New Triberr Review – Better than Old (Legacy) Triberr?

Having done many projects from WordPress blogs to complex enterprise software implementations, I tend to ask these questions when a website/software will be redesigned or upgraded. Consider these as fundamental questions that should be addressed from the beginning or early inception of the idea. Here are some of the questions at the top of my mind now that I\’ll use to review the new Triberr:

  • What is the main objective of the upgrade/redesign?
  • What is working; what is not working now?
  • What are the features (requirements) needed by stakeholders
  • How will it benefit the business
  • How will it impact the customer
  • What are the risks that could potentially stall progress
  • How will you evaluate the success of the project

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What is the main objective of the upgrade/redesign?

From a customer perspective, I believe that Dino and co.  hits the jackpot when he discussed in a blog posts that the old Triberr\’s usability leaves much to desired. The upgrade is supposed to bring complete design overhaul that will offer an awesome user interface.

Looking at the new Triberr you can definitely see the vast improvement in design. While this definitely gives Triberr the \”eye candy\”, UX is much more than aesthetics. Later on I\’ll discuss some small annoyances with the new Triberr.

What is working; what is not working?

This is based in my experience alone.

What is working : the idea about tribes, tribe invite system, freemium business model, blocking/muting, posts distribution through Twitter and other social networks

What is not working well: Triberr comment system (there\’s a huge room for improvement here), laborious manual post approval (workflow could be tedious when you have hundreds of tribe-mates , pagination is sometimes hit or miss, post filtering sometimes does not work and statistics not accurate.

What are the features (requirements) needed by stakeholders?

I could only speculate that most of the top requested features are the inspiration for the redesign but I believe there are more pressing issues that must be addressed within Triberr soon. Things like Triberr plugin to be available not just for WordPress but also in other blogging platforms. Not sure why Triberr can\’t just have universal JavaScript code that lets you import posts using RESTful API or something similar. Then there are requests for granular scheduling controls so that you can only permit certain time for sharing posts. Ultimately these will make Triberr more useful but it is not available yet.

How will it benefit the business ?

The way I see it — with the redesign, more users will take Triberr more seriously, consider it within the same league as Twitter and Facebook, and include Triberr in their social media strategy. More power users = more prime members = better cash flow.

How will it impact the customer?

My first reaction after the new Triberr rolled out was this:

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After a while it turned to something like this:

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It seems that Triberr is back to beta status. I seriously don\’t feel bad or disappointed because what Dan, Dino and company created is tremendously helpful to blogging community so I am not complaining. I\’m just concerned to prime members and how new comers perceive Triberr as a service or a platform. While paying members get to preview the latest version of Triberr before regular (non-paying) members get to see it, some major bugs are still in the wild after the new Triberr is released to the public.

The transition from old (legacy) version to the new version is also not seamless. Some users still love to use the old version but having to two versions only confuses some. For example some posts appear only in the legacy version forcing me to switch back and forth the old and new versions to approve certain post. I\’m not sure why this is even happening. The infinite-scroll feature also lags when loading more posts and this frustrates both new and old Triberr users. I know it is still work in progress but isn\’t better UX the primary goal of the redesign? It should have been the top priority.

The no-click approval feature truly saves time and prevent clicking fatigue and in my opinion, one of the best features introduced — but it doesn\’t mean it is flawless. Some users reported that it is not working as expected.

So far the experience is so-so. Half the time you\’ll read accolades, then half the time you\’ll read complains about certain feature that doesn\’t work really well.

What are the risks that could potentially stall progress?

Regular Triberr users have witnessed the long downtime last week and it shows that even a well planned event could go wrong. It also showed how many Triberr supporters are out there willing to understand the tough situation that puts Dino, Dan and Andres sleepless for several days.

With the amount of transparency and accessibility from last weeks trials, I wonder why the new Triberr doesn\’t feel as polished as I expected it to be. How do Triberr team prioritize and resolve bug fixes is beyond the scope of my review but Triberr could learn more from the difficulty last week so that they could cut the risks involved in bug fixing and day to day operations.

How will you evaluate the success of Triberr Redesign?

Only Triberr can answer this but if I were to measure the success of the redesign, I would use measurable data such as prime membership sales, post shared in all social networks, total engagements, new sign-ups and more quantitative information.

