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Facebook

Two years ago, we asked you what was your favorite social network. You split the vote almost exactly in thirds between Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, that is if you don’t include the 11% that said they can’t stand social networking.

It’s a different world today in many ways, but the tides really don’t seem to have changed that much in social networking. Google+, if anything, has continued to be less popular than Facebook and Twitter, despite its continued improvements. Facebook has continued to change its settings and design on a regular basis, but we all keep coming back to it since everyone else is there. And Twitter, despite shutting down most 3rd party apps, has continued to grow and dominate the public online conversation.

There’s other networks, of course. App.net was started to make a Twitter alternate that’s more developer friendly, and has turned into quite the nice network of its own. And blog platform Tumblr was bought out by Yahoo! not just because it’s a great place to start a blog, but also because it’s actually a social network of a sort. And that’s not all. Mobile messaging apps like Line have taken the world — or Asia at least — by storm, and are building up their own in-app social networks.

My personal loyalties lie divided between Twitter and App.net, and I only seldom use Facebook and nearly never use Google+. How about you? We’d love to hear what social networks you prefer in 2013.

Facebook stole the English language. Instead of inventing its own words for actions — ala email, google (yup, an official word now), Tweet (ok, so that was a word already), and others — it just took over existing words. Now, like, friend, fan, poke, and more are part of the Facebook vernacular, and there’s not much we can do about it.

We might resent them for co-opting friend and like, but some actually want Facebook to take over one other word: dislike. See, there’s a lot of stuff that most of us don’t like. You know, ugly ducklings. And sad stories. And, I don’t know, skunks.

You don’t passively just want to ignore it. Nope. You want to tell the world how much you dislike it. But in Facebook’s world, there’s the like button, and nothing else.

So you tell us: should Facebook add a Dislike button, or have they already taken over one word too many? Feel free to tell us how much you dislike this poll — or Facebook’s policy and button/word choice — in the comments below.

This week’s poll was inspired by my wife, Raht. Thanks, sweetie!

When Google announced that they planned to close Reader on July 1, the online community’s reaction varied from surprised approval, to shocked horror. Google’s decision was based on the flagging number of users who still use feeds in preference to social media.

But as any self-respecting RSS aficionado will know, flicking through your tweets, or browsing your Facebook timeline, isn’t the best way of finding interesting content. Until now, though, there have been very few services providing a halfway house between feeds and social media.

Rockmelt, which was once a socially-orientated web browser, has been reinvented as a social media-based, feed-reading network. But is Rockmelt‘s new course bound for being accepted as a great new way to read the news, or is it heading more in the direction of the doomed FriendFeed? Let’s see.

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The social media revolution has undoubtedly broadened our social horizons, but, in my case certainly, it has also broadened the spectrum of online chores to be completed on a daily basis. Keeping up with social media appearances, and the content-hunting which that entails, can easily turn into a full-time vocation.

There are already some apps at hand to ease this burden. Schedulers, like Hootsuite and Buffer, allow you to designate a time at which your posts and tweets should be sent out. Both of these services, and some of their competitors, also offer analytics, meaning you can track how popular each of your missives has been. Services like Feedly make the process of content-gathering easier, although trawling through a catalogue of feeds isn’t a quick process.

A new invite beta-stage startup, called Swayy, aims to streamline these processes into one, simple workflow. Swayy offers a stream of shareable content tailored to your choice of subjects, along with scheduling and analytics options. But can Swayy really be the master of all trades?

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I don’t know when it happened for me, but I got to a point in life where I truly started to enjoy reading. Maybe it was after I got done with grad school and I actually had time to read. I’ll admit that I don’t read as often as I would like, and now that I am back in school and a father to a two year old, that time has shrunk even further. But, that still hasn’t stopped me from finding books that I want to get to “someday”, as I know I will get to them eventually.

A year or so ago, I started to experiment with different ways that I could save book titiles that I was interested in reading so that when I did have some time, I could actually find a book to read. I defaulted to Evernote since I practically use it for just about everything these days, but about a month ago, I stumbled upon a web app called Slice Bookshelf. To be perfectly honest, the only reason why I even found it was the fact that I had been using Slice for other reasons. If you are unfamiliar with Slice, I did a review on their app a little while back and I still use it till this day. So, when I saw that they had a book saving app, I knew I had to try it out to see if it was worth it.

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The internet is not as safe of a place as we wish, and passwords are far from impossible to crack. If you want to be safe, you have to take every precaution and extra step you can in order to make sure no one get access to your online accounts and services. These days, the majority of online services use two-factor authentication as an extra precaution to protect your online accounts.

Let’s take a look at how you can enable 2-factor authentication on some of the most important services you use: Gmail and Google Drive, Dropbox, Facebook, and LastPass.

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Gift giving has really gotten a whole lot easier thanks to social media and online shopping. I am continually amazed at how I can just go online and find something that I want to get for someone with such ease. Not only that, but I can get it to them with decently fast shipping for not a whole lot of money.

But, if you are anything like me, you tend to wait till the last minute, and then you are scrambling to get something for someone. In that case, you’ll have go to the store and probably pay more than you would have if you’d planned ahead online.

What has been interesting as of late is how social media has played into the purchasing of products. Kickstarter launched — for many of us — the idea of many people contributing to something in order for a product to get funded. The app I have been using the past few days, called Aggregift, takes this model and applies it to gift giving. It is actually a pretty cool idea and one that I think could possibly take off. I know for me, it is a lot more meaningful if a lot of people chipped in and got me one gift that I know I can use, versus getting a handful of gifts that just sit around and collect dust. So let’s see how it works in real life.

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With the advent of the smartphone, we are increasingly taking more and more pictures all the time. What makes it even worse, or better depending on how you look at it, is that smartphones are starting to get better in picture quality and almost rivaling mid-level digital cameras. Then we have apps like Instagram, Facebook, Flickr, etc., where we can take and host our pictures for free or for a nominal fee. Needless to say,we all have quite a collection of pictures that we have taken over the years in a variety of different places. Some of them are in Instagram, maybe some on Facebook, and others on our computer.

Over the past year, there have been a few services that have come up that are willing to host your photos and gather them from all of these different places and charge you a fee to do that. Now, granted some of these services have been around for years, Flickr and Photo Bucket to name a few, but it has only been recent that developers are seriously targeting this market for the everyday user. For example, the web app that I have been testing out, Trovebox, caters to and targets the everyday user who wants a place to store their photos. Unlike their competitors, they have some features that set them apart, but will it be enough to convince people to make the switch? Let’s take a look.

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I’m not only a confessed app junkie, I’m an email hoarder, too. I just counted the number of accounts in Thunderbird and there are a whopping 19 email accounts that I monitor for various reasons. That’s not to mention my various social media accounts. As you can guess, I am always on the lookout for the next great app and I may have stumbled upon one.

Enter Unified Inbox, a new app designed to bring all of your inboxes together. It’s currently free in invite-only beta, and let’s find out how Unified Inbox can wrangle your email and social media accounts and keep you on top of your game. (more…)

Facebook today announced that it has prepared a fresh and more focused News Feed for its users. The updated design will include the usual timelines, along with four new ones: All Friends, Photos, Music, and Following. With this upcoming redesign, the social network hopes to make your online experience much simpler — it wants to be the social nucleus that you’ve been waiting for.

With that promise, it has a chance to win back users who left over the privacy complications and overall clutter the site has gathered over time. Is this audacious overhaul enough? (more…)

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