So you just got twitter?

30 11 2010

As some of you know, I’ve been using the internet since the early 90’s, and therefore am quite a confident user, I don’t call myself a guru, but I know what goes where and why.

Now Twitter can be a bit confusing when you join up, but then, it’s no harder than using anything else you’ve tried, and I hope that I can help you smooth it out a bit.

Firstly, it’s not wise to lock yourself away, yes I know that you want a certain degree of privacy, but if you lock yourself away on twitter, a problem occurs.

Let’s say that you find out something awesome, perhaps you saw something, or you were “there when it happened” and want to send the news out.

Well your followers will see your news and naturally they will want to Re-Tweet that news to their friends in turn.

But they can’t, because your info is not available to the public… that doesn’t mean that your friends couldn’t do a copy/paste, but it’s a hassle that you don’t really need, and your friends don’t need.

If you really want to send a secure message via twitter, you can use the Direct Message option.

Once you are on twitter, people will start wanting to follow you, particularly if they noticed you reply to a friend of theirs, they will think “ahh this person added something worthy to the conversation, therefore I want to follow them”.and that’s fine, this is how you grow your followers list.

Do not try to get a large amount of followers via some “Get many followers now” scam, if you do, you might get lots of followers, but they’ll be a pretty useless lot, you need people who are on your frequency. One good friend always beats a thousand strangers, right?

Now, some followers will be genuine people, but many will simply be spammers, and sometimes it’s hard to tell one from the other, so here’s a few clues which may help you decide.

If I’ve just got an e-mail from Twitter, telling me that Lady3456 is following me, I’d click the link to go to their twitter page.

The first thing that bothers me here is the name, If I should see a woman’s name followed by numbers, it’s got to be a spammer, though I may be wrong. Most of the time this persons icon is a photo of a good-looking woman.

Suppose the very first tweet I see on their page looks something like “Make many followers”, That’s confirmation enough for me, and so I’ll block them via the settings on their twitter page. * Which you’ll only see if you’re logged in.

This technique is all too common on twitter, and a variation can be the businessman, dressed in a “nice” suit, suits make Wolfie an angry puppy.

If I look at the pictures of who they’re following and my icon is not on the top line, it means this person has either just got twitter and is furiously following people, which is fine because some people, like me, do go nuts when they find something new that fascinates them, or it could mean they’re a spammer, following people at random, trying to get noticed.

If I look at the persons tweets, and they’re always about some product or service, unless it’s a product or service which I’m interested in (ABC News, for instance), they’re blocked.

If I see anything, ANYTHING, about Ringtones, Real Estate, Teeth Whitener, You get blocked.

If I see in your profile that you’re a SEO, a Social Media Expert, into Marketing and Investments… You’re Blocked.

Anyone proclaiming to be a Christian, Conspiracy theorist or Hateful Right Wing Nutcase, You’re Blocked.

Porn – I can find it myself, I don’t require your help thankyou, Blocked.

If your tweets are nothing but African-American street slang, dotted with profanity, then you can fuck off, bro’

If you’re too damn lazy to fill out your profile and leave your image as an egg, then you’re gone… A profile is an essential piece of information, it’s a bit like shaking hands in the real world… and your avatar can become known as “a trusted brand”, filling out your profile and adding a picture, even if it’s temporary, is essential, don’t skip it.

And those who only ever tweet about Sport, Body Odour, Videogames, Celebs, Jock itch…

If you do any of the above, then you are not welcome in my twitterverse, and you will be ruthlessly and mercilessly blocked, immediately… with as much pain as possible.

Look out for twitterers who have only tweeted a few times (or never) yet somehow have hundreds or thousands of followers.

Then there are things that I just find annoying, like tweets written in ALL CAPS, DEAR GOD WHY???

R U 1 of those who are too lazy to use your keyboard? Most people will be using twitter on full sized computers or smartphones with a full keyboard, SMS shortcuts piss me off, sorry, but they do, I won’t block you because of it, but you know what they say about first impressions.

And People who tweet nothing but quotes by famous people, and don’t appear to talk to anyone, seem highly suspect to me, what are they up to? I block these too, cruel bastard, aren’t I?

