salt lake city – Stay N Alive

Counting "Real" Likes on any URL – Evaluating the Salt Lake City vs. Fresno Campaign

Like ButtonIn the last week I saw one of the most amazing campaigns of unity amongst 2 communities, Salt Lake City, Utah, where I live and where I asked for your help, and Fresno, California. Both cities were entered into Walmart’s “Fighting Hunger Together” campaign in a race to get the most “likes”. The prize? 1 million dollars donated to the Food Bank of the community with the most “likes”. $100,000 would be donated to each of the next 5 communities with the most “likes”.  Thanks to yours, and others’ help, both Salt Lake City and Fresno seemed to take off the most.  Both cities launched media blitzes, a telethon of sorts, that telethon lasting more than 3 days, begging viewers, listeners, and readers to like their communities in hopes to rally the individual community to earn their cool $1 million towards the hungry and homeless.  I don’t know of a TV or Radio station in Utah that wasn’t talking about this every 15 minutes or so.  Campaigns were even set up to help people set up their Facebook accounts, and then close them when the campaign was done!  It was a Christmas Miracle to see both communities fighting so hard to win, Fresno outranking Salt Lake City by around 200,000 votes at one point, but Salt Lake City sprinting to the finish, obliterating the competition.  In the end, Salt Lake City rallied, soliciting over 5 million votes, completely overshadowing Fresno at second place by over 1 million votes.  The third place city didn’t even eclipse 500,000 likes.

The real story though is how each city grew their “likes”.  Walmart was counting “likes” by the total on the like button embedded in the website.  You can see that still on my previous article soliciting your help (click the link), something any website can embed using Facebook Social Plugins (I also included the HTML so others could embed it on their sites).  The “like buttons” tally votes by the number of shares of the URL, followed by the total number of comments on each share.  It’s hardly a count of the total number of people that actually liked the post, and some would argue, not a fair tally.  Fresno was even calling foul, perhaps out of jealousy, that Salt Lake City was using tactics such as creating Fake profiles, sharing the page thousands of times, and encouraging others to click through and like each share on the Fake profile.  Of course, Fresno was doing the same.  It was rather ironic that in the end Salt Lake’s total “likes” exceeded the total population of Utah as a whole!  I’m sure it could be possible, especially considering bloggers like myself were sharing outside of Utah to solicite votes, but hardly believable.  Of course, Fresno was in the same boat.

There is a way however, for anybody to get the “real” tally of votes for a URL with Facebook Graph API.  It turns out with Graph API you can pass a URL to it to get the ID and additional information about that URL.  So, without further adieu, here are the actual “like” counts for both Salt Lake City and Fresno:

Salt Lake City (click the link to see the Graph API response): 136,820 total likes (unique people)

Fresno (click the link to see the Graph API response): 89,578 total likes (unique people)

So, it would appear that, no matter how you “like” it, Salt Lake City still won the competition, fair and square.  In one of the most amazing feats of unity around such an amazing cause, I’m proud of my city because of this.  Salt Lake City gets social media.  We get how to rally, and we get how to work with each other to help out the homeless.  As a result, Utah’s Food Bank believes it can turn that 1 million dollars into 7 million dollars with the programs it has in place.  The 4th place city, Ogden, Utah will also get $100,000 – Utah Food Bank has pledged that the $100,000 from Ogden, along with the $1 million will get shared across the entire state of Utah, multiplied by 7 in helping the poor and needy.  Homeless from all over the nation actually flock to Utah because of our Homeless programs.  THANK YOU for your help.  I know many of you voted, and I’m sincerely appreciative for this.

If you ever need to tally the “real” likes for an Open Graph URL that uses the “like box” Social Plugin, use the technique I mentioned above – simply pass to your browser and you’ll get the likes for your site.


If you want tips like just like this one, be sure to pre-order my next book, “Facebook Application Development for Dummies”.  Any “dummy” can understand cool stuff like this!

Want to Give me a Christmas Present? Please Like This.

Fighting the homeless is something near and dear to my heart, especially when it’s at home.  I have a non-profit idea I’ll share here later which I may pursue at some time and I think could completely (or closely) eradicate the problem of homelessness.  This Christmas I’m thinking a lot of those that are less privileged, and even if not homeless, hungry.  That’s why I’m supporting the Utah Food Bank this Christmas.

If you give me anything this Christmas season, will you please just click like on this page, supporting Salt Lake City’s food bank?  If we can get enough people to like it Salt Lake City’s food bank earns $1 million to distribute to the needy.  This year is of particular need for the Utah Food bank.  In a down economy, they are seeing increasing need for help, with a shortage in what they are able to provide.  They claim this year to have a 30 percent increase in the number of families coming for food.

