Spammy Twitter followers galore!

This is not a recent occurrence but Twitter is turning into quite a nice platform for getting unsuspecting users to learn about you and/or your company with very little effort.

Three easy steps to making me angry and confused for spending time to learn about your spammy self.

  1. Get a Twitter profile
  2. Post enough times throughout the day to make it look like you are somewhat legit (whether or not you are legit doesn’t matter)
  3. Start maneuvering the public social graph on Twitter adding anyone and everyone you find that looks like they aren’t a friend hoarder like yourself and will give you the light of day to visit your profile, read a few tweets, and click on your link
  4. … profit?

It seems a little bit petty to be complaining about this but I’m honestly unsure as to how to combat these people who follow me on Twitter and are obviously only doing so as an advertising mechanism. Some are legitimate, reasonable people with interesting lives and are only out there to find other interesting people to follow. Most, though, have a following-to-follower ratio of over 100-to-1 – obviously they are not showing much discression.

Twitter gives me a few options for these people: block or do nothing. Should I block them or just ignore it? I don’t actually care if they follow me, but it sure inflates my own following-to-follower ratio. I don’t want to come off as an ass and block someone legitimately interested in following me (though I don’t know why that would be the case, either).

Petty, I know. Yay social media marketing. :/

Referrer links and anonymity in private web spaces

Several times now I have revisited my current setup for personal information management and whether or not I am comfortable storing private personal hyperlinks on the web. My concern with using online services is that when I store hyperlinks on wikis, messages, emails, etc. and click, the other site will see me in their referrer logs.

This isn’t an issue for most webmail services like Gmail because it is normal for these services to obfuscate urls beyond recognition making it impossible to identify any referrers. You see urls full of hashes and hard to recognize identifiers that are meaningless to anything but the application itself. I doubt keeping urls unidentifiable like that was a primary concern in the design of webmail systems but it does provide this obvious advantage.

The concern I have is with services like Backpack, Basecamp, or any hosted blog or wiki where you have a unique and easily identifiable url associated with your data. On hosted sites like the aforementioned Backpack and Basecamp, your account is identified by a chosen subdomain which is very likely easily identifiable to you personally or to your company/organization. For example, Startup Weekend uses the domain “startupweekend.grouphub.com” — obviously identifiable. On a personal domain like say for example “zachhale.com” if I were to set up a private wiki at “wiki.zachhale.com” and do everything necessary to protect it with a robots.txt and require http authentication, if I put create a link and click on it referring to another site they will see where I came from. Even if your domain name isn’t identifiable by name to you, there is still whois information that can be dug up and tracked back to you.

I’d rather not let people know what I’m doing in those private spaces. Maybe I have a list of blogs I admire and visit frequently or maybe it’s a corporate information system with links to competitors sites. In many cases I would rather not send information to those people identifying my visits with me or my company.

There are a few solutions that I can easily see:

  • obfuscate your urls and use a domain that can’t be tracked back to you, or
  • use some sort of proxy that will spoof or remove any referrer information from your requests.

Obfuscating completely is difficult to do and often nearly impossible to do, so the only other reasonable solution now is to set up some proxy. In researching it looks like there are a number of client browser extensions/plugins for spoofing referrers, but any client side hack is tedious to enforce, especially across a large organization or with multiple platforms in the mix. The other option is to manually redirect traffic through another domain, preferably not owned by you. I found one service called referhide.com that provides this solution. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be too hard to set up a redirection script either with javascript or through passing parameters through the url. Either way, though, you now have to either manually or programatically change all your links to go through that intermediary service — sounds like a pain.

What I’d like to see is something similar to robots.txt but for referrer links. It would be impossible to enforce by strictly trusting web servers to do the ignoring since people could choose to ignore such a file without question. The only real solution I could see is standardizing this into web browsers so you could trust that anybody using a compatible web browser would know that their referrer traffic is being properly dealt with and anonymity is preserved.

Any ideas? Am I missing something major here?

Post-Graduation Plans

My degree audit officially shows all green “OK”s and the message “All requirements have been satisfied” appears at the top. Woohoo! It’s been a long journey and I’m finally done.

And it feels weird.

Part of it is because I have not sought any form of employment other than working full time on my startup, but I think most of what’s weird is that I feel like I can do anything now. I’ve felt like that for the last few years, but now it’s unconstrained by long-term academic requirements. Nothing is holding me back from pursuing whatever ambitions I want to and that feels very, very good.

I still don’t have income as of now, though. I’ve had extensive conversations recently about this and about my lifeline being provided by my parents while I figure out how to get some income rolling in through my company and projects, and the pressure is really hitting hard. I’m a bit conflicted about how I will ground myself fully at this point. Do I diversify and hope something catches? Do I focus completely on the one most important future revenue generator? Do I stop for a short while, grab some projects for some income, then come back to everything? There’s no right answer to this so I’m sort of testing the waters if you will over the next couple of weeks.