A lot of users don’t like follows from protected users, unless they know who they are in advance, I’m the same, So if you’re protected and don’t bother to ask me first, how do I tell you’re genuine?

But if I look at someones Twitter page and I recognise the person’s name, or I can see an active, friendly discussion between that person and some of my other followers, then I will allow them to follow me, and if I’m interested enough, I may follow back.

If they start a conversation with me on twitter and I haven’t followed them back, I will usually do so fairly soon, Because it’s usually enough to tell me that they’re a real person, and they’re actually interested in me.

Have they got 42,000 followers and they’re not @stephenfry (Who at this time has about two million followers)?
Unless you’re a celebrity with a verified account (or I know you’re real) then I find this highly dubious indeed.

So you may be wondering how a spammer finds you anyway, well twitter is highly conversational, it’s a bit like a cocktail party, and yes you can drink and tweet if you like… but relationships might be a bit mixed up tomorrow… so I don’t really advise it. But you move around the room and keep your ears open, and when you find a conversation that tickles you, you move into that group and say “Excuse me, I couldn’t help but overhear what you were saying, as it happens, I know something about that myself…”

So, You find two users having a chat on Twitter, which might go something like this:

@BigBadWolf is asking @LittleRedRidinghood out on a date

@LittleRedRidinghood is feeling a bit unsure about it, but says ok

So you send a tweet to @LittleRedRidinghood advising her to pack a taser. (Troublemaker that you are).

The following day as you go through your e-mail, you will find one from twitter, telling you that @TasersRUS is now following you on twitter.

Your tweet contained the word “Taser” that’s the only reason they followed you, they have some kind of autofollow program which grabs a particular word and follows people based on that, which is stupid, I mean you could have said “tasers suck” and you still would have got a follow, block this person immediately.

However, be aware that @LittleRedRidinghood may also decide that you’re a kind, thoughtful individual, who’s suggestion of a taser turned out to be a very handy idea (you bastard), She follows you, and she may also introduce you to @Granny and @Woodsman…. *growls*

While we’re on about key words, the word “Riddle” will bring in the spam quite rapidly, do it when you’re not happy and want to punch someones’ lights out, a good blocking and reporting is quite therapeutic.

Why block anyway, is it really all that important? Well do consider that when people follow you, their icon sits on your followers list on your twitter page, and that group of pics helps genuine followers spot the names of people who may be familiar to them, thus helping them decide whether they should follow you or not, so try and keep your followers list clean… it only takes a few minutes a day to do.

By he way, Spammers sometimes disguise themselves as potential friends by following several of your followers, however their conversation will never involve your mates.

Hashtags are great, they help keep a group together, you may have seen them used for TV programs, #qanda and #newinventors for the ABC programs, and #HeyHey for Hey Hey it’s Saturday.

In a program like tweetdeck, you can dedicate a whole column to one of those shows, and see every tweet relating to it. To join in the conversation, just add a hashtag to the end of any normal tweet, and let the computer do the hard yards.

Alas the rotten spammers will discover that a hashtag is popular and will begin suggesting that you visit certain web pages featuring girls promising to love you for quite some time, this is the reason HeyHey kept changing the tag, I told Daryl that this could happen, and he must have agreed… but generally spammers catch on a bit too late, and will spam after the show is over, missing their opportunity.

By the way, I would definitely get a twitter app, like tweetdeck It’s so much better than using the website, you’ll find that twitter comes to life when you begin using one, so do try it.

I hope this little bit of info helps, if you have any of your own tips, please comment.


BTW: Furries tend to be genuine, We think this is because spammers don’t know what furries are.

*** After Thoughts ***

If you’re running Twitter on a phone, please be careful with allowing twitter to send out GPS locations.

If you must use a social network which uses GPS, which can be useful, especially when traveling with a group, then go with Gowalla or Foursquare. These social networks should be treated much differently than Twitter in that you only allow completely trusted individuals to link up with you. I only have about twenty Foursquare and Gowalla followers – And for the record, although Foursquare is more popular in Australia, I prefer Gowalla, but this really is another story 😉

If you’re a celebrity or public figure, then you should also press Twitter for a Verified Account as it helps followers feel certain that it IS you, and saves you being impersonated by others, who may not have very kind intentions towards you. Lastly, A Verified Account is a very very nice thing to have.

