All posts tagged ‘friendfeed’

Friendfeed Facelifts and Threads Microblogs

Friendfeed, a microblogging site, is experimenting with a new layout and a cool new feature: the ability to combine all the same like-minded posts under a single listing.

The site’s new layout changes are subtle. The site itself doesn’t have a lot to it — it’s fairly straight-forward, but what it does have is accessible now in a handy sidebar on the left side.

The far more interesting feature is the duplication detector. It bunches all posts by friends and followers under the same heading. Essentially, it threads microblog posts. It has support for Twitter and TinyURL’s as well. If the link is heading to the same place, Friendfeed will put it in the same thread.

It’s a good idea considering Friendfeed is like the Tivo of microblogging. It allows you to consolidate feeds, bring them all together under one log in and update all your accounts at once.

If you’re microblogging but new to Friendfeed, it’s worth checking out. In fact, Webmonkey authors use Friendfeed as a way to get us all on the same page — so we don’t all start writing the same article. Our protected room acts as a bulletin board for ongoing events throughout the day.

The site currently has support for 43 microblogging sites. All the popular microblogs and status updatable social networks are there; Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Google Reader, Flickr, Digg, Delicious, etc… It also has some of the newer, lesser known sites; Disqus, Diigo, Plurk, Pownce and Polyvore.

Perhaps the best feature of Friendfeed is the ability to comment on other feeds, creating entire dialogs on microblogged ideas, quotes and articles. This isn’t a new feature with this release. I’m just saying.

File Under: Software & Tools

Sweet Self-hosted Lifestreaming Tool Sweetcron

Sweetcron exampleSweetcron exampleSweetcron is a lightweight, configurable lifestreaming tool that you install on your server. Like services Tumblr and Friendfeed, you set up feeds from other services, such as your blog, Flickr, and Twitter. Sweetcron displays these feeds as your lifestream.

As our online selves get spread out among many different services, we’ll need tools like Sweetcron to bring everything back together. The big selling point of Sweetcron (which is free, so there’s no selling going on here) is its ability to be configured. For an example, see its creator’s site.

Sweetcron requires PHP 5 and MySQL 4.1, available on most web hosts. Installation is easy, though you’ll have to dig into some configuration files to make it work. There’s also fairly good documentation on creating/editing themes. To do some of the more complex stuff will require a little PHP, but you can accomplish quite a bit with CSS alone because each service is classed (ie, Flickr sections are set with class=”flickr_com”).

Be sure to check out the boxy theme that comes with Sweetcron, but isn’t enabled by default. That will get you started on the boxed look that Yong Fook uses on his site.

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What’s SUP?: FriendFeed’s Modest RSS Proposal

The RSS wizards at FriendFeed (a social news aggregation site) are proposing a new way to distribute and fetch RSS feeds faster. The proposal is a simple one: publishers provide a centralized RSS to inform readers which feeds have been been updated since their last visit. The benefit? Your news fast.

FriendFeed’s Gary Burd and Paul Buchheit (both former Googlers) want to download your RSS feeds as rapidly as they can without taking down your servers in the process. They’ve proposed a workaround which will spare your servers but still fetch your site’s RSS feed faster. The proposed platform: Simple Update Protocol (SUP).

Think of it this way: When you go to the movies, you don’t go around to each theater to see which movies are playing and when; it would take all of your time and effort running around from theater to theater. Instead, you check the kiosk out front.

Your blog publishing system provides a RSS kiosk, or ping feed, to let FriendFeed (and potential RSS readers) know when and what has been updated since its last visit. Friendfeed doesn’t have to go theater to theater to see which movie is playing. It also checks all RSSs in a domain at once, eliminating the need to download each one separately. Polling is less frequent, but more accurate. By cutting out a lot of wasted data transfer, it reduces the load and gets the relevant information directly.

How do you implement such a thing? A modified link attribute in your RSS or Atom feed informs RSS readers, like Friendfeed, the ping feed is available. Under SUP, publishers would automatically generate ping feeds using the timestamps in their database.

The benefits, according to Buchheit, include:

* Simple to implement. Most sites can add support with only few lines of code if their database already stores timestamps.

* Works over HTTP, so it’s very easy to publish and consume.

