Scripting News for 10/8/07

I now hold APPL 

Disclaimer…

I decided, after giving it much thought, to buy 300 shares of Apple. I think it’s a good long-term investment. And I spend so much on Apple products, maybe this is a way to recoup some of that money, or maybe to spend even more. BTW, the share price is approx $165, so that’s about $50K worth of stock.

Wish us luck! :-)

Baseball can teach us about life 

No kidding. I posted this in a comment on a fellow Mets fan’s blog. He was responding to Jeff Pulver’s poem about the 2007 season. I waxed philosophic. (Of course.)

I like Jeff’s post, I said, but I’d add that it would have worked out better if the Mets had sucked more at the beginning of the season and been strong at the end than the way it worked out.

But I was lucky, I started loving the bums when they sucked 162 games a year, every year. Those were the Mets I fell in love with, those are the Mets I miss.

Choo Choo Coleman, Rod Kanehl, Bud Harrelson, Frank Thomas, Marv Throneberry, Ed Kranepool, Ed Charles, Bob Shaw (lived next door to us in Queens, mowed his lawn as a kid!), Gil Hodges, Duke Snyder, and on and on. Tommy Agee! Casey Stengel! These were the canonical Mets. They’re smiling down from heaven or wherever they are (some are still with us, for sure) thinking how appropriate that the Mets disappointed this crop of fans, who actually expect them to win because that ain’t the way it works!!

The Mets are about poetry, philosophy, drama and love.

Only winning when winning helps accentuate the above.

And baseball can teach us about life — I’m serious about it. Because no matter how much fun life is, we all end up losing in the end. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it is the truth. Enjoy it while you got it, cause it ain’t gonna last. :-)

You Gotta Believe is a better slogan during the season than after, when all the lessons of the previous season are available, and belief is pointless, because we now have knowledge. We know how it turned out, it’s no longer a matter of believing.

To me, the perfect Met is Mookie. Because he’s the bridge between the Lost Mets, the ones who’ll never come back, and hope that at least some of the hapless wonderful loving spirit of that team is still with us.

I’m afraid, however, that next season may be the last season of hope, because it’s the last year the Mets will play in Shea Stadium. They won’t move far, to a stadium they’re building in the parking lot. My first choice would have been they always play in the home stadium, like the Cubs or the Red Sox. I enjoyed ridiculing Seattle for destroying their own stadium, asking if a church ever destroys a sacred shrine, but now it’s happening to the Mets. Maybe someone in charge will come to their senses and think of the good thing we have going in Shea Stadium, and instead aim the wrecking ball at the new stadium when the time comes. Or it could be that I’ve outgrown baseball then, and it’s time to move on to whatever comes next.

iPhone web is faster in NY 

An observable phenomenon.

Web access on AT&T’s network is much faster in NY than it is in the Bay Area.

I was refreshing web pages as quickly as I do on wifi at home.

I find this interesting.

MacBook Pro reboots on cover close 

Twice in the last two days I’ve had my MacBook Pro reboot when I close the cover and put it away. The trick I’ve discovered, and share for all to follow is to put the laptop down before closing the cover. That way the disk won’t get jarred when the MacBook is going to sleep. Apparently if there’s a problem in sleeping it just restarts. Not 100 percent sure this will always cure the problem but it did work twice for me. Interested in knowing if the theory is correct.

A juicy TwitterGram tech problem 

I love an interesting technical problem, esp one that’s about human behavior, and how to give people what they want even when it puts stress on a system.

Okay so here’s the problem.

1. I recently opened the Flickr-to-Twitter feature of Twittergram.

2. A bunch of new users came on, some of whom don’t understand the feature in all its fullness (not their problem, it’s mine).

3. A user uploads 150 pictures in five minutes.

4. Dutifully, Twittergram sends notifications to all his followers, one at a time, creating 150 tweets, pissing them off, probably causing a few of them to send him nasty private tweets, and some probably unceremoniously unsub.

4a. In the future, when there are 200,000 Twittergram users, this will piss off the folks at Twitter when they realize they’re spending a million dollars a year sending junk messages to people who don’t want them.

5. Something must be done to regulate this.

Here’s a screen shot that illustrates.

I have some thoughts, I’m interested in what the readers of this blog think. Post your comments here.

37 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jake on October 8, 2007 at 8:10 am

    You could add a user managed rate limiter.