You can *attempt* to get a Verified Account by writing to Twitter.

Backing it up

24 11 2010

When a computer breaks down, it’s not so much that the computer has karked it, they all do eventually, but that there could be a terrible loss of data if the fault lies with your hard drive.

I’m an old computer user and I’m very familiar with the bustic innards of my machines, it often amazes me that new computer users don’t even realise what a hard drive is, and are very often unaware that this device is prone to stuff-ups which could mean severe loss of data.

For those who are unaware, your computer is made up of electronic and mechanical gadgets, just like your car.

The hard drive is a small, metal box containing small discs which sort of works like a record player. it’s here that all your data is kept.

The discs are magnetic, just like audio tape, and an arm with a record/playback head scans across the discs as they spin, reading (playing) or recording data to them.

When people say that something has been installed on their computer, what they really mean is that it’s on their hard drive.

If you bought your computer, rather than made it yourself… which is a lot easier to do than you might imagine… then your computer has at least one hard drive. It’s probably a fairly chunky thing if you have a desktop computer, or quite a bit smaller and flatter if you own a laptop, but it is there.

If you built your desktop computer yourself then it’s possible that you have two or more drives in yours, or perhaps you bought an extra hard drive from the local computer shop and had it fitted.

Now this equipment, like anything else, is liable to break down at the drop of a hat, and if it does, you’ll lose a lot of your own work, so this is to be avoided at all costs.

It’s not so much the files that you downloaded from the internet, in most cases those can be replaced, provided you can remember what they were and where you got them.

But it’s losing the special files that hurt the most.

These may include photos, artwork, or video. or important documents such as essays, exams or entire novels. which you created yourself, things that have never been online and that nobody else has a copy of.

Now a LOT of people get a bit lazy and just leave everything on their hard drive, this is a mistake, and will eventually end in tears.

So backing up your files to something else, like CD-R is helpful, provided you’re the type of person who carefully archives their discs safely away in their proper plastic cases. but, lots of people don’t take care of their CDs, either leaving them out of their covers to get all scratched, or losing entire discs, it’s easier to do than I would have imagined. In the end, burning CDs but not *caring* for them, renders any effort to safeguard your files, pointless.

One option is to upload photos and artwork to Flickr or Photobucket which are online versions of ye olde Photo Album. With a free account, you can upload around 200 photos.

I’ve had a Flick account for years and have found it very handy indeed, for several reasons which include:

* You can access your photos anywhere.
If you’re at a friends house and you mention the last holiday you went on, and you find yourself trying to explain what that boat you went on looked like, and then you remember that you have a photo of it, but you don’t have it on you, you can access that image with your iPhone straight away via Flickr, or you can ask your friend to look at your Flickr page on their computer.

* It’s another backup.
While CDs and External Hard drives are great, you can still have a major catastrophe such as a house fire, and still lose all your photos… but if you have Flickr, your photos will be safely preserved.

* It saves sending lots of photos to people.
If your photos are on Flickr, and you add another 20, just send your friends and family the address and they can look at your photos whenever they like, this is great if your friends have limited broadband.

There’s also services like Dropbox and Mediafire which can safeguard other types of files like video, audio or text.

But let’s get back to CD-Rs and DVD-Rs for a moment.

I have used a massive amount of these over the years to store my photos, artwork and movie files which I make myself, and ok, I may have files backed up, somewhere, but where? It’s difficult to keep track of what’s on every disc, and while there are programs that help here, you will still have to get up and hunt through a bank of discs to find the file you need.

Nothing is in order, it’s a bit of a drag, and I have since decided to purchase two new external drives, and copy all the discs over to those, filter out anything I don’t need anymore like old programs for Windows 95 and keep the good stuff.

The old CDs and DVDs will have a date with the recycle bin shortly.

I’ll be reducing the footprint in my home from something the size of a small chest of drawers, down to something about the size of a packet of BBQ Shapes, and all the files I’ve kept should be much easier to find and access.

