Filed Under (Geekstuff, Internet, Social Media, Technology) by Sean on December-21-2008

I wanted to post this brief update about a new feature I discovered recently by accident while testing Twitter clients for my Android-based G1 smart phone. “@Replies” on Twitter now picks up tweets that are addressed to multiple people in a chain. These replies also appear to follow the same rules I pointed out in my previous post about Twitter in how @Replies work (alas it still appears most people don’t understand these important points, however). For example, if you send a tweet as follows: “@bob @jane @jim @jesus @mary @joseph have a good holiday,” then each and every person in that chain of addressees will have the tweet appear on their @Replies page! Note, however, if you interrupt the chain in any way, it breaks this behavior, e.g., “@bob @jane and @jim are you coming to my party,” @jim in this case will not get the tweet on his @Replies page. As noted, the rules from my previous post apply. In my first example, even if @mary doesn’t follow the person who sent the tweet, she will still get it in her @Replies tab nevertheless. Clients that use the Twitter API to track @Replies also follow these rules, as I found my accident when testing nanoTweeter for my G1.

Enjoy!



Filed Under (Internet, Social Media, Technology) by Sean on July-23-2008

It appears a major glitch has surfaced in Twitter where many people’s follower and followee numbers have been cut in half, in many cases. This is evidenced by the numbers that appear on your twitter page. You’ll also notice, if you visit the page of a suspected unfollower, you’ll no longer be able to nudge/message them, confirming your worst fears. However, if you visit the direct message page, you’ll notice they still appear under the drop down and you can successfully send them a direct message. They will also see you in their twitter stream, so don’t fear!

Go to getsatisfaction.com and report this bug or ditto if someone else has reported it (many have). I suspect this is due to a database caching issue since they have started partitioning the application to make it scale better. Hopefully they fix it soon!!

UPDATE

It appears I spoke too soon! I just noticed that my direct messages page does in fact reflect a number much less than the followers I have; in my case, this is a reduction of more than 80%! Likewise for the number of people I follow.

If this is a catastrophic data loss where we will have to re-follow everyone we’ve built up over months or years, I suspect Twitter stands to lose a similar percentage of users . . . .

Come on Twitter!!



Filed Under (Geekstuff, Internet, Social Media, Technology) by Sean on June-15-2008

Since Twitter‘s popularity is ever accelerating, resulting in it almost becoming a utility, not unlike email, I wanted to take a moment to lay out some details about how communication takes place using it. I still find many do not realize how @ replies work and as a result their tweets are not received by their intended audience.

The problem arises when a twitter user tweets about what another twitterer is doing, e.g., “@ted is kicking my ass in Wii Tennis.” Let’s say that @bill is the sender of this tweet. Let’s assume that both @bill and @ted have @sue as a follower. @sue will get the above tweet on her twitter stream, as intended. Let’s also assume that @betty follows @bill, but not @ted. Here is where things get dicey. @betty will not get this tweet on her twitter stream, even though she follows @bill who sent it! It will still appear on the public timeline. The problem is that Twitter assumes that all tweets that begin with @username are intended as a tweet directed at that user. In this case, Twitter assumes that @bill’s tweet above is being sent to @ted, when that is clearly not the intention. An additional unintended consequence is that this tweet will appear in @ted’s replies tab when @ted is logged into twitter through the web.

The lesson to be learned here is to never begin a tweet with a @user unless it is intended as a reply or tweet to that user.

How do we get around this such that we re-frame this tweet so its original intent is realized? Simply insert a word, character or space before the @user as appropriate, or, better yet, exercise those elementary school grammar muscles and rephrase the tweet altogether, e.g., “getting my ass kicked by @ted in Wii tennis.”

