Twitter

I was intrigued by the facebook idea of a personal status and I was searching for a way to have my own status on my website that I could update from anywhere; a mobile phone, instant messenger and of course a computer. I came across Twitter during one of my revision breaks and realised that with its API and free remote access tools, including text messages, it was the perfect way for me to achieve what I wanted.

Within 5 minutes I was registered and within another 5 I had enabled updates via my mobile phone and instant messenger as well as writing a script that allowed me to update from the Linux terminal (hee hee). In my next revision break I spent a few minutes writing the code to integrate my Twitter status into my website and after a bit of tinkering with CURL and string splitting in php there it was in my side-bar under “My status”.

Whats so nice about all this is that my status is completely hidden on Twitter’s public site and yet my own site can tooth into their API and grab the status meaning I can update my site over my phone for free and only allow my site users to see it. I could also change my site to only allow logged in users to view it, I have complete control.

This is in sharp contrast to facebook’s way of doing a status update which, despite having an API, seems to always require a computer and a visit to their site to both view and update the status field. I want tools to enhance my own site and what it provides to my readers, not tools that use up more of my time because I have to update something in two locations. This means that, for now at least, my facebook status will remain disabled. If I figure out a way to use CURL to update my status inline with Twitter on facebook as well but without logging me out of facebook in my browser (this is what happens when I try it at the moment) then I will.

For now, enjoy my useful and most likely amusing status updates in my sidebar – no stalking please 😉

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Man at the Top

While revising this afternoon Man at the Top by Bruce Springsteen came on my player and the lyrics sounded worth posting, so here they are. They go much better with the music though.

Here comes a lawyer,here comes a cop.
Here comes a rich, here comes a car-hop.
Goin’ on forever, ain’t ever gonna stop.
Everybody wants to be the man at the top.
Everybody wants to be the man at the top.
Everybody wants to be the man at the top.
Well, name your gun, son, shoot your shot.
Everybody wants to be the man at the top.

Now rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief.
Doctor, lawyer, indian chief.
Don’t ever start to ask them why.
Everybody wants to be the man at the top.
Everybody wants to be the man at the top.
Everybody wants to be the man at the top.
Well, name your gun, son, shoot your shot.
Everybody wants to be the man at the top.
All right (All right). Oh yeah (Oh yeah)
All right now (All right). Oh yeah (Oh yeah)

Man at the top says it’s lonely up there.
If it is man, I don’t care. Build a big white house.
Build a parking lot. Everybody wants to be the man at the
top.

Here comes a banker, here comes a businessman.
Here comes a kid with a guitar in his hand.
Dreamin’ of his record in number one spot.
Everybody wants to be the man at the top.
Everybody wants to be the man at the top.
Everybody wants to be the man at the top.
Well, name your gun son, shoot your shot.
Everybody wants to be the man at the top.
Say right now (All right). Say yeah now (Oh yeah)
Say right…Who’s the man at the top?
Who’s the man at the top, now?

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Early Start

I love it when I get my days off to an early start. It sometimes seems to me that the sooner I get started the sooner I can feel like I have accomplished something in the day which actually makes me more productive for the hours remaining too. Its a win-win situation.

As such I was rather pleased to be on campus at 8am this morning and to have already covered 3 core areas of networking by 9am. Lets hope I can kick yet more revision into touch today for as the exams loom up on me I’m always very grateful for a day that is more productive than expected.

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Eeep no internet!

Keen eyes will have noticed that my home server, Lara, is currently experiencing downtime. The server is in fact alive and well under my desk its just the internet connection that is dead. This in fact means that pretty much all my connectivity with the outside world is broken when at home because all my communications are internet bound (my phones and fax machine run over VoIP and TCP/IP respectively).

I’d like to say I’ll have this resolved soon but unfortunately the problem is to do with billing and so I’m not sure how long this is going to take. Matt (one of my house mates) pays the invoices to Bulldog and the rest of the house pays him on a monthly basis by standing order. Up until now this has worked fine but something seems to have gone wrong somewhere and Bulldog have suspended our connection due to lack of payment (as I was informed by a rather poorly marked-up HTML page in my browser this morning when I went to load up my router config page to do a reboot). I will need to speak to Matt about this but as he was still sleep when I left for campus to work in the Library and get my morning e-mail fix things are going to have to wait a little longer.

HUGE apologies to those who are locked out of their file stores and developer accounts on my server due to this outage. I’m doing all I can to get this fixed and will keep you updated.

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Microsoft Future

It looks like I’m going to be writing a lot more code the Microsoft way from now on. My internship on an entirely Microsoft based project has been confirmed at the XLAB and so I’m going to have to start becoming familiar with BizTalk server and Visual studio for the development of ASP.NET and C#.

