August 2008 – Stay N Alive

Why Do I See So Many Open Source Advocates Using Twitter?

opensource_logo.pngAs I am speaking, Utah is having their yearly Open Source conference. If you’re in Utah or outside Utah (most of my audience is outside Utah), it is well worth the trip with some great topics from ssh tips and tricks to WordPress Performance and Scalability by Utah’s own Joseph Scott from Automattic. I would be there myself but I have deadlines I have to meet this week (I have a big announcement to make next week which will explain my lack of time this week). However, as I was tracking the updates from the conference, I noticed there seem to be way more people updating from Twitter vs. the Open Source-based blogging tool, In fact, I notice many Open Source proponents even outside Utah embracing Twitter over the Open Source-based and I wonder why.

Now, I wasn’t paying attention during OSCON so I don’t know if it was the same there, but I’m willing to bet there was a lot of activity going on within the Twitter network there that really should have been happening over on I’m wondering if it’s just lack of education about, or if our views of the principles behind Open Source have changed.

I remember a day where in each company I worked for I would do all I could to try and get them to let me run Linux on my desktop. I still run vim and I still run open tools like Apache, MySQL, and Perl. In some (remember Red Hat 5?), I was making a sacrifice by doing so, because I knew I had complete flexibility to make the changes and configurations necessary to make it do what I wanted to do if it did not yet do it.

When I was an Engineer at we thrived on this principle. It actually made us more productive as a company because when we used Open Source software, we could configure it the way we wanted when it wasn’t working the way we wanted it to as a company. This would have costed us hundreds of thousands of dollars in custom software changes if we used a shrink-wrapped solution. Not only that but we could give back to a great cause if it didn’t meet our needs, and in fact we gave back quite a few changes to the Open Source community because of this principle.

Now, if you are not one of those types that went out of your way to use open source software for the principle, and because of the reasons I mention above, then I’m not talking to you here. However, I’m calling each and every one of the Open Source advocates out that are on Twitter and have not yet tried, nor use on a regular basis. This is no different than running Linux on your desktop as in the examples I mentioned above. If is not working the way you want it to, as an Open Source Advocate and promoter, you have a responsibility to jump in and contribute the areas you don’t have access to. That’s the true spirit of Open Source, plain and simple! Here are the reasons why you can feel good using, or build your own instance that can communicate with

  • You own the content you post – All posts through a instance are published under the Creative Commons license, meaning the publisher cannot own the content of its users. This is very much in the spirit of Open Source.
  • is based on open source software – as already mentioned, is based on the source code. You can even set up your own instance and have it talk to other instances. If you don’t like what does, then fix it, publish your own instance, or give back to!
  • talks with an Open Protocol, OpenMicroBlogging Protocol – Not only are you given source that talks this protocol, but you can write your own software that talks this protocol, and it will communicate with any other software that speaks this protocol. See my post on OpenMicroBlogger for an example of this in action. This is called “Federation”, and IMO it’s the essence of Open Standards and communication.
  • has almost all the same features as Twitter, and more – as I’ll explain in a minute, this probably doesn’t matter, but the only features it lacks are direct messaging and SMS. SMS is expensive, and most likely won’t last on even Twitter – it costs too much! Direct messaging can be resolved by means such as e-mail or text messaging in a much cleaner fashion, although there are rumors of some working on even that. What it has that Twitter doesn’t though, and this is powerful, is that all instances support XMPP out of the box, which means live-streamed updates straight from users, in real-time. Not only that, but you can track those updates, as well as any update on any instance via Track functionality. Also, via OMB protocol above, you can subscribe to users on other services other than, and vice versa.

Let’s not get me wrong here – I’m not telling you to abandon your network on Twitter. I’m saying if you support and promote Open Source standards and refuse to use an open service like that is based on Open standards, you are living a double standard. You can still use Twitter in the meantime. I still use Windows and Mac for functionality I don’t get on Linux until me or someone else is able to replace that functionality for something better. The concepts are the same. I still use Twitter occasionally.

Also, many are giving the excuse of, “my network is bigger on Twitter”. I’d first like to point you to my listening/follower ratio article on as to how strong your network really is on Twitter, but in addition to that, let’s pull in the Linux example again. How many Linux desktops are there in the wild? How many Windows desktops are there? We use Open Source because it allows us to configure it to do what we need it to do, and often we can get the job done better because of that. We don’t care if the majority of the population is using another closed tool because we can do much more with the open tools we’re a part of.

