New Thing #190: Diaspora.com

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Diaspora

Diaspora asks the simple question: What happens if you create a social network and no one comes? 

Actually, that’s probably not even close to their mission statement. Unfortunately though, the long awaited “privacy conscious” social network project conceived of by a bunch of university students and funded by Kickstarter seems to be just that. Empty.

The site itself has a lot of great ideas going for it: clean design, no advertising and an easy way to sort people into groups. Posting is easily divided into what you want to be public and what you want to be private. The problem is that the entire site is basically Google+ without the logo. Begging the question, what’s the point?

With Facebook finally caving to a slightly more private philosophy, and Google+ already established I’m afraid that Diaspora is an also-ran. And before ever getting out of the gate, no less.

So, who wants an invite?

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New Thing #131: Google+ Hangout

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Google_plus_hangout

I want to preface this with one thing: I hate Skype. Even before Microsoft bought them.

It’s big, it’s bloated and it never seems to work right. So I thought I’d try a Hangout on Google+ tonight with my pal, and fellow nerd, Dan.

I wish we’d been able to test it with more people, but as it is, it’s pretty solid. There was a little lag at the beginning of our chat which quickly rectified itself and the video quality was way better than anything I’ve every managed to get while Skyping my folks. Audio was also top notch.

Although the idea behind Google+ Hangouts really baffles me. Sitting around on a social network, waiting for people to video chat with you at random seems pretty pathetic. As a group video chatting tool though, I like it.

PS. I’m still not sure about this whole Google+ thing on a whole. So still hit me up on Facebook or Twitter for the time being.

New Thing #122: turntable.fm

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Turntablefm

I heard about turntable.fm on the Bombcast (a video game podcast I listen to). It basically breaks down like this: you enter a visualized chat room where you and others get a chance to add songs into the playlist.

There are tones of rooms dedicated to various music genres. They end up play out like an interesting mix tape from a friend. Or a stranger actually, since it’s all in beta right now and you can only access it if one of your Facebook friends have already done so. 

Which leads me to its biggest problem: you can’t use it outside of the United States. Luckily, through the magic of internet proxies, I am able to use it at work. Which kind of sucks since I like it so much but won’t be able to play around with it at home. 

New Thing #6: Windows Phone 7

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Samsung_focus

I’ve been dying to try out the new Windows Phone 7 operating system ever since the interface was unveiled. And after a couple of failed attempts at finding a working HTC HD7 (not a good first impression) I got my hands on a Samsung Focus.

And here’s the shocker: I think it’s awesome.

I love the way it integrates the way I use social sites right into the phone itself. Contacts show their latest Twitter and Facebook updates, the photo application pulls in your Facebook photo feed and Xbox Live is baked right in.

The interface is pretty snappy too and has a distinct Minority Report feel to navigating. Even Bing trumps the Google interface in Safari on the iPhone. I never thought about having search built right into the phone before, but now that I’ve played with it I want it in my next iOS update. The phone feels like Zune 2.0 which isn’t a bad thing, I always found the Zune interface to be both sleeker and smarter than the old iPod interface.

So will this little demo session make me switch my Apple allegiance? No. But that’s more about the Apple ecosystem that I’ve bought myself into over the years than this fresh, new idea of what a phone should be.

To be honest, it makes my iPhone feel boring, which is a huge feat when you consider it’s Microsoft that’s exciting me. So if anyone has one they’d like to lend me for a week, I wouldn’t say no. 

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