This is going to be a very interesting and exciting project for me to be a part of and one that is going to involve a steep learning curve with the development tools. I haven’t developed on a Microsoft machine for over 4 years, have never coded in ASP.NET or C# and haven’t even had a usable PC running Microsoft Windows in over 2 years. Its going to be a lot of hard work. Wish me luck!

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Calendar Success

Yesterday I released my calendar plugin for WordPress to the WordPress community at large on wordpress.org and it has got off to a flying start. I have close to 100 downloads already and it hasn’t even been online for 24 hours yet. I’m very pleased at the positive comments I have been getting through e-mail, please keep sending your reports (good or bad) to me.

I’m hoping to release a few more of my hand-rolled WordPress add-ons soon and obviously eventually these will make it into the WordPress plugin directory also. It will be interesting to see how the likes of Now Playing, Uptime, Server Status and Contacts Database do in the wordpress.org hall of fame.

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Cracking Final

A rare event occurred last night – I stayed up watching TV until gone 1am. Why I hear you ask, well the world championship snooker final was on and it was such a cracking match I just couldn’t stop watching. At the end of the first day John Higgins looked certain to triumph over Mark Selby with a score of 12-4 but Mark pulled it back on the second day with some of the most superb play I have ever seen, taking the match late into the night – the latest final finish on record in fact.

I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate John Higgins on his win, his world championship final victory for 9 years and to Mark Selby for a superb come-back, the likes of which I have never seen on the snooker table. Snooker is such an amazing game, especially when it gets close to the wire and I’m just sorry I wasn’t at the crucible to see it this year. Ah well, maybe next time.

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Computing Ball

Last night was the School of Computing end of year ball and it was a superb night enjoyed by all. Huge thanks to CompSoc for organising the event, it was very well run.

A group of us started off the evening in style by getting a limo to the venue and then we had champagne and wine on arrival with a live acoustic music set which was very enjoyable. Dinner was well planned and the food really rather tasty. Its always difficult to cater for such a large group and they did it brilliantly. Dinner discussion was, for the mostpart, kept away from computers and the school in general which was a relief for many I think although the odd comment about techie things did crop up largely due to me – whoops! I also got the chance to scare some physics students about the complexity of their second year of study which was rather amusing (the ball was a combined affair with the physics and nursing departments of the university).

The rest of the evening was centered around a rather cheesy disco, a well stocked bar and a casino. I hit the blackjack tables and did rather poorly so it was a good job we got free chips to start us off! After we had all blown our chips and the tables had closed for the evening we moved into the disco and danced around insanely to some brilliant 80s and 90s dance nostalgia. Priceless photo award of the evening goes to Matt who led a rather large conga around the hall for a good 5 minutes or so!

All in all it was a superb evening and well deserved break at the end of the year for all the hard work we have been craking on with of late. As ever I had my camera at the ready and you can see a whole load of photos from the night in my gallery

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Eye Opener

I got chatting to Michael who was in my working group for the SE24 software engineering project and he was telling me about what studying IT was like in Nigeria and I suddenly realised why so many people want to come and study computing in the UK. Essentially its all theoretical. Students don’t get the chance to work on computers or if they do, not to any extent that we, as students here in Leeds SoC, would be used to. The way we learn programming – in a lab with fast, internet connected machines is a world apart.

We simply don’t realise how progressed we are here in the UK. We can pull up details on our accounts online, send e-mails, get print outs whenever we want etc. There are some places in the world where they still use typewriters in the workplace and big companies only have one dot-matrix printer for the whole building.

So why am I blogging this I hear you cry? Well I’m mentioning this to try and point out to my fellow students and indeed any other students who read this blog how lucky you are to have the access to the education you do, and once in education the quality of education that you have. Not to mention the cost. It can cost close to £30,000 for an international student to come and stufy in the UK. We get that privillage for just over 1/10th of that amount. The bottom line is we are extremely privillaged to have what we do and we should make the most of it; work hard, ask questions, make use of resources and respect the sanctity of what is provided for us – a superb education that many in the world can only dream of.

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Duke Ellington Repertory Orchestra

On Thursday night I headed out to the Leeds College of Music with the Jazz and Blues society to see some fine traditional jazz from the Duke Ellington Repertory Orchestra. The orchestra played pieces composed and arranged by Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington himself and was a truely wonderful performance.

The first set started off with some of the older and more unusual pieces with the second half of the proceedings livening things up a lot with some superb solo performances.

This big band is well worth seeing and certainly made me remember back to the North Sea Jazz Festival when I saw the Dizzy Gillespie big band play there. Big band jazz is still as amazing as it ever was and still has a place in the world of today; for where would we be without the sound of four trumpets, three trombones and a superb sax soloist up front with piano accompaniment? Significantly less jazzy and nowhere near as happy would be my answer!

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