I’ve watched Twitter from a distance for the past year or so, sometimes making fun of it in blog comments, but I never actually joined.
Last week I was looking at my web server log with the good old tail -f, and found that several other bloggers had hotlinked the copy of the twitter fail whale that was in my old “What do you do if you catch an exception?” post. It turns out that my copy of the whale currently ranks #1 in Google Image Search. It’s not bringing in a vast amount of traffic, but it seems to be really engaging people, because Google blog search is finding a new reference to the image just about every day.
I’ve been spending a lot of time developing sites where that’s the whole idea: to build virtuous circles where people find images, put them on their sites, link back to my site, which attracts more visitors. Sometimes you can succeed at this without trying, but making a business out of it is a matter of being lucky consistently.
After that I broke down and joined twitter. My username on twitter is paul_houle; Right now it seems like a strange and lonely place, but I can see some discipline in expressing oneself in 140 characters. I’ve noticed quite a few characters already: everything from the very corporate people who tweet in calculated sound bites to people that tweet like /dev/random. Perhaps I can’t do anything about the “strange” bit, but perhaps I can about the “lonely” part. If you like the things that I blog about, you’re certainly invited to follow me, and I’m interested in following like minded people.
Paul Houle on January 27th 2009 in Media
Daniel Eran Dilger has been a leading writer about the iPhone since before it came out, and this week he writes about the choices Apple made about concurrency in the iPhone. Unlike Windows Mobile, the iPhone only allows the user to have a single third-party application running at a time. Dan makes the case that portables don’t provide a rich enough interface to let users juggle multiple running tasks (it’s hard enough to do this with a desktop computer) and that it won’t be possible to give a phone-like experience without tight control on process lifecycle.
He’s right. I’ve got a friend who has an HTC handheld that runs Windows Mobile. It looks nice, and it’s got some good features, but every so often it gets in a state that pegs the CPU at 100%; it gets warm pretty quick, so this can’t be good for battery life. Vendors like Apple, Sun and Nintendo, who have a lot of control over hardware and software aspects of platform, can often users an experience that can’t be matched by more open platforms, where no vendor claims responsibility for the performance of a system.
Paul Houle on March 13th 2008 in Media
Dave Bonta photographs a red hawk on the Penn State campus, and meditates on how people’s experience of nature is conditioned by our shared hyperreality. Dave notes that ‘a helpful webpage on film sound clichés, “the Red-Tailed Hawk scree signifies outdoors and a big, lonely place.” Anytime a rocky mountainside appears in a movie, you can almost count on hearing that raspy scream, which most people probably assume belongs to an eagle. It’s also used as an all-purpose signifier of impending or just-concluded drama in the typical outdoors adventure flick.’
Most students walked by obliviously while a handful used cellphone cameras to capture the hawk attacking it’s prey. He was left with an awkward feeling that he’d met a creature from another world — but wasn’t completely sure if he, or the hawk, were the alien visitor.
Paul Houle on March 11th 2008 in Media, Nature