Summary

Over all it feels like the new Triberr needs more time to fully materialize. While the basic features work there are bugs all over the place. To add insult to injury, the database corruption one week before the public release of the new Triberr  made it a difficult experience to everyone not just to Triberr team.  In the end, the focus for better user experience seems to be overshadowed by unpolished features.

I certainly look forward to progressive improvements and rolling updates that will eventually solve the issues I have discussed here. More power to Triberr!

Update: The tribe has spoken! See the comments below. Team Triberr will have bug fixing marathon over the weekends. Stay tuned!

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TweetDeck Alternatives for Android and iOS Power Users

TweetDeck for Android, iOS and Air

When Twitter abandoned TweetDeck for Android and iOS last week to focus on the web version of the popular Twitter client, I was not surprised. If you look at the frequency of updates since Twitter acquired TweetDeck, the mobile apps were last updated on 4th quarter of 2011 but the HTML 5 and Chrome app managed to get regular updates. It seems they have neglected Android and iOS clients completely from the beginning. So for Twitter to say that “over the past few years, we\’ve seen a steady trend towards people using TweetDeck on their computers and Twitter on their mobile devices,” is a well-coordinated plan. More users would have used TweetDeck on mobile if only Twitter exerted enough effort on its development. Obviously the priority is still on Twitters\’ very own client.

The Air version was upgraded to HTML 5 (basically the same as Chrome) when Twitter acquired TweetDeck. It is not the old TweetDeck Air that we used to love or hate. Version 0.38.2 is the last Adobe Air version.

I didn\’t miss the Adobe Air version too much because I stopped using it years ago. I don\’t know why some people can\’t move on. The only feature that I miss in  TweetDeck Air, which is still useful today, is the \”[email protected] from friends to others\” feature that enables you to see all conversation even if you are not following the friend of your friends. If you want to stalk your friend or monitor all conversation happening on Twitter then you\’ll need it but why meddle in between conversations when it doesn\’t concern you? I don\’t have a strong opinion on why you should bother so I am fine without it.

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TweetDeck HTML 5 and TweetDeck for Chrome is the best Twitter client for desktop because it doesn\’t hog your computer resources and most of the features of the original TweetDeck Air is still there with additional innovations like the combined timeline columns for multiple accounts.

TweetDeck Replacement for Android

I consider myself a Twitter power user. I have several accounts and I seldom use the main timeline as my source of updates. Since I use lists to segment the people I am following it is  also the main reason why I don\’t use Twitter for Android as my main Twitter client. It seems that Twitter does not highlight the importance of lists anymore but it is one of the most useful feature Twitter ever has. I rely too much on lists that I consider apps without an option to remove the \”home\” timeline, to replace with other lists, inferior compared to those apps supporting this feature. TweetDeck doesn\’t have the option to remove the main timeline but at least there is an option to stop it from updating. I think the only reason I keep on using TweetDeck is due to its individual column refresh interval and alert settings. The HTML 5 and Chrome app inherited this feature but for me, it is much more useful in the mobile app.

As a back-up plan I have been using other great TweetDeck alternatives since last year.

These are my top three:

These three are very easy to customize and they have lots of features perfect for meticulous Twitter users like me.

Boid has a default Holo dark theme which is my preferred theme in all my Android apps Ubersocial and Plume can be customized to have dark themes similar to Holo. I would like to include Hootsuite in my preferred Twitter client for Android but the Android version is unstable in my experience; it pales in comparison to the iOS version.

TweetDeck Replacement for iOS

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Speaking of iPhone, I am not a heavy user of Twitter in iPhone or iPad partly because there is no free Twitter app that is good enough for me in iPhone or iPad and partly because I can do so much more in Android twitter clients that there is no need for me to use any Twitter on iOS. However if I would choose a free Twitter client that would be Hootsuite and for the paid client I\’ll choose Tweetbot.

How about you? What will be your primary Twitter client for mobile?

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App.net Free Account Available Now – Who Has an Invite?

App.net Free Account

At first I was surprised that you can already register an App.net free account when its goal from the beginning is to offer an ad-free service. It was made possible by offering premium paid-only service, at least initially.

Freemium model usually offset the cost of operations by displaying ads to non-paying users or by selling the data generated from the service to other business. There are many ways to carry out a freemium model so it does not mean App.net will start doing one of those things I mentioned.

So how does an ad-free network where users already pay $36 yearly or $5 monthly to use the service benefit with the new App.net freemium model?

