Bandwidth Hogs: A practical use for Airpwn

So, I’ve been up at Panera Bread a lot recently sitting at home on the internet can be depressing and the trek up to PB gives me a reason to walk for a bit everyday. To be honest it’s a bit of a community there, the same people show up most days, I get to talk to folks, it’s rather fun.

Over the last couple of days the performance on the network has been inconsistent. As people know that I’m a technologist they’ve come to me to figure out what was going on. I really wasn’t looking into it (it felt like network saturation, probably someone coming in and downloading the world), but the cause fell into my lap when someone came in, sat at the table in front of me, launched his machine, started his peer to peer software and everything ground to a halt. I launched kismet and wireshark and determined that someone was pulling down 2MB/s and had their MAC Address and IP address. I was 95% sure that it was my “friend” but I didn’t want to approach him unless I was certain. All of a sudden my sneaky side turned on.

Airpwn is a piece of software that allows someone to spoof wireless traffic so you can inject wireless packets and make it look like it’s coming from the access point. At hacker conventions a common prank is to use airpwn to replace graphics on webpages with different images (I’m looking at you RenderMan). (I know that's a simple explanation, if you really want to know how it works, feel free to google airpwn). Inspired by the pranks of Render and others I decide to pull down airpwn and set it up for a little prank of my own. I target his IP address and replace all the graphics on pages he’s surfing to with this:

He gets the message and looks around suspiciously. I give him a few minutes and he doesn’t stop so I up the ante a bit and inject this:

He jumps back a bit with this one as if he didn’t know he was being targeted. You’d figure this would get him to stop, but no he keeps downloading his files. I figure the problem is that I’m signing my messages so I figure I’d let him know who I am and that I’m willing to help:

Now the genius looks left and right but doesn’t turn around so he doesn’t see me, so I try to help him out:

He turns around, looks me in the eye. I give a wave (sorta like Vir waving to Mr Morden in Babylon 5). Turns back to his machine, packs and practically runs out the door (rather fun). I wonder if he’ll be back tomorrow.

    Posted: Jun 16, 2009

At The Risk of Being an Outcast; I'm Not Sure I Like Facebook

It’s funny, like a lot of people last night I stayed up until midnight to make sure I could grab my name in the facebook land grab. I have to admit, like being on line at the apple store when leopard was released, I wasn’t worried about not getting my name, I was doing it for the social aspect on FriendFeed and Twitter. As this was going on I got to thinking about facebook.

As I’ve been simplifying my internet presence, I’ve stopped listing services I really don’t use. On my site you can see links to twitter, friendfeed, flickr, linkedIN and facebook and I’ve removed links to the other 100 or so services I’ve signed up for and don’t use. Of the services I’ve listed, I really don’t like using facebook and I fear it’s because I don’t entirely understand it.

I’m not saying I don’t like chatting with folks and networking because I do. The level of discussion on friendfeed and twitter are what attracts me to those services. And I’ve really enjoyed finding and chatting with friends who I’ve lost touch with over the year and facebook has really helped with that, especially with finding those folks who really aren’t into technology. I don’t understand the facebook culture.

As a really good friend of mine said recently, why are they sending me digital flowers? I can’t smell them nor can I appreciate them.

Why do you send me “cause invitations”? More importantly, why are you offended when I’m not interested in your cause? I don’t mind hitting the “ignore” button, please don’t complain that I haven’t joined. I’m a constitutionalist I embrace your right to join causes for things you find important, I expect you not to be offended if I choose not to be part of those causes.

I don’t want to be your serf or knight. I don’t want to be a vampire, zombie, or klingon. If I did, I’ve done RPGs in the past and would get back into that.

How is it possible to be a fan of “I need to take a vacation”? I might be a fan of vacations or taking vacations but I could never be a fan of needing to take a vacations.

Why are you sending me a virtual beer… let’s hit the bar instead and get a real one.

Why, in the name of all that’s holy, would I want a pink unicorn for my profile? Is there something about me that says effeminate or prissy?

