Bram Pitoyo, Etc., Links, Side Project Spotlight

Side Project Spotlight: Weeeble

UPDATE: this afternoon, Brennan sent me a refreshed Weeeble page that contains ideas closer to the vision presented in this article. A screenshot of this can be found on the bottom of this page. Check your Weeeble status at http://weeeble.com/YourTwitterName.

Brennan Novak’s avatar of him dressed in fake moustache may be the first good indicator as to exactly when and where I first met him: at a Makerlab Sunday Hack Session at the IGLOO gallery; so when he tweeted me several weeks ago and said to test a side project of his out, I was sure that it’s going to be something delightfully unexpected.

Weeeble

This was exactly what Weeeble, now in development, had demonstrated. The app was born out of a series of observations: Twitter user uses speech pattern to speak to one another (for example: feel good, drinking green tea, eating portobello sandwich, listening to The Police.) Weeeble sought to look for these keywords, parse them, store them, then display them as part of your profile.

But isn’t this an old idea, you ask? You’re right. Role Playing Games have been using such concepts from its inception in the form of status screen.

Final Fantasy 4 Status Screen

If you’re not familiar with this concept, a status screen shows you the current standing of the character you’re currently playing with: her strength, defense, equipped weapon, and so on. Sounds a little bit like a social network’s profile page, doesn’t it?

Google Profile of Bram Pitoyo

Except that informations on a profile page are classically thought of, and are usually designed to be static. This isn’t wrong. After all, static information helps determine credibility.

But another metric of the same that we often forget is the dynamics of information. We all know, for instance, that blogs that are updated very often (ie. not Link En Fuego) tends to be more reputable than those that are not.

Of course, there’s also a problem with consuming dynamic information: they don’t have a universal standard. Well, duh, you said, isn’t that exactly the point of having a dynamic information? You’re right. But this means that consuming dynamic information is going to require significantly more effort on your end.

For example: on a profile page, you would have constantly recurring fields like username, full name, bio, email address and telephone number. On a blog, you’re free to have whatever tags and categories you want. All the feed going to give your RSS reader is the post title, content, categories and publication date.

Now, wouldn’t it would be nifty if we could combine the recurring fields of one, and the dynamic contents of the other?

Profile Page Is Static, Blog Entry Is Dynamic. An RPG Status Screen Is Both.

You know, just like a game’s status screen, where the value of items change all the time (ie. strength +2, dexterity +4.) but the properties of the value itself doesn’t?

This is where Weeeble comes in:

Weeeble […] parses your Twitter feed and looks for the usage of certain keywords […] then saves all your Tweets into nice categories…

Weeeble currently indexes things like feeling, music, food, drink, location and Twitter users you’re currently with:

Weeeble Speak: Keywords From Tweets That It Currently Indexes

But I Don’t See All The Features You’re Talking About Yet!

Weeeble is still in a very early stage of development, and this article looks more like a dissection and feature wishlist for it rather than a proper review (Weeble-Shizzow integration, anyone?) I hope that its developer could benefit from early exposure, use and suggestion that I and others will provide.

Here’s how it looks like at the moment.

Weeeble pre-alpha status screen

Want Your Side Project Covered?

I believe that Portland’s abundance of little side projects that developers do because they love it, is part of what makes our creative/tech scene unique. To this end, I’m always on the lookout for your ideas. Bother me at brampitoyo@gmail.com, and let’s set something up.

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Bram Pitoyo, Links, Side Project Spotlight

Side Project Spotlight: ComboTweet

I first met John Nastos, jazz saxophonist and developer extraordinaire, to talk about his then-recent side project of his: the now much praised Twitter hashtag definition engine, Tagalus, at Urban Grind NW many months ago. I remembered reviewing the alpha, praising its usefulness and suggesting the front-and-center highlight of the phrase “@tagalus define __________ as __________.”

But right after we finished talking about this, he went on and asked if I wanted to see another side project of his called “Tagalus MultiTweet,”

ComboTweet Screenshot

Tagalus MultiTweet has since changed name to ComboTweet, but what I saw then didn’t dissapoint.

