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Aggregate Your Social Networks with EventBox

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Aggregate Your Social Networks with EventBox

    Dealing with social media and networking is a chore. There’s so much going on in too many different places, and keeping track of all that information is hard enough; managing your own is another story. EventBox, a beta application for Mac OS X Leopard, is designed with this problem in mind. The purpose of EventBox is to aggregate the various social networks you utilize in one handy desktop application, much like feed readers did for all the sites you frequent.

    EventBox currently supports Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Reddit, and also possesses RSS aggregation features. EventBox did support Pownce and Digg, but Pownce is shutting down, and Digg have done something to interfere with the way the application uses the API and thus Digg support is temporarily unavailable. So EventBox has a pretty short list of supported websites at this time because of these issues, but it’s important to remember that the app is in beta and growing every day. When it hits the big 1.0, it will support plenty of popular networks, and if it doesn’t, we’ll have a right to ask why the most popular services aren’t there. When software is in early beta, it’s a bit presumptuous and ignorant to complain that there isn’t support for enough services or the app is “complete rubbish” because it doesn’t have Feature X.

    Support for Google Reader, Delicious, Last.fm and Orkut are apparently coming in the future. If this means you can pull your feeds from Google Reader and read them from the application I’ll be very pleased. Last.fm is also a cool service I’ve been using for years and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in this department.

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    User Interface

      The user interface is slick and fits in right at home in OS X. It reminds me of Things, the task management application for OS X, which has also been admired by many for its attractive interface. Intuitive, easy on the eyes, everything in its right place and features accessible without looking cluttered — what more could you want?

      Well, there is something I could want — it’s minor but I’d love to see it changed. If you’re running the trial, to the right of the window’s title bar, there’s a little notice that tells you how many days you have left until you’ve got to part with cash. This is great because I always forget about trial expirations and get stuck with an app I’ve been using that won’t load up. But clicking on that text, even when the app is not the window in focus, will open your web browser and take you to the app website, and since the right corner of the window title bar is where most people click to drag the app or call it into focus, you can end up accidentally opening a browser with a saved session of 50 tabs every few minutes out of habit.

      It’s a small gripe in the midst of an excellent interface, but one I’d love to see fixed up (even if it’s fixed after I pay for the application).

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      Unread & Recent

      The first two panes available in the sidebar are Unread and Recent. They do what it sounds like they’d do: Unread shows you information and events from the various networks that you haven’t seen yet, and Recent shows you everything both read and unread that happened recently — useful if you saw a Tweet or responded to a Facebook comment recently, and can’t seem to relocate them.

      These two panes do a good job at giving you an overview of what’s happening in each of your networks in one place. It also allows you to power through everything in one view, instead of going by and checking everything out service-by-service. This is much the same approach I take with feed reading; get them all in one list instead of reading feed-by-feed, and power through them faster than should be possible with the help of the good old space bar.

      Social News Sites

      Sites like Digg and Reddit are useful sites for many people, and can be a good way to fill in spare time (hah, like you’ve got spare time to fill!). And while the implementation in EventBox is good, and probably useful to many, I can’t see myself keeping up with these sites in the same application I would like to use to aggregate my social activity. The concepts don’t seem to mesh because there is nothing especially tailored to you about these services; sure, you can check out certain Reddit channels, but there’s still very broad strokes. When it comes to feed reading, you can be selective and subscribe to only the things that interest you. With social news sites, you get what you’re given.

      While these services will be useful to some and it probably would be impossible to deem the app complete without them, I like to think of EventBox as a way to catch up on much more relevant, targeted material — much of it personal — than what these sites provide.

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      Twitter & Facebook

      Twitter and Facebook are the features of this app that really make it worthwhile and point to promising things for the future. They show how proper social aggregation should be done. The Facebook pane is a little light on features at the moment, but that will probably change as the application matures; last I checked you could only see people’s statuses and post your own, and view your friend’s pictures.

      Twitter is fairly well-rounded and allows you to do most anything you could do on the site. Twitter Search is right there built-in and that’s pretty useful. There’s a Profile Peek feature that allows you to keep an eye on any individual twitterer’s tweets, and tabs to monitor @replies directed to you and direct messages. TwitPic integration would be a great addition.

      RSS

      The RSS reader is well-implemented and uses the familiar two-pane view to navigate and read posts: on top you can see all the posts in your reader or an individual feed, and in the bottom pane you read the content of that feed. You can get to some basic functions by right clicking a post — email, open or copy the link, delete the entry from the view, and so on. For my tastes, it’s a little basic, as I like to make the most of a reader’s power features to get through the information faster. However, it will suit most people just fine and keeps everything in one place which is well worth the switch on its own.