Again, I do see value in facebook. A month ago I had a lovely dinner with a friend I haven’t seen in over 20 years, that was worth it. I just don’t understand the culture and probably will never fully embrace it.

    Posted: Jun 13, 2009

Paint Thinner and The Walmart Nanny State

While I was visiting with a friend this weekend, her teenaged son wanted to pick up some paint thinner. He recently was given a broken down classic Ford Mustang which he is restoring and rebuilding and he was told by the folks helping him that paint thinner would help him strip off the paint currently on the car. So we took him to the local Walmart and waited outside in the car while he went in to pick up what he needed.

A few minutes later he came out saying they wouldn’t sell it to him because he’s underage. I understood that, he’s a minor, I presume it could be used for graffiti or he could sniff the fumes to get high and there’s some local law preventing selling it to minors, like there is with spray paint. We headed in so his mom could tell the cashier it’s OK. Then things got odd…

The cashier wouldn’t take the boy’s money, he had to hand the money to his mom who handed it to the cashier. I felt that was a little overboard, but then it got worse. The cashier pointed out that she still shouldn’t be selling them the paint thinner since she knew he was going to use it. Procedure said that she should be calling over her manager and she could get into big trouble for selling it to them. I also felt there was an undercurrent that his mom was doing something wrong by letting him have it.

At what point did that become the responsibility of the people at Walmart? If there’s a policy or local ordinance stating that minors can’t buy paint thinner, that’s fine, he didn’t buy it, his mom did. I realize that it can be dangerous, but by having a parent involved in the process isn’t Walmart (or any store) transferring the responsibility of the purchase over to the parent?

When I was a teen I bought this without a problem in the local hardware store. The store owner might’ve asked what I was doing with it, probably to make sure I was buying the right stuff, but also to make sure I wasn’t up to mischief. I know on more then one occasion I was in there buying solvents and paints to use with models. I’m not sure how in 25 years we have gone from that to this. I do wonder however if it’s the lack of personal contact in the process. The hardware store owner knew me since I was a small child and had seen me in the store with my parents. I’m sure if he felt something was wrong, he would’ve called home and let my parents handle it.

Now a days, parents seem to be treated not as someone to handle the problem but an accomplice.

    Posted: Jun 9, 2009

My Internet Midlife Crisis.

As I was leading up to turning 40 (which happened the other day) I decided that I wanted to go ahead and make some modifications to my web presence to make things simpler.

First off, nibbler is dead as a handle. I've lived for 25 years with it, it had a purpose long ago, but I haven't been nibbler for a long while and where I've known that people around me have pressured me to keep it. I figure if I can't be just "seanreiser" at 40, I'll never be able to be just me. If you look over on the right you'll see that I'm seanreiser on twitter, friendfeed, facebook and flickr. It may take some time to get to the rest of the web, but the major services have been updated.

Secondly, I decided to merge my 3 major websites (seanreiser.com, earlyreiser.net and greatexistence.net). There are good reasons why these sites were separate, at least at the time they were launched. seanreiser.com was always meant to be my one online presence, things just slipped over time.

When I started writing non-geek items like politics, I decided to start earlyreiser, mostly because I was concerned about annoying readers by having such different content. I was trying to separate my political views from my "geek persona". I've come to believe that might have been a silly point of view. I'm not posting anything so outrageous in either place that I'm ashamed of any of it. I never made it hard to find, never anonymized it (because there was no need to) and it was time to get rid of the artificial division and have it all live under 1 roof.

Great Existence was a different matter entirely. I was honestly concerned that I wouldn't have the discipline to post a photo daily photo when I started so I had it live elsewhere. In the future I think these nonstarter projects will just live here as well, as a tale on what works and doesn't work.

While I was merging content, I decided to merge content from a livejournal I had years ago and import all my flickr photosets as a content type. I've already posted an article on how to import flickrsets as first class nodes. I'll try to write up what I did to get the live journal content into here soon. I also took to opportunity to add podcast and screencast support. There were some technical issues on the old site, which I fixed in the port. I'll describe some of the technical changes in a future post.