What I’m working on now

We have been working on Mavenry for the longest time now and I have learned a ton about starting a business and how important it is to start with solid, accurate assumptions and to build from the needs of the customers. It’s been a tedious journey but I couldn’t imagine not having gone through everything we’ve gone through so far. I’ve even picked up the know how to build sales projections, financial models, business plans, neural brand identity maps, you name it. Anyways, this humongous learning process has swayed our direction back and forth and back and forth but we’ve been chugging on an incredibly solid direction for the last few months that should prove our efforts worthwhile in due time. I’m excited and passionate about the direction we’re heading — it’s all about staying focused and taking one step at a time.

Towards the end of the quarter I threw up a simple (and full of bugs that need fixing) application Glitchee for sharing mp3s with each other in sort of a “running mixtape” idea. Now there are a few solid competitors that have literally launched within the last week and attack sort of similar issues with different approaches, but I’m still sure that what I envision is not solved by either of the new guys out there so I’ll keep on chugging as a side project. I don’t expect this project in how it’s designed to be any sort of income bringer but who knows, maybe it’ll fill out to be something worthwhile that people would jump on and use.

And other than that, I’m building a website with mini CMS for my mom’s real estate presence as well as working on a store/gallery and mini order fulfillment system for my dad’s photography business.

Going through phases

It constantly astounds me how much my perspective on life, learning, relationships, projects, etc. changes so drastically and often these days. I’m at a point where my patience is extremely low for wasting time that could be spent producing something. While during school when I had a lot of forced projects and tasks to complete it seemed more reasonable to spend a great deal of time reading, learning, and running over and over plans for this and that, I’m at a point where all of that just seems like such a waste of time. I realize I only feel that way having already experienced that phase, but it’s weird to switch to an entirely different set of ambitions for what I spend my time on. I want to make things. I want to produce actual applications and products that can get out there. I’m tired of reading for hours on end about things that don’t produce results. I have a need for making things happen.

Git!

Now that I got all of that out of my system, I’m beginning to drink the cool aid and am moving my projects over to using Git and specifically the new cool kid on the block github.

Rainydawg Radio, Season 3, Show 10 – LAST SHOW

This was my last show on Rainydawg. I pushed the limits a bit so I apologize if the beginning or end was cut off awkwardly. I will miss the station. Keep watching this space to find out what’s next.

Name Artist Album
1 Tepid Bile Tipper Tip Hop
2 Lullabye/A Place In My Heart (Acapella) Morgan Geist/Erlend Oye DJ-Kicks: Erlend Oye
3 Romantic Walter Meego Romantic
4 Resurrection d’Une Idole Po Rinocerose Music Kills Me
5 Hyped-Up Plus Tax Dabrye One/Three
6 Still Going Theme Still Going
7 Over & Over Hot Chip The Warning
8 Ribbons Four Tet Ringer
9 Wish Ellen Allien Berlinette
10 About Fun Psapp Tiger, My Friend
11 The Outer Banks The Album Leaf In A Safe Place
12 Come Into My Kitchen Joakim Fantomes
13 One You Love Hail Social Modern Love and Death
14 Birds of a Feather Herbert Scales
15 Shine shine Boys Noize Oi Oi Oi
16 TTV Telefon Tel Aviv Farenheight Fair Enough
17 Send Me Shivers Mouse On Mars Radical Connector
18 1,2 Step (DJ Weekend’s Robot vs. Kids Remix) Ciara
19 Ants edIT Crying over Pros for No Reason
20 Beautiful Life Gui Boratto Chromophobia
21 La Ritournelle Sebastien Tellier Politics
22 Poney Part 1 Vitalic OK Cowboy
23 Kelly Van She Van She
24 A Feeling of the All-Thing Kelly Polar I Need Y ou To Hold On While The Sky Is Falling
25 Ce Matin-La Air Moon Safari

Rainydawg Radio, Season 3, Show 9

Name Artist Album
1 Gouge Away The Pixies
2 Wildcat (E*Vax Remix) Ratatat
3 Ghost Hardware Burial Untrue
4 Old School Scratchin” DJ QBert
5 24 Komori
6 Better Off Alone Alice Deejay Who Needs Guitars Anyway?
7 Remind Me Royksopp
8 Hit The Bit (Lorenz Rhode Remix) Ben Mono featuring Yo Majesty
9 Figured Me Out Jamie Lidell Jim
10 Fidelity (Morgan Page Unreleased Remix) Regina Spektor
11 Sow Into You Roisin Murphy Ruby Blue
12 grass grows greener pfadfinderei & modeselektor labland
13 Mandarine Girl Booka Shade Mandarine Girl EP
14 Truck Driver Piero Umiliani
15 He’s On The Phone Saint Etienne
16 Creator Santogold
17 Bandy Bandy Zap Mama
18 Letrablaze Sebastian & Oizo & Tellier
19 Beel Teenage Bad Girl
20 Quiet Please Sascha Funke
21 Feeling For You Cassius 1999
22 She’s a Bad Mama Jama Carl Carlton
23 Good Lies The Notwist

Glitchee

I scratched an itch a few nights ago and wrote a simple webapp for sharing mp3s with your friends.

