Monday, April 30, 2007

Sunday, April 29, 2007

SkyDSL Installation: A Recap

I applied for a SkyDSL account three days ago. It is now up and running and I am using it to write this blog entry.

Below is a description of the installation process that was followed, which I hope will be useful not only for my future reference, and also for anyone else who is trying to set up their own DSL modem.

To clarify, SkyDSL is actually BayanTel's DSL service. The only difference is that under the SkyDSL brand, you don't need to get a BayanTel phone line; you are literally getting DSL only.

Basic Installation

Installation began yesterday, when two BayanTel contractors arrived to set up our phone cables so that a BayanTel phone outlet can be added to our home office. Although we have existing phone outlets in the home office, they're all from another provider.

After looking at the various options, the installation guys decided to use the spare third (red) wires in our existing phone lines inside the house for the DSL connection, so they would not have to lay down a new set of cables. The entire installation process took around two hours, although the bulk of that time was spent tracing the phone wires from room to room inside the house.

Overall, the installation process went well. There was one catch however: I didn't have the presence of mind to check our existing phone lines before the installation guys left. I learned too late that one of our phone lines was no longer working: we had lost the dial tone, and people who call the number can hear it ringing on their end, but the phone inside our house doesn't actually ring. More on this later.

Before they left, the installation guys advised us to expect another guy to arrive, either later that day or sometime the next day, to setup the DSL modem. Apparently, the first set of guys were experts on the phone cabling, and a different guy with networking skills was required for the computer-specific stuff.

As expected, the second guy arrived today just before noon to install the cable modem. The process was straightforward, and took around 15 minutes. I think anyone who has worked with a modem before would have been able to figure it out on their own.

Before long, one of our PCs was online, and speedtest results were looking good.

The Challenge: Extending Access to Other PCs

The next challenge therefore was to set up our home network so that the other PCs at home could also get on the Internet. I knew from reading the fine print that SkyDSL only accepts responsibility for getting one computer online. The customer is free to connect as many other PCs as they want, but they're on their own when it comes to setting up that kind of network. It was therefore no surprise when the DSL guy kindly but firmly declined to assist me in figuring out how to get the other PCs online as well.

Anyway, it turns out that all the instructions that I needed to share the DSL connection with the rest of the computers via our Linksys router was fully documented in the User's Manual that came with the DSL modem.

Modem Background

The unit they gave us was a Huawei Smart AX MT880 ADSL Router. As the name implies, the modem actually has a built-in router that can act as a DHCP server. It also has a software dialer that can be configured to automatically dial and create a connection to the ISP.

Out of the box, the modem defaults to "Pure Bridge" mode, which means its router features are disabled, and your PC's dial-up networking settings are used to initiate the connection to the DSL provider.

Since we had an existing Linksys router (which all our PCs connect to either directly or wirelessly), I knew I had to connect the modem in series with the router. I also didn't want to have to boot up a "host" PC to initiate the dialing if other computers needed to get online. So "Pure Bridge" mode was definitely not what I wanted or needed.

After examining the various options, I concluded that what I needed was the "PPPoE Mode," which (a) enables the router capabilities of the modem; and (b) enables the modem's auto-dialer so that a PC was not needed to initiate the dial-up process.

Modem and Network Configuration
Updated: May 1, 2007

Here's the process that I followed, for future reference:

  1. With the DSL modem connected directly to my PC, I changed the default IP address of the modem, to make sure it doesn't have the same IP address as the Linksys router. I kept both routers in the same subnet, so they can find each other.
  2. With the DSL modem still connected to my PC, I followed the instructions in the User's Manual to set the DSL modem in PPPoE Mode, using the user name and password provided by the SkyDSL installation guy. I also rebooted the modem as instructed.
  3. I went to the TCP/IP settings of each PC's LAN card and set them all to "Obtain an IP address automatically" and to "Obtain DNS server address automatically".
  4. I also set all of the PC browsers to "automatically detect network settings".
  5. After all the PC settings were changed, I reconnected the PC to my Linksys router, then connected the DSL modem to one of the ports on the Linksys router as well (making sure it's not connected to the Linksys WAN port).
  6. I logged into the administrator panel of the Linksys router and disabled its DHCP (since the DHCP on the DSL modem is enabled). After that, I reset the router.
  7. I next forced the PC to re-acquire a new IP address by disconnecting and reconnecting the network cable.
After making all these changes, I tested each PC and found that they were all up and online, using the DHCP router of the DSL modem. Step number 5 was the one that took some figuring out, since the instructions on the modem's manual didn't assume the use of another router.