There is an exception to the behavior that I’ve outlined above. On your Settings page, there is a Notices tab. Contained within that tab is a section called “@ Replies.” The default setting (and recommended setting if you follow more than a few dozen people) is “@ replies to the people I’m following.” If you select the “all @ replies” setting, then you would get all @ messages from someone you follow even if you don’t follow the user to whom the tweet is addressed. If @betty above had this setting chosen in her settings, she would get @bill’s tweet above in the second paragraph. If @betty followed 400 people, however, and each person sent an average of only 3 tweets per day addressed to people @betty didn’t follow, she would get an additional 1,200 tweets per day! I personally wish Twitter would allow you to set the @ reply settings on a per followee basis. For example, if @betty followed @bill as above, and @bill was a very clever twitterer or A-list twitterati who communicated with followers that @betty would perhaps also be interested in following, then she could optionally select a custom @ reply setting for @bill such that she would see all his tweets, even if they were directed at people she didn’t follow. Likewise, she could decide that she doesn’t want to see @willy’s @ replies if they aren’t directed at her or people she follows.

I hope I’ve accomplished my mission of clearing up how @ replies work in Twitter, and more importantly, compel twitterers to stop starting tweets with @ if they aren’t directed at that person!



Filed Under (Politics) by Sean on April-23-2008

As promised, I am posting the full chat log from the IRC channel #PennsylvaniaPrimary, created by @davewiner. This started around 7:30 CT and the log posted here goes through about midnight. I thought it was a great live backchannel in addition to Twitter (@scobleizer even joked that he thought Twitter was IRC) that wasn’t part of the public timeline, so here it is. It the raw IRC log file so you’ll see lots of superfluous information about people coming and going and other myriad IRC messages. Enjoy!

Now talking on #PennsylvaniaPrimary

<davewiner> Thanks to @adarg for the reminder

<davewiner> @adamrg

<maslowbeer> ah good fun all tweeps!

Virtudude (n=virtudud@c-76-24-20-91.hsd1.ma.comcast.net) has joined #PennsylvaniaPrimary

berryhill (n=berryhil@195.229.242.53) has joined #PennsylvaniaPrimary

agessaman (n=adam@pool-71-113-74-244.sttlwa.dsl-w.verizon.net) has joined #PennsylvaniaPrimary

GabeW (i=gwachob@pdpc/supporter/professional/GabeW) has joined #pennsylvaniaprimary

<maslowbeer> there we go :)

Read the rest of this entry »



Filed Under (Stuff, Technology) by Sean on April-21-2008

If you are not seeing updates for people you follow on twitter through the web or your favorite client (e.g., twhirl, etc.), you are not alone! Be sure to go to this page and report it! Furthermore, tell everyone to do the same if they’re also experiencing the same problem. Let’s see if we can get about 20,000+ people to get the attention of the twitter people and at least get an update to what’s going on!

(UPDATE)

It appears if you visit this page, they have acknowledged the problem (I presume it’s the same issue noted here from a month ago). See if having them clear your cache solves the problem. I have asked them to clear mine and will post the results here.

(UPDATE 2)

I got this tweet from @biz indicating they are working on the issue. Ironically the only way I got it is running tweetscan on my nick.

(UPDATE 3)

Yes, twitter is still broken. They haven’t cleared my cache or anything, so far as I can tell; I still only see a portion of my twitter stream. The problem seems to only affect the intersection of people with large amounts of followers with those who follow a decent amount of people. E.g., if you follow more than a few dozen people you won’t see tweets from the likes of @scobleizer, who has over 20,000 followers. Likewise, if you follow over 100 people, you won’t see tweets from people who have over 300 followers. I haven’t nailed it down precisely yet, but there is certainly a mathematical function to this. I hope they fix it soon! In the meantime, you can go surf each of your followees individual pages and/or subscribe to their tweets separately with an RSS reader.

I wish they would give us more technical details – there certainly is more tech knowhow on twitter they could tap into to fix the problem. I know they use Amazon S3 and perhaps EC2 for their infrastructure and some sort of caching mechanism (for performance and/or cost reasons?) that isn’t doing it’s job. Obviously writing a simple web app to do what twitter does would be fairly trivial to not have problems, at the expense of cpus, disk space and bandwidth; this leads me to believe they’re trying to be fancy, and it isn’t working so well. IMHO they should have a “brute force” fallback that would work 100% albeit not optimally until they sort it all out.



