War of the Social Networks

Google+

Heard of it? If not, you might need to crawl out from underneath that rock you’ve been living under and take a look at the world in daylight. It’s been around for a while now. For the first month or two or whatever, it was in a closed beta, but now it’s in an open beta and anyone can sign up.

If you’re on Facebook, there’s a decent chance you’ve heard of Google+ because the masses are panicking over the changes taking place on Facebook and some are crying “FOUL – I’m headed to Google+”

I have to say that the changes Facebook recently made, as inconvenient as they were, are not bad. It takes a little getting used to, but change always takes some getting used to. The problem is that most people (myself included) generally resist change. I had not really had the opportunity to check out some of the new changes on Facebook until this morning because I generally access the site from my phone. Aside from the combining of the “Top News” and “Most Recent” features, I really hadn’t seen much in regard to the ticker and the groups and all that stuff.

And I’d like to make something clear. The ability to group your contacts and choose who to share what with on every post has been around on Facebook for a while. This is not a new feature and it’s not a feature that they copied from Google. They did make one change, however, that mimicked Google and that was the ability to change with whom a post is shared after it has already been posted. Gotta give Google the win on that one.

I’ve been on Facebook for a long time. I wouldn’t say I’ve been there since the beginning, but I was there before it REALLY caught on with the masses. Some of the changes I’ve liked and others I merely tolerated.

All that said, I am an avid fan of Google+.

I signed up early on in the closed beta of Google+ but I rarely used it. There weren’t that many people that I knew on there just yet and I didn’t like keeping up with two social networks. When they opened up to all users recently, I started using it a little more. I was quite offended the first time I took a picture with my Android phone and then got a notification that it had been uploaded to Google+. I was pretty upset actually. I hurried over to G+ on my phone and deleted the pictures. Turns out they are not just automatically shared like I first assumed. They are stored in a private album in Picasa for you. That’s pretty dang cool. It’s an automatic backup of every picture you take on your phone. Can’t really complain about that.

Today, for the first time, I really started checking out G+ on a computer instead of my phone. Like Facebook, my experience was limited to my phone and there’s a lot I was missing. It’s one thing to get the notifications on your phone when stuff is going on in G+, but it’s another thing when you’re checking your email, working in docs, using Google Voice, or other things that you might regularly do in different Google Apps and have a little notification number light up in the corner. Click on it, see the notification and respond if you want without ever leaving what you’re working on. I LOVE IT.

I’m sure that it still has some growing to do, but if you haven’t already checked it out, you should. I’m sure it won’t be long before there will be an ability to share your posts from G+ to Facebook or vice versa, but taking the time to sit down and play with Google+ for a few minutes is well worth the time investment.

And…if you would be so kind, I would love it if you are one of the few fans of this site or a friend who is just willing to do me the favor: if you have a G+ account or sign up for one…do a Google search for braindungeon and give me a “+1”. Come on…you know you want to!

So What’s Been Going On???

It’s been a few months since I last posted. I’m trying to remember all that I have done in that past few months, but probably the most significant thing that is news-worthy is that after several months of procrastination, I have decided to GET MYSELF HEALTHY.

Don’t get me wrong; for the most part, I actually am pretty healthy. But…at my heaviest, I was probably about 115 – 125 lbs overweight. You’ll note that I said…”was”…

A few months ago, I figured out that I’ve got some issues with grains…most specifically wheat. I began to notice that when I ate meals that were heavy in wheat (pizza, pasta, etc – my favorite foods by the way), that I did not feel well. I decided to cut wheat out of my diet for a while. I started to feel better. Then I had a not-so-great dining experience at a popular restaurant chain who, I’m pretty sure, does not actually grow olives on their own. I ordered a dish that came with no pasta, but they got my order wrong (it was a take out order) and I didn’t feel like going back to get it fixed…so I ate the pasta and I felt miserable. Confirmation enough for me. I don’t eat wheat anymore. I try to stay away from anything with wheat or gluten in them because I’m not 100% sure what my sensitivity is to, but I know that since I quit eating wheat/gluten, I don’t have near the headaches I used to and generally feel better as a whole.

