Category Archives: Twitter

Where Do They Find the Time?



Twitter Icon

I am not a Twitter user.  I have a Twitter account but I don’t remember the last time I logged into it.  Even with just a handful of friends, I felt overwhelmed in trying to keep up with it, and as a rather wordy person, typing what I wanted to say in 140 characters is pretty difficult.  For the short time I used Twitter, I found it difficult to keep up with the postings, and generally found very little useful information once it was all said and done.  I guess for me I’m more of a blog reader, or a podcast listener.   I have wondered, for a long time, how people who are big users of Twitter keep up with it all.

An article in my local paper today brought that rumination to the forefront once more.  The story talks about a bit of a Twitter “war” that took place after a comment from a teenager about how much better St. Louis County is than St. Louis City.  We are one of those odd places where there is a core city, operating under its own governing system and considered the “independent city of St. Louis,” and is surrounded by a larger county full of municipalities, 92 in all.  It’s very complicated and I’m not sure why it ended up this way, but there is a bit of friendly rivalry between those that live on the city side, and those that live on the county side.  So the post by the teenager, who was a Miley Cyrus fan, was commented on by the official St. Louis County Twitter account, which the official St. Louis City Twitter account had to counter, and it went back and forth for several hours, devolving into a name-calling flame war.  In the end, there were posted apologies.

Do the officials of my metropolitan area have nothing better to do with their time?  With the government’s time? And really, for most Twitter users, don’t most of them have something better to do with their time?    I may sit in front of a computer all day, and I may keep half an eye on my facebook account throughout the day on a tab in my browser, but I’m far from posting constantly or allowing conversations to devolve in the way this particular Twitter exchange did.   I have paperwork to complete, deliveries to make, students to train, payroll to submit, filing to complete, etc.  I have plenty to do. In fact, I barely have time to go to the bathroom or carve out lunch some days, much less spend a day having a public online argument about nothing!

Is part of the problem the very nature of the Twitter service to begin with?  Tiny comments, without elaboration, don’t give much room for nuance, nor do they give the person reading them a full idea of the true intent of the comment.  The fact that this devolved so quickly into a flame war leads me to believe that too little being said is almost worse than too much being said.

But I just gotta wonder…where the heck do people find the time to keep up with something like Twitter?


New Infographic – The Demographics of Social Media



The website Advertising Age released a cool new infographic comparing various social media – namely Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  There are some interesting facts revealed here.  For instance the Social Media space is lead by the 35-54 age group, the leading country for Facebook is the US, but the second is Indonesia, the leading country for LinkedIn is also the US, but it’s followed by India, and females outpace males as Twitter users.

While some of this strikes me as common sense (like Twitter being dominated by the 35-54 age group), some of it amazes me (like there are significantly more female users and visitors to Twitter).  For anyone who runs a web site this is pretty good information to have.  It can provide a lot of aim to your marketing and SEO efforts.  For those who don’t run a site it’s still a bit of pretty interesting information to parse over.

demographics of social media


Like It or Tweet It?



For full disclosure, I am not a user of Twitter.  I have a Twitter account and dabbled in it a year or so ago, but haven’t logged on in months.  I am, however, a daily user of Facebook.

Eventbrite recently concluded a study of Tweets and facebook posts as connected to event sales showed that facebook “likes” resulted in higher sales than Tweet posts.

I’m actually not surprised by this.  Despite the fact that Tweeting is “hot,” the fact is that more people are using facebook than Twitter.  On Twitter, I can follow tweets from friends and public figures and entities.  I can follow those same sorts of people on facebook, for the most part.  But the fact is, most of my contacts on facebook are friends.  There are maybe a handful of contacts on my facebook that I haven’t met in person.  And I take my friends’ recommendations highly.  On Twitter, I can have thousands of “contacts” but those aren’t people I know. I’m also not swayed easily by recommendations from the “stars” or others that I don’t personally know.

I wonder if other companies will research which of their social networking nets the most gains in sales and/or income.  I am inclined to believe that, for the moment, facebook is the overall leader.


Follow The Cycling Season Online



If you are fan of Pro Bike Racing, specifically of the big stage of the European circuit, then there’s a great resource to follow it live with both data and video.  You will want navigate your browser to ProCyclingLive and follow their Twitter feed and also their Live Stream.