Filed Under (Life, Stuff) by Sean on April-10-2008

Well I’m not 100% sure if it’s in the same tier as beer when it comes to the hierarchy of needs, but being on Alltop.com is pretty effing bad ass. And check this out – I’m listed twice on Alltop.com. Once under life.alltop.com and once under twitterati.alltop.com (apparently my irreverent drunk tweets are amusing to some)! What can I say? (In reality I stole Guy Kawasaki’s Glock from him and demanded the listing, but it’s the results that count, right??) Alltop.com is a virtual magazine rack, where you can choose from a huge variety of topics and get a quick scan of the content from each source by just hovering over your interest. So go check out Alltop.com now!

We’re in Alltop.com!

 

Twitterati on Alltop.com!

In any case, Guy quickly got up into a crane stance and deftly kicked the gun from my hands and pointed it back at me. He told me I better put up some Alltop.com badges!! While I cannot hold a candle to the badges created by the Bloggess, I was nevertheless inspired.

It’s better than allcrap!

It’s better than allcrap!

Eat your heart out Guy!



Filed Under (Business, Technology) by Sean on April-4-2008

I’m usually very loathe to simply link out to another blog’s content, but I thought, with tax season upon us, this post was worth a mention. I think it’s a tremendous testament to social media when a company the size of H&R Block (and one that is in the tax business of all things) embraces social media to strengthen brand awareness. I encourage you to read the whole thing, but I’ve pasted three paragraphs below from the story that relate directly to H&R Block’s use of Twitter. Who ever thunk it?

When people join Twitter, they often send an update out into the world and then go away. Nothing happens. So they don’t get it.” But once they move in to Twitterville, as you call it, and really listen and reply and become part of the community, they’re addicted. There’s nothing like it.

When it comes to truly connecting with customers, I’d say that Twitter has been the most valuable and most effective component of our social media efforts. I went back and looked at our update archive and I realized that more than half of our updates are “@ replies.” Not only have we shared tax tips and advice that serve the general community, but on a one-to-one basis we’ve helped people get jobs and professional tax training.

We’ve helped others overcome the anxiety associated with doing their taxes on their own for the first time. We’re having a blast participating in @zefrank’s Colorwars (how could H&R Block resist a “veryGreenTeam”?). We’ve discovered and resolved customer support issues and we’ve met and thanked very happy customers. It sounds crazy, but I actually feel like H&R Block has made some friends on Twitter. We even had a customer call us out as part of @garyvee’s Good People Day! We couldn’t ask for more than that.



Filed Under (Internet, Life, Stuff) by Sean on April-2-2008

Ok, fellow peeps, tweeps, lurkers and whoever else out there on da Interwebz – April 3, 2008 is officially Good People Day!

I could not possibly compile a list of all the awesome people out there in my life and my new and quickly growing social media friends on Twitter and other networks, since it would crash Firefox from taking up terabytes of memory! Gary Vaynerchuk, the most awesome host of Wine Library TV, came up with the idea for Good People Day (see the video below calling us to action!). It’s all about spreading the love and positive karma. For me, this includes all my tweeps and fellow twitterati, all my fantastic social network friends, and many nameless people that hang out in the numerous IRC channels and lend help to those like me who often cry out for it when we can’t get something to work. Gary is truly a role model for this spirit of helping and generosity. He literally answers hundreds of emails and tweets a day to people he doesn’t even know who ask about wine. Just the other day I was asking him advice via a tweet about a certain 1997 Merryvale Profile and whether I should drink or cellar it. His direct message to me within minutes, “DRINK IT.” This is at 10:41pm his time on a Saturday night! How much love is that? And he doesn’t know me from Adam other than as a fellow twitterati (though you certainly don’t have to be a top twitterati to get a quick response from him!).