I had originally connected the DSL modem's ethernet port to the Linksys WAN port and was getting frustrated when it wouldn't work. A search on the Internet led me to a page that advised against using the Linksys WAN port.

Next Steps

I'm not completely convinced that the setting I chose (PPPoE) is the best option, especially since the modem is not connected to the WAN port, and therefore it probably doesn't take advantage of the built-in firewall on the router. So my next step is to explore some other mode and see if it will work.

If you've had some experience setting this up, I'll be happy to get your advice.

Busted Phone Line

One final thing to add to this entry is my frustration dealing with the customer service people at BayanTel when I reported our busted phone line.

The BayanTel customer service trunk line (412-12-12) advised me to call the DSL support guys, since the problem is not with a BayanTel phone.

I called the DSL support guys (411-2000), who advised me initially to call their telephone support (171) until I explained that the busted phone line was from another provider. Their next advice therefore was for me to call the other provider since it's "obviously" a problem with their line. They gave me this advice even after I had explained that the problem started after the BayanTel telephone cabling guys had messed around with our phone wiring inside the house. Talk about passing the buck! * sigh! *

The SkyDSL cable installation guy was listening to my side of the phone conversation as I talked to the customer support guys, and I guess he could clearly see my mounting frustration at getting the run-around, because he volunteered to take care of raising it with the guys who did the installation. That was nice of him. Only time will tell whether the issue will truly get raised and resolved.

So there it is. A recap of my latest adventure with internet connectivity. After our disappointing experiences with our cable modem provider (whose service declined steadily after typhoon Milenyo hit last year), I am hoping that I'll be able to join the company of other friends who are happy BayanTel DSL users.

See also: Busted Phone Line: An Update

Google Reader Mobile leads to Feed Pruning

I'd been meaning to prune the list of RSS feeds that I follow on Google Reader, but always managed to put off the task.

Tonight, I finally found a good reason to sit down and do it: Google Reader's Mobile-friendly version.

The mobile version of Reader has actually been available for 11 months, but I was unaware that it existed, since I only started paying attention to mobile versions of websites this year.

Given the limited screen size that mobile browsers have, I don't want to be wasting time and money loading links and feeds that are no longer relevant to me, hence the feed pruning.

One other happy side effect: I've rediscovered wonderful feeds that I had been ignoring for a while because I had not yet gotten around to classifying them correctly. It's always good to unearth old, forgotten treasures.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Calacanis = Cool Stuff

I had such fun reading about the new link-baiting rules posted a few hours ago by Jason Calacanis.

I learned about Jason through (what else?) Twitter a few months back, and even have one or two (maybe even three) of his tweets in my list of favorites. I especially enjoyed that time last month when he decided out of the blue to hold an "Ask Jason" session -- he basically tweeted a series of answers to questions that were sent to him via Twitter. Sadly, I couldn't send him questions of my own since I'm not one of his Twitter friends. * sniff! *

And while I'm sure it can be occasionally disconcerting to be on the receiving end of his outspoken and blunt interaction style, it does make for highly enjoyable CalacanisCasts. One recent podcast in particular was doubly entertaining, for Obvious reasons. *wink*

And while I doubt I'll ever have the opportunity to actually sit down and chat with him over a beer (what with me living in the Philippines and all), I get the sense that beneath the brash and in-your-face persona is a good guy. You only need to listen to his banter with Tyler, his CalacanisCast producer to get a sense of what kind of friend he'd be. Plus any guy who'd put a picture of his bulldog (Toro) on a prominent spot on his blog just can't be all that bad.

It's no wonder, then, that I am one of the 10,000+ people who follow his blog. And -- this is no joke -- I actually file his RSS feed under the tag "cool stuff"! If you're not following him yet, you really should.

P.S.
Definitely worth a read is Chris Finke's response to Jason's original post.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Bayeux Tapestry, Animated

Found this beautifully animated video via Chris Brogan.

The video clip was animated by David Newton and is hosted by DailyMotion.com.


The tapestry itself is a long piece of embroidered cloth, 20 inches high and 230 feet long. It is divided into thirteen sections, and recounts the events leading up to William the Conqueror's invasion of England in 1066.

The original tapestry, believed to have been made in the 1070s, is currently on exhibit in Bayeux, Normandy, France. A full-size replica of the tapestry, made in 1886, is on exhibit at the Museum of Reading, in Reading, Berkshire, England.

