7.4 Earthquake Hits Pakistan and India – Twitter Updates Report It First

A huge earthquake of 7.4 magnitude has hit Pakistan, Dubai and India. However, the updates about the Earthquake were first reported on . There has been a steady stream of Earthquake updates from my friends who reside in Pakistan, Dubai and Delhi, where the Earthquake was felt heavily.

Right now reports of the Earthquake suggest that there have been no damages done yet. If you are following or want to follow the updates on the Earthquake, you can do so by visit http://search.twitter.com/search?q=Earthquake or using Real Time updates from Google at this page.

Rest aside, apart from killing celebrities, Twitter is also hugely successful as a source for real news too.

BBC News has picked up on the news you can check it here.

Here is the exact location of the quake in Pakistan – thanks @amit_banerjee

Updates to follow…

How to Keep Kids Safe Online – Talk to Them

parent-childYou’ve heard about the danger. It’s out there in many places, such as Facebook, Twitter, Chat rooms, Texting, and File Sharing. What do you know about safe online practices? How can you help protect your kids?

According to many experts, the best thing you can do to protect your kids is to talk to them about internet safety. Two websites can help you and kids avoid the worst dangers on the web. You’ll find plenty of advice at On Guard Online and Net Smartz.

onguardonline top-ncmec netsmartz-logo

Below, I’ll offer a few tips I’ve found. However, if you have time, take a look at this video: Chatting with Kids About Being Online.

Chatting with Kids About Being Online

More videos from OnGuard Online

Videos from NetSmartz

Why do you need to talk to kids?

At NetSmartz, I ran into some survey stats from 2006, showing how important it is to influence your kids online behavior.

33% of 13- to- 17-year-olds reported that their parents or guardians know very littleor nothingabout what they do on the Internet.

48% of 16-17s said their parents or guardians know very littleor nothing.

Fully 22% of those surveyed reported their parents or guardians have never discussed Internet safety with them.

On the other hand, 36% of youth—girls and younger teens most notably—said that their parents or guardians have talked to them a lotabout online safety, and 70% said their parents or guardians have discussed the subject with them during the past year.

Most importantly:

Fewer teens whose families have talked to them a lotabout online safety have an IM name or pictures of themselves on the Internet, compared to kids whose families have not talked to them at all. More teens who’ve talked to parents or guardians also ignore messages from unfamiliar people, refuse to reply or chat, block unknown senders, and report these occurrences to trusted adults.

How can you get a conversation started?

I also found some good questions to get you started. (from NetSmartz)

Can I take a look at what you have been posting online?

Does anyone else have access to your passwords?

What information is okay to share online?

What information should you keep private?

What could someone learn about you from what you post online?

How might they use this information?

Have you ever regretted anything you posted online?

What advice should you give? What actions should you take?

I also found this advice at NetSmartz.

Make sure that your child takes advantage of the privacy settings on social networking sites.

Pre-approve the pictures and videos your child posts online.
Remind your child never to post e-mail addresses or cell phone numbers.

Tell your child that passwords should only be shared with parents and guardians.

Teach your child not to respond to any e-mails requesting personal information and to delete e-mails from unknown senders.

Discuss how to keep screen names and e-mail addresses gender-neutral, appropriate, and free of any information that could reveal identity.

Encourage your child to tell you right away if anything happens online that bothers or frightens him or her.

I’ve only covered a tiny part of the help and advice available to parents. Be sure to take a look.

On Guard Online / NetSmartz

Are Justin Bieber and Nelson Mandela Dead? No, It’s A Twitter Hoax

I have completely replaced my feeds with lists, and it helps me to keep up with updates without having to sift through content. I just click on news that I like and read it. In addition to that, Twitter has also become a great way to bring news faster to the masses. A recent example is the Tunisia updates which is being touted as a Twitter revolution, you can read up on all that at Techmeme.


However, along with these wonderful things Twitter is doing, it is also becoming one of the biggest sources of hoaxes. Specially one’s which are connected to some big celebrity dying. In the past month I have seen three of them die (not literally) thanks to updates on Twitter. The most recent one is none other than South Africa’s Nelson Mandela and teen sensation Justin Bieber.

If you visit Twitter right now you will see "RIP JUSTIN BEIBER" and "RIP NELSON MANDELA" as the trending topics. This would give anyone an impression that these two individuals have been dead. This is  not the first time that this has happened on Twitter and not the last time this will happen.

In the past celebrities like Eminem, Matt Damon and Harrison Ford have died (fake) on Twitter and then have been resurrected. I am being a bit sarcastic here, but the thing is that just like a good cause, rumors can travel fast too on Twitter, putting fans and the so called dead celebrities at hassle.

Twitter had recently changed their algorithms for trending topics. That algorithm has been a reason why was not trending. However, Twitter needs work more towards filtering out such stupid rumors too. It is bad for everyone and will diminish Twitter’s authority when it comes to spreading real news.

