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Archives: April 2009

The Media140 Microblogging Event (London, May 20, 2009)

Media140 will be the UK’s first micro-blogging event, bringing together the worlds of print, broadcast, online and social media together to debate and discuss the impact of new micro-blogging services such as twitter and how they are changing how news is being sourced and consumed.

Media140.com

The non-profit event to be held at Iris Digital on the 20th May is being sponsored and supported by Sky News, Telegraph, Iris Digital, Sun Microsystems, 6Consulting, Tweetmeme, Winston & Strawn Bootlaw, Times Online, Capital Business Media and Gorkana.

With speakers from mainstream media including BBC, The Times and Sky and their new media counterparts from Frontline Club and TechCrunch with a number of respected technology critics, commentators and academics scheduled to attend.

This event shows how the industry is starting to look across commercial boundaries to debate the impact of emerging trends such as twitter as the advertising and publishing markets feel the strain of the recession.

“Being part of this is important as it is an opportunity for us to discuss what twitter and similar services will mean for industry going forward. Critical to that is that this event is independent and non profit allowing a neutral platform for discussion.” ~ Laura Oliver, Journalism.co.uk

“The Twitter storm is with us and I had originally planned to run this event informally to raise money for Mencap as part of a charity run. As I started to talk to colleagues in the industry it started to grow organically and has shown how the industry is keen to debate these trends early and find ways to empower their businesses rather than shy away from them. “ ~ Andrew Gregson, Founder

Early bird tickets are available at http://www.media140.com. Twittercism readers can use the code Twittercism140 and receive a 10 per cent discount.

I’ll be in attendance and will be live-tweeting the event for Media140. If you’re going, drop me a message (or leave a comment on this blog) and we’ll hook up. I’m very much looking forward to it. :)

The Problems I Have With TopFollowFriday.com

Hey, check this out. You know #followfriday, where you can make recommendations of cool people to follow on the Friday of each week? Good times. If so, then you’re probably also aware of TopFollowFriday.com, a site that ranks the most highly-recommended folk.

For example, here’s a screenshot from today’s chart:

TopFollowFriday.com - I Win!

I have two problems with this.

  1. It’s not Friday, and
  2. How in blue blazes am I number one?

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See Where Short URLs Really Go With ExpandMyURL.com

I’ve written previously on this blog about issues with shortened URLs and with the various worm exploits on Twitter that we’ve seen of late it is definitely becoming something of a concern. It’s even an option in the latest release of TweetDeck.

Earlier this week I wrote about LinkNark, a website that allows you to preview shortened URLs to ward off nasty surprises. Another alternative to LinkNark is ExpandMyURL.com, and it works in similar ways. Punch in your shortened URL – it accepts all the leading formats – and hit the ‘expand url’ button, and away you go.

It’s very quick and very simple, and does exactly what it says on the tin. But so far, so LinkNark.

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Take The Hassle Out Of #followfriday Courtesy Of The Twitter Tag Project

#followfriday is a weekly-event on Twitter that’s a lot of fun: each Friday, you make a list of recommended Twitter accounts that you think other folk should follow, and share these via the #followfriday hashtag.

For me, each week it gets more difficult. As my follower count grows I continue to interact and engage with a lot of great people and sometimes despite my best intentions (and a wealth of recommendations) it’s easy to overlook a few people, completely by accident. Because Twitter moves so fast and because I tweet so much, it’s very easy to forget what happened yesterday, let alone a week ago.

Enter The Twitter Tag Project, and their excellent Follow Friday! tool.

The Twitter Tag Project - Follow Friday!

Enter your username enter the input box and hit the Go button, and seconds later the site will return a list of your most active friends – that is, those people you most engaged with over the last 200 tweets you sent – conveniently broken-down into tweetable chunks. Better, it presents you with ‘Tweet This’ buttons which allow you to quickly and easily forward these results to Twitter (or copy and paste into your favourite client).

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More Mikeyy! And This Time, He's Philosophical

Yeah, he’s getting pretty boring now, but after yesterday’s shenanigans, Mikeyy is back again.

