Posts Tagged ‘twitter’

It’s been only 48 hours since I wrote my blogpost on how to track a “troll” online. The blogpost itself was inspired by Leo Traynors story how online trolling and harrasment crossed over into real life and how he managed to find his tormentor. Since then I’ve had several thousand hits on that particular blog-post and have received phonecalls and emails from different media-outlets with questions on this topic. It’s obviously a hot issue…

My blogpost was not meant to serve as a manual on how to track someone online but was more as an insight that, yes indeed, you can legally track someone online and find out their identity and/or location. It was however also meant to serve as a warning of sorts on how much private information people put online using various social networks. This second issue needs elaborating on in my opinion as it’s an often ignored issue or at least one that elicits a lot of ignorant commenting.

First rule of online privacy: DON’T PUT ANYTHING ONLINE THAT YOU WOULDN’T SAY TO A COMPLETE STRANGER!

The above is the simplest but most effective rule; don’t make any comments about someone online that you wouldn’t say to their face and don’t put any images online which you want to keep private.  Adhering to that rule will save you a lot of trouble. Also remember that anything online, once it is indexed by Google, will stay accessible online forever. That’s right, Google caches every website that it indexes. That means that there will be a publicly accessible copy of that content on a Google server. Google will in certain instances remove content from its servers but rarely because the content is offensive or untrue and this is even less likely if you are not the owner of the website. So getting content which you put on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook and have since removed to be also removed from Googles cache is as good as impossible. The point is to *not* put said content online in the first place.

Second rule of online privacy: USE YOUR PRIVACY SETTINGS!

Most social networks have privacy settings. USE THEM. Even Twitter let’s you protect your tweets by setting your account as private or just straightforward block people. Note: Not a lot of people realize that if they block someone on Twitter that the blocked person can still read their tweets when they run a search for them. The only way to really prevent someone from seeing your tweets is to protect them.

On Facebook you have a lot more flexibility in regards to your privacy settings. You can have one setting for who can see your details, another for who can see the images you upload and so on. It gives you multiple levels of control. USE THEM!  There is no reason why something that you put on Facebook should be seen by someone who you do not want to see it.

Third rule of online privacy: WHAT HAPPENS ON THE INTERNET STAYS ON THE INTERNET!

Yes that’s right; anything that is put up on the internet (websites, blogs, social media and *everything else*) stays on the Internet. Forever. The reason for this is Google. In order to be able to serve you with these fantastic search results Google uses software (so-called spiders) to index everything on the internet. Once they have indexed the content of a page Google stores a copy on their own servers. This process is called caching. So if you have put something online, once it’s indexed by Google (and this is done very quickly) it is there for all eternity. You can remove the content, delete the page and even format the server that it was one but it will still show up in Googles search results and these search results will link to a copy of the content in Googles “cache”.  Of course you can attempt to get Google to remove the content from its cache but this will eventually result in the need for legal action with a limit success rate. Not a lot of people have the energy or more likely the funds to go down this route.

So, should you put nothing at all online? While this is obviously the most foolproof route to protect yourself from embarrassment it is not necessary. You can still be a prolific social media user without exposing everything about yourself. Take my own case, I blog, have 200,000 tweets to my name, check in on Foursquare regularly and much, much more. However not *everything* I do finds its way online. If I go somewhere, or do something that is private I just refrain from tweeting about it and certainly don’t check-in while doing so.  By being such a prolific social media whore while leaving private matters out it also creates a case where one can’t see the forest for the trees.

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If you’re a heavy Twitter user like me.
Strike that, very few of you will be Twitter junkies to the extent that I am.

Anyway, a lot of you will use Twitter favorites as a means of bookmarking Tweets, or specifically tweets with links, for later reading. I do anyway but because I follow a large number of people on Twitter and also use columns in Tweetdeck to search for tweets containing certain keywords I end up with a huge amount of favorites that I never get to sort through. See some of these I just want to read again and some links/url’s I might want to archive using a service like Delicious.

However Twitters web GUI is a useability bitch, especially since we are now all on “New Twitter” only allowing you to scroll through the list of favorites rather than search them.

