February 14, 2009

It's twhirl for This Girl

Hand-Made Mac Tip No. 8
Take twhirl for a whirl and manage your social networking in one place.

I love using an application called twhirl for keeping in touch with my friends on twitter, in seesmic and on FriendFeed. Whatever I tweet as a status update (different than replying to someone) also gets fed directly into my FaceBook as my status there.

I pretty much always have twhirl running and I use Leopard's Spaces to make viewing all of the information manageable. Space 2 is designated for twirl and I give it a full desktop area with the largest font so my eyes don't strain to read the information. I have assigned a key command to Space 2: command-right arrow so I can quickly press that combination and swipe the whole thing out of my way quickly when I'm just checking in. Spaces is awesome once you get used to it and train yourself to use it in your work flow.

Here are some screen shots of my Spaces Preferences along with a view of my desktop on Space 2 featuring twhirl. (I've blocked out a few of the private messages in order to respect communication preferences.) Click on the images for a larger view.

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my twhirl setup
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

Sometimes I also use the Orange-Gray color scheme. It just depends on my mood.

Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

Here is another screen shot so you can see the text better. The color scheme is 'Purple Rain.' For my twitter and FriendFeed panels, I'm using the font Myriad Pro, 16 points. For my seesmic panel, I'm using the font Myriad Pro Condensed, 14 points. I've tweaked the settings to make it the most comfortable for my eyes. This font is the smoothest to me. I wish the color were more purple than pink, but overall it's the most pleasing color set to my eyes.

I decided to position the seesmic panel in the center since it feels the most intimate there for interacting with video recording. When the video recording screen pops up, the proximity is closest to the webcam where I can establish better eye contact.

I've positioned the twitter panel closest to the clock area of my desktop on the far right side. I also keep my twhirl Dock icon positioned in the lower right corner of the screen so my muscle memory is accustomed to clicking there for updating – both reading and writing. The text entry box is also at the bottom since my cursor always lands there.

Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

Overall, this is my favorite app for viewing these kinds of messages. There are still some things I would love to be able to tweak like customizable color schemes and the ability to make different accounts a different color scheme. You can select from many different pre-existing schemes, but so far you can not change the colors within those schemes. I like the 'Purple Rain' and 'Orange Gray' color schemes the best. I like that there are subtle hues for different kinds of messages and different input areas. The color feedback is very important to me.

You can download twhirl for free and it works on Macs and PCs.

Sign up for a free seesmic account and, if you have a webcam and mic, you can record video messages all from the same application.

If you want to help improve this application, the development team is extremely responsive to suggestions using http://feedback.twhirl.org/

I hope you've enjoyed this little review and find it useful!