Tag Archives: twitter

What is it about Twitter?

I like people. I swear I do. It's just that personal interactions tend to be extremely tiring. They take a lot out of me. And the larger the group of people, the more severe the energy drain. Same with familiarity: the less familiar I am with people, the more draining it is to interact with them. So, most of the time, I avoid large gatherings and being with people I don't know very well.

One thing I've noticed, though, is that most interactions I have with people online are not at all draining. Twitter, IRC, IM, GitHub, email -- I thrive in these communities and get energized when I can interact with people online. Twitter and GitHub are my favorite ways to communicate with people.

Twitter is great because it's a really light lift. You don't even know who's listening. A lot of the time, it feels like making wise-cracks from the back of the classroom. But there's also information sharing. I like to tweet links to blog posts I've seen. Often, there are common threads that tie my Twitter timeline to in-person conversations I've been having. But I think the key is that no response is expected. Okay, sometimes I look forward to replies and favorites and retweets. If I post a funny tweet, I hope someone faves it -- it's the same as going for a laugh in conversation, but without the awkwardness when I flop.

GitHub is completely different than Twitter. By definition, on GitHub I am interacting with people on a specific programming project, and we are discussing code. At my company, we also do this in Pivotal Tracker, but the interaction there is terrible. On GitHub, it's incredibly easy to translate my thoughts into a new issue or comment on an existing issue. And when we get a good conversation going on GitHub, that same ease of communication can morph into something more than a debate over the merits of one approach to a problem over another. Specifically, it's really easy to post images and add emojis. The humor and fun that enables can turn an otherwise boring or contentious comment thread into experiences that I remember with the kind of fondness that I imagine other people have for great parties.

These tools enable me to experience the positives without the negatives. I get all the joys of interpersonal interaction without draining my energy.

And I realized tonight that that enablement -- providing that bridge from my personality island to the mainland of other people -- makes these tools dear to me in an intensely personal way. It's like they augment my personality. Or give me superpowers. Or something.

I haven't quite put my finger on it. But I'm pretty sure that that's why I get raging mad when Twitter shoves shitty advertising in my face or GitHub refuses to enable notifications for gist comments. They're fucking with my shit when they do that. These tools -- they're not a trifle to me. They've become a part of me because of the deep interactions they've enabled me to achieve. It's like I've integrated them with my own personality. So when you fuck with them, you're fucking with me.

And I don't like when you fuck with me.

I'm Adopting an Open Source Project. Now What?

On June 11, Twitter retired version 1.0 of their REST API. It was announced well in advance, but I had other things to do; checking to see if my Twitter tools would still work was too low a priority. Until they broke.

When I refer to my "Twitter tools," I mean a Python command-line script that I use to post to Twitter from bash scripts, PHP programs, Node.js programs, etc. That Python script is little more than a wrapper around an abandoned open source library that broke when Twitter turned off API v1.0 -- twitter-oauth. The repository seems to have been emptied, too. Luckily, the library is still available in the Python Package Index: http://pypi.python.org/simple/twitter_oauth/

So, I grabbed the library, updated it so that it works again, and put it up on GitHub: danmactough/twitter-oauth.

Now what?

Is there a protocol for taking over an abandoned project?

Twitter-Speak at BearHugCamp

After a fairly testy exchange at BearHugCamp this morning among Steve Gillmor, Dustin Sallings (twitterspy and IdentiSpy bot creator), a few audience members and the guys at Twitter, Alex Payne actually gave a very clear statement about the lengths to which Twitter was willing to go to aide developers in building upon and extending Twitter.

If you need to poll the API more frequently that the API limits allow, email Alex and chances are very good that you can be accommodated. Ditto regarding something Alex referred to as a "research project" involving a data-mining feed -- presumably, this is like a customized (or perhaps random) fraction of the full public timeline firehose.

As for the full public timeline firehose via XMPP: "That would require a business discussion."

My Twitter bot works just fine for me, but Dustin is actually trying to provide a service to people other than himself, so he needs more cooperation from Twitter. Based on what Alex said, it seems that Dustin and others who are working on various bots to bring back the "track" feature via IM should be able to do so.

As for the "official" return of "track" and IM -- don't hold your breath.

Nick's Zappa Playlist

I twittered about an amazing playlist (or iMix, if you will) of Frank Zappa tunes that Nick Bradbury published, but it appears that iTunes has deleted the iMix because Zappa is no longer on iTunes. But it's an amazing playlist, so here it is:

  1. Peaches In Regalia, Hot Rats (1969)
  2. Camarillo Brillo, Over-Nite Sensation (1973)
  3. My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama, Weasels Ripped My Flesh (1970)
  4. Maggio, The Man From Utopia (1983)
  5. St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast, Apostrophe' (1974)
  6. Echidna's Arf (Of You), Roxy And Elsewhere (1974)
  7. Mother People, We're Only In It For The Money (1968)
  8. Cocaine Decisions, The Man From Utopia (1983)
  9. Five-Five-Five, Shut Up N' Play Yer Guitar (Disc 1) (1981)
  10. Can't Afford No Shoes, One Size Fits All (1975)
  11. G - Spot Tornado, Jazz From Hell (1986)
  12. Dumb All Over, You Are What You Is (1981)
  13. Teen-Age Prostitute, Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch (1982)
  14. Sleep Dirt, Sleep Dirt (1979)
  15. Tell Me You Love Me, Chunga's Revenge (1970)
  16. Pygmy Twylyte, Roxy And Elsewhere (1974)
  17. Baby Snakes, Baby Snakes (1983)
  18. Electric Aunt Jemima, Uncle Meat (1969)
  19. Po-Jama People, One Size Fits All (1975)


Weird Traffic

I just saw some weird traffic on this blog. Last week, I was testing a plugin when it went a little haywire and automatically created a bunch of posts (based on my NewsGator clippings, including a lot of law related and gadget related topics -- things I read about but don't write about). And then because I have Alex King's twitter tools installed, each of those new posts was propagated to twitter, too.

Now, I thought that this little stunt probably would have pissed people off. Instead (maybe), I saw a huge spike in traffic to this blog -- more than three times the usual traffic.

I'm assuming that these "visitors" were just bots that were monitoring the twitter public timeline, but the referrer logs don't back that up (although that doesn't necessarily mean anything).

Twitbin Fails Basic Password Security

UPDATE: FIXED. See the comments below.

A couple weeks ago, I installed twitbin, a Firefox extension that loads twitter in a sidebar. But, I just happened to be checking my browser cookies, and I noticed that my twitter username and PASSWORD were stored in my browser cookies in plaintext! This is not even a session cookie -- it is persistent, with a one-year expiration.

Are you kidding me?! Twitbin -- uninstalled.

"[I]t is never appropriate for cookies to contain plaintext user names and passwords." [The World Wide Web Security FAQ]