There used to be a time when I was very much in love with Twitter. It was my favourite social networking tool by far. It was quite an exhilarating experience being constantly exposed to some of the most amazing conversations and informal learning at its best. To me, it was *the* place to provoke plenty of facilitated serendipity to take place and keep in the know with all of that stuff one gets passionate about over the course of time. But then, after a short while, I started hating Twitter. Perhaps a bit too harsh of a word, maybe loathe could do.
Over the course of just a few weeks Twitter managed to destroy, in a very pernicious manner, not only the overall user experience, but the entire ecosystem as well that made it a success in the first place: Third party apps. And it totally hit me when I saw my all time favourite Twitter client (Nambu) disappear into thin air just because of that series of misbehaviours. Fast forward to the end of 2011 and I am back in love with Twitter again, not because of all of the various different new features and capabilities they have been putting together, but because I have finally found The Best Twitter Client On The Net: Janetter.
Yes, that’s right! It surely looks like Twitter continues to be keen on destroying not just the Third Part Apps ecosystem that made it incredibly popular in the first place, but also some of its own desktop clients like Twitter for Mac or TweetDeck, where the latest upgrades have deteriorated the user experience for both of them tremendously altogether! Or so I am told. The thing is though that ever since I started making use of Janetter my overall user experience has seen quite a profound transformation.
It was through my good friend Rachel Happe that I first heard (Of course, on Twitter!) about this very special Twitter client that works both in Windows and on the Mac. She liked the experience and right away I thought about giving it a try myself, after having been actively searching for a good substitute for Nambu throughout all of this time playing with a bunch of other Twitter clients whether on the Mac or on iOS devices. And right off, within the first few hours I knew that Janetter would be my new, much preferred, default Twitter client on the Mac. What a beautiful experience, indeed!
I realise most of you folks would notice how I hardly ever get to talk about (Productivity) Tools and such on this blog, since I have always thought that they usually come and go and it’s very hard to get attached to any of them over the course of time, because you never know when they will go ahead and disappear. But since a bunch of people have been asking me what I like so much about this particular Twitter client why not put together this blog post and share some of the most compelling reasons why I have been enjoying it since day one that I installed it. At the same time, there have been a few other folks who have tried it out themselves, after I mentioned on Twitter myself how much I enjoyed it, and they didn’t like it at all. They actually thought it was a horrendous experience, so perhaps this article would help me share across some of the main reasons why Janetter is, to me, as good as it gets with regards to Twitter clients on whatever the platform. Hopefully, with that input it would give you a pretty good idea on whether you may want to give it a try or not.
So here are some of the most compelling reasons why I heart Janetter as my all time favourite Twitter client, even way above than Nambu, from back in the day:
- Cross-Platform: Indeed, no matter whether you may be using Windows, or Mac, it would work in both just beautifully! Time and time again I kept finding it a challenge recommending a Windows client that would not be TweetDeck, which is, I guess, what most folks tend to use at the moment. And now we have got a pretty good and rather impressive rival: Janetter. (Yes, I do realise there isn’t a version for Linux users at the moment, so those folks may need to continue using whatever tool they may have at the moment)
- Scalability: You could probably say that I’m a power user of Twitter, and perhaps of several other social networking sites, too, and one of my favourite features from Janetter itself is how scalable it is! It’s amazing! I have been using it rather heavily over the course of a few weeks now, with large networks and rather complex searches, and not a single glitch to be observed with the overall performance of the application or the machine altogether, which is not the same I could say about a bunch of other Twitter clients or even other social networking sites’ Apps. That’s a winner for me, specially, if you are a heavy user of Twitter yourself. Worth while a try just for that!
- Reliability: Another one of my favourite features from this Twitter App. Like I said, I use it daily rather heavily and, probably, in the most extreme of circumstances hacking different behaviours and I have yet to see, and experience!, the first crash on the Mac! And that’s been weeks of long and lasting use already! Like I said, not a single one!! Not sure what you would think about it, but that’s what reliability is all about in my books, don’t you think?
