TweetDeck For Android Step By Step September 2nd, 2010
I have been asked to write a guide for people new to Android explaining how to install TweetDeck. For those who aren’t familiar with TweetDeck, it’s a cross platform Twitter client that only recently become available for Android. A lot of people may well have used the desktop version previously; out of all the desktop Twitter clients, TweetDeck is regularly voted one of the top applications and for good reason. TweetDeck isn’t just all about Twitter however; it allows you to also configure your Facebook, MySpace, Foursquare, LinkedIn and Google Buzz accounts.
The Android client shares many of the features of its desktop sibling; however it will only allow you to integrate Twitter, Facebook, Google Buzz and Foursquare accounts. This really isn’t an issue though as MySpace is not as popular these days anyhow and the majority of mobile users will be consumers who probably don’t use LinkedIn (of course there are other LinkedIn applications available from the market if you do require this). Another great feature is that you are able to enter your TweetDeck account details and it will automatically sync the accounts that you use in your desktop client meaning you don’t have to worry about remembering all of your account details individually. Right from the word go the developers over at TweetDeck have given a lot of thought towards the end user experience to ensure it doesn’t become another run of the mill Twitter app (have you looked at Seesmic or Twidroyd recently; both good apps but take away the exterior shell and you are left with very similar and traditional Twitter clients) instead choosing to produce a new, innovative design that’s fresh and exciting.
Installing TweetDeck is simple, although as it is still in beta stage, it is not available to download from the market as yet. To download and install TweetDeck you’ll need to do the following:
- On your device, navigate through Menu>Settings>Applications
- Ensure that the Unknown sources option is checked; if it was previously unchecked you’ll be shown a security dialogue box, acknowledge this to continue
- Open the browser on your device
- Navigate to http://www.tweetdeck.com/go/android/ and your device will download the required .apk file to your download folder on your microSD card
- Next you’ll need an app that is capable of initiating an installation directly from a native .apk file, for novices perhaps the simplest solution is to go to the market and download Linda File Manager
- Once you have downloaded this, open Linda File Manager from the app drawer
- Click the SD Card option
- You should see a folder called download, this is where the browser will have downloaded the TweetDeck installer, click download
- Click TweetDeck-0.9.5.apk (see note below)
- Once the installer has finished installing, click Open to proceed directly to the app to setup your accounts
Notes: I have given you the direct download link from TweetDeck so as new updates are released, clicking this link will download the newer files. You may therefore find that your actual file will differ in version number, this is not an issue; simply install the version that was downloaded.
If you use the desktop version of TweetDeck, you’ll be able to sign in using your TweetDeck account here, this means that you will not have to separately configure Twitter, Facebook, Google Buzz or Foursquare as the app will “pull down” your settings and sync your accounts automatically. If you don’t have a TweetDeck account, then you’ll need to add each account separately by clicking on the appropriate option.
That’s about all there is to it. One of the great things about TweetDeck for Android is that there are not many options to configure, making the experience a simple one; it just works! That’s not to say it is short on features. You’ll notice that your timeline has all of your accounts in one continuous list; each colour coded for easy identification. You’ll even notice that as you scroll up and down through the list, the time at that particular place in the timeline is displayed at the top which I think is a nice touch. You can flick right through 2 more screens to see your mentions (which apply not only to Twitter, but anything that is deemed a “notification” in Facebook also) and your DMs; everything is laid out in a simple yet graphically pleasing way.
One thing worthy of mention at this stage is that unlike any other Twitter app I have ever used on Android, the timeline always remembers where you left it. Not just some of the time, but all of time; no more waking up in the morning and having to manually find where you were the night before because the timeline had somehow managed to “jump” to the top all on its own.
