Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

New Twitter

Monday, November 1st, 2010

It turns out more is wrong with the new version of Twitter than I can fit into a tweet or two, so I figured I’ll write a post about my difficulties.

First and most importantly, I expect Twitter to be fast. Due to the nature of tweets, I need to be able to load the page, type in my reply, and then send it off, all within about twenty or thirty seconds. I don’t have time to wait for multiple JS files to load and parse, or all these images to make their way to my screen.

The old Twitter was a single page that was served up almost instantly. The JS was small, and would load very shortly after, and I can work as the images load. The new Twitter seems to hang until after the images are loaded.

The interface also wasn’t doing it for me, because it was cluttered and huge. I work with small screens most of the time, and their enlargening of the site’s format made it even more useless for my purposes. An option or two suddenly wasn’t available (even in the menus), and a tweeter’s face will be multiplied down the page a hundredfold if you visit their stream.

All in all, the new Twitter caters to a very specific user base while cutting out others who don’t use it the same way. It’s not flexible or well-thought-out.

Why Use Twitter?

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

From what I’ve seen, a great many people can’t see a use for Twitter. I understand, because Twitter is best when you’re looking for some specific things.

Think about an iPhone (or equivalent mobile device). Why would you want one of those instead of a laptop? It’s because you can take it with you, and it’s easy to do something quick with it between things.
Basically, it’s small and mobile. Manageable.

Twitter is the same way. Blog posts are long, and aren’t easy to follow when you’re out and about—especially on a mobile phone, which is where Twitter (Twttr, back then) was first envisioned for. You need something small and light, to fit with the mobile nature of your small and light phone.

As well, while you’re working, trying to keep up with blogs can really hinder your progress (believe me, I know). Keeping Twitter open on the side helps you keep in touch with what people are doing, minute-to-minute, while not taking so much overhead that you lose (much) productivity.

Twitter was adopted early and heavily by the professionals of the Open Web, because of what’s possible with it. I could send a message to a top CEO, and I’d likely get a reply back. I could engage many of my idols in conversation (if I had something to say; I hate to come across as an idiot).
Everything said on Twitter is completely public, which is half the magic. (There is a friends-only setting, but those are uncommon, and usually as a second, personal account beside someone’s public account.)

Facebook is a two-way process: you ask to be someone’s friend, and they might let you.
Twitter, on the other hand, has a follower/following model, where who you follow is your own choice. I can follow Obama, or Pepsi, or Bill Gates, if I wanted to. I would see what they’re saying. People can follow me if they find me interesting.
Because of this, I rarely have to worry about spam. I do check whoever is following me, and sometimes I’ll remove them, but they otherwise have no bearing on my experience.

So, if you’re interested in:
-Specific people
-How/What those people are doing
-Open communication
-A ‘marketplace’ kind of social atmosphere

Actually, that last one makes me think of something.
In Canada, if you smile to someone as you pass by them, they might smile back at you. In large gatherings, we find it easy to introduce ourselves to the complete strangers around us and share the experience. I hear this is being put to good use around the Olympic games.
Geeks, too, are similar. We bond together, and share ourselves through our technology (which is why geeks had really taken to Twitter a couple years ago, before the media hype).
In the states, I hear things are far less fun for normal people. I could imagine strangers are suspicious in public places, and you tend to ignore each-other in the streets. Twitter would hold far less appeal to you.
Just a theory.

Anyway, I hope that clears some stuff up. I was skeptical of Twitter (and, in fact, am skeptical of other services I’ve heard about since then), because I didn’t see a use for it in myself. After a while, though, I fell into that Open Web group and started really opening up my life. At the point where I was sharing my feelings to the public, Twitter made perfect sense.


Twitter, and the Future

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

I may have mentioned, once, that Twitter is very public, and so you mustn’t say anything you might regret later.

As it turns out, this is further-reaching than I thought. I did a search for CozyCabbage, which is my Twitter handle, and I was shocked to find an emerging paradigm:
There are hundreds of services that collect every tweet you submit and cram them into any of a number of categories. There’s a site that gathers swear-words (I’ve pretty much got the lowest rating, with something like “shit” in one tweet), and there’s a Whuffie Bank that tracks your social capital. There are a bunch of services that filter out all but the most popular tweets, so that people can get the most out of their Twitter experience. There’s a service that scans every tweet for websites, and then lets anyone see who’s tweeting what about X website.

