Saturday, May 10, 2008

Using Summize to Create Filtered Group Views

In a recent post at the GetSatisfaction Twitter forum, @sorenj asked if there was a way to create filtered views of the people that he is following.

Specifically, he said:

I'm interested in limiting what posts I see from time to time, topically. For example, if I'm having a conversation with fellow bloggers, I might want to filter my view (via tag) at that time to just the bloggers I follow. If I want to see what my family and friends have said in the past couple of hours, I'd rather just filter by family and view those posts. etc.
I think this is a great idea for a Twitter third-party application to implement. Perhaps if we're lucky, the folks at Twhirl or Twitterific will see fit to add this functionality to their respective apps.

Until that happy day comes, however, we can use the Summize Twitter Search to create filtered group views.

It's a bit of a pain at the start since we have to explicitly enter the names of the people we want to see together in the same group, but once we've got the search parameters the way we want them, we can bookmark the URLs and visit them any time.

Also, there's the added bonus that Summize notifies us in real time of new search results that have come in which match our search parameters.

So, for example, if I wanted to see recent updates from @paisano, @pistachio, and @skalik as a group, I can enter this search string in Summize:
paisano OR pistachio OR skalik
(Click the link to see search results)
As you'll no doubt see, our search parameter is too open-ended. It also return @replies that other people have sent to our three friends. Fortunately, we can use the minus operator to tell Summize to filter out tweets that are @replies to our friends by using this search string.
paisano OR pistachio OR skalik -@paisano -@pistachio -@skalik
(click the link to see the difference)
You can use the advanced search page to enter people's names under "any of these words" and enter the @username versions of their names under "none of these words"

The method is crude, but it works, and can be easily used over and over again once the URLs have been bookmarked. 8-)


Edited to add:

Thanks to the first comment below from diego, I just realized that there's a simpler and more accurate way to achieve the desired search results using Summize: use the FROM operator with the OR operator.

For example: from:paisano OR from:skalik OR from:sorenj

Also, this exact same search capability is supported by the Flaptor Twitter Search. In their case, the operators are AUTHOR and OR.

For example: author:paisano OR author:skalik OR author:sorenj.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Future-Dated Posts

Blogger now supports future-dated posts.

Of course I had to make a post just to see if it really works. If you see this (10 minutes from now), it worked!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

How I Use Twitter

I decided it was high time that I sat down and described in detail how I use Twitter, i.e., how I keep track of Twitter without spending all day on it.

The techniques described below may not be helpful to everyone, but they serve me extremely well right now, and there's a good chance that other people will benefit from using these tricks too.

The tips below assume that the reader has a reasonable understanding of Twitter terms, such as direct messages, user names, and @replies.

  1. Choose a distinct and short user name. Many of the tips below will work only if you have a fairly distinct user name. The best names are words or names that you would not normally use in regular conversation. You'll also want to keep your user name fairly short, out of courtesy to the people who will need to type it in to send you public replies or direct messages.
  2. Create a Twittermail account to get @Replies by email. Although the Twittermail service was originally created so you could use email messages to post updates to your Twitter account, I use it almost exclusively to receive a complete copy of the @Replies that people have sent me. The email is in digest format, so all the replies that have come in over a span of time are batched together in one email.
  3. Use Tweetscan to search for and email you tweets that contain your user name and keywords of interest. Tweetscan lets you enter up to five search terms, and emails you a complete list of all tweets that contain those terms on a daily or weekly basis. Make sure one of those terms is your user name. This helps you find tweets that talk about you, even if they're not @replies addressed to you. Obviously, the usefulness of such a service deteriorates if you have a user name that's used in regular conversation.
  4. Use Terraminds Twitter Search to look for users that have similar interests as you. Terraminds offers two types of search -- you can search in updates and you can search in user profiles. Since most people include their interests and their location in their profile, you can find like-minded Twitter-ers as well as Twitter-ers who are nearby using Terraminds.
  5. Use Twitter Track Alert for your username and for keywords of interest. Twitter offers its own Track service. After you've specified the keywords that you'd like to track, Twitter will send you (via SMS or IM) copies of all tweets that contain those keywords. Note that these include tweets from people that you're not following. As noted above, it's not that useful to track your user name if it's a commonly used word. Consider also creating Twitter track alerts for your company, your competitors, and topics of interest.
  6. Use LoudTwitter to create archives of your updates. If you're the type of person whose uncomfortable with the idea that the only copy of all your tweets is on a server that you don't control, then you'll like LoudTwitter. It's a service that takes all the tweets that you've posted in the past day, and creates a blog entry that serves as a daily digest of your tweets. As of this writing, LoudTwitter is compatible with Typepad, Vox, Movable Type, Blogger, LiveJournal, and Wordpress.
  7. If you're online often, add your IM account to your Twitter profile. Since track alerts are only sent to SMS or IM, you'll get the most value out of track if you're online on IM for extended periods. I typically leave my IM account logged in overnight to receive tweets, and I skim those when I wake up in the morning.
  8. International users can work-around SMS limits by creating a separate Twitter account for mobile notifications. International (non-US) users can only receive up to 250 sms messages per week. This limitation is especially detrimental to non-US users because Twitter does not let us specify which notifications and alerts should go to IM and which should go to SMS. I've worked around this limitation by using only IM in my main Twitter account. I then created a second account (which is linked to my mobile phone) that only follows people that I want to get mobile updates from. I also created a track alert on my username in this second account. This set-up means I can't use standard sms to post Twitter updates into my first account, but that's not a problem for me since the cost of international sms is prohibitive to start with. I therefore rely more on IM, Twitter Mobile, and mobile applications to post my updates.
  9. Find a mobile application that lets you post updates via WAP, GPRS, or 3G. Since I use a Treo Smartphone and my mobile service provider bills GPRS charges by the kilobyte, I use a Palm-OS mobile application called TreoTwit to post my updates.
When used together, these different technologies keep me plugged into my Twitter community with manageable interruptions and minimal investment in time and effort. I'm sure there are more ways to squeeze value out of Twitter. If you have your own suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

8 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Me

My sincere apologies to Bryan Person for taking absolutely FOREVER before responding to the Eight Things You Probably Didn't Know About Me meme that he had tagged me with last month.