This time it appears to be another new variant. Messages are more cryptic and philosophical (examples: “Success is a relative term. It brings so many relatives.” and “Every man should marry. After all, happiness is not the only thing in life.”) and all end in ‘Womp. mikeyy’. Possibly the author meant to say worm instead of womp, but I guess we’ll never know.

Real-time Twitter search: http://search.twitter.com/search?q=mikeyy (safe link, and you can see all the examples of what to look out for here)

Again, it’s spreading super-fast. Thousands of infected tweets every few minutes. Whatever Twitter is doing, it isn’t working permanently. Meantime, the usual cure should work, and can be accessed on this blog at this link.

If you’re suspicious about short URLs, use LinkNark.

Please re-tweet and share with your friends, particularly those you note are infected. Thanks.

Updates as and when they come. Isn’t it curious this only happens on weekends?

UPDATE 1635 GMT: Twitter are reporting that things are back to normal, and Mikeyy does appear to have dropped off the search radar. Same time tomorrow? ;)

Worried About Clicking On A Short URL? Try LinkNark

(This is a follow-up article to my post, “Your Office Doesn’t Like URL Shorteners. Now What?“)

Twitter is built around a 140-character messaging limit and URL shortening services such as TinyURL, Bit.ly and is.gd are an essential part of that system. However, with the recent worm exploits, many members of the network are understandably becoming increasingly concerned about clicking on a shortened URL for fear of where it might lead.

LinkNark

Enter LinkNark. LinkNark is a web-based service that lets you fully evaluate any URL before you click on it. Just visit the site, copy the URL into the text box, and hit the button. LinkNark breaks that shortened URL down and tells you exactly where it will lead.

Just think: no more RickRolls, no more spam, no more porn, and no more worms.

And quite possibly no more pleasant surprises, either, but that might be the price you need to pay for peace of mind and online security.

Mikeyy Is Back

The Mikeyy virus hit Twitter again today, right on the back of the real-life Michael Mooney, the creator of the original virus, being hired for a security job in what many are assuming is a publicity stunt.

So, is this a copycat? Quite possibly. The exploit is certainly different; infected Twitterers send out provactive tweets to @aplusk, @Oprah, @TheEllenShow, @SouljaBoyTellem, @NYTimes and @StephenColbert, likely assuming that guarantees the best chance of spreading if these high-profile accounts get infected, too.

It also tweets a ‘Mikey got hacked!’ message, which includes a bit.ly link. Obviously, do not click on this. (UPDATE: The link redirected to an infected account, and this has now been suspended by Twitter.)

It’s spreading incredibly fast (Twitter search) – much faster than the previous hacks. My search window is updating with 100s of new results every few seconds.

My previous cure still works. Click here to read that.

Meantime, avoid visiting profiles on Twitter.com. Do not click on any dodgy links. And don’t re-tweet infected users messages. Monitor your own profile for signs of infection (if you’re sending out the tweets above, then you’re infected. Apply the cure).

2035 GMT: Twitter is aware of the situation.

2105 GMT: Some of the worm messages now say ‘This exploit only affects Internet Explorer users’. Assume the contrary.

2113 GMT: Hearing that Mac users can’t get infected. Don’t have a Mac so cannot test, but still, assume otherwise until proven. Still spreading faster than anything I’ve seen – 5,000 tweets every 15 minutes or so.

2132 GMT: Mikeyy is now tweeting advice to Twitter about their code within infected user accounts, i.e., “Twitter, do you know about the before_save model callback?” and “Twitter, BeforeSave: ForEach: DataArray: EscapeHtmlChars!!!”. What a helpful fellow.

2141 GMT: Another new tweet from infected Mikeyy users, at least within this variant: “Call me everyone! 718-312-8131″, which is the same number as last time. I believe this is (or was) Michael Mooney’s actual number, which leads me to conclude this is either a copycat or a publicity stunt tied in with his new employment (which would be very foolish indeed).

