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6 posts from June 2009

Video of my FIR interview of Eric Schwartzman (and briefly Christopher Penn)

fir_100x100.gifListeners to For Immediate Release episode 460 last Thursday, June 25th, will have heard that I interviewed Eric Schwartzman and then briefly spoke with Christopher Penn as well. Although FIR is only audio, there was actually a video component to my report last week. You see, I didn't have my audio recorder with me at the event where Eric and I met, so I simply recorded the video using my small JVC Everio hard disk video camera. I then imported the movie into iMovie '09 on my MacBook Pro. Next I opened the resulting movie in GarageBand, where I deleted the video track and exported the remaining audio track as an MP3 file that I sent to Shel and Neville for the FIR episode.

But... since I did have video, I decided to upload the video of Eric (and briefly Chris) to YouTube where you can watch it now:

You can find out more about Eric at (sans beard and mustache :-) or follow him on Twitter at Christopher Penn can be found at or

The For Immediate Release podcast can as always be found at


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Speaking at the Enterprise 2.0 conference this week in Boston

enterprise20-2009-boston-1.jpgThis week, I (Dan York) am at the Enterprise 2.0 conference today through Thursday at the Westin Boston Waterfront in downtown Boston. The keynote panel I'm on, The Future of Social Messaging in the Enterprise, doesn't happen until Wednesday morning at 9:15am... but I came down early as a good number of the sessions are of interest.

If you are at the show and would like to say hello, please do email me. I expect to also be posting updates to Twitter on both danyork and voxeo.

You can also follow along with the conference "backchannel" on Twitter by following the hashtag "#e2conf". Here's an easy search URL:

I expect to have a very cool Voxeo announcement out on Wednesday, too... but more on that then... ;-)

P.S. And why do I do the silly "I (Dan York)" construction at the beginning of this post? Because I see my content being scraped and so "I" alone doesn't make sense in other places the content winds up :-)

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Twitter's SPOF Stupidity Continues: Ever hear of redundancy?

twitterlogo.jpgWhile much of the blogosphere is currently dwelling on how great it is that Twitter is postponing its maintenance to allow Iran-related communication, my mind is still reeling from reading the Twitter blog post, particularly this part (my emphasis added):
A critical network upgrade must be performed to ensure continued operation of Twitter. In coordination with Twitter, our network host had planned this upgrade for tonight.

Like Chaim Haas, my reaction is... why is that "network host" singular?

Given the millions of people now using Twitter on an ongoing basis... given the incredibly large ecosystem of applications and systems linking in to Twitter... given the very real communications uses that Twitter has evolved to have... given all of that:

why does Twitter not have redundant connections?

This is really "Network Infrastructure 101" when you are supplying a hosted service. Anyone providing a cloud-based service should ensure that they have redundant network connections... redundant providers... redundant everything. Coming from a company (Voxeo) that provides a hosted application platform, it boggles my mind that Twitter would need to take its system down for "network maintenance". We would never do that... our customers wouldn't stand for it!

And that is perhaps the issue... we have customers... Twitter has users.

We ensure that we have multiple redundant providers and networks... because our customers pay us to ensure that their applications are always available. Twitter can get by on "best effort" - and on a single network provider - because no one pays...

Twitter continues to be a massive...

Single Point Of Failure

One company... providing a messaging infrastructure... obviously based on one network provider.

This is my personal frustration with Twitter. I've been using it for now 2.5 years or so and continue to see so many benefits to Twitter, yet as someone who has been involved with computer networks for 25+ years, the very idea of a SPOF is hideous. I'm much more interested in distributed architectures like what we see with and,(As I wrote about a year ago.) or what Google seems to be promising with Wave.

Yet Twitter's simplicity... it's directory of users... it's easy APIs... it's ecosystem... all of those things keep us using its services...

So while I commend Twitter on listening to their users and postponing their maintenance window... I ask as a long-time user -

why do they need a maintenance window?

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Initial thoughts on Nambu as a Mac Twitter client

nambulogo.jpgRecently in a bit of frustration, I decided to shift from using an Adobe AIR-based Twitter client on my Mac over to using Nambu, a native Mac OSX app. My frustration is due to the fact that all of the major AIR clients - Seesmic Desktop, TweetDeck and Twhirl - seem to suffer from the problem of consuming a serious amount of CPU usage on my MacBook Pro. I don't know if this is an inherent issue of using the AIR abstraction layer, which is another layer sitting on top of the operating system, or if the problem lies more in the programming of the applications themselves.

Whatever the case, in frustration this week when my CPU was yet again high and the Activity Monitor showed that the second highest app was one of the Twitter clients, I went off and installed Nambu to give it a try. (The application which is inevitably sucking up the most CPU on my Mac is Firefox... which is why I'm dearly waiting for the real build of Chrome so that I can find and kill off tabs of poorly-written web pages!)