I hope late is better than never, because here goes:

  1. College Major. While I was in high school, my dad came home one day with a brand-new Apple computer and I immediately loved it. I decided soon after to major in Computer Engineering and was accepted at the university of my choice when it came time to go to college. Last minute parental intervention caused me to change my major just prior to enrollment, and I ended up with a Computer Science degree instead. I have zero regrets.
  2. Games. I love the old Infocom text-based interactive fiction games; games like the Collossal Cave Adventure, Zork, and Wishbringer. Soon after, I got hooked on RPGs like Wizardry, The Bard's Tale, and Ultima. (Anyone remember: "Lie with passion and be forever damned?") These days, my tastes run towards Real-Time Strategy games like Emperor and Age of Empires. I almost always lose with RTS games, but I still enjoy them.
  3. Star Trek and Star Wars. I love nearly every incarnation of Star Trek except the original series. I know that statement borders on blasphemy for most Trek fans, but there it is. And if you think that's strange, here's something stranger: I haven't seen any of the Star Wars movies, and I don't feel any urgent need to watch them either.
  4. Cooking. I love watching cooking shows but I don't cook. I prefer doing the dishes by hand to cooking, which works out well when there's a need to divvy-up chores since most people seem to prefer cooking to doing the dishes. If I were left to my own devices, I'd most probably subsist on canned corned beef (I never seem to tire of the stuff).
  5. Money. I'm a cheapskate. Case in point: I've been thinking of replacing my computer for over 8 months, and I've so far managed to put it off because I can't bring myself to spend unless I really need to. Natural corollary: I usually don't enjoy shopping, with the exception of books.
  6. Junk Food. When I'm in the right mood, I can eat an entire full-size can of Pringles potato chips in one sitting. Come to think of it, I can polish off entire bags of practically any salty snack food in one sitting: Cheetos, Tortilla Chips, BBQ-flavored popcorn... well, you get the idea.
  7. Travel. I just turned down a free vacation in Macau because I'm currently so sick of travel. I hope to one day regain that bit of wanderlust that I've somehow inexplicably lost.
  8. Faith. I'm an evangelical Christian.
Whew. That was harder than I thought it would be. Which is why I'm going to have to take some time to think of who to tag before I pass this on...

Thursday, January 03, 2008

My Week in Media

Just got tagged by UK-based technology PR consultant Drew Benvie to participate in a My Week in Media meme, where we all talk about what we read, watch, listen to, and surf.

I noticed that all four of the categories talk about our consumption of media, but none really deal with our participation as media creators. So I've added a 5th category which (for lack of a better term), I'm calling 'Where I Participate.'

Where I Surf

  • Twitter. I usually start the day by catching up on overnight tweets. Due to the number of people I follow (currently 628), it's impractical for me to keep up via SMS, so I usually leave my computer logged in to Gmail overnight and it collects the tweets via Twitter IM. I skim that in the morning, and make a note of links I want to visit later.
  • One of our many local news sites. I track the headlines via Philnews on Twitter, and I click through to read the full article when a headline catches my eye.
What I’ve Watched

Strangely enough, I rarely watch news on TV. And lately I've not been watching TV shows on their original airdates. Instead, I've been catching up via DVDs, and recent viewings have included Dexter, Commander-in-Chief, and Heroes.

Have also been trying, but not quite succeeding, to catch more movies in the theaters (my favorite movie-mate recently gave birth).

Online, I've started watching more videos on the web now that my home internet connection has gotten a bit more stable. Recent viewings include videos from Le Web 3 and Have also taken to watching Seesmic videos, but haven't had as much time to do this as I would like.

What I Listen To

On my daily commute, I listen to podcasts. I can't read since I get dizzy if I read in a moving vehicle. There's also the fact that I drive to work. hehe!

The podcasts that I consistently listen to (in no particular order):
Lately, though, my podcast listening has fallen a bit behind because I've been using my commute time to listen to lectures I've downloaded from Open Yale Courses.

When I'm online and I don't feel like listening to anything long, I log in to Utterz and catch up on what people have been talking about. (I've placed this under the 'Listen' category because I haven't created an utter of my own yet).

What I Read

I'm dependent on Google Reader and have also described in detail how I use it. And while I'm hopelessly behind on my feed-reading, I don't let that fact bother me so much.

I also have a bad habit of subscribing to every interesting online email newsletter I can think of, so I find a lot of reading material that way.

Offline, I subscribe to and consistently read Fortune Magazine. I've got a multi-year subscription, and I find it to be a great way to balance out all the Web 2.0, new media, social media content that I imbibe via the web.

For general enjoyment, I read a lot of fantasy, science-fiction, and chick-lit.

I also read a number of trade journals that are specific to my work (which I won't go into here since they're too targeted for general consumption anyway).

Where I Participate

Aside from the obvious (Twitter), I post photos on Flickr, use Facebook mainly to play Scrabulous, and have lately been answering questions on Get Satisfaction.

Who's Next

And now, the hard part. Who do I tag to continue this meme?

How about: online acquaintances Manuel Viloria, Chette Soriano (sorry, Chette!), and Connie Reece.