* Cacheable. A SUP feed can be generated by a cron job and served from a static text file or from memcached.

* Compact. Updates can be about 21 bytes each. (8 bytes with gzip encoding)

* Does not expose usernames or secret feed urls (such as Google Reader Shared Items feeds)

FriendFeed is already test-casing; its SUP Feed is already online. An example of implementation is available using Buchheit’s FriendFeed RSS link. Sample code under the Apache license and project information is available via the SUP Google Code page.

Will it catch on? It’s intuitive and pretty simple in a “duh, why didn’t I think of it first” way. If other RSS readers and providers (such as WordPress, Twitter, Google Reader and FeedBurner) join FriendFeed and implement the idea, it means less used bandwidth for readers and publishers and faster RSS access all around. Sounds like a win-win to me.

File Under: Software & Tools

First Look at Chi.mp Alpha

Recently we wrote about how Chi.mp is evolving OpenID. The service, which is in a closed Alpha, gives out free .mp domain names, allows a very basic feed aggregator, and is an OpenID provider. We got a chance to check out the service and thought we’d share with you.

Example of a Chi.mp profile page with activity feed

Above shows an example of a Chi.mp profile page. This one is from Laurel Boylen, Chi.mp’s community manager. The aggregation of different web services led us to compare Chi.mp to Friendfeed. Chi.mp has much fewer features, but it’s still young.

List of available services

As you can see above, Chi.mp has three available services: Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr. Friendfeed has 43, plus the ability to post messages directly to Friendfeed. Chi.mp’s approach to aggregation is a little different. Where Friendfeed relies mostly on public feeds, Chi.mp attempts to confirm your identity.

Adding Twitter requires Twitter password or you can tweet a secret code

Facebook requires a code to give permission to Chi.mp

To add Twitter, for example, you either need to include your password or tweet a code that Chi.mp assigns. Both Facebook (shown above) and Flickr require you to give permission for Chi.mp to access your account.

This extra step is probably associated with Chi.mp as an OpenID provider. Each .mp domain hosted with Chi.mp acts as an OpenID login.

adam.mp is my OpenID

The future of identity on the Internet will be less anonymity. Chi.mp is taking a step toward that by being careful that I cannot impersonate someone else. I love feeds and admire the simplicity of Friendfeed using public data, but it makes sense that Chi.mp is taking this direction with the services they offer.

Nevertheless, I expect Chi.mp to add more services. As a site in Alpha, we shouldn’t expect more than a proof of concept, which is what they’ve shown. It’s still not quite OpenID for non-techies, but this is a glimpse of how web identity could evolve.

What do you think of Chi.mp? Are you jonesing for yourname.mp?

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File Under: Software & Tools

Chi.mp is Evolving OpenID

Chi.mp identity serviceChi.mp is OpenID + FriendFeed and the service has been in closed alpha for several months. The big difference between Chi.mp and other identity and streaming services is that it’s giving away domains. Once accepted into the alpha, you get yourname.mp for free.

The OpenID offering is straightforward. Any site that accepts OpenID accounts can take a yourname.mp login. Chi.mp handles the authentication.

Other OpenID providers use sub-domains instead of domains. However, you can make any domain an OpenID, as long as you own it.

Chi.mp servicesWhere Chi.mp breaks away from OpenID providers is that it expands on identity. Chi.mp includes an activity stream, which aggregates the feeds from several services, similar to FriendFeed. Chi.mp is short for “Content Hub and Identity Management Platform.”

You can also connect to your friends who are on Chi.mp. Then you can decide how much you allow each friend to see. Chi.mp claims three levels of privacy: professional info, friend info (choose who can see it), and private info.

Chi.mp calls itself a “friendly garden,” in comparison to the walled gardens of many social networks. It shares the goals of the DiSo project, which aims to make a social network of individual websites. Though it’s great to see a site call for openness (the Chi.mp blog says “Own. Don’t be owned.”), it’s unclear whether yourname.mp can be moved away from Chi.mp’s service.

The .mp domain names are being made available free to individuals for social networking by U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands. Chi.mp is the only way to get your own .mp right now. Trademark holders are able to reserve their own .mp for $50 per year before September.

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