I’d really like to see some more Open Source proponents using as their primary posting platform. If you would still like to use Twitter that’s fine – there’s a bridge to enable you to do that, but it’s time we stood to our principles and why we’re using Open Source in the first place. Please don’t consider this a criticism, but rather a Bearhug to come help us out in this cause.

You can find me on at

Facebook Puts on Its Chain Mail

chain_jpg_2.pngWith all the recent talk of spam and viruses lately it appears Facebook has truly hit mainstream. You know when the spammers have hit there is truly value in a service. Today I noticed a new trend on Facebook, previously only known to the likes of Snail Mail and E-mail itself, the chain letter. It wasn’t in the form of an application or even a bot of some sort as you would expect on the service. Surprisingly, it was hand-written by who-knows-who and had somehow made it around to my wife’s cousin, who sent it to me. Subsequently, several of my other friends seem to have got it, because I received it from a few others as well.

The letter goes like this:

“Subject: ATTENTION ALL FACEBOOK MEMBERS August 20 at 8:13pmReply Attention all Facebook members.Facebook is recently becoming very overpopulated,There have been many members complaining that Facebookis becoming very slow.Record shows that the reason isthat there are too many non-active Facebook membersAnd on the other side too many new Facebook members.We will be sending this messages around to see if theMembers are active or not,If you’re active please sendto 15 other users using Copy+Paste to show that you are activeThose who do not send this message within 2 weeks,The user will be deleted without hesitation to create more space,If Facebook is still overpopulated we kindly ask for donations but until then send this message to all your friends and make sure you sendthis message to show me that your active and not deleted. Founder of FacebookMark Zuckerber”

It is sent via the traditional Facebook mail, which the API has no access. I asked my wife’s cousin if they sent it, and indeed, they actually did forward it to 15 of their friends as the e-mail directs. Therefore it appears this one, amazingly, is being spread, manually, from person to person on Facebook.

Now, I’m probably preaching to the choir here on my blog, as I sincerely hope none of you would fall for this. Typically, anything that says, “forward to x number of your friends” is not for real and you should report it or mark it as spam immediately. “Mark Zuckerber” is not going to know you forwarded it to all your friends, and Facebook is not tracking this mail in anyway. Your account will not be deleted.

This seems to go back to the days of the Microsoft lottery e-mail hoax that basically said if you forward to all (or any number of) your friends, you get entered for the chance to win a million dollars (or similar amount of money). Supposedly in this e-mail Bill Gates was able to track the e-mails you sent and they were using this to track the number of e-mails that went out.

This does beg the question though – how do normal users of Facebook know for 100% clarity that a message comes directly from Facebook, if they ever need to send something to their users? Is there an “official” method for distributing such messages? Thus far I’m only aware of various blogs on the Facebook site to announce this information.

Now, when people compare Mark Zuckerberg to Bill Gates, I’m not quite sure this is the way he wants to be portrayed. In such a controlled environment as Facebook, do messages like this have any excuse?

Have you seen anything similar? Share your stories here. You’ll find me on Facebook at

Facebook Rumors, Religion, and the LDS Faith

telephone.pngIt all started with this post today. A supposed “employee ‘close to the deal'” told blogger, Zach Klein (who doesn’t seem to allow comments on his blog) that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Family History division had made an unsolicited bid to purchase Facebook. Nothing else – no other background, no other resources to confirm the deal. Soon after, ValleyWag, the first to the scene and first large blog to publish anything about it, was blogging rumors they are well known for spreading. Soon after, Venturebeat and the Industry Standard were blogging about it, quoting Brady Brim-DeForest, who ironically was claiming this as news, not a rumor at all – I’m unaware of where he got it, but his news broke after Valleywag’s. TheInquisitr, while I’m sure had no ill-intentions, even made fun of the manner with some very radical and somewhat inaccurate claims that I know have offended some members of the LDS Faith that read the blog. The blogosphere seems to be a mess today in regards to regard for religion, faith, and respect for one another’s belief. It appears the LDS Church has become the punch-line of the blogosphere’s Jokes and I’m getting really tired of it.