- The Look & Feel: This may well just apply to Mac Fanboys, but one of the things you would very much like from this Twitter App is that it behaves and works in pretty much the same way than any other native Mac App, which is a lot to be said for an application that’s developed to work cross-platforms. The time dedicated to make it look and feel like a native Mac App is just priceless. It doesn’t give you the impression, at all!, that you may be using a Windows copy! No way! A big Yes!!
- Customisation: This is an area that I know most folks would not care much about it, but I love it. Being capable of customising my own user experience of what I see and play with is just a tremendous bonus! The wide range of Skins with multiple colours, displays, fonts, etc. etc. and the extensive User Preferences to tame the experience to your own likes and dislikes, needs and requirements surely is quite a treat! And something that you hardly ever see on Twitter Apps at all these days.
- Like TweetDeck: But … without the hassle. That’s pretty much how I basically describe Janetter when people ask me about it. It’s like TweetDeck but without all of those issues that keep crumbling the overall experience of Adobe AIR Apps (I had enough of the Kernel Panics, so I no longer use AIR on my MacBook Air and everything running smooth again!). Any kind of problem or issue you can find in TweetDeck it’s fixed in this Twitter App, for real! Seriously, if you are looking for a pretty impressive alternatively to TweetDeck on the Mac, or on Windows, take it for a spin and see how it would work out for you. I can probably guarantee you won’t be back ever since…
- The Timeline: I guess at some point I should probably go ahead and put together a short screencast of how I use the Twitter Timeline to quickly scan through tweets and pause through those I would really want to digest and muse further about and when to speed up and move on. But if you try out Janetter youself you will see what that experience looks like to me at the moment. As easy as it can get and using something so relatively simple, yet so powerful as keyboard strokes to advance on reading tweets, as well as natural scrolling (Up or down or both!) without seeing the application come to a hault! No matter how fast you go! Just brilliant!
- The Groups: This is probably the one single feature that most folks who use TweetDeck today, or any other Twitter client that allows you to gather twitterers by groups, would enjoy very much and by far! Creating groups in Janetter is just such a breeze! Groups as in Twitter Lists, obviously; if you have created them already, it’s just as simple as displaying them and they will stick around pulling a bunch of initial updates to let you know how things are going, and then move from there. You can mark them all as read, if you would wish to as well, and you can have a whole bunch of columns without a single glitch on the overall performance itself. Very powerful and strongly recommended for power users, for sure!
- The Mentions: If you have been following me on Twitter for a while, over at @elsua, you would probably know how Twitter Mentions is my most simple, and long standing, grieving of my overall Twitter use. I have been complaining about how poor the accuracy of the Mentions is overall and time and time again we have seen how Twitter itself seems to be not very keen on wanting to address the issues and fix them. Well, no longer needed. Janetter did just that for me, allowing me again to catch up properly with those Mentions by not missing any of them! Pretty consistent and rather reliable! Not sure how they do it, but it just works! And thanks much for that!!
- The Searching Capabilities: Whether you are searching for specific terms, whatever those may well be, even with complex searches, or following a particular hashtag (Like I am about to do with #ls12 and #connect12 when I get back to work – More on that soon!) Janetter’s searching capabilities and real-time searches are just superb! Not matter how busy the Search timeline may well be, it will keep up with it and provide you with all you need. Just like that. No need to figure why this or that search doesn’t work, or why it doesn’t pull off updates. It just does it and beautifully! And in columns, too!! Which means that’s rather easy to keep up with them in a single view without having to go click, click, click.