Twitter Adds HTTPS Only Support

HTTPS is one of the most secure ways of sending and receiving content on the web. Many sites including and several other Google products make use of the HTTPS protocol, even Hotmail does it too.


Though both and have had support for HTTPS for a long time now, they do not enforce HTTPS on users and instead allow them to type the URLs in the browser.

However, it looks like Twitter has now rolled out a new setting which allows users to Always user HTTPS. To enable this setting you can go to your profile and edit settings (or go to http://twitter.com/settings/account) and check the box next to “Always use HTTPS”.

If you think that HTTPS will slow down your experience, you might want to read an earlier post on how much impact Google saw when it shifted to using SSL.

(h/t @nspeaks)

Update: This feature seems to have been pulled off by Twitter now.

U.S. Orders Twitter to Hand Over WikiLeaks Private Messages

New information about a U.S. case against WikiLeaks has recently been revealed. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a secret subpoena to Twitter on December 14th. The subpoena orders Twitter Inc. to release private messages and other information about accounts owned by Julian Assange and others involved with WikiLeaks.

View the subpoena

The subpoena wasn’t public knowledge, because  Twitter was ordered not to reveal it, since it was “relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation“.   On January 5th,   the subpoena was unsealed due to legal pressure by Twitter.

Twitter declined to say much on the matter, except that its policy is to notify its users of government requests for information, when it can do so.

In a statement, Assange is quoted as saying If the Iranian government was to attempt to coercively obtain this information from journalists and activists of foreign nations, human rights groups around the world would speak out.

twitter2Twitter is based in San Francisco California, and it’s not likely that they would have responded to an information request from Iran. However, the U.S. DOJ has the legal authority to make Twitter cough up this data. It’s clear that Twitter will do so, despite their efforts to open it up to public review.

Google and Facebook have very likely received similar requests, but have not responded to reporters asking about this topic. It’s speculated that they’ve also gotten gag orders to remain quiet, but didn’t fight them as well as Twitter.

(Sources: TechCrunch, CBS News and others)

Best Social Web Browser For Twitter And Facebook

I use and a lot. In fact I spend more time than I would want to on those sites. Though I use for browsing Facebook and Twitter feeds, I feel a little bit of disconnect when the links I click open in a new browser window.

Layers Social Experience

I guess someone out there heard me, because I came across a really good for called Layers, which provides users with a connected Social web browsing experience. It is like the media integration Twitter has, but for everything and done in a better way.

Layers Social Web Browser

In a nutshell, Layers is a social web browser. It allows you to browse through your Facebook and Twitter feeds and allows you to preview links, videos and pictures without disconnecting you from the experience. In addition to that, it also allows you to like, comment and share content on Facebook and Retweet or reply to Twitter users from within their interface.

What Does Layers Do?

The Layers app for Google Chrome transforms the experience of surfing through the social web into an elegant, visual flow, providing users a beautiful way to get updates, view videos and share content.

  • Let it flow: See sites in a beautiful, flowing stream
  • Stop clicking.  Preview, and watch videos, maps and images in a single place
  • Connect. Watch what your friends are doing, saying and sharing on one channel
  • Discover. Find stuff you’ll love and related to stuff you already like
  • Stay up to date. Follow your favorite sites and blogs
  • Keep it simple. Get the most out of your social networks using only the options you need

As you can see, Layers tries to make the social experience better by providing you with a neat platform that rocks. In addition to adding Facebook and Twitter feeds you can also add RSS channels to layers and browse them within Layers. They are also planning to add support for so that you can read your feeds within Layers.

I have been using layers for less than a day now and totally love the experience. It is definitely one of the best I have seen and makes my social experience complete.

This is a highly recommended extension for anyone who has a Twitter or Facebook account and want to browse their feeds elegantly. Download Layers for Google Chrome.

Why Twitter Does Not Need Media Integration

I read a very interesting post written by Zee on The Next Web about Twitter adding media services. I found the entire article pretty interesting, however, I did not entirely agree with his statements there.

Of course, I wanted to write my thoughts as a comment on his post, but I really don’t comment on sites which require users to create an account for their websites. I feel it’s a good thing to exercise my thoughts out without having to go through the pains of getting it through.

So here are my thoughts (in more words) on why does not really require any media integration.

Twitter is not Facebook

Twitter is not , it is Twitter. The difference between Facebook and Twitter is simplicity. Facebook is so complicated, it requires users to get through the loops of learning how to upload pictures, upload videos and more. Twitter on the other hand was about “What are you doing” and now about “What’s happening?”

The reason Twitter exists even when Facebook is doing so well is because they are simple. A simple update like “I just woke up” and “Goodnight” does the job, you don’t have to worry about who is reading your updates, whether someone will feel bad or not and so on.

