New toy: “Twitter”

Wow – Celestron takes 8 business days to get me a terse one-sentence answer. BigC responds in one. Impressive. Apparently their technical people are all at trade-shows at the moment so my bigger question will have to wait until they get back, but they were at least able to answer my question about their “tabletop” digital microscopes magnification (answer: the “600x” really is optical magnification, not digital.)

Another digital microscopy WANT/DO NOT WANT post to follow when I get the followup reply. Meanwhile, after hearing about it on the This Week in Tech podcast for a while, I finally talked myself into signing up to play with the coincidentally named Twitter system.

Twitter logoIt sounds like a really stupid idea – “Oh, goodie, now I can broadcast ‘text messages’ no more than 140 characters long about trivial events in my life to the whole world! Whoopee!” “Wow! I can find out when random strangers are drinking coffee AS IT HAPPENS!” Thrills! Excitement! Adventure!…

On the other hand, having the messaging system watch for particular words might be a handy way of monitoring current events. Plus, there seems to be a lot of potential for fun, off-the-wall uses, even if many of them are kind of silly.

It DOES seem like kind of an ideal context to play with that “geostrings” concept I’ve been toying with. A terse, easily-machine-parsed format for geotag data that can fit into a “twitter” post and still leave room for a sentence or two to go with the geographic information seems like it might be useful. If you’re so incredibly bored that you want to see some examples, you can check out my own Twitter posts, several of which I’ve embedded geostrings into.

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The Author is (currently) an autodidactic student of Industrial and Environmental microbiology, who is sick of people assuming all microbiology should be medical in nature, and who would really like to be allowed to go to graduate school one of these days now that he's finished his BS in Microbiology (with a bonus AS in Chemistry). He also enjoys exploring the Big Room (the one with the really high blue ceiling and big light that tracks from one side to the other every day) and looking at its contents from unusual mental angles.

4 thoughts on “New toy: “Twitter””

  1. I really like twitter. It can be quite handy.

    Using Geostrings and Twitter together is a very interesting concept. If there was someway to integrate the postings with, say, the map app on the iPhone, then you also have an easy way to meet people, or create random meetups, or create scavenger hunts, or any number of other things, really.

  2. Hypothetically, it ought to be extremely easy to write something that parses incoming messages for “geostr” tags into location and date information (that’s one of the primary goals for coming up with the format in the first place), so if you can get access to insert a filter into the iPhone incoming-text stream, it ought to be pretty easy to have it pop up a ‘click here to map this/these points’ dialogue and have it open the map application. At least I imagine it would be.

    I’ve been thinking it’d be fun to find a simple project to use to learn something about writing firefox plugins – I imagine that it should be pretty trivial to have a plugin sniff through a page’s source for “geostr” tags, parse out the information for each, and generate links to Google Maps from them. I’m not sure, but I imagine there’s no reason support for PNG, GIF, JPG, TIFF, etc metadata sniffing couldn’t be added (there’s an EXIF-viewing plugin for firefox already, so it should be possible), so that geostring tags in image comments could be detected and displayed as well.

  3. I’ve been wanting a project to try out development on my iPhone; I bought Leopard specifically for this purpose. I think I may try this when I get the chance.

    It would be a stand-alone twitter client, and you could integate things like twitter-pic very easily.

    The filter for geostrings ought to be really easily, and you could even translate them into google-speak and integrate it with the iPhone maps application.

    I’m really liking this idea.

  4. I should look into twitter-pic. Dumping georeferenced pictures on the internet is the main reason I started playing with photography.

    I’ve been meaning to put up some samples of geostr parsing code – I should do that soon.

    I ought to be able to handle javascript – maybe I can grab a copy of the Twitterfox source and try wedging in a geostr detector/parser or something.

    I’ll be interested to know if you get it working on the iPhone!

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