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Aggregate Your Social Networks with EventBox

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.

      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.

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      Last Updated on February 15, 2019

      7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

      7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

      Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

      Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

      Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

      So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

      Joe’s Goals

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        Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

        Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

        Daytum

          Daytum

          is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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          Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

          Excel or Numbers

            If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

            What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

            Evernote

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              I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

              Evernote is free with a premium version available.

              Access or Bento

                If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

                Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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                You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

                Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

                All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

                Conclusion

                I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

                What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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