There are four buttons at the bottom of the main screen, the first of which will probably be one of the most used; the button to compose a new update (allowing you to choose which of the accounts you want to update). Next you have a favourite’s button, once you press this you are presented with a user customisable screen whereby you can store your favourite contacts for one touch access to all of their profile and update information. Finally there is the Twitter search and location buttons; the Twitter search button allows you to search trends on Twitter, the location button interfaces with Google Maps to show you your current location.
Once you start using the app, you’ll find more too; like the image preview and location map (but only if the posters update was location aware) below any updates you click on, saving you having to click through 2 or 3 pages to get the same amount of information on other clients. There is the simple slider button to change the display font size and a well laid out configuration screen where you can change your notification options and set the duration between updates; last but not least my favourite feature, whereby the TweetDeck notification icon flips upside down and “dies” if it encounters a problem whilst posting an update. I can just imagine the response of the other members of the development team whilst sat around a table brainstorming when that idea came up, pure genius.
Remember also that this is still a beta product (although in fairness, it is the most stable beta I have ever used, not a single FC or issue to date), which means that it is going to more than likely be updated again before the final release, adding more features based on user feedback. The downside of this is that as the app was not downloaded from the market, you will not receive an automatic notification when an update is available; not a huge issue though. The best way around this is to follow TweetDeck (@TweetDeck) on Twitter as they tweet when an update is available for download (then all you need to do once you click on the link and download any update is to follow the last 5 steps of the guide again to update).
TweetDeck for Android is great app; it’s in a different league to HTC Peep.
HTC Peep Not Working? This Is Why September 1st, 2010
A lot of people will be waking up this morning and finding that they are unable to login to Twitter via HTC Peep on their Desires, confusingly your device will report that you have entered an incorrect username or password combination even though you have not made any changes. The truth is that owing to a behind the scenes change to the Twitter APIs, HTC Peep is no longer compatible and more than likely won’t be for some time.
It’s been common knowledge for some time that Twitter has decided to move away from basic authentication to OAuth for all third party apps; it makes sense that some of the older Twitter clients would be affected by this but you’d have thought HTC would have had the foresight to release an update prior to today, especially given that the switchover date has already been put back previously. I wonder just how many people will be scratching their heads today trying to figure out why HTC Peep isn’t working, not realising that it’s actually a fundamental problem that they will not be able to resolve, no matter how many times they re-enter their details or reboot their devices.
In honesty HTC Peep is actually a pretty poor client anyway; it does the job if you are after a simple Twitter client but it has been left behind feature wise compared to other apps freely available such as Twidroyd, Seesmic or TweetDeck (though still in Beta, this is by far the best Twitter client around in my opinion, you can download from here). Of course if you have flashed a custom ROM onto your Desire already chances are you are not using HTC Peep so this will not affect you; certainly if you are using one of the many vanilla ROMs available you’ll probably be sat at home reading this having a little chuckle to yourself. If not, perhaps this is the excuse you need to delve into custom ROMs and ditch HTC Sense.
Update 02/09/2010 08:30
Here’s an official release from Twitter which I recieved in my inbox overnight; though not effected with the HTC Peep issues myself, frustrating that they only made this public annoucement a full day after the problem manifested itself:
Over the coming weeks, we will be making two important updates that will impact how you interact with Twitter applications. We are sending this notice to all Twitter users to make sure you are aware of these changes.
What are applications?
There are over 250,000 applications built using the Twitter API. To use most applications, you first authorize the application to access your Twitter account, after which you can use it to read and post Tweets, discover new users and more. Applications come in many varieties, including desktop applications like TweetDeck, Seesmic, or EchoFon, websites such as TweetMeme, fflick, or Topsy, or mobile applications such as Twitter for iPhone, Twitter for Blackberry, or Foursquare.
Update 1: New authorization rules for applications
Starting August 31, all applications will be required to use “OAuth” to access your Twitter account.
OAuth is a technology that enables applications to access Twitter on your behalf with your approval without asking you directly for your password.
- Desktop and mobile applications may still ask for your password once, but after that request, they are required to use OAuth in order to access your timeline or allow you to tweet.