What I had been doing was scroll through my favorites, open the links and save the interesting ones to Delicious. However that’s a slow manual process and I was favoriting tweets faster than I could archive them. Today I decided that it was time to automate this. Firing up the Google-box I typed in “exporting twitter favorites” and got this result.

18,600,000 results!

I trawled through some of the links and had a look at this one which lists some tools to back up your complete Twitter profile. I also found this article providing some free code to export your actual Twitter favorites to a CSV file but:

  1. I’m not a  coder so didn’t know how to run it.
  2. It’s Sunday so I am not going to start to learn how to run that code
Eventually I stumbled across this article.
It’s a good article but the first method suggested, using an RSS feed for your favorites doesn’t work anymore now that we all have been shoved into New Twitter. Next it described “Pinboard” which works a lot like Delicious but which also mines your Twitter account for favorited URL’s. I know that Topgold uses it and it does look rather excellent but as it’s a paid service and I’m hampered by my ancestral scrooge-ness I have not given it a try. I will however set-up an account later today and report back here after giving the service a run.
Further searching also brought me to Packrati.us. Now I had seen this service before but this time I’ve set up an account and configured it. Packrati.us trawls your Twitter favorites and let’s you archive them. It works with Delicious, Historius, Instapaper, Pinboard, Diigo, Read it later & Scuttle but the catch is that it ONLY works with one archiving account. You cannot harvest your favorites and archive them to two accounts. Personally I would pay a small monthly amount to be able to do this.
Another limitation is that it doesn’t do a full retrospective archive. When you set up your account it harvests & archives your last 20 favorites and all future ones. I hope they change this at some point.
Noting all the above I still think that Packrati.us is a great service and will be using it from now on.
OK, I hope this was a bit helpful and am now going to set up my Pinboard account and will report on that later…

Happy birthday Twitter!

Posted: March 21, 2011 in news
Tags: , ,

While driving my kids to school this morning I caught a discussion on the radio about Twitter being 5 years old today. This had completely passed me by. But as it is the day I decided that a little blog-post would be in order.

I was not one of the early adopters of Twitter and preferred Jaiku (which emerged at the same time) more and didn’t really start using Twitter until April 17th 2007. That still means that I am coming up on my 4 years on Twitter. I made the move because most of my contacts on Jaiku had started to use Twitter and it was purely a question of numbers. Twitter was like the grubby, loud pub on the corner which you hate but where all your mates hang out. I still consider Jaiku far superior with its threaded discussions, channels etc. However Google bought Jaiku and basically let it die. It’s still there and a few of the stalwarts are still using it but the buzz is gone.

So I looked back at my Twitter usage over the last few years and realised what a huge part of my daily life it has become. The first thing I do in the morning is check my phone to catch up with news via Twitter and it’s the last thing I do before I close my eyes in the evening. I get my news fixes on Twitter, I tweet friends to see if they have time for a coffee/beer/chat, I raise support for a charity, I retweet things I find important, funny or entertaining and I discuss current affairs/politics/business on Twitter. I also promote my businesses and projects via Twitter and interact with customers and suppliers. In doing all this I have accumulated 17 (!) Twitter accounts and have clocked up close to 100,000 tweets. Some of the accounts I haven’t used for a while but they are there if I need them.

There is a lot of discussion about who are the “top tweeters” and most of the time a list of celebrities is rolled out and followers numbers of millions are mentioned. I can say with a certain level of authority that this is NOT what twitter is about. Having 5 million followers but failing to interact and communicate with any of them makes one a useless tweeter. Someone with 100 followers who engages in frank and lively discussion is a much better contributor to the Tweet-o-sphere. The same goes for companies. You can be a public transport company and tweet info on all your services, delays and special offers but if you categorically fail to reply to other tweeters asking you something you have failed. As a company you are better of not having a twitter account than having one and failing to interact and communicate. Twitter is about giving and taking.

Twitter is also about stripping down the six degrees of separation to just one. If you want you can get in contact with almost anyone you want on Twitter. You can talk/tweet with celebrities, politicians and high-flying business people but you might also stumble across your first love or an old friend that you have lost touch with. It is a mine of information and the ultimate tool if you need a question asked or a problem sorted out. By becoming the new Google and it’s the new Roadside Assistance, Twitter really has become the horizontal and the vertical.