    Or, as you say, in a Darwinian fashion, people will unfollow the obnoxious (or unaware).

    As for Twitter, they need to account for this. Either the misuse/abuse averages out or they need to monetize those tweets. If they are just a platform or coral reef, then they’ll need to charge rent to those who build there.

    Reply

  2. User-managed? Not sure about that. If it’s happening because the user is unaware of the problem, it still needs to be regulated.

    The big question is:

    1. Should I just slow them down? In which case it could take days for the queue to empty out.

    2. Should I ignore pictures after a certain threshold, say post no more than 5 pics per hour.

    My feeling is that #2 is the more humane and appropriate approach, that no one *means* to post 150 pics at once to Twitter. That’s just a mistake. Better to fix it than perpetuate it.

    Reply

  3. Dave,

    Just make the “special tag” thing required. Also maybe a helpful link to the place where you can set your incoming email tag – it took me a while to find it.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Piers on October 8, 2007 at 8:28 am

    How come it happened? Did they not enter a tag for your system to follow? Maybe make that a mandatory thing. Or else you limit it as you suggested. Although how do you work out what is an “appropriate” limit?

    Reply

  5. hi Dave:

    I, too have noticed speed differences in AT&T’s EDGE Network. Perhaps most interestingly, I’ve had success using it in some rather remote locations within the lower 48 states. Some network truly is better than none. Wifi was not always available in these hamlets.

    Reply

  6. Posted by John on October 8, 2007 at 8:39 am

    The macbook sleep/reboot problem may be more of torquing the case enough that the battery temporarily loses contact while it is going to sleep.

    Reply

  7. I don’t want to make the tags required, that’s another thing for people to get wrong, another hoop to jump through, and then there are all the people who have already signed up, some of whom aren’t using tags (like me).

    About how do you work out an “appropriate” limit, you don’t, you work out an “arbitrary” limit.

    Reply

  8. Posted by Lee Hinde on October 8, 2007 at 8:56 am

    I’m reading you don’t like requiring tagging, but that’s the solution.

    You then have one twit per ‘posting session’ rather than one twit per photo. If you don’t want to require the user to supply a tag, then supply it for them “leesphototweetsfor10082007″ The naive users won’t notice or care, the sophisticated users can override it.

    Reply

  9. For me, the real issue is presentation. I use Twitteriffic to follow tweets. The photo links aren tthat interesting. BUT if I could actually see the thumbnails, I dont think i’d care too much if 50 thumbnails showed up from my friends. It’s the text links that give liitle info…and make me click to see if I care about the photo or not.

    Ultimately, if someone is spamming me through twitter, Ill just stop following.
    Ive done this plenty with people who put their RSS feed into their profile.

    Reply

  10. Exponential back-off timer. Works for ethernet. Don’t queue the requests. Just refuse them until the timer for that account has expired. Let the timer value decay to zero during inactive times.

    Reply

  11. Posted by Steve Jobs on October 8, 2007 at 9:39 am

    You need a disable safe sleep, old buddy.

    Reply

  12. Chuck, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

    Reply

  13. Jay, I agree 10000000 percent.

    That’s what’s behind the Payloads For Twitter proposal.

    http://tinyurl.com/2adjba

    Dave

    Reply

  14. How about people just use the traditional method of an RSS feed for their friend’s Flickr stream rather than clogging up Twitter? There is a huge problem with regurgitation on services like Twitter and Tumblr where people re-syndicate their content.

    Some users feel the need to dump everything they do into services like these, but really are just pissing off their “friends” and close followers. Creating a separate user or separate URL is one thing, but dumping it all into your main stream is annoying.

    If I’m your friend, I’m already looking at your pics through the Flickr w/Friends option. I’m already subscribing to your podcast and blog. I’m also following you on Twitter. When you start regurgitating all of this content, it just clogs the stream and makes people want to unsubscribe. As much as I like Chris Pirillo, he is a big culprit of this regurgitation problem with his Twitter stream (the majority of content that he publishes to Twitter is links to his videos which I’m already seeing in his “normal” blog RSS feed ~ though that’s an entirely separate problem). Hence, I can’t bother following him anymore. If the human-generated content is important enough for me to read, it’ll bubble up to the surface.

