Over the past few weeks I have piping this site’s RSS feed over to my personal Twitter account. For years I have only ever posted links to my own site on Twitter when they were major posts which I especially thought were worthy of highlighting.

But the tipping point for me to set up automatic re-posting of links and articles to Twitter came for two reasons:

  1. I really appreciate it when cool dudes like Marco or Rands tweet links back to their own articles.

  2. More and more I have been finding interesting news and good reads via Twitter (some days, more so than what’s in my RSS reader). And even though much of the content I’m finding in Twitter is the same as what’s being delivered to my RSS reader, lately I’ve been interacting with Twitter much more than my RSS feeds.

But there were a couple drawbacks to having this site’s RSS feed systematically re-posted to my personal Twitter account.

  1. Some folks don’t care a dime about my nerdy posts, but have great concern about what I eat for lunch.

  2. Some folks are already subscribed to my RSS feed and would prefer to keep it there and nowhere else.

For those who do want to get this site’s posts in Twitter, it is not hard at all for you to follow another account. And the noise level is identical to what it would be if the posts were coming through my personal account.

So really, the only drawback I see is that I have to start over with a new account. But come on… what a pathetic and prideful excuse.

Follow shawnblanc.net on Twitter

Share This Post on Twitter

It is surprisingly simple to add a little bit of code to your website to allow for sharing of posts on Twitter.

In WordPress using the_title and the_guid functions you can build a dynamic “retweet” link for each post that works on your home page and on individual post pages.

The code I’m using here looks like this:

<a href="http://twitter.com/home?status=<?php the_title(); ?> - <?php the_guid(); ?> (via @shawnblanc)">Retweet.</a>

The advantage of using the_guid instead of the_permalink is that it’s the shortest URL your WordPress site automatically generates. And assuming you use clean, human-friendly, URLs set in your WordPress preferences, these post ID URLs will simply re-direct to your desired permalink.

For example, below are two different yet legit URLs for my review of Yojimbo. The first one is what’s generated using the_guid and the second is the actual permalink URL and is what’s generated using the_permalink.

The second link, which is the standard, permalink address to the Yojimbo article is more human friendly and makes for better search results. However, it also has 29 more characters than the first link listed. The second link is best for normal use, the first is best for Twitter.

What I like about this way of implementing a Twitter-sharing feature is that it uses plain and simple code, rather than a plugin. Plugins are great, but I like to keep their usage here to a minimum.

I have yet to see anyone really use these Twitter-sharing links yet. In the past few weeks of testing this, I’ve seen amongst my own little readership that people are much more inclined to re-tweet something already tweeted. Which leads me to my next point…

I have added the shawnblanc.net RSS feed to my Twitter using Alex King’s Twitter Tools plugin. Which means all new posts (articles and links) on shawnblanc.net are automatically tweeted. (Example.)

For months now I have been finding the most interesting news and best reads via Twitter (much more than via my RSS feeds). Even though much of the content I’m being told about in Twitter is the same content that’s being delivered to my RSS reader, I interact with Twitter much more than my RSS feeds.

And so I assume it’s more than likely that you’re doing the same. There will certainly some overlap for those of you who follow me on Twitter and get my RSS feed, and if that bugs you I am sorry. Nearly every RSS feed I am subscribe to I also follow the author on Twitter, And I have never once been bugged to see them plug their own content.

Share This Post on Twitter

Reader’s Setup: Johnny Wey

Johnny Wey is a software engineer from Denver, Colorado, working in the Java, web, and Mac/iPhone development spaces.

Johnny’s Setup

1. What does your desk look like?




2. What is your current Mac setup?

My current Mac setup consists of a 24″ 2.33GHz Core 2 iMac with a second Gateway 24″ display desktop and a 2.4GHz black MacBook. The iMac has 3GB of RAM and the MacBook has 4.

I store all of our iTunes media on a 1TB external Firewire 800 drive (seen on the right of the iMac). This and the rest of the iMac’s data are backed up to a 1.5TB Time Capsule (I replaced the 1TB drive with a 1.5TB when we started running out of disk space). My Macbook and my wife’s Macbook are backed up to a 500GB external drive attached to the Time Capsule (seen just behind the Gateway monitor).

