One status to rule them all

I’ve literally today really got into Twitter. You can find me as nbarnwell. I think it’s because I’m such a fan of the status updates on Facebook. I love the idea of a simple phrase that says what I’m thinking or doing at any time. I love the idea that I can update it easily, too.

To start with, I was using the Facebook webapp itself, but then I found that I hate Facebook. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of a social network site that connects me better with friends and family, I just hate the dross of so-called “applications” that have sprung up and now all but smother the very thing that makes Facebook so good.  I’ve blogged about minor points of Facebook’s usability nightmare, and I’ll blog again soon on the subject.

I wanted to get away from the clutter. The first thing I did was to knock up a small application using some code I obtained from ZapTheDingbat to update my status with a local application that takes a command line (I tried using the Facebook developers toolkit, only to find the API sorely lacking in functionality). Put that together with Launchy, and hey presto, I can update my status with no mouse clicks, no waiting for browsers to open, nothing.

So that took care of telling people about me, but what about finding out about my friends? Well fortunately, Dave Winer found the answer, and it lies in RSS feeds for status updates.

So this is all well and good, but I find myself outgrowing Facebook status updates. I think I might want to be micro-blogging properly, so I’ve signed up for Twitter. I still want to update my Facebook status (after all, that’s where my friends are at the moment), so wouldn’t it be cool if it updated with my latest tweet? Yes it would, and I happened on the easiest way to do it:

  1. In Facebook, search for, add, and logon to the Twitter application.
  2. Once it’s up and running, and you’re on the “What are you doing?” page, you’ll see a blue box containing the text “Want Twitter to update your Facebook status? Click here!”.
  3. Click it and follow any instructions.
  4. Stick a tweet on Twitter, and hey presto!

So that’s it. I’m now updating my Twitter “status” and Facebook status in one go, and I see Facebook friend updates in Google Reader along with all my other feeds, while tweets I’m monitoring using IM (Google Talk) and the Twitter website.

Now I just need to contact my mobile operator to see what the cost would be if I used SMS to post tweets more often; Twitter say:

Though you’ll never see a bill from Twitter, it depends on your text messaging plan; standard text messaging rates (such as international text messaging fees) do apply. Consult your service provider to ensure that your text plan covers your Twitter usage. Give your provider the Twitter phone number you’ll be using to see if you’ll incur extra charges. If you’re using Twitter from outside of the US, please consult your carrier to find out if you’ll incur international charges using Twitter numbers, as every provider has a different policy.

So I need to be sure before I rack up a huge bill (and I think I could get addicted to this…). Either that or I use GPRS and use the m.twitter.com site, but that still costs a fair whack on my current call plan, and is much slower than a simple SMS.

Nearly there…

Proofreading is hard to do

Proofreading is an essential part of everyday life. I’m pretty anal about things like that, and constantly go over and over almost everything I write. The trouble is, I still notice problems with my posts after they’ve “gone to print”, despite the check-and-double-check approach I tend to take.

More worrying is when you spot a WTF in code you wrote some time ago, or yesterday. This happened to me today – while going through some code in a peer-review, I noticed that a method parameter was not being used in that method. So simple (and, I might add, in this case fortunately not an issue) and easy to miss.

I know what you’re thinking:

“Hah! If you’d written a unit test you would have found this much quicker!”

but I know already, and my point isn’t really limited to writing code. Blog posts, emails, letters forum posts, comments, you name it. How often have you only realised your mistake after clicking “Publish”?