Saturday, September 27, 2008

Twitter.com, tweets and usage thereof

I have a had a couple of enquiries from my friends and relatives who have not signed up at Twitter.com. It really is simple and a lot of fun. Their system works like a highly simplified version of Facebook or MySpace without all the endless nudges and requests to join or do something. I have been having fun there and so I will write a little about Twitter and how to use it.

First: Sign up at https://twitter.com/signup Give them a unique short user name.
Second: Upload your general local location info at http://twitter.com/account/settings.
Third: Upload a small silly photo of yourself or something amusing at http://twitter.com/account/picture.
You are now a Twitter person!

Then use the Find People feature to locate people that you want to follow.
You can also search here: http://search.twitter.com/advanced (It could use a better search engine).
Whenever you find someone who is interesting writing interesting things in an interesting location then click on the 'Follow' button at the top of their page. (I find that it is best to find some interesting people that update regularly once or twice a day. There are some news feeds that update many times an hour but that can be confusing). When you sign on next day -- or even many days later -- you can see all the updates made by people you are following.

Under Notices (http://twitter.com/account/notifications) I suggest choosing the option to receive an email when someone starts to Follow you. If they are creepy or if they are a politician or trying to sell something you can easily block them. Just click on where it lists your all your followers and there is 'Block' link beside each person on the list.

If you really want to be a hermit curmudgeon there is a setting to "Protect my updates" so that only Followers that you approve can see your updates. It is up to you to update as little, as much or as often as you wish.

Besides people there are also organizations, schools and companies doing updates. It is a great way to disseminate news to the public. Whenever you return you can see what the people that you are Following are writing about. You can update from a cell phone text message or from twitter.com or from other applications.
(Or you can never update if that is what you wish to do).
During Hurricane Ike there were people on Galveston Island updating from flooded homes by their cell phones.

I find the 140 character limit for messages to be liberating. There is no need to get carried away and actually write something serious. Much easier than writing an essay. If you want to add a link to a long web address then the tinyurl.com web page provides a useful to create a short URL instead. Once you create an update you can not edit it but you can remove it. (There is a little trash can symbol on the display).
If you have photos that you wish to share on Twitter then upload them at TwitPic.com. That site handles the complications of creating the short URL and creating your Twitter update.

They have a neat new feature at the top of the page where they show the hot topics that people are writing about at that moment. If you add a tag similar to #debate08, #canada or #dinner to the text of your own 'Tweet', then Twitter will 'tag' the subject that you are writing about. (Current hot topic as I write this are updates about McCain saying 'Horseshit' at debate last night). It was fun to watch what people were writing as I was watching the debate on TV.

You can send personal private messages to people if you are following them and they are following you. You can also send public messages -- that everyone can see -- by putting the @ sign followed by the name of the intended reader somewhere in your message.

I hope to see a few of my friends soon. There are more options and ways of doing things but these are the basics. You can find my updates at www.twitter.com/CanadaGood

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Armpit of America

I am up early reading and laughing and thinking what a wonderful place the Heart of America is...

There is a guy from north of Vancouver who headed to the Armpit of America in an effort to be the first person to achieve a human-powered speed of 1/10 the speed of sound. While attending the race a BC writer could not resist writing an article about the political opinion at Donna's Ranch.

That lead me to this example of local boosterism and this great article at the Washington Post.
Having driven down some of the lonely back roads of Nevada, and having just a small streak of curmudgeon-like hermit personality, I do appreciate the thought and simply must stop the next time that I drive I-80 through the Heart of America.

All this reminded me of my times driving the lonely highways of the Nevada desert. The photos shown are from my trip through Nevada at the end of December, 2000. I drove from Reno south through the town of Beatty to Death Valley. I spent New Year's Eve at the best hotel in Beatty.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Nothing exciting

I had a good summer but life has entered a quiet phase... as long as you ignore the excitement on the world stock markets. I completed two courses at Athabasca University and have completed all the assignments for a third. On the other hand I have an essay that has remained half-written for almost 6 weeks now.
The events of the past week or two have convinced me that money in the bank is not necessary the same as good as gold. It can be hard to convince myself to be frugal about things like buying the cheap can of beans or saving money on meals when my investments can drop almost 10 percent in a single day.
I bought a new camera this past week. A cheap Kodak camera but one I did not need. Sometimes it is good to simply give in to an occasional few wants.
I had a long summer trip this year. I bought a small Trillium trailer in April. So I headed out in mid-August with trailer and dog for a cross-country adventure. It was a a great time and I took hundreds of photos. I will have to post them on we web site and my travel page.