On the iPod/iPhone front I have a black 16GB iPhone 3G and a first-gen iPod Nano / Nike+ kit that I use for running.

My keyboard is from the Logitech diNovo Cordless Desktop package and the mouse is a standard Apple wireless Mighty Mouse. I also have two HR824 Mackie speakers that I previously used for amateur music production in Pro Tools, but I kept them around because they make iTunes BUMP!

Located just to the right of the iMac in front of the iTunes drive is a Belkin FSU233 4-port USB hub that I chose initially because it matched the iMac but fell in love with when I started using the top USB slot for Skype headsets, media card readers, and just about every other sort of temporary USB connection (I tried to find a link to this, but Belkin’s site doesn’t seem to have it anymore).

Not shown is an Airport Extreme that I use for a dual-band radio (keep 802.11n and 802.11g on their own respective routers), an HP all-in-one, and two Apple TVs: one in the living room and one in the bedroom.

3. Why are you using this setup?

I use this setup for all sorts of different things, from software development to playing in Pro Tools. And the desktop/laptop combination fits me pretty well.

I initially thought I might be able to get away with dumping the iMac and just having a MacBook, but I like the breathing room the two, 24″ displays gives me and finding a good backup/sharing solution for all the media and other data we have that doesn’t involve a desktop computer was a challenge.

This setup gives me a good dose of both worlds and allows sharing everything on the iMac with our MacBooks, the Apple TVs around the house, and just about anything else we might want to stream data to.

I keep the iMac and MacBook in sync using MobileMe and a central Git repository on the iMac that I have exposed with SSH for keeping code for various projects in sync.

The only thing I’d change is perhaps a new iMac some time in the near future. The 2.33GHz is starting to show its age and having a 3GB memory limitation makes virtualization a bit of a chore.

4. What software do you use on a daily basis, and for what do you use it?

On a daily basis, I use Mail.app, iTunes, Safari, NetNewsWire, Adium, CoverSutra, Twitterrific, and iCal (these are open just about all the time).

On a (mostly) daily basis, I use IntelliJ for Java development, TextMate for Grails/Groovy development (and just about any other text related task), XCode for iPhone/Mac development, Photoshop CS4 for image/icon manipulations and some UI prototyping, Firefox for web debugging, Taskpaper as a simple GTD app, and iPhoto to, uh, look at photos.

I also make extensive use of the Terminal (so much so that I rarely use Finder) and use VMWare Fusion fairly often for IE testing and .NET development when necessary. Occasionally, I also use Skype.

I thought it might be interesting to list some of my favorite iPhone apps: I love the combination of iFitness and Lose It! for meeting my workout goals; Twitterrific; DVR Remote for TIVO control (works better than the TIVO remote, IMO); Guitar Toolkit as a tuner; Jaadu VNC and iSSH for remote desktop/terminal into my home desktop; Pandora; NetNewsWire mobile; the Facebook app; and BeatMaker for making the beatz. (I use a lot more apps, but these stand out to me the most.)

5. Do you own any other Mac gear?

My wife has a white MacBook and we have a couple Apple TVs around the house (as I mentioned above). She also has a 30GB iPod Classic (great for road trips!) and a white 16GB iPhone 3G. Finally, we also have a now-discontinued Apple Hi-Fi in our bedroom which we use daily. In the past, we’ve owned two iPod Minis and an iPod Touch.

6. Do you have any future upgrades planned?

As I mentioned above, the iMac is starting to show its age. I’d like to get a new iMac or maybe even a Mac Pro and buy a second 24″ display or sell the 24″ Gateway and get a single 30″ … not sure what’s best between dual 24″ and a single 30″ though. Other than that, I’ve been eying the iPhone 3GS… We’ll see.

More Sweet Setups

Johnny’s setup is just one in a series of sweet Mac Setups.

Reader’s Setup: Johnny Wey

Alex Cornell asked 25 creatives (including Nicolas Felton, Khoi Vinh, and Michael C. Place) what their strategies, tips, tricks, or musings were for overcoming creative block.