- Following Conversations in Context: For those of us who have always considered Twitter one of the hottest places out there in the social networking sites realm for holding conversations on a wide range of topics, this Twitter client would be incredibly helpful and very powerful, because as you engage in conversations with other twitterers you would have an opportunity to catch up with them without having to go elsewhere. They are right there, embedded as part of the tweet stream, and in a rather beautiful and elegant manner, which is certainly everything, but disruptive, and that is what it should all be about! No longer will you be missing out on conversations in context while you are tweeting away! Fantastic and very much needed altogether!
- An ecosystem on its own: Where viewing and displaying Twitter related data from other Twitterers, like their profiles, their latest tweets, the following, etc. etc. or the pictures and videos they keep sharing along works like a charm; embedded right there within the same window and with an opportunity of, once again, not having to go anywhere else, which means you can keep tweeting along without having to worry as to which window you were at at that very moment. Love how it takes tweeting in context into a new level altogether!
- Muting Options: Yes, I know, I know, plenty of times I have been enjoying some serious rounds of twitterrhea myself, specially, when I am live tweeting conference events, and time and time again folks keep wondering how to mute me for a (long) while. Well, Janetter offers that opportunity, right there, in the Application itself and with a good number of options. So if you ever need to mute any of your social networks it will do the job just beautifully, which means you can keep your focus where you would want it to be, instead of getting distracted unnecessarily. Priceless, don’t you think?
- Support of Multiple Accounts: Ohhh, and if you have multiple Twitter accounts, this App would help you manage each of them rather elegantly as well. Now, I now longer need to worry about that one myself, but if I were, I would surely make use of it, instead of having to go for more costly options to try to achieve the very same thing. Very nicely done altogether!
- Local Cache: This is perhaps my all time favourite feature from any of the Twitter clients I have used over the course of the years. From what I know it’s not even available for the vast majority of them, but, to me, it’s become an essential key feature I cannot longer live without. We all know that it’s almost impossible to keep up with the Twitter streams, so we eventually get to dive in every so often to see what’s happening. Well, Janetter takes that into a new level. It allows you to cache all of the tweets, so you can catch up with them, if you would want to!, at your own pace and rhythm. If you have got a special group of twitterers that you would always want to read all of their tweets this client would allow you to do that easily!
I love it particularly when I’m travelling, or away from the computer for an extended period of time, and would come back wanting to learn what’s happened on my Twitter streams and there it goes… all of them (In the hundreds, or the thousands!) available with a single scroll! Yes, I know you are not supposed to read them all, but sometimes, whenever time allows you to, you do, and it’s just such a treat having an App that fully supports it that overtime it’s become the one single main reason why I couldn’t live now without Janetter to keep up with those folks I’m keen on following up with.
Really powerful altogether to give you, the end-user, the ability to decide how much you would want to dive into your tweet streams without going crazy, but having a good grasp of what’s happening. Can you imagine Twitter allowing you to do that natively on their Apps or the Web interface? No, indeed, not a single chance! Massive kudos to Janetter in this regard, for sure!!
And, finally, perhaps the one single key favourite feature of them all. After all of what I have mentioned above, all of the reasons, features, capabilities and huge potential it offers to us heavy twitterers, I still find it quite amazing that Janetter is made free, as in FREE!!, for all of us. No doubt, even if they would ask us for money I think it’d be the best money spent on any Twitter client out there by far, I would buy a copy of it in a split second and without thinking too much about it!, but the folks behind it have made it available to us all free of charge, which is just probably as good as it gets!
That’s about it, folks, here you have got in a single blog post the various many reasons why I’m now back in love with Twitter, not because of Twitter itself, or the technology behind it, but because thanks to the absolutely delightful user experience of Janetter I’m capable of doing something that in the last few months I kept struggling with time and time again: following, digesting, and learning plenty more in good context from the tweet streams of my favourite social networks, which, eventually, is the main reason of why Twitter exists for most of us and I am happy to see how this Twitter App is making that possible. At least, for me. Hope for you, too! If you have found this blog entry useful enough to take it for a spin, let me know in the comments what you think and whether it’s helping you transform the way you interact with Twitter, like it has done with me so far and big time …
Ohhh, and in case you may be wondering what would be my favourite iOS clients for both iPad and iPhone, for when I am on the road, away from my MacBook Air, that would be Osfoora HD for the iPad and the native Twitter for iPhone client. But, once again, they are not the same as the real thing, which is why I do seriously hope that some day we would be able to see Janetter entering the iOS world helping us redefine that mobile Twitter user experience once again! I very much look forward to that!