See also the Bayeux Tapestry and The Battle of Hastings on Wikipedia.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Moms everywhere

Laughed out loud when I received this tweet from Jason Goldman over the weekend, because my mom is soooo exactly like this:



Just one more piece of evidence that shows how regardless of differences in timezones and cultures, we humans are more alike than we think.

Hope you'll go and give your mom a hug today.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

One Day Blog Silence

Learned about plans for One Day Blog Silence via Andy Beard today.

Excerpts from the support site:
One Day Blog Silence

On April 30th 2007, the Blogosphere will hold a One-Day Blog Silence in honor of the victims at Virginia Tech.

All you have to do is spread the word about it and post one of the images on your blog on 30th April 2007. No words and no comments. Just respect, reflect and empathy.
Steli Efti, a serial entrepreneur focused on education and e-learning, explains on his blog how he and his friends came up with the idea.

See also Lorelle VanFossen's very moving explanation as to why she's taking part.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Summer!

It's getting increasingly hot and muggy in this part of the world. I think it's safe to say that the Philippine summer is well under way.



There was hardly a cloud in the sky when I took this photo a little after noon today using my cameraphone.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Corporate Twitter Solutions?

After yesterday's tragic shooting at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), it naturally occurred to me that a private Twitter-based system could have been used to send SMS alerts to students, faculty, and staff.

And that's when I figured that organizations may be able to acquire Twitter-based solutions if Obvious were to:

  • Licensing. Allow private organizations to license the Twitter platform to deploy a private Twitter network. All costs associated with sending messages would of course, be borne by the organization;
  • Appliance. Package the Twitter technology into a 'black box' solution that is sold as an off-the-shelf 'appliance' with ports that are simply 'plugged' into the appropriate networks (easier said than done, but certainly doable);
  • OEM. Allow other solutions providers to OEM the Twitter technology into their product suite.
You know how Internet technology was adapted to internal corporate use and became known as intranets? Why not take Twitter's platform (which I think has already proven itself) and acquire your own corporate Twittering capability (assuming instant mass SMS notification is what you need)?

Side note: In the second (7.30pm) press conference related to the shooting, a Virginia Tech spokesman said that they had started looking into text-based alert solutions last August, but that a system has not yet been deployed. [more info]

Monday, April 16, 2007

Globe Visibility SpeedTest Results

Ran a few tests using Globe Visibility's 3G connection using SpeedTest.net's service.

Test 1: Connect to Los Angeles, USA
Download speed: 620 kbps. Upload speed: 110 kbps
April 15, 2007. 11:48pm GMT+8



---

Test 2: Connect to New York, USA
Download speed: 556 kbps. Upload speed: 120 kbps
April 15, 2007. 11:54pm GMT+8



---

Test 3: Connect to London, UK
Download speed: 320 kbps. Upload: 188 kbps
April 16, 2007. 12:00am GMT+8



These numbers are higher than I expected, given how my web pages are loading. Hmm.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Rant

I spent an hour last night writing an impassioned email to someone I barely know.

A board member of one of my former associations had recently become responsible for the association's yahoogroup. Unfortunately, he has the mentality of a spammer.

Yesterday, he approved 18 Yahoogroup messages, 16 of which were unsolicited commercial emails (a.k.a. spam). Only 2 of the emails were even related to the association. Unsurprisingly, group unsubscriptions began arriving within a matter of hours.

I tell you, it drives me nuts.

Frankly, there's only one reason I care about this: I started the Yahoogroup in 2002 and actively nurtured it for three years. I vigilantly moderated the group and went out of my way to keep the content relevant. In that time, group membership grew from literally nothing to over 600.

By 2005, I left the association, but stayed on as group moderator in an unofficial capacity. Things were fine until this year, when one of the newly-elected board members got in touch with me and asked to take control of the Yahoogroup.

To see years of carefully cultivated goodwill being eroded by someone who can so cavalierly abuse the permission and attention of group members fills me with more dismay than words can express.

I hope that the email I wrote last night will get through to him.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Puzzles

I remember driving down Edsa on Black Saturday (April 7) and seeing black paint splattered on several of the smaller billboards that line the partition wall of the MRT. [News story]

It was obvious that the black paint was a deliberate act of vandalism, because far too many of the billboards had been defaced in the same manner.

At first I thought the vandalism was meant to be an attack on one of the Pantene shampoo endorsers, but as it turns out, all four of them got the same gob of black paint on their smiling, billboard faces.