What you will get when you follow them?  Follow them on Twitter and you will get a live stream of updates from every major race, updated every few minutes with leaders, time gaps, distance, and lots of other tidbits.  If you have Twitter on your phone then this really becomes indispensable when your are away fro home.

But, even better, if you go to their website and click Live Streams you will find links to video feeds of the major races with multiple links for different languages.  Video can be spotty at times and you may have to try a second link on occasion, but it’s surprisingly solid most of the time.  Video does tend to be somewhat time delayed so if you don’t want a spoiler then don’t check Twitter while watching it.

There are lots of somewhat sketchy sites that carry online video of live sports, but ProCyclingLive is a reliable, above-board site that you can rely on.  Most of these races are not carried on American TV, which makes it a must-visit for US fans of the sport.


Globaltel Media’s Cherple for SMS and Texting Chat



Tom and Todd get texting with Globaltel Media‘s free SMS chat platform, Cherple. Robert Sanchez, President & CEO, takes them through it.

Cherple is a free web-based SMS texting client, which in itself is not unusual – there a plenty of sites which can send SMS messages. But what makes this a little bit different is that the recipient can text the sender back again, even though the sender is at a computer. A whole text chat can then follow, back and forth.

It’s web-based, so can be used from any web browser, but Windows and Mac downloads are on offer, too.

Cherple currently only works for texts to US-based cellphones, but Globaltel are expecting to setup local Cherple sites in ten countries in the coming months.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central and Tom Newman of The Fogview Podcast.

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Lazyscope Review



This is a review of the application Lazyscope which was release as a beta recently. There are a couple of things that I hope they fix or add in the future. The first is they need to add Facebook any more that is a must for any social media application. Something tells me that this is in their future. It is an air application, which makes it a nonstarter for a lot of people and also limit it to the desktop. Finally my biggest complaint so far is that when you close and reopen the application the feeds you added are gone and you have to add them again. This is something they definitely have to fix before going publc. If you are not afraid to try a beta application and don’t mind a few hiccups I would recommend trying this application. Below is some screen captures on how it works.

Lazyscope Overview

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This is how LazyScope looks like when you first open it. Your twitter account information on the left hand side, in the middle are the updates and on the right hand side is where the stories open up, when you click on them.

Subscribing to Feed

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If you pull up a story from a Web site and you want to follow that Web site rss feed, you simply click on subscribe. Now when that web site updates it will show in your stream along with the incoming tweets. You can also add feeds manually by clicking on the top plus button and just add the url.

Reading Feeds

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If you just want to see a particular rss feed update you just click on it. Then you will just see the updates from that feed.

Viewing Content

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To open up a story in the right panel just click on the arrow within the update. If you want to close down the right panel just click on the arrow on the far right

Posting Content.

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There are two ways to post with Lazyscope, the first is to hit the post button and it will post with no credit to the original poster. The second way is to hit the repost button within the update and that will give credit to the original poster.


Is Twitter all That?



I use Twitter every day, but being I have about a million other things to do, like work! I do not have time to follow the ever updating stream of information. Sure I take a look 3 or 4 times a day but I do not live on Twitter.

Some have made the argument that because of Twitter and Facebook, that RSS and RSS Readers specifically are dead. I find this ridiculous because in the world that I live in, along with the 6000 people we represent, without RSS we would be out of business.

Most of the luminaries saying this are individuals with significant influence in the online space. They are often privy to information before the news even breaks, and have significant online followings. Robert Scoble is one of many that has been on the RSS is dead campaign I like Robert and respect his opinions, one thing for sure he obviously has significant connections in the valley. Could his influence and connections be skewing his perception about how important RSS and RSS Readers still are? Not all of us live in that circle of influence. Robert attributes Twitter as his primary source of news and information.

The question to ask is how is he getting that info. I have 5k followers, and only get 1 or 2 direct messages a day. So from my perspective news and information is not coming from the followers maybe this why he made the following statement. Robert made it clear in a recent blog post about the new Twitter design that he could care less about his followers.