That’s not the only thing I’ve done! About 3 weeks ago I started to exercise again. Now, I said I started at 115 to 125 lbs overweight. Just reducing the grains in my diet and eliminating wheat as much as possible…I dropped about 10 to 20 lbs (I don’t know how heavy I actually was when I cut those out of my diet). I started exercising 3 weeks ago at 297.8 lbs. I’m a big guy…built big. When I was at my most fit when I graduated basic training when I was in the Army, I was 190 lbs and very skinny – though the army regulations said I was overweight, but my body-fat tape-test always checked out just fine. But that’s just an idea of how big I am. At 6′ tall, even at 297.8 lbs, yes, I look overweight, but most people wouldn’t guess I weigh THAT much. When I was at 310 and 315, people thought I was joking if I told them I weighed over 300 lbs.

Well, as of my last official weigh-in, I weighed 292.8 lbs!!! I say “official” because I’m declaring Mondays as my official weigh in day. Now, I have been weighing myself off and on throughout the week as well, but not actually recording those results. BUT, I did have a weigh-in last week of 289.8 lbs! Not sure it’ll be that low tomorrow when I weigh in, but who knows…my weight does fluctuate from day to day, but that’s the lowest I’ve seen the scale read for me in a long time.

So what am I doing? I’m doing a program called P.A.C.E. – Progressively Accelerating Cardiopulmonary Exertion. The best way to describe it to someone who has not heard of it is this: you increase the strength and output of your heart and lungs through “sets” of “aerobic” exertion. It’s like working your heart and lungs in sets like someone might do for their biceps or triceps. I kind of think it’s revolutionary thinking, but that can be a whole other blog post in and of itself.

I’m also considering P90x. I don’t know that I can do that with my back injury, but I may be interested in giving it a shot sometime soon. I know some great people who have made some awesome progress in their fitness with it.

AND, I’ve signed up for something called the TOUGH MUDDER! No…I’m kidding. Even if I was in the prime shape of my life…with this back injury of mine, there’s no way I could do that. I’ve heard it’s quite a competition. I know someone who is planning to attempt it and my wife has told me she has friends who are thinking about it. It sounds pretty extreme!

Anyway, because of how proud I am of my progress, I thought I’d give a post. CHIME IN! Are you doing something awesome in trying to get healthy? Have you had some success you’re just dying to share???

Could HIV Save Your Life?

What if HIV infection was the only way to save your life?

I read an article last week that really made me think. The article (posted on the LA Times website – click here if you’d like to read the article) discussed the existing federal ban on harvesting organs from HIV-infected donors. On the surface, this law sounds like a good idea. But is it antiquated?

The article goes on to discuss the possibility of using HIV infected organs in patients who are already HIV positive. It says that as many as 20 people die per day while waiting on organ transplants.

This ban was implemented in 1984 (the year, not the book) when a diagnosis of HIV was considered a death sentence. True, there is no cure, but it has really become a “chronic illness” that, for many, can be controlled with medication.

The prospect of using HIV infected organs in HIV positive patients is one thing (and there is currently a lot of uncertainty regarding other possible risks to the patients). There’s also the prospect of “freeing up” the non-infected organs for the people who do not have HIV…but it got me to thinking: what if I needed an organ to live and the ONLY way for me to live was to infect me with HIV?

It’s not necessarily a simple question to answer, but it is thought provoking to say the least. Think about it: would you rather live with HIV or not live at all? Would you rather die than have to live a very careful life as not to infect others? What cost are you willing to put on having more time with the people you love? If you believe in an afterlife, is it better to pass from this life to the next rather than incurring MORE medical bills and possibly infecting the people you love?

I don’t know; maybe for some that choice would be easier than for others, but it seems to me that it’s certainly worth thinking about.

It’s A Scary World…Or Is It?

Update: I wrote this post a week ago and set it to publish this morning. Last night I saw a video someone posted on Facebook that was a news clip about exactly what I’m talking about below. So I decided to add the clip to the post so that y’all would know I’m not just paranoid.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. Technology these days is absolutely amazing. Sure, there are things from old movies that, were you to go back and watch them now, you’d say “HEY! We don’t have that yet! When are we going to get it???” Things like hover boards, flying cars, space ships for intergalactic travel, and so on.