By the time office work resumed on Tuesday, the defaced billboards had been taken down, and new copies of the shampoo ad were up. And a new set of billboards now encouraged everyone to "Report the Wet Paint Rag Vandals!"

I can only imagine how shocked below-the-line advertisers all over Manila must have felt when they first saw the ads. Billboards have become so popular and effective in recent years that even I felt a little jolt the first time I saw what the vandals had done.

Hopefully, the vandals won't have another chance to indulge in such mischief again. Edsa was predictably deserted during the Holy Week holidays so it was possible to do this without being seen. The thoroughfare has far too many vehicles at all hours of the day and night the rest of the year, so perhaps that will be deterrent enough.

Side Notes: I wonder who came up with the term "Wet Paint Rag Vandals." The phrase doesn't exactly roll off the tongue easily, although I must admit that it is both picturesque and accurate. I also wonder why they decided not to write the "Report!" billboard in Tagalog.

Update (June 14, 2007):
Mystery solved. The MMDA admits to being responsible for the vandalism. Doh! Visit Bambit's blog for the relevant links and more information.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Twitterverse: A Universe of Possibilities

I'm a really big fan of the now defunct TV series, Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. And anyone who's a fan will immediately recognize the term 'Buffyverse.'

So when the folks at Ideacodes.com announced the launch of their appropriately named Twitter mashup, Twitterverse.com, I immediately went to take a look.

A lot of people have already blogged about what Twitterverse is, so I don't intend to describe it in this entry.

Instead, I'd rather focus on ideas about where Twitterverse can go from here, now that it's been launched. Below are some things that I think have real potential, assuming that Obvious allows Ideacodes to monetize this goldmine of data.

1. Twitterverse Personal

Service Description. Allows a registered Twitterverse user to see the equivalent tagcloud for himself or for his friends. The Twitterverse user can also specify which friends to ignore (such as newsbots) for his personal tag cloud.

2. Twitterverse Alert Service

Service Description. Allows a registered Twitterverse user to specify a set of keywords that they'd like to track. A copy of all tweets that contain that keyword or set of keywords is sent to the user via email at the end of every day. It's like Google Alerts, but the search is limited to tweets. Use cases: brand managers tracking chatter about their products, a celebrity tracking gossip about himself, or a Twitter user looking for @username messages.

Revenue Opportunity. Free alerts for low volume or simple keyword alerts. Charge people who track a lot of keywords, or require complicated keyword combinations.

Improvements Required
. More sophisticated search features, such as searching by multiple keywords or by excluding keywords.

3. Geographic User Search

Service Description. Allows a registered Twitterverse user to search for other Twitter users in a given zipcode, city, or country based on available geographic information.

Revenue Opportunity. Provide user lists for free if within one city or zipcode only. Charge for Twitter-wide user and usage statistics broken down by country, by city, by zipcode. Charge for actual list of users if it's for multiple zipcodes or cities.

4. Meme Visualization

Service Description. Ability to visualize a meme as it travels through your network of friends, or within the Twitter community at large. Entails taking the results of the keyword search, sorting it by time, and seeing how the meme travels between Twitter users.

Revenue Opportunity. Free meme visualization for low volume or simple keyword alerts. Charge for complicated keyword combinations, or for Meme tracking over prolonged periods of time.

Improvements Required. Data visualization graphs.

5. Twitter UserRank (a.k.a. Twitterholic+)

Service Description. Ranks all Twitter users according to a Twitter UserRank algorithm, to help advertisers and marketers identify the most influential Twitter users for a given area of interest. Twitter UserRank can be determined through some combination of:

  • number of active followers
  • number of active users who have be-friended them (but are not following them)
  • number or percentage of tweets that others have tagged as favorite
  • duration of Twitter use
  • most recent Twitter use
  • meme influence (see #4 above)
Revenue Opportunity. Show each registered Twitterverse user his own TwitterRank for free. Sell the "Most Influential Twitter Users by UserRank" list to any advertiser, marketer, journalist, company who's willing to buy.

Improvements Required. Ability to segment Twitter user base by interest, e.g., Babies, Cooking, Design, Investments, Movies, Restaurants, Technology, and so on, so that the "Most Influential" list can be segmented by area of interest.

What do all of these ideas have in common?

These service ideas are all variations of the same theme: the ability to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Enough naysayers have already dismissed Twitter as nothing more than trivial chatter. As the userbase grows, I imagine it will become increasingly difficult to find truly interesting people and messages.

Perhaps Twitterverse can provide the solution to this problem, and make some moolah in the process.