Now, what I need to mention is that it’s quite likely many of you thought that once data was put onto CD or DVD, it was there for good… it’s not.

As I’ve been going through my discs, which I have kept in relatively good nick, I have found some files were unreadable, they’re completely corrupted and gone to God, although thankfully my photos seem to be ok.

So I would seriously suggest that you go through your discs, make a file on your computer called “Photos” and put all the photos that you find into that… then make several new backups, onto CD, DVD, External Drives or Flickr, just in case.

Of course now I’m in another bind, since external hard drives can turn up their toes as much as any internal drive can… so now I’m considering, when prices fall (I have heard February will be a good time to buy), yet
another external drive, possibly around the four to six TB mark.

Where does it end?




An example of External Hard Drives currently on sale.

* This is NOT a promotion for Officeworks or Western Digital, There are other shops out there selling similar drives made by other companies, this is just to get you started.

Lazy waste

14 11 2010

I don’t watch a lot of tv these days, being pre-occupied by the internet as I am, I like to hear peoples honest opinions of things, rather than what traditional media feels is safe for our young, virgin minds to see and hear.

But once in a while, rarely, I’ll tune in.

The viewer who chooses to watch a program on a commercial network is subject to the most neuron shattering pieces of crap, often I think that I’m below some standard of thinking in which nobody would hire me for any reason, and I’m quite right, I’m over-qualified.

I saw the Clairol ad tonight, did the two actresses agree to have a lobotomy before doing that one? by the looks of it, one lobotomy would have been quite sufficient as I think there was just the one brain between both Women.

But that’s a minor issue, a raised eyebrow while snorting the word “idiots” is enough to deal with that sort of thing.

Here, we’re living in an age, like it or not, where we must consider the environment. The goal is to stop using products that we don’t need, to think about what we buy and stop the endless waste produced by consumerism.

Now fair enough, quite a lot of manufacturers are being environmentally conscious, especially when it comes to something like packaging, polystyrene beans have mostly been replaced with something that can be thrown into the compost, or at least, the recycling bin.

But out of the blue, along comes these dispensers, which sense where your hand is and will drop a few drops of dettol onto your hands, probably a good thing if you work in a hospital, where a germ free workspace is vital, but we simply don’t need such things at home, surely opening a bottle and pouring out some liquid is a very easy thing to accomplish?

Then we have automatic fragrance or insect sprays, they pump out fragrance or flyspray at timed intervals, so that the air in the room is filled with something that we like to pretend is a nice smell, isn’t that handy?

Alternatively there’s the ones that plug into your power point and release a pong that is sort of like a field of flowers, in the way that bong smoke is kind of like Barry Manilow.

What these things do, dear reader, is not make things easier for the consumer… It’s so that the consumer runs out of the product faster and needs to buy more.

It helps the companys profits to go upwards, that’s all.

Seriously, does owning one of these gadgets really benefit you?

Do you really need to be breathing in a host of chemicals twenty-four hours a day?

And are you so utterly bone lazy that if the dog farts or a blowy finds itself in your house, that you can’t get your fat arse off the couch to go to the laundry to retrieve the spray and press a button?

Gosh, you could end up with RSI of the button pushing finger, that could wreck your entire week.

Spraying a can of fragrance is not a difficult thing should you feel the urge to cover a pong with another pong, but you could simply strike a match, that usually works and generally smells better anyway, and a bit of burnt wood can easily be thrown into the garden (provided it’s completely out, let’s not start a fire!) because it’s wood. snails use them for toothpicks after they’ve dined on your vegetables.

There are people overseas who carry huge water pots on their heads for miles and those people really could use some form of dispenser, which delivers cool, fresh water, whenever they need it.

I can say with all honesty that I am one of the laziest people ever, but if I should get so damn lazy that I can’t spray aerosol then I think I’ll be in trouble, because wiping one’s own arse is at least five times harder.

Breaking News, Fat arsehole found at home on his couch, sucked dry by mozzies, all that was left was a dry husk. A fireman who inspected the home warned people that they must install automatic bug sprays, or put themselves at risk of succumbing to a similar fate.

In other news, Clairol lady runs for Republican seat…