As per Zee’s recommendation, Twitter should also provide an option to upload pictures. Well, if you have to teach a user to upload pictures to the internet before they have used Twitter, that user is a noob, complete noob. I have seen 10-11 year old kids uploading photos, so this shouldn’t be as difficult as it sounds and it should definitely not be a feature in Twitter.

Photo and Video Sharing Services Have Twitter Integration

I clicked a photo and uploaded it to , or I recorded a video and uploaded it to . Now how do I get it to Twitter? Well there is a simple button out there to do the job, so it is not hard. Twitter is not about uploading, it is about sharing and almost each and service out there has Twitter and Facebook sharing option available.

So uploading videos, photos or what not does not require Twitter, because everything around it does it. I believe that almost every site I do anything on wants me to share it on Twitter (and Facebook), so it is about integration, not implementation.

Twitter IS KISS

The reason there are so many apps for Twitter is because it leaves the nitty-gritties out while keeping in the “Simple”. Twitter has lists, but apps like and Seesmic make them ever so important.

For the record, I hardly use the web interface on Twitter, because there are so many apps out there which do the job Twitter should have done. The Twitter web interface is so simple, that I am really lost around it. I can’t function without the apps I use to use Twitter.

Of course Twitter is aware of these apps, however, they know that they have to be simple enough to KISS. If they try too much, they will obviously be something what Facebook has already been doing for so long.

Apps like TwitPic and YFrog supplement Twitter. They allow users to share content without having to put a heck of an headache on Twitter and users who don’t want Twitter can use something else. Heck, I see imgur.com being used more than anything else on Twitter for images.

Twitter Can’t Kill The EcoSystem

URL Shorteners only came into existence because of Twitter, but they have almost become a primary way of sharing URLs on the internet. When Twitter decided to start using Bit.ly as their default , there was a big hue and cry. Heck, a company even folded up and resurrected because of this decision.

Now, Twitter dropped Bit.ly and went with their own URL shortener T.co, but without hampering with the ecosystem that existed around it. Imagine when Twitter comes up with their own image sharing service, what would happen to the others? They would revolt and stop doing business? Would they just shut shop because Twitter has the control over things? Would they develop new apps around Twitter?

I highly doubt that, because Twitter knows their importance. I share almost 20-30 pictures a week, and I hardly visit TwitPic to upload my pictures. It is all done through TweetDeck, so I am not even visiting either Twitter or TwitPic to upload pictures, but I get my message through. This is because of the ecosystem Twitter has, they will survive because of this, not without it.

Twitter spends a heck of a time keeping their service up, these value-added services will only add to their headaches. Right now they have the ecosystem worrying for that, I doubt that they will change their ways here.

Twitter Is About Real-Time Not My Marriage

The reason we see real-time topics on Twitter and sites like Google and Bing using their data to supplement results is because it is real-time. Bing uses Facebook data to show you recommendations based on your friends updates, so do many other sites. But when it comes to serious topics, Twitter results are often up there and do matter. Your cute cat picture or video would not make it to real-time search because that is what Twitter is, a steady stream of updates which is built up based on user input, not a meme on your cat.

Many of the trends on Twitter are demented, but none of them came from a video share. Of course, the New York plane crash (trend came through because of a picture shared by someone near the scene. Captain Sully anyone?), but the person who uploaded the picture used TwitPic or something, not Twitter, but got through with the message.

The main reason that message came through was the picture he uploaded, but it came through Twitter, not through the picture. If that person would have put his status somewhere else, that topic would not have got as much attention as it got.

Simple enough, you got a picture, upload it, post it to Twitter, if it is viral, it gets through. If not, it doesn’t. That is the power of Twitter, getting through the message not the media accompanying it. Heck, YouTube has videos which go viral without Twitter.

Twitter Is About Adapting, Lay People Or Celebs

Some of the top Twitter accounts, and several more are about followers not following. These people have millions of followers. Some of them are Hollywood and Bollywood actors who I am very sure never knew about uploading pictures, leave aside URLs. However, I see several of these users uploading pictures on TwitPic and YFrog and getting thousands of comments.

These people did need a lesson in uploading but they learnt it nevertheless. If a normal user is dumb, these guys are dumber because they rely on someone else do all their job, but the same people are aware of clicking a photo and uploading it to whichever service they want to.

They don’t need Twitter to fulfill their media needs?


Of course, we would want all social networks to upload pictures et al, but is it worth it? Well, I put my thoughts out here. It definitely does not make sense for Twitter to add media integration. Of course they do have media integration for third parties, but that does not mean that they should add all these services.

I loved Zee’s article, but I have been using Twitter since May 2007, way before many of you have used it. I use it because it is simple and easy to use, from wherever I want to. I would prefer to keep it that way. I would certainly not mind not having few people not using it because it is not Facebook, after all they have 220 million users.