But what makes Twitter the success that it is? Because, deep down it is just another version of Usenet brought into the 21st century. In my opinion Twitters success is down to how it capture this “thing” going by the terrible name of “Zeitgeist”. It feeds people’s urge to be in plugged into 24/7, to have a network of people to feed in to and to know everything that happened everywhere instantly. It feeds the hunger for information about matters equally important and inane and it lets all of us become anonymous voyeurists.

So where is it going? I would be lying if I said that I know. What I do know is where I would like it to go. I don’t necessarily want more information but I would like better information (curation maybe?), I want the follower/following ratio removed or changed, I would like less spam but don’t believe that this will be possible. I would also like people to stop expecting people who they follow to follow them back. Tweet more interesting stuff if you want a follower. It would also be great if my DM’s were searchable, if I could select and delete large numbers of DM’s and if I could search within a users tweets.

Would I pay for this? NO. I expect that if Twitter ever started charging that it would drive down user numbers significantly. It might make it a commercial better business though. But that’s a different argument.

In the end I am delighted that there is such a thing as Twitter so HAPPY BIRTHDAY Twitter!

I recently blogged about the criticism I was coming under from a small group of people related to my work with Haiti Connect a charity which I founded that is providing aid and assisting in the rebuilding efforts in Haiti. Initially the criticism focussed on whether or not our aid was needed and if Haiti Connect would be able to deliver. The small band of detractors repeatedly and publically questioned the need for improved internet access and communications and also stated that I (through Haiti Connect) would never be able to deliver on this promise or that we never even would make it to Haiti.

It’s obvious to say that they were proven wrong. Still, a free-lance journalist working for the Irish Mail on Sunday decided to write an article about me. He emailed me a list of questions putting forward that he was pursuing this in the public interest. I replied to him answering each separate question concisely and truthfully. However my answers must not have suited his agenda as he completely ignored them and did what could be largely considered a copy and paste job using the few criticizing blogposts as his “source material“. This was obvious because he repeated verbatim the same wrongful assumptions and accusations as made in these blogs. However he also tried to discredit me personally by referring to unpaid debts and also attacked one of my companies by questioning the truth of information on the company’s website. None of this had anything whatsoever to do with Haiti Connect and/or its work. Still it got smeared all over the pages of a national newspaper causing a lot of personal stress for myself and my family.The gossip mill went into overdrive leading to the bank that Haiti Connect was banking with closing the account and so-called friends turning their backs on us. It even lead to our kids being pestered by some classmates because “your dad is a crook”. Now personally I will take anyone on but when this affect my kids and wife in an unfair way it has gone too far. Way too far.

I did not take this lying down and filed a complaint with the editor of the Mail on Sunday. Not surprisingly he dismissed my claim. Below is a quote from his reply:

I refer to your e-mail of June 1. The article published on May 9 was factual and balanced and indeed was largely based on your own words – either in response to our reporter’s questions or comments you had posted on Twitter or on your blog. We fully stand over the story. Furthermore, we believe you were given adequate right of reply at the time of publication. I must therefore inform you that we cannot accede to your request that we publish a retraction and an apology.

Following this I lodged a detailed complaint with the Press Ombudsman and today I received notice from them that they have taken this complaint up with the editor of the Irish Mail on Sunday as part of their mediation process. More about this soon.

PART II.

I must have stepped on someone toes by lodging these complaints as last week I received another email from the same free-lance hack working for the Irish Mail on Sunday. This time there were no questions about Haiti Connect or it’s work, instead it contained a range of questions based around the previously referred to debt. His line was that because of these debts I should not be soliciting public donations as I “obviously” could not be trusted. He also referred that Haiti Connect was not a “registered charity”. As he had previously ignored my detailed answers to all his questions and as he had clearly no intention in writing a balanced article I decided not to reply to his email. He followed this with two more emails which I also ignored. Next were two phone calls, conveniently made from a “hidden number”. I actually answered one but told him I had nothing to say to him and hung up. He called back and left a voicemail stating that “they would be printing another article next Sunday and that I had been given sufficient time to reply”. Like before I ignored this. Next followed a series of public tweets aimed at me outlining some of the nonsense & lies that he intended to write.

