FriendFeed with New Look and Strategy

gothere

FriendFeed launches its beta look. Here are some highlights of the new interface:

  • Post, where users can easily post message, link or photo and select which feed to post it to.

FriendFeed Post

  • All-in-One Sidebar. FriendFeed is shifting the tabs from the top to the side.

FriendFeed Sidebar

  • Friends Categorization Now you can categorize your Friends into various categories. The Friend Settings page is less cluttered.

FriendFeed Friend Categories

FriendFeed Friend Settings

  • Organized Display of Feeds In My Feeds section, feeds are organized into three tabs – ‘Feeds’, ‘Comments + Feeds’ and “You + Friends”. All streams added to FriendFeed are neatly organize below the tabs and acts as Filter. If you click, say Twitter icon, your Twitter entries will be displayed.

FriendFeed My Feeds

Overall, FriendFeed is making its functionalities more accessible from its ‘landing’ page and streamlined the organization of its contents. It is also making posting of contents easier, with its new Post bar. It’s almost like Twitter-ization of FriendFeed. Facebook made the similar move with its repositioned Status Update bar (see here).

Rather than “parasiting” on other social services for activity streams or contents, FriendFeed wants its users to generate more contents from within FriendFeed. It is the next logical move for FriendFeed.

New FriendFeed Interface Design

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Twitter-like Microblogging to the Fore at Facebook

Facebook is tweaking yet again. For the past one month, the global social network leader has made several changes to its interface. Some of the key changes include:

  • July 21 2008 – New design interface
  • July 31 2008 – News feed with filters (more here)
  • August 06 2008 – Wall with filters and activity streams import from other services (more here)

The latest Facebook interface redesign involved the inclusion of Status updater on the ‘dashboard’ page. Previously, users have to go to their Profile page to update their status (for previous design layout, see here). The Status updater is prominently positioned at the top left of the landing page, just above the News Feed section.

With this latest upgrade, it seems the grandiose plan of Facebook is:

To synergistically combine profile-centric social network with FriendFeed’s streams integrator, Twitter’s microblogging and third-party applications, in order to organically generate value (and wealth).

New Status Update at Facebook

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Wuala Goes Public Beta with New Kind of Online Storage

WualaAt last, some innovation in the online storage marketspace. There are numerous online storage services eg. Xdrive, Box.net, Mozy, Omnidrive, Streamload and iStorage. The typical online strorage involves users uploading their files to remote servers for storage/backup and able to retrieve and access the files anywhere.

Wuala, going public beta today, is offering its innovative, new kind of online storage application. Unlike existing online storage services, it adopted the concept of distributed computing, by harnessing idle storage resources of participating computers. Here are two interesting ideas introduced by Wuala:

  1. Storage, Bittorrent-style Typical online storage requires you to upload files to centralized servers. Wuala does it differently. Each file uploaded to online storage encrypted (128 bit AES algorithm for encryption and 2048 bit RSA for authentication) and break into fragments. The fragments of the files are then stored in servers and across its grid network. The grid consists of idle resources of participating computers (eg. users who trade their idle storage for additional online storage capacity). For redundancy, your encrypted files are stored in Wuala’s servers, in your computer’s local cache. When a user download a file, he downloads pieces of the files from different sources. This makes downloading and uploading of files faster compared to conventional online storage services.
  2. From Storage to Online Storage When Wuala gives you additional storage space, it just convert your local storage into online storage. With the online storage, you get to access your files anywhere, even if your computer is not online. Rather than giving you storage space on Wuala servers, they enable greater storage capacity online.

To start using Wuala, you need to download a desktop client, available for Mac, Linux and Windows. With the latest version of Wuala, you can either install Wuala desktop client (Mac, Linux, Windows) on your computer or you can opt to use its web-based version (especially useful if you are accessing Wuala from public terminals e.g. Internet cafe). You get 1Gb storage space to start off. There are several ways to increase the storage capacity:

  • Invite your friends to sign-up (you’ll get an additional 1Gb for each friend signed up) (during private Alpha period only).
  • Purchase additional storage from Wuala (10 GB for $25, 50 GB for $95, 100 GB for $160, 500 GB for $630, 1 TB for $1000 per year)
  • Trade your idle storage for additional online storage space (only if you can stay online for about 4 hours a day)

Wuala blurs the boundaries between desktop and web. Even on its web-based client, it almost feel like one is interacting with a locally installed application. You can right-click to perform various functions e.g. download, share, cut, copy link, copy file, rename, delete, and add comments.

