Category Archives: Social Media

News, views, analysis and tips on Social Networking and Social Media. News from Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Orkut, Digg, Reddit and more.

Analyze Any Twitter Profile Using TwitGraph

If you have ever wished for a tool that can provide useful info about a Twitter user, check out TwitGraph. It is a nice little app that gives a comprehensive analysis of any Twitter user including their recent activity. Just enter any Twitter user name and click submit.

TwitGraph starts by showing the number of tweets the user has made in last 1 week, broken down by days. The second section shows the list of users you have mentioned in last few days, followed by the app used for your tweets such as TweetDeck or Tweetmeme. TwitGraph also analyzes the words you have mentioned most in your tweets including hashtags and the links you have posted. Each section also contains a nice colored graph showing your activity in an easy to read manner.

It is an excellent tool to judge if a user is worth following or if somebody is just there for sending spams. It also gives you a nice breakdown of apps a user tweets from, something which can tell you a lot about a user. You can click on any app, username or link shown in the analysis to go to the actual web page.

Note: It would not work for users who have made their profile private and lock their tweets.

Import Twitter Contacts into Google Buzz With Tw2buzz [Invites]

Google Buzz has been making waves ever since it was launched. Love it, hate it, but you simply can’t ignore it. In fact, Google Buzz is still trending on Twitter.

Thanks to tight integration with Gmail, Google Buzz already has a huge user base and most Buzz users are already following dozens of users. However, you can further increase your Buzz reach by tapping into Twitter.

Google allows you to connect your Google Profile with Twitter, but doesn’t offer any way to directly import your Twitter contacts. This is where Tw2buzz comes in.

Tw2buzz-Import-Twitter-Follower-Google-Buzz

Tw2buzz is a simple service, which cross-references your Twitter Followers list with Google Profiles and automatically builds a list of tweeples you may want to follow in Buzz.

Using the service itself is pretty simple. Make sure that you are logged into your Google account and authorize the app to connect with your Twitter profile. Tw2buzz will automatically parse and analyze your followers and prepare a list of Google Profiles. Due to the lack of a Google Buzz API, Tw2buzz doesn’t implement bulk follow. Instead you will have to open each user’s Google Profile page and follow them individually.

Techie Buzz Verdict

Tw2buzz is a handy service, if you are looking to grow your Google Buzz social circle. The lack of a mass follow option is disappointing, but as they say, something is better than nothing. At least Tw2buzz helps you in identifying Google Profiles of your followers. Another aspect, which may irk some users, is that Tw2buzz refers to your Followers list (instead of Following list). It is just a personal opinion, but I would be more interested in connecting with the people I follow rather than people who follow me.

Techie Buzz Rating: 2.5/5 (Good)

Invites

Tw2Buzz is currently in private beta phase and requires an invitation code to signup. We have 250 invites to give away. Simply click here or enter the invitation code “T3cH!3BuzZ” while signing up.

Ask Your Own Questions to Julia Mancuso

With about a day left for the Vancouver Winter Olympics, the excitement is definitely building up for different medal events and the entire feel of the Olympics the once in four years event. For many the choice sport is Alpine skiing. This high-adrenaline sport involves skiing down a mountain with fixed-heel bindings on the skis. The slope of the hills and the speed that builds up is no laughing matter. Though the sporting events are done in controlled environments with little or no avalanches and trails without trees between them, adrenaline-junkies also pursue this sport in less-than-safe environments around any place where the infrastructure has led to the development of these sports. Julia Mancuso, the Olympic Gold medalist in alpine skiing from the United States is one of these Alpine ski racers who trust their skill and control with the frictionless yet dangerous floor of snow.

180px-Julia_Mancuso_2

As a World Cup ski racer, she made her debut in 1999 at the age of 15. With several races and World Cups under her experience, she eventually won the Gold medal in the Olympic Games of 2006 launching her to stardom. One of the main reasons she enjoys her popularity is that people believe she can repeat the feat in this year’s giant slalom as well. However, she suffered from hip dysplasia (misalignment of the hip joint) through her Olympic victory and had to undergo a surgery the following year. She trained with her team following these setbacks and is confident of her skill this Olympic season, and thus fans have been quite encouraging through these months for her.

p1.julia.mancuso.getty

Digg.com, being a portal full of fans of different people, sports and games has created a Digg Dialogg which involves community-submitted questions voted on popularity which will be asked to Mancuso. From Trent Reznor to Bruno, many people have been questioned by the Digg user community and now it is time to ask your own questions to Julia Mancuso. However, be warned that you have about a day left to ask these questions. Make an account quickly in Digg and start firing Mancuso with your questions from alpine skiing to the brands she endorses!

