Sad face TwitterSync no workie

When my friend Chris O’Brien messaged me yesterday asking how I link my Twitter updates to my Facebook status, I had to haul myself out of denial and figure out what went wrong.

For months I had been speeding along in the fast lane with my FB and Tweets all linked together for one-stop updating. I communicate with different people on different platforms – some on Twitter, some on Facebook, some on IM, and the integration made my wacky life a lot easier.

Then it went down, kaput, zonk. Out like a light. Twitter and Facebook and IM stopped speaking to one another, and I had to manually copy and paste (egads, how 1990s!)

I noted it on Twitter when things first came unhinged, but what with final exam week, having my job cut (details here and here) and moving and driving 1,350 miles home to Texas, I was too distracted to souse it out.

For a moment, I couldn’t even figure out which side to start the forensics on, the Twitter or the Facebook.

O’Brien’s reaction to my initial confusion was sweet: “sjcobrien Geez. You mean you broke Facebook AND Twitter? Careful, or they might ban you from the Internet for ever.”

On the Twitter side, here’s one of the error messages (complete with the sad/happy face/Twitterface barometer).

On the Facebook side, there’s finger-pointing and silliness. I had used the TwitterSync application to pull the two together, but the application developers now say Twitter undid it: “Twitter has temporarily, 5/23/2008, turned off the TwitterIM feature of Twitter — meaning TwitterSync is broken until they turn it back on.”

Well, that explains it!

For a little therapy, there is a discussion board right there on TwitterSync for “What are you doing while we wait for TwitterIM to come back …”

While I wait, I may go over and check out the integration-on-steroids called FriendFeed, which Michael Arrington describes as “this year’s Twitter.

But I get irritated when I have to spend a lot of time figuring something out, when the whole point to begin with was to *save* time.

I guess I could just unplug for a while. Go off the grid. Relax.

Sad face.

Saul Alinsky would be proud

The students and I talked current events today in my Web Publishing and Design class, and the chit chat wasn’t about the Super Bowl or Super Duper Tuesday. It was about Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo and what that could mean for all of us.

One among them knew that Google’s CEO reportedly called Yahoo’s CEO to offer help in the battle, as Reuters reported here.

For some context and food for thought, I screened the short Flash movie Epic 2015 for the class, and we talked more about mergers and the media and the future of journalism. (Note to the creators — it needs updating again!)

I was surprised again at how many elements of that movie have become routine parts of our everyday lives, and tickled that it seemed to anticipate something Twitter-like, even though it saw Friendster and not Facebook.

Some of the students said the movie left them depressed, just as it had been a downer for my print journalist friends when I first showed them Epic 2014 back in 2004, and the remake in 2005.

But I think perhaps the movie doesn’t give adequate credit to the indomitable spirit that lives in all of us who can self-publish (for free!) to places like our blogs, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, and wherever.

So here is why I am smiling, and thank you Laughing Squid, for pulling it together:

In response to Microsoft’s hostile acquisition bid for Yahoo, many Flickr users are expressing concern for what might happen if Microsoft is successful. They have even created a Flickr Group to address this issue, Microsoft: Keep Your Evil Grubby Hands Off Of Our Flickr, complete with photo pool of MS/Flickr takeover images, including some that envision what a Flickr website re-design might look like with Microsoft at the controls.


They are using the system to fight the system — as it should be.

I’d like to think that somewhere, Saul Alinksy is smiling upon them.

One of my friends named Kim

What’s Happening Cover

Originally uploaded by Something To See
Thanks to Facebook and LinkedIn, I’ve been stumbling across a bunch of not-so-old friends, people I haven’t seen in many, many moons.

Many of them have gone on to do wonderful things while I was in another time zone, doing something else.

That’s the case with my friend Kim Carney, who I worked with at the late, great, Dallas Times Herald way back in the 1980s.
Kim’s an illustrator, photographer and designer up there in that Redmond, Washington place, working with MSNBC.

She has a lovely blog here, which has great links to a lot of neato stuff, including this illustration that just reached out and said “blog me.”
And so I did.

Why Facebook Bugsmenot and helps me heart my Westie

OK, so we screwed up.

By we I mean the people such as me who were running news Websites.

When we did it, you rightfully hated it.

What’s remarkable is that Facebook is doing it and you love it so much you can’t get enough of it.

And I think it has some tremendous — and positive — implications for online advertising revenues.

Back to the beginning.

We screwed up by suddenly deciding one day in 2004 (or sooner or later) that we would club you over the head with a two-by-four and forcibly prevent you from seeing content on the site until you registered. When you registered, we asked you to tell us your income, whether you like music or sports, your age and give us all sorts of personal information.

Speaking as one who was on the receiving end of a bazillion vitriolic emails, I can say definitively that you hated it. I would come in each morning and start answering emails with “I am sorry …. but ….”