Freemium is the way to go

You only pay the service because either it is so good and important or you need more features not available in the free plan.

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To understand the switch from premium to freemium model you have to go back and read this article from The Verge where it details how App.net expanded its current paid offerings by offering cloud storage on top of its social network. All paid packages now offers 10 Gb of cloud storage  since late January this year.

Even when you look back at the first project announcement App.net is heavily inspired by services with freemium model namely Github and Evernote.

How to register free App.net account?

In order to get the App.net free tier account you must have an invite first. Free tier account users are similar to paid accounts but limited to following 40 users, file storage is much smaller – 500 MB,  and the max upload file size is only 10 MB.

While some paid user may think of downgrading to free account this could make App.net more popular because now even paid users can lure more of their friends and family inside the social network without any obligation.

This will also benefit the community because only the trusted people will be invited greatly reducing the risk of spam. Also with the limitation of free account, spamming or nonsense rambling seems futile. As free users hit the limitation there is a likelihood someone will upgrade just like how Evernote and Dropbox users upgrade to paid plans.

I am not an App.net user yet but I am interested on the service since last year. This might be the best time to try it out. Who knows, I might get an invitation sooner or later. If you are in App.net already and have a free invite to spare, please contact me directly here.

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How Safe is Your Blog from Hacking?

If you search my blog, I have written enough topics about security wishing that it will help normal (non-geeky) people be more aware of simple exploits on their browsers and WordPress blogs. Hopefully it leads them to heed my advise and be more careful online.

I think I am paranoid enough that I worry how other people access the files that I share with them and I also mind where my files are going. In times when cloud is becoming the new norm in hosting files, trust has become a sensitive topic to me when choosing providers.

Everyone gets hacked one way or another

Unless you don\’t have any digital footprint or you live inside a cave, you probably have been hacked in one way or another.

Even the biggest social network companies get hacked. LinkedIn had several million user passwords leaked. Many famous Twitter accounts get hacked everyday. Even Facebook gets hacked and they don\’t even know what hit them. So what keeps hackers from hacking your website or blog?

After installing all the recommended WordPress security plugins, how sure are you that you\’ll be safe from exploits or zero-day attacks?

You can never be 100% sure. Even if your host has the most advanced firewall it could still be vulnerable. That\’s the thing about security. No matter how hard you try in securing something, there will always be someone trying to break inside.

Don\’t overlook security warnings and updates

If you know that there are security holes on your software, don\’t wait too long. Act immediately and patch things up.

The beauty with open source software like WordPress is that you get to receive upgrades almost immediately after a security report had been reported, or at least in a regular interval. Of course, it is equally ugly too because anyone who has knowledge about the problematic code can exploit the reported issue quickly too. It doesn\’t make closed software safer because there will be a limited number of developers working on a patch unlike open source — there are potentially hundreds or even thousands of contributors willing to fix the security hole immediately. But here is a catch — as an end-user, you have an obligation to update your own installation.

If you are lazy to update or you don\’t have the courage to mess around with codes or manually patch files, forget open-source and get a hosted service instead or hire a pro or someone who understands it more than you do. (Hire me?)

Commonly ignored part

The weakest link in security hardening is often the user. If you don\’t change your thinking about your blog security, you\’ll end up regretting it.

Do not forget to back-up. I repeat: DO NOT forget to back-up!

WordPress security tools are there to remind you that you cannot bullet-proof security. Even the WordPress plugin \”Bulletproof security\” is not so bullet-proof. It gets update from time to time because it has security flaws too. You always have to check the security status regularly and act quickly to prevent disaster from happening.

Remember: Security is not set-it-and-forget-it.

Server and Network-Level Security

This is not commonly discussed in WordPress blog security but as you add more layer of security, there is a bigger chance that you\’ll survive or prevent an attack.

Take CloudFlare as example. It is a free service that could remedy several security problems with websites and blogs on a network level; however, it is not a one-fits all solution.

You still have to update your operating system! Yes, many people have switched to the cloud but even if you are hosted in the cloud there are still components that needs to be updated because you cannot run a website without an operating system such as Linux and Windows.

Recovery

WordPress has a long list of FAQ when your WordPress blog get compromised. It is not only applicable for WordPress blogs only. Most of the tips there are also good for other online software that was hacked.

Stay calm.