Glitchee is a private social music file sharing application for people who like to discover new and interesting music that their friends are listening to.

I present you, fresh off the line: Glitchee (glitchee.com)

Home Stretch

10 days from now I will be completed with the last quarter of classes remaining in my undergraduate degree. It’s hard to really comprehend right now, but overall I’m stoked.

Today marked my last class slide presentation (my final capstone project presentation) which, while it was overly text heavy, went relatively well. It was the last time I will have had had to present in front of class for school. Whoa.

The college experience has been absolutely monumental so far and I’m really going to miss it. It is easy to take for granted the welcoming attitudes that come with being in school. My program, professors, advisors, and peers provide such a wonderfully comfortable safety net. Sometimes it gets overly stressful and sometimes it seems like assignments and exams are out to destroy me, but once they pass it’s is obvious that they really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I’m not forced to compete. The reason I’m here is to learn.

That said, I’m stoked to be done. Mavenry is chugging away beautifully and I’m more than ready to dedicate myself to a life of entrepreneurship. I can’t wait to focus less on completely academic requirements to learning about what I want to learn about when I want to learn about it. I can’t wait to be completely responsible for my financial well being. I can’t wait to have complete control over my schedule and what I choose to spend my time with. I can’t wait to spend a week straight on my own projects without having to procrastinate on achieving relatively inflexible academic requirements.

I still have a business plan to co-write, a culminating capstone report to write, a large capstone poster to finalize, and two rather difficult exams to prepare for for my human sexuality class. It’ll be a busy week and I’m ready. Here I go.

Rainydawg Radio, Season 3, Show 8

Name Artist Album
1 On My Bus Plone For Beginner Piano
2 California Rolls Tipper Surrounded
3 500 Fingernails Why? Sanddollars
4 Sweetsmoke Mr. Scruff Trouser Jazz
5 Madre, Mother & Mere Lucien-N-Luciano Blind Behavior
6 DVNO Justice
7 Supernature Bob Sinclair
8 2 after 909 Justus Kohncke
9 Use Me WUZ WUZ
10 On My Own Ulrich Schnauss A Strangely Isolated Place
11 Human Condition Tycho The Science of Patterns
12 Lohn & Brot Efdemin Efdemin
13 Autrefois Pink Martini Hang on Little Tomato
14 Summer Sun (feat. Yukimi Nagano) Koop Waltz for Koop
15 We’re In Love Herbert Scales
16 Limelight Apparat Walls
17 Lost Signal Kasper Bjorke In Gumbo
18 If I Ever Feel Better Phoenix United
19 Brokenhearted Lexicon Youth is Yours
20 Girl Thing ft. Safi A1 Bassline
21 Tipologia Gui Boratto
22 Mound (Fully Conscious Mix) KONE
23 Run Into Flowers M83 Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts

[audio:radio-archives/2008-03-04-5pm.mp3] 2008-03-04 5pm

[audio:radio-archives/2008-03-04-6pm.mp3] 2008-03-04 6pm

Rainydawg Radio, Season 3, Show 7

Name Artist Album
1 Reeds, Tines, Memphis Seed Deceptikon
2 Sweet William Tunng
3 Pulso (1000 Mares) Bajofondo Tango Club
Break
4 Don & Sherri (Hot Chip Remix) Matthew Dear
5 Desks Pencils Bottles Prefuse 73
6 Numbers (DJ-Kicks) Booka Shade DJ-Kicks: Booka Shade
Break
7 Video Tapez (Amplive Mix ft. Del Tha Funky Homosapien) Radiohead
8 Actionist Respoke Mouse on Mars
9 Wassup ft. ryerye Diplo
10 Breathe Telepopmusik
Break
11 Only You Yazoo
12 Heaven (NARCTRAX Remix) Health
13 Cherry Cola Funk Hail Social
14 Poster of a Girl (MSTRKRFT Remix) Metric MSTRKRFT++
Break
15 Sexy Back Feat. Timbaland Justin Timberlake
16 Radio Fireworks Surkin
17 Incident Joris Voorn
18 Dollmaker Venetian Snares
Break
19 Make Up Your Mind Swayzak
20 The Blend The Herbalizer
21 Morse Nightmares on Wax
Break
22 Elevator Jaffa
23 Green Grass of Tunnel Mum
Break
24 Otto’s Journey Mylo

Pardon me starting about 5 minutes late this time. Capstone poster prep got the better of me that afternoon.

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