Tag Archives: Twitter

Echofon for Firefox dies after Twitter API changes – Here’s how to get it back

In case you’ve never heard of it, Echofon for Firefox was an add-on for Firefox that allowed users to interact with Twitter without going to the official Twitter website. Available as a small pop-up window in the browser’s status bar, Echofon was a convenient and minimalist way to compose tweets, replies, and browse Twitter.

The last version of Echofon for Firefox ever released, version 2.5.2.
The last version of Echofon for Firefox ever released, version 2.5.2.

As of October 2012, Echofon for Firefox was officially discontinued by its developers so they could focus on versions of Echofon for mobile platforms (iPad, Android, and iPhone) instead. This wasn’t the end of the world, though, because Echofon would continue working as long as Twitter API 1.0 was still active.

With this foreboding message, Echofon for Firefox stopped receiving updates.
With this foreboding message, Echofon for Firefox stopped receiving updates.

Since this article exists, I think you can guess what the problem is: As of June 12, 2013, Twitter API 1.0 has been officially shut down, which also killed Echofon for thousands of users.

Users were left with this simple message when they opened Firefox today:

Can’t login to Twitter. (410 Gone (account_verify_credentials))

I wouldn’t be writing this article if it was all bad news, so here’s how to keep Echofon for Firefox working after the Twitter API change.

Patched Echofon saves the day for Twitter API 1.1

When I opened Firefox today and noticed that Echofon wasn’t working anymore, I immediately assumed the worst. Doing a quick Twitter search for “echofon firefox” confirmed my suspicions that my beloved extension had officially died.

However, something useful popped up in my search: Apparently, someone had patched Echofon and updated it to use Twitter API 1.1, which replaced the dead API 1.0. Rather than blindly run this updated extension, I took some time to do a file-by-file comparison between the patched version and the official version to make sure nothing nefarious was happening behind-the-scenes.

What I found were fairly minor modifications, and none of them appear to be malicious. Based on my findings, I decided to try the patched version for myself.

(Please note that I am not a computer security expert, so do not take this as a “seal of approval” or anything. Using 3rd-party software of any type, especially patched software, comes with piles of inherent risk.)

The tragic part about Echofon’s demise is that it ultimately comes down to some very simple code modifications:

// const TWITTER_API_URL    = "api.twitter.com/1.0/"; // old and busted
const TWITTER_API_URL    = "api.twitter.com/1.1/"; // new hotness

Without further adieu, here’s how to switch over to the patched version of Echofon.

How to install the patch

  1. Download the patched version of Echofon. The latest version of the patch appears to be “6”.
  2. In Firefox, navigate to your Extensions page. You can find this by navigating to the big Firefox menu, then selecting Add-ons. In the Add-ons window, click Extensions in the sidebar. You can also use the convenient shortcut Ctrl+Shift+A to access this menu.2013-06-12_12h46_53
  3. After navigating to the Extensions tab in the Add-on window, locate a gear icon in the top right corner. Click it and select Install Add-on From File…2013-06-12_12h48_07
  4. Locate the file you downloaded in Step 1 and open it
  5. Restart Firefox

After following those steps, you should see that Echofon for Firefox is again alive and well.

Performing your own analysis

If you want to independently check out what’s been changed in the patched version of this extension, comparing them is actually quite easy. Firefox extensions are packed as a .xpi file, which is actually just a compressed .zip folder. Just rename the file to .zip and you can extract it to your local computer.

By extracting both the patched version and the official version, I was able to use a great tool called Beyond Compare to perform a full directory comparison and analyze the modifications that were made to the extension.

Comparing the contents of the patched extension to the official extension
Comparing the contents of the patched extension to the official extension

Is there any chance of an official updated version for API 1.1?

I’d say it is very unlikely.

2013-06-12_18h16_34

Facebook adds hashtags to compete with other social networks

hashtagA few weeks ago, Facebook announced that it was working on a way to integrated hashtags into its platform. Already a successful feature on Twitter and Instagram, the change would bring Zuckerberg and crew into the world of random and unnecessary links. Sure, some are helpful and even relevant, but when scouring Twitter, the majority of hashtags consist of a string of words that may or may not be spelled correctly. This is the world that Facebook wishes to join.

Once implemented, Facebook’s hashtags would link similar conversations, just as its counterparts do – or so their announcement said. However, unlike Twitter, Facebook has always been a somewhat private website; how will privacy locked-account owners react to these hashtags? Or will theirs even work? Will open accounts’ entire conversations be linked? There are still several questions in the way of logistics. But in theory, many are wondering if this is a necessary, or even a smart move.

