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Geek Two Point Oh: Flock

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I read an article recently (maybe on Mashable) that said Internet Explorer is slowly going extinct. Users are steadily down each year and someday there won’t be enough to sustain it. That made me chuckle when this week’s automatic Windows update included a new version of IE that I ignored. School is pretty big on using Safari on their Macs and Firefox on Windows machines, and for years I used Firefox at home. Now I’m devoted to Flock.

I take my laptop everywhere, I use it at home, school, and work. Flock–and its features–is perfect for that. It’s built on the Mozilla open source browser, so all the awesome things Firefox gives you Flock has, too. And more. The great thing about Flock is that so many things are built-in. You don’t just use Flock to access the internet, you use Flock to bring the internet to you and to interact with it in the way you want. (They call it a “social web browser.”) Everything is entwined, everything works together smoothly. Most of the Firefox add-ons are compatible with Flock, which means the very essential Ad Block Plus is available. I recommend the Open ID add-on which gives you the option to store any/all of your Open IDs for ease of use.

One of the first things you’re going to do when you download Flock is set up the accounts and services sidebar. Flock is compatible with a huge amount of services and sites. You’ll sign in with your ID and password and Flock will keep you signed in. This enables Flock to easily update these services through itself when you tell it to. I currently have thirteen services enabled, and there are ten more I don’t use. From the people sidebar I can update my Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube statuses and read what my friends on those services have said. It’s limited to their most recent update only so if your friends are frequent updates it won’t be a great way to follow them, but it is a fast and simple way to update your own status.

Flock will import your bookmarks from your previous browser and, like Firefox, allows you to have your del.icio.us bookmarks in your favorites, also. Whenever you bookmark a site you have the option of adding it to your browser or live favorites. They’re easily organizable, just as with Firefox. Nothing revolutionary here, just a much easier way to store and retrieve things in and from del.icio.us.

A lot of the add-ons I used with Firefox I no longer need because they’re built-in to Flock, like the blog editor, which I have set up to post to every single blog I use, and that’s saying something. It’s a pretty standard blog editor, it has html coding options if you don’t want to do them yourself and a source page if you do. It’s great for drive-by postings, especially because it’s an option included with each and every RSS feed I read through Flock.

The RSS feed sidebar is easy to set up and read. Any time you browse a website Flock notices any available feeds and gives you a button to click to view them. Once you do you can choose to subscribe and that feed will be placed in your sidebar, which you can then organize with nested folders if you like. You can either read by individual feed or read by folder. For example, I have feeds categorized by “sports” and I can either read the entire sports folder or I can read only ESPN, the Globe’s Patriots news, or any other individual feed in that folder. Each feed headline has standard options of Viewed, Save, Blog, Email, and digg it. You can mark it viewed, save it to your saved folder, blog with the blog editor, email with your primary email, or digg it if you have a digg it account. You can also drag the headline or URL (of feeds or off any webpage anywhere) to your clipboard sidebar to save them for future reading.

Flock’s photo uploader I am about in love with. Want to upload a huge batch of photos to your Facebook? Photobucket? Picasa? Flickr? Any of a number of popular services Flock is linked to? Easy as pie. You can upload from your hard drive to the uploader, choose where you want them to be uploaded, use your default settings or make new (including folders), crop, tag, then click upload and walk away. For Facebook and Photobucket the uploader is faster than their own interfaces. Flock also finds and gives you the option of streaming media from on any page. You can locate and bookmark the streams and choose which (or all) you’d like to scroll at the top of your browser. I tend to use it to quickly view photo streams from Photobucket and Facebook accounts because it gives me scrolling thumbnails.

Flock’s webmail will periodically check and inform you if you have new mail from most web-based mail services. I use it to monitor Yahoo, Gmail, and AOL. I set my Yahoo to be my primary account which means if I click anywhere in the Flock browser, on any page, to send an email, it will come from that account. I like this feature because the nice little orange dot that shows up when I have new email makes it so easy for me–I don’t monitor anything, I don’t check unless I know there’s email.

Flock Official Site
Flock at Wikipedia
Flock Tour
Flock Channel on YouTube

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Written by tldegray

June 10, 2009 at 11:00 am

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