So, now seanreiser.com is a central site for all my content again. You'll be able to get to content from the old earlyreiser.net and greatexistence.net URLS (you'll get 301 redirects, if that means anything to you). I'll be writing a post in the next day or so describing the technical changes I've made here and the lessons I've learned in the process.

    Posted: Jun 6, 2009

What I Do About Sucky Passwords

Introduction

A friend was recently asking me about passwords. He’s heard some of my password rants in the past and was curious how I handled passwords. I’m going to lay why most people have bad passwords and what I do to get around those issues. I know my solution isn’t new or radical, others have done similar things before, I’m just publishing it as an example and to get people thinking.

Why Your Passwords Suck

Most people have passwords that suck. It’s not your fault, really you just don’t know how to make a decent password. Let me break out a few reasons why your passwords suck:

  1. You use the same password on every service. If one service is compromised every system you use is in jeopardy.
  2. Your password is some portmanteau of the service name and some constant word you use. You use “passwordtwitter” on twitter. If this is found out it’s a short trip to knowing that you use “passwordfacebook”, “passwordfriendfeed” and “passwordflickr”
  3. You’ve come with some password scheme combining the names of your children / girlfriends / pets or their birthdays. Information that can be found in personal records or social engineered out of you.
  4. You’re using dictionary words as your password. (Dictionary words are words that can be looked up in a dictionary). Dictionary attacks are common ways to attack
  5. You’re using some substitution scheme with dictionary passwords. For example you’re using “1337 speak” and “password” becomes “p455w0rd”.

What’s Needed for Less Sucky Passwords

Here are the rules I use for passwords:

  1. Passwords should be different for each system.
  2. Passwords should appear random to people and computers.

You’re thinking “how can I remember a password that changes and appears random”. It’s simple build a system to generates them and can regenerate them at will.

How Do We Do This?

The solution takes advantage of hashing. To make it easy to understand, a cryptographically secure hash takes data, whether it’s a string or a file, mixes it together, uses some math and outputs a number. The number appears nice and random to both people and machines. Other then brute force it’s impossible to take the number and reverse it back to the original data. I could go on for a bit about MD5 and measures of entropy but I suspect that is outside the cope of keeping this easy to read. In this instance, the number is then put through an encoding process using letter and special characters to make it shorter and more readable.

The process is simple, you enter the site you’re using and a long passphrase you always remember. Through the magic of math a hard to guess password is generated.

Wait, Didn’t You Say Having One Password For All Sites Is Bad

Sort of. I was referring to the actual password. In the “passwordtwitter” example above. If I take “password” as the passphrase and “twitter.com” as the website the alphanumeric special options generates “)O~dM7iD5Q/j3Yb.9,|<” and the lowercase alpha generates “bfblwxcpbglfjsueiqtlmkrinosy”. As you can see I can’t look at that and know that the facebook password would be “%AFT|3QIR)nY`zgK]EOl” or “ardadyqjxrgfvgaltfgsncblpqxb”. As it’s difficult to take a hash and generate the source all is secure.

All that said let me be clear DO NOT USE PASSWORD AS A PASSWORD. The advantage to this system is that there is only one thing to remember and it can be any length. Choose something long, easy to remember and not easy to guess. A quote from a book, your favorite bible passage, a phrase like “I’m Sean and I’m a computer programmer who was born in 1969. There is nothing more useless then a single password to keep you safe. People who think useing password as a password should be shot.”

How can I do it

So there’s a website I built that I need go to when I need to remember a password and fill in 2 fields:

  • My Master Passphrase - I suggest picking a line out of a book that you remember or some other long phrase. I’d avoid “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” since it’s so well known.
  • Website - The website I’m using using eg: twitter.com, youtube.com

Then I select the character set I want to output:

  • numeric - Only the numbers 0-9
  • lowercase alpha - Only the letters a-z
  • alpha numeric - The Letters a-z and numbers 0-9
  • alpha mixed numeric special - the letters a-z, A-Z, numbers 0-9 and a number of special characters

There are a few reasons why there are several character sets available. I do suggest that where possible you use the alpha mixed numeric special password but there have been a few exceptions:

  • My bank (and yes I did write this for me) requires a numeric only password.
  • Many systems don’t allow special characters in passwords.
  • If I plan on needing to share a password over a phone, I use the lowercase alpha.