One of the best responses was by Chad Hagen:

Staying creative is hard work. Honestly, I don’t think when I got into art school I was very talented at all. I struggled to stand out. I struggled to stay in school. Staying creative was hard work. BUT, the one thing that kept me focused was my desire to be good. I wanted to be really good. I wanted to be as good as those people that WERE talented. I used to think I would eventually, if I worked hard enough, master art like a math equation and then I could relax and just make great stuff and let everything else follow. That time definitely never came, and I know now I never want it to, because the most important thing that keeps me creative is my wanting to be good. So if I’m ever in a rut, the best things to get me out of them is to put myself in places that engage that desire to be good. In a general sense this means to get out and be expose to others creating. In my opinion, there is no better way to trigger your own creativity, than to see what great things others have made or are making. Going to museums, galleries, shows, etc. always inspires my mind in a way that make me want to get back into my own work and make good things. Be good.

(Via Khoi.)

Overcoming Creative Block

The Self-Proclaimed Lame Mac Setup of Sean Sperte, but I Think It’s Pretty Sweet

Sean is a graphic designer and web developer at The City Church in Seattle, WA. He’s been making websites since the early 90s. He’s an Apple (and technology) enthusiast, and writes a website called Geek & Mild. He’s married to Casey and has a baby daughter named Lucy.

Sean’s Setup:

1. What does your desk look like?



2. What is your current Mac setup?

At work I use a 15-inch MacBook Pro (mid-2008), outfitted with 4GB of RAM and a matte screen. I use the Griffen iCurve and plug into a 23-inch Cinema Display. I also use the Mighty Mouse, and despite its reputation, really like its design.

At home and on the go I use my personal 13-inch MacBook Pro (unibody, SD card slot), also equipped with 4GB of RAM. I don’t have a desk at home (yet) so I usually setup wherever I can find a flat surface — which is sometimes just my lap.

I carry the Magic Mouse with me, and use it whenever the MacBook Pro’s trackpad isn’t enough.

For backup I have a Drobo with two drives in it, as well as an external (bus-powered) hard drive that I carry with me. I plug into the Drobo at least once a week, and run Time Machine. The external drive serves as my photo library vault, and duplicates my iPhoto library.

3. Why are you using this setup?

I used my work laptop as my primary computer until purchasing the 13-inch MacBook Pro last fall as my personal computer. The 15-inch is heavier and bigger, and I found that carrying it in my bag caused back pain and fatigue. When the need arose for me to have my own, personal computer, I opted for the smaller laptop over, say, an iMac, because I wanted to remain mobile. My job requires a level of flexibility in that regard.

I don’t yet have a desk to work from at home because I haven’t found the perfect one.

I keep both Macs in perfect synchronization with Dropbox. I’m even able to run local development environments on both computers with the same files using MAMP and VirtualHostX.

4. What software do you use on a daily basis, and for what do you use it?

  • Safari — my web browser of choice
  • Adobe Photoshop — graphics creation
  • FontExplorer X Pro — font management
  • Dropbox — file synchronization and backup
  • Things — task management
  • TextMate — development, text editing
  • Coda — quick development and file transfer
  • Mail — email
  • Tweetie — Twitter
  • iTunes — music, podcasts
  • MAMP — development environment

Honorable mentions (not daily uses, but still valuable in my workflow):

  • Droplr — quick file/link/photo sharing
  • Transmit — heavy-duty file transfer
  • VMWare Fusion — Windows emulation
  • Fission — audio editing
  • HandBrake — video conversion/transcoding

5. Do you own any other Mac gear?

My 32GB iPhone 3GS is always with me. I also have an older AirPort Extreme and carry an AirPort Express in my bag.

Also in my bag and worth mentioning:

6. Do you have any future upgrades planned?

A few extra drives to keep the Drobo fat and happy.

More Sweet Setups

Sean’s setup is just one in a series of sweet Mac Setups.

The Self-Proclaimed Lame Mac Setup of Sean Sperte, but I Think It’s Pretty Sweet

For class today your instructor, Mr. Fried, will be teaching on office culture, the pitfalls of well-funded startups, and why making something that is very simple yet highly effective is the best thing you can do for your company.

Your homework is to read this post from 2008 on how office culture is formed (or rather, how it isn’t).

(And for extra credit, check out the behind-the-scenes info on how this video interview was produced.)

Jason Fried’s Video Interview on Big Think