New Year Resolution: Clean up social networking

I don’t do New Year resolutions. Honest. I mean, it’s just one more day and a public holiday to allow us to nurse our hangovers in peace, right? Still, I know plenty of people do them, but if you think you’re going to make yourself over, you’re in for a rude shock. Instead, I’m picking a few minor changes to make with realistic goals that I think will improve me overall.

There’s no doubt that social networking is both useful and fun. But it’s become a bit of a hodgepodge of interconnected services that overlap, never find wide-enough traction to be useful, or are just plain dangerous. I’m not going into another rant about what I do and don’t like — this is about personal preference. I am, however, going to clean up my act and start walking the walk.

fuckingloveFacebook

The big one. I’m going to spend January on a self-imposed exile from Facebook. Somehow in the last 12 months, it’s gone from photos of parties, weddings and babies to reshares from irrelevant celebrities (whose posts I suspect are largely ghost-written), and pages like “I fucking love fridays, like if you agree” (see to the right; I suspect are largely spam farms). All of a sudden, I discovered that I wanted to know what my friends had for lunch today. Wasn’t that the point? To stay in touch and keep up to date?

I also had a couple recent run-ins with the way FB handles privacy. While I’ll admit an amount of user error, the service actually makes it easy to screw things up. Rather than risk further stuff ups, I think that it’s definitely time for me to put up or shut up on this. However, before I jump ship there are things that I need to do.

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Social synchronising

The proliferation of social networking has made keeping everything synchronised very difficult. Whether you’re on Facebook, Livejournal, Twitter, Flickr, Digg, run a separate Blog, or any other of the million offerings out there, it’s hard to keep them all up to date.

And for the borderline obsessive-compulsives like me, the iPhone makes it a whole lot messier. Now that I can update things from anywhere at any time, I need to find the best way to make this whole business efficient and simple. I’m still researching which apps will be best, but I would like to make some observations.

Tweetdeck is a great Twitter client. It supports multiple accounts, and can sync your settings across multiple PCs, making it a must if you tweet from work and home. It uses the Adobe Air runtime, which makes it easily cross-platform. It also has built in access to picture tweeting and URL shortening services.

Furthermore, there is an iPhone client which adapts the same interface to the iPhone pretty well, but doesn’t have the Facebook updating feature (yet, I hope).

Another feature I would like to see in Tweetdeck is Flickr uploading. I’ve used these instructions from Obsessable on enabling Flickr2Twitter, but having it all built in to one place would be nice. I’d prefer it to Twitpic.

So, what networks do you use, and how do you manage them all?

iPhone 3GS

Last week, I finally joined the 21st century and got an iPhone. My mobile contract was up, and it seemed like a natural progression from the iPod Touch. I’d already considered some alternative smartphones like the XXX and the YYY, but niggling concerns about Mac compatibility and screen resolution singled out the one choice I could make.

Phone

I don’t actually talk on the phone much. It’s just a function of the way I operate socially that I’m a minimum-spend telephony user. As such, I haven’t really noticed anything outstanding about this function of the device. That being said, I do like the “conversation” view of text messages, and the easy integration of the Address Book.

Internet

I’ve read a number of complaints about connectivity and the iPhone. Overall, I can’t say I’ve run into them. Occasionally I’m forced to reboot the thing when it can’t get on to the net via 3G, but I’ve found that’s mostly a problem with the “dialling” in, and that giving it a moment can clear it up. I suspect it’s more a function of my carrier than the iPhone.

Mobile Safari makes web browsing almost as good as a real PC. It renders things well, and is pretty speedy.

Apps

I’ll go into what apps I’m using in a later post, but for now I want to mention an interesting phenomenon: my Twitter use has increased due to actually having a good interface while on the move. My venerable Nokia 6110 just couldn’t make Twitter a good experience, but the large screen and easy keyboard make Twitter much more accessible. Likewise for Facebook.

Finding an app in the App store, however, is a royal pain in the butt. It might be cheap, and it might be useful, but if I can’t find it, there’s no point. Apple really needs to address that.

Earphones

When I got my first iPod (a venerable 1st-gen Shuffle), I swore by the earphones. They didn’t distort, they produced a decent quality sound. Naturally, they eventually broke down, but by then I was using my Nano, and quietly moved on to in-ear buds. I hadn’t realised until trying the earphones that came with the iPhone how much a difference in-ear makes to sound quality. I find that with the classic whites, I am constantly pushing them further into my ear to capture more bass.

It’s a shame, because I want access to the remote control and microphone on the iPhone buds. Instead, I’m going back to my in-ears.

Camera

The built in camera is pretty good. The touch-to-meter function is a godsend in variably lit conditions, and helps deliver relatively clear photos. The only drawback is the lack of flash. Of course, one photo with a flash would probably deplete the battery, so I guess we can’t have everything.

Battery

This is probably the iPhone’s weakest suit. I seem to be unusual amongst mobile phone users in that charging my phone is a habit. I just plug in when I go to bed and don’t have to think about it. Nevertheless, all previous phones that I have owned have not actually needed that discipline. The iPhone on the other hand is at least 50% down at the end of every day. I don’t even consider myself a heavy user, given that I have internet access at work (and am actually working most of the time), so I can see this being a major problem for most people out there.

Conclusion

Overall, the iPhone is a solid consumer-grade smartphone. It integrates well with the Mac’s iCal and Address Book applications, though the lack of task management feature does get on my nerves. Nonetheless, most of my experience with the iPhone has been great. The only real downfall is the lacklustre battery life. I now carry a charge cable with me wherever I go.

Jumping on the bandwagon after all

Just quickly. In an effort to stay “hip” and “with it” (despite turning 29 today), I have joined the Twitter crowd.

It’s a nifty little thing that, on the surface, seems to be nothing more than a very limited self-promotion platform. “Microblogging”, it’s called; posting every little minutiae about your life. It’s the Facebook status update, without the Facebook. Continue reading