Facebook Unveils New Home Page ReDesign – Gets Ready to Offer Free E-mail

Facebook has began rolling out another redesign of the home page. The changes are subtle but numerous. The left menu has been re-organized to provide quick access to core features such as News Feed and Messages, while the top menu has been beefed up and now displays the latest notifications (through a drop-down menu). A dedicated dashboard for applications and games has substituted the App bar. Other improvements include an updated search box and a rewritten photo uploader. The new design has already been made available to about 80 million users and will be rolled out to the remaining users over the coming days.

Facebook-Redesign

In related news, TechCrunch is reporting that Facebook is currently working on a full featured webmail product dubbed Project Titan. Titan would replace the existing messaging system, which is in desperate need of an overhaul. Users will be assigned e-mail addresses based on their vanity URLS – [email protected]

The decision to offer webmail is an interesting one. Facebook is obviously hoping to become an integral part of one’s online life and identity. Millions of users are already using Facebook Connect as their online identity and this represents the next logical step for Facebook.

Facebook is not the first social network to go down this route (MySpace did it in 2008); however it definitely has big ambitions. In fact, Project Titan is being unofficially dubbed as the “Gmail Killer”. While that may be a bit of an overstatement, there is no denying the fact that Facebook already has the volume required to make a significant impact.

Tweetz.Tv: Find and Watch Videos Shared On Twitter

With thousands of links being shared on Twitter everyday, it is hard to identify images from websites and songs from videos. If all you are interested in are videos, Tweetz.tv is a great place to start. It filters out the videos mentioned on Twitter and let you play them all from a single web page.

Once you sign in to Tweetz.tv using your Twitter credentials, you will be able to watch videos mentioned on Twitter through three different channels. The My Tv channel allows you watch videos shared by your friends and he Public TV channel indexes videos that have recently been shared on Twitter. Another option is to search for videos using a keyword. Each video listing includes the actual tweet and lets you play or retweet the video with a single click.

Currently, the tool only works with YouTube videos but promises to add support for Vimeo and DailyMotion soon. It is a great tool to filter the thousands of shortened URLs and see which ones of them are videos. A couple of things that would make the tool even better are the ability to filter videos for a particular user and the option to display more than 3 videos at a time.

Facebook Toolbar Now Available For IE and Firefox in 16 Languages

If you are a Facebook addict and can’t imagine your life without it, Facebook toolbar is a must use tool. It can be used to quickly visit the common sections of your profile, share links, upload photos and much more.

To download Facebook Toolbar for Firefox and Internet explorer, go to the Facebook Toolbar page and hit the “Download Facebook Toolbar” button. Next, choose the version of your browser and restart it to activate.

facebook-toolbar

Features of Facebook Toolbar

Multilingual support: Facebook Toolbar originally launched in English and was available for Firefox only. But now the toolbar works for Internet explorer too and supports 16 languages. The languages supported are Arabic, Chinese (simple and traditional), Danish, Dutch, German, Spanish (Spain and international), French, Hebrew, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese (Brazilian), Swedish and Turkish.

Easier login: Just click the login button placed at the right corner of the browser and the toolbar will log you in automatically. You need not type the username and password, everytime you want to login to your Facebook account.

toolbar-login-logout-status-button

The last status message is shown at the far right end, just next to the log out button. To post a new status message, simply type in the status message field and hit the return key.

Pop up notifications: As soon as you log in to your Facebook account, the toolbar shows pop up notifications at the bottom right corner of the screen.

facebook-toolbar-notifications

You can click the links in the notification to see who posted a reply in your wall or whom did you befriended recently. In addition to that, you can view event notifications, group invitations, pokes and new friend requests from browser icon buttons.

facebook-toolbar-notifications2

Quick links: Clicking the “Quick Links” dropdown shows you common sections of your profile. Some of the important links include your profile, friend list, message inbox, account settings, photos, groups, videos etc.

facebook-toolbar-quick-links
Easier sharing and photo uploading:
Using the “Share” button you can quickly share a link, image or a video with your friends. The best addition is the photo uploader, which lets you add photos to existing albums or create a new album without having to open your Facebook profile.

Techie Buzz Verdict

Facebook Toolbar is a great browser enhancement and saves a lot of time. The only downside I found – you can not chat with your Facebook friends. Otherwise it’s a compact extension to carry on “Facebooking” all the time from the browser.

Techie Buzz rating: 3.5/5 (Very good).

Services To Find If Someone Favorites Your Tweets on Twitter

Favorites on are similar to the Likes on and Friendfeed, however, unlike Facebook and Friendfeed, Twitter does not provide any easy way to find out when one of your tweets is marked as their favorite by someone.