But look what we DO have.

We have phones that we carry around with us everywhere. We have headsets for these phones that don’t need wires so we don’t even have to hold the phones up to our heads. We can use these phones to chat by voice, or by text, or by picture, or by video! We can update our Twitter or Facebook status from virtually anywhere.

That’s all fantastic! But…

I find it a little unsettling what comes bundled with all this technology. A GPS chip in your phone can (if you allow it) geo-tag your comments and photos. Even if we’re not geo-tagging, we’re checking in! Facebook places, Foursquare, all kinds of programs out there to let everyone know where you are at any given time. Just for grins one day, I opened up Twitter on my iPhone and did a search for tweets that happened near me. I have no idea just how accurate the locations are, but bear with me here. So Twitter will tell me what people are saying around me. I pull up a tweet, and I can get a location. I take that location and I open it in maps. I then take that location in maps and get directions to it. I can get directions from wherever I am and follow someone who is posting geo-tagged tweets! And with Google’s street-view, you can even look at the house they’re tweeting from.

It’s a little unnerving.

So I can’t help but ask myself, “how safe are we?”

It seems like this technology can be bittersweet. I mean, sure, it makes a stalker’s job easy, right? But could it make the jobs of the police easy, too? If someone regularly “checks in” with technology and is always telling people where they are…even if something happens to them, it’d be easy to pin-point where they were last seen. Since the person may very well have taken their own photo and put it online, it would be easy not only to show a picture of the person, but a picture of what they looked like when they were there!

I have avoided the whole “checking in” functions online. I like to at least keep some illusion that I have some anonymity left. But I often wonder who I’m kidding. Big brother is watching. I’m not sure there’s anywhere you can go online these days that you’re not being tracked. Even if you regularly clear your Internet cache and cookies (tracking is often done through cookies if you didn’t know), there are hardware specs of your computer that could be read…tie those to IP addresses and there are people who can follow you (technologically) wherever you go.

Sounds like I’m paranoid, right? I don’t know…maybe a little. But really…how safe are we? Is it better to embrace the technology and surf the wave of the world wide web? Or is it better to try to stay off the grid as much is reasonable? Is it even worth the effort to try to maintain anonymity?

Oh yeah, and as far as geo-tagging your photos, check out the news clip below. I actually tried to do this (before seeing this video) on a picture my wife posted on Facebook (just to see if it could be done). I was not successful, but obviously I had not downloaded the appropriate tools. I did not put much effort into it and now I kind of wish I had just for the sake of being able to tell you that I knew how easy it was.

Well, anyway, watch the clip…paranoid or truly disturbing?

Wow…too deep a thought process for my blog. I have to go do something funny now. If I figure out what…I’ll post about it later.

The Dangers of Salt

Disclaimer: Normally, I would tone down the language for public posting, but the story loses its tone if I change it…so readers beware if you’re easily offended by language…don’t worry…it’s not TOO, too bad…

So I was watching TV with Leo and Cara (the not-real names of the same two friends from my previous post) when a commercial for Wendy’s came on. They were advertising their new “Natural-Cut Fries” with sea salt. I commented and said, “Interesting. Sounds good.”

Cara said, “What?”

Leo said, “Fries with sea salt.”

Cara said, “What’s sea salt?”

In unison, Leo and I said “Salt…from the sea…”

Cara said, “OK, SMART-ASSES.”

Leo and I laughed and incredulously I said, “WHAT? That’s what it is!”

Cara responded with, “You can’t take salt from the sea on put it on potatoes! You’ll die if you eat that shit!”

The laughter…yeah…it got louder…

Honestly…she’s smarter than she sounds in these last two posts! LOL

Your Website Needs A Bigger Ego

In the earlier months of my new employment, I was staying with a couple of friends who were gracious enough to lend me their spare bedroom while I commuted to the new city for the new job and went home to the old city on the weekends.