A final note: to keep up with Twitterverse developments, simply follow them on Twitter, or subscribe to their blog.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Dave Effect

Well, the Holy Week holidays have come and gone. Those were five wonderful days of rest, relaxation, reflection, and yes, endless web surfing.

Unfortunately, it's time to head "back to the slave pits," as our CEO is fond of saying.

But before I return completely to "real life," I wanted to cap off this fun period of blogging by sharing this little chart.



I call it "The Dave Effect" because it shows how the number of visits to this blog literally spiked in a single day, thanks to a couple of links from a prominent blogger on April 4.

I'm still shaking my head in disbelief, because it just goes to show how powerful two simple links can be. All you need is the right person saying, look this way, and an entire community of people will show up to take a look. That kind of influence is amazing.

At any rate, I expect traffic to settle back down to pre-Dave levels in another day or two.

Side note: I deliberately did not link Dave's name to his website or use his full name or his site's name in the text of this entry, since I now know that's how he found one of my earlier entries in the first place. I don't want him to think I'm some kind of attention junkie hoping to get another wave of traffic.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Did You Know?

Found an interesting video today via Yvonne Divita's Lipstick Marketing Blog. She called it "Shift Happens."

I think it has the ability to make any educator and any parent stop and think (and yes, worry) about their kids. I've embedded a copy of the video below.

While I was watching the video for the first time, I found myself hoping that it would end with a URL where people can get more information about the statistics that were cited, especially since the video was saying things that can generate a lot of hype.

I was really quite disappointed when there was nothing at the end. And if yesterday had not been a holiday here, I would probably have left it at that.

* * *

But since yesterday was a holiday, a series of Google searches led me to the blog of Karl Fisch (the man who came up with the original powerpoint presentation and video) and to Scott McLeod (who morphed Karl's work into the more generic video that's making the rounds on video sharing sites).

Karl explains the context for his original presentation, which I learned is actually entitled "Did You Know?"

MD's Note: These are excerpts only.

My administration asked me if I wanted to speak at one of our beginning of the year faculty meetings. I often provide updates on what's new and different with technology in our building and what teachers need to know to get the year started.

I put together a PowerPoint presentation with some (hopefully) thought-provoking ideas. I was hoping by telling some of these "stories" to our faculty, I could get them thinking about - and discussing with each other - the world our students are entering. To get them to really think about what our students are going to need to be successful in the 21st century, and then how that might impact what they do in their classrooms. It would also help the faculty that are not currently participating in my staff development join the conversation.

I told them that even though I would usually argue that just showing something and not discussing it afterward was a bad idea, that this time - since a meaningful conversation at the end of a long faculty meeting was unlikely - that's what I was going to do. But that I wanted them to hopefully think about this for their own classrooms, and then hold the conversation with each other over the next few days (and hopefully weeks and months and...).
To my delight, Karl's blog entry also offers a list of sources for the statistics cited in the video, although he admits that he had to modify some of the slides when he couldn't find all of his original sources. I only wish I had enough time to go through them all.

In his sources document, he also credits the video music to a mix of tracks from The Last of the Mohicans.

And so, with the context now properly established, here is "Did You Know" by Karl Fisch and Scott McLeod.



You can also find a link to the text-only version in Karl's original blog entry.

A final note: my Google search also led me to the website of James Feldman. Turns out that "Shift Happens" is a registered trademark and James Feldman owns it. I can only speculate that the phrase later became linked to the video because of comments people left in Karl Fisch's original blog entry.

Monday, April 09, 2007

TreoTwit may be cheaper than Twapper

I'm really happy that Twapper is a more cost-effective mechanism for posting Twitter updates than direct SMS messages.

But the years my mother spent drilling in the mantra of 'a penny saved is a penny earned' has kept me searching for still cheaper ways to tweet.

So I was quite thrilled to learn about TreoTwit a couple of nights ago, all thanks to Dan Rubin.

TreoTwit is a Palm OS application from Mitreo.com ("my Treo" in Spanish) that lets you post updates to Twitter directly without navigating through a web form.

The application itself is small (94kb) and simple. When you launch it, you get a screen that lets you enter up to 140 characters.


Image from the TreoTwit site

Click the "Update" button when you're done entering your tweet. The application uses GPRS on my Palm device to connect to Twitter, authenticate my Twitter user id and password (which I only had to specify once), then posts my update.

A little confirmation note appears briefly at the bottom of the page once your update is successfully posted.