What Makes ComboTweet Unique

ComboTweet Tabs and Multi User

Tabs and multi-user capability. ComboTweet is “an AJAX Twitter client that lets you use multiple accounts simultaneously.” If there is one thing that kept me from adopting a Twitter client for a very long time, it’s probably because of the lack of these two features. Sure, clients like Tweetdeck supports multiple panels, and Twhirl multiple instances, but I have yet to see one that adopts tabbed tweeting, and adopt it well. But what about Destroy Twitter, you ask? It has the best implementation of this idea so far, but it also lacks the ability to tweet from multiple accounts.

Little dependencies, runs locally. Another feature that I increasingly demand from a web application is the ability to own the data and do whatever I want with it. A great first step to do this is to have the said application run and store data in a place that you own, whether it’s your laptop, desktop or hosting server.

This is great and all, you say, but Adobe AIR and Microsoft Silverlight already does the same thing. Yes, but not only are they proprietary standards, they also require a piece of software to be installed in order for the software to run properly. ComboTweet solves this problem nicely by being built entirely using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and other technologies used as standards on the web today. The result is a software that you can run at whatever place you own.

Freely available. In fact, you can download and run its latest version right now by going to its GitHub project page.

But waitaminute. Is that a ‘Shizzow’ tab I see up there? You’re right. ComboTweet can also shout from Shizzow, a Portland-built location-based social service (that coincidentally was born as a side project.) Now, I don’t know about you, but I like my Tweets and location check-in be in one convenient place.

More Features

ComboTweet's Tabbed Browsing Preference

Don’t like the whole tabbed tweeting deal? ComboTweet’s default is to use multiple panels, TweetDeck-style.

ComboTweet Filtered Panel

Like making groups that contain people from the same categories? Check.

ComboTweet Twitter Search Integration

The ability to create a new panel/tab and populate it with any Twitter search query? Done.

ComboTweet: Follow With Multiple Twitter Accounts

Want to follow a user on multiple account all at the same time? Check that one, too.

The Future

By now, you’d think that there’s enough feature on ComboTweet to make it a powerful, usable and lightweight Twitter client. But John Nastos seem to like thinking in the manner of most other side project creators’: big and fast. When I talked to him last time and commended the app’s integration of Shizzow, I also asked him one question. I wondered, I said, if there will be an ability to have ComboTweet be a client for virtually any social network application out there? Because, you know, it was designed to be modular, right?

Well, if it has an API— he said, half-smirking, half-hesitating to continue and spoil all the fun.

By that point, I knew that ComboTweet isn’t just another side project.

Want Your Side Project Covered?

I believe that Portland’s abundance of little side projects that developers do because they love it, is part of what makes our creative/tech scene unique. To this end, I’m always on the lookout for your ideas. Bother me at brampitoyo@gmail.com, and let’s set something up.

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Bram Pitoyo, Interlude, Links

Get Your Name On The Portland Tech Twitter Wiki And Help Evangelize Portland

Let’s say that you’re someone who works in the creative or tech industry, who is new to Portland or are visiting the city.

Actually, let me back up, you could also be anyone who is curious about Portland, and is watching the beat of the city.

You may have visited the city on several occasions. Or you have have just settled in your new place. And you’re looking for a user group, meetup, or a venue to learn something useful. You may start bookmarking events and going to them. Then you meet someone, who tells you that almost all the community member uses Twitter to communicate with each other inbetween the usergroups, meetups and venues.

But you don’t know how amazing Portland is—not yet. All you have is an invitation to join “this microblogging thing called Twitter” and the Twitter username of your newly met friend at the usergroup, meetup or venue.

So your friend says:
“If you’re on Twitter, follow me @JohnSmith!”

But then you ask:

“Sure, but who else should I follow on Twitter?”

And your newly met friend replies:
“There’s about 50 of them that would be perfect for you to follow, but that I can’t think of right now. Can I email you when I get home?”