Now, let’s talk about rumors. The blogosphere is known for spreading rumors – I’ve hated them from the get-go, but let’s face it, it’s a part of many blogs out there, and it may not be going away any time soon. (I think I could do an entire post about rumors in and of itself) I expect an occasional rumor about Microsoft trying to buy Yahoo, or Facebook employees leaving the company because they are mad with Executives, or even a crazy one like the iPhone 2.0 coming with 2 cameras and iChat video support. Frankly, I never share those (well, rarely), but they are fun to read because, well, they’re funny. But rumors like an entire Faith buying a huge company like Facebook are ridiculous, unfounded, and frankly offensive to me that anyone would take such a rumor seriously when the Faith is my own. It’s a religion, people – tell me one reason a religious Faith would need a social network like Facebook to further its mission. Do you seriously believe any religion would be so stupid as to try this? People would leave Facebook in droves if that were to happen, and a network like Facebook has no good way of building up the members of the Faith itself. The claim is absolutely ridiculous, and I can’t believe established bloggers are taking this serious enough to share with others! There seems to be a serious lack of understanding between the blogosphere and the LDS Faith and I’d like to figure out a way to put an end to it.

Let’s go back to earlier this year. You may remember my “Shame on You TechCrunch” post I wrote awhile back, calling out the writers at CrunchGear for an extremely biased, and very misunderstood and inconsiderate interview of Penn Juliette, in which he claimed Mormons had “magic underwear” (as a Mormon, I affirm to you, that my underwear is not magic), and went on to encourage him as he talked about how easy religious women were, degrading women at the same time. While I still will not read CrunchGear because of that, I have lifted my boycott of TechCrunch (just because there is no way to avoid it – I also did not know Arrington at all at the time), but as you can see, there is a blatent misunderstanding of the LDS Faith in the blogosphere. CrunchGear still stands by their article and has refused to make any statement to the contrary.

Now, to give credit to those that have blogged about this today, Eric Eldon (of VentureBeat) does have a great point in that the LDS Church does actively invest in stock to retain and increase the value of its members donations through Tithing, and Facebook employees are selling stock. Like Louis Gray, I too give 10% of my wages in the form of Tithing to the Church, and I sincerely hope they invest it wisely and don’t just waste it away. I know their investments are wise though, and even the “widow’s mite” is considered and cared for. The Church itself never publishes these investments and it would be impossible to know if some are in Facebook or some are in Microsoft or some are in Google. They take these donations as sacred, and every effort is taken to maintain the sacredness of those donations. However, an outright acquisition of Facebook would be proposterous and completely out of line with the Church’s history.

Every one of these bloggers could have done a simple Tweet in fact, and quickly gotten a response from Mormons on how ridiculous the claims are. Or they could have shot Louis Gray, or me, or Matt Asay, or Phil Windley, or other Mormon bloggers an e-mail asking us if the claims were true. It took me about 5-10 minutes to send an e-mail to the LDS church and get a response back (which, btw, said the claims are not true and unfounded), and in fact, the LDS Church CIO is even on Twitter – an e-mail or even simple dm to him may have done the trick.

Now, I’m not necessarily trying to call out these specific bloggers, but rather point out the problem in general – I respect most of them in fact and really enjoy their regular blog posts. I’m just trying to make a shoutout to the blogosphere that we’re here if you have questions! Let’s start an open dialogue about the Mormon Faith – do you have questions? We’d really like to answer them before you assume and blog inaccuracies in the first place. Please, don’t hesitate to contact me, Louis Gray, or any other Mormon blogger if you have any hestitancy before posting an article. It’s time we put an end to this nonsense, once and for all.

Facebook Announces Go-Live Date for All on New Design

facebook_pic.pngIt appears that Facebook has very quietly announced when the new profile redesign will go live to all users of their site. In a developers wiki article about infinite sessions posted on August 7th, Facebook announced under the question, “I thought you were deprecating infinite sessions?”, that the new redesign will go live to all users on August 27, 2008.

This move should be a welcome one for developers. One of the largest frustrations amongst Facebook developers with the new design has been having to support both the old design and new until users all begin to adopt the new. The new design provides more integration points, protects users against spammy apps, and tends to side towards more useful applications on the platform.

The new profile redesign has been accepted by some, rejected by many. I experienced this first hand recently in trying to cover some missed changes, that within just a week had been changed due to the quick evolvement of the new platform. Initially rolled out to 5% of users, it will be interesting to see the reaction of users as all 100+ million users are forced to use the new design. It is my prediction that there will be backlash at first, but as with any change, users will begin to adapt and learn how to use it in a new way. You can switch to the new design yourself by going the – it will from that point on take you to the new design every time you go to Facebook.

