls.com – a great lightweight startpage

 

 

yourls

Update: YOURLS renamed itself to STARTME.com and added RSS support.

YOURLS.com is a smart little tool to collect some links and structure them into pages, not more, not less.

The most obvious use for YOURLS is to use it as browser start page, with a (customizable) search bar and your favourite links. There are no widgets and no speed dial images, which has the advandage of making the site extremely fast, even on slow internet connections or mobile. With the browser extensions you can even use it as your default start / new tab page.

You can structure your page into different lists and create new pages that can either be private (default) or shared, which makes YOURLS an easy little cross- browser bookmarking and bookmark sharing solution.

YOURLS is not a jack of all trades like Netvibes or the soon to be discontinued Google IG, but it does that thing it does really well. So if you’re looking for a minimal startpage, look no further.

Pump.io / Identi.ca: The next federated social network

The year is 2013 AD and all social networking is occupied by Facebook and Google. Only one small village of indomitable Gauls holds out against the invaders, still fighting to create an open, federated social network.

After Diaspora degenerated into a strange mix of Pinterest and Powerpoint (before being abandoned by its creators for the infamous Makr.io), there is a now a new attempt by Canadian developer Evan Prodromou, who also created Identi.ca and Status.net.

pumpio

On July 10 Identi.ca finally migrated from Status.net to the new Pump.io software. Unlike its predecessor, Pump.io is not just a Twitter clone but a full fledged federated social network. Right now the feature set is pretty basic, there is support for formatted text notes and photo uploading, a games API (demonstrated by Open Farm Game) and an authorization system similar to the one Plus stole from Diaspora (with “lists” instead of circles, this time).

Tags and groups are still missing, same as web image or video embedding. But more important than features, Pump.io has a users. Three days after the Identi.ca conversion Pumplive shows over 28000 users on 52 different instances. That doesn’t sound much compared to compared to 800 million Facebook users, but it’s enough for a lively conversation.

To encourage federation, Identi.ca does not accept new registrations, but you can join the fun on a number of other public instances available under the pump.io try it link (there’s a number of instances, so if you don’t like the URL just “try it” again).  Without groups and tags you need to follow people to get posts – good starting points for finding people are Evan’s follower list or Jpope’s directory of users know to his own Pump instance.

Old status.net clients like Mustard are not working anymore, but a number of clients is already in development, including Like / Hate “buttons” for the web and two pretty good Android apps called Puma and Impeller.

While not yet a replacement for Facebook or even Tumblr, Pump.io is definitely one of the more promising approaches to open and federated social networking. Check it out and follow me on https://fmrl.me/axel (https://identi.ca/axel668 is now inactive).

Google Reader replacement: The Old Reader + gReader

Update3: I have moved on to InoReader (blog post here)

Update2: T.O.R. is staying public after all and migrating to new high performance hosting in the US

Update: T.O.R. team is giving up and making the site private … for me that’s back to Netvibes, even if they don’t have an Android App 😦

With Google Reader being discontinued on July 1st, I took another chance to look at Google Reader alternatives for the web / desktop and Android. On the desktop I was already using Netvibes for a while, but I was always annoyed at the lack of an Android app or at least a decent mobile web page.

Finally, I settled on a combination of The Old Reader for web, and gReader on Android (which supports The Old Reader as backend).

The Old Reader has a simple, neat UI which reminds a lot of the “old” Google reader before the Plus- style remake in 2011.

gReader is a very popular Android app originating from the days before Google’s own reader app was published. It has offline support and a million options for customizing, although I’m getting on quite well with the standard setup (except for switching to the “dark” theme).

gReader also supports Feedly, and in my opinion is much more convenient than Feedly’s own app. There is a paid “pro” version, too, but until now I am not missing anything in the free version and ads are limited to the detail view of an article, so for me right now it’s not worth the $3.99 for an upgrade.

Unlike other alternatives (Feedly, Digg Reader) The Old Reader doesn’t require a Google or Twitter logon to work, but you can simply register by email, which was important for me.

If you are looking for more Google alternatives, take a look at this older post, which is constantly updated to reflect new developments.

Pheed – the cool kids’ social network

Pheed web, by themarketingblog.co.uk

The hottest new entry to the world of social media is called Pheed. Started in October 2012, Pheed can best be described as a mashup of successful social services like Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Youtube, Instagram or Ustream.

At first glance the UI resembles a more stylish version of the Tumblr dashboard, with a lot of additional features like (dashboard) themes, SSL support, Twitter / Tumblr / Facebook integration, like, dislike (!), comments (the thing I miss most on Tumblr) and even live video feeds. Unlike most other social media offerings you can charge for access to a feed or even your whole channel, with Pheed keeping half of the profits. Although I haven’t seen much paid content yet, this makes Pheed the first social network that has a business model at all (if you don’t count spamming users with ads).

For mobile usage, Pheed has very nice Android and iPhone apps:

Pheed mobile, by linkedin.com

“Remixing” (= resharing) posts is easy, but getting outside content in is pretty hard (only exception: Youtube vids). Something like the excellent Tumblr bookmarklet or at least an option to embed images from URL would be much appreciated, so you don’t have to download / re- upload every pic you want to “pheed” into your “channel”. The queue option is also missing, i.e. your pheeds always get posted directly.

But what really sets Pheed apart is not features, but “Pheeders” – Pheed is where the cool kids are: Surfers, boarders, sprayers, photographers, models, musicians and celebrities (e.g. Miley Cyrus, Snoop Dogg Lion, Paris Hilton, Cypress Hill’s B Real, Chris Brown, Ashley Tisdale, …) and a lot of teens who like to hang out with that kind of people. While this makes for a rather unique and fresh atmosphere, it’s probably not everyone’s cup of tea.

So is Pheed the next big thing in social networks ? It does make Tumblr look old in a way, but only time will tell if that’s enough to make a difference … until then, draw your own conclusions 😉