What does this mean for me?
- Applications are no longer allowed to store your password.
- If you change your password, the applications will continue to work.
- Some applications you have been using may require you to reauthorize them or may stop functioning at the time of this change.
- All applications you have authorized will be listed at http://twitter.com/settings/connections.
- You can revoke access to any application at any time from the list.
Update 2: t.co URL wrapping
In the coming weeks, we will be expanding the roll-out of our link wrapping service t.co, which wraps links in Tweets with a new, simplified link. Wrapped links are displayed in a way that is easier to read, with the actual domain and part of the URL showing, so that you know what you are clicking on. When you click on a wrapped link, your request will pass through the Twitter service to check if the destination site is known to contain malware, and we then will forward you on to the destination URL. All of that should happen in an instant.
You will start seeing these links on certain accounts that have opted-in to the service; we expect to roll this out to all users by the end of the year. When this happens, all links shared on Twitter.com or third-party apps will be wrapped with a t.co URL.
What does this mean for me?
- A really long link such as http://www.amazon.com/Delivering-Happiness-Profits-Passion-Purpose/dp/0446563048 might be wrapped as http://t.co/DRo0trj for display on SMS, but it could be displayed to web or application users as amazon.com/Delivering- or as the whole URL or page title.
- You will start seeing links in a way that removes the obscurity of shortened links and lets you know where each link will take you.
- When you click on these links from Twitter.com or a Twitter application, Twitter will log that click. We hope to use this data to provide better and more relevant content to you over time.
Thanks for reading this important update. Come and check what’s new at http://twitter.com.
The Twitter Team
It will be interesting to see how long it takes HTC to factor in the new OAuth requirement and release an update; watch this space for news!
BT Broadband Issues And @BTCare August 11th, 2010
As those of you who follow me on Twitter (@mikesouthby) will no doubt have noticed, I have been having some issues over the past month with my BT Broadband service. I’ve had BT Broadband for some time now and usually, it just works. Perhaps it’s not the cheapest solution, but having the convenience of simply having my usage charged directly to my BT account is convenient; and I’ve simply stuck with it. Of course another reason if the inclusion of the Home Hub for free which saves having to go out and purchase a router independently, the Home Hub itself isn’t a bad piece of kit and once you delve into the settings, can do most things; specification wise it even has 802.11n which is an added bonus for home networking.
The service until recently has been OK, being that I live close to my local Exchange (perhaps no more than 600m) I achieve a reasonable download speed of around 6.5Mbps off peak, although this does of course drop owing to contention during the busy periods. Recently however, the problems began.
I noticed around a month ago that randomly, my connection would disconnect and reconnect automatically, sometimes just the once and sometimes 3 or 4 times in a row. There is not particular pattern to when the problem occurs; sometimes it’s in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon and sometimes in the middle of the night. At first I simply put it down to ‘one of those things’, I mean once it had reconnected the service was again stable and would resync at the same speed so no harm done. But after a few days the novelty soon wore off, especially as I am often working over a remote connection.
It was then that I started to make a few comments on Twitter and not long after, was contacted (via Twitter) by BT Care (@BTCare). Now before I go any further, let me just say that I think it’s great that a company like BT are moving with the times and communicating with their customers through modern channels such as Twitter, but as I have learnt over the last few weeks, they let themselves down miserably by not keeping me (or others like me) informed as to what is going on, or even more frustrating, give standard responses that in no way make any sense in relation to the thread of conversation that preceded; it’s almost as if they do not read all of the messages that you send, or that they do not have the ability to group them together into conversational threads and thus, making it easier for them to help.
Back to the problem.