While I have no actual numbers, I'm optimistic that this approach costs less than posting via Twapper, because there's no need to load a web page before or after entering the tweet. All that's left is the authentication, the text of the tweet itself, and a confirmation message afterwards.

* * *

The application was in v0.84 when I first downloaded it. That version was incompatible with my Treo 600 because my screen is only capable of displaying 160 x 160 pixels.

I posted my feedback on the TreoTwit support thread (registration required through a Spanish language interface! Thank God for babelfish on Altavista) and the folks at Mitreo kindly updated the application in less than 24 hours.

v0.85 is now installed on my Treo 600 and it works like a charm.

Now all I can possibly ask for is some data transfer estimates from Mitreo so I can figure out how much each TreoTweet actually costs me. It's on days like this that I wish I felt a bit more adventurous and a lot less math challenged, because the basis for an educated guess is probably buried somewhere in the Twitter API documentation.

* * *

Update 1: I tried using TreoTwit a couple of hours ago but got a "DNS error" message when I tried to post an update.

I switched to Twapper and was able to post an update through my phone browser, so it looks like the problem is not with Twitter itself. I've left a note at the TreoTwit Support thread and for now I'm hopeful that it's just a temporary problem.

* * *

Update 2: It's around 7 hours later and I just tried to post an update using TreoTwit -- it is working again. Hopefully the problem doesn't occur too often. And if it does, there's always Twapper.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Each Twapper update costs P4.53 (est. only)

For some time, I'd been looking for a cheaper way to send Twitter updates. Without a Philippine SMS center, each update via SMS message to Twitter's UK number costs me around P15 per message.

It was therefore hard to contain my excitement when I finally figured out how to use the Twapper feature in 30boxes Mobile to send my tweets. By my back-of-the-envelope estimates, it costs around P4.50 per update when I use Twapper.

That computation is based on the following assumptions (please feel free to correct my math):

  • I transfer roughly 8 to 12 kb of data each time I load my Twapper page (without images), according to my Treo's web browser.
  • Let's just use 15kb per page refresh to be on the safe side.
  • I typically load the page twice whenever I post:
    1. To access the form for posting, and
    2. When the page refreshes to let me know if the update is successful.
  • For the sake of simplicity, let's assume that I use the full 140 characters for all my 'tweets' (140 bytes)
  • Let's add an admittedly arbitrary overhead of 50% to the tweet for authentication and other handshaking. This means the update itself requires at least 210 bytes or 0.2 kb
  • Globe (my mobile provider) charges P0.15 / kb of transfer
  • 15kb + 0.2kb + 15kb = 30.2 kb per update
  • 30.2 kb * P0.15/kb = P4.53 per Twitter update via Twapper
Paying P4.53 per update is a lot more acceptable than P15, IMHO.

Caveat: this computation does not yet factor in all the typical post-paid billing adjustments (currency adjustment, VAT, etc.) that will, of course, apply.

Double-Edged

Leo Laporte is widely acknowledged as the man with the most number of followers on Twitter (4,420 as of this writing).

So I don't doubt that many were surprised (and perhaps even dismayed) when he decided to move from Twitter to Jaiku.

He had a really good reason, though:

The problem is the name. I wish to heck he'd named it Tweeter, or Tooter, or anything but Twitter. Twitter is so close to TWiT that I'm afraid it's really confusing.

And it hasn't helped the confusion that I've been such a fan of Twitter. I'm sure half the people there think we have some sort of relationship. But we don't. And the proliferation of programs like Twitbox and sites like Twit This are not helping things much. So let me repeat...

Twitter has nothing to do with TWiT.

And, I'm afraid, I can't have anything to do with Twitter, either. It's just fueling the confusion.
Since publicly announcing his move to Jaiku, Leo has been encouraging people to sign up. Jaiku staggered a bit under the weight of such unexpected traffic, but it got back up on its feet quickly enough.

Leo advises die-hard Twitterers to create an account on Jaiku, because it's easy enough to have your presence on both, thanks to RSS.



So I guess it should come as no surprise that someone out there has thought of doing the exact same thing, but in reverse. There's no clue as to who's behind it, but we now have Leomatic, a bot that cross-posts Leo's Jaiku feed into Twitter.



It's both strange and amusing how technology can cut both ways.