Pros and Cons

Since the blowup of social media, Facebook has reigned as king. They have the most users, the most recognizable features (likes and tags, etc), and they even allow other accounts to post through their newsfeeds. Have a Twitter account? Link it to Facebook for maximum exposure! And so on. But now that Facebook is adapting others’ tactics, it’s hard to say whether they’re still on top, especially when the move doesn’t exactly fit into their platform.

Now, to conform, the site is spending thousands of hours and dollars on development, while raising questions along the way. And all to adapt to a trend someone else made popular.

As for the hashtag itself, only the future can know if it’s here to stay. It could easily die out just as quickly as it came to power, or forever change the way the public used the pound key.

It’s likely that Facebook sees this change as a move in popularity. “Everyone else has it,” they say. “Now we have to have it too.” Sure there will be less confusion as to exactly what the hashtag is, does, or when it can be used – though some will inevitably still use it emails, videos, or when speaking. But for the social media population not obsessed with hashtagging every other word, we’re questioning your motives, Facebook. I don’t see the value in stealing others’ mediocre ideas.

How to enable the new Twitter profile style

The folks at Twitter are at it again.  This time, they took a long look at the old profile format and asked the question “How can we make this uniform across all the digital media platforms?”  Well, according to their blog (most notably this post here), it appears they have solved that with a new profile design feature: the Universal Image Header.

Now even though the transition from the old to the new may take some time, we here at Techerator are here to help you get your new profile appearance set up.

First, go to the Profile Settings page and click on the Design tab.

From here, scroll down to the section called Change Header.

Pick a profound and or appropriate personal photo for your new header, and then click the Save Changes button at the bottom.

And just like that, ones Twitter profile goes from old…

…to new.

And there you have it.  With this new personalized image header in place, your Twitter profile is now ready to be viewed in any digital media situation; Android or iPhone, iPad or web browser.

Universal profile design: now featured on Twitter.  Get yours today.

Twitter takes control with new API rules, plans to limit access for third-party clients

We all knew this day was coming after reading Twitter’s fairly recent blog post on the company’s future plans, but now it’s been made official, and traditional Twitter clients should watch their backs. In another blog post earlier this week, Twitter’s Vice President of Product Michael Sippey outlined exactly how the company plans to control the user experience of its product.

For starters, large Twitter clients using Twitter’s API will have to obtain direct approval from Twitter in order to function. If a developer plans to create an app that requires access to a user’s timeline, direct messages, etc. (which are most traditional Twitter clients), they must seek Twitter’s permission if they plan to cultivate a user base over 100,000. The social media giant isn’t completely unreasonable, however, and won’t limit those applications already sporting over 100,000 users until their user base grows by 200 percent.

Twitter's chart of desirable and undesirable apps

As you may have guessed, “traditional Twitter clients” like Echofon and Tweetbot (both named specifically by Sippey in the article) are in the most danger. Sippey went into a lot of detail regarding the types of applications Twitter approves of and those it would rather not cater to, even creating the graphic above to illustrate his point.

Basically, the apps that fall in the upper right corner are being discouraged, while Sippey would like to see the number of applications grow in the remaining quadrants. Sippey used Klout as an example of a successful application geared towards the consumer and social analytics, an area that Twitter approves of.

Sippey said the changes would take effect “in the coming weeks” and regardless of their effect on existing Twitter applications, developers will be glad to finally hear some specifics after the somewhat foreboding letter to developers that was published a couple months ago.

The first indication of Twitter’s new cut-throat nature came with its decision to drop out of a partnership with LinkedIn. Then, of course, it followed that up with the announcement of high-profile partners like The Wall Street Journal and TIME for its new Twitter Cards.

Twitter has made it crystal clear it’s ready to take business a lot more seriously, and it’s up to developers to keep up to Twitter’s increasingly complex and challenging demands.

Spice Up Your Twitter Profile with Themeleon

You no doubt have come across Twitter pages that capture your attention immediately you see them. Users, businesses and organizations can customize the feel and look of this important social network to not only reflect the company or business brand, but use it as a vital marketing tool. So, how do you turn your Twitter page from being just average to having a great-looking visual that accentuates your brand or personality?

Introducing Themeleon.

Themeleon is a tool that allows you to create customized and sleek Twitter profile pages. It’s the official Twitter profile design extension that resides directly under Twitter’s selection of themes. Themeleon has dozens of themes that can be browsed and previewed with just a single click.