That last one is great. It seems someone found the IE6 T-shirt I made! (

It seems Andrew Miguelez, a small time web designer from Bucks County, PA, tweeted about it at 2:34 PM on Nov 11th of this year. He had a hard time that morning, because he had stayed up late the other night designing until 3 AM. (Always seems like a good idea, at the time.) He was looking at things like the HTML <button> attribute, and found my shirt.

Stalkery? That only took me about a minute to find.; go there. “A search engine powered by tweets!”

So, what does this all mean? It hasn’t been made into a big thing (and I only found it all by serendipity), so I don’t see it disappearing any time soon. In fact, these kinds of services will keep growing and branching off. Twitter was an ecological explosion, and now all sorts of different life-forms are thriving on this fantastic new terrain.
I think the future will bring tweets into the forefront of modern society. It sounds pretty perplexing, in the context of the past, but I think were were really waiting for an open platform where we could all express ourselves freely and instantly.

It goes beyond this: I’m sure people had said the same thing about computers, and maybe even about some technology before that. When you get right down to it, there’s always something more to add. Twitter requires us to have the right equipment with us, and it takes us a while to open the app and type something in and press send. When we create a constant network of always-on computers commanded by our thoughts, I think we’ll see yet another huge leap.

This whole Twitter thing is reaffirming my faith in humanity. It’s kind of inevitable that we’ll see science-fiction become science-non-fiction: telepathy, cerebral uplinks, pervasive communications…
Some have painted a bleak picture of fascism and war in our less-private future, but I think the reality is that people will find and embrace each-other, and some fantastic things will be built upon the collective intelligence of humanity.

I’ve been meaning to do a year-in-review, but I also want to do a decade-in-review. I’ve been realizing just how far we’ve come in the last ten years, and that’ll help me see where we’re going in the next ten. I think we’ll get further than most people think. The Social Web is just the beginning, but it shows us what kinds of things we can do.


Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Twitter is down. Again.

This brings me to certain trains of thought: How would a decentralized Twitter work? How can it be implemented? What kind of new-age acronym/abbreviation can we use to describe such a decentralized service?

A ‘DeCent’ service isn’t controlled by any one company, with all that entails. Some friends may be cut off from the rest for a period, but the only way the entire service could be shut down is to take the entire internet offline, and then it would still be possible to connect to others in an intranet. That’s a very powerful concept.
As well, you could make certain tweaks on your own, so you can have any interface you want. As long as the data going out is the same, and as long as you parse the incoming data in the same way, you can choose what you want to do with everything else. You can keep a backlog or you can throw everything away without storing anything.

Here’s how the DeCenTweet would work: You take the Twitter API, and create your own implementation of it. Your program would send out a packet of data indistinguishable from a Twitter tweet. Many of these programs already exist in clients like TweetDeck, Seesmic, Twitteriffic, and many more. Such an implementation would be modified to post to your own database, instead of Twitter’s. Instead of making an API call to Twitter, you’ll instead have a list of Following, each with their own URL. The client would check each in turn, updating your stream accordingly.

Speed would be of the essence. When you have a few hundred people pinging your server every half a minute, you’ll need to be able to serve the data near-instantly.

I think I’ll try to create an implementation and see how it works.

WhatWG Twitter account

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

We woke up today with a strange message from the @WHATWG twitter account: “fuck off”

There was some astonishment and a couple of small giggles, but I think we largely ignored it. Later, though, we got a few more strange entries.
I think some kid somewhere had stumbled upon the form, which was located on the front page of Just on the front page, with no password.

UI Fail to the extreme.

Anyway, there was a slew of messages as friends contacted friends and everyone realized they could tweet from the WHATWG twitter account. John Gabriel’s Greater Internet Dickwad Theory proved true. Almost everyone who posted to the account sounded like ten-year-olds.

There were a few gems in the pile, though:

  • We’re scrapping HTML5 in favor of HTML 4.5, a more modest update to the spec. Look for it this fall.
  • The HXTML 2.0 spec has been finalized with only one tag which is <text>.
  • <audio><video><disco>
  • Considering an <o rly=”ya”> tag.
  • Won’t someone please think of the children?!
  • My name is Robert’; DROP TABLE students;
  • </html> tag replaced with </kthnxbai>
  • Hello. I am WHATWG and I am EXCELLENT
  • WHATWG announce working group on emoticons. Homer says (_8(|) ~doh!