Quite sometime back I had written a tutorial on how you can find out when someone favorites your tweets, however, it has been a long time since then and several new Twitter services have cropped up which make the task a lot more easier. Here are some of the services you can use to find out when someone favorites your tweets.

Favstar

Favorite Tweets Tracked by Favstar

One of my favorites from the lot, Favstar.fm is a service which will allow you to keep track of who has added your tweets as favorites. Favstar will allow you to track favorited tweets for any Twitter user. It provides users with the most popular favorited tweets, most recent favorited tweets and also the tweets which are added as favorites by a particular user.

Favstar also provides users with an option to register so that you can favorite and retweet tweets from your Favstar.fm account.

Twitfave

twit_fave_track_favorite_tweets

Twitfave is another interesting service which provides users with an option to track who favorites their tweets. Though it is not as advanced as Favstar, it does provide users with an option to subscribe to the a RSS feed to track when someone favorites your tweets.

Though I did find other options to search when users favorite your tweets, I believe that these two are the best out there and do the job. If you think that there are any other better options for the task, feel free to let me know through your comments.

Want more on Twitter? Check out some of our earlier articles.

Get Email Notification When A Twitter Username Becomes Available

Twitter usernames are a precious asset, especially when you have an online business and want to use Twitter for promotion and marketing. There can be situations when you would like to claim a particular Twitter username:

  • You are planning to open a new blog but unfortunately the corresponding Twitter username is unavailable.
  • You are planning to change your Twitter username but your preferred username is unavailable.

You can find out if your username has been taken on a social networking site or not. But that is a manual task, and you have to repeat it every now and then. If there was a tool which can notify you once a Twitter username is available, you can quickly register it to your advantage. Twitter counter has added support for this feature quite lately.

To get started, visit Twitter counter and click “Claim this username” placed just under the graph and stats.

claim-twitter-username

In the subsequent page, enter the username for which you want to get the alert.

Test: I tested the tool using @amit_vcq which was available in Twitter at that time.

set-email-alert-twitter-username

I haven’t got any email alert yet but once the username is available, I will be the first one to know about it.

Techie Buzz Verdict

I like the simplicity of the service. No disturbing ads, registrations or sign ups and works pretty straight forward.   The only flaw I found- you cannot save or see the username alerts you have set and you need to write it down to remember it.

Techie Buzz rating: 2 (average).

NASA Creates History: Astronauts Live Tweet from International Space Station

Don’t get surprised the next time you open your Science textbooks to read that Timothy Creamer was the first person to tweet from Space. In a first for Twitter and social networking in general, a NASA astronomer updated someone other than his NASA boss by sending out a tweet from space to everyone.

Here is what the historical tweet read:

Hello Twitterverse! We r now LIVE tweeting from the International Space Station — the 1st live tweet from Space! :) More soon, send your ?s

live-tweet-space-station

Timothy Creamer, the astronaut who tweeted the first Tweet from I.S.S, says that the team is trying to tweet from the orbit as well.

Internet Network in Space is not a Joke

Tweeting from space station was possible due to a software upgrade by NASA which allowed the astronauts to connect to the Internet. But a question can arise in your mind – How can a computer network exist in space? NASA has an answer which says that the network used is the “ultimate wireless network connection”.

This personal Web access, called the Crew Support LAN, takes advantage of existing communication links to and from the station and gives astronauts the ability to browse and use the Web. The system will provide astronauts with direct private communications to enhance their quality of life during long-duration missions by helping to ease the isolation associated with life in a closed environment.

You can read more about the nasa report here or follow the tweets from space station.

Acording the New York Times, the space station is equipped with 68 IBM ThinkPad A31 laptops and 32 Lenovo ThinkPad T61p devices. The laptops are all connected via Wi-Fi access points, and there’s also a dedicated IP phone for phone calls and some limited video-conferencing abilities if astronauts need to see their families.

The historical tweet from space marks a new era in the developement and reach of technology in our lives. Want to follow more NASA Tweeples? Check out NASA Collaborate..

Twitter Rolling Out Location Based Trending

is not new to the breaking news segment, and most of the recent disasters have first been widely reported on Twitter. These are just part of the discussions which form part of Trending topics on twitter (see Top Trending Topics for 2009 on Twitter).

Back in September 2009 we had reported about some new changes in the trending topics, and in November 2009 told you about how Twitter was in plans to bring trending to different cities.

The trending for cities/countries is basically based on the new Trend API which twitter had announced. With the Help of the Trend API, users from different cities or countries would be able to view what is trending in their local areas. According, to TechCrunch, Twitter has started to rollout the Local Trends to few users.