A few months ago, I was out to dinner with these friends (we’ll call them Leo an Cara…not their real names). I can’t remember what it was that brought up this conversation, but we started talking about the security of websites.

We were talking about how to ensure (if you’re entering sensitive data into a site) that the site you’re on is secure and has a valid security certificate. Leo was following what I was telling him just fine, because he works with computers on a regular basis. Cara, on the other hand, is pretty much completely computer illiterate. She doesn’t touch computers. She’ll tell you that too…she pretty much has no use for them.

Upon hearing Leo and I talk about how to validate a website is secure, Cara says, “I don’t have to worry about that crap…I don’t access websites so I don’t care if they’re insecure.”

Needless to say…I told her I would be posting that on the web… 🙂

A Country In Peril Remains Calm?

Japan. You’ve seen the country’s name in headlines all over the news for days now. It’s devastating. Earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, nuclear power plant disasters…the list goes on and on. And, unfortunately, so does the death-toll.

Originally, I was not going to blog today. Heck, I haven’t blogged in nearly a year. I had a couple of posts scheduled to roll out every couple of days over the next week…

BUT – I read an article today that made me pause in my tracks. If you’re interested, you can read this article here at the Washington Post.  What made me stop and think was the following excerpt:

One Fukushima City supermarket was set to open on Monday at 10 a.m. The first customers showed up at 7. Soon, several hundred were waiting to buy rice, instant noodles and other goods. The store manager, Hidenori Chonan, said the store didn’t have many supplies left — and electricity had already cut out.

“We don’t know when the next supply would come,” Chonan said. “We are selling all products at [discounted prices] and losing money. But at a time like this we help each other.”

“We have security to avoid confusion, but there is no sign of people trying to break into our store, or anything like that,” Chonan said. “Of course some complain about lining up or having limits on how much they can buy, but we all know what the situation is and we all feel each other’s pain.”

Indeed, while Japan in recent days has lost much of its infrastructure and refined lifestyle — and far too many of its people — the country has retained its decorum.

And then this other excerpt:

Twitter users retold stories of where the stranded and homeless shared rice balls. Travelers heading north reported 10-hour car rides — with no honking. At a convenience store in one battered coastal prefecture, a store manager turned to a private electrical generator. When the generator stopped working and the cash register could no longer open, customers who had been waiting in line quietly returned their items to the shelves.

Why did these statements give me pause? Because I am not convinced, were a similar catastrophe to strike in the US, that US citizens would remain quite so civilized. Maybe I’m just jaded by the crap I see on the news…maybe I’ve heard too many rumors of people doing stupid stupid things…but I have SEEN that there is a large part of our population that cares only for themselves.

I get so sick and tired of the sense of entitlement that so many in our country seem to have. Serve ME. Give ME. Help ME.

ME, ME, ME.

Ten hour car rides with no honking? Putting items back on the shelf because the register could no longer open? Stores giving items away at discounted prices and taking a loss so that others could have the things they need? Ok, there might be some of those stories over here, but what stands out in my mind are the stories of looting; the gas station owners that hiked the price of gas when hurricanes threatened Houston and Galveston and people were forced to evacuate; the people stuck in traffic who honk and honk and honk at each other like the person at the front of the line just forgot to go. I get so frustrated when I’m on a highway and there’s an accident so lanes merge, but people in the lanes behind me as I’m merging feel entitled enough to swerve around me and get as close the the front of the merging lanes as they can.

WAIT YOUR TURN YOU IGNORANT IMBECILE!

Am I cynical? Maybe. But it’s my observation and it makes me sick.

Do I wish the US was like Japan? Probably not…the article also made mention of how the systems that cause such serenity in their society also prevent self-expression and that bloggers and social media users often remain anonymous.

Freedom of expression is one of the many values I am glad our country has. I just find myself so disappointed that, to so many, self-expression turns into self-serving entitlement.

I guess I’ll have to step off my soap-box for now…I don’t yet have the funds to start my own country.

A Late Update

Here we are, nearing the end of 2010 and, before this post, I have only made Here we are, 3 months into 2011 and I only made TWO posts all year last year…TWO. I actually started the draft of this post back at the end of November last year…so now I have to go through and make some changes and finally publish it.