    A service or a specific Twitter user that is automated or a bot is something I should opt into (and hence will know what I’m getting into). Friends that do this on Twitter (and other services) aren’t friends for too long. My time is too important to be seeing the same thing sliced and diced a zillion different ways.

    Just my opinion. :)

    Reply

  15. Posted by Jake on October 8, 2007 at 10:10 am

    The reason I said user managed is because arbitrary doesn’t always work.

    Sure, if I’m at the beach snapping 150 shots, maybe I don’t want or need them to all tweet out.

    But, if I’m on a bridge on I-35 watching it collapse, I may want to send out 25 shots.

    Reply

  16. Dave, I had a quick look at the payloads for twitter thing because I’ve been playing with something similar. While it would no doubt be more elegant for twitter to support explicit resource links, all the data you need is *potentially* already in there already. If you have the URI of an image then the client could scrape it out, display it in HTML. Couple of hours work in say PHP or XSLT.

    I emphasise *potentially* because it seems the current setup (where I looked anyhow) doesn’t actually point to the image URIs, but to Flickr pages. But with a magic string or two that could probably be hammered out.

    With a bit more effort you should be able to do actual payloads (rather than links) using data: URIs.

    I don’t really know the details re. the throughput question, but I’m a little surprised your implementation doesn’t already behave like RSS, with a polled, limited-size queue. If someone posts 150 items to their blog in 5 mins, the subscribers don’t burst.

    Reply

  17. Posted by Anonymous Coward on October 8, 2007 at 10:15 am

    Just a comment about http://www.twittergram.com/flickrtotwitter

    By making the “special tag” label bold, you imply that it is a required field.

    Reply

  18. But, if I’m on a bridge on I-35 watching it collapse, I may want to send out 25 shots.

    Of course. And you should. And the first five will make it into the Twitter stream, and the rest will be accessible by clicking on the Next links in Flickr.

    In that case I would only post one pic to Twitter, with a big headline like “Death and destruction on I-35.”

    People are smart, they’d figure it out quickly.

    25 links to images saying Death and destruction on I-35 would be overload for sure.

    Someday when we can post thumbs to Twitter it’ll be different.

    And don’t forget the problem here was the guy who took 150 pictures of his kid’s soccer game. One or two, that’s interesting (it was in Korea, I think) but 150? Only grandma and grandpa would find that compelling (and they might not too).

    Reply

  19. BTW, I’ve implemented the regulator, per Shotton’s suggestion (I was already leaning that way).

    Reply

  20. Since the Flickr-to-Twitter service began working, I have been sending Flickr photos one at a time, and spaced apart, so as not to spam Twitter. I tried the tags option, but no photo URLs and titles were transferred to Twitter updates.

    I suggest a time delay, if that could be built into Twittergram software, such as one post per half-hour which actually transfers to Twitter. The first one creates a Twitter update, but the rest during the time period do not.

    Another option is to allow only uploading by email, which would slow things down somewhat. Maybe not enough.

    Reply

  21. Danny, you’re absolutely right, but…

    I haven’t implemented a client yet (thinking about it) and I don’t really want to. I’d much rather get these small features into Twitter itself.

    At some point I think it will be a make-or-break feature for them, but not yet.

    Reply

  22. Posted by James Robertson on October 8, 2007 at 10:37 am

    re:Baseball can teach us about life

    The truth is many people have too high an expectation of life. Maybe we can all learn something from the Danish. – ‘All Is Not So Bad in the State of Denmark’ http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/09/science/09find.html

    Reply

  23. I’m having another interesting issue with Twitter Tracking, I subscribe to something like “Track Oracle” and get all kinds of interesting messages in languages I don’t know. I’d really like to same “Track Oracle where lang=’English'”

    Reply

  24. Posted by Linc Holland on October 8, 2007 at 11:03 am

    re: Baseball can teach us about life

    Don’t get hung up on material items like Shea. The Mets you loved would have been just as lovable for the same reasons if they had played in the parking lot stadium. Time in a place creates the memories. New memories will be created and linked to the new place. Where did the Cubs play before Wrigley? The Sox before Fenway? The Mets before Shea?

    I loved Candlestick not in spite of but because of its atrocious nature. But I love ATT Park more.

    Reply

  25. Hi Dave:

    Sorry to bother you with this — but FlickrToTwitter doesn’t seem to work for me.