How was your adoption of the new design? You can follow my updates on Facebook at

Hash.pngLast week I spoke about how the ‘@’ on Twitter and other microblogging services may no longer be necessary due to the addition of the in_reply_to_status_id API call on services like Twitter and In the comments of that article you mentioned several examples why that would still be necessary. I’ve spent the weekend contemplating these and still argue with a proper infrastructure these would not be necessary. In my own opinion, services like Twitter and even are broken because there is no easy way to tag individuals and people without cluttering up actual content with unorthodox, unorganized ways of tagging data and people. We, the users have had to come up with our own ways to do so socially, and I think that’s a hack. Let’s go over a few:

Addressing a specific person or group of people publicly.

With current infrastructure on microblogging platforms, this is the one problem that will cause people to continue to need to use the @ sign. There is no easy way currently to say you want to make sure a particular individual or group of individuals see a specific message. This is different than a reply which the recently added API calls resolve, in that these types of messages are not necessarily in reply to anyone. So instead we have to clutter up our posts by prefixing our post with the intended recipient at the beginning, whereas if a proper infrastructure were provided, we could focus solely on the content.

Facebook has overcome this pretty well with allowing you to “tag” individuals in a Facebook Note that you would like to see the message, or that might be in the message itself. Twitter,, and others need to look into a new API call to allow users to tag other individuals so this is no longer needed. Imagine, for instance, if Twhirl let you choose from your list of friends and tag them in the post you are sharing. You could then have pure message in your 140 characters and not have to worry about the intended audience.

Common English (or your language) names

I mentioned before that @ wasn’t necessary, perhaps even if there weren’t an API call provided to link replies. Microblogging clients should be able to read each username and look at your friends, and tell immediately that you are referring to one of them, adding them to your list of replies.

However, this gets tricky when you get to someone with a username that is common English or even another language. For instance, what if my username were “stay”? Every time any of my friends said they were “stay”ing somewhere I would get a notification stating they were replying to me or addressing to me.

The solution for this again would be fixed with a simple person tagging system like what I recommend above. Allowing me to specify the intended users in the message would allow clients to know I was addressing those users without me having to further clutter up the actual message with meta information that doesn’t need to be there.


Hashtags need to be gone, plain and simple. All Twitter and and even FriendFeed need to add is a simple meta layer to their API, and beyond just allowing me to tag individuals to my messages, allowing me to add tag keywords to identify my message and make it more searchable. Tags clutter up our messages as well and keep us from being able to say what we need to say in 140 characters. In fact, I argue that meta layer should be completely flexibly – imagine if I could append whatever I wanted to a message. Location information, what I’m eating at the time, websites I’m surfing, etc. (I’m just listing those in theory – those could be messages themselves, but some are meta information) Part of our 140 character message should not be words not pertinent to the intended message itself.

SMS and XMPP/Track

So you ask, if we add a meta layer on top of all this, how can I then tag my messages and tag people in my messages via SMS or XMPP (Jabber)? SMS and XMPP should be treated as clients. The SMS client should be just like any other GUI client out there, just text based. I should be able to type “help” and have it give me a list of commands I can type to make it do what I want. Part of that client could be to include #hashtags and @intended’s to specify meta information about the message, but those should be part of the additional 20 characters SMS gives me outside of the 140 Characters microblogging requires. All of the same goes for XMPP. XMPP could provide an even richer experience since it isn’t bound by the 160 character limit SMS gives people. For a great example, see Dustin Sallings‘ Track XMPP clients for both Twitter and ( is real time!). Type help to his client and it gives you a whole list of things you can do with it. I’m sure this could easily be expanded further to allow tagging, person tagging, and more.

Twitter and’s announcements supporting linking of replies via the API last week is a very welcome announcement. With just a few more tweaks I think we’re on our way to a much cleaner microblogging environment that is even more searchable, more focused on content, and definitely more organized. For now I’m stuck using ‘@’ and #hashtags.

You can follow me on at or FriendFeed at

With Threaded Replies, Do We Really Need the ‘@’?

at-sign.pngI broke news last night on about Twitter enabling a new API feature, “in_reply_to_status_id”, to allow developers to tie replies to their original reply source. Immediately afterwards Evan Prodromou of added the same functionality to the source code, making two of the most popular microblogging platforms, Twitter and, along with the already supporting FriendFeed, supportive of threaded comments. Immediately we saw Dave Winer implement a proof of concept example, and YooPlace also implemented it into their own code. Loic Le Meur of Seesmic, the owners of the Twhirl Twitter client responded as well saying he was reading the article and looking into it.

