A friend has recently had his Twitter hymen torn asunder, but is still unsure about the whole thing, so I’m putting a few Twitter-related thoughts together as a haphazard guide. The Guardian does a better job of it, but I’m not going to let that stop me.

 

First off, what is Twitter:

  • Twitter is micro-blogging, restricted to 140 characters per post. Some find 140 characters limiting, I actually find it useful in focussing thoughts, particularly those random snippets too short for an actual blog post. But it is a blog, so unlike Facebook you can’t restrict your messages to your nearest and dearest. But it also means your words are disseminated wider, which is useful if you want to use Twitter as…

  • A community builder, if you want it to be and if you let it. Not appropriate to me, but then I don’t have a webcomic/novel/band/live act/political career.

 

What Twitter isn’t:

  • Advertising. It’s all very well interspersing your tweets with “I’m performing at…” or what-have-you. But a stream of nothing but that would become tedious. This will not stop people trying to advertise to you of course

  • Sandwich blog. I’m sure some people are so desperate to tweet and so uninspired that “I’m eating a sandwich” is the sum of their contribution to the world, but there is a special layer of hell reserved just for them. Top tip: Don’t follow anyone whose updates put you in a coma with their sheer inanity. Disclaimer: I reserve the right to tell everyone in the world that I am drinking/drunk/hungover. I do this in person, why shouldn’t I spread the love over the interwebs?

  • A popularity contest. Some people need the affirmation of having a billion followers and go about this by following a gazillion random people in the hope that a proportion of those will return the favour. Follow those people whose updates you actually want to read. People who are interesting/funny/famous/inherently popular will accumulate followers quite naturally.

 

So what else are people using Twitter for?

  • Novels. 140 characters at a time. Not something I’m following, but interesting concept

  • Poetry. But then, who’d be interested in that?

  • News trending. The Trending Topics are the popular themes that people are tweeting about at this exact moment, whether it be the Sri Lankan cricketers or recently when Gmail went down for me and I was able to discover the extent of the problem way before it hit the news wires.

 

So how best to use Twitter? You can, of course, just browse to the Twitter.com webpage every time you’re curious as to what’s going on or want to tweet, but it kind of misses the point. Try this:

  • If you want to use it mainly from a computer, I recommend Tweetdeck, which makes the whole process much less painful

  • Twitter is basically made for the mobile internet, so see if you have any data allocation on your mobile contract. Unfortunately you can’t currently tweet by text message in the UK, but hopefully that will be sorted at some point

  • If you have an iPhone there are great free apps like Twitterfon

  • If you read webfeeds, either in standalone software or using something like Google Reader and just want to follow people rather than tweet yourself, you can just link to your friends’ feeds.

 

Yes, I’m back! Or at least I intend to be, we’ll see how it goes, etc.

There were two things that caused me to cease blogging. The first, as ever, was work but this is now starting to settle down. The other was . It’s not that I got distracted by it, but the fact that I linked my blog feed to it’s Notes feed, which meant everyone on my friends list could see my blogging. Unfortunately this made me feel quite uncomfortable about blogging. After all, Facebook “friends” could be anyone. Colleagues, people you went to school with over a decade ago, random people you meet at parties or weddings… Did I really want all these people to know my thoughts?

And by that time the momentum had been lost, many events had gone unblogged and catching up seemed a momentous task. But now it’s time to begin afresh, unhooked from Facebook. And, whether he excuses or not, I intend to borrow a conceit from and his Way. My catchup posts with all be titled The Return of…

Onwards! To the blogosphere and beyond!

Afterthought: Was this extended sojourn fated, considering the previous blog post is 28 Weeks Later?

Okay, I tried blogging from the mobile before, somewhat unsuccessfully. So I’m trying again from Vodafone Mail. Let’s see…

Update:
Hurrah! Free Moblogging is mine!

So I finally got converted to the over the weekend. Hurrah!

So I’ve converted my , which is now much easier to edit and move things around in (though the editor is still a bit, well… beta). And I’ve started my posts and stuck a tag listing down the side. I wish they’d make it a like in del.icio.us, rather than a list, which would save some page space.

And this test post is just to check the posting from to the Blogger Beta.
Watch this space!

Update
Right… Writely does not support blogging to the Blogger Beta yet, which is a shame. It also still does not support the ‘rel’ tag in links for declaring them as embedded tags.
Posting from Blogger though is very, very much fast now. The dynamic posting means you don’t have to wait for HTML to be published, which is nice.

I learnt of some time back and it seemed to be quite a useful little tool for blog writing. Unfortunately, upon installation, I found that I couldn’t connect to the Blogger API via my firewall and you can’t load the editor, even to draft, without the initial connection.

From my home network I initialised the connection to the Blogger API and now I can write blog posts from within Live Writer. The features seem perfectly adequate, quite slick overall and all the bells and whistles I could want. The main question though, is can I publish through the firewall? If I can, then when did the initialisation fail? And if I can’t then how do the other blog writing tools manage to post to Blogger without problems?

Watch this space…

Rubbish! Ten million pieces of crappy blog authoring software and the only decent one uses a method of posting that doesn’t work through a corporate firewall. Oh well.

BBC NEWS Magazine Park and write: “There is no need for anyone to be homeless. There are very many tireless, selfless people doing paid and voluntary work to help people like this woman. She knows this and her refusal to go to them is an insult. It is her choice to live on the street and it will be her fault if something bad happens to her. The opportunity to help herself is there.”

The article itself is about Wandering Scribe, a blog by a homeless woman who lives in her car and blogs from a library about her situation. Interesting enough, but what I particurly found interesting were the comments. A great many sympathetic comments, a handful like the above and a couple hypothesising that this is all a media publicity stunt.

Apparently if you can communicate what’s happening to you then you should have the ability to get out of your situation fairly easily. How safe and secure some people’s lives are…

I use to analyse what goes on with this blog and I occasionally like to browse around what search terms people used to find this blog or information within it. Since people use a variety of different terms and methods to find similar topics and I happened to have some time in my hands, I came up with the Top 10 search term categories for this blog. Here they are in reverse order:

10: Mata Hari Guildford – Restaurant reviews seem to do reasonably well

9: Memoirs of a Geisha – Interesting, I’m more likely to read a review on a magazine website, rather than a blogged review.

8: Cousins Marrying – Should I be concerned?

7: Antwerp – Travel descriptions required. Interestingly I got a request recently from a travel website asking if they can use my on Flickr.

6: Rape / Consent – Interesting that it has generated so much interest. And with the newest statistics and advertising campaign being released, maybe worth revisiting

5: White Wolf – Fairly obvious I suppose

4: Hogfather film – Also fairly obvious. Though the news is it’ll be a TV movie for Christmas!

3: Eberron – Damn WotC and it’s popular products!

2: MP3search.ru – The vast majority of the searches are around the topics of “Is it legal?” and “is it a scam?”. In short: Yes, until September and No.

And the winner is:

1: PSP related searches! The crowd goes wild! Who’d have thought that a three page article dedicated to my favourite toy littered with tags and links would generate hits? Saying that though, I do keep updating the article in question as new information is released.

So there you go? Interesting? Maybe. From my point of view it shows that that top five search topics are fairly geeky. Interestingly, places six to ten aren’t really nerdy at all. They generally link to reviews or opinion pieces. What? Nobody interested in my hangovers?

tags: ,

Right, new client, new email account (no I’m not giving this one out, I’m starting to get headaches myself from all the accounts) and potentially a blogging opportunity at this client. We’ll see. If this works, expect sporadic blog posts after last week’s hiatus.