This is shocking out of context, but when you read what he has to say about the new design, Robert says it does not do enough to improve the functions of lists. Robert has a number of lists, those lists is where he gleans most of his news and information. That information is largely from those that “he” follows not those that follow him. So what he is saying without saying it, is to only pay attention to those you follow and ignore the rest. Which in my conclusion is why he says he could care less about his followers?

We all know the volume of chatter on twitter is staggering and impossible to keep up with, I follow a lot of people largely because they follow me, maybe I have been using Twitter incorrectly. For me it’s too time consuming to build lists, if there was a easier way to really separate the wheat from the chaff, then Twitter would become more valuable to me.

I like Twitter, but it is not my main source of news and information. I get that from a handful of websites and about 1000 other unique blogs I follow in Google Reader. Google Reader gives me one thing Twitter is not able to do. Google Reader guarantees I will not miss something while I have been working, and I can look back at the days news and get my self caught up. I react like everyone else about the big news events. But I still like to dig around in the weeds for the rest of the story.

Until twitter finds a way to feed me a steady stream of info that I want without a lot of hassle, then the RSS Reader will continue to be my daily source of news and information. 140 characters is never enough. Twitter will never replace blogs if you think it will try and grab a tweet you made 2 years ago off of Twitter.


Broken Twitter Clients



If you use a Twitter client (either on your desktop or phone) then you may have had a surprise on Tuesday.  A nasty surprise, actually.  That surprise was a broken app.

You probably thought, as I did at first, that Twitter was down.  After all,  that is something we have become used to.  The “Fail Whale”, as it is known, may be one of the most recognized symbols in today’s pop culture.

This time it wasn’t the Fail Whale, though.  It wasn’t Twitter themselves…well, not exactly.  It seems that they switched the log-in process to be compatible with OAuth.  That’s a good thing, but it sure caused a lot of people problems.  They announced that they were going to do this.  They gave plenty of notice.  We, the users, probably didn’t pay attention, but it seems a lot of developers also didn’t pay attention.  And that’s where the problems arose.

Many clients, such as mine (TouchTwit), Twikini, and HTC’s Peep for Android, to name just three, stopped working.  Twikini does not have the resources to update and has shut down.  I would assume HTC has plenty of money to throw at developers to fix Peep and, as of today (Friday) I am seeing that TouchTwit has an update to make it OAuth compatible.

I am glad TouchTwit is fixed, but it’s a bit late since I went and purchased MoTweets.  That is frustrating though because I had paid for TouchTwit a few months ago.  Okay, we’re not talking about bank-breakers here (TouchTwit is $1.99 and MoTweets is $3.99), but I still expect these things to be updated before they are broken and not three days after.

As for Twitter themselves they may have released information that this change was coming, but they apparently did not do a very good job because developers were crying that they had no warning.  Twitter was even forced to send an email to all of its users on Wednesday (the day after they broke the apps) to let everyone know what had happened.  That would have been a prudent move on their part if only they had done it a month, or even a week, before the change went live.  It seems both parties were at fault in this little fiasco.


Custom Apps



The smartphone’s in many consumer hands today are as powerful as the desktop computers we were using five years ago. They may be as powerful from a hardware standpoint, yet the smaller interface demands different methods of interaction. The smaller interface also places different demands on the software that runs on it.

Smartphone software apps typically need to be smaller and very narrowly focused in order to be maximally useful. Smartphones have turned out to be convergence devices, with the functionality of traditional desktop and laptop computers concentrated into a handheld phone.

The best smartphone apps tend to be apps that present a finely honed slice of functionality.

Many podcasters are coming up with their own smartphone apps. One I recently installed is called “Survive!” for Android. It is an Android app for “The Survival Podcast” available at http://www.thesurvivalpodcast.com, hosted by Jack Spirko. It’s a great example of simple, functional design that places the web presence of The Survival Podcast in a neat little Android app package.

“Survive!” has a simple home screen that simply lists Survival Podcast Episodes, Videos (YouTube), Twitter, a link to the main website, and recent website forum posts. The single configuration option decides whether or not to download new Survival Podcast episodes automatically or not.

The inclusion of both Twitter and recent forum posts is a great way for the community that Survival Podcast host Jack Spirko has built up around the podcast and it’s website to keep up to date with the latest posts. Additionally the app includes instant access to all of the latest audio and video media.