So a big question has become evident now that we can threaded replies. Is the ‘@’ really necessary in your replies to friends on your favorite microblogging service any more? A comment by Steve Gillmor on got me thinking about this earlier, and I think he has a strong point. In fact, I’ve briefly touched the subject before here.

The ‘@’ is mostly a Twitter-invented custom brought to the service by its users with some slight roots in bulletin boards and forums where threading was not possible. Users decided the Twitter service made a great communications tool and began replying to their friends’ posted statuses with the ‘@’ symbol. There was no other way because Twitter wasn’t expecting to be a communications tool. The popular Twitter clients like Twhirl and TweetDeck and even Twitter’s own web-based client started catching on, and separating those posts with usernames prepended by ‘@’ as “replies”. What’s odd is that the only thing they recognize as a reply is if the username is prepended by an ‘@’ – they take no thought as to the actual username itself, which really is the actual substance of who the user was replying to. In fact, FriendFeed users are starting to do this as well since it only has one level of threading and users can’t comment on other users’ comments. (Twitter and are actually one-upping Friendfeed with their recent announcements)

So while the “@”‘s were a custom, they really aren’t necessary to determine if a user is replying to another user. In fact, even today you can use an XMPP tracker like Twitter Spy and Laconica Spy and track your username and get notified when a person mentions your username, exactly the way “@” replies work. It was silly that the “@”‘s were required to be recognized as a reply in the first place.

Now, considering you can now actually track on the back end the entire hierarchy of a conversation via the API “@”‘s are even less necessary as before. I’d like to see the various microblogging clients start to ignore the “@”‘s and allow users to simply type usernames when replying to another individual, assuming threads aren’t in place. Then, once threads start to show in your favorite microblogging clients, even the usernames shouldn’t be necessary.

I’ve mentioned before that IRC works this way and most IRC clients will look at the existing list of users in a room and automatically detect the username and notify the targeted user if the message is directed at that user. Not only that, but the IRC clients actually keep a cached version of the users in a particular room and will even auto-complete usernames if you begin typing in the username and hit “tab”. That’s what I’d like to start seeing microblogging clients do so long as they’re going to be supporting a communications platform, and it should start with Twitter and themselves on their own web interfaces.

Then again, all this may now be moot with threading available. Oh, and don’t even get me started on hashtags. (Those should be handled by the API, not in the content of the message!) I think I’m going to try a new experiment of just not using the “@”‘s like Steve Gillmor does – anyone else want to join me?

Laconica’s Not the Only Cool Kid In Town – Introducing OpenMicroblogger

omb.gifThere’s a new kid in town in the microblogging space, and no it’s not just “another microblogging site”. I talked to Brian Hendrickson, the lead developer behind and its accompanying service today and he may just have something to scare both Twitter, and Evan Prodromou of in their tracks. What’s amazing about it all is Brian has actually taken the OpenMicroBlogging protocol that Evan established and implemented the protocol in Brian’s own, non-laconica-based implementation of the protocol that would communicate with any other OpenMicroblogging protocol supported site, similar to the way I mentioned on LouisGray earlier. Yes, and the accompanying open source software it is based on will talk to, and on a completely different code base. That means you can follow anyone on within the service and vice-versa, and they were written from the ground up by two entirely different developers!

What’s even more amazing about this new platform is that while not a WordPress implementation, Brian seems to have made the platform almost entirely compatible with the WordPress plugin and theme API. So, basically, if you are a WordPress developer, you can write your own extensions to the code, implement your own versions of the code, and write your own themes, all in the same way you do on WordPress. Brian wrote the code from the ground up using a framework he built and calls “dbscript”, and it contains no WordPress code whatsoever. He felt WordPress was too bulky to handle a full Microblogging platform (do I smell a potential acquisition by Automattic?). In fact, adding in integration with the OpenMicroBlogging Protocol was as simple as just adding a simple PHP plugin to his dbscript implementaion. The look and feel of, his own implementation of the codebase, is all just an implementation of the WordPress Prologue theme that my friend Joseph Scott at Automattic wrote.