After ten minutes, it seems they ran out of API. Now it’s starting up again.
I’ve emailed Hixie, but I’ve no clue when he’ll wake up.

The @WHATWG channel started with over 1307 followers, and have since dropped to 1255.

More news in the future!

More as they come.

  • WHATWG to start work on “Bible5”
  • Trapped in twitter factory, send help!

Followers: 1207. I believe this will continue every hour until someone changes the site.

More edit:
This from the IRC channel:
# [16:33] <beowulf> i say abused, i think it’s important that people buy viagra
# [16:34] <gsnedders|work> Are we going to have to get “I abused @WHATWG” t-shirts
# [16:34] <miketaylr> I’ll take a size M
# [16:36] <Lachy> beowulf, did you really tweet about viagra on @whatwg?
# [16:36] <gsnedders|work> Someone did.
# [16:36] * gsnedders|work glares
# [16:36] <miketaylr> the twitter status is about to hit critical mass a la reply-all ‘stop hitting reply-all’
# [16:37] <svl> The follower count is going into freefall

Edit (19:00GMT):
After another round of spamming, which seems to have left them with 1166 followers, several measures have been taken. Everyone started spamming Twitter’s @spam account with details about the spam, I flooded @WHATWG with wrong passwords — which locked the account — and others mentioned in the IRC that they disabled the form.
So, it appears to be over.

CSSquirrel should do a comic on this! It was epic!

Morse Twitter

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

I’ve had an idea!
Imagine setting up something like a bluetooth headset, except it’s an armband (or whatever) and taps out Morse code, instead.
Your phone can keep a cue of the latest tweets, convert them to Morse code, and then tell the device to tap out each onto whatever body surface you attach it to.

There’s a hitch, of course: few people know Morse code. Still, goes to show that it’s still a feasible communication medium, even today!

Imagine sitting there, staring into space. Your friend asks, “Were you even listening to me?” And you’ll say, “Oh, sorry, no. I was reading my tweets.”

I’m sure some sort of device with a belt could be loosely attached to the finger, and with a signal could run the belt around and cause bumps to appear in certain places, which might give the illusion of reading braille. I’m not sure if that might be faster/more pleasant, as I’m sure more people read braille.
I’m sure there are electronic braille devices around, but I’ve never heard of anything portable.

You know what? Braille is just a different alphabet. I’m sure it would be easy to learn. I’ve got to find a tutorial somewhere.


Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Like a connoisseur regarding the tender morsels on his plate and allowing the fruitful aromas to rise to his nose before taking the first bite, so have I tenderly breathed in (through my ears!) the chatter surrounding Twitter.

And like that connoisseur, I’ve built up a sort of expectation around what I expect from Twitter, before I’ve even tweeted my first.
I’ve decided that it’s best to follow as many people as possible; people you want to become closer to, or friends you want to keep up with. It cannot be a constant stream (a la MSN Messenger), especially with a couple thousand people tweeting all at once, but it should auto-update at some rate. I’ve likened it, recently, to standing in a room with all those you’re following surrounding you. They all have their own circles, and you might catch the odd half-conversation, but it’s not completely engaging. You can do as you wish, and then tune in later. You’ll end up dropping into the middle of conversations, and it really doesn’t matter what was said before.
In this way, Twitter is (or would be, assuming my view is absolute) fundamentally different from every other social media.

I don’t know where I’m going with this.
Long story short, I realized my twitter page had a minimum width and no way to change the styles, beyond changing the background colours and image. So I decided to try my hand at an ajax application.
For some reason, it seems I need to submit my username and password to access my feed. I managed to get everything working with jQuery, but I was getting parsererrors when I tried getting the document from the site (worked fine on a local copy). Some other guy in some forum somewhere had a similar problem, but it seems he had narrowed it down to domain somethings, couldn’t find a way around it, and went off to something else.
I gave up on that one and looked on the great wide web for some help. Someone had made a jQuery plugin that basically just created a bit of a presentation skeleton, grabbed a couple files from Twitter, and inserted those into the skeleton to display your twitter feed on your blog. I deleted pretty much everything and managed to find that some sort of ‘blogger.js’ file is what did the magic (it took the raw stream and grabbed only the text and time of your own posts). I changed the source URL a bit to make it my friends’ feeds, and then I altered the HTML in the blogger.js to add in images and some floats. Then I made an application shortcut with Google Gears, so I get a great little 100px-wide strip with everyone’s icon, name, and message, along with a ‘xx seconds/minutes/hours ago’.
Much better.