Wuala – ‘Public’ Storage Area

You can set the access control folders – Private, Shared or Public. ‘Private’ means invincible to everyone; ‘Shared’ allows you to share with selected friends (password-protected); ‘Public’ enables everyone to access the folder. The ‘Public’ files are shared in the ‘World’ section (see screenshot above). Wuala social-ize its storage with the ‘World’, where community members share document, photo, music and video. You don’t need Wuala account to access public and password-protected files (of course, you’ll still need password from the file owner to access the restricted file).

Wuala

Dominik Grolimund and Luzius Meisser started development of Wuala some 3.5 years ago at ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology). In 2007, it transformed from a research project into a start-up venture with the formation of Caleido AG in Switzerland. During its closed beta period, it has over 30,000 users using the application.

Wuala plans to open-source its web start and persistent hash map during the upcoming OpenExpo 2008 in Switzerland. Opening up its storage ‘platform’ to third-party developers is also in the pipeline. Wuala has identified three revenue streams, namely advertisement, photo printing (commission for each photo printed directly from Wuala) and selling of storage.

Note: As the time of this posting, Wuala website went offline. “We are moving our server and will be right back.”

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Facebook Wall with Filters and Built-in Activity Streams Import

In my post “The New News Feed at Facebook“, I asked “Will Facebook soon allow other social-streams to flow into its walled garden?” Apparently, the answer is yes!

Facebook Wall now comes with Filters. More importantly, Facebook now has built-in ability to import your activity streams from other social services, namely Flickr, Digg, Picasa, Delicious, Yelp, Google Reader, YouTube, StumbleUpon, Pandora, Hulu and blogs/RSS.

Streams from Other Social Services

Example Feeds

No doubt, Facebook is remodeling its Wall to mimic FriendFeed. Currently, FriendFeed can import streams from 43 services compared to Facebook’s 11 services (though this may increase in coming days). This is the beginning of the demise of FriendFeed application on Facebook. What do you think?

FriendFeed Application on Facebook

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The New News Feed at Facebook

Facebook Logo Facebook‘s News Feed is getting ‘richer.’ The News Feed section is where your friends’ activities on Facebook are being displayed. Now, News Feed comes with filters, namely “Top Stories“, “Status Updates“, “Photos” and “Posted Items.”

Top Stories are displaying the latest activity streams of your friends (similar to the ‘old’ format everything-in News Feed). “Status Updates” displays your friends’ status updates; “Photos” consolidates the latest photos uploaded and “Posted Items” for posted links. Below are the screenshots of the News Feed before and after the tiny facelift:

BEFORE screenshot July 21 2008

AFTER screenshot July 31 2008

You can comment of every activity stream on Top Stories, Status Updates and Posted Items (no comment on Photos). This comment-ability feature is mimicking FriendFeed. Will Facebook soon allow other social-streams (e.g. Twitter and Flickr) to flow into its walled garden?

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Post Everything to (almost) Everywhere with Posterous

Posterous LogoPosterous released its AutoPost feature today (GreyReview’d here). Now, users can post content to various blogging platforms, namely Twitter, Blogger, WordPress.com, Typepad, LiveJournal and Xanga. Photos too can be automatically posted to Flickr.

Each time a user sends a post using [email protected], Posterous will send the post to multiple sites (as defined by the user). The user can also specify specific social website to post e.g. to send to Twitter, email ‘[email protected]’ and send to Flickr, email to ‘[email protected]’.

Phlook Logo

Posterous, popular for its blog-via-email feature, is adopting a similar concept to Ping.fm. With Ping.fm, a user can post their updates to various social services (blogs, micro-blogs and status). However, Ping.fm is more suitable in situations where brevity matters; Posterous is simply a blank canvass for anyone to throw anything at. Now, not only Posterous a blogging/social networking site, it also offers social networks update service. That’s value-added!

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Cuil not a Beta, sure?

Cuil just released its spanking new search engine to the world. No beta tag, so I assumed this must be the ‘ready to rule the world‘ version.

BUT this can’t be right!

Earlier, I’ve tried to search for the term ‘social networking’ twice, Cuil returned zero result. Search engines, which are NOT the World’s Biggest, can definitely find something on the trendy and widely used concept. Only on my third attempt, I managed to see results.

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Twitter, Interrupted (and Hacked?)

Below is a screenshot of my profile page. Noticed the two out-of-place entries, by ‘foodbloggernews’ and ‘HotR’? I wonder how the two ‘rogue’ entries get listed on my profile.

