Additional twitter thoughts…

Just a few more thoughts on some of the various methods of accessing Twitter that I covered in my last post.

Another feature that is useful is URL shortening. We all like to post links to YouTube videos, other peoples blogs and various other links. Often they have very long URLs which eat up your 140 character limit. So shortening services are vital. http://www.tinyURL.com was the prototype but now there are dozens of them. Among the most popular are bit.ly, is.gd, snip.url and tinyURL. Which clients automatically support one or more of these services?

Seesmic Desktop offers a selection of 6 services, as does Tweetdeck. The Twitter home page and FriendFeed don’t do them so you would have to do it manually on another browser window or tab. PeopleBrowsr automatically shortens URLs using is.gd (I don’t think you have a choice) However it does have the added trick of automatically expanding shortened URLs in other peoples tweets that you are viewing. Hover your pointer over a bit.ly or is.gd link and it is expanded so you can decide if you wish to follow the link or not. This is a good security feature minimising the risk you might be suckered into clicking through to a dangerous malware site. Tweetdeck also has the option to do this. The same function can be achieved in any of the web browser based apps like the Twitter homepage, Friendfeed, DABR etc. by using a Firefox addon such as Hyperwords (which incidentally has a number of other useful features – see video below)

Posting pictures is a popular pastime on twitter. Originally this most commonly used the Twitpic service (amazingly run as a one man operation seemingly out of some guys apartment). However there are now a number of such services, and since Twitpic has gained a degree of notoriety for the amount of time it is down, as well as occasionally posting completely different pictures to the ones you uploaded (which have had embarrassing results in some cases) having other options is welcome.

Apart from the Twitter webpage, all of the other applications/services have some mechanism to easily tweet a picture. Seesmic Desktop offers a choice of 5 services including Twitpic and Yfrog. PeopleBrowsr offers two, and Tweetdeck offers only Twitpic. Friendfeed allows you to post a picture directly from your computer to your FriendFeed feed. If you have the setting enabled to automatically post all FF posts to your Twitter account as well they appear in your Twitter timeline as a link to the FriendFeed post.

FriendFeed and DABR can show thumbnails of pictures that are linked to in tweets so you can get an idea of them before actually visiting the image hosting site. Tweetdeck will open a small version of a Twitpic within the application without having to go to the Twitpic website.

Other miscellaneous functions can be found in the various clients/services. Tweetdeck can translate your tweets and those received into other languages, and it can also (like Seesmic Desktop) “shrink” your tweets into a kind of teenage TXT speak (occasionally useful if you have to save a few characters to fit in the 140 limit). PeopleBrowsr can do a ridiculous amount of other things like delayed tweets, plotting incoming tweets on a map, showing statistics for certain hashtags or searches and so on. You need to visit their website to explore the full functionality but this blog post does give a good overview.

And that about concludes my review of Twitter clients for desktops. I haven’t covered Mac and Linux because I have no experience of them, although the broswer based ones should work for them too and Tweetdeck and Seesmic are Adobe AIR based and so are  available for Mac and Linux. PeopleBrowsr is also available as an Adobe AIR application.

Have fun tweeting.

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