My Top 5 Most Impactful Tweeters

My Twitter Top 5Twitter has certainly evolved into my most loved social media platform. I love it because it’s ubiquitous, relevant, and it doesn’t have to be time consuming. I can easily sample all 5 courses of the content marketing meal (including binging, my personal favourite) regardless of whether I have 2 minutes to spare before a meeting, or an hour to enjoy before heading to the office.

This flexibility is great, but what makes it the most valuable to me is the content tweeted and retweeted by the people I follow. So today I thought I would share my top 5 most impactful tweeters. So without further ado, and in alphabetical order:

Meet Sidneyeve Matrix @sidneyeve

Associate Professor, Media @ Queen’s University. Tracking social/mobile eMarketing & edTech trends

Sidneyeve has social media figured out, and routinely tweets engaging articles on a wide range of topics including two of my passions, technology and education.

Meet Tim O’Reilly @timoreilly

Founder and CEO, O’Reilly Media. Watching the alpha geeks, sharing their stories, helping the future unfold.

Tim is probably the most well connected person I follow. He posts polarizing opinions, retweets great articles, and does so in a way that is helpful and not overwhelming.

Meet Wes Robertson @roberwes

A #writer, #photographer, and #traveler with a #tech #management job in #MedEd @uoftmedicine.

A colleague in the field of technology in medical education, Wes uses Twitter to promote positive, inspiring, and constructive stories.

Meet Joel Spolsky @spolsky

Co-founder of Fog Creek Software and Stack Overflow

I can compare Joel to Obi-Wan Kenobi (in a wise not old sense). Joel has been in the technology and software industry a long time, and his pieces are regularly eye-opening.

Meet Julie Zhuo @joulee

Product design director @ Facebook. Lover of food, games, and words.

I am a relatively new Julie follower, but her piece on A Manager’s Manifesto turned me into an immediate fan.

Awe Snap, A Bonus Track

Meet Lifehacker @lifehacker

Don’t live to geek; geek to live.

I have to mention Lifehacker because I get so much value out of the topics these guys post, everything from how to save space in your cupboard drawers, to how to hack your own brain. A+ folks.

BlackBerry Z10 Review – A Week In

A Bit Of Background

I have never been a fan of the BlackBerry smartphone. In fact back in 2009 I used to laugh at BlackBerry OS while proudly sporting my slick new Android Dev Phone 1; however, when it came time to replace that Dev 1 in 2011 my laughter had morphed into concern. RIM appeared to be caught in quicksand, slowly sinking into a pit of irrelevancy, and being a patriotic Canadian I was honestly sad to see this happening to another important Canadian tech giant. So I did the only thing I could do, I bought one, the Bold 9900 the day it was released. It had their shiny new BlackBerry 7 OS on it, which had to be better than the clunkers I’d played with in the past right? Erm, not much. While the hardware itself was a thing of beauty, that clunky old OS was still underwhelming especially coming from Android.

I certainly saw a shining glimmer of hope for RIM though. Back in 2010 RIM had bought an impressive tech company from Ottawa called QNX, who created a rock solid OS for embedded systems. If RIM was going to reinvent their OS then this acquisition would certainly give them the foundation they would need to do it. Oddly enough this is almost exactly what Apple did 10 years earlier with Mac OS 10.0. They expired their rotten OS 9, and started over by using a rock solid foundation (FreeBSD) and put a slick and very functional UI on top of it. Apple is now the darling of the tech sector, so I am hoping that RIM can follow suit with QNX at its core.

The Future Is [Finally] Ready

Blackberry-Z10There have certainly been some bumps along the way (ahem PlayBook OS 1.0, and two crushing BlackBerry 10 delays to name a few), but last week BlackBerry showed the world that they certainly can deliver the goods. I bought two Z10’s on February 5th and here is my opinion.

Starting with the hardware specs, solid grades for sure. It is simply beautiful to look at, and a perfect weight to hold. The 4.2″ 1280 x 768 resolution screen @ 356 PPI is bright, deep, and crisp. If Apple uses the word “retina” to describe the iPhone’s 326 PPI screen, what should BlackBerry use to describe the Z10’s 356 PPI screen… “vitreous humor”? The dual core 1.5Ghz processor and 2GB of RAM make the Z10 seriously responsive to the touch, super fast to load applications, and perfect to run multiple apps at a time.

Another hardware “feature” I really like is that I can take the back cover off and replace the battery, even have a second battery, and even add my own external microSD storage to extend the 16GB of internal storage provided (yes, that is a well deserved dig at the iPhone).