You’ll notice that if there are fewer characters in the set, the password is longer. I could go into a long discussion why, but again it’s a little outside the scope of this document.

Security

I was asked why there is no SSL cert on that site. The reason is simple, all the work is done in your browser using javascript, no data passes to my server. And at the end of the day, this doesn’t need to run on a webserver at all. I encourage you to download the source unzip it on your harddrive and load passgen.html in any browser which supports javascript and it will work for you.

Guarantee, Warrantee, Assurances

OK, to make my lawyer happy: None. The software is made available for example purposes only. As far as I know the concepts here are secure but I am not responsible for any ill effects from the use of this software. If you lose data, forget your password, go blind, lose your girlfriend, or die in a tragic blimp accident over the superbowl, I am not responsible.

Share and Enjoy!

    Posted: May 16, 2009

Yet Another Star Trek Review

Like many other geeks I saw the new Star Trek film over the weekend and wanted to write a quick review of it. The non-spoiler review is simple “Fantastic, it worked well on almost every level”. A more spoiler filled version follows the break…

Really they’ll be spoilers…

1

2

3

I mean it… you have been warned..

4

5

Alternate Universes - Solving The Trekker Dilemma

When I first heard that JJ Abrams was directing a TOS era Star Trek film I was concerned that there he was caught between a rock and a hard place with the core fans.

If he decided to do a BSG style revolutionary reboot too many core fans would be upset. If there was initial uproar to Starbuck being a chick on BSG the reaction to radical Trek changes would be overwhelming, even stunt casting wouldn’t save it. Unlike a TV series where once could

On the other hand, if he decided to stay in continuity he would be forced into something like the New Voyages Fan Films that would look dated. Now I love the STNV films as fan pieces but I’d never want to see the TOS Bridge on the big screen, it’s a symbol of a more simple time. The same core fans would be nitpicking the combination to Kirk’s safe, and the shad of red that the third button in the fifth row of Sulu’s station. Somehow the story would be lost in these silly debates.

Being that alternate universes are established in Trek Lore (obvious examples include the mirror universe and the alternate universe created when Edith Keeler didn’t die). I think it’s fair to say 1 in 10 Trek Books contain a time travel / alternate universe theme so this is certainly possible. Refreshingly, the plot of this movie was not to restore the original timeline (a plot point in many Time Travel / AU Stories). Having TOS Spock involved in creating TOS:AU gave the necessary nod to the past without having to be a slave to it. A rather elegant solution.

Of course there’s a counterpoint to this take a look at Louis Trapani’s Is New Trek, New Coke? for his reaction.

Casting

For the most part, I think that the casting was perfect. I feel that Pine, Quinto, Pegg, Cho, Yelchin and Saldana all took on their roles rather wall and embodied the characters excellently. They became their characters. My first gripe. Karl Urban seemed not to be playing McCoy, he was playing DeForest Kelley playing McCoy.

Unfounded Concerns

There were 2 things in the film where I thought they were taking a wrong turn, but my fears were unfounded.

In the pre-credits sequence during the Birth and Death scene as the Michael Giacchino score rose I was immediately concerned that this should have been “Star Trek: LOST (in space)”. You could feel Damon’s influence in that scene as it felt like many of the Lost death scenes we’ve seen.

The climax also concerned me. As TOS:AU Spock was ramming Nero’s ship I realized that there was a potential that the TOS timeline could be restored, which would be rather stereotypical for a Trek story. Logically, I realize that no one would do that, the purpose of the movie was to jettison continuity there’s no way they were going to reestablish it.