After a few tweets to and fro, I was told that an engineer would need to visit my house to investigate the issue – I already had a good idea what the issue may be but understand that an engineer visit was required – and was given a PM slot on Tues 3rd August. Tuesday comes, Tuesday goes. No engineer arrives and the disconnect/reconnect cycles continue. So I contact BT Care again through Twitter:
- Me: (03/08 18:12) @BTCare Thanks for organising appt. just a shame no-one turned up. Wasted afternoon off work. Still, it’s only money hey? #frustrated
- Me: (03/08 20:06) @BTCare So no visit from engineer today as promised and connection still dropping. Please advise
- Me: (03/03 22:25) @BTCare More drops tonight guys, can this PLEASE be sorted
- BTCare: (04/03 12:27) @mikesouthby That’s not good. I have checked the fault today and another engineer visit is required. Can you tweet me when would be convenient
Another engineer visit is required? No mention of the one who never arrived funnily enough. Still, I need the issue resolved so again, say that I will make myself available at any time convenient for the next engineer to visit.
- Me: (04/03 12:48) @BTCare Another? What happened to the one who DIDN’T turn up yesterday? Again, I am flexible for rebooking.
- BTCare: (04/03 15:15) @mikesouthby I am really sorry the engineer didn’t show yesterday. When would be best for you for the visit. Let me know and I will get on it
Well, it’s good that I finally get an acknowledgement about the engineer not arriving, but surely if they had read my previous tweet they would have read that I am flexible for an appointment instead of having to ask again when I am available. Do they read all my tweets I wonder.
- Me: (04/03 15:25) @BTCare As mentioned in my tweet this morning, I am flexible so to suit
- BTCare: (04/03 15:45) @mikesouthby I have booked an engineer visit for tomorrow between 8am and 1pm. Drop me a tweet to let me know if this doesn’t suit
- Me: (04/03 18:23) @BTCare OK thanks, let’s hope they remember to come this time lol
- BTCare: (05/08 09:36) @mikesouthby I’m sure they will :) Keep me posted
So later on the 5th, a BT Openreach engineer arrives as promised. He asks me what the issue is and I explain it to him, I also say that I think it is most likely a dodgy leg on the line card (having worked on many ADSL installations, I have encountered this a few times); he agrees. However, to be sure he runs all of the various tests that he can on my installation and heads off to the Exchange satisfied that there are no issues here and that the line card is the most likely problem. We’d already discussed changing my routing and moving my connection onto another line card, he said that he would have to contact my provider (BT ironically, you’d have thought it would have been simple, left hand talking to right hand and all) from the Exchange and ask permission to move me. He says he’ll call me with the outcome. Back to Twitter:
- Me: (05/08 10:55) @BTCare Engineer has been, suspected line card issue, as thought. At Exchange now seeking permission to change routing from powers that be
A while later he calls and says that my provider would not allow him to move the connection but was already aware of my problem and had been monitoring the disconnections for a while (like no really, thanks, although I would have preferred you to have done something about it instead of just being ‘aware’ of it waiting to see if I would notice and complain), he went on to say that they would change the latency on my line and see if that made a difference, and would continue to monitor the line for a few days. Back to Twitter once more:
- Me: (05/08 12:08) @BTCare Update. Provider says no to change of routing, instead is reducing speed to compensate for drops. Not best outcome! Will monitor…
Sure enough, later that day during another disconnect and reconnect I notice that my latency changed from Fastpath to Interleaved.
The engineer says that there is nothing else he can do although we both ‘agree’ that changing to another line card would have been a better option; line cards do occasionally cause issues and moving connections onto another so it can be rebuilt is the right way to solve the problem. Let me try and explain it by using an analogy. Imagine driving down the road in your car and out of the blue the engine starts making noises; remembering that until that moment in time the car has been reliable, and hasn’t made any noises that it shouldn’t have done. You’re now faced with two options, you either get your car fixed (obviously the best choice as it shouldn’t be making noises) or alternatively, you overcome the problem by turning the stereo up so you can’t hear it anymore. Of course this essentially is what BT have done, changing the latency will have the effect of making the line less sensitive to error and – they were hoping – stop the disconnections.