You have to stay calm to be able to deal with this situation. The first step before you respond to any security incident is to calm yourself down to make sure you do not commit any mistakes. We are serious about it.

For me, the most important tip listed in the list is to keep your calm. Panicking usually results to more disastrous result. If you back-up regularly and you keep your back-up files safe you can recover almost instantly. Hopefully you learn a lesson or two from the bad experience and do not repeat the same mistake again.

Photo credit to ndanger

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I\’m in Top 5% Influencers According to Kred. Now What?

I got an email from Kred two weeks ago and I was amused to know that I am in the Top Kred 5% Influencer (Global). I\’m not even trying to collect Kred but someone must be noticing.

Kred Influence is the measure of what others do because of you.

PeopleBrowsr published details here on how they compute the scores. The beauty of the system is that every points count. Everything is transparent. You can check how your scores added up and how your actions influenced others.

Take note that Kred uses a double logarithmic scale so if you got a 10%, 5% or 1 % Top Influential Badge, it means that you really are somewhere at the top of the scale.

So what good is it to be top Kred influencer anyway?

Unlike Klout where I get international Klout Perks from time to time, I have not experienced any Kred rewards yet.

I\’m not disappointed. After all, I didn\’t join these services to get a prize. Both Klout and Kred can be used for certain metrics and how you use those numbers depend entirely on you.

For someone based in the Philippines, Kred only gives me a bragging right and an arbitrary number to post in my blog profile. It is cool because it looks like a gold trophy. It doesn\’t deter me from engaging  my community. Actually, it inspires me to engage more with my community because I know that I am sharing something with value.

Again, who knows? I might get a Top Kred 1% Influencer badge next time and that might become my stepping stone on becoming the next big thing in online brand endorsement  (even product management) here in the Philippines.

Check my Kred profile here and don\’t forget to send a +Kred.

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Warning: Mobile & Responsive Design Is Not Just a Fad

You might have read an article reporting that there will be more mobile devices than humans by 2017. It is not a joke. According to this post, our mobile data appetite doubled in size in 2012 so if you are ignoring mobile and responsive design you should think about it.

Last month I noticed a record high stats in my blog. About 25% of my visitors came from iOS or Android operating systems which means more and more people are using their mobile devices for browsing the web – if this isn\’t obvious yet. Even desktop owners would switch to browsing the web in mobile devices.

 A study revealed that 37% of PC users migrate activities to mobile devices according to NDP Group. 

Every month I discover more and more of my friends are buying iPad and Android tablets, not to mention they already have mid-range to top of the line smartphones. Not all have mobile data plans but they always have access to free Wi-Fi whether in the coffee shop or in the office.

Responsive Design

Now going back to my visitor statistics, I made a decision to finally switch to a responsive blog design. I have been planning about it since last year. Beginning 2013 with a new look and feel seems to be the best timing. I already have mobile theme specific for mobile browsers for several years but I favor responsive design because it is more fluid and it adapts even to different PC monitor sizes. I went back to coding CCS3 last weekend and understood how effective responsive design is. Think again – if you don\’t cater for the needs of your blog readers, and found your blog unpleasant to read they will leave and read elsewhere.

I don\’t change my blog themes a lot but if my documentation is correct my blog is officially on the 5th major redesign. Below is a screenshot on how my blog would look like on a very small screen. Also try re-sizing your browser to see it in action.

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Mobile First Design

The best example on mobile first design is Instagram. From the very beginning it is focused on mobile phones only. Even after Facebook bought it the focus is still on mobile design.

You might have read terms like graceful degradation and progressive enhancement also. They tend to be interchangeable but there is a slight difference.

If you are just starting a blog, you might consider progressive enhancement instead because it is the real mobile first design. You already present the best design possible on mobile devices and when there is a need to use bigger screen the site would scale up and be enhanced.

Between graceful degradation and progressive enhancement, progressive enhancement is much better in theory because when you start simple and neat in a mobile device then scale up to a bigger desktop screen, your design would be better off than a design made to fit for a bigger screen and then reduced to lesser quality after.

In the case of my blog – I started this long time ago so it\’s not simple to scale down with mobile first design.  I use many widgets and they tend to favor bigger screens.

To be honest, this graceful degradation and progressive enhancement sounds like a chicken and egg argument so I\’ll leave it to you what\’s best for your website or blog.

I just started my Facebook Page. Please like it if you like what you\’ve read here. Link found below. Thanks!

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