Review Recap

October 17th, 2007 6 Comments

Will you be in the San Francisco Bay Area next week, namely Monday between 11 and 2? If so, stop by Lunch 2.0, which will be at Oracle for the first time, to mingle with AppsLab and other new web interested people. You can find details here. This should be a great chance to network, talk about new web, and eat some grub.

Thanks to those who shared their opinions in the great (more…) vs. More debate. Turns out everyone wins. Rich installed a WP plugin that allows us to keep the front page clean and syndicates the full feed. If you use Reader, you can see the results, even older posts are now fully syndicated. Thank you Rich.

I’ve tested a few apps lately that might interest you readers, so here are some capsule reviews. Enjoy.

orkut
OK, so I already talked about orkut briefly, and after a few more days of using it, the only real impression that sticks is why can’t I find anyone? In the comments on my first post, Jay said he’d send me an invite. He couldn’t find me. He and I are Facebook friends and contact in Connect. Even using his full name and his email from Facebook, I couldn’t find him either. Eventually, he sent me a link to his profile, and I was finally able to add him.

Very odd that search doesn’t work very well considering that orkut is a Google application, but then again, how long did it take Reader to get search? Something like a year and half. No wonder it’s (very) big in certain regions of the world, you can’t find anyone, so it’s much harder to create weak ties.

Some thought orkut, the brainchild of a developer who used his 20% time to build it several years ago, was a dead end for Google due to the lack of new features, but recently, Google rolled out new features and is rumored to be using orkut in its grand design to socialize its apps. On a related note, Joe Kraus (founder of Excite and JotSpot) is said to be leading the social networking effort at Google. Wasn’t Brad Fitzgerald doing that too?

I guess we’ll find out on November 5.

fuser
On the topic of social networks and big plans, Webware had a post on fuser recently. Fuser claims to aggregate various webmail accounts in to a single app. Nothing compelling there. It also claims to aggregate messages from your MySpace and Facebook accounts into the same app. This was intriguing.

So, I took the bait and went to register on my PC, using Firefox (of course). That didn’t work; fuser totally hosed up Firefox and forced me to kill the process. Plan B was to try on my Mac, still using Firefox, and this worked. In hindsight, I should have bounced over to IE7, since the whole site is built on .NET.

I finally got registered, jumping through the strong password hoops. The guts of fuser are fully encrypted by SSL, which is nice. Too bad it throws a cert error when you go there. So, I’m in and adding my webmail accounts, which goes smoothly. I get to social networks, and I can add Facebook, but not MySpace, even after repeated attempts. Not a big deal, since I never use MySpace.

I start poking around and wow, is it slow. Overloaded with Ajax, it takes the front page more than a minute to load fully. I timed this by accident. The Mac’s default power setting on battery dims the screen when there’s no activity for a minute. The Facebook wall posts and messages take the longest by far, and they’re not even current. I know because in another tab I check.

The main value-add for me is twofold. 1) The aggregation of messages into a single reader is nice, same paradigm as a feed reader. 2) Because I registered with a webmail account for Facebook (and MySpace, if it worked), I want a bacn filter. What’s the point of aggregating a bacn message from my webmail telling me I have a Facebook message, and the Facebook message itself into the same inbox?

On point 1 fuser does an average job, if you can afford the time to wait on it. I can ctrl-tab between my webmail accounts and Facebook faster than fuser can load the aggregated inbox. Plus, as a bonus, it aggregates my spam folders and serves me AdSense ads. So, on this point, I’d be much happier if fuser were faster. As I messed around, the Facebook messages finally got updated.

On point 2, nada. There they are in my inbox, the bacn and Facebook messages. Disappointing.

Fuser does have a leaderboard feature for your social network, based on some algorithm that uses the number of messages. This isn’t enough to bring me back to fuser.

Inner Circle
Inner Circle, reviewed here by All Facebook, allows you to group your friends into groups visible only to you and syndicate their activity via RSS. Sounds decent, so I add the app.

The review of Inner Circle mentions that you can “view an RSS feed of each category of friends”. This is a bit misleading, as far as I can tell. You can view a consolidated news feed style list of each groups recent updates, but there is no classic RSS feed that you can subscribe to with a feed reader.

The groups are cool, but I wonder how long this app will last once Facebook delivers the group feature it’s been rumored to be developing.  I guess if you have several hundreds of friends this would be a nice app, but honestly, the UI isn’t very good, which incidentally is a major limitation of Facebook.

Without going too far off on that tangent, the simplicity of Facebook does seem to limit usability when you get beyond social networking apps.

Anyway, if you made to here, thanks.


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6 Responses to “Review Recap”

  1. Emily Says:

    Thanks for your honest feedback on Fuser. It’s great to hear about the things that are troubling our users. As far as speed goes, we know we’ve got some things to work on, and we have a release that will be rolled out soon that addresses speed and performance.

    Thanks for letting us know that the Facebook notifications that come to your webmail account are obnoxious when you can read the actual message in Fuser. Currently the only fix would be to turn the notices off in your Facebook account. When we designed this feature, we didn’t want to assume that all of our users didn’t want to see the notifications from Facebook, but we will definitely look at this again. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

    Keep the feedback coming, this is exactly what we need to hear!

  2. Emily Says:

    Thanks for your honest feedback on Fuser. It’s great to hear about the things that are troubling our users. As far as speed goes, we know we’ve got some things to work on, and we have a release that will be rolled out soon that addresses speed and performance.

    Thanks for letting us know that the Facebook notifications that come to your webmail account are obnoxious when you can read the actual message in Fuser. Currently the only fix would be to turn the notices off in your Facebook account. When we designed this feature, we didn’t want to assume that all of our users didn’t want to see the notifications from Facebook, but we will definitely look at this again. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

    Keep the feedback coming, this is exactly what we need to hear!

  3. Jake Says:

    Emily:
    Wow, I’m excited to hear from fuser, and now, I really don’t want to see you on uncov. You’re right, the bacn thing could be solved by turning off the messages in Facebook/MySpace, but it would be a nice value-add to your service to filter those guys out by default or by rule, if enabled. That’s my opinion of a sweet feature that would draw people to your service.

    I’m glad you guys are out there listening to people.

  4. Jake Says:

    Emily:
    Wow, I’m excited to hear from fuser, and now, I really don’t want to see you on uncov. You’re right, the bacn thing could be solved by turning off the messages in Facebook/MySpace, but it would be a nice value-add to your service to filter those guys out by default or by rule, if enabled. That’s my opinion of a sweet feature that would draw people to your service.

    I’m glad you guys are out there listening to people.

  5. Emily Says:

    Thanks for the awesome response, Jake. I’d love to hear more of your feedback when it comes to you and you have some time!

  6. Emily Says:

    Thanks for the awesome response, Jake. I’d love to hear more of your feedback when it comes to you and you have some time!

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