Twitter over RSS

What happened was that in a fit of optimism (quite out of character) i deleted my Twitter account and moved to Mastodon. That ended well – all alone on Mastodon. People i still care about post on Twitter, but i can’t bring myself to sign up again. Too stubborn for that…

Meanwhile, NetNewsWire is back, and i’m using RSS as a way to keep up with a few things. Wouldn’t it be great if there were RSS feeds for Twitter?! Yes, but they stopped supporting that years ago.

There is, however,, a project that scrapes Twitter, and returns RSS. Which is great except for a couple of things, 1) Twitter also loves to change their markup, 2) Twitter loves to rate-limit.

While there isn’t much that to be done about the first issue except update the code, the second issue has pushed me to running the service… wait for it… in Docker container… yep, you guessed it… on my laptop. Oh my.

This isn’t very difficult:

  • install the Docker Desktop package (obviously without creating an account, etc)
  • clone the repo from github
  • follow the instructions in the (noting that –port can be replaced with -p)
  • re-add all your feeds in NetNewsWire using the instance of TwitRSS running locally (http://localhost:3000 unless you changed the port)

Time will tell how stable this, but as of now it keeps me in touch with peeps, while keeping Twitter at arms length.

Group Chats

This caught my eye:

In some ways, group chat feels like a return to the halcyon era of AOL Instant Messenger, once the most widespread method of messing around with your friends on the internet.

Group Chats are Making the Internet Fun Again

It’s probably not a good look to admit that you’ve been experimenting on your friends, but for the last couple of years i’ve been badgering people into using Signal, and creating group chats for circles of friends / acquaintances. Periodically i’ll create a temporary group to help plan a specific event or to aide collaboration on a task.

In the time that i’ve been doing this nobody in my circle has ever invited me to join a group they have created. It’s possible that they all hate me, or at the very least resent me setting the venue. More likely (i hope) it is still simpler to do everything publicly on a platform like Twitter / Facebook / Instagram.

I found that there were things that it would be better to communicate to a specific subset of my “followers” (such a creepy term!) on Twitter, but most seem quite comfortable with the broadcast model. Now i’m a little more isolated online, but less overwhelmed by interruptions.

Oh, and sorry about the experiments. Friends don’t experiment on friends… or do they?

Open! Open! Open! (A Vein)

We’re all open these days…

It all started with one of my friends retweeting this:

@Arubin Andy Rubin
the definition of open: “mkdir android ; cd android ; repo init -u git:// ; repo sync ; make”

which, to me, seemed like a really stupid definition of open. I hadn’t noticed who had originally made the comment, it just registered as a particularly vacuous thing to say. My initial reaction was that being able to retrieve and build the source didn’t make it inherently open. There are a bunch of issues pertaining to what changes you can make, what you can do with those changes, how the original code, plus your changes, can be distributed, that are far more important than simply being able to access and build the code. (The Java (JDK) code was almost always available and could be built, but you didn’t catch many people calling that open…)

After some back and forth, it was pointed out to me that the Twit was from Andy Rubin (head honcho of Android @ Google) and was in response to some comments made by (a high pitched) Steve Jobs during an Apple earnings call. No doubt the twat is geeks marketing to geeks. Nothing unusual to that – it’s the Google way… except that its an incredibly vapid response.

The remarks that Jobs made are, as you might expect, a little odd. You can listen to them here. Apart from anything else his definition of open as ‘being like Windows’ (presumably because any hardware manf. is open to create the hardware on which it runs…) is unlikely to garner him much support. That being said, his basic point is correct: Android is already massively fragmented as a platform, and it’s only going to get worse.

Now, of course, there is fragmentation in the iOS world, but it’s already orders of magnitude less of an issue than Android because there are simply less devices, versions, and less device / carrier combinations. The carrier and handset manf. will continue to play a game with Google where they seek to differentiate themselves from their competition by offering features / options. They’ll strike agreements with content providers to target their carrier / handset specific features. Over time the market will revert to the usual high churn mess that benefits everyone but the user.

What i find truly odd about this situation is that it’s exactly what happened to J2ME… although J2ME lacked the current geeky cachet of Android, it suffered from exactly the same fragmentation issues. It’s not so much that Android is repeating the same mistakes, but that many of the same people are repeating the same mistakes! Surely the people who were out there preaching the horrors of fragmentations to anyone who would listen, haven’t signed up to do it all again?! Once more round the hamster wheel perhaps?

For what it’s worth, my feeling is that Android will come to dominate a majority of the marketplace (in much the same way was J2ME dominated a large section of the market for mobile applications). However, this will be a largely meaningless victory for everyone, except Google.

Why? Consumers will be as screwed as always, apps that only run on their current phone / carrier, low quality and gimmicky junk. Handset manfs. will have to continue churning out low margin handsets for carriers all trying to find the killer feature that will prove as sticky as a non-portable number…

Which leaves Google. High above the fray, selling arms to all sides, and raking in the ad revenue.

Don’t like to hear the word “vampire” around here, trying to improve our public image. Build up a kindly, avuncular, benevolent image. Interdependence is the key word. Enlightened interdependence. Life in all its rich variety, “take a little, leave a little…”

However, by the inexorable logistics of the vampiric process, they always take more than they need.

— W.S. Burroughs.