      Keeping Users in the Loop

      The developers are responsive and listen to the needs of users. They’re active on Twitter and get involved in conversation. This is all great.

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      But when it comes to finding information, there’s a bit more difficulty.

      There’s no blog or way of checking recent news. Using Twitter and openly communicating is excellent, but it’s not the best for news and information. When I wondered why the Digg support promised on the application’s website was missing from the application, I had to resort to Twitter Search because there’s not enough info on the site. A blog could’ve made this much easier. Twitter doesn’t allow one to convey information in any amount of detail and it’s hard to find any tweets that are older than a couple of days.

      There’s also no information on using the program. Even a brief, one-page walkthrough on actually using the software would be better than nothing, but you’re entirely left to your own devices and need to figure out which features are and are not there for yourself. I would’ve loved to see release notes, but I couldn’t find them online, or find a way to get to them from within the application.

      The lack of documentation is excusable; this is beta software and time spent writing documentation would be time wasted. But I have to say I think every app needs a blog or some way of conveying information on-site, and if any app needs it most, it’s an app in beta.

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      Final Thoughts

      EventBox is a great application. Where it does support services, it supports them well. It’s essential to remember that this is beta software and should be evaluated as such. I’m going to keep using it even if only to aggregate a couple of services in one place, and I know it’s going to be even better with a few more services supported.

      That’s all it would take to make this app awesome: more supported services, a blog, and a bit of documentation. What’s there is great. We just need more of it! Looking forward to the 1.0 release.

      More by this author

      Joel Falconer

      Editor, content marketer, product manager and writer with 12+ years of experience in the startup, design and tech digital media industries.

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      Last Updated on November 25, 2021

      How to Make Private Browsing on Safari Truly Private

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      How to Make Private Browsing on Safari Truly Private

      There comes a time when we may be searching online and don’t want the browser to remember our footsteps. The reasons don’t always have to be what we obviously think of as the main reason; for example, sometimes, you may not want Safari to remember your passwords or prompt you to enter your password when surfing the web.

      Whatever the reason, we may think that we are totally in the clear with Private Browsing on Safari and the other browsers on a Mac. However, a quick Terminal command can bring up every website you’ve visited. How do you do this? Also, how do you clear your tracks for good? We will provide both answers and more today.

        What Does Private Browsing Do?

        When activated, Private Browsing on Safari prevents your browsing history from being kept in the history tab of the application. Along with this, it doesn’t autofill information that you have saved in the browser. In this mode, you essentially become incognito and any references of previous use is essentially hidden when you are in private mode.

        For example: if you are on Facebook or filling out a form and some information or your login is already filled in in the spaces provided, this is called autofill. It’s activated by simply clicking Safari next to the Apple symbol in the menubar and selecting Private Browsing, then clicking “OK” to the prompt.

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        The reasons behind private mode differ for each individual. While we won’t go into all of those reasons, one thing that is  important to remember is that private browsing doesn’t forget the websites you visit. As we will see later on, Macs keep a second copy of the websites you visit in either mode. If you are in frantic mode looking for a solution to this, look no further.

        The Terminal Archive

        While Safari does a good job of keeping your search history out of prying eyes in the history tab, there is a less-than-obvious way to view a full list of visited websites on Mac. This is done in Terminal; the command-line emulator that allows you to make changes to your Mac.

        Terminal is located in the Utilities folder on your Mac. Once activated, simply add the command:

        dscacheutil -cachedump -entries Host

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        Once you hit “enter”, a list of the visited sites appear. Showing only the domains, the sites appear in a format of:

        Key: h_name :(website domain)ipv4 :1

        However, there’s no need to fear—there is a way you can clear this information from Terminal with a command that’s just as simple.

        Clearing Your Tracks

        Just as simply as you were able to enter the command to view the websites, you can clear the cache that Terminal showed you with the comamnd:

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        dscacheutil -flushcache

        As the command denotes, this literally “flushes” the domains from Terminal. This does not prevent the record from continuing to be recorded for future sites, however, so if that’s an issue for you, repeat this process regularly.

        Other Browsers and Private Browsing

        Other browsers have this form of privacy mode for their service. They promise many of the same things as Safari, but they do not have the same Terminal issue due to how this command only presents websites visited on Safari (the browser Macs come shipped with).

        If you use Firefox, you’ll notice that its private mode is also known as Private Browsing. Chrome calls private mode Incognito, while Internet Explorer refers to it as InPrivate Browsing. Opera is the newest to the scene, denoting it as Private Tab. Safari is the oldest well-known browser with this feature.

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        As you can see, despite Private Browsing not being 100% private, Terminal allows for your browser to be. In what ways has Terminal helped your life or allowed you to become more productive? Let us know in the comments below.

        Featured photo credit: Benjamin Dada via unsplash.com

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