I'm a big fan of twhirl. In general I'd suggest using any of the Adobe AIR apps for twittering or a FireFox plugin. Keeping a page open just to twitter just isn't going to work for me.
Bonus to using an app is that you get a 'ding' sound when someone sends you an @reply or direct message.
I'd also like to remind people to go into your twitter "settings -> notices" and make sure that you have "show me all @replies" checked. With that setting you can get @replies from people even though your not following them. It makes it easy for people to get in touch with you.
Jason, you can set up your Tweetdeck page to show different categories of those you follow. it's super convenient to be able, at a glance, to see the tweets of your friends vs the news outlets and various pro bloggers.
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