If you are not satisfied with what Themeleon has to offer on Twitter, you can browse their website and find dozens of additional layouts. Themeleon offers different ways of personalizing your backgrounds by adding patterns, images, colors and layout palettes, making it possible to come up with a sleek and entirely unique design from the patterns at hand. Plus, Themeleon has a huge creative community that continues to grow, which means more and more color palettes and seamless patterns are becoming available.

After signing up for the service, you automatically become part of the community and have access to everything. From here, you can create a palette, choose a member-created pattern palette and color it the way you want with your own spin to it. Using the Seamless Lite pattern maker, you can design your very own tiling pattern templates with a simple drag and drop. What’s even more interesting is the fact that you can make it publicly available to the community and allow members to help you create your pattern templates.

Whether you are looking to make a sleek, clean Twitter page to market your business or just looking to create a brightly-colored graphically-intensive representation of your personality, Themeleon can be your go-to solution.

What Twitter’s Acquisition of Posterous means for Bloggers

The internet industry is abuzz with Twitter’s latest acquisition and hiring of Posterous and its employees. The details of the deal are shrouded in mystery; neither Twitter nor the Posterous team is willing to share how things will move on from this point onward.

As a professional blogger, it is good to know that the acquisition does not mean deactivating the present Posterous services for its million users. Both the brands promise retaining the services, but for how long – no one can predict that either!

What people are not discussing is the question: how will this acquisition change the way we, the bloggers, look at blogging and content sharing?

Posterous Platform

In the last four years, Posterous built a formidable brand based on easy content development and sharing. Undoubtedly, Twitter is going to utilize this product with its own tweeting services to enhance its user services.

What about Bloggers and Marketers?

As a professional blogger and an online marketer, I am inclined to think the following outcomes are likely from this acquisition:

1) With the combined services of Twitter and Posterous, blogging acquires tremendous power. Not only will bloggers be able to create, post and share their content, they will utilize the Twitter platform to enhance social media popularity.

2) Perhaps Twitter acquired Posterous to build a unique news sharing platform with the help of its new #Discover tab. Won’t it be wonderful if Twitter users can use the #Discover tab to “discover” informative and unique blog content from their Twitter follower list?

3) It is also a possibility that Twitter is planning to revamp its current brand image and might shift from the 140 characters criteria to include longer tweets. In many ways, tweeting content is restrictive. Posterous can change that.

4) Even though both Twitter and Posterous representatives announced that they have no plans to discontinue its present services, it will be good for Posterous Spaces bloggers to think about shifting their domain hosting to something else.

The Posterous acquisition announcement clearly states that users will be notified way in advance if any major changes are to take place, which means something is up the anvil. Beware Posterous bloggers! Make sure to back up your blog daily.

People and Technology

Industry experts have criticized Twitter for this acquisition. Its motto of “people and technology”, says the CEO of Tamar.com, Tanya Goodin, seems more like a “people” buyout than cutting edge technology. She further comments that with this acquisition, Twitter has laid its hand on some top Apple talent – a strategy to tightly compete and overcome competition from Apple.

Others like Adrian Goodsell of Steak Digital see no point in acquiring Posterous when WordPress and Tumblr are way ahead in the blogging race; Jonny Rosemont of DBD Media believe this to be an acquisition of both “talent and technology” which can counteract the rise of Tumblr.

The next few months are crucial. We can merely expect to draw the best out of this deal as users.

Two Sites that Generate Tweets on your Behalf

As a person who frequents the social status-updating platform Twitter, I have always pondered if there will come a time that, like the annals of history itself, my tweets will eventually become cyclical and redundant in nature.  As a human being, I thrive off being a creature of habit and learning from past experiences, so it would make sense to argue that the more I tweet, the greater the possibility that I will either repeat myself or become void of concentrated thought.

So to counteract the days that I feel disconnected with my tweeting realm, I decided to consider two non-stressful “tweet generating” options to fill in the gaps: That can be my Next Tweet and Automatic Tweet Generator.  And yes, by “tweet generating,” I mean that they generate the tweets for you.

That Can Be my Next Tweet

That Can Be my Next Tweet is a site by Monokai in which takes the repetition of Twitter statuses to the level of personalized tweet mashing.  Essentially, one places a Twitter account name into the text box, and once “get your next tweet” is pressed a fancy computer algorithm (black magic) cuts, copies, and pastes words and phrases from your tweeting history (also known as tweet DNA) to give you an aggregate, individualistic tweet that theoretically should be similar to what you might normally tweet about.