So I’m sending out much love and positive karma to all those who save my bacon and otherwise lend a helping hand, and to those who follow me on twitter, read my blog or have any interest in what I have to say. This goes to all my close friends, family and total strangers (whom I hope to meet someday at a tweetup or meet up or camp)! Try not to complain or be negative and extend the golden rule to the maximum to everyone you interact with, on line or off. I vote we make April 3 Good People Day every year!

PASS IT ON and keep showing the love!



Filed Under (Geekstuff, Life, Technology) by Sean on March-13-2008

This is my first blog post (of many, to be sure) about South by Southwest interactive, a large media and technology conference in Austin, Texas. This is the second SXSWi I have ever attended, the first having been 10 years prior, when I was a panelist on one of the first interactive panels ever, covering successful entrepreneurs under 30 and lessons learned. Boy has SXSWi grown!! I really had no idea as to the magnitude of the interactive portion of the conference; had I known, I would have been a veteran by now. Suffice it to say, I will not miss another.

I’m going to keep this initial post very short since I just got back to Houston and am tired as hell and need a few days to recoup and recall everything. For the sake of brevity, I’ll highlight some things I learned about SXSW, in no particular order of importance:

  • twitter is essential to knowing what is going on and where it’s happening
  • beer is served promptly starting at 3 pm in the bloghaus (critically important)
  • the numerous parties are on the schedule until 4 am and very much a part of the event (as are flash mob parties through twitter)
  • you know people more by their twitter handle than their real names
  • you don’t sleep; show up with a huge sleep surplus or bring some Provigil
  • the tone of the conference is irreverent and raw; people cuss during sessions and keynotes
  • bring comfortable shoes
  • bring extra phone batteries or have your charger with you (twitter drains it quickly through SMS if you’re tracking a lot of things)
  • don’t track “zuckerberg” through twitter and SMS during his keynote; your phone will experience epic fail
  • hallway conversations are as important (or more so) than sessions
  • network and get to know as many people as possible (I failed a little bit in this regard due to severe sleep deprivation and my usual shyness, or “closet extroversion” as Dan Light brilliantly put it – not next time!)
  • take business cards with you next time, dumb ass!
  • Guy Kawasaki is the most kick-ass, easy going, VC ever. Period.
  • Hugh MacLeod got a kick out of my last name (but added I didn’t look like a stoner . . .)
  • spend lots of time in the bloghaus blogging, playing guitar hero, eating, drinking and tweeting
  • you drink a lot (no really, a lot)
  • keep your laptop charged at all times!
  • Macs outnumber PC laptops 30 to 1 (at least)
  • twitter!! (again) – it is an important back channel, or the conversation of the collective consciousness
  • don’t let Sarah Lacy interview you if you’re doing a keynote and you’re a young billionaire
  • even if you don’t own a computer and can’t spell blog, this conference is still the deal of the century with all the great people, films, venues, music, booze and food you can enjoy
  • Geek and good-looking are not mutually exclusive (quite the contrary methinks, especially when you’re doubly turned on by someone with looks and brains)
  • the conference is completely casual and everyone is approachable no matter their status

I could go on and on. I have many post motifs drafted from the conference which I will flush out soon, once my sleep patterns have recovered and my long term memory is functional. In the meantime, I urge everyone to read Daniel Light’s most kick-ass post about the show. I think it nails it on the head. Until next time!



Filed Under (Geekstuff) by Sean on March-7-2008

The guys at Common Craft have done it again. Trying to explain to people what twitter is is pointless. They look at me like I’m growing two heads. I’ll admit, when I first heard about it, I thought it was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard. Now, however, things are different. Very different. I’m a non-stop twittering machine! I find it serves a social purpose and a business purpose. It helps you develop the brand that is you, and keeps friends posted on what is going on in your life. Likewise, it allows you keep up with others whom you may find interesting. You may be following someone with which you share interests, or someone who’s an expert in a field of interest. Perhaps you want to follow an up to the minute news source or a presidential candidate. It also can notify followers of updates to your blog as well as update your blog with your tweets (twitter messages are called tweets) in real time (see Nanoblog in the right column). Enough of my piss poor explanation – on with the video!