I have read other Z10 reviews that indicate a slight “styling problem”, I simply disagree. It’s properly done. Everything looks intentional, and well positioned. I am a graphic designer, I know these things.

On to the new BlackBerry 10 OS, the piece I have really been waiting for with cool beans QNX under the hood. BlackBerry 10 OS is simply top notch. It feels solid, stable, and responsive just like it should be. Almost everything has impressed me… from waking the phone up (and pulling down the shades at night), to the well thought out gestures, to BlackBerry Hub, and their default application catalog that I somehow immediately depended on (i.e. Remember app with Evernote integration). It also has some really well done social integration (Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn), of course e-mail, and some impressive voice controls.

I remember how confused I used to get when BlackBerry users would go on about how awesome BBM is… it’s text messaging right? Well it is awesome! So much more than text messaging. You can communicate with any other BlackBerry user (or groups of users) for “free” via text, voice, or even video chat now.

Finally, BlackBerry World has thousands of apps to play with (lots of really good and really bad ones) so you won’t be bored, I am not at all put off by the selection of apps. Sure it will be nice when Whatsapp and Skype are available, but the trade off is that there are some good games like Run In Crowd and Angry Birds Star Wars that are available for free.

One thing I do need to rant about is the lack of BlackBerry Travel for BlackBerry 10. Where is it? I’m freaking out. I am travelling in the next month or so, and I don’t think I remember how to do that without BlackBerry Travel. I sadly depend on it to tell me where I’m going, how I’m getting there, and where I’m staying. I have read that it’s coming soon, so I’ll just hold tight.

Another issue worth mentioning in this review is battery life. Real world I get 2 days (from 6AM day one, until about 10PM day two) of battery life under light usage, and 1 day (from 6AM to 10PM) under moderate usage. While this certainly compares to other “superphones” out there, this is still inadequate and needs to be generally addressed at the industry level. Put some Rossi LENR in these things or something.

Spell It Out For Me – Conclusion

I think it’s pretty obvious, but if not… go buy one. You won’t be disappointed. BlackBerry has done an amazing job on this device (my wife even agrees), and I feel like they deserve a nod for finally kicking this thing out the door ready for the world.

Content Disclaimer: I have absolutely no vested interest in BlackBerry (other than maybe as a small part of some mutual funds somewhere), and was not paid or contracted to write this piece.

Cleaning Up Is Hard To Do

Linux TuxI have been administering Linux servers for a while now so coming across a new problem is both exciting and stressful, especially when that problem is on a high demand production server. I recently came across one of these scenarios, and was surprised how difficult it was to solve.

I had a single directory on a server that contained millions and millions of tiny 32Kb text files (which were actually non-sharded PHP session files that didn’t get caught in garbage collection, and went unnoticed for months on a busy server). The interim fix to that problem was easy:

mv /var/php/sessions /var/php/sessions.evil && mkdir /var/php/sessions

The real problem was that I was left with this sessions.evil directory that I couldn’t delete, ignore in snapshot backups, or even list of the contents of because there were just too many files and going anywhere near it would use too much disk I/O and cause the load on the server to spike.

After using / writing various Bash, Python, PHP, etc, scripts that caused too much load on the server I happened across this genius solution by Zhenyu Lee (and a comment by Paul Reiber)… to use rsync instead of rm, find, xargs, etc:

On a CentOS box and using my example directory of /var/php/sessions.evil, which was owned by root:apache do this:

cd /var/php
mkdir empty_dir
chown root:apache empty_dir
rsync -vvvv -a –delete empty_dir/ sessions.evil/

Depending on how many files are in your sessions.evil directory this could take a while (2 days in my case), but the 5 minute load average on the server stayed between a manageable 2.0 and 3.0. My twist to Zhenyu’s solution was to add some verbosity (-vvvv) in there so I could tell that rsync was actually doing something.

Paul’s next comments are important though, so once rsync is eventually done mirroring your sessions.evil directory with your empty_dir pay attention:

rmdir sessions.evil
mkdir sessions.evil
rmdir sessions.evil empty_dir

The first rmdir sessions.evil will cause a bit of a load average spike for a few minutes, but once it’s gone… whew.

Well there you go, happy rsyncing, and a huge thanks to Zhenyu Lee for posting that unique and brilliant solution.

