Monday, July 13, 2009

Is the Numbers Game Killing Twitter?

My activity is on Twitter centers on trying to build a network of like-minded people to share ideas with. Generally, I like to post links and comments about current news events that I think might be of interests to other atheists. I try to pick the stuff I think others might enjoy reading, watching or listening to. And I enjoy getting feedback comments, DMs and retweets from my followers.

I've been trying to find new followers who share my interests but I keep getting followed by spammers and scam artists. I recently found this advice online on how to identify accounts not to follow. I wish I had seen this earlier.

Quick tips to identifying Twitter spam:
- Woman’s name + some numbers, in the username.
- Follow ratio is way off, they follow lots, nobody follows them.
- “get rich quick” scheme, regarding followers.
- Look at their posts- all plugs for products

I think the numbers game is killing Twitter. I just wonder how many of my followers represent truly interested users? How many of my followers really care what I post on Twitter or ever click on the links I post? To find out I started using Cligs. Cligs is a URL shortening service that can give you some pretty cool information about the hits your posts get.

Out of the nearly 2000 followers I've got only a small fraction of them respond with a click. So the numbers don't really mean very much.

I've a TwitterGrader rank of 99.4 and they place me at about 17,000 out of nearly 3,000,000 Twitter users. Gradually, I've come to recognise that these numbers and rankings are nearly entirely meaningless. The personal feedback I get is really much more significant.

Most people using Twitter only monitor a small group of their followers by using features provided by Tweetdeck or other twitter clients. So, I think everyone knows the numbers don't mean very much.

I have begun to turn my attention to Friendfeed which I think is a good way to leverage Twitter.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Posting to Twitter from the Command Line using cURL

If you enjoy enjoy "hacking" Twitter's API as Zak and I do you probably already know how simple and easy it is to use it.

You can post your updates via your favorite scripting language. Zak likes Ruby but I prefer using AutoIt3.

You can post Twitter updates via Windows Cmd.exe and cURL.

curl --basic --user screen_name:password --data status=" $text_of_tweet "

Or from AutoIt with this line.

RunWait(@ComSpec & " /c " & 'curl --basic --user screen_name:password --data status="' & $text_of_tweet & '"', "", @SW_HIDE)

;$text_of_tweet = your update

Zak and I have written our own little twitter client programs to make tweeting easier.

Mine automatically saves all my postings to a file on my system for later reference and many other things to make life easier.

If you enjoy exploring how stuffs works, check out the Twitter API and cURL.

Have Fun,

Monday, July 6, 2009

Thunderf00t vs Ray Comfort - Atheist's Challenge - Upcoming YouTube Discussion

There is an ever growing number of atheists active on YouTube. I have to confess, I enjoy watching the atheist YouTube videos. I especially enjoy the debates between believers and non-believers. The videos with Christopher Hitchens are my favorite. Of course, there is a lot of poor quality videos posted on YouTube, but what else would you expect from amateurs.

Now with 55,462 Subscribers, Thunderf00t is one of the most popular atheists on YouTube. If you haven't seen any of his videos I suggest you check out his channel.

Thunderf00t has invited Ray Comfort, creator of the infamous "Banana" Atheist Challenge Video, to a have a discussion. And although initially Ray wanted Thunderf00t to come up with $100,000 to donate to a cause supported by Richard Dawkins, he has since dropped the demand and accepted Thunderf00t's proposal. I can't wait to see how the upcoming discussion will play itself out. Who do you think will score the most points with the viewers?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The COMPLEX - by John Duignan Exposing Scientology

A new book on Scientology has been blocked in the US by Scientology. The Complex by John Duignan exposes some hidden aspects of the cult. John — who had never heard of Scientology — was 22 and living in Stuttgart with his German girlfriend but their relationship was on the rocks. Depressed and lonely, he accepted.

John, now 45, says: “The test is a clever recruitment device because it appeals to people who are searching for something. I was unhappy and latched on to the prospect of gaining confidence. I probably needed proper psychological counselling but I got nothing of the sort. The result of my initial test was Urgent Action Required.

“These friendly people seemed to have the answer in Scientology and I surrendered myself to it.” In the following weeks, John was grounded in the Scientology doctrine. Under a regime of sleep deprivation, brainwashing and so-called counselling, John gave up his mind to the bizarre teachings. John quickly became fanatical about his new-found faith. He says: “I saw myself as a soldier for Scientology. I believed it was the only route out of oblivion for mankind.

“The doctrine teaches a human’s body doesn’t matter because it is the Thetan, or soul, which survives. “If I’d been told someone had to be eliminated because they were a threat to Scientology I could have justified the killing. They’d just lose their body, which isn’t needed.”

He says: “As a Sea Org member I’d get to wear a special uniform and be highly respected by other Scientologists. We were told other members would bow to us. Suddenly I felt important.” But when John arrived at the cult’s headquarters in LA, conditions were not what he’d imagined. He says: “We were expected to work, eat and sleep Scientology with every minute of the day scheduled, from 7am until lights out at 11pm.” The harsh conditions John endured were in stark contrast to the luxury enjoyed by stars at the glittering Scientology Celebrity Centre down the road.

Read the entire review written by David Lowe - Here -

See also Irish Mail on Sunday, October 31st - Here -

Spreading Bigotry - Charlotte Allen Hates Atheists

Reading Charlotte Allen’s OpEd article just confirms what I have recognized for a long time. Those who build their lives and identities around a belief in the existence of God feel deeply threatened by those who admit their skepticism, or worse openly proclaim their lack of belief.

As a child, I never imagined that I would become an atheist.

It is obvious that Charlotte Allen would like to advance and promote the tired old stereotypes attached to atheists. But why should my lack of belief or that of any other atheist be a threat to her. If she is certain of God's existence why does she need to vilify non-believers. Does she think we skeptics exist just to make her position on faith in God appear tenuous and conditional.

I have an opinion about religion. My opinion has been formed from my own deeply personal experience with it. Giving up my position of good standing in the church came at a very high personal cost to myself. But I do not have a desire to disparage all believers. Yes, there are the wing nuts like Fred Phelps, founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, but the vast majority, are very virtuous and loving people.

I wonder if Allen has noticed the humanist movement. Humanism offers an opportunity for people to set aside their petty religious differences and join in a wider community of caring and loving people.
OpEd Source