Category Archives: Software

Tweetfave Growth Tops 240K Tweets

Ever since I launched Tweetfave in 2013, it’s been quietly working away and slowly growing. (For some more of the background, see Brief History of Tweetfave.)

An update on the numbers so far:

  • Over 200 users have tried the service, with over 100 still active
  • Over 240,000 favorite tweets have been marked and emailed

Here’s a growth chart which shows the tweet count growing at a steady rate ever since we went live. The rate of new users cooled off after that first year but is still growing by a few each month. The growth has basically been some word-of-mouth and people who stumble across it (I’m not doing anything active to reach out). I guess you could call it a “hockey stick” growth curve if you count those first 2 years with me as the only user :)

Graph showing total tweets growing to 240,000 and users to about 200
Tweetfave 5-Year Growth Chart

Twitter Favorites RSS Feeds

Twitter dropped RSS feeds in early 2013 (Mashable) and never had direct support for RSS feeds from favorites. I still use Twitter favorites as a bookmark or “read it later” service for myself and have been running the Tweetfave service for over 2 years now. Tying these ideas together, I’ve just rolled out Twitter favorites RSS feed support in Tweetfave.

How it Works

Tweetfave periodically scans your account (using the official API) and summarizes all favorited tweets in an email. Now the system will also update a feed which can be used with other systems that accept standard RSS feeds.

The RSS feed will be created with each tweet contained in an item element with the following fields set:

  • title – text version of the tweet
  • description – text version of the tweet, plus a link to the original tweet
  • content:encoded – HTML version of the tweet, plus a link to the original tweet
  • link – the first link mentioned in the tweet (see Notes below)
  • guid – same as link
  • pubDate – date/time of the original tweet

Here’s a screenshot of my favorites feed shown in Firefox:

Screenshot of favorites RSS feed in Firefox
Favorites Feed in Firefox

Setup Instructions

For existing Tweetfave users:

  1. Visit the Tweetfave login page
  2. Sign in to Twitter (if needed) and approve the Tweetfave App
  3. Copy the link for “Twitter favorites RSS feed”

For new Tweetfave users:

  1. Visit the Tweetfave login page
  2. Sign in to Twitter (if needed) and approve the Tweetfave App
  3. Enter your email and click Submit
  4. Mark a couple of tweets as favorite to get started
  5. Within a couple hours you should get your first email from Tweetfave
  6. Now return using the “existing users” steps above to grab your RSS feed link

What to Do

So what can be done now that you have an RSS feed of your Twitter favorites? I like to use IFTTT which is an awesome application for connecting different services together. (For a great overview, see their About IFTTT page).

I’ve set up my recipes where the source trigger is a new item in the RSS feed and the target is a service like Instapaper, Paper, or Evernote. You can configure the fields and formatting sent to various services, giving you lots of different options.

Screenshot of IFTTT example recipes
IFTTT Recipe Examples

Notes

Here are a few notes and caveats to keep in mind:

  • If you’re a new Tweetfave user, you need to favorite at least one tweet first, and wait for the first email before your feed link is created
  • Your RSS feed link is somewhat obfuscated so that people can’t guess it. It’s also only shown to you after login, so you can still keep your favorites stream private.
  • If a favorited tweet has multiple links, you will have multiple RSS items (because each one can only have one link). This seems like a good compromise even at the expense of some extra entries.
  • The time between favoriting a tweet and it appearing in your feed is not instant; Tweetfave currently scans everything at 2-hour intervals, then sends emails and updates the feeds.
  • If you disable your Tweetfave account, the RSS feed file will still be online but won’t be updated. If you’d like the file removed, just email me.

Feedback

I’d love to hear feedback from anyone trying this out, including any interesting use cases people come up with!

Best Technical Podcasts

Podcast Equipment Photo

Every so often I like to publish my current podcast subscriptions (last update from late 2013: Top 7 Technical Podcasts). Since joining DataStax a year ago my commute time is significantly shorter, so I’ve slimmed down my playlist as well.