    This is what I did:

    1. I signed up on the FlickrToTwitter home page and specified that it should work only for photos tagged with “fortwitter”

    2. I uploaded two photos to my Flickr account around an hour ago. They show up fine on my Flickr photostream, but they haven’t made it to my Twitter account despite the fact that enough time has passed since I uploaded the pics.

    Am I doing something wrong? FWIW, the later comments on Fred Wilson’s FlickrToTwitter post indicate that other people also have the same experience.

    Thanks for reading, and cheers!

    Reply

  26. Posted by michael on October 8, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    You AAPL investment is off to a good start: Your $165 shares are now worth $167.91.

    Reply

  27. as for the que problem…none of you are getting it right cause their is not solution.

    everyone wants instant; and as you know, shoving everything through a small pipe clogs shit up.

    if you have to limit something, you’ll have to do it the professional way, rather than…over intellectual, I went to MIT, way.

    dat be user. and you’ll have to limit at the socket level, limiting by time/pipe/bytes-per-second

    also, the really hard problem comes into play when you have multiple apps/threads also writing to the pipe, making your calculations wrong.

    the best solution is to get a fatter pipe.

    what ever you do, it won’t be perfect.

    Reply

  28. Dave,

    watch your macbook. it could be that it has some sort of hardware problem. related to the optical drive i think. If you find your macbook waking and sleeping and waking and sleeping when the lid is closed you may have a machine that needs to be replaced. If you it does do this, and you store it in a bag it may sleep and wake and sleep and wake and run hot and ruin components, such as your screen.

    I’m not saying this will happen, but I encountered this problem with a customer, and after much effort on my part and following apples instructions and everything I could find on the web, including turning off safe sleep, it was conclusively proven to be a hardware problem.

    anyway, watch what it does when you shut the lid and if the optical drive spins and causes a wakeup, take it to apple to get replaced.

    Reply

  29. Re: MacBook Pro

    I’ve gotten into the habit of putting it to sleep before I close it. I never had this kind of problem before, but this machine seems to have significant sleep issues.

    Reply

  30. Perhaps you could implement some logic whereby once you see one user has crossed some threshold for number of photos in a given period of time, you pause the automatic post to Twitter, wait a while, then post one single admin message to Twitter that says something like “John Doe posted 150 photos via TwitterGram. Click here to view them”. In that case, the TinyURL would link to a search on Flickr that displays all 150 images.

    As an aside, your work inspired me to experiment with a similar concept for integrating maps and location data into Twitter like this…

    See the comments on Fred Wilson’s post about TwitterGram for more details on how I hacked that together…

    http://avc.disqus.com/twittering_photos/

    Nice work!

    ~ Joe

    Reply

  31. The Macbook thing is because it’s trying to do a Windows-style “write all the RAM to disk” ‘safe’ sleep – a stupid and fairly secret change Apple made with the Intel Macs for no reasons anyone can divine, since it worked better on the old machines which just, well, slept.

    Been there: http://www.charlesarthur.com/blog/?p=922

    Reply

  32. I agree with you on APPL. I made a much smaller buy last week. I never owned Apple stock before but it finally occurred to me that this company would be an awesome long term investment because they really think ahead of everyone else.

    Also, you should listen to episode #71 of my Mets podcast. I recorded it on the same day that I lost a family member who was also a Mets fan. We’ll get em in 2008.

    Reply

  33. joelaz, cool hack :) I’ll be adding that to my Twitterbelt when I have some time.

    Reply

  34. Shea is the only stadium left standing where I’ve seen a game except for Pac Bell Park (or whatever it’s called)… Sad to see it go..

    Reply

  35. I haven’t read through every comment, but to me, the solution looks like, subscription aggregation. Just like zooomr does, if a bunch of events happens together, like uploading a zillion photos at one shot, there is a single message, showing a bunch of photos. I think, this can be done by twittergram itself. what do you think?

    Reply

  36. Well, the simplest thing to do , would be to use zooomr, and add your zooomr feed to twitter. Since zooomr already aggregates my data, twitter gets, only one update, with a link :)

    Reply

  37. Posted by vanni on October 8, 2007 at 10:59 pm

    ooops. it’s AAPL!

    p.s. these guys are on the warpath ;-)

    http://theappleblog.com/2007/10/08/dudes-its-aapl-not-appl/

    Reply

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