So far, I've been very pleased with how Nambu works. Most importantly for me, I can use multiple Twitter accounts. (I tweet from both @danyork and @voxeo and occasionally a couple of others.) All in all the experience is very similar to that of Seesmic Desktop or TweetDeck. There are, though, some differences which I thought I would note here while I think of them:

  • "Compose" field is at the bottom of the screen, versus the top as in TweetDeck and Seesmic Desktop. (Not bad, just different and takes some getting used to.)

  • "Compose" field doesn't stay open after you tweet. So if you flip to the Nambu window you can't just click in and start typing. You have to either click the "Compose" button at the top or press Cmd+N to start a tweet.

  • Both TweetDeck and Seesmic (and other Twitter clients) have this UI component where you can go over the picture of someone and have actions right there to either reply, retweet, direct message, etc. In Nambu you have to either click the gear icon on the opposite end of the tweet and then go down to a menu choice... or click on the tweet and click on one of the buttons on the menu at the top. (For me, one value in a desktop Twitter client is speed and the ability to just quickly scan through and act on various tweets. Single-click action buttons are nice for this.)

  • Inability to resize the columns. Ideally I'd like to see more columns on the single page (so that I can visually monitor a bunch of searches at the same time). I'd like to make the columns smaller if I want. (Note that I can't really resize the columns on Seesmic or TweetDeck, either.)

  • "Sent" column doesn't differentiate between tweets/replies and direct messages. All are just shown as "sent". It would be nice if there was a visual clue as to which ones are direct messages.

  • When you click on someone's twitter name, such as "@danyork", you get a list of their recent tweets - but I couldn't see any way to reply to a tweet from that window. I had to click a button to go to their Twitter page to do that.

  • That I could see, there was no "in reply to" feature that would show that a tweet from someone was in reply to another tweet. Now... Nambu does have a VERY cool feature that replies to a tweet are threaded underneath the main tweet... if you can find that original tweet. If you can't find that tweet, though, you are left not easily knowing what the original tweet was.

Again, overall I've been quite pleased with Nambu in the few days that I've started using it... I'll write more here as I use it more.

Comments are, of course, welcome.

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140 Character Conference next week in New York...

140charconf.jpgAre you interested in the disruptive role that Twitter is playing in the media / communication landscape? If so, are you planning to head to Jeff Pulver's 140 Character Conference next Tuesday and Wednesday, June 16 and 17, 2009, in New York City?

Alas, my schedule takes me elsewhere (Orlando, Florida) next week, but if I were available, I'd definitely try to be there at the event. The schedule looks great and the speaker list (aka "cast of characters") is a veritable "who's who" of the social media space.

It truly does look like Jeff has put together a great show... and I expect we'll see LOTS of twittering early next week! (You will be able to watch here: )

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Revisiting "The Dark Side of Status Updates" - a home potentially burglarized after Twitter updates

Back in November 2007, I wrote a post here called "Twitter is Terrific for Thieves - The Dark Side of Status Updates" about the danger in giving away too much information on Twitter (and Facebook, etc.) and how that could potentially lead to someone burglarizing your home. At the time it led to some interesting conversations on Twitter and in the comments.

Fast forward 1.5 years and many million more Twitter users... it appears (and I must emphasize appears) that precisely that kind of thing did happen in Arizona:

Home burglarized after owner 'twittered' he was leaving town


The homeowner very unfortunately was robbed of thousands of dollars of equipment. The Twitter connection was mentioned here:

"Every one of them that reads my tweets that I sent out knows that I was heading out of town," said Hyman, "I've got it set-up where Twitter goes into Facebook, so it could be someone I know about on Facebook."

However, and this is the part that needs to be emphasized, there is really no way to know if the thief/thieves were watching Twitter or if it just happened to be a random theft. As the article says:

Unless the crooks are caught, Hyman said there's no way to know for sure if this was a random act or if he was targeted.

And that's exactly right. It might have been someone who saw equipment in the house through windows. It might have been someone who knew there was a tech business operating out of the house. It might have just been someone randomly breaking into homes.

Or it might have been someone monitoring Twitter.

We may not ever know. As I mentioned in my original post, though, it's important to think about what you say in Twitter or Facebook status updates. Do you really want to tweet that you home is going to be vacant for the next two weeks? Do you want to post the update that you had to leave the 72" plasma TV on the back porch until you could clear up the wall space? :-)

Ah, the brave new (open) world we all live in...

P.S. Hat tip to Todd Van Hoosear for re-tweeting about this Arizona article

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