Now I might be a bit sensitive but this crossed over into harassment in my opinion. His article has no news value, does not contribute to “the greater good” and only does harm. To me, my wife, my children and to Haiti Connects work helping people in need. In short it’s a piece of shit.

But as he seems intent to publish it I will use this platform to tell me side of the story, the truth if you want it;

Yes, the judgments are real. They are the results of debt incurred through my involvement with a start-up venture in 2005. I was employed by this company as their CEO. The company was a US registered entity listed with the SEC. The company had ambitious but realistic plans and relied for its funding on the public sale of equity. I was hired by one of the main investors who was also in charge of raising funding. I set up a trading entity in Ireland and worked on developing the company. Obviously, as with any start-up, there was need for a few small lines of credit. These were applied and granted. However as the companies CEO I was asked to guarantee these loans. As we had just moved back to Ireland I also got some loans to cover the costs of setting up home in Ireland. After all I was on a good salary and the future was looking bright. However that situation changed. Because the company was founded and registered in the US and most of its investors were in the US we felt the first tremors of the impending economic crisis very early. Earlier than most people in Ireland. Funding basically dried up and we were not able to progress along the chosen path. As I had faith in the venture I kept working away without getting paid but by the end of 2006 I had used up all our personal financial reserves and ran up a credit card bill as well. Time to move on. (note: the company is still in existence but on the backburner until the economic climate improves). However as I had received no income for close on a year there was no way I could repay all the outstanding loans. Apart from that there was a dispute about alledged personal guarantees. One of the debts resulted in a recent judgment referred to in the article

So I did what I was taught to do; I picked myself up and started anew. Nothing like hitting rock bottom to teach you how *not* to do something. We are now 4-5 years on and I am absolutely astounded that these old debts are being put forward as a reason why I should not be allowed raise funds for a charity. Does failing make me evil? A bad man? Someone to be avoided like the plague?

It’s even more astounding considering the current global economic situation. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs in Ireland. Business small and large are failing every day. People with humongous mortgages are 100’s of thousands of euro in negative equity. The world has turned into an economic and financial disaster zone and in that climate my 39,000 euro debt is being measured on a yardstick to show that I am not to be trusted?!

Why is it in this country that failure is seen as a disaster and people who fail at business are encouraged to crawl under a rock or are expected to be cast aside as the flotsam of society? How do we ever expect to recover from this recession if people are only given one shot at success and are treated like lepers if they fail? We should stimulate entrepreneurial resilience (within reason) and allow people to learn from failure.

In the words of Malcom S. Forbes: “Failure is success if we learn from it.”

On to his next “accusation”; he alleges that Haiti Connect is not a charity. What does he refer to? What exactly is this thing called a “charity”?  Dictionary.com shows this definition:

1.generous actions or donations to aid the poor, ill, or helpless: to devote one’s life to charity.
I would say Haiti Connect fits that bill.
Now lets look at the legal framework for registering a charity in Ireland. Ooops, there isn’t one. What?! Yes, that’s right there is *NO* legal framework for establishing a charity in Ireland. Let me quote from the Revenue Commissioners website:

There is no legal framework for the registration of charities in Ireland. The Office of the Revenue Commissioners, Charities Section maintains a database of organisations to which they have granted charitable tax exemption. In granting tax exemption Charities Section give the body a CHY reference number. The full list of bodies granted exemption is published on the Revenue Commissioners website.

It’s a common mistake made by people who are not familiar with this process. The Revenue Commissioners maintains a database of organisations which carry out charitable work and which qualify for tax-exemption on that basis. Haiti Connect has applied for this status and our application is currently being processed. As it’s the first point listed on Haiti Connects FAQ page I am amazed that this guy during all his “thorough” research missed this. If I was to write a newspaper article accusing someone of being untrustworthy thereby causing him and his family significant stress I would make sure that I did my research and got my facts straight. But maybe I am setting to high a standard by expecting morals and common decency.

So now you have the full story. Time to turn the tables. What kind of person would write an article like this? Well to get an answer to that question we only need to look at some of his previous “work”. Thanks to this guys intrepid work we now know that Shell to Sea campaigners were planning a guerilla war and that Eircom has hired staff with the specific purpose to intimidate people on Twitter. I will let you make up your own mind after reading that.