As I am about to enter my last week of holidays, before I head back to work for the first time this year, I just couldn’t help thinking about a recent piece I read over at the NYTimes by the always witty and rather insightful Pico Iyer under the rather suggestive title of “The Joy of Quiet“, where he muses extensively about that almost forgotten, and sometimes forbidden (in today’s times, specially!), pleasures of treasuring the time to think, reflect, unwind, disconnect, see the world slowing down, charge your batteries, re-energise yourself with what really matters and perhaps come back for more. It’s a beautifully written article where he’s on a mission to help us all re-think the purpose of our online (inter)connectedness and to challenge, in a rather healthy, and very much needed, way, whether we do really need to be connected all the time. Or not. He calls it the “The Joy of Quiet” and I call it “The Joy of Choice“.
Indeed, for a good number of years there have been plenty of us, knowledge Web workers, who have been craving for having such an exciting, exuberant and abundant environment like the Social Web, as we know it nowadays. You know how it goes. We, news-junkies, can’t get enough about being constantly on the know of what’s happening around us and the rest of the world. We, news-junkies, can’t get enough of being exposed to a rampant learning curve that never ceases to stop more and more by the day, and get rather upset when technology falls short and continues to fail on delivering what we know we can get through it time and time again. We, in short, cannot longer live in isolation, it looks like, nor is a state that most of us could probably aspire to in the long run. But is it really so? And, most importantly, can we do anything about it at all? What do you think?
Pico puts it rather nicely, and very provocatively as well at the same time, in this short paragraph, when he states that we may not be able to do it because we haven’t been educated on how to make it through in the first place:
“The central paradox of the machines that have made our lives so much brighter, quicker, longer and healthier is that they cannot teach us how to make the best use of them; the information revolution came without an instruction manual“
I can imagine that it may well be so for a good number of folks out there, but then again I can also see how there may well be plenty of other people who, over the course of time, have learned to tame, and educate themselves, not only on how they live their connectedness, but also how they may live along without it altogether and do just fine. That’s when something that we haven’t had for years on the Web to the extent we have got today, but that nowadays is just too critical to ignore, kicks in nicely to our rescue: Choice. Yes, indeed, now we do have a choice and that just basically means that we need to decide how we best plan for that joy of quiet without sounding like an hermit or some other kind of weirdo who doesn’t want to reach out and feel connected while everyone else is.
That’s why during the course of my holidays, and as I continue to reflect on the last few months, specially, after that frenetic and rather hectic year end with work related activities and whatever else, I self-discovered, through that thinking and reflection time, how something so wise as your own physical body learns to protect itself from everything that may try, or attempt to, harm its wellbeing. Even if that involves the brain itself. Now I know why for some periods of last year my brain was rather keen on being out there on the Social Web, reaching out, communicating, collaborating, sharing and learning from others, and yet, my body decided to switch priorities and dedicate itself to what it knows best: taking care of itself.
Yes, I guess that’s when your body starts sending some of those subtle and gentle signs telling you that you are about to max out and enter a very dangerous road of perhaps not an easy return. That’s probably why, just recently, you heard from plenty of your friends, colleagues, and other networks how they have started to take up sports once again, or to lose those extra few pounds, or to spend numerous, endless hours reading a good book while listening to their favourite music as one of their preferred evening activities, or perhaps to start some yoga and live healthier lives or maybe move out of the city into a rural, quieter place where things seem to have slowed down for a while and where conversations happen more face to face than virtually.
