Inert Detritus The Internet's dust bunnies

13 May 2009 @ 7am


Filtering Twitter, Pt 2

(This was still an early draft until last night, so I’ll be massaging these sentences as the day goes on.)

General rule-based tweet filtering, and per-user @reply settings have one goal in common: give the user more control over the content they view when they launch a client or go to their Twitter homepage.

For whatever reason, there’s one answer so often given when someone cries about content overload or irrelevance: “Don’t like their posts? Unfollow them!”

No. I said I wanted to avoid the noise, not lose the signal entirely. Wrong answer, try again.

There are a lot of processing steps between a user pushing “Post” and that post landing in someone else’s stream. I want a place to cull the noise so the stream consists of good, clean signal. I want to increase the S/N ratio without dropping interesting people wholesale.

The underlying question and discussion is not new, but Twitter will likely be the first service where we make headway finding a solution. How do you navigate, and not be overwhelmed by, a new way of connecting with hundreds or thousands of other people, each of whom are producing unique and interesting content, not all of which is necessarily always relevant to your interests?

7 May 2009 @ 9am

1 Comment

Filtering Twitter, Pt 1

Twitter needs filters.

  • “Show me all posts from @cbarrett, except when he replies to @zacwhite.”
  • “Drop all posts where @commanda says ‘RT’ “.
  • “Ugh, South By. Don’t show me anything that contains ‘SxSW’ or #sxsw.”
  • “Drop everything from @patr1ck, but make it look like I’m still following him.”

(ok, maybe not that last one).

It started with @replies. Instead of changing them across the board, I want to change them for each user I follow. You know the setting: “Show me @replies to the people I’m following” versus “Show me all @replies”.

The first setting is akin to standing next to both people at a party: you know both of them, and you get to listen in. The latter is like sitting next to someone on the phone: it might be an interesting conversation, but sometimes it’s just noise.

Most users don’t reply or tweet much; they’re people you have things in common with, but they’re not hyper-active on Twitter. Whey they do reply to someone, it’s probably going to be something you find interesting (and, if in_reply_to_id is set for each tweet, you can view the whole conversation)

For the high-volume or high-follower-count users (@gruber, @clint), their replies are less relevant: they have many more followers, and most have little to nothing in common with you. Replies from them are more phone conversation, less party conversation.

Once you’ve allowed per-user reply settings, filters based on tweet text is a great extension. I want to blacklist RTs, certain hashtags, and other dumb memes. More on that tomorrow.

Part Two: Why is this Twitter’s problem to solve? I’ll have that draft finished tomorrow. Here, have an RSS.

22 April 2009 @ 7am


Consumption Guilt

We spend more and more time consuming other peoples’ life by-products: subscribing to their blogs, reading their tweets, looking at their photos.

I don’t create enough in my day to day: I’m tired of seeing everyone else’s muse expressed, and not indulging mine.

Worse though, is how widespread this is: it reaches far further than my own little immature existential crisis. Too many of us aren’t producing anything worthwhile: not making art, not writing anything interesting or thought-provoking, not contributing anything more than body heat to the collective human existence.

Our generation is going to start feeling guilty about that. It should. We’re wrapped up in meta-meta-meta-news, republishing and reblogging the commentary on another blog about some article written discussing some article. It’s just miserable, watching the same regurgitated bits float across the wire, only barely modified from one URL to the next.

Write a letter to an old friend. Take a photo, even if it is just of your cat. Shoot a video. Skateboard down a mountain. Hike back up it. Define your existence in your own terms, not as a combinatoric equation of other peoples’ lives. 

Fuck meta. Go make something.

11 April 2009 @ 9am

Comments Off on Darting Eyes

Darting Eyes

The toddler in the stroller was endlessly curious. As her mother pushed the stroller along Guerrero St, the young girl’s big blue eyes quickly moved from traffic on the street to the buildings overhead.

I walked behind another woman, both of us set on reaching our destinations. As we approached the mother with her child, the girl paid us no mind, choosing to look at more interesting things than two hurried strangers passing by.

I watched her through my dark sunglasses as they drew near, wondering what the toddler thought of her morning excursion through the city. The woman ahead of me was within arm’s length of the stroller when, suddenly, the girl’s eyes darted up to look the woman in the face, breaking her gaze only when the stroller straps prevented her from turning further.

9 April 2009 @ 8am

1 Comment

Russia’s future

The past few years have been a roller coaster for Russia. Putin’s efforts to remain in a position of power and influence were successful, and oil revenues swelled the government coffers. Their economic house of cards is now teetering, and threatens to take private business down with it. Where did this all start, and why are things going wrong now?

Russia is a warning to any multinational corporation. Companies and investors came because the potential profits offset the risk of a sudden, Kremlin-backed repossession of assets (see: Yukos). But now, such investment looks more foolish than ever, as the government takes money meant for shoring up toxic assets and providing money liquidity, as has been done recently in the United States, and instead funnels it towards semi-autonomous private corporations with heavy government ties. Any hope of semi-responsible governance has been killed dead.

