RockMelt – your new social browser

Posted in General, Technology on December 19th, 2010 by Demitri Baroutsos

So for about a month now I’ve been testing the new social browser called RockMelt. It’s still in beta and there are a few kinks to iron out and some features that should be included but so far it’s a great browser.

ABOUT ROCKMELT

Well, the browser is great to start off with because it’s a custom build of Google’s Chromium (development build of Chrome) browser and integrated into Facebook (you need a Facebook account to log into and use RockMelt). Like I said, it’s a social browser – integrating your browsing and social media interaction all in one place.

So what do you get in the browser that makes it social? Two applications are currently integrated into RockMelt, Facebook and Twitter. Otherwise, it just wouldn’t be a social browser, now would it.

EDGES

As I mentioned earlier you need a Facebook account so you get all your notifications and news feed from Facebook on the right hand side of the browser – the sides are referred to as Edges in RockMelt.

The top icon is for your invites you get to dish out to friends whom you also want to introduce to RockMelt.

The next icon is Google’s URL shortener extension which I added – yes a lot of Google Chrome extensions work just the same in RockMelt as they do in the latest Chrome browser.

Next is the GMail Labs Notifier extension which gives me a counter of unread emails and the next one is a RSS Feed of my Gmail Inbox which shows a preview of new emails as well as an unread count.

The next two icons relate to Facebook. The first is my notifications icon (when people comment on something I commented on, or my status update, or liking a status update or comment I made). The second is my Facebook news stream, which you see on the Facebook home page when you view your Most Recent news stream items.

Below that is the Twitter app which you can enable in RockMelt by supplying your Twitter username and allowing RockMelt to access your Twitter account. This means you get to view your Twitter stream, reply, re-tweet and update your own Twitter status.

The next is simply another Chrome extension to capture portions of browser screens for sharing with others.

The last icon on the right edge is where you can change which RockMelt apps are active or not as well as where you can include an RSS stream of the recently visited websites.

Yup, RockMelt identifies RSS streams of websites as you visit them so that you can include them on the right edge and get updates as and when they’re made available. I still prefer all my RSS feeds in Google Reader though.

The great thing about this is that you can be browsing a website, reading some RSS feed article and you can still keep an eye on your social stream. Once there are new unread items in either Facebook or Twitter you can see the count as an icon overlay. Simply click on the icon and you get a window appearing with the unread (and read) items.

The other great thing is that a number of third party sites are integrated by RockMelt so that for example if someone tweeted a photo and posted it through YFrog it automatically appears in the stream for the user that posted it, you don’t even have to browse to the image hosting site to view the photo.

The same applies to YouTube videos tweeted or included in a Facebook status update. The player is embedded into the stream so that you can play it from there.

The left edge is where you get to see, in real-time, all your Facebook friends whether they’re online, idled, or offline on Facebook. By clicking on the avatar of your friend you can open up a chat window to chat to them (through Facebook) and/or send them a Facebook inbox message.

Avatars with a green icon next to it means the user is currently active on Facebook and their Facebook chat is set to online so that you can chat with them or send them a Facebook message.

Those with orange icons have been idle for a certain period of time on Facebook so they may not be available to  chat but you can still send them a message.

Those that have grey icons are no longer online on Facebook or like me, are not logged into Facebook chat right now. I prefer to keep my real-time conversations in Skype, my preferred instant messaging platform.

The thing that I found irritating/intrusive to my browsing was the constant shuffling if avatars as people came online and/or went offline on Facebook so I use RockMelt with this edge hidden (ctrl+shift+left arrow to toggle the left side, use the right arrow to toggle the right edge or ctrl+shift+space to toggle both edges).

Depending on how active/inactive you are on Facebook and/or use the Facebook Chat facility you may or may not use this feature in RockMelt.

If, however, you want to see a specific friend’s wall only you can click their avatar on the left edge and click the recent activity tab. Click on your own icon on the top left to update your Twitter/Facebook status.

But that’s one of the great things about RockMelt is you’re not forced to use features you don’t want or don’t need. It’s customizable!

SHARING

Another feature that makes this a great social networking tool is the in-line sharing of stuff that you’re currently reading. So someone emailed you a link to a funny YouTube video, simply open it up in a new tab in RockMelt and check out the video. You think it’s worth sharing to others on your Twitter and/or Facebook stream? Great, hit that Share button at the top, to the right of the address bar.

You’ll then be presented with a Twitter/Facebook share window (you get to toggle between the two if you have both apps active in your RockMelt browser).

