Posting to multiple Facebook accounts, Part II

Almost exactly one year ago, I described how you can use Hellotxt.com to post to multiple Facebook accounts by using a Twitter account and having that get relayed into your secondary Facebook account. Not the most elegant solution, but it does work. Of course, I’m never satisfied so I continued the hunt. Recently I tried Posterous.com and actually got that to add multiple Facebook accounts; however, it sort of creates it’s own social site and I was just looking for a straight posting mechanism.

Rediscovering Pixelpipe

My most recent discovery is Pixelpipe. (It’s actually a re-discovery because I found I already had an account :-)) It is similar to Hellotxt in that it lets you send one post to multiple services, but Pixelpipe seems to have a much larger catalog of supported services, it calls “pipes”.

The pipe that suits my particular need is plain ol email. Yup, Pixelpipe will send your post to an email address. Sounds boring and is easily overlooked, but ended up being the Holy Grail for me. Since Facebook lets you update your status via email–voila!–put the two together and you can update multiple Facebook accounts using Pixelpipe!

All you need to do is determine your special Facebook status update email address. Just login to Facebook and then go to http://Facebook.com/mobile. Under “Upload via email” you’ll see it. The subject line is used as the status text and you can attach images. Keep in mind, of course, that you really need to protect this email address since it opens up the door for anyone to update your Facebook status!

On a side note, you can reset this email address to a new one, but it’s kinda hidden. You have to go to http://m.facebook.com/upload.php and click the Reset Address link.

I sort of like this method of updating my Facebook status because it doesn’t require me to give permissions to a third-party application. Also, it is purely one way.

Pixelpipe supports a plethora of other social sites including, of course, the ubiquitous Twitter. The interesting thing is that I came across Pixelpipe because it is listed in the Hellotxt applications. Guess they don’t see it as a competitor.

Multiple Facebook Pipes

Note that I was able to actually add two Facebook “pipes”, but it’s a little tricky. When you authenticate your Facebook account in Pixelpipe (or even Posterous), you are also logging into your Facebook account. As such, you have to open the Facebook page in your browser (press F5 to do a page reload to be sure) and log off before authenticating the second Facebook account. (If you don’t know how to log out, click on Account in the top-right corner and choose Logout from the drop-down menu.) My suspicion is that although this works, it’s an unintended result. I say this because if you later change the settings, you may see the warnings that you need to reauthorize your Facebook accounts.

iPhone App

Pixelpipe has a decent iPhone app too. It’s a little confusing at first. Initially, the app opens on its Media page and you see all the photos on your phone. It looks like the app wants you to upload *all* your pics somewhere, because there is a large scary green button that says Upload All. To just post a new status, tap the Post button at the bottom.

To post selected  image(s) to your Pixelpipe services follow these steps (Substitute the word “post” where Pixelpipe say “upload” and things will make more sense.):

  1. Tap the arrow to the right of the picture
  2. Enter your post text in the Title field
  3. Tap the Save button
  4. Select the image by tapping the thumbnail. A checkmark will appear next to the thumbnail.
  5. The green button on the bottom will change to “Upload 1 item”. Click it. (Obviously you can select and upload more than one image at a time if you want to.)

Pixelpipe @Tags can be used to post to only certain services. Tags without the @ will appear as Twitter hashtags. The Caption entry has no impact on Facebook or Twitter. It is used as the caption text should you post to, say, Flickr

Image Hosting

The images are uploaded to your Facebook photos and, by default, somewhere on Pixelpipe for linked Twitter pics. (Note that you can set images to automatically scale down prior to uploading in the Settings, which is a nice feature–no reason to be posting 5MP images usually.) If you have, say, Flickr added as a pipe, you can have your Twitter pics hosted there instead of on Pixelpipe. In other words, the URL-shortened link will point to Flickr. Other image sites are supported.

The app is not compatible with the iPad for some reason, but you can just use the website page on the iPad.

So far I’m very happy with Pixelpipe, but am kinda sad to stop using Hellotxt. Of course, I’m fickle and who knows what I’ll be using tomorrow!

UPDATE 2010-08-05:
I tried setting up two email Pixelpipe services pointing to two different Facebook accounts, but this stopped working today. Facebook must have some sort of spam detection that ignores duplicate posts to multiple emails. I guess that makes sense. My solution is to have one actual Facebook service and one email to Facebook. That should be ok, I hope.

Trillian Astra beta multi-protocol IM client

For years, I used Trillian Pro (TPro) exclusively to chat with all of my ICQ, AIM, MSN, and gTalk friends. I liked it cuz I could not only handle all of IM needs in once place, but it saved conversations, which is nice when you need to refer back to something. It would also monitor my gmail and yahoo webmail accounts.  However, TPro would often grab up a boatload of RAM and I migrated over to the web-based Meebo.com client several months ago.

The folks at Cerulean Studios have been working on the next generation of Trillian called Astra for years. So long, in fact, I thought it would never come out and I had given up. Well, it finally is in beta and I installed it today. I’m thrilled to report that so far it works as well as TPro and is occupying a paltry 14k of RAM.

I won’t even attempt to cover all of it’s features and benefits, go over here for that. Some neat new Astra features that TPro didn’t have include support for Facebook including chat, and Twitter.

It feels like more of a TPro version 4 than an entirely new app. It has a spiffier look, but functionally it’s very similar to TPro. It still has the same confusing options and preferences that always seemed to be scattered all over the UI. Fortunately, you don’t have to mess with settings too much, but on the plus side it is very configurable.

Fixing the memory issue alone is enough for me to return to Trillian and I’m happy to be back. Web clients are nice, but there’s nothing like a good desktop app. It installed right over my TPro and retained all of the existing accounts and settings. I believe after 30 days I’m going to have to pony up $10 to upgrade. It’s $25 for new users. Worth it IMHO.