In a large number of articles, I’ve talked about quite a few options for getting notifications for emails, new blog posts or social media updates (such as those from Facebook or Twitter). There are a lot of good options available. Most Twitter clients for Linux use their own notification systems, and there are individual status updaters for Gmail and Google Reader. In the last couple of versions of Ubuntu, the new Indicator Applet has attempted to become a place where your email, social media and chat updates will appear. But the Indicator Applet isn’t for everyone, and it also doesn’t support every possible type of messaging people use (such as Gmail). Of course, no solution supports every option, but CloudSN (which stands for Cloud Services Notifications), not only supports quite a few services out of the box, but supports dozen more by simple RSS notifications.
First, the default services. If you’re a user of Gmail, Google Reader, Twitter or Identi.ca, you’ll find that you’re supported by default. Twitter users will need to wait for an update, however, now that Twitter has stopped simple authorization and moved all its clients to OAuth, an authorization scheme not yet supported by CloudSN. If you do use one of those services, using CloudSN is as simple as giving your new account a name, then filling in your credentials. With some services, such as Gmail, you have an option to also search for new messages under certain filters (besides your Inbox), while for others simply entering in your username and password is enough.
CloudSN then checks those accounts periodically, looking for new messages, blog posts or other updates. When it finds something new, it uses your notification system to create a pop-up balloon, informing you of the new message. You get to choose how often CloudSN looks for new messages, as well as how many notifications (per account) it shows. If you want to hear a sound when something new arrives, CloudSN can do this as well. And CloudSN works for both those users using the new Indicator Applet, as well as users wanting a simple Status Icon. In either case, you’ll see each account you have entered into CloudSN, as well as how many unread messages or updates you have.
In addition, each service is configurable as to what action is taken when it is clicked in the menu. For instance, if you get a new Twitter update (once the service is working again, of course), you may choose to open the Twitter homepage in your favorite web browser. Inputting something like the following would do the trick:
You could also choose the name of your favorite Twitter client:
I’ve used CloudSN off and on over the past week, and have been really happy with how it works. I love the fact that it supports many of the services I use and for which I want to receive updates. But Facebook isn’t supported, which is kind of a drag. Except… it actually is.
In addition to the four named services (Gmail, Google Reader, Twitter and Identi.ca), CloudSN supports POP and IMAP email accounts, and something called RSS News. Now, this doesn’t have to be “news” per se, but it is a way to get updates from your favorite blog, news website or… Facebook. Although not heavily advertised, Facebook does offer feeds for some of the common types of messages (notifications, posts, updates). Finding this information isn’t very simple via Facebook, but a quick Google search should do the trick. Once you’ve found the correct feed, simply paste it into the RSS News account, give it a name, and from then on, all the posts, notes and updates from your Facebook friends will show up in CloudSN.
At the moment, CloudSN is really good. I don’t have anything specific that’s negative. I love that it works not only with Indicator Applet but as a standard Status Icon, because while I use Ubuntu, that means it’s not specific to Ubuntu and can be used by other Linux distributions as well. I like the notifications and sounds (although I turned the sounds off), and the many supported web services, plus generic POP3, IMAP and RSS, is nice as well. It’s good looking and seemed stable in my trials. All in all, it’s a really good choice for people who use a lot of services and don’t want to clutter up their Indicator Applet or Status bar with a ton of different icons for individual updaters. CloudSN takes care of, maybe not all of them, but a whole lot of them.