Category Archives: Web

Tweetfave Passes 500K Tweets

My Tweetfave service has been running for just over 4 years now and just passed the 500K tweets mark! The usage has been pretty steady considering I haven’t done much to promote it. Over 270 users have tried the service, with about 100 still active. Luckily the service hasn’t required much maintenance over that time, just an occasional update to deal with webservice API changes or to fix minor bugs.

Here’s the growth chart covering the last 4 years:

Chart: Tweetfave Reaches 500K

If you use Twitter and use the “favorites” feature, give Tweetfave a try. The service will automatically email you (every couple of hours) all the tweets you liked.

Podcast Update and Return of Feed Readers

What podcasts am I listening to these days? (Hypothetical question; no one actually ever asks me that…) Similar to what I’ve done in the past years, here’s a quick update.

First of all I’m still using the Downcast podcast player and really like it. There are a few new non-Apple podcast players getting a lot of buzz, but I haven’t had a reason to switch yet.

Here’s my current podcast subscription list. It’s still mostly technical podcasts but I’ve picked up a few maker and woodworking shows in there as well:

Also thanks to episode #240 of The Changelog, I’m now using a feed reader again – Feedbin. Currently I’m using it to follow all my podcasts so I can read all the show notes. (Downcast’s OPML export feature makes this really easy.) I’m still not sure whether I’ll get back into feed reading like the glory days (AmphetaDesk, Bloglines, Google Reader), but for now this is really handy.

Feedbin screenshot
][54] Feedbin home page with all my podcast feeds (click for larger image)
Feedbin feed setting screenshot
][55] Feedbin has a nice feature showing the publishing timeline for each podcast (click for larger image)

Tweetfave Support for Longer Tweets

Tonight I spent a couple hours troubleshooting a problem with my Tweetfave service and handling of links. Luckily I discovered it was a simple matter of keeping up with Twitter’s API changes. This service has been running so smoothly and the API has actually been pretty stable. I needed to dust off my PHP skills and dig in to track down and adapt to an important change.

Background

Tweetfave is a free service which monitors the tweets you mark as favorites (now referred to as “likes”), then sends them to you by email. Currently the system stats show over 250 users have tried the service, recording just under 400,000 tweets!

One of the handy features in Tweetfave is the “un-shortening” of the short URLs embedded in the tweet. Rather than showing a generic “http://t.co/xyz” link, the software will reveal the original URL.

Problem

This has all been working fine, but recently I noticed something strange where the URL decoding resulted in a link back to the original tweet. Instead we should be seeing the the links within the tweet.

Here’s an example with the original tweet which doesn’t have any links, but does include an embedded image which should have a Twitter image URL:

Truebeck tweet screenshot
Example tweet with image

However when it’s processed by Tweetfave, the resulting email snippet shows a link back to https://twitter.com/i/web/status/831963043508596736 which is the original tweet:

Truebeck tweetfave email snippet
Incorrect Tweetfave email snippet

Solution

It took a bit of trial and error, debug logging, and Google searching to find the culprit: the support for more than 140 characters in tweets. When Twitter added that support, they wanted to retain compatibility. Any API call which returned tweet text was still limited to 140 characters, with the link back to the tweet to read the rest.

It looks like the announcements came out in May 2016:

They were a little fuzzy about when the actual changes would happen, but from my logs I think it was around October 2016.

In the end the change was quite simple:

  1. Include the parameters extended_tweet=true in the API requests
  2. Retrieve the original tweet text from the full_text rather than text response field

With those changes in place everything works again. For example this tweet from TheNextWeb includes both an article link and an image:

TNW tweet screenshot
Example tweet with image and link

Once decoded and sent by Tweetfave, the result included decoded links for both the article and the picture:

TNW Tweetfave email snippet
Corrected Tweetfave email snippet

Tech Advent Calendars – 2016

City Advent Calendar 2012 by brickset on Flickr

It’s that time of the year again and I’m happy to see Advent calendars for many tech communities are still going strong. As in past years (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and for some reason skipped 2015), I’ve gathered a few here that I’ll be following this year:

In years past I also created a combined feed through Yahoo! Pipes, but sadly that service was shut down in 2015.

Luckily there is still a bit of RSS and feed infrastructure out there, including the aptly-named RSS Mix. Here’s a combined RSS feed with all of the above calendars: http://www.rssmix.com/u/8215936/rss.xml

Update: The RSS Mix feed was sometimes not working correctly, so I also created a mix using MailChimp’s ChimpFeedr service: http://mix.chimpfeedr.com/af982-Tech-Advent-2016

Update #2: From Perl Weekly I just learned about Advent Planet which combines all of the above advent calendars and more into one mega-advent!

Happy Holidays!

Recommended Tech Podcasts

Microphone photo

Here’s what I’m currently listening to when I can. They’ve been piling up a little bit now that my commute is so short, but last week I had a round-trip drive from San Jose to Fresno so really got caught up :) See last year’s updates at
Best Technical Podcasts.

.NET Rocks! [rss]

Hosted by Carl Franklin and Richard Campbell, this is probably the podcast I’ve listened to the longest. As their site says, the shows “range from introductory information to hardcore geekiness.” In particular I really like their “geek out” episodes, most recently: Supersonic Aircraft Geek Out

Startups For the Rest of Us [rss]

Continues to be a favorite of mine with lots of discussion around bootstrapped startups, with updates from hosts Rob Walling and Mike Taber and occasional interviews.

Hanselminutes [rss]

Still one of my favorites. Scott is really a great interviewer and has a real variety of guests & topics. Recent interesting episode (with a sweet tag line): Failure – “What if you fake it and don’t make it?” with Kronda Adair

Giant Robots Smashing into other Giant Robots Podcast [rss]

Ben Orenstein and Chris Toomey talk about design, code and marketing decisions for a couple of thoughtbot SaaS products.

Bootstrapped Web [rss]

Brian Casel and Jordan Gal give weekly updates on their own “bootstrapped” web projects, with occasional guest interviews.

The Changelog [rss]

All open source, all the time. Recent (awesome!) episode: The Changelog #200: JavaScript and Robots with Raquel Vélez (rockbot)

RunAs Radio [rss]

Hosted by Richard Campbell (also co-host .Net Rocks!), this podcast is more IT-focused rather than developer-focused. Recent interesting episode: The Infrastructure Release Pipeline with Steve Murawski and Michael Greene

Software Engineering Daily [rss]

I found this one when I heard that Tim Berglund would be talking about Cassandra and have stuck around for a nice variety of technical interviews.

Photo credit:
heil pr40 in studio ozdorp by Peet Sneekes (Flickr)