I need to learn regexps.

More Twitter?

Monday, May 11th, 2009

“Not again!” you all groan. Well, a couple of you.

I was thinking about URL shortening again, and then I realized that what everyone has been thinking about misses the mark just a little. Sure, you could set up something where you enter your site-admin or an FTP window or whatever, and then edit a file to include one more line, but the odds are it’s not you who’s going to use the service. What if you had a path to your shortening service (.com/shortener.php) that you could give a service like Twitter, and then Twitter could take your long URLs you enter from your mobile device while you’re somewhere doing something that leaves you in no mood to try hacking that into your website first.
What if you could just put into a box on your settings page, and if you happened to tweet a long string it would just use that service, instead of sending it to TinyURL?

If you put it in those terms, your requirements for your shortener change. It must accept a value from a site (probably as a POST variable), maybe check if it’s actually a URL, certainly check if it came from a list of allowed sites (you don’t want some random person throwing spam link into there, to use on other people), write that to an index, generate a new short URL, save that to the index, and then send the result back to the requesting site.

Then that site can put your shortened URL in place of the longer one, and you don’t have to worry about completely-ambiguous URLs; only mostly-ambiguous URLs.
It’ll give you the peace of mind that someone will at least know what site they’re going to, just by looking at the link.

As for the ‘how’: I’ll get to that later. I have to try some things out with PHP, first.

Twitter? PHP? Yes!

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

I’ve heard from a lot of people that twitter shortens URLs, apparently if they’re more than 30 characters. This means that something like would take the full 30, even without an image. I’ve taken a look into what you can do to shorten the URLs you use for your own images:

  1. Top-level domains: If you use instead of, you can slash four characters
  2. Root image folder: If you place a folder for your twitter images in your root, you can point to that folder, such as or
  3. Invisible PHP: If you have a index.php in your folder, you can go to and the server will find the index for you. Send it parameters, such as i for image name, and either g, p, or j for .gif, .png, or .jpg, respectively:

In that final example, the URL is exactly thirty characters long.

For those who want to the PHP script, I have it below:

list($key, $value) = each($_GET);
if(isset($key) && $key != 'p' && $key != 's' && $key != 'm' && $key != 'cat')
{ //wordpress uses 'p', 's', 'm', and 'cat' for posts

$pretension = "<img src='img/twitter/";
$extension = ".bmp' />";
$extension = ".gif' />";
$extension = ".png' />";
$extension = ".jpg' />";

header("Location: http://www.".$key.".com/");
echo $pretension . $key . $extension;

}else{/*do regular index stuff */}

In this snippet, I paste it before the stuff of my wordpress index. certain GET keys are taken by WordPress, so those can never be my first key. As long as it isn’t, it’ll accept it as a short url, and you can use ‘p’ or ‘cat’ or such as the second or later key. Go to to try it out. I’ve set it up so that ‘s’ means the sites I’ve made (I’ve made two, so 1 and 2), followed by a design revision (I only have one recorded on s1, but I have four revisions on s2). So try changing that from s2a to s2b, s2c, or s2d. The ‘p’ at the end denotes a .png file. If you put ‘h’, it’ll take it as an HTML page and redirect you.

If you’re the intensive type, you could set up an array on that page which will match the $key to a list of longer filenames in an associative array, which would let you not rename everything. If you’re referring to other sites, you’ll have to do this.

The way I see it, the shortest you could go is to put
in which you have a maximum of 62 links ($key, from the above PHP example, would be a-z, 0-9, or A-Z), all of a pre-determined type. You could get a four-letter domain-name and something like .ca to shorten it further. Overkill? Yes; but I’m just saying, thirteen characters are possible.

So here’s the challenge: make yourselves or your clients a page where you upload an image, that image is placed in a ‘twitter’ folder in the images directory, the filename is added to the array, the user is given a link to paste, and the there’s some $_GET code in the index.php file that takes a visitor to the content described by the link. I’ll have to throw my own implementation up, though it would be completely useless for twitter while I have such a name as icosidodecahedron (seventeen characters).
I’ll try importing html files, too.