Let me try and explain Latency for those who may not fully understand it. There are 2 types of error correction on ADSL; normal forward error correction or FEC, which is based on a set algorithm and Interleaving, which is set on longer lines (by distance) if the line has noise above a prerequisite level. Interleaving complements FEC. During showtime, Fastpath is up to level 2, anything required above level 2 to keep FEC working properly and interleaving will be applied automatically at varying levels up to level 32. High levels of interleaving plus the FEC can cause latency (decrease in speed), even though in theory this will only be in milliseconds.
On a long and/or noisy connection turning off Interleaving (or changing latency type to Fastpath) can cause disconnections. Frequent disconnections can result in the reduction of your IP Profile and throughput/download speeds.
In my case, I live what is deemed to be close to my Exchange (around 600m) and my house is less than 2 years old on one of the many new housing developments in North Swindon. The engineer who visited ironically said he remembered working on installing some of the copper in and around the estate, certainly he said I should have no distance or copper quality issues where I live. What does this prove? Well, coupled with the fact that until now I have had a fast, stable connection with latency set to Fastpath, it means that I should not need my latency changed to Interleave; the distance to the exchange is not long enough, the installation in my house is new enough and neither distance nor age should have a detrimental issue on my connection causing noise or error. The problem didn’t develop, it appeared overnight. In essence, it means that the ‘solution’ given to the engineer by the provider is like turning the stereo up in the example above. The proper solution would be to identify and remedy the problem; the most likely cause would be a developing fault on the line card.
So later that evening, the Twitter thread continues:
- Me: (05/08 19:08) @BTCare More drops. Latency has been changed from Fastpath to Interleaved this evening. Fixing, not overcoming would be preferred
- BTCare: (05/08 19:49) @mikesouthby Hi I checked with our suppliers and they have confirmed everything is now fixed. Tweet me to let me know if this is the case
- Me: (05/08 19:51) @BTCare Not so. Was told they would monitor and leave open. Also, line dropped 45mins ago! What time did they say it was resolved?
Next day and no response, this is where I found the lack of communication start to become frustrating. If a company is to use social media such as Twitter, then it has to do it correctly, not to do so will have a negative effect on what they are trying to achieve; it would have been quicker and less stressful to revert back to the old method at this stage and use the phone (well it is good to talk, right?)
- Me: (06/08 10:03) @BTCare More drops already this morning, and sluggish connectivity. Becoming more frustrating by the day #btbroadband #fail
- BTCare: (06/08 10:24) @mikesouthby Hmm strange, the fault has been closed & all looks good from this end. Are you still experiencing drop outs? Let me know
Evidently, they did not read my tweet less than 20 minutes previously where I clearly stated I was continuing to have issues.
- Me: (06/08 10:36) @BTCare Please READ my tweets before furnishing me with generic responses. If you had, you’d have read ‘more drops already this morning’…
I must have upset them at this stage as they chose to ignore me for the rest of the day. The random disconnections persist and using BTs own speed check test, I get random results, often dropping down as low as 0.69Mbps which on a line with a downstream sync of 8,128kbps is pretty poor. I get my next contact on Saturday morning, again via Twitter:
- BTCare: (07/08 09:54) @mikesouthby I have let the engineers know the problem still exits, updates to come, also if you haven’t used an i-plate,see tiny.cc/1zftp
- Me: (07/08 11:07) @BTCare No, not used an i-plate. Lots of drops today already
- BTCare: (07/08 13:58) @mikesouthby Hey, i tested it and seen the dropouts, i want to get an engineer out to look at it, when would be suitable?
I found this quite funny. So they test my line from their end and can clearly see all of the disconnections, would this not have been a good idea a few nights before when they were happy to close the case; surely it would have made sense to have run a quick check then to make sure for themselves that they were being given good information. Another engineer? I wonder if this one will arrive. Trying to remain positive, I again give them total flexibility in the dates so that I am not causing a delay by not being available.
