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Blog archives for January 2008

Meet me at South By Southwest!

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Just a note that I've officially (and finally) confirmed my registration for this year's South By Southwest Interactive conference March 7-11 in Austin, Texas. This will be my third year straight at SXSW and I'm again very much looking forward to it. Two years ago I added Bonjour functionality to Pukka while I was at the conference and last year was my first conference after striking out on my own. I'm looking forward to meeting more great people, visiting with old friends, attending great panels, and having some tasty, tasty barbeque.

See you in Austin -- and don't be afraid to say hi!

Twitter in review

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One service that I've absolutely come to love in the past year is Twitter. I was a bit skeptical of it at first when I was introduced to it at South By Southwest in March. I met Alex, formerly of DC and now one of Twitter's engineers, and chatted about it a bit, plus lots of my friends were using it, but it just didn't seem like it was worth any time that I would put in. I mean, I get blogs and other expressions of day-to-day happenings that get put online, but I really didn't think anyone would care that I was "heading out to get a coffee" or "having trouble getting this thing to work" while working throughout the day.

However, later in the year, Twitter gradually became an indispensable part of my workday. I now use it as a sounding board with my colleagues, many of whom also work at home, and it's as near as I can come to having them as officemates. While things like chatrooms and IRC have existed, I found that I would have to go into a sort of conversation "mode" in order to use them, making them my primary task, so I didn't bother since this was very distracting. Whereas with Twitter (and the wonderful Twitterrific combined with Growl) on the desktop, I see snippets of conversation go by and I can either tune them out for a period while concentrating or take a moment to catch up and maybe reply. I've found innumerable answers to questions, met new people, discovered interesting places to go, and I've been able to help others in the same ways over the past months. I very much agree with the Iconfactory's Gedeon:

Twitter has allowed me to stay in touch with dear friends from college that have long since moved away. Twitter gives me a sounding board to bounce ideas off peers, is a reliable source for general knowledge, and lets me stay on top of the latest breaking news from around the world. But perhaps more than anything, it allows me to connect with like-minded individuals.

Naturally when I saw this Twitter stats script, I was intrigued to see what my numbers looked like. Call it internet naval-gazing, but I find it interesting to see who I had conversations with and how useful Twitter was to me over time.

See below for the stats and a couple comments on them.

My top Twitter conversation partners

My top Twitter conversation partners
Mostly other Mac developers (click for larger screenshot)

My top Twitter conversation partners

My top Twitter reply recipients
Again, mostly other Mac developers (click for larger screenshot)

My Twitter usage by weekday

My Twitter usage by weekday
Not much unexplained data here (click for larger screenshot)

My hourly Twitter usage

My hourly Twitter usage
Looks like I start on Twitter after catching up in the morning, plus occasionally have some late nights (click for larger screenshot)

My Twitter monthly usage

My Twitter monthly usage
You can see how my Twitter use really took off around this year's C4 conference, slowed while I travelled three weeks of September for work & vacation, and then continued to grow through the end of the year (click for larger screenshot)

If you'd like to find out more about Twitter, you can start with their FAQ or follow their blog.

Thanks, Twitter! Here's to more great conversations in 2008.

Meerkat use case: iTunes at home, music anywhere

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I thought I'd take a moment to outline a sample use case for Meerkat, one that goes outside the normal scenarios that most people think of when (or if) they think of SSH tunneling. Since Meerkat supports app triggers and Bonjour, it goes above and beyond plain old SSH and can really be used in some innovative ways.

Suppose that you have a large iTunes music collection on your home Mac that you either don't want or can't fit on your work Mac or your laptop because of its size. If you enable iTunes sharing on this home Mac, as well as SSH (under System Preferences -> Sharing -> Remote Login), you can use Meerkat to connect to this music collection from any other Mac running Meerkat and iTunes.

Just setup a tunnel in Meerkat using an account with the IP address, username, and password of your home Mac.

Meerkat-based iTunes sharing thumbnail

Meerkat-based iTunes sharing (click for larger screenshot)

You would pick port 3689, since this is what iTunes uses for music sharing, and an arbitrary port on the local Mac (doesn't matter what). It only takes a few seconds to setup a tunnel like this.

Because of the app trigger, whenever you start iTunes on the Mac running Meerkat, Meerkat will automatically connect to your home Mac securely and, because of Bonjour, your home iTunes collection will show up right in iTunes' source list, just like a Mac on the local network. You just select the collection and stream the music, just like if your home Mac was with you at work or next to your laptop at the coffee shop. It couldn't be easier!

Plus, Meerkat responds automatically to sleep and wake of your Mac as well as network change events such as outages or a change of location. Just set it and forget it!

After Meerkat is released, I hope to maintain a list of scenarios like these. If you have any further ideas, feel free to post them below, and if you're interested in being considered for the upcoming private beta, just leave a comment!