Conclusion

Again all in all a great film, and the best thing they could’ve done with the source material. I found it an enjoyable romp with the feel of an updated TOS.

    Posted: May 10, 2009

Doing Something

Recently, I started volunteering with the Job Angels folks helping them setup their new site (which is still in progress). A number of people have asked me how, in these times I can go ahead and “waste my time doing volunteer work” if I’m not getting as much work as I should. Where I can understand that attitude, it’s something I disagree with whole heartedly.

There is a philosophy that when a person in not fully employed (either on the beach or working part time), he needs to treat being out of work as a full time job. The first time I was out of work as an adult, I interpreted this as meaning you need to be looking for a job 8 - 10 hours a day, which is a mistake. I would literally every fifteen minutes refresh searches on Dice, Monster, CL, Careerbuilder, etc since I figured that there was some advantage to being the first resume in the recruiter’s inbox. In retrospect I realize how desperate and naive that sounds. I have nothing to show for that 2 month period other then that I know how to hit the F5 key. Oh, I guess I continued to convert Oxygen to Carbon Dioxide.

On many occasions since then I have been in a position to evaluate resumes and I saw what some folks did when they were out of work and learned how I should be handling it myself. I established a new rule when I’m out of work for the first week I work all my contacts, but once I get past that I spend a maximum of 2 hours a day working the job boards. An hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. Obviously, emails and phonecalls don’t count against that time. The balance of my time I spending doing some combination of the following:

  • Learning a new skill - I find skills that were lacking in my last position or needed updating. I spend time sharpening these skills to make myself more marketable for the next job.
  • Build Out My Social Network - I spend some time working LinkedIn, Blogging, and other Social Networking Sites. Engaging the community always has unexpected benefits.
  • Working With Non Profits - I’m not saying take one of these “work for free and setup my company” bottom feeders that show up on Craigslist. Find an organization your believe in, whether it’s your Church, some Fraternal Organization, or a NPO that you believe in. This has a number of advantages:
    1. I can use skills you’ve never had the opportunity to in a job and get them on a resume. I insist on doing something outside of my comfort zone to allow me to grow.
    2. Since I list projects on my resume instead of jobs, there aren’t gaps on my resume. (Lawyers list probono work on their resume, why shouldn’t technologists.)
    3. Mentally, I have a reason to get out of bed in the morning as I’m looking. Without some sort of work the process of being out of work is painful.
    4. There is a feeling of accomplishment I get when I work on projects that I believe in.
    5. I make contacts while working on volunteer projects which can later be used while looking for an assignment.
    6. On an interview I can talk about volunteer projects with passion since it’s something I believe in. Interviewers like to hear passion.

My advice to anyone looking for work is when looking for work find something to do to enhance yourself and the world around you. The organizations around you need more then your money, they need people who will roll up their sleeves and get work done and in many cases they need this more then cash.

    Posted: May 10, 2009

Why Is Religion A Problem?

When I was a child, I went to Catholic School, and learned at an early age that the time between Noon on Good Friday and Easter Sunday is the most sacred time of the year. As I’ve become more serious about my religion, albeit now as an Episcopalian and not a Catholic. Now, I’ve admittedly waxed and wained on this topic over the years. I can remember one long discussion with family over opening day at Yankee Stadium one year, but over the last 5 or so years, I’ve firmly come over to the “you really shouldn’t be working or celebrating” side of the fence. I’ve made an effort to take Good Friday off (or at least wrap up work by noon). Although Sr. Mary Benedict, G_d rest her soul, might not be happy in my choice to become an Episcopalian, she must be at least relieved that I try and observe Holy Week.

So, today I was exchanging IMs with a potential client and this came up. I’ll cut and past the conversation below (CL = Client, Me = Me):

CL: So, I need you on a conference call on Saturday, to talk with the designed.
Me: Sorry, I’m not available on Saturday, Monday’s better for me. I can make time early if you need.
CL: I thought you said you could work weekends.
Me: Generally that’s the case, this is just not a good weekend for me.
CL: What could be so important that you can’t work on Saturday?
Me: I’m taking a long weekend for Easter.