- Me: (07/08 18:15) @BTCare Anytime I am flexible, just let me know
- Me: (07/08 19:09) @BTCare Can I pre-request a switch to another line card at the Exchange, I suspect this to be the issue. Perhaps it needs rebuilding…
- BTCare: (08/08 16:25) @mikesouthby Hi I have booked an engineer visit for tomorrow between 1 pm and 6 pm. Drop me a tweet if this doesn’t suit
- BTCare: (09/08 11:57) @mikesouthby The engineer will decide during the visit how best to resolve the issue. I’ll tweet you this evening to see how it went :)
I thought it would be good to mention the line card issue directly to BT Care, whether they made a note of this in the case notes I’m not sure, but surely by now they would want to do whatever they could to resolve the issue and get me off their case! Monday comes, Monday goes. No engineer.
At this point I start to get quite angry. I know for a fact if I had not been available when an engineer arrived at a pre-booked time I would have been given the standard £50 invoice for wasting their time, well guess what BT, my time is valuable too and I have already taken 3 half days off by now to wait in for engineers, of which 2 have not arrived. I’d charge business clients £45 an hour so I’m sure you can imagine what’s next:
- Me: (09/08 18:03) @BTCare So yet again the engineer has not turned up. Not happy. Who do I send the invoice to for MY time? #btbroadband #btcare#bt #fail
I get no response.
- Me: (10/08 10:08) @BTCare Still awaiting a response re: yesterdays engineer who didn’t turn up, again. You also said you would contact be last night & didn’t
- BTCare: (10/08 11:24) @mikesouthby Hi our suppliers are currently working on this at the moment. I will tweet you later today once I know more
- Me: (10/08 11:51) @BTCare More drops, expect progress 2day or complaint being filed with #ofcom. This has been going on far 2 long with 2 many false promises
- BTCare: (10/08 15:56) @mikesouthby Hi another engineer appointment is required.Slots are Monday-Friday either AM8:00-13:00 or PM13:00-18:00 let me know what suits
- Me: (10/08 16:37) @BTCare Anytime. I expect them to arrive this time. You still haven’t let me know where to send the invoice for my time for the 2 non shows
- Me: (10/08 16:41) @BTCare Can you also DM me an email address for your complaints dept., and the names of the people who have been dealing with this, thanks
- Me: (10/08 19:04) @BTCare Can you please confirm the appointment details, thanks
- Me: (10/08 22:04) @BTCare Still waiting on an update for engineer booking please?
Finally I get a response this afternoon.
- BTCare: (11/08 13:47) @mikesouthby I’ve booked engineer appointment for tomorrow 12/08/10 PM (13:00-18:00) Let me know if this doesn’t suit. Thanks
- Me: (11/08 14:05) @BTCare No, that’s fine thank you
So there we are; I wonder if the engineer will turn up tomorrow.
My experiences with BT Care over the last couple of weeks have highlighted to me an inherent issue with the way companies are embracing new technologies, Twitter in particular. It seems to be the ‘cool’ thing for companies to complement their online presence with Twitter, Facebook and other similar forms of communication. It’s great; but only if it’s done right.
The moral of the story is that if you do not have the resources or manpower to effectively use Twitter, then don’t. At first I was singing BT’s praises for approaching me about my problem after tweeting, but this has now been tarnished into a frustration that will be hard to shift. I find it hard to praise their efforts when my tweets often go unnoticed or unread. As for not giving me the details of who I need to complain to when asked, that’s inexcusable for such a large company (well, any company actually).
I guess I’ll find out tomorrow if my problem is going to be fixed as it should have been on the very first engineers visit, but regardless, BT you must do better. Either put more people on the BT Care team to work with Twitter if understaffing is the issue, develop a better system of working or educate your staff to better their Customer Service skills.