UPDATE: Sean pointed this video out to me which is very helpful for someone new trying to understand twitter. Check it out:

One of my favorite uses for my blog is to help people use technology better. Sure you can all email and whatnot, but the internet is becoming full of new ways to communicate. I’m quite sure that anyone reading this right now has at least heard of twitter, and I’d like to outline some details about what it is and how to use it.

what is it?
One of the most common words thrown around when describing twitter is “micro-blogging,” which is a fairly accurate term. Basically it’s a place on the web to send short snippets of text (limited to 140 characters) that get posted on your page. But along with this there is a social networking aspect which is one area that twitter starts to become a little more unique.

followers, not friends
Twitter is setup to let you connect with other people, but there is a strong distinction between what twitter calls followers and the ‘friends’ of most social networking sites. The friends of MySpace or facebook are always mutual between users. If you’re my friend that means I’m your friend too, with no exceptions. On twitter, you are open to follow anyone who posts (provided they don’t have protected updates), and inversely, anyone can follow you. If you want to hear what Britney Spears is posting on twitter (for some strange reason) go right ahead and follow her.

what is it for?
This question doesn’t have a clear-cut answer. Actually ‘whatever you want’ seems to be the most appropriate response. People tend to use it most for posting links to interesting things on the web, like an article they’re reading or a video they just watched, and leaving updates on the here-and-now of their life. For those of you familiar with facebook it’s generally used as a hybrid between status updates and posted links. But one of the reasons why twitter shines is that people don’t put it in a box. Businesses post updates about new products, services, and sales. Politicians use it to let the public know about new developments with policies and legislation. Famous people use it to sponsor their products. Like I said, whatever you want.

sms texting
Quite possibly one of the main reasons that twitter has proliferated so well is that you can use it from any cellphone with SMS text messaging. Aside from the website and many available applications that give you access to twitter, you can send and receive posts via text message. You might want to think twice about setting up twitter on your phone if you don’t have unlimited texting, but it’s an easy way to post status updates from anywhere you are whether there is a computer handy or not.

final hints
If you are new to twitter there are a number of things you will see that you may not recognize. Here is a list of some of the main ones you’re sure to come across:

  • @somebody: The @ tag lets you specify that a tweet (a twitter post) is directed at, or related to, another twitter user (where ‘somebody’ is replaced with the user’s id). What’s coolest about this is even people who don’t follow you will likely see a post you write @ them, and it’s even quite possible to get a conversation going with someone famous.
  • #hashtag: The # tag is used in front of tag words to help categorize a post. For instance: “I just bought a new MacBook at the Apple store. #apple #macbook.” This is very similar to tagging in other social media like flickr and vimeo.
  • RT: This stands for re-tweet. It is used when you think a post from someone else would be relevant to your followers, and you want to re-post it. It’s proper twitter etiquette to include an @ tag to reference the user who initially made the post.
  • OH: This one is just a short-hand for overheard. When you’re limited to 140 characters short-hand can be necessary. Use this to fill your followers in on the ridiculous things you hear people say.

You already have a lot more info than I had when I started using twitter. If it sounds like something you might find useful you should check it out. You can follow me at if you would like. If you do hop on board, it might be slow at first getting followers. Just keep posting, and joining the conversation with people you follow. People are most likely to follow you when they see that you are an active user, and when they feel what you have to say is relevant to them.

why get bluray?

Recently I’ve made a decision to stop buying CDs and get my music online. It just makes more sense these days. I use my music almost exclusively on my computer or iPhone, and most of the time I only like a handful of songs from a CD. Paying $18 for a CD just seems ridiculous to me now. Especially when I could pay $4 or $5 for just the songs I like.

A few days ago Apple announced HD movies for sale and rental from the iTunes store. Now, I don’t have an HD tv yet, though I assume I will in the next year or two, but my question now is why would I buy a bluray player when I can already get HD movies for 19.99 from the iTunes store. The same movies that are between $25 and $30 for the bluray disc. It seems like a regression to start buying discs again after just making a switch away from CDs. Even more so considering how many emerging technologies allow me to view media from my computer on my tv.

Taylor jammin’ out on the uke.

iphone three beta

I’ve just installed the beta pre-release of the iPhone OS 3.0 software. I’m waiting for all my music and whatnot to re-sync. From the information at the press announcement today it sounds pretty epic, but as a part of the developer agreement I’m not really allowed to talk about it. Hopefully I haven’t already said too much.

I’m just happy they’ve added all the features that should have been there in the first place. Like Copy & Paste.

Would somebody give that donkey a hug!

Pastor Mark and Roman trying to stay dry at the Great Big Get Together.

Larry getting a spontaneous back massage.

math, invented?

I have heard the question posed, “Is math invented, or discovered?”

Very simple. I can answer that with another question. Who decided that addition is commutative, and subtraction is not?

To be clear, it’s no question that our symbology and semantics for math has been invented, but that is an entirely different question altogether.


You are all doing a great job. I just noticed that only 2.9 percent of views to my page are from any version of Internet Explorer, with the huge majority going to Firefox.

I’m so proud of you!

Jono, out to eat in China town for Larry’s birthday.

Some buildings in downtown Seattle from one of the piers.

This is a fire alarm siren in the parking garage under Andrew’s condo.

color inconsistency

My photo blog has been getting a lot more of my attention than my regular blog the last week or so. I have learned something about colors on the web that I thought I’d share.

I was noticing a difference between the appearance of colors when viewing my site in various browsers. Safari always seemed to show my colors more brightly more as I remembered them while editing. As it turns out, Photoshop (and Elements) by default uses color management on your images. When editing in Photoshop you are seeing the colors of your image through a color profile that has been applied. I haven’t looked too much into this, but I believe the idea is to have more control about how the colors look when they are used for different types of output.

Despite the purpose of color profiles this was the result. Safari displayed bright strong colors by using the color profile to render the image. Firefox ignores the profile and displays the unmodified, slightly more muted, color data as stored in the file. To me whatever benefit I am supposed to be getting from using color profiles looks like a bug. I want my pictures to look the same no matter which browser people are using.

Luckily, I found it very simple to disable color management and save files without color profiles stored on them from the Edit->Color Settings… menu in Photoshop Elements. Now my pictures look the same everywhere.

A gentleman playing his guitar at the University District Farmers Market.

Waiting in the airport to drop off Allen for his flight home to Taiwan.

Guitar picks arranged into a pattern on Andrew’s windowsill.

Our friendly bus driver on the way home from GC Camp.

online software

Earlier today my friend Tim twittered a link to Pixlr, an online pixel editing application. You can think of it as a light version of Photoshop on the web.

I’ve been following a lot of software on the web, and it’s almost always been disappointing. I was quite shocked when I first hopped over to Pixlr. It has a lot of the polish for a web app. And a very familiar interface including a menu bar, tool and layer palettes, etc.

Granted, I will always opt for real software where it’s available, but if Pixlr is any indication of where internet applications are going, then I expect to see a great deal more of them in the near future.

@skoda on @technochocolate on