* * *

Update 1: I just remembered this quote from Evan Williams, from an interview recently posted on Wired:
“Twitter” is a trademark of Obvious, and we are concerned about scenarios where users could be confused about who’s behind a service they're using -- especially if they're putting personal information into it. We ask that developers just try to make it clear that their tool or service works with Twitter but is not run by the same people. This is an issue we'll have to get clearer on as things evolve, perhaps.
I guess it just goes to show that even though we're in different boats, we're all still in the same ocean.

* * *

Update 2: Jaiku user pb30 gets the credit for setting up leomatic.

Leo has seen the bot and has this to say:
I don't think it's a problem as long as it's not me. And I am glad for the followers who don't want to leave Twitter but still want my updates (for some reason).

Thanks for doing it. I think it solves a number of problems. As I hope I made clear I love Twitter (although I'm coming to like Jaiku even more) - I just don't feel like I can participate on it without further jeopardizing my brand spanking new TWiT trademark. I hate this stuff but I'm trying to do the right thing all around.
It's strange, really. Back when he was the guy with the most followers on Twitter, I didn't feel inclined to follow him. After he moved to Jaiku, I added leomatic as a friend. * shrug! * Go figure.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

There's Always More

There's always more good stuff out there, waiting to be read.

Case in point: Chris Messina's ma.gnolia bookmarks.

I really appreciate the way he includes a few blurbs from each bookmarked piece to describe the bookmark itself. The blurbs help me decide very quickly if the link is worth an actual visit.

It didn't take me long to conclude that the wheat-to-chaff ratio is fantastic, because I often find myself clicking through to the actual sites.

And yes, there's an RSS feed for the bookmarks too.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Twitter is All About Opting-In

I found Andrew Kantor's recent USA Today article about Twitter via Biz Stone today.

Sadly, Andrew seems to have missed the most important factor that makes Twitter more than just a means of spreading around "too much information."

At its heart, Twitter is all about Opting-In.

But unlike the opt-in e-mails or e-newsletters that we're now accustomed to getting, Twitter gives its users far better control over what they receive, because each user gets to specify:

  • Source. Whose tweets he wants to receive (who he'll follow)
  • Channel. How those tweets are delivered to him (via the web, through sms, or through instant messaging)
  • Timing. How often that information gets delivered (you can turn Twitter on or off)
Put another way: Twitter has pretty much taken the concept of permission-marketing and applied it to web/im/mobile messaging in a way that is more advantageous to the recipient.
Why in the name of all that's holy would you want to subject your friends to every moment of your drab, wretched life?
- from "Twitter is Just Too Much Information" by Andrew Kantor
That just goes to show how badly he missed the point... because I'm not subjecting my friends to details of my life; they have chosen to receive information about the details of my life.

I wouldn't be surprised if direct marketers who understand Twitter are all wracking their brains trying to find a way to capitalize on this platform. [Update: It looks like someone already has.]

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Setting up Twapper Mobile

I first read about Twapper's improved mash-up with Twitter the other day, but it's only now that I actually had a chance to try posting updates to Twitter from Twapper.

It took me longer than expected to figure it out because you apparently have to do things in a specific order to be able to post Twitter updates from Twapper Mobile.

1. Create a 30boxes account if you don't have one yet. Sign-up is free.

2. Add your Twitter name to the Web Stuff section of your 30boxes account settings. If it was added successfully, you'll see it confirmed at the top of your Web Stuff page.



3. Look for the "Twitters" hyperlink on the bottom left corner of the calendar view (you'll need to be logged in), below the calendar itself.



You can click on the word "Twitters" to see a list of recent Twitter updates from you and your friends (either as a pop-up or appended to the bottom of your calendar view).

4. Post your first Twitter update from within the web interface, by clicking on the text of your last Twitter update.



That part of the page will change into a form that lets you enter your update, your Twitter user id and your Twitter password.



Click the "Update" link to post the update. 30boxes will now cache your Twitter password.

5. Go to the 30 Boxes Mobile home page and login if you need to. If you're already logged in, you'll see a link to Twapper with your Twitter userid next to it. Click on that link.



6. On your Twapper home page, you'll see recent Twitter updates from friends. Scroll down until you see the form that asks "What are you doing".



Enter your Twitter update and post away! To confirm that your tweet was really posted, you can always check your Twitter home page to see if it appears.



Bottomline: Twapper updates will work only if you've got a 30boxes account and you've successfully posted a Twitter update from within the 30boxes calendar view at least once.

Update: Was also able to post an update through the web browser of my Treo 600.

One-sided Twitter Q&A

Had my first taste of frustration with one-way friendships on Twitter tonight.

I'd been following Dave Winer for a while and for very understandable reasons, I'm not on his friend list.