I bet within your own networks you may have bumped into such accidental discoveries and keep wondering why people keep doing it. Well, wonder no more. Their physical bodies have finally taken over and decided to take a stand as to helping the mind figure out how long and for what purpose should they remain interconnected online and when to find that appropriate time to disconnect for a while, think and reflect on things. On the things that matter. On those little things we all know are out there, but that we keep ignoring them for far too long and when we realise about it, it’s already too late.
Now, when looking back into retrospective from last year’s events and activities, I realise that was probably the reason why, back in July, I decided to become healthier again; that’s probably, while I am buzzing around during the course of the work week with plenty of business travelling, my weekends are sacred longing for extensive periods of disconnect where I basically just disappear. That’s maybe as well why I have now successfully built up the daily habit of doing my workout, where I just take with me my favourite music, hit the track for an hour and think about nothing else than just that beautiful Joy of Quiet. That’s probably why I now know how both my brain and my body are starting to be in sync when making the best choices as to when to go and slow down on the communication, collaboration and broadcasting fronts (And instead become more of a thinking force) and when to come back for more within one’s own social networks after those disconnecting periods.
That’s when one comes to realise it’s all about having a choice, but not just having it for the sake of it, because I know that in most cases we would be ignoring it and eventually keep doing what we are busy with on the Social Web front, but also acting upon it, which I guess is the point Pico makes quite nicely throughout the entire article and which I have learned to treasure myself during the second half of last year through starting to listen to those body signals that one knows have a second, or even third meaning, behind them.
Listening to them, knowing when and how to react and, most importantly, learning how to set the right expectations not only for you, but also for those around you, becomes a critical success factor of how we can learn to come to terms with the fact that yes, as wonderful and as brilliant and as energising as the Social Web is, we cannot ignore the choice of looking, and finding!, proper times to disconnect, to unwind, to ponder about things, to question, through critical thinking, what we are doing, where we are heading and what we would want to leave behind. Our legacies. Our purpose. That’s what we are here for. Being In Action. In constant action. Whether it’s out there on the Social Web, creating and consuming top quality content with our favourite social networks, or whether it’s happening in the offline world. Being In Action means what my good friend, and fellow IBMer, Laurie Friedman tweeted just a couple of days back as a beautiful quote from IBM’s recently appointed new CEO, Ginni Rometty:
Advice from IBM’s new CEO, Ginni Rometty, on her first day on the job? “Don’t ever stop reinventing yourself” #leadership
— lauriefriedman (@lauriefriedman) January 4, 2012
Call it Living Life as a Perpetual Beta, if you wish to as well, but I think Pico’s conclusion, although referring to our children, could surely blend in rather nicely with what would be, perhaps, our main challenge for 2012 and beyond:
“The child of tomorrow, I realized, may actually be ahead of us, in terms of sensing not what’s new, but what’s essential“
Indeed, figuring out what’s essential is about having a choice, i.e. when to stay connected, socially networked online, but also when to disconnect, when to look for those quiet times, helping those around you understand that as much as you appreciate the social interactions, there is still a time when you need it to reflect and think further what’s happening around you, so that they, too, can get exposed to the better you. So next time you see some of your networks have gone silent for a period of time, not to worry, they are not gone entirely, they haven’t abandoned you either, they are just taking their very much needed time off to reflect and ponder about things, they are taking their time off to figure out what really matters to them, before they come back in full force, once again. So we better start treasuring those silent periods, because something tells me we are going to have plenty of those coming along in the next few weeks / months and that’s a good thing!
The Social Web needs time as well to slow down a bit sometimes, reflect about both its impact and true legacy and keep moving further along once again… So just hang in there, the choice is ours, finally, after a long last. The important thing to remember though is to act upon it. After all “We create our own distractions and just need to learn to manage them“. And that will always remain our choice. Not theirs. So we better make good use of it and they better get used to it, too. They will need it …