“Survive!” is an excellent example of a well-crafted smartphone app that presents all of the main podcast and web-based elements in a simple, extremely easy-to-use package. “Survive!” can be found in the Android Marketplace by searching the term “survival podcast.”


What Makes A Tech Success?



It seems in the world of computers and the Internet there is always a steady stream of new things on the horizon, as well as a steady stream of new products and services. It’s been this way for many years at this point.

There are always winners and losers. Winners can win big, and losers at worst fail to make any marketplace splash or even a ripple and end up in the tech dustbin of obscurity with few people ever knowing that the product or service ever existed.

What is it that makes for a successful product? Why is it that some products and services that seem very similar to other products and services end up becoming household names, while others end up being cancelled domain name landing pages?

It’s obvious there are a variety of factors that come into play. If it were easy to predict these things, we would have a lot fewer losers. Why did Twitter become a household name, whereas similar services such as Plurk and Jaiku languish in the shadows? What enabled Facebook to steal most of the MySpace thunder?

New products and services that end up being successful frequently incorporate elements and principles of previously-existing successes, but package them in more compact and useful forms.

Initially when Twitter came along a couple of years ago, I heard people talking about it, but I was a bit resistant to sign up. I felt like I had plenty of ways to communicate with people, so why did I need to add yet another account to a service that would steal away time I already had filled, only to ultimately let yet another account go dormant? I finally signed up for Twitter, and after I began using it I began to understand the value of it. With a service like Twitter, the more people that are using it, the more valuable it becomes.

About the same time I signed up for a Twitter account, I also signed up for a Plurk account. After a few visits to the Plurk website over a period of a month or two, I haven’t been back to the site since.

I believe what is valuable about Twitter is that 140 character limit per Tweet, forcing people to be succinct with their wording. Twitter and Tweet are cute names. The site design is simple, the blue bird logo pleasing to the eye, and the developers kept the API and name open to other developers, allowing an entire ecosystem of ancillary products and services to develop around it at the same time it was rapidly increasing in popularity. Twitter is very much like chat, which was already well established, but it had the added value that it either could be in real time, or not, able to be accessed from a vast array of devices beyond the Twitter website. Twitter also allows you to subscribe to just the people you want, and ignore or even completely block the rest. Twitter also allows you to reach out and touch people, and it allows you to monitor what others are up to whose lives are at once very similar to your own, yet often radically different. You can spend as much or as little time as you wish interacting with the service. Another thing that turned out to be incredibly useful with twitter is the vast 24/7 real-time data stream that it generates. Real-time Twitter data mining has proved to be quite valuable to many people.

To be honest I have always thought that many MySpace pages were often monstrous, unbelievably cluttered messes that often took a long time to load. Nonetheless, MySpace became popular because it obviously served a need with a younger demographic.

I’ve always thought Facebook’s interface is somewhat confusing, though allowing for far less cluttered and confusing-looking profile pages. I still don’t quite understand what got Facebook to the level of critical popularity – perhaps the less-cluttered, faster-loading profile pages gave it the critical edge over MySpace.

It should also be noted that Facebook allowed for an open API, allowing a myriad of interesting and often useful applications to be plugged in to its interface.

However it did it, Facebook managed to get to a critical mass of users where it became THE thing to sign up for and THE place to be to stay connected with family, friends and business associates. Something interesting has happened with Facebook that has never happened before – everyday, non-geek people who had never built website profiles in all the years they had been doing email and web browsing were suddenly signing up for Facebook in unbelievable numbers. Mothers, dads, aunts, uncles, grandmothers, etc. were suddenly showing up on the same service with their kids, nieces, nephews and grandkids. Once the ball rolled, Facebook became an incredible success.

I started noticing a while back that many people were starting to use Twitter and Facebook to communicate with each other in lieu of email. At this point I find myself getting pulled into that trend myself. These services don’t offer the relative privacy of direct email, but they allow for easy, frequent public conversations and easy sharing of personal media such as photos between friends and family on a global scale.

What I take away from the success stories versus the less-successful competitors is that oftentimes the differences in design and implementation can be slight, but those slight differences can offer real, tangible advantages to the end user. If those often-slight advantages can somehow help get the product or service to a critical mass threshold, they can find themselves catapulted to the point of planetary awareness.