Believe me, I felt your pain.

The reason we launched registration, of course, was money.

I’m sorry to say that it wasn’t really all about you personally. It was about the collective you, and how much more we could charge advertisers when we told them about your fabulous demographics.

Right. Except that every other news Website did the same thing, so we were no better than anyone else. And sadly, you sliced out into such small groups that it was almost impossible to figure out how to price the ads targeted to your group.

And we spawned a growth industry: was born to quickly give you a password on request so you could get around all that crap. And with that, the reliability of the underlying data came into question.

Along comes Facebook. And it lets you create a page. And join groups. And join more groups. And even create groups. Facebook makes it easy for you to self-select into tiny niche slices and voluntarily – eagerly! — give out that very information that you hated giving to news Websites.

Take my eclectic list of groups.

I heart Westies. I heart my Westie Portia
I heart Dobermans. Trust me, I’m a journalist. Dallas Times Herald Diaspora. I’m not in any political groups, but I’ve been severely tempted by He’s not Kinky, he’s my governor. I did join my neighborhood, Mahncke Park, in San Antonio.

When I created a Facebook ad to find home for two puppies, I had the option, for another buck or two, to target the ad to a specific group.

Holy cow! For not much money I could make sure people a few blocks from my home who are dog lovers and have a good sense of humor see my ad? I seriously like that.

And so should the real estate agent down the street. And so should the deli around the corner. And so should the woman up the road who is running for Congress. And so should my friend over in Austin who is looking for people to work on an out-of-state campaign.

One more thing. Newspaper people on the content and editorial side never liked to acknowledge how many people bought the paper for the ads. Sacrilege!

Guess what? If I am on the I heart Westies page and I see an ad about a shampoo to help with their notoriously dry and itchy skin, I think that’s a good thing. Not an intrusive ad.

God forbid, I may actually think of it as content. Because I am there because I Heart Westies. To me, that ad is information.

I know. This is heracy. But it BugsMeNot.

Facebook, the dead tree edition and cute puppies

The other day I found something extremely cool hidden in plain view on Facebook, something that may spell more gloom for online newspaper classifieds, and which might even take a chunk out of eBay and Craigslist.
I found myself in possession of two extra puppies, thanks so some lout who dumped them in our yard during a thunderstorm.
We brought the 6-week-old girls in, dried them out, bought them a bag of designer puppy food and then began recycling newspapers the old fashioned way, in the bottom of a dog crate.
They were cute as all get out (think puppy breath!), and they looked right at home sitting on the front of the NYTimes’ Sunday Styles section.

(So that’s why we still subscribe to the dead tree edition!)

But we couldn’t keep them, because we already have two dogs and a cat. So we needed to find them new homes. I used the occasion to shoot my first video with our Canon PowerShot and then tried out iMovie to make my first very amateur (read: atrocious) video for the puppies’ debut on YouTube.
Hedging our bets, we put a color poster of the adorable duo — nicknamed Mocha and Latte — in the local Starbucks, in a shameless solicitation for new owners.

But what worked was Facebook. I put up an ad, and included a link to the girls’ first slideshow.

I got the first phone call in less than 45 minutes, and had four more inquiries by the end of the day. OK, so Craigslist does that too, right? Well, not quite right.

My brother’s best friend, Mary Giovannini, who runs the Website of the Haines, Alaska animal shelter, cautioned me immediately about giving puppies away for free, fearing they would be scooped up by someone who would then sell them to an animal testing lab.

But because of Facebook, I could give the puppies to someone who, while I didn’t know them personally, came with a profile and a resume and references of sorts. Each of the people who were interested in the puppies opened their profile to me so I could get a sense of who they were. At the same time, they could see who I am — a journalist and a professor, with friends from here to kingdom come who will track you down if you so much as harm a hair on those puppies’ heads!

Less than 48 hours after the ad went up, Hillary came by our house and got the latte-colored, smaller pup, whose name is now Daisy.

When Brittany sent me a message the next day about the pups, I replied that there was one left. Thanks to a prompt from Facebook, I was able to add my answer “to the FAQ” on the ad. Nice! how many times have we told people looking at our Craigslist ad that we really did mean that the motorcyle does not run … really! I would love to be able to automatically append my answers on Craigslist as an FAQ, what a timesaver!

That night, Brittany and her mom came by, and they took the little cutie whose name is now Peanut.

Now both young women are sending me messages in Facebook with updates on Daisy and Peanut. And they’re sending me puppy pictures! I could never do that through the newspaper classifieds — or Craigslist, or eBay.

Facebook gets something that is really, really important: When I know who someone is, I feel a whole lot better, whether it is sharing content or a “business” transaction, like finding a new home for two very lucky puppies.