Picture 3.pngBrian tells me that while‘s codebase is very good technology (he had very good things to say about, Evan, and the codebase, especially when compared to Twitter), the technology underneath OpenMicroblogger and DBScript is even stronger and more scalable. According to him, “dbscript is an advanced ‘Restful’ framework with sophisticated features that are not found in the WordPress code base, it shares features with Ruby on Rails (ruby) and Django (python) — things like MVC, ActiveRecord, Routes, Content-Negotiation”. Because the underlying code is Restful, an API is almost inheritently provided for other developers to interact with your implementation of the code-base and write their own applications for it.

OpenMicroblogger and DBScript are based on an open source MIT license similar to the license Ruby is under. Brian says it took him just 8 weeks to write this advanced implementation, with other client projects going on at the same time and 2 kids, which shows how simple it is to implement the Openmicroblogging Protocol. It also shows his devotion to the work., the service that shows off his code, has some really nice features (also available in the code) such as sharing links and pictures with friends – definitely a little more advanced than in that manner. He fully supports the OpenID standard (he actually wrote his own OpenID host using his framework!), and is very big on OAuth and other standards and open protocols so you can expect to see much more around that with the site.

This one simple and amazing example goes to show that we have only hit the tip of the iceberg here on microblogging technology. Now that a Protocol has been established, you will see more and more sites and developers write their own extensions of the protocol to implement their own creative microblogging solutions and layers. This very creative and innovative solution could just be a more advanced option than to consider for Microbranded solutions in the future. Brian has taken “viral coding” to heart.

You can download the code, try out, learn more and help out the project over at I’ve created an account at, and you can actually just go there, follow me, and follow my updates right on! Or, you can go over and create an account for yourself.

UPDATE: Brian corrected me about it being more scalable than (see the comments below) – according to him, “Actually is the more robust code and is more scalable. dbscript is a meta-object framework and runs some extra queries to “learn” about the db schema — it is currently not very optimized for performance, but is geared towards being programmer-friendly.”

What a Year!

birthday-cake2.jpgIt’s amazing what can happen in one year. Just one year ago today (the 14th) I turned 30. Today just happens to be my 31st birthday (yes, I’m almost exactly as old as Louis Gray, and no, we are not the same person like he and Robert Scoble are). It also just so happens to be my 1 year anniversary into my quest towards entrepreneurship. 1 year ago today I met at a blogger lunch here in Utah, and began talking to my former partner Phil Burns about a new venture we were going to work on called Pokkit. Soon after that I sold a Facebook App I was developing for a small amount, quit my job at UnitedHealth Group, and was free, on my own, responsible completely for my own actions.

In just one year I managed to quit my job, sell a business, write 2 books, join the Utah v100 list of top Entrepreneurs, get on Techcrunch (3 times), Scobleizer, Webware, LouisGray, AllFacebook, InsideFacebook, Guy Kawasaki, and other blogs, as well as become recognized by Techmeme. In just one year I had a baby (on Twitter!), celebrated 8 years of marriage with my wife, buy a new car, have a car run into my house, see my son enter Kindergarten, and visit Yellowstone for the first time. I saw the Olympics take place in Beijing China! In just one year I saw Twitter take off and start to fall, I saw Facebook go mainstream and the Platform take off. I saw FriendFeed become popular, the iPhone launch (twice!), and emerge.

In just one year I saw my grandfather pass away, my Uncle pass away, and I saw my sister get in a serious car accident. I saw the death of legends, like Heath Ledger and Gordon B. Hinckley, and Bernie Mac. In just a year I saw my Grandmother become seriously ill and unable to walk, but recover almost entirely and survive the death of my Grandfather.

I’ve seen and experienced some pretty amazing things this last year. Many good, some bad. It has truly been the best of times, and worst of times. Today has been a day of reflection for me as I take one step forward into the next year and wonder what’s in store for me next. What will you do in the next year of your life?

What did I get for my birthday? I got a Wii Fit – time to prepare for my next year of life by getting fit! 🙂 Will Succeed Because Its Technology is Viral

logo.pngYesterday I guest-posted on about how the technology behind,, could pose as the launching platform to brand many smaller microblogging services. Today I’d like to share one more power of the service – its working API. seem to have introduced a new ideology to Web 2.0 with this code, viral software.

Now, when I mention “viral software”, I’m not necessarily mentioning software that can make things viral. I’m instead meaning software in which the underlying code itself is viral. This could change the face of the way developers write code in the future, and open source is only part of it.