Now unfortunately (or fortunately) for everyone, it is not perfect in its responses.  Most of the time it creates fragmented, grammar abused tweets with hilarious content, but if you give it a little time it does produce some that could pass 10th grade English.

Here are some funny examples of both situations based off three different Techerator celebrity’s accounts:

Me:

I might actually say something like that

Kevin Schulte:

Evan Wondrasek:

I hate when that happens...

This site also comes in an Android and iOS mobile app so that one can generate doppelgänger tweets on the go as well.  The mobile app also allows for two Twitter accounts to be entered so that even more conjoined tweets can be created with humorous results.

Automatic Tweet Generator

If one feels that their Twitter account already is already saturated with personalized thoughts, an alternative is to have this website (known as the Automatic Tweet Generator) create a random, topical tweets for general purpose tweeting.  This site goes off the same principles of the Video Game Name Generator (which I highly recommend trying if you have a few hours to spare), where a database of generic phrases, celebrity names, and words (with some profanity and reference to drug use) are accessed to form complete and utterly random tweets to potentially post.

Here are a few to consider:

Those darn vegans and their bikes...

If one finds the grammar and topics still not humorous enough, you can suggest to the creator ideas and topics for them to add, thus helping the random tweet generating odds.

Conclusion

So if you are a concerned, repetition-fearing person like myself, take comfort in fact that these two tweet generating sites provide a quick way to keep those tweets coming (with entertaining results).  After all, no one wants to be like the Invasion of Russia.

(Many Thanks to Evan Wondrasek and Kevin Schulte for letting me humorize their Twitter Accounts)

Rupert Murdoch joins Twitter, the world laughs

I never thought I’d live to see the day Rupert Murdoch joined Twitter. But it’s happened. And it’s wildly entertaining watching the most-famous n00b in the world try to get his head around the micro-blogging social network. Long may it continue.

Rupe Is No Dupe

If a celebrity or famous face isn’t on Twitter then there will be an account either claiming to be them or openly spoofing them on the site. That’s just the way it is. So when a new Twitter account claiming to be owned by the real Rupert Murdoch appeared on the site, few people actually bought into it.

That was until the account was verified and then promoted by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, at which point the number of followers began multiplying at a rate of knots. At the time of writing @rupertmurdoch has just over 100,000 followers, but I suspect that number will keep climbing.

Why The Interest?

Why should we care that Murdoch is on Twitter? Because this is a man who controls a huge portion of the world’s media, and he can, unfortunately, help elect presidents and prime ministers. Hearing his unedited views on what is happening as they come fluttering into his head is fascinating.

There is also the fact that Murdoch is not a fan of the Internet. He hates what it has done to print newspapers, and struggles to see why people should be able to read news openly and freely when he could previously charge for it.

Murdoch biographer Michael Wolff summed up Murdoch’s views on the Internet in a 2009 Vanity Fair article, suggesting, “For him it’s a place for porn, thievery, and hackers.” Which it is, I guess, but it’s a lot more besides. Something it has taken Murdoch an age to latch on to.

Along For The Ride

It has already been fun following Rupert Murdoch on Twitter. We have had opinionated tweets such as, “Steve Jobs biog interesting but unfair. Family must hate,” and “Obama decision on terrorist detention very courageous – and dead right!” Which, whether you agree or disagree with the sentiment, is interesting to hear.

Proving the guy has lost none of his powers of classless promotion we have had tweets saying, “I LOVE the film ‘we bought a zoo’, a great family movie. Very proud of fox team who made this great film,” and “Got to watch Foxnews at 5 EST. Liberal Bob Beckel and team great replacement for Beck and much more fun.”

But by far the most fun to this point has been watching an old media dinosaur trying to get to grips with this new-fangled technology we call social networking. He has deleted a joke tweet – “Maybe Brits have too many holidays for broke country”. Murdoch has also randomly tweeted to a couple of random people, except he seems to have forgotten to include a message after their names.

Entertainment At Its Best

Twitter is awash with famous people, most of whom tweet nothing but garbage and plugs for their various moneymaking ventures. But I’d rather see Rupert Murdoch tweeting than I would Kevin Smith or Ashton Kutcher. It’s certainly more entertaining than reading any of Murdoch’s newspapers or watching any of his television channels.