In regards to the article on Haiti Connect and the supposed follow-up I have clearly stepped on his toes by publically criticizing him and he is running a personal vendetta against me using a national newspaper as his platform. His rantings serve no purpose whatsoever, there is no news in them, they do not serve any public purpose and any imaginable result is only negative. The results so far are that I have lost income, some people who we thought were friends have turned their backs on it (but we have also gained new ones) and that the emotional stress is taking a huge toll on my family. Interestingly enough Haiti Connects activities haven’t really suffered, most of our initial material sponsors have since donated or pledged further equipment, we have expanded the scope of the project into the areas of e-learning and telemedicine and we are receiving significant support from some quite formidable people. However if this continues and the emotional stress on my family increases I don’t know if it would be fair on them to continue this work. Personally I will take any shit thrown at me for work that I consider right and I will fight to the bitter end to defend my actions. However I can not stand seeing my family and my wife suffer because of this. Especially when she has already been extremely supportive (part of the money we put into Haiti Connect was earmarked to pay for her college fees).

In short I need this nonsense to stop. Can you help me? You can indeed. While I have received a lot of private messages of support I need people to speak out publicly and condemn this nonsense. Blog about it, tweet about it, or email the editor of the Irish Mail on Sunday objecting to the articles on Haiti Connect and myself. Make known that this malicious nonsense should not be accepted any further because as long as it nobody is imune from it…

After more than three years of using Twitter I am nearing my 50,000th tweet. This should be an opportunity to do something special and I have been working my grey matter for some time to come up with an idea.

Now it would be an ideal moment to let someone else provide the content for that all important tweet. But who? And how do I decide? Until I had, what I thought was, a brilliant idea!

What about if I offer the “space” of my 50,000th tweet up to the highest bidder with the proceeds going to Haiti Connect? That would offer the highest bidder the opportunity to say whatever they wanted to my 3,114 followers and the proceeds would go to a good cause.

So the search is now on for a person, company or organisation who wants to avail of this unique opportunity!

Offers via email please to: contactevert@gmail.com

  1. 2010 will see a huge surge in wifi usage. Those who thought that wifi was on the way out will be proven wrong. The ever increasing use of smartphone and other devices with built-in wifi will only grow the demand. The recent spate of 3G or Wimax to wifi devices is also an indicator. Mobile broadband providers see their current networks getting overloaded and will try to hand of load to public wifi networks. 2010 will be the biggest year for wifi yet and will also see an increase in “free” wifi services that utilise different revenue streams.
  2. 2010 will also be the 1st year that the market share held by the Apple iPhone will start to shrink. While Apple can always count on an almost Evangelic core following the common denominator smartphone user will realise that Apple, with its restrictive software policy, is ruining the technically great device that the iPhone is. Apple’s AOL-type app policy and the iphones’ dire battery life will feed the demand for the increased number of Android devices as they come onto the market.
  3. RFID tags will be a big thing next year. Not only will RFID tags be used to track items but it will also see an increased use as a mean to trigger actions. You put an item with an RFID tag near a device with a RFID receiver and it will trigger an action. Think vouchers, LBS and a whole raft of other great applications
  4. As much as I love Twitter 2010 will also see the beginning of the end for Twitter. In its attempts to generate increasing revenue Twitter will start scaring away early adopters and core users. The enormous user base will also make it harder and harder for new users to find the “catch” that drew the initial crowds in.  Once it requires a significant amount of time/effort to get to grips with Twitter the decreasing user base will not be renewed. New service that pay users to be allowed to insert ads into their twitter stream will also lessen the appeal. Q 3/4 of 2010 will see a number of new services/applications emerging that are based on the best elements of Twitter but that will provide a more tailored/manageable stream.
  5. Mobile devices will become absolutely huge but not in the way that we know them. I expect to see the first examples of something that I’ve been looking forward to for some time; portable devices that will become desktop replacements. You carry it around with you all day and just plug it into a cradle when at your desk. The cradle is connected to a keyboard, mouse & monitor just as laptops used to be. New battery technology and a significant increase in processing power and onboard memory will make the new generation of portable devices the new desktop replacement.