Just like the share option in Facebook you get to pick a thumbnail (if you wish) to include in your post and add your own comment – simple as that, without leaving the page you’ve just been reading/watching.

And for Twitter, RockMelt have acquired the me.lt domain to automatically shorten URLs for you and automatically pick up the title of the page you were viewing and include it in the Twitter status update. Of course, you can edit this as you wish, add hash tags, etc, before actually posting it as your Twitter status update.

And in case you missed it, there’s a search field at the top as well, so you can search even without leaving the current page you’re viewing since the results are shown in a window. Of course you can open any result (or the entire list of results)  in another tab.

Could it be any simpler?

But don’t just take my word for it – try it out for yourself. You can also watch the promo video below which screencasts some of the features I’ve spoken about above, and more.


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VOTD: Facebook Relationship Etiquette PSA

Posted in Funny, General, Technology on April 16th, 2009 by Demitri Baroutsos

This is a very important Public Service Announcement from YourTango about relationship etiquette on the electric friendship generator called Facebook. [via YourTango]


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Get yourself fired in 140 characters, or less!

Posted in General on March 24th, 2009 by Demitri Baroutsos

At the beginning of this month, I posted an article about having your own brand on the Internet. Last night on MSNBC was an article posted about a guy that tweeted something about his pending new employer, that quite possibly, would have lost him the new job.

Why? Because he tweeted the following:

Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.

Then, literally, moments later someone tweeted the following:

Who is the hiring manager. I’m sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the web.

He tried changing his profile to private so that it would not be included in the public timeline but the Internet is a funny place, with caching and all. Someone even created a website in honour of him, nicknamed CiscoFatty.

It seems people just don’t understand that if you say something on the Internet, and especially so on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter that someone you may not want to find out, is bound to find out. But my boss isn’t on my friend’s list, I hear you say. Yes, that may be so but the theory behind six degrees of separation means that your boss is connected to you, whether you like it or not.

The MSNBC article includes some great “case-studies” of people that have gotten themselves into serious trouble by virtue of what they said online.

Thanks for the link, Baldricman.


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Facebook being governed in an open way

Posted in General, Technology on February 27th, 2009 by Demitri Baroutsos

Earlier this month there was much furor over Facebook’s revised terms of service which they subsequently reverted back to the original and also opened up communicatin amongst their users to get feedback w.r.t the terms of service. Very positive turnaround, and a nice idea, but like someone said, it’s tough enough keeping order in a meeting with a dozen people but is it practical and possible to do so with millions in the meeting room?

With this in mind, Facebook have now opted to publish two documents, Principles and Statement of Rights and Responsibilites, which will replace the current terms of service. You can read both documents in their respective groups by following each link.

We’re honored that so many millions of people around the world have decided to bring Facebook into their lives to share information and experiences with friends and loved ones. We understand that gives us an important responsibility to our users.

History tells us that systems are most fairly governed when there is an open and transparent dialogue between the people who make decisions and those who are affected by them. We believe history will one day show that this principle holds true for companies as well, and we’re looking to moving in this direction with you. – read more on the Facebook blog.


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Facebook owns you, well your data

Posted in General, Technology on February 17th, 2009 by Demitri Baroutsos

facebook-logoThere’s a lot of uproar on the interwebs in this week around Facebook’s new terms of service. It’s been talked about here, here, here and here … and many more. Why? Well below is an excerpt of the updates TOS:

 

“You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof.”

and this was just added…

“You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content.”

So basically what it boils down to is the fact that Facebook can do what they want with your content you’ve uploaded to your profile. Well, unless you decide to deactivate your account, but then they still retain the right to keep archived copies of your data (most probably for data mining purposes).

What people don’t get is, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and in the same light, no such thing as a completely free service. You’re not paying Facebook to use their service so they need to get something out of it (yeah they make a tonn out of advertising too, but they’re still not making a profit, yet).

If you’re the type to do things that could be used to incriminate yourself, then you shouldn’t be using or even near the Internet, in fact a computer or any electronic device – then again, if you are and you’re reading this – FAIL!
:)

Update 18 February 2009: Facebook seems to have retracted it’s TOS and reverted to the previous version until they’ve “solved the problem”

Over the past few days, we have received a lot of feedback about the new terms we posted two weeks ago. Because of this response, we have decided to return to our previous Terms of Use while we resolve the issues that people have raised. For more information, visit the Facebook Blog.

If you want to share your thoughts on what should be in the new terms, check out our group Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.

Read more on TechCrunch.


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