I’m a bad, bad blogger…

In my defense, I’ve been pretty busy. I’m hoping, now that some things have changed in my life, that I will find more time to write. I do enjoy writing…more importantly, I enjoy being a source of entertainment (or in some cases, information).

While this post won’t be particularly entertaining, I thought I would announce on my blog a couple of things that most people who know me already know, but explain at least SOME of the scarcity of my posts.

I guess the first thing is my job…or rather my old job. After pretty much 8 years with the same company, I decided it was time to move on. That job kept me so busy so much of the time that when I DID have down time, I didn’t feel like writing.

In October last year, I started a new job. A new job with a less demanding schedule. So far, I absolutely love my new job. It’s good work…it’s challenging work…it’s fun work. I put my time in during the day, and when I leave work, I leave work. I am on an on-call rotation where 1 out of every 5 weeks I could get called if disaster strikes. Other than that, at the end of the day, I don’t worry about work anymore. I spent a few months commuting because we were getting ready to move (oh yeah, my job is in a new city). We’re now in a tiny apartment until we can sell our old house and build/buy a new one. But, the good news is, my family is with me and I have more personal time.

Speaking of personal time…I probably won’t have that much time to myself…but in a good way. In September, my wife and I finally ended our 2.5 year journey in trying to adopt when we finally adopted our son. Now, instead of an adoption journey, we have embarked on a parenthood journey. He is now 6-and-a-half months old and we’ll be finalizing the adoption in just a couple of weeks. My son is an amazing little boy and I am so blessed be able to call myself his dad.

I hope to give my blog a face-lift soon…and after that, I hope to start posting on some kind of regular schedule. In the mean time, the 10 of you who are still subscribed to my blog…thanks for not giving up on me! I’m also gonna try to make use of the WordPress app on my phone to post here and there when I have a quip I feel like sharing instead of thinking I’ll remember to do it later…cuz I never do.

Thanks for reading. I hope to hear from me soon!

GVMax makes Google Voice and iPhone Play Nice

To my “regular” readers:  I know this post only really targets iPhone users…and to those of you who are iPhone users, it only targets those who use Google Voice. I’m not trying to ignore the rest of you…I just want to share this information. I’ll try to post something soon that’s not so “user specific”.

Recently I posted a review for Meebo for the iPhone because of how seamless it made the transition back and forth between desktop instant messaging to mobile instant messaging. In that post, I mentioned using GVMax with Google Voice. I had put off writing a second post about GVMax because I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to say about it. But today I found a little nugget of information that I just HAD to share.

For those of you who have an iPhone or iPod Touch and have a Google Voice number, you know how infuriating it is that Apple has not only denied the official Google Voice app, but subsequently pulled all apps directly related to GV. Unless your phone is jailbroken, you are stuck using the web app. It works, but let’s face it, it’s a little clunky. I’m using an iPhone 3G and the site just feels painfully slow, even on WiFi. Plus, it uses the phone’s native dialer instead of allowing you to choose which phone to ring, so iPod Touch users are “out of luck”.

Until GVMax.

What you first find out when you read about GVMax is that you can use it to send your Google Voice SMS messages to the IM client of your choice (it uses your Google Talk account). So you can IM back and forth from your computer, from your phone, from wherever, and the person you’re talking to is getting text messages on their phone. Spiffy. Additionally, if you read the user’s manual, you will find that you can (by virtue of your contact groups in Google Voice) send group text messages.

What I somehow overlooked until today is that you can initiate your Google Voice calls from your instant messaging client. I didn’t see this in any articles I read about GVMax, and somehow I overlooked that when scanning the manual. This is an under-emphasized feature! (iPod Touch users…take note!)

So here’s how it works:

First, you have to have Google Voice. You have to sign up for GVMax. I’m not going to go into those details. Once you start working with the text messaging and getting voicemail transcriptions sent to you by IM, you start building up your GVMax contact list on your buddy list. In the initial stages, it’s a little frustrating as you are working on authorizing the contacts to add you to their “buddy list” since each GVMax contact is a new contact on your GTalk account. You can jump start the process if you read the manual and use the gga {number} command to add the numbers to your contact list (hint, don’t use the brackets). By the way, if that phone number is in your Google Voice contact list, it will show up on your buddy list as “ContactName [Phone]”.

