As we continue on our quest to find the "one tool" or tools to help my "lifestyle management", I've come across several options that don't necessarily fit all of my needs, but have some great features that might pair nicely together to fit my needs. We'll take a look at those now.
Both TweetDeck and HootSuite were originally designed as "power tools" for Twitter, but they've expanded themselves a bit into other social networking areas. What both applications do is give you a series of columns or tabs in which to lay out your social networks with . You can have specific twitter searches, hash tags, direct messages, all in various columns, with a single column that has the main twitter feed of your followers. Both applications provide Facebook integration, but TweetDeck also provides an "aggregated feed" that displays both your Facebook news feed and Twitter feed together.
I've been a long time on and off user of Trillian, which served as a nice way to log in to all of my instant messengers in one application. What I was surprised to find is that Trillian has a nice social networking component as well. Once logged in to Twitter or Facebook, you can hover over your name to see the news feed. You can then detach that window to see them all the time. There are different sections for direct messages and events. You can register your e-mail accounts and get notified when new messages come in, including a preview of them. Clicking the message sends you directly into the message in Hotmail/Gmail, something the Netvibes widget doesn't offer.
Trillian is a client based application, and the features on their Mac and Web versions aren't nearly as robust as the Windows version. So when it comes to swapping between my machines, or checking things on the go, I would need to look to other options. That said, Trillian has been impressing me more and more since I loaded it up again and you should give it a try if you do a lot of IM or want to Facebook chat without having the whole page open.
NewsBlur is a very streamlined news reader. It gives you a very smart presentation and nagivation layout for your posts. One thing that is nice is that it will show your news posts on the original site, instead of just displaying the text. This is helpful if you like to read articles and participate in their discussions. You can also go back to the basic text format if you want too. NewsBlur gives you about 60 feeds in their free version, and unlimited if you use their paid account, very reasonably priced. If you're looking for an updated approach to news feed reading, definitely give NewsBlur a peek. It'll import your Google Reader subscriptions for you.