Here’s the problem: there’s a chance that the email will never get sent, and you may never discover how vibrant the local creative/technology community is.

What a waste of opportunity, right?

But what if your friend can refer to a page that has Twitter handles of all Portland creative and technology community member, along with a short description of who they are and what they do (and even a profile, if you’re that curious)?

Let’s call the page Portland Tech Twitter wiki. And the URL: http//tr.im/ptt

And, lo: you’re able to search for Tweeples to follow based on your interest, and your friend don’t have to blame his inability to recite names of 50 Portland area Tweeple—impromptu!

All we need now is the “50 Portland area Tweeples” bit (which, in reality, is closer to 5,000 Tweeples.) Because Amber Case, Mark Dilley and I couldn’t possibly type all of your usernames, short bios and profiles up.

But you can.

So, could I ask you a favor?

  • Go to the Portland Tech Twitter wiki
  • Edit the page by hitting “Edit Wiki,” and then
  • Add your Twitter handle, name and short description to the list, or correct your description—mostly made by Amber Case and I rather hastily (I try my best to be snarky)

That’s it. There’s even this code that you can Copy and Paste to the wiki edit window to make it easier:

:[http://www.twitter.com/YourUsername @YourUsername] – [[Your Real Name]]
::A short description about what you do, and your day job at [[ThisCompany.com|This Company]]

The goal is so that everyone can refer to the page when they meet someone who is new or curious to the city and its communities, and make it easier for everybody find people who he/she may like to converse with on Twitter or meet in real life. New friendships are thus made. Connections are born. And communities, grown. And everyone leaves the room after the meetup better than when he/she came.

So add your name to the Portland Tech Twitter wiki, won’t you?

And don’t all go hit the “Edit Wiki” button together.

Thank you.

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Bram Pitoyo, Interlude, Links

A Character Length Comparison Of Various URL Shortening Services

When you want to utilize every bit of that 140-character Tweet limit to communicate your latest find or endeavor, every character matters. So I thought I’d compile a character count of most URL shortening services out there and give you a round, hard number of just how short did the developer mean when he said “short”?

Feel like I’m missing something, or have a service to add to the list? Leave a comment, Tweet, or Email me.

The list will be ordered in ascending order, from the lowest to highest count, and will be presented in this format:

(Service name)
(Snarky commentary, whenever appropriate)
(Shortened URL format)
(Character Count)

Here we go.

tr.im
The Serious Contender
http://tr.im/XX
15
(Admittedly, not going to stay this way for very long)

is.gd
The Tried-And-True
http://is.gd/XXXX
17

Shrinkify
http://s7y.us/XXX
17

HURL
http://hurl.ws/XXX
18

Jmp2.net
http://jmp2.net/XX
18

2BIG
http://2big.at/XXX
18

twurl
The Fine Local Product
http://twurl.cc/XXX
19

Metamark
http://xrl.us/XXXXX
19

Tiny.pl
http://tiny.pl/XXXX
19

The Make-Up-Your-Own-Keyword
bit.ly
http://bit.ly/XXXXXX
20

POPrl
http://poprl.com/XXX
20

QurlyQ
http://qurlyq.com/XX
20

PiURL
http://piurl.com/XXX
20

Tnij.org
http://tnij.org/XXXX
20

FON Get Simple
http://fon.gs/XXXXXX
20

Bloat.me
http://bloat.me/XXXX
20

abbrr
http://abbrr.com/XXXX
21

Knol Me
http://knol.me/XXXXXX
21

Snipurl / Snurl / Snipr
http://snurl.com/XXXXX
22

The Twitter-Tracker Tweetburner
http://twurl.nl/XXXXXX
22

moourl
http://moourl.com/XXXXX
23

RubyURL
http://rubyurl.com/XXXX
23

Urlenco.de
http://urlenco.de/XXXXX
23

TinyURL
The Granddaddy
http://tinyurl.com/XXXXXX
25

dwarfurl
http://dwarfurl.com/XXXXXX
26

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