Twitter-ville is a land of confusion today. Earlier, the accidental release of its redesign site and now, this. Sigh! So far, no word yet on this problem on Twitter Blog.

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Monetizing Last.fm

Last.fm just released its new look (unlike Twitter, it for real!). It’s well-polished with pleasant navigation (Good job, guys!). It’s still free but also offer basic subscription. Subscribers get goodies like:

  • No ads on profile page
  • Log of recent visitors on profile page
  • Unlimited personal playlists
  • Priority access to radio servers
  • Beta access

However, I noticed Last.fm is not promoting hard its subscription to non-subscribers (like myself). Frankly, I was expecting ads promoting its €2.50-per-month subscription on my profile page but I found none. Not that I’m complaining but I would expect them to do so in future, if they are becoming more serious of monetizing their user-base.

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Twitter’s New Look (Sneak Peek)

About an hour ago, Twitter released its new design interface. But some fifteen minutes later, it was replaced by the old one. Pre-mature release? Maybe.

Anyway, the ‘new’ interface still has rough edges; more of a work-in-progress version with lot of changes to be made. For a starter, the link arrangement is a bit awkward. For example, the grouping at the left column of ‘Recent’ ‘Replies’.., some will have stats, some won’t. Not quite logical in its look-and-feel.

Here are some noticeable alterations (or missing parts) in the under-construction Twitter-ville:

  • ‘Recent’, ‘Replies’, ‘Everyone’ tabs shifted to the right column.
  • ‘Updates’ stat not available.
  • ‘Search’ box cannot be seen. Probably, the interface renovation aims to accomodate ‘Summize’.
  • Your latest tweet will be shown below the status update box.
  • ‘Your Profile’ link disappeared; need to click on profile pic to view your page.
  • ‘Following’ and ‘Followers’ appear right below your profile pic.
  • Currently, stats are not available for ‘Favorites’ but appeared on ‘Direct Messages’.
  • ‘Archive’ no longer available (not sure whether it’s permanent or not).

Though it’s still crude, this may give us some indications of how Twitter will look like in very near future. Here’s the screenshot of the ‘new’ interface:

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Filtering Out ‘Noises’ with Filtrbox

Filtrbox promises a new way to solve your information overload challenges. Taking a cue from Google PageRank, Filtrbox takes persistent search to the next level. Instead just collecting and compiling, Filtrbox will sift through search results and rank them using its proprietary FiltrRank.

The company, founded by founded by Ari Newman (CEO) and Tim Chikoore (CTO), was selected as one of the TechStars companies back in April 2007. It changed its name from Tru.Vu to Filtrbox in July 23rd 2007 went into private beta late February 2008 and was in public beta since June 30th 2008.

Beyond Persistent Search

To set up Filtrbox, enter keyword(s) or Filtrs, which you want Filtrbox to monitor. This is similar to Google Alerts, where you key in the desired keywords and Google will search latest news that carry your keywords. This persistent search is useful to stay current on your interests. Compared to Google Alerts, you can refine your search term. As shown in the screen shot below, you drag-and-drop the suggested keywords to the Include and Exclude fields.

Flitrbox - Flitrs

Filtrbox takes persistent search a step further. Instead of just searching for news and blogs with your keywords, it will filter them for you using its proprietary FiltrRank. Its FiltrRank is used to rank articles, based on 3 dimensions, namely contextual relevance, popularity and feedback.

Assessing each article, it will rank it from 0 to 10 (10 being the highest). You set your tolerancy to the level of FiltrRank. For example, if you set the filter at FlitrRank 8, only news ranked 8 and above will be shown to you. You can get fetch and filter old articles too, unlike Google Alerts. For each result, you can click on it to read the source article, rate it and share with others (via email).

Filtrbox Dashboard

Built on Flex, it’s interface is intuitive and responsive, once you in the Dashboard (see above). However, I experienced notable slowness, while launching the dashboard.

Filtrbox Login

Filtrbox is designed for application in professioanal environments. Currently, it offers three packages – Free, Pro and Team. Free package comes with 5 search terms (or filtrs), up to 15 days of history; Pro costs $20 per month ($200 per year) and you can set 25 flitrs and 45 days of history; Team offers up to 100 filtrs, 1 year of history and up to six users, cost $100 per month ($1000 per year).

Collect and Sort

Filtering of search result is the value-add of Filtrbox. Rather than presenting users with a list of results, Filtrbox add a layer of ‘intelligence’ to rank articles, in terms of relavancy. Will Filtrbox replace your RSS reader? I don’t think so. Filtrbox will be use to complement existing RSS readers and Google Alerts too.

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