Here are some screenshots of the Local Trends which will be gradually rolled out to everyone, courtesy TechCrunch.

Twitter Trends Countries and City List Twitter Local Trends Sidebar

Twitter Local Trends in Cities

This move by Twitter is definitely a good one, as local topics that have some value usually do not trend globally and users from a particular city or country would benefit more to know what is happening near them, rather than something that is happening across seven seas.

However, from the screenshots available, Twitter will continue maintaining the global trending topics, whilst offering users an option to view topics trending in their country or city. Right now there is not much information available about the countries and cities which are supported, however, you can expect a official announcement to come forth soon.

TwitPic Rejected a $10 Million Buyout Offer

With Twitter experiencing tremendous growth, a lot of Twitter apps have also taken off. We recently heard about OneForty raising $1.9 Million for its Twitter app store and now there is talk of TwitPic being valued at more than $10 Million.

TwitPic is the most popular photo sharing site for Twitter with 6.5 million registered users and thousands of photos uploaded everyday. A recent interview with Noah Everett, the founder of TwitPic, reveals that TwitPic rejected a buyout offer of more than $10 Million last year. This interview with Mixergy further reveals that TwitPic makes around $1.5 Million every year out of which 70% is net profit.

It is a remarkable achievement for a service that was started by Noah single-handedly without any outside funding. Even now, the TwitPic team only consists of 4 people including Noah’s parents. Here is the complete interview.

If you want to know more about TwitPic, check out our previous posts here and here.

How Tweets Are Ranked By Google?

Google rolled out their real-time search last month that includes results from Twitter, blogs and other web pages generating real-time content. Even though everybody appreciated the feature, nobody exactly understood how Google works when it comes to ranking tweets.

Technology Review is breaking the silence on this after talking to Amit Singhal, a Google employee, who led the development of real-time search at Google. Amit mentions 3 major things that the Google algorithm considers while ranking a tweet higher than others:

1. Number of followers matter:

Just like a web page with 1,000 incoming links ranks higher than a web page with 5 incoming links, a tweet by a person with 1 Million followers would rank higher than a tweet by a person with 1,000 followers. To Google, number of followers is one of the key methods to calculate the reputation of a user.

Interestingly, if I only have 5 followers but those 5 followers are very reputable (have large number of followers), my reputation would also automatically be higher.

2. Hashtags are not always good:

A lot of people insert hashtags in their tweets to identify them with a certain topic. Similarly, a lot of spammers also use popular topics as hashtags to get people to read their tweets. For this exact reason, Google treats hashtags with skepticism. It doesn’t necessarily mean that using hashtags will decrease your search engine ranking, but it does mean Google will analyze tweets with hashtags more carefully than regular tweets to see if they are spam.

3. Displaying timely and topical results:

Since the search is real-time, Google has a job to pick out and display the freshest tweets and filter out the older ones. This is done by analyzing the words next to the keyword and evaluating which tweets pertain to a more recent topic.

Even though these points don’t completely explain how Google ranks tweets, they are a good starting point to understand the algorithm behind it. However, it does open up a few more questions like :

  • How does Google algorithm factors in the ReTweets?
  • Would a ReTweet by a more reputable person rank higher than the original tweet?
  • If a hashtag included in a tweet becomes a trending topic, does it affect the ranking?

Unfortunately, we might have to wait for sometime before Google answer these and other dozens of questions about ranking real-time information.

Interview of Compromise: Facebook Employee Reveals All Internal Secrets

This entire issue comes off as one of those escalating affairs to me. First, it was the long drawn open letter by Mark Zuckerberg promising us that the privacy controls would be simpler lauded by most. However, in a few days’ time people realized that the apple had fallen quite far from the tree. Not only was your profile picture available to everyone around you, but the most private people found that searching for their profiles were open to friends of friends and could not be changed to only friends (this has been changed recently).

In response, Zuckerberg said in an interview that people have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people. A lot of long-time users were quite agitated about this issue and while some control was given back to the users, most were still prescribing to the be friendly to every Tom, Dick and Harry on Facebook! Make it viral! Spread the color of your bra to everyone!norm. (The last part, not really!)

Facebook logo

So when a Facebook employee tells us that there is a master password that can be used to log in to any account and that in the past it has been misused, it comes off as disastrous.

The Rumpus interviewed the aforementioned unnamed Facebook employee who pointed out quite a few things that are stored on Facebook’s servers from the number of likesto the number and content of messages (the privateones) are all stored in the servers and are completely accessible to the engineers who drive the website:

Employee: We track everything. Every photo you view, every person you’re tagged with, every wall-post you make, and so forth.