(This article is incomplete, links and references will be up shortly)

Twitter’s Christmas Gift – Fail Whale

It’s Christmas and I guess many of the folks who work at might have had the day off. Alas it was a bad time for Twitter to go down. Yes Twitter’s Christmas gift to all the Twitter users and their staff itself is the infamous Fail Whale.

s twitter_fail_whale

The status blog was recently updated and said:

We’re currently experiencing some site availability issues; we’re looking into it now and will update when we have more information.

I guess we’ll have to take our Christmas Wishes to then.

Update: Some part of Twitter seems to be coming up. I can see the scripts that run on third-party sites pulling in Tweets.

Update 2: Twitter is back up now.

The Ups And Downs of the Silicon Valley in 2010

The Silicon Valley in 2010 has seen major profits flowing into most of the private companies to the extent that their net worth has doubled and trebled in some cases. Today, Facebook and Twitter are one of the fastest growing Internet companies and these reports are backed by stats and figures, all from inside sources. However, share trading of these private companies are limited to the private brokerage firms. So, what fuels this rise and are these figures accurate?

Most of these figures are mere speculations. They have a good chance of being only partly true because these are not public companies. News on these companies is spread through word of mouth. However, what is true is the fact that the revenues have indeed gone up. This is reflected in the number of visitors to these web-based services. An increase in users can be safely linked to an increase in revenue. Recently, Yahoo lost ground to Facebook over the Internet, which is a worldwide phenomenon. It was already topped from the position of the largest Internet company in the US a few days ago. This is further indication of the shady facts.

In a year when Facebook and Twitter are making profits rapidly, there are other companies as well who are facing a tough time. Yahoo has lost more market share and Digg, is reported to have lost around 70 million USD of net worth this year. Another company Groupon made a remarkable profit from a failed deal and has gone up to thrice its net worth, now at $3.7 billion USD. According to a report at Financial Times, the revenue of the top 10 private companies has gone up by around 50% in the last few months. In short, the year 2010 has been beneficial for all Silicon Valley giants.

Packrati.us Automatically Bookmarks Your Tweets On Delicious, So You Can Find Them Later

Do you tweet a lot of links all day long ?

Ever wondered whether there is any service which can automatically bookmark your Tweets that contain links?

Enter Packrati.us – a brilliant web service which makes bookmarking tweets as easy as child’s play. Using Packrati.us, you can bookmark all of your Tweets that contain links, can convert Twitter hashtags to Delicious tags and label a unique Delicious tag to each tweet. Everything on Autopilot.

Wait…. isn’t Delicious Shutting down? No It isn’t, the service will continue to run as earlier.

How To Bookmark Tweets That Contain Links In Your Delicious Account ?

Following are the steps involved to get started with Packrati.us and connecting the service with your Delicious account:

1. Head over to the Packrati.us homepage, and sign in with your Twitter account. After you have granted permissions, you will be asked to enter an email address where the service can send you future notifications.

2. Enter your email address and hit “Save and Continue”. Fall back to your email inbox and click the verification link to continue to the next step.

3. Now you will be asked to connect your Delicious accounts with Packarti.us. There are two types of Delicious accounts – the independent Delicious account and the older Delicious, which works with a valid Yahoo ID.

Make sure you choose the correct type of Delicious account or else the service won’t be able to bookmark the tweets. As for me, I have a yahoo linked Delicioius account, hence I chose the first option.

4. On the next page, hit the “Authorize” button.

5. All done, now you will be redirected to the Packarti.us page where you can tweak certain options as shown underneath:

There are basically 5 options which you may configure:

  • Expand URLs: Selecting this checkbox will automatically expand all the shortened links embedded in your tweet and post it to your Delicious account.
  • Replace Bookmarks: Self explanatory, selecting this checkbox will automatically remove the duplicate bookmarks from your Delicious account.
  • Convert Hashtags: This setting takes care of whether you want to convert Twitter hash tags to Delicious tags or not.
  • Remove These Tags: If you use a lot of hash tagged tweets, you may define some of the hash tags to be ignored by the Packarti.us service.
  • Add A particular tag: You may define a particular tag in this text box to make sure each link that that is sent via Packarti is accessible through that particular bookmark tag.

All done, but don’t forget to hit that “Save” button once you are done with the settings.

Now you can continue using Twitter and Delicious as before. Any of your tweets which contain a link will be autosaved as a bookmark in your Delicious account.

For example: I posted this tweet on Easter Egg In Google CR-48 Netbook and it was immediately sent to my Delicious account.

Techie Buzz Verdict

Lifesaving !

Using Packrati.us, I can automatically bookmark and archive all the links which I tweet everyday. Later I can simply export the bookmarks from Delicious and import it in Google Bookmarks or to my preferred browser.

Techie Buzz rating: 5/5 (Perfect).