Carr is Wrong: Costolo is Wrong: Wikipedia’s SOPA Blackout is a Great Idea

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

I was very happy to see TechCrunch 2.0 launch today as Pando.

Much less happy with Paul Carr’s applause of Dick Costolo’s tweet that Wikipedia's support of Internet Blackout Day is “…just silly. Closing a global business in reaction to single-issue national politics is foolish”.

Possibly a smart position for Twitter. It would be expensive to shut down for a day, and it’s hard to infringe copyright in 140 characters so of the many sites that depend on user generated content Twitter could very well be the least likely to fall foul of SOPA/PIPA.

Carr says:

And, you know what? He’s right. Whatever your stance on SOPA, closing down a global business to protest an American law is foolish.

It happens to be an American law that seeks to unplug foreign sites from the Internet, even if they’re not breaking any local laws. And then:

Arguing that a one-day closure reminds everyone of the importance of net freedom is like burning down one church to underscore the importance of the First Amendment for all of the others.

Really? Nobody is burning down anything. But if there was a potential law that allowed churches to be repossessed, say on the basis of claims of false scripture from other religions, without requiring a trial and say with a specific exemption that no legal challenge could be brought against any repossession made in ‘good faith’ compliance with the law then it might be worth it for a church or two to self-immolate.

And then:

The trouble with taking a political stance on one issue is that your silence on every issue becomes a stance.

There’s a difference between fighting an existential threat and throwing in the towel on neutrality. I’m very glad to see Wikipedia join the blackout.

Catfood: Cleat

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Need to tweet from the Windows command line? Well, now you can…

Android: Insane Contacts Storage

Updated on Friday, May 22, 2020

Oh no:

Low on space (Android)

My phone keeps running out of space. A little sleuthing under Manage Applications shows that Contacts Storage is using over 32MB. Can’t move it to the SD Card – I guess this makes sense, although it would be nice to cache some of the non-essential data there. I’ve no idea if this is a HTC problem or an Android problem (I have a HTC Aria), but some Googling would seem to indicate that it’s not uncommon.

In the People app choosing View from the menu allows you to pick which sources to use to display contacts. I had 5,854 contacts from Twitter, despite having configured the Twitter app to only sync with existing contacts. I also had a bunch of Facebook contacts, with the same configuration (existing contacts).

I tried deleting Twitter from Accounts & Sync. This warned that it would remove contacts (great!) but after blowing it away Contacts Storage had more than doubled to over 70MB.

Time to go nuclear. I backed up existing contacts and then deleted all data from Contacts Storage. My phone is happy again.

Contacts and sync in general is the worst part of the Android experience. HTC Sync is a contact-duplicating, pop-up-and-wave-my-arms-in-the-air-every-time-I-do-anything piece of Adobe Air uselessness. Google really needs a better answer for people who live in Outlook on the desktop. Or maybe they’ll eventually grind me down into GMail…

Twitter: Put some status in status updates

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

Paragraph Symbol

Give me an extra character for every year that I’ve been with Twitter.

Another extra character for every tweet that gets retweeted more than a couple of hops outside my social circle.

Ten more characters if I #AskObama and he answers.



Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

 A Circle

I just got on Google+, and the Circles concept definitely moves the ball forward, but my heart sinks a little at having yet another disconnected social identity. It’s been said before, but it’s worth saying again – social networking needs to be an open, core internet standard like email. You can live on Facebook, Google, Twitter, wherever but your social graph should be independent of any specific service.

I don’t mean this in any (well, OK, a little) granola crunching open source way. Companies should compete to the death on their social graph implementation and added value. But the actual data on who your friends are should belong to you and should be both portable and interoperable. I should be able to friend someone on Google from within Facebook and share core items in both directions. If I get fed up of Facebook I should be able to move my graph and central identity elsewhere.

We’ve got OpenSocial, strangely not mentioned in the same breath as Google+, and Open Graph which is open for things but not people. Also FOAF, XUP, and other possible foundational standards. Of course the barriers here aren’t technical.

Altly wants to be Pepsi to Facebook’s Coke. I’m waiting to see what it tastes like, but it doesn’t sound like they’re itching to change the game.

Diaspora is an interesting project, but running instances (pods) of a social network is the wrong level of abstraction.

Of course ‘owning’ the graph is tremendously valuable and it’s hard to see Facebook giving this up anytime soon. If Google really don’t want to be evil they should use Google+ to liberate us from the tyranny of walled social gardens. Unless it turns out to be another Buzz or Wave in which case it’s down to us.

Zombie Robs

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

I use Facebook for people I know well, LinkedIn for weaker ties and Twitter mostly for people I don’t know at all.

Over time though I’ve created identities on pretty much every network. With the increased interconnectedness of such sites when I stop using them I don’t stop posting…

I just discovered (in a spam filter) that someone was having a one sided conversation with me on Plaxo Pulse. I’m also actively posting (but not paying attention) on Buzz and goodness know how many other networks. I’m sure this inflates their active user count admirably but I’m now worried that undead me is being rude.

The social graph needs to work better in the other direction. Everything I post and comment on syndicates out like crazy but keeping track of responses just isn’t working.

Loose Lips...

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015


Space and multibyte character encoding for posting to Twitter using OAuth

Updated on Saturday, November 2, 2019

I've spent the last day learning how to use OAuth and XAuth to post to Twitter. There are rumblings that Twitter will start to phase out basic authentication later this year, and more importantly you can only get the nice “via...” attribution if you use OAuth (for new apps, old ones are grandfathered in).

I coded up my own OAuth implementation, referring to Twitter Development: The OAuth Specification on Wrox and the OAuthBase.cs class from the oauth project on Google Code. Both are great references, but both fail with multibyte characters. The problem is that each byte needs to be separately escaped. OAuthBase.cs encodes characters as ints rather than breaking out the bytes and the Wrox article incorrectly suggests using Uri.EscapeDataString(). 

Here's a method to correctly encode parameters for OAuth:

NoEncode chars is a list of the permitted characters:

An impact of this encoding is that spaces must be encoded as %20 rather than plus. I was worried that each space would end up counting as three characters towards the 140 character limit. I tested this and it isn't true, so use HttpUtility.UrlEncode() to calculate the number of characters in the post OAuthUrlEncode() or similar to actually encode post parameter.

The Perfect Twitter Client

Updated on Sunday, May 3, 2020

I started using bDule today after reading about it on Techcrunch. It seems to be very nearly the perfect twitter client for me - decent multi-account support, Facebook integration and reasonably snappy. Also, and this is really important for me, it's not oppressively black.

The group feature isn't quite there yet, it doesn't list all my friends and there's no way to edit a group after you create it. There's also no spell checker and getting the right layout is unnecessarily awkward. It's still in alpha so there's good reason to hope that these problems will be addressed soon.

I wonder where the name comes from. It makes me think of a certain casual game where you swap gemstones around until you're ready to chew your eyeballs out. I'm the last person to talk about puzzling software names though.

bDule is WPF/.NET3.5 so only runs on Windows XP or better. It also seems to suffer from the same creeping memory usage that plagues other desktop Twitter clients. I really wish someone would start offloading the stream into a database. I've got nearly frustrated enough with this to write my own Twitter client a couple of times, but it's not exactly an uncrowded market.

If you're a Windows tweeter give bDule a try.