Here is my current subscription list:

Hanselminutes [rss]

One of my favorites. Scott Hanselman is a great interviewer and runs through a broad variety of guests.

Giant Robots Smashing into other Giant Robots Podcast [rss]

One of my other favories. Ben Orenstein from Thoughtbot hosts. Plus, the title is cool.

.NET Rocks! [rss]

I’ve been listening to these guys for over 10 years now, and they’ve recently hit episode 1132. That’s a lot of podcasts! In March 2014 they merged in The Tablet Show (which had 130 episodes on its own). These days it’s not only about .Net, but covers a lot of different technologies and platforms. The Geek Out espisodes are especially good, if you’re in to that sort of thing.

RunAs Radio [rss]

Hosted by Richard Campbell (also of .Net Rocks!), this podcast is more IT-focused, giving a slightly different perspective.

The Changelog [rss]

I kind of dropped out of this one for a while, but recently have been catching most episodes. They cover a nice cross-section of different open-source projects.

Startups For the Rest of Us [rss]

Rob Walling and Mike Tabor covering all aspects of bootstrapping and running your own SaaS business. It makes me wish I was actually doing that, but in the meantime I enjoy hearing about it.

Zen Founder: Startups. Family. Life. [rss]

From Rob Walling (of Startups for the Rest of Us) and his wife. I’ve only recently starting listening, but it seems promising.

Product People [rss]

I really enjoyed the interview style and variety of guests on this show by Justin Jackson. It’s no longer regularly produced (last episode was December 2014), but I’m still subscribed to scoop up any new ones.

Kalzumeus Software Podcast [rss]

It’s not published very often, but still worth hearing the latest ideas from Patrick McKenzie and his experiences running SaaS businesses.

Colophon:

I’m still using and can highly recommend the Downcast iPhone app. It has a handy export feature for your podcast subscription list in OPML format. I have a simple Python script (podcast.py) which converts it to Markdown text, then I just added my review comments to create this point.

Photo credit:

My Podcast Set I by Patrick Breitenbach (Flickr)

DataStax Installer with Vagrant

I’ve continued to make improvements to my “Cassandra on Vagrant” project (Using Vagrant for Local Cassandra Development) which shows how to install open-source Cassandra or DataStax Enterprise in a variety of different ways. Using Vagrant is very helpful for local development and testing. Virtual images can be created very quickly and can be erased when done, keeping your primary development system clean.

Recently I added an example which uses the DataStax Enterprise (DSE) standalone installer which first appeared in DSE 4.5. The standalone installer normally runs in a graphical UI mode, but can also be run in an unattended mode which I’m using here.

To play with the examples, grab a copy of the Vagrant projects from GitHub: bcantoni/vagrant-cassandra. Once you have Vagrant and VirtualBox set up, check out example 5. DSE Installer and go through the setup.

On my Mac laptop, creating a 3-node DSE cluster takes less than 5 minutes. (The speed is greatly improved because we only need to download the installer once.) The installer has several options for running in unattended mode, so the installation can be customized as needed.

See the code and more details at bcantoni/vagrant-cassandra.

Tech Advent Calendars – 2014

Update: For the latest, check out Tech Advent Calendars – 2016

It’s that time of the year again – Advent calendars for many tech communities. As in past years (2011, 2012, 2013), I’ve gathered a few here that should be interesting:
* Perf Planet Advent (performance) – Feed
* 24ways Advent (web design/development) – Feed
* Perl Advent (Perl language) – Feed
* Java Advent (Java language) – Feed
* UXMas (UX for everyone) – Feed
* SysAdvent (Sysadmin) – Feed I have a combined RSS feed (created with Yahoo! Pipes) that picks up all of these advent calendars:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/TechAdventCalendars. (Yahoo Pipe source).