Cisco WRVS4400N Is Upsetting

A little over a year ago I decided it was time to replace my aging Linksys WRT54G wireless router in my home office with something new and fancy. I happened to be visiting a local computer shop one Saturday afternoon and came across the Cisco WRVS4400N Wireless-N Gigabit Security Router – VPN v2.0, which on the box sounded amazing. It was a little on the expensive side comparatively, but hey… it was Cisco, and I could setup VPN profiles on the device and easily connect remotely to my local network… so the extra money would be worth it.

Boy was I wrong. This device has never functioned even close to my expectations, despite running firmware version My biggest complaint is that I am finding the wireless connectivity terribly unreliable with frequent disconnects. My second largest issue is that the supported QuickVPN client is a sad sad Windows hunker, and the only way I can get the VPN connection working reliably on my Mac laptop is use to VPNTracker, which is beautiful but significantly more money that I am willing to pay for something that should work using Mac OS X’s built in L2TP over IPSEC or Cisco IPSEC connection. AFAIK the only other option for Mac users is to use IPSecuritas, but unfortunately it wasn’t working with Mac OS 10.7 at the time.

In summary (as I sit here connected to my Airport Express) I am far from impressed with the WRVS4400N, and this reaffirms that I should only purchase equipment after reading reviews not the other way around (as you may be now).

Good luck, and move on to something else. If you find something else awesome and worth it, please feel free to post it.

Find All WordPress Installations

I was trying to figure out how many WordPress installations lived on one of my hosting servers recently, and I also wanted to see how good the site owners are at keeping them up-to-date, which means I also wanted to find out the WordPress version number of each installation.

I couldn’t find any quick way of doing this so I turned the linux find command and grep to give me a hand. Here is the command (which must be run as a privileged user):

find /var/www/vhosts -type d -name "wp-includes" -print -exec grep "wp_version" {}/version.php \;

Just replace /var/www/vhosts with the root directory of where all of your domains are stored. Hope this helps someone. Cheers.

Updated: I switched the above command to use “-type d” vs “-d” as per James’ comment below. Thanks James.

Where The Heck Is Java Web Start?

So you have a from-the-browser Java application that requires Java Web Start to load on your beautiful Mac, and that Java application is named something crazy like:

What do you do? It doesn’t open automatically, and when you double click the filename it just asks you what application you want to use to open the file.

Well I will tell you what you do!

  1. On the “Launch Application” dialog that opens when you double click the filename, click “Choose…” beside “Choose an Application”.
  2. Navigate to Macintosh HD > System > Library > CoreServices.
    /System/Library/CoreServices/Java Web
  3. Choose “Java Web Start” and click Open.

There you go. A post like this would have saved me 15 minutes anyways, hope it helps someone else.

Sony Blu-Ray Players Don’t Play NetFlix in Canada

The bad newsI was somewhat frustrated this evening to find out that despite NetFlix being available in Canada now, Sony devices such my new Sony BDP-S370 blu-ray player will still not allow me to connect to NetFlix. So if you were holding out to find that perfect device to connect to the newly available NetFlix Canada service with, Sony devices are definitely not an option for you at this point. I’ve attached a Sony eSupport chat transcript for you to wallow over. Boooo, back to the store you go blu-ray.

Bitnami Redmine Stack

I ran across Bitnami today, and they have some really great software stacks with flexible install options (i.e. Native / VM / Cloud), including PowerPC support so I can put some of these older G5 Powermac’s into use again.

I downloaded the VM of their Bitnami Redmine Stack and it was so quick to get up and running, but here’s a tip to save others some frustration perhaps:

Despite the README.txt stating the default Redmine username and password is the username and password you entered during setup, it is actually (as of 0.9.4) Username: user | Password: bitnami

Because Everyone Has To Rant Once In A While

As a web developer in a graphic designers body I spend a lot of time making what I consider to be very usable and “pretty” interfaces, so I truly resent when Neophyte Bob arbitrarily and publicly posts something like “this interface is too techie” when what he actually mean is “this interface is not completely idiot proof”.

Come on Neophyte Bob it’s a blinkin’ select box, and by the way… stop using IE6.

Recent Spam Influx

If your inbox is at all like mine, you have all-of-a-sudden started to receive a heck of a lot more spam than you are used to in the past month or so. Have no fear, you are not alone. The Internet has recently experienced a large influx of spam e-mail thanks to Russian hackers who control a network of hacked PC’s some 70,000 computers strong.

I don’t normally post these messages; however, this affects so many people I want to make sure you are all aware of it. Please read the following article by eWeek for more information:,1895,2060235,00.asp

A final note: Windows users… does your computer have the “SpamThru” trojan?