Believe me, that's fine with me because I seriously don't expect any big name blogger (what more someone who's been blogging for a decade!) to reciprocate just because I happen to befriend-and-follow them on Twitter.

It just so happens that he threw out a few questions tonight that I would have liked to help answer through Twitter's direct messaging feature... except that I couldn't since I'm not on his friend list.

I didn't want to answer his questions through the commonly used practice of posting a public tweet with "@davewiner" for a few reasons:

  • It's past midnight on this side of the world, and the last thing I want to do is bother my Asia-based friends at such an ungodly hour, especially when I know most of them haven't had a chance to set their do-not-disturb Twitter settings yet;
  • I think that most of the people who follow me (being non-techie and non-web) would be totally uninterested in the information; and
  • I had no assurance that Dave would actually get to read what I wrote anyway.
* sigh! *

Oh well, I figure I will simply blog the answers that I would have sent him because it's possible someone else will stumble upon this entry in the future, and will actually find the information useful.

An added bonus: my answers are not confined to 140 characters! haha!
davewiner: What's the best way to include a box on my blog containing recent Twitter posts? Steve Rubel has one. Looks like it's done with Feedburner.
Steve Rubel uses a Twitter badge (that link works only if you're logged into Twitter), which Twitter provides for free.

Personally, I prefer to style my own Twitter updates rather than use the badge because the badge looks a bit clunky on my blog template. Jon Aquino has posted the necessary script and CSS to accomplish just that. He was also nice enough to update the script to compensate for a recent bug with the relative_created_at date field.
davewiner: wondering if there's a developer diredtory (sic) for twitter, one place where apps and website tht build on twitter are listed
It's not a directory per-se, but a good site to check out is the Twitter Fan Wiki.

Most of the third party applications and sites are listed right on the homepage. And if you happen to develop your own thing, you can update the wiki to advertise it. The password is indicated on the homepage too.
davewiner: Twapper is interesting, but it's missing a box where I enter what I'm doing. http://m.30boxes.com/twapper
I haven't tried it myself, but apparently, you can send messages using Twapper if you happen to be logged in to 30Boxes Mobile.

In fact, posting your update is only one of several new features they've just introduced. Another nice one is group messaging -- they let you define a group composed of specific Twitter friends and allow you to send direct messages to everyone in your defined group with just one post.

Of course, the message will only be sent successfully if your intended recipients have befriended you as well.

* * *

Update 1: See also detailed step-by-step instructions for setting up Twapper Mobile.

Update 2: Dave apparently saw this blog entry within hours of me posting it -- or at least early enough that he actually found the information here useful -- all thanks to Technorati. That's really amazing.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Great Friends

While I was out at dinner with a friend last night, I was reminded of something my boss once said about friendship:

It's possible to develop great friendships only with people who are like us enough that we have common ground, but different enough that we don't feel the urge to compete.
He didn't say it in exactly those words, but that's the gist of it, really.

This little bit of insight came to mind because I felt exactly this way at last night's dinner. My friend and I were alike enough in so many ways that we felt like kindred spirits, but we were different enough that we found interesting experiences to share with one another.

And while I was utterly exhausted by the time I got home (the past two weeks have really been very tiring), I'm truly glad that I dragged my butt to that dinner. haha!

To be honest, I was tired enough that I briefly considered canceling at the last minute. I didn't, though, because I had recently been reminded that face-to-face matters.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Good Listening

Some great advice from Evan Williams in his newly published interview with Jason Calacanis:

  • Build a product you are passionate about, something you would use yourself
  • Stay focused (or "don't go too wide," according to Jason)
  • Follow your gut, especially if doing so has served you well in the past
  • Remember that "small" things are never nearly as small as you think
The nice part: the advice is worth listening to even if you're not a Web 2.0 entrepreneur.

Go check it out.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

LOL

Got a huge laugh when I saw a link to Gmail Paper on the Gmail home page. LOL!



What a fun gag!

Glory!

Months of rehearsals finally came down to this morning's two-hour service.

I'm incredibly thankful that the whole event went so much better than I expected, especially after yesterday's dry run.



As expected, our guest soloist, Nolyn Cabahug, wowed the socks off of everyone. He is so obviously, extremely, incredibly gifted and talented. I can't think of enough superlative adjectives to describe the way he sounds.

At the end of it all, I think everyone pretty much agreed that there is no limit to what can be achieved if people work on it and pray for it hard enough.

God truly deserves the glory.