Image Credit: Joe Wolf
Image Credit: World Economic Forum

Why Ashton Kutcher, aka “aplusk”, hates Twitter

I can’t say I’ve ever been a particular fan of Ashton Kutcher. But his erroneous, ill-informed tweet and subsequent throwing of toys out of his Twitter-branded pram has me thinking he’s an absolute idiot.

In a nutshell: Kutcher claims to have heard about the firing of Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno in passing without hearing the full facts. He tweeted in defense of Paterno, talking up his career, after assuming the 84-year-old had been dismissed for being too old and no longer getting results. He then heard the full story, deleted his tweet, and apologized for the simple error of judgment.

That should have been the end of it, but Kutcher decided this one thing was enough to force him to give up Twitter altogether. And he explained his decision in a rambling blog post full of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. He’s too busy making crap TV shows to worry about trivial matters such as these, I guess.

Paterno, Schmaterno

As a Brit, the Paterno story had not entered my field of vision until, strangely enough, Kutcher had his say. Now I actually know the back story and why people were so incensed at Kutcher’s supposed lack of empathy for the alleged victims of the crimes surrounding Paterno’s dismissal. I’m still not particularly interested because football is, as we all know, a stupid sport. But still.

I have already ranted about the way celebrities are increasingly using Twitter purely for self-promotion, leaving behind the connection and personal involvement with fans that the platform once represented. And this amplifies that issue even more so. Because of the fallout of one mistake, Kutcher has decided to dismiss the whole idea of Twitter and hand over tweeting duties to a team of publicists. Way to connect to the fans.

Twitter Is Bad, Mmkay

It’s as though Kutcher has flipped a switch. Last week he was a Twitter advocate and investor who would talk up the power of the platform at every available opportunity. Now, he doesn’t want anything to do with Twitter and thinks it has somehow been ruined by becoming mainstream. Or perhaps because there are too many ordinary folk reading his boring updates.

His assertion that “clearly the platform has become too big to be managed by a single individual” is ludicrous. He’s acting as though tweeting is some kind of job when actually it’s just writing short, snappy updates from your phone. The fact that all Kutcher’s tweets will now be channeled through an editing process to make sure he doesn’t make another faux pas shows just how disconnected to his fans and out-of-touch the man has become.

Kutcher has now added another reason to the increasingly long list of reasons to dislike him. And Twitter has lost someone who, up to now, has been one of its biggest cheerleaders. I suspect the number of people following Kutcher will start to drop off sharply very soon, and all because of a tweet that most people wouldn’t have heard about or taken any notice of had he just apologized and moved on. Another example of the Streisand Effect in action.

Image Credit: Xioubin Low
Image Credit: Robert Scoble

Real-Time Search and Improved Hashtags Now Supported in Google+

Vic Gundotra, the mind behind much of Google+, made a rare video appearance recently to show off two new features that will keep Facebook on its toes and probably elicit a disgusted groan from Twitter. Real-time search and improved support for hashtags will help Google+ contend with the established utility of Twitter by allowing users to see trending topics, as well one-up Facebook by supporting hashtags (a very popular requested feature).

Gundotra has donned a pretty snazzy purple v-neck for this informative video. Yeah, emphasis should be on these new features, but it really is a nice sweater.

I think the impact this will have on people’s use of Google+ is being understated here. Currently, I spend a lot of time on Twitter, but a majority of my time isn’t spent looking through my stream, it’s checking out the trending topics or searching news tidbits referenced in my friends’ tweets. Twitter’s search feature is arguably it’s strongest feature as it gives you truly up-to-the-second news as it breaks. Suddenly, search king Google has a feature that performs the same task better, and I can only imagine that it will cause people to spend more time on the site.

Google+ has been making steady strides in user base with 50+ million profiles at the time of this writing. While a long way off from Facebook’s nearly 1 billion users, Google+ is giving Facebook a reason to worry by integrating its keen search prowess with an already decent social network. If Google+ can find a way to conveniently display trending topics, I may have found a solid replacement for Digg, Twitter, and even Google’s own Google News. The beauty is that the search grows more powerful as more users join.

I’m pretty excited by the possibilities here — Facebook has already shamelessly taken features (subscriptions?) from Google+ to maintain its advantage, so it can only be a matter of time before they introduce something similar…and in the case of Facebook, a real-time search tool would be incredibly powerful. Sooner or later Facebook will figure out search, and man, Google better watch its back when that happens.

Real-time search hasn’t been integrated into the Google+ apps (Android or iOS), but it can’t be too far away. Great stuff, Google, keep it coming.

Facebook, the ball’s in your court. Twitter, I’m not sure you’re in the same game anymore.