Friday, May 13, 2011

How (not) to tweet like a chatterbot

I'm still getting my feet wet with social media. I've been blogging about my professional experience as well as my thoughts on computers, technology, education and anything else that catches my fancy.

In an attempt to spread the word about my blog, I've been shortening the URLs (despite my reservations about URL shorteners, particularly ones with a .ly extension - I'll talk more in later posts about that) and tweeting them out to my social network. My first ham handed tweets were in the format:Note the self-consciously self promoting style. Starting my tweet with 'My latest tweet...' is like starting a sentence in a persuasive essay with 'In my opinion...' or 'I think...' - it's undermining my position and weakening my statement (not to mention wasting valuable characters).

After examining how Bruce Schneier tweets his blog posts, I decided to make some changes.

I realized that rather than letting you know that he was pointing at his own post, he merely gave a brief synopsis of his post and let you hover over or click through to see what he was citing. I decided to take a stab at it, which resulted in this.
Since my Twitter feed also rolls over to Facebook, I almost immediately recieved this message.

Clearly something was wrong.

Mistake #1: Too terse. I didn't give enough detail.

Mistake #2: No hash tags. I didn't provide any context.

Ultimately, my clumsy attempt resulted in me coming across as a chattebot trying to linkbait my friends into some ill advised web browsing.

I've cleaned it up and provided this Tweet.

After consulting with the management (my wife), I realize that I need to direct all of my tweets to her. If she wouldn't understand my tweet or follow my link, then it's no good.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Manage your home network like the pros

Researchers at Georgia Tech have just announced the release of Kermit, a project designed to help home Internet users monitor and manage their network traffic.

Kermit promises easy to read graphs and charts - helping you see if your ISP is delivering the level of service that you're paying for or if your network is slow because your teenager is torrenting too much TV. This tool is both a network probe that helps you analyze your network usage as well as a management tool that lets you shape network traffic. Want to keep the wife from sucking up too much bandwidth? Done. Want to make sure that the kids don't play WOW all night? Done.

This tool should bring professional enterprise grade network management to the home user. It might even be a good free alternative to expensive network management tools for small businesses and schools.

I can't wait to start playing with it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fake anti-virus targeting Macs

An old trick is being repackaged for Macs. A malicious program purporting to be an anti-virus program called MacDefender has been circulating around the Internet in the last few days and targeting Macs (this is why we recommend iAntivirus or ClamXAV for all Mac users). Make sure to be careful about downloading software from websites that you don't know and trust.

I anticipate that you will see many e-mails and websites in the next few days that include attachments claiming to be video of the assassination of Osama bin Laden. Please don't open any videos that are not posted to legitimate news sites.

For more information about these recent attacks, please take a look at these articles.

Educating children in South Sudan

My friend Nyuol Tong is the founder of Sudanese Education for Liberty Foundation ( This summer, he is building his first school in Ayeit, his village in soon-to-be-independent South Sudan. The Malualdit Ayeit Liberty Academy will educate Sudanese boys and girls, helping this impoverished region recover from years of civil war.

Nyuol has partnered with filmmaker Andrew Schoneberger to document the process of building the school. They have started fund raising through (

Please donate what you can to either of these worthy causes.