You’ll note at this point I haven’t pointed out a Religious reason. “Long weekend for Easter” can be anything from family obligations to flying to the UK to watch the Dr Who Easter Special. There is no proselytizing, no mentioning of Christ hanging on a Cross, no mentioning of a tomb Just “I’m taking a look weekend for Easter”.

CL: I’m not sure I feel comfortable with that
Me: I’m sorry, I don’t take much time off, so I need to take advantage when I do.
CL: No, I don’t care that you need time off, I care that you’re Religious.

Now, I do have an opportunity to back pedal, to say “Oh, I’m going to Aruba because I figured my clients wouldn’t need me” or “I have to go to dinner at my Grandmother’s” and in retrospect, that might’ve been the wise choice, it certainly would’ve been more profitable However, considering it’s Maundy (Holy) Thursday, that was a level of irony I wasn’t prepared for. I also was worried that a cock crowing would disturb the neighbors. (You know it’s not every day I get to use St. Peter in comic material).

Me: Why is that a problem? Other then a few hours on Sunday mornings this next time this will be an issue will be Christmas. By then this project will be finished.
CL: I don’t want you trying to convert me, that Religious talk makes me uncomfortable,
Me: I won’t, I don’t proselytize, quite frankly I don’t discuss religion unless asked.
CL: You’re discussing it now.
Me: Because you asked.

Not the most mature response on the planet. I guess I didn’t think of “I know you are, but what am I”. I’ve also figured this is no longer a job I’m getting so I let loose a little.

Me: Notice I didn’t say I can’t work because I’m Religious. I haven’t used the words God, Jesus, or Resurrection. All I’ve said is that I can’t work on Saturday. I’m not telling you not to work on Saturday, I don’t think you’re a heathen for working on Saturday, all I’m saying is that I can’t. I fully respect your feelings on religion, spirituality and philosophy, I ask that respect mine.
CL: I’m not sure I can do that. I don’t understand how someone smart like you can believe in God.

Now, this is something that always annoys me. I have never tried to convert a Soul in my life. If someone comes to me with a crisis of faith and wants to discuss it that’s fine but I don’t don’t introduce the conversation. One line of The West Wing from President Bartlett, “My Christianity works for me, I don’t expect other’s to follow it” (OK, he may have said Catholicism). I do have an odd belief about the afterlife however. I don’t believe you have to be Christian to get there. I often say when this comes up “you can’t convince me that Jim Bakker gets into Heaven and the Dalai Lama doesn’t”.

However, many agnostics and atheists take it upon themselves to try and convert me. I don’t know if it’s self defense from dealing with aggressive, Evangelicalians but let me try and convert you before you get that way. As I said, although I found it later in life I’m Episcopalian. To quote Garrison Keillor we’re famous for our “blandness, [our] excessive calm,
[our] fear of giving offense, [our] lack of speed and also for [our] secret fondness for macaroni and cheese.”. Perhaps he fears the mac and cheese?

So I closed up with:

Me: I’m sorry you feel that way. I have nothing else to say on this topic, I’d still like to work with you, if you are interested I am free on Monday Morning.

And I’ve heard nothing since and don’t expect to.

    Posted: Apr 9, 2009

Digital Spring Cleaning Stage 1

This year I decided to give myself a bit of a digital spring cleaning. With the help of Artisteer, which I have previously reviewed, I have given most of my sites a new theme. The changes aren’t radical just a new fresh look. I’ve also built a few new sites.

The first new site is Great Existence, a site which shows off a photo a day. Where I post my photos on Flickr I feel the the better shots tend to get buried when I post my photos, so I created a site to show off 1 photo a day released at midnight. Over time I plan on featuring many of my favorite shots, I hope you enjoy them. I do intend to move all the photography content off of iSeanReiser onto Great Existence.

