Sunday, March 30, 2008

Flock Revisited

I first reviewed the Flock browser in May 2007. I have to admit that after I used it awhile the novelty wore off and I didn't use it as much. I think that I downloaded the updated version after hearing about it or perhaps I used Flock and it advised me of the update. I'm using Version 1.1 now and enjoying it. I don't think I'll lose interest this time.

Flock is built on the Firefox platform. Consequently, some Firefox extensions will work with Flock, which also has extensions of its own. The latest version seems to be on the right track as "The Social Web Browser." It integrates social websites like Twitter, Facebook, You Tube, and Flickr all in one easy to use web browser. There are 17 social networks, blogging sites, media sites, and email services that work almost seamlessly with Flock.

Flock has a sidebar that can be switched between "People," Feeds, Favorites, Accounts and Services, and Web Clipboard.

The People sidebar shows feeds from Twitter, Facebook, and You Tube. In other words, it shows social networks. This makes it very convenient to monitor Twitter or Facebook while your browsing the web. Unfortunately as I write this, there is a problem with the Facebook application.

Feeds shows your RSS feeds, which can be organized in folders. You are shown the number of unread items. If you click on a folder, then all of the items in that folder are shown in the browser. If you click on a feed within the folder, then only that feed is shown in the browser. New Feeds are easily added with a single click.

Favorites is, of course, your bookmarks. The sidebar is divided into Local Favorites (bookmarks) and Online Favorites (e.g., New Favorites can be added with a single click.

Accounts and Services is all of your social networks, blogs, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and everything else organized in Flock.

The Web Clibboard allows you to drag and drop text, links, and images to save for later use. These can also be organized in folders. The items that you drag and drop appear with links labeled View, Email, Blog, and Delete. They're self-explanatory. Flock has a built in blog editor that can be associated with a particular blog. In fact, I've prepared this entry with the Flock blog editor. Here's a tip for the Web Clipboard --- when you drag and drop a website URL use the little icon that appears to the left. If you do this, then the title of the webpage will appear with the item. The Clipboard allows you to save items for later viewing, blogging, or sharing via email.

A photo uploader, which I've never used, allows you to upload photos from your computer by dragging them to the uploader.

A Media Bar can appear at the top or bottom of the browser. This can display media from a selected media feed; e.g., photos from Flickr or Facebook or videos. You can subscribe to your favorite feeds from the Media Bar.

There is a My World page that shows your Friend Activity, Favorite Feeds, Favorite Sites (most recently viewed favorites), and Favorite Media in side-by-side columns on a single page.

I think I've only scratched the surface of what Flock can do. It is extremely flexible and customizable, but the basic functions are fairly intuitive. There are easy to follow set up guides and lots of support online for those things that you don't find intuitive. I would recommend Flock to anyone who enjoys surfing the web and social networks. I'm not quite ready to use it as my default browser, but I use it whenever I'm surfing the web and want to check on Twitter and Facebook or when I'm writing a blog post. In fact, I'm likely to open Flock when I spot interesting items so that I can add interesting bits to the Web Clipboard that I think are fodder for future posts.

This isn't a "how to" guide so if you're interested go ahead and

Get Flocked

Jump in, read the guides, and give it a whirl.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

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