So you get a text or a voicemail and you want to call the person back. First you have to designate which phone you want to use. If you don’t already know your phone index (which you probably won’t if it’s the first time you’re doing this), in any GVMax contact type “ggp” (without the quotes) and send the message. This will send you a message that says something like:

“retrieving available forward phones…”

“1. Home Phone 12145551212
2. Cell Phone 12145551314”

So if you want to use “Home Phone” you then type “ggp 1” (again, without the quotes) and then send the message. You’ll get a response that says something like:

“Foward phone set to : Home Phone”

Now you’re ready to make a call. And as far as I can tell, it keeps that phone selection until you change it, so you don’t have to do it EVERY time you are ready to make a call, just when you want to change the designated phone.

So, if you already have the contact up on your IM client that you want to call (either because you got an SMS or voicemail transcript), you just have to type three little letters – “ggc”. Send the message.

You’ll get a response that says something like: “Placing call to 2145551919, +12145551212 set as forwarding phone”

Then – you wait. Your phone rings. You answer. Google Voice connects your call (the same way it would if you were using a desktop browser to place the call). Awesome.

If you want to call a number that isn’t on your contact list, no sweat! Just open ANY GVMax contact and type “ggc” followed by the number. Like this: ggc 2145558282. It’ll treat it like it did the call to your contact.

How awesome is that?

So using GVMax, you can get true FREE Google Voice SMS through IM. You can initiate calls through that same IM client (even on the iPod Touch!). Oh, and you can play your voicemail, too. The transcription includes a link to the audio. It’s not perfect, but in my opinion it’s more smooth than launching the browser, waiting for the page to load, clicking on a link for contacts, waiting for the page to load, clicking on a contact, waiting for the page to load, etc.

You know, I’ve been using GVMax for SMS and voicemail over IM for several weeks now…and I kept thinking “too bad I can’t just hit a button to call this person back.” If only I’d read the manual thoroughly!

Meebo for the iPhone Takes Mobile Instant Messaging to a Different Level

If you are the proud owner of an iPhone, there’s a better than decent chance that you message other people. Whether it’s text messaging (SMS) or picture/video messaging (MMS) or even instant messaging, you use your iPhone to reach out and touch someone (hey…wasn’t that AT&T’s slogan for a while there…?). When Apple introduced push notifications to their iPhone OS, I was ecstatic. I paid $9.99 for BeejiveIM for the iPhone. It was a really nice app. But there was something that bugged me…something that seemed so simple to overcome, but I couldn’t find a way around it. When I was at my computer chattin’ away, my phone was just lightin’ up with message notifications. It was ANNOYING. Ultimately, I kind of just stopped using Beejive because I hated having to remember to shut it off to avoid the notifications while at my computer and then remember to turn it back on when I left the computer.

Enter Meebo for the iPhone.

Before I go on, I just want to reference the hype out there about people doing paid reviews for iPhone applications (and in many cases not being up front about it) – this is not the case here. I found Meebo for the iPhone a few weeks ago and have just grown to like it so much, I thought others might benefit from knowing about my experiences (good and bad) with it. That’s it.

So, let me talk about Meebo for a bit. Meebo is a browser-based, multi-protocol instant messaging “client”. In other words, you can use it to sign into AIM, Yahoo, MSN, GTalk, Facebook chat, Myspace Chat, (and many, MANY more) without having to install anything on your computer. I used Meebo on occasion for the last couple of years, but was not really dedicated to using it because I didn’t like having to keep a browser tab open just for Meebo. I preferred having something I could minimize to my system tray (like Digsby or Pidgin) that allowed me to just get messages when they came in.

Well, AFTER finding out about Meebo for the iPhone, I discovered Meebo Notifier. The Notifier stays logged in to Meebo (with or without the browser open) and lets you know when you get a message. You double click the notifier icon to bring up Meebo.com in the browser of your choice (you can use your default browser or choose a specific browser. I use Google Chrome App Mode while my default browser is Firefox). As far as I can tell, Meebo Notifier is only available for Windows at this point.