More alarming is the fact that there was a master password (which, thankfully could only be accessed from the Facebook office’s computers, using their ISP). Here is the snippet of the conversation (emphasis added for effect):

Rumpus: You’ve previously mentioned a master password, which you no longer use.

Employee: I’m not sure when exactly it was deprecated, but we did have a master password at one point where you could type in any user’s user ID, and then the password. I’m not going to give you the exact password, but with upper and lower case, symbols, numbers, all of the above, it spelled out Chuck Norris,’ more or less. It was pretty fantastic.

Rumpus: This was accessible by any Facebook employee?

Employee: Technically, yes. But it was pretty much limited to the original engineers, who were basically the only people who knew about it. It wasn’t as if random people in Human Resources were using this password to log into profiles. It was made and designed for engineering reasons. But it was there, and any employee could find it if they knew where to look.

In fact, the cases of employees logging in to other peoples’ account became so frequent that the position of Chief Privacy Officer was invented, so to speak, to deal with the problem.

Rumpus: Are your managers really on your ass about it every time you log in as someone else?

Employee: No, but if it comes up, you’d better be able to justify it. Or you will be fired.

Rumpus: I would imagine they take this—

Employee: Pretty seriously. I don’t really f*** around, at all.

Rumpus: They invented a Chief Officer position for it, Chris Kelly, right?

Employee: Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly, correct. Running for Attorney General of California.

facebook_logo2

The rest of the interview is inherently fascinating as the employee talks about the massive amount of photos stored in the servers, easily calling Facebook the largest photo distributor in the worldand goes on about the engineers in employ as well as the bizarre and weird cases they had to field. Interesting indeed, but worrying too. If Facebook has an officer in chair to curb the amount of privacy abuse in their own offices, how much can we trust them when they change their ToS and privacy controls with misleading blog posts to account for?

This morning when I wanted to change my privacy settings with regard to search, I found this waiting for me:

PrivacyFacebook

My information is safe indeed. I think it is time I switched to a seriously privacy centric platform. Problem is, with its market penetration, slew of features and the inertia of existing users, I know I’ll be alone in the new socializing engine, if at all I do switch.

Find Out Your First Follower, First Tweet and Other Twitter Firsts

You are an avid Twitter user who has done thousands of tweets and now you are getting all nostalgic about how you started on Twitter. You want to know your first tweet and you want to know who was your first follower. Here are a couple of tools that will help you:

1. Find Your First Tweet Using TwitterStorm:

TwitterStorm is a simple Twitter app to find out the first tweet of any user. All you need to do is enter the Twitter username of the person you want to look up. If you want to go back in time and see your first tweet, just enter your Twitter handle.

2. Find Out Who Followed You On Twitter First Using FirstFollower:

As the name suggests, FirstFollower tells you who was the first person to follow a Twitter account. All you need to do is enter the Twitter username and information about your first follower would be displayed. You can also tweet information about your first follower with a single click.

3. Find Out When You Joined Twitter:

If you are getting even more nostalgic and want to know when did you exactly join Twitter, there is a tool for that too. WhenDidYouJoinTwitter tells you the joining date of any Twitter user.

4. Who Was The First Person You Followed On Twitter:

You know who was the person to follow you, but do you know who was the first person you followed? You can find that out using this neat tool. However, the tool only fetches information from the people you still follow so if you have unfollowed the first person you followed, it will jump to the second person.

Please note that these tools do not work for users who have made their Twitter profile private.

Facebook Bra Color Status Updates “Trend”

For the baffled man and the not-in-the-know woman: If you logged into Facebook today, you might have seen a few (or all) of your female friends post a color as their status update with no explanation at all, while their female friends knowingly added comments and liked it. If you have not Googled it yet, it is as the title suggests their, er, bra color. Viral marketing meme? Not entirely this is to spread awareness about breast cancer. This is the first time such an effort is being taken by the common woman to spread the awareness about this type of cancer. However it happened only on Facebook.

As mysterious as any other internet meme, the bra color status update has become quite the phenomenon, especially when the women in question mysteriously smiled the Mona Lisa smile and kept quite quiet about it. For those of us who actually took the time to look up this phenomenon, it did the work of spreading an important but relatively unknown variety of cancer. Throughout the world, breast cancer is responsible for 10.4% of cancer incidence in women and is thus the second most common type of cancer (the first being lung cancer). This type of cancer is responsible for 1% of all female deaths in the entire world!

So the next time you see your female friend update their status update with a mysterious color, suppress those dirty thoughts and focus on the issue at hand! [A winking smiley should have come here, but I refrained because this is a serious, technology-centric blog ;) ]