Russia will continue to reap windfall oil and tax profits over the short and medium-term, as worldwide demand recovers and businesses finish investment of assets already committed to the state. However, only the most singly profit-motivated and foolish of companies will invest in Russia in the long term. The cost of building a profitable business must take into account the inherent risk posed by the current administration and government officials, who see any capitalistic enterprise in the state as merely a source of future assets for capricious state seizure.

Russia, until recently, was often considered one of the world’s premier emerging economies. Instead, sloppy governance and property rights run over roughshod have turned it into a bottomless pit for return-free investing.

(Edit: this was originally a draft written last while flying back to San Francisco. A few things have changed since November, but most important is this: Russia, Venezuela, and other oil-driven governments are seeing demand and revenues plummet, and are facing large budget shortfalls as a result. Their short-term stability is rightfully being questioned, and they may turn to violence and militarism in an attempt to retain power.)

8 March 2009 @ 6pm

Comments Off on Ghosts in the Mailbox

Ghosts in the Mailbox

So, Mail won’t commit any preferences changes.

Account changes roll back at next launch: If I add, rename, or delete accounts, it “takes” the change, but as soon as I quit and relaunch, it reverts it: added accounts disappear, deleted ones are resurrected. I’ve watched the plist file live as Mail does the delete: it removes the account entry, but the file is getting reverted somehow.

Any other changes revert immediately: changing the mail check interval, then closing preferences, and re-opening shows the old interval. Update: they’re changing on disk when I change the option, and reverting on disk when the window closes.

Permissions on ~/Library/Preferences/ 600, and my user is the owner.

Ideas? I’ve tried last night’s backup of Library/Mail and the mail.plist (thanks to rooSwitch for letting me keep my existing working set around), to no avail.

MobileMe sync is on: preferences, but not Mail Accounts. I’ve disabled it, no changes. OS X 10.5.6, nothing particularly weird about the machine’s config. Not seeing this with any other applications. 200 GB free disk space, in case anyone tries to link this. Google is giving me nothing useful.

Update: @boredzo asked about Bundles and InputManagers: no, and yes, respectively; no change in behaviour with InputManagers moved aside.

Some preferences won’t even bother looking like they commit: checkboxes are frozen in their current state, and immediately revert to whatever they’re set to when you try changing them. Also, Preferences always opens to Signatures, no matter what tab I’m viewing when I close it.

@ryannielsen asked about fs_usage: yep, the preferences on disk change for account changes and other options, and plutil dumps into Changes show the options changing. They revert as soon as I close the preferences window. fseventer isn’t showing any other FS movement, so it must be writing out the bad one from in-memory copies.

Update Two: found it. A binary-type search of ~/Library found two old, old Mail preferences in ~/Library/Preferences/ByHost. No idea why they were being used, but they seem to override anything in ~/Library/Preferences.

3 March 2009 @ 9am

Comments Off on A Failure To Predict

A Failure To Predict

February 18:

Chowdhry predicted the Mac Pro and iMac will likely receive a minor boost sometime in June, in time for the back-to-school season.

March 3:

Apple announced updates to its iMac, Mac mini, and Mac Pro lines.

Apple PR posts here and here.

Thanks @patr1ck for pointing this out.

2 March 2009 @ 9pm

Comments Off on Ripping Bits and Licensing Fees

Ripping Bits and Licensing Fees

Eminem’s former production company, FBT, argues that a download is not, in fact, a purchase of music, but rather a license issued through a retailer. As such, the percentage that the artist takes home at the end of the day should be higher, in accordance with licensing terms.

Universal, meanwhile, appears to be arguing that purchasing digital music for download is no different from buying a CD or LP.

from “Eminem’s former publisher wants more money for digital downloads

This is Situation Normal for the record labels: when they’re losing money, they’ll define a music sale as a purchase to try and keep more dollars.

But when trying to fight P2P, they argue that any copying of music is illegal. They later said they didn’t mean it, but I would be surprised if the “CD ripping as an illegal duplication” argument didn’t surface again in a court of law sometime this year.

27 February 2009 @ 1pm


Asynchronous Requests

On Facebook: why do I have to get confirmation from a friend when I add details about how I know them?

Why not just give me a choice: add private details, or add public details. Public details can act like the current friend details: they show on my friends page when people see I’m friends with them.

If I just want to make notes to myself, and not show them to anyone else, why can’t I? It lets me attach more context to someone I’ve added: I know them through friend X, we discussed topic Y, et cetera.

Synchronous request/approval cycles are the surest to social network death. More on that later.

25 February 2009 @ 9am

1 Comment

Third-Party Mods

It does seem, however, that if you have a third-party hack, such as Boxee, installed on your Apple TV, it will be summarily disabled by the update, so proceed with caution.

via Apple TV Software Update 2.3.1 is out in the wild 

This is not news. You’ve installed a custom, hacked, patched OS on your device; when you update to a newer (or older!) version, it’s going to revert back to how it shipped from Apple. Why are people so reluctant to accept this as part of the game they’re playing?

 ← Before  After →