Between my blogs, the photo sites, my professional sites and social networks I am active in, I’m spread across the web and I wanted to have one place to point folks to. I’ve built play with keyboard which aggregates feeds and provides links to everyplace you can find me. The reason I did this on it’s own domain is a problem I’ve often had most of my life, no one can spell Sean or Reiser. (Sean, Shawn, Shaun; Reiser, Riser, Rieser, Rizer). If I’m someplace without business cards there’s a 25% chance someone will find me if I tell them to go to seanreiser.com. However playwithkeyboard.com is cute, easy to remember and descriptive. This site will become the site I use as a link from forums and other networks. I’m calling it my “digital hub”.

My next phase of Spring Cleaning is cleaning up who I follow on social networks. A post on that subject should appear shortly.

    Posted: Apr 7, 2009

Twitterversary2: The Quickening

OK, I’m a little late posting this (by a week or 2). I’ve been distracted by other things but it’s still worth getting out to you all.

A little over 2 years ago, I joined twitter, right after it’s SxSW explosion. After playing with it for a week I wrote a post mentioning some of the big starts on it like Dave Winer, Scobleizer, Leo Laporte, Adam Curry, Jason Calacanis, Evo Terra and Jonathan Coulton. I mentioned that John Edwards was using it and speculated that other politicians might. Where I thought it was fun, I created an alias to this which is simple twitter, indicating that I felt that would be my last post on the subject. Boy, was I wrong.

Last year, on my twitterersary I wrote a year in review (I have no idea why I wrote that as a list, so don’t ask). Some of the highlights include stressing how twitter is about relationships, and observing how I was finding out about news via twitter.

Now, it’s a year later, and I’m hopefully a year wiser. The biggest change is that twitter is not longer the Social Media Club, everybody is on twitter. Recently, on the same day both Barbara Walters and Martha Stewart were talking up twitter on their shows. Where I’m glad to see people are finding out about the power of twitter, part of me misses the exclusivity of it. Generally speaking I try and avoid things that Martha Stewart is doing.

We have seen our share of fail whales this year. Back in May, there was a tweetout to protest twitter’s performance issues. I’m not sure this did anything other then make people feel better about themselves. Ev and Biz knew there were problems and were working on this, this wasn’t a secret.

On the plus site the way I consume news has changed. In the past when some event happened I’d turn on CNN, now I check what topics are trending on twitter and begin following those hashtags. In many ways it’s a virtual flashmob people come together, exchange news, some from eyewitnesses some from people with knowledge and quite frankly, some BS. Yes I have to be my own filter but I’m finding that I’m getting more valuable information faster then I did from the networks.

Not only have politicians started using twitter, it’s being used frequently from the House and Senate floor. I find it interesting that members of both us letting us know what bills they find important and how they are using twitter to mobilize folks. In a related note, I’m pretty sure that Obama’s (or his people’s) mastery of Social Media was a large part of him winning the election. His use of technology really emphisized the age divide between himself and McCain.

There must be a one year itch on twitter because I did cheat on it a bit this year. I spent some time on pownce and plurk but always found myself drawn back to twitter. The people who interest me never post on pownce and plurk felt rather needy (if I don’t post once every 8 hours I’ll lose karma, oh, noes!). Twitter is just there, no games, and my people are always around if I take extended stays away.

Over the last couple of months tweetdeck has really changed how I use twitter. With tweetdeck, friends lists and hashtags, twitter becomes manageable again. I can have a list for my close personal friends and for the 2 or 3 topics I care about. When I’m feeling adventurous I can wade into the pool of everyone I’m following and engage with them. As I mentioned above when something of import is happening in the world I can begin to follow that as well.

People often ask why I follow people who I don’t want to watch moment to moment. It’s simple, there are people who I want to be able to follow when I have time, but as this is an attention economy I don’t want to use all my tweet time on. In addition, just because I don’t want to follow you second to second, doesn’t mean I want cut off your DM privileges. The ability to follow at a distance fixes that issue.

In closing, there have been a couple of stumbles in the twitter road this year but it’s been fun. Which is why I’m here. Enjoy!

    Posted: Apr 4, 2009