Did I mention that Meebo for iPhone is FREE? That’s right – FREE. And it has push notifications and when you close the app, it will keep you logged in (for now) for about 24 hours (according to one of their blog posts, they’re working on the option to extend that). I have had 2 occasions in the last 4 weeks or so when I got a notification from Meebo that I’d been logged out due to inactivity when it hadn’t been more than an hour or so…not sure how or why that happened, but at least I was notified. I just opened the app and was logged back in.

Now here’s where it made my life a little more sane.

I downloaded Meebo Notifier to my computer. I downloaded Meebo on my iPhone. Like other iPhone chat clients with push, I can chat on my iPhone and get notified of new messages when the app is closed. But where Meebo really stands above the rest is when I open up my laptop, Meebo Notifier logs in, and pretty much instantly, my message notifications start coming through my computer INSTEAD OF (not in addition to) my iPhone. While you have Meebo active on your computer, they disable the push notifications. They even give you a nifty little message within Meebo that says “Push notifications are disabled while you are active”. And then, when I’m tired of being on my laptop. I just close it down, and without any effort on my part, push notifications start on my phone again. SWEET! If you have it on a desktop computer that you’re leaving turned on, 15 minutes of idle time will automatically re-engage the push notifications to your phone (or you can close the notifier or even shut down Windows…which will make it instantaneous).

AND, as an added bonus…all my chats are synchronized between my phone and my computer. All the conversations I was having on my phone show up when I open up my computer. When I close my computer and open Meebo on my phone…my chats are preserved. If I end up with too many preserved chats that are getting in my way, signing completely out of Meebo on both the phone and the computer will close all of the open chat sessions.

Now…the “gripes”.

1) Meta-contacts…it seems to me after my experience with other instant messaging clients, that meta-contacts should be standard. If you don’t know…meta-contacts are when you take multiple screen names on your buddy list and tie them all to one name to reduce the number of names showing on your buddy list. Because I’m logged in to at least 6 different screen names at once, I might have the same person on my buddy list in 6 different protocols and their name shows on my list 6 times. That’s a little obnoxious. Workable, but obnoxious.

2) Tabbed conversations. I’ve been using tabbed convesations for YEARS now. Going into the Meebo browser experience keeps all your chats in one window, but all your IM conversations are all over the place. Makes me feel cluttered.

3) The idle time setting for re-activation of push notifications to the phone. Fifteen minutes is ok, but if I have notifier running on my desktop and I suddenly leave my computer, it’s going to take 15 minutes for push notifications to my phone to re-engage. I would like the option to modify the idle interval at which Meebo will begin to push to my phone again. This is especially important if you’re taking advantage of Google Voice and GVMax for SMS messaging. (That’s a whole other post, but let’s just say I’m using SMS without using my AT&T SMS plan by leveraging Google Voice, GVMax and Meebo). If I walk away from my computer, that could mean that I won’t be aware of any SMS messages that come to me in that 15 minute period. I can always open Meebo on my phone and I’ll see them…I just won’t get the push notifications until then.

4) No Skype support (yet). Skype is not really all that important to me, but there are a lot of people out there looking for Skype integration. So far it doesn’t really look like it’s on the horizon just yet.

5) No ability NOT to save my password on the Meebo Notifier. That just bugs me. Every chat client I’ve ever used has had a little check box for “Save Password” except Meebo. It’s not a deal breaker for me, but I would prefer to have the option to make it so that if Meebo Notifier is launched on my computer, it’ll require my password.

Gripes aside – Meebo is, by far, the most mobile-friendly chat client I’ve used. You can chat with your friends on any computer with a browser without installing any local software. The way it shuts off push to the phone when you’re active on the computer is just awesome. And the seamless transition back to push when you close it on your computer just really makes this THE chat app.

P.S. – in case there IS anyone out there who wants to pay me for this post…just let me know…I’ll tell you where to send the check! LOL


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