Picture 1.jpgToday I noticed (through Steve Gillmor on another new interesting thing that I knew was coming – Brad Williams (@williamsba) wrote a bridge that essentially allows you to post on and have it automatically post to Twitter, prepended by “”. Interestingly enough, “Hippy Steve” (@exador23) pointed out now one of the top trends on Twitter as of today, according to is “identi”. Now, many of the posts you see on Twitter are going to become posts prepended by “”, and many more are going to feel pressured to join where they are seeing all their other friends post from. I guess you could consider it competitive micro-advertising, created and distributed on purpose by the users themselves (as Charlene and Josh would put it, we’re seeing a “Groundswell“).

It should be noted that you can remove the “” from being prepended, but as long as you’re on and want those on Twitter to know you’re posting from there and not Twitter, why remove it? You are posting from the competing team, after all. Would anyone want to pretend they’re not posting from Twitter? I’d like to know where my friends are posting from.

Now, onto the viral part. Why did Brad Williams implement this bridge? I’m sure there are preferential issues of trying to get his network onto, but the fact of the matter is, from a development standpoint these applications like Brad William’s bridge are simply easier to write for The lack of limits and plan to keep off those limits on are just one more thing that make the software behind viral. Developers want to develop for With an API that also supports Twitter (I mean literally, it is simply a change in the hostname for your Twitter code), developing for is just too easy! Again, developers jumping ship could very well mean the demise for Twitter.

I can only hope that developers of the future learn from this experience – in a social era such as today, even your software has to remain viral and easily shareable and distributable. is the prime example of this – completely open source, based on open protocols, and your software should be able to talk to other instances of itself in some way, preferably using standard protocols. In addition to that, a completely open API is a must – the minute you start closing your API you begin to lose your code’s virality. Brad William’s bridge is only the start of apps that make the transition to much easier. I imagine you’ll see many more of these things in the coming days and weeks.

Looking to learn more on how to make the jump to Check out my friend, Marina Martin‘s site, for some great howtos and tips all in one place. You can find me at

Secret Crush Worm Resurfaces

book-club-book-worm.pngTechCrunch and several other publications recently blogged about new worms surfacing that target Facebook through various means. Some are sent via e-mail with links to malicious videos, while others link directly to phishing sites that look just like Facebook and take the username and password of those thinking they are logging into Facebook. I’ve noticed the recent come-back of one I blogged about 5 months ago called the “Secret Crush” worm – I’ve received 3 wall posts just today from this, along with one or two from the recently announced phishing worms. I can’t help but wonder if the two are related.

The “Secret Crush” worm seems to log into unsuspecting users’ accounts, send wall posts to their friends, and even some times, as was the case with my Aunt 5 months ago, change the user’s status as well. All posts seem to link back to a blogspot-hosted site that tries to get more information from the user to find out who their “secret crush” is. Google seems to be removing these almost as fast as they are being put up though.

In the case of all the recent worms, it goes without saying that having a strong password is very important – if you have been hit by any of these worms, change your password and notify Facebook, immediately! In addition, the following pointers should help prevent you from being infected:

Make sure your password is strong!

As mentioned, always make sure your password is strong, and don’t use the same password on Facebook and other Social Networks as you do elsewhere on the internet. This will prevent you from having more than just your social identity stolen.

Never, ever, click on links in e-mails, even from Facebook, unless you’re 100% sure where they are going to.

Don’t just look at the web address you see in the e-mail, but rather mouse-over the link and see where your browser says it’s going to go to. Even then, when in doubt, copy the url and paste it into your browser – if your e-mail client supports javascript for some reason it can still deceive you.

Always be sure you’re on the site you’re supposed to be on before you enter your log in information after clicking on a link from an e-mail.

This is how many of these worms get you – they link to a site that looks and feels like Facebook (or other site), but instead have linked you to something like that is collecting your information. Once they have access to that they have access to everything in your Facebook profile.

Make sure you have Spyware and Anti-virus software installed!

Facebook is not immune to Anti-virus software. There is actually a well-known spyware application called “Secret Crush”, and there’s probably a very likely case these two are related. If you are infected with Spyware or a virus there is an easy opportunity for these apps to steal your login information as you log into these sites.

Just as with your PC, it is your responsibility to ensure yourself, your computer, and now with social networks, your friends, are protected from viruses, spam, and spyware. You now have a social responsibility to ensure this doesn’t get spread to your friends on these networks.

Have you been infected? What is it that you think caused the infection? Please share with us in the comments below and on FriendFeed.