Twitter-pated

I decided to make use of my neglected Twitter account. Most of the reason it’s neglected is because;

a) a lot of the people I follow update their Facebook status automatically when they tweet.
b) it’s another browser window to open and check during the day.

I already use the Google Desktop sidebar on my widescreen monitors at work. It doesn’t take up that much real estate on my screen and I can fit gadgets for GTalk, GDocs, photos, weather and even a nifty little system monitor.

“What would be really great,” I thought to myself, “is to have a little Twitter feed gadget just like the GTalk gadget.”

Well, there is an “official” Twitter gadget for Google Desktop but if you check out the page it’s apparently been abandoned and returns “invalid username/password” no matter what credentials you give it. (I tried.)

Upon hitting that brick wall, I polled the audience on my Google+ account to see what everyone else was using and/or recommended. Since all these applications were going head-to-head against the Google Desktop Sidebar, I’ve rated them on how much screen real-estate they took up, where a score of 1 would indicate taking up the whole freaking screen.

Here’s what I tried and what I thought of them.

Pidgin

http://www.pidgin.im/

Feels extremely clunky. No native Twitter support. I had to install a third-party plugin to connect to Twitter and then ANOTHER plugin to be able to update Twitter via my Pidgin status updates.

Note: The second time I started it up, it didn’t display my updated Twitter feed. I couldn’t find an option to refresh manually.

Real Estate score: 6 out of 10 – It’s about the size of an old school IM client…which is exactly what it looks like.

Seesmic

http://seesmic.com

This client is a bit of a memory hog. If I have it minimized, it doesn’t seem to bog down my system much, but if I maximize it to check it, my entire system starts to hang. Built on Microsoft Silverlight (possible cause?). Runs a bit slow.

It has a nice interface. I like the sidebar a lot. It’s easy to turn on and off filters, and I can drag to rearrange the columns. The GUI is nice to look at. Uses columns for different feeds. Desktop notifications are fixed in the bottom right corner of the primary monitor. Can’t drag them to reposition.

Real Estate score: 4 out of 10 – Takes up a lot of space on my second monitor, even when not maximized.

TweetDeck

http://www.tweetdeck.com/

TweetDeck runs on Adobe Air, is faster and uses considerably less system resources than Seesmic. It has a nice interface. Uses columns for different feeds. The post box at the top is easy to use. All the controls are right there and intuitive to find. Desktop notifications can be placed in any corner of the primary monitor screen, but they can’t be moved to a secondary monitor.

Real Estate score: 4 out of 10 – Takes up a lot of space on my second monitor, even when not maximized.

Trillian

http://www.trillian.im/

During the install, the Trillian software offered me a trial of Winzip (no thanks) and then asked to install the Trillian Toolbar (UGH), make Ask.com my default search provider (GAH) and set Ask.com as my home page (GAH!). Minus a thousand points.

Trillian offers email account support, instant messenger and Facebook/Twitter support. However, one of my big problems with it is that I don’t seem to be able to disconnect from Facebook chat when I have it connected to my Facebook account. I usually have Facebook Chat turned off when I have the site open in the browser. I can disconnect from Facebook entirely or I can set my chat status to “Away” but not disable it and still maintain my feed.

The client can be moved to secondary monitor. When minimized, the desktop notifications appear in the bottom left corner of the primary monitor. It places a separate icon in the task tray for every account you have set up. Each icon gets a teeny number identifier to keep count of how many notifications you have for that account. The desktop notifications also stack. (GAH!) Compared to the Facebook webpage, updates have serious lag. As in, up to 3-4 minutes.

Note: It actually turned ON the Facebook chat on my browser-based Facebook. I had to manually turn it back off through the site. Minus another thousand points.

Real Estate score: 6 out of 10 – It takes up about the same amount of room as an average IM client. Feels like an IM client more than anything else.

Twhirl

http://www.twhirl.org/

VERY simple interface. No Facebook support, though you can connect to a Seesmic account, which I guess you could connect to Facebook. Maybe?

When focus is removed from the app, it immediately turns 50% transparent by default, which makes it hard to read. Runs on Adobe Air, so there’s almost no discernable system resource usage. Developed by Seesmic. Desktop notifications show up in lower right corner of screen. They cannot be repositioned.

Note: Must stay running in taskbar. If you click the X to close it, it exits the interface completely.

Real Estate score: 7 out of 10 – Very small, easily positionable on multiple monitors.

TwitterGadget

http://www.twittergadget.com/

TwitterGadget offers a gadget that can be used on your GMail sidebar much like the Chat gadget or the Google Docs gadget. You can pop it out of the GMail screen just like a chat window.

It has a simple interface. The shortest auto-refresh rate is 3 minutes and you can set it to varying timeframes above that, though I’m not sure why you would want to. You can customize the heck out of the colors but can’t change the font. (I’m not fond of Verdana.)

Real Estate score: 5 out of 10 – If you have the window popped out of GMail, it takes up a good amount of screen real estate. If you leave it on your sidebar in the GMail window, it doesn’t seem to have enough space to be an effective reader.

An interesting note about all these clients is that I didn’t see any of them display a notification number on the taskbar when they were minimized. That would eliminate the problem of repositioning desktop notifications since they could be turned off entirely.

TweetDeck came out as my favorite client, though I’m still not entirely sold on it. What I’ve taken away from this is that my core requests for a Twitter Desktop Client are;

1) Needs to be able to both display and allow me to post to my Twitter feed.
2) Would love to be able to reposition desktop notifications across multiple monitors.
3) Must not use an abundance of system resources.
4) Would LOVE it to be integrated into Google Desktop Sidebar.

Is that too much to ask?

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One Response to Twitter-pated

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