Will you please give to me this Holiday season by giving to the homeless and clicking “like”?  This will be one of the greatest gifts you can give to me this season, and even great would be if you could blog about it and share it to your friends as well.  Again, here’s the link – just click “like” on the following page:

To help, here is a box you can use to like it (just click “like” here!):


Sources Confirm Location of Twitter’s Utah Data Center

It’s pretty much confirmed at the moment.  Twitter, according to just about every employee at and the people running lines to the building, is building their Salt Lake City-based hosting facility in the old Linux Networks offices right next to in Bluffdale.

Shortly after my last post about the new job opening in Salt Lake listed by one of Twitter’s employees over the project, a flood of tweets and comments from employees at, a well-reputed search marketing company in Utah all reported they were seeing activity in the old Linux Networx building next to them.  After some questioning, Ash Buckles,’s Director of SEO confirmed via direct message on Twitter that 3 different workers laying line from the street to the building had confirmed that the building was indeed Twitter’s.  While still hearsay, I’d say that, in addition to other confirmations by the Salt Lake Tribune (thanks Joseph Scott), pretty much gives us a solid witness by multiple sources that is where it will be.  The kicker is it’s right next to “Camp Williams” (Twitter’s CEO is Ev Williams).  Of course it’s right next to a major Prison as well.

Linux Networx was acquired by SGI in 2008 as it closed its doors and laid off all its staff.  Linux Networx was a company that built HPC Clustering solutions, and based on some of the employees I know that have worked there, had some of the smartest employees I’ve ever worked with.  The building has remained mostly vacant since then.  It appears that Twitter very well could be changing that, with “large cranes”, “lost power”, and all sorts of construction happening at the complex as it prepares its expansion.

As I mentioned earlier today this is great news for Utah as it refills what was once a vacant building from laid-off workers and again re-employs many more for a well-recognized brand around the world.  Twitter will join the NSA, Ebay,,, and Oracle in adding major hosting facilities to Utah’s already rich line of talent and economic solutions.  In the end this is great news for Twitter too, as it can hopefully finally accomodate its ever expanding user base as it grows globally at an immense scale.  One can only wonder what other companies will follow suite?

I have contacted Twitter for comment and am awaiting their response. (Update: Twitter’s response was, “we’re not commenting on the location of the data center or any other details outside of the info included in our post last week.”)

Image Courtesy Google Maps

Twitter Opens Up First Job Opening for its Utah Data Center

Just a few days ago, Twitter announced it was opening a new data center in Salt Lake City, Utah in order to expand its ability to accomodate its ever growing user base.  The announcement was still somewhat vague, not specifying much about how many local jobs would be available and where in the Valley the new location would be.  Just a few days after the announcement Twitter quietly revealed a few more details about that announcement by announcing a “Site Operations Technician” position in the Salt Lake City area through one of its employees.

In a post by Twitter employee, Brady Catherman, who lists on his LinkedIn profile as an Operations Engineer at Twitter (and graduated from the University of Utah), Brady told his brother who lives in Salt Lake City to send people to an unlisted page on Twitter’s job site advertising the job.  The listing doesn’t appear in the main list of Jobs however.  The job is still rather vague, but due to the fact no management positions are listed or were mentioned, it leads one to believe Twitter has either hired them, it will be through a third party, or Twitter will be moving some of their own employees over to manage the process.  Based on messaging by employees, it would seem to be the latter, as Catherman’s brother, Bryan Catherman, implied on his Twitter profile that his brother “would get to leave his Twitter office and visit often.” He also implied that it was his brother doing the hiring for people out here.

Where will the new operations center be?  In a response to Mark Nielson, Bryan Catherman also stated that it would be at the “South end of the Valley”, “easy access from I-15”.  He wasn’t willing to reveal any more info when I asked, but that would probably put the center somewhere either around Riverton (where there is still lots of real estate), or perhaps Draper or even South Jordan or Sandy.

Utah is known for its superb hosting accommodations.  With the high altitude, dry air, and cool climate, costs of hosting are very low for most hosting facilities.  It is the site for a massive NSA hosting facility in the West end of the valley, as well as home to other hosting locations for Ebay, and the billion-plus record database inside the Granite mountains on the East for  As the home to the start of Wordperfect, Novell, Omniture,, and home to 2 major Universities within an hour of each other (BYU and Utah), Twitter will also have no problem finding talent here.

Having a new hosting facility in Utah is an exciting thing for those of us that live here.  It is just one more proof that confirms the recent claim that Provo, Utah (near Salt Lake City) was recently named the 9th most innovative city in America by Forbes Magazine.  It is also one more confirmation that I have said before that the Salt Lake City area is one of the top tech and startup hotbeds in our nation right now.  I hope more tech news outlets are watching this and noting this great add to the already amazing talent we have in this area.

If you have any more details about this announcement, please e-mail me at or feel free to mention them in the comments.