2320 GMT: Twitter have written that they should soon have things under control, and Mikeyy does appear to have slowed considerably, and may now be gone. If you think you’re infected, use the cure links above. Until next time… :)

Twitter: The Best Of The Week (April 11-17, 2009)

This is a weekly series that looks at the best Twitter-related stories, news and articles within the Twittersphere over the last seven days. You can read previous entries in our archives.

Twitter Gets Hacked By A Worm (And His Name Was Michael Mooney)

This past week was really all about one thing: worms. Twitter got hit hard and fast last Easter weekend, and for a little while things looked pretty bleak. I did my part by helping out folk with the cure, but is this just the beginning, and what can you do to protect yourself?

Twitter Goes Pay-Per-Tweet, And Big Business Is Buying

Magpie is a new pay-per-tweet service on Twitter. It’s got many up-in-arms, but that hasn’t stopped the likes of Apple, Skype and others signing up. What exactly is going on?

How Fast Can You Tweet?

Not sure? Check out Fast140.com and find out. (Note: some people are clearly cheating.)

Every Time You Tweet, A Kitten Is Killed

The Daily Mail did its usual bit for humanitarianism by claming that Twitter can make you immoral, after scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) made vague suggestions that the rapid updates on Twitter could lead to some folk never fully experiencing “emotions about other people’s psychological states and that would have implications for your morality.”

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So Ashton Is The First To One Million Followers. Will Oprah Be The Fastest?

It’s official, and it’s finally over: Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) is the first Twitter user to boast one million followers. At the time of writing, he’s added about another fifteen thousand to that total.

The Kutchers

@cnnbrk – which only this week became an actual CNN account – looked the clear favourite for a long-time, but some serious buzz around Kutcher over the last 48 hours saw him take the prize with relative ease.

To his credit, Kutcher has donated $100,000 of his own money to MalariaNoMore.org, and others added more to his pot. We can be as cynical as we like about celebrity charity, but it’s a nice gesture. He didn’t have to do it.

Kutcher, alongside wife Demi Moore (@mrskutcher – who still looks absolutely amazing), and friends, sent out a live, streaming video about the time he hit 999,000 followers, and this definitely helped push him over the edge. (Watch a recording of the video here.)

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How To Configure TweetDeck To Save API Drain And Engage With Your Followers

TweetDeck is a popular Twitter client of which I am a big fan. The bulk of my interaction with the Twitter stream comes via TweetDeck (on the road I use Dabr) for one simple reason: it makes Twitter a lot better.

TweetDeck at the time of writing has a market share on Twitter of somewhere between 13 and 16 per cent, depending on who you believe. That’s a pretty decent slice (Twitter.com itself only accounts for around 30 per cent).

One of the few drawbacks with TweetDeck is the API limitations. This is imposed on all external clients by Twitter (i.e., Tweetie, Dabr etc), and it limits users to 100 requests from the Twitter API every sixty minutes, beginning at the time you make your first request. When you interact with TweetDeck in various ways you use API. Different events have a different impact on the amount of API you use. When you use up all of your API (and if you run multiple Twitter clients concurrently they’re all calling on that API), TweetDeck won’t update again until that hour is up and the API resets back to 100 again. (Twitter.com has no API limit, which is one of its few major advantages over external clients.)

You can monitor your API usage and the amount remaining within TweetDeck – it’s displayed in the top-right of the screen at all times. But unless you’re very careful with how you use it, it’s very easy to run that API down frustratingly quickly, and then you’ve effectively ‘locked out’ of TweetDeck until the API resets.

There are lots of tutorials on TweetDeck around the internet, but few, if any, touch upon saving API. By following the advice in this tutorial, you can cut your API drainage by as much as half, and you’ll likely never run out again.

Basic TweetDeck Configuration

When you first install TweetDeck it defaults to a few simple columns – All Friends, Replies and Direct Messages. This is quite limiting. This is how I set up my TweetDeck:

My TweetDeck

(click to enlarge)

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