postheadericon ECS: #TwitterMadeEasy!


Twitter is one of the most popular websites in the world, and is also the de facto social networking tool for messages under 140 characters, with over 140 million users tweeting at a rate of 350 million per day. Twitter is used to send out a Facebook-like status message (tweet), and to follow tweets sent from your favorite celeb, friend, retailer or news outlet.

Initially started in 2006 as a way to SMS a text message to a small group of friends, Twitter quickly expanded to allow users to send links, pics and videos out to the entire Internet population, to the point where any major event in the world was being tweeted at alarming rates. Take for example the 2010 World Cup, where fans tweeted at a rate of 3,000 tweets per second within the minute following Japan's win over Cameroon. This new social behavior now repeats everyday for every major newsworthy event on the planet – as well as not-so newsworthy events as well...

Pears Analytics (a US market research firm) reports that 40% of tweets are "pointless babble" while another 38% are conversational in nature, with other smaller percentages of the traffic being self-promotional (6%), pass-along info (9%), spam (4%), and hard news (4%). The impact of such chatter in our daily lives now ranges from annoying & irritating to inspiring & rallying, as seen in the recent Arab Spring Rebellions where millions were tweeted into action. 

But what if you are not already one of the millions being followed on Twitter, or following another? Here is a quick guide to getting started, and some tips on following your favorite celebs, writers, or organizations:

#Step 1 – Get A Twitter Account (https://twitter.com)
Setting up a twitter account is as easy as setting up any other website account, where all you need is a verifiable email address, and perhaps a profile pic and Facebook account for connecting the two together (i.e. your tweets can also be posted to your FB wall or FB pages). 

Once you have an account, the fun really begins, and you can either download the Twitter app for your smartphone, or begin tweeting / following from your computer's browser window – you choose, as the interfaces are pretty much the same. But remember, each tweet that you send out can only be 14 characters long.

#Step 2 – Learn The Basics
There are just a few new terms to learn to become prolific on Twitter, and the first one is the hashtag (#). Hashtags were originally used to make searching in the flood of tweets easier, for example entering #ladygaga in search would show you other tweets marked with that same hastag. Your own twitterings can then be added to the pool of Lady GaGa tweets by adding that same hashtag to your own tweet, for example "I like #ladygaga" Think of hashtags as keywords or tags, although the use of hastags is evolving in the twittersphere.  For example, the hastag #FF stands for Follow Friday, where every Friday, you can use this tag to recommend to all others who to follow, for example, "#FF I'm recommending @wangle because he posts really good blogs about Nepal".

Then there is the @Reply tag, that basically gives out your (or someone else's) Twitter screen name. For example, all of your tweets will be automatically prefaced by your profile name (first,last) @ screen name. Clicking on the @ symbol always shows you the profile of the tweeter, and depending on the app being used, you can quickly add them to your "following" list, send them a private message (DM) or even start a twitter chat with them. Another good-to-know twitter word is RT (retweet), which is like forwarding an email in the olden days – for example tweeting "RT @friendsname I like #ladygaga" tells your followers that your friend tweeted you and likes Lady GaGa as well. 

For more help with the basics, don't forget to visit the great tutorial site at https://support.twitter.com.

#Step 3 – Have Fun With The Rest...
Once you have an account and you are following and tweeting others, there is even more fun and usefulness of Twitter to be found. For example, now whenever you see a twitter "follow me" website icon, a simple click or tap will add that blogger or website to your "following" list. You will immediately start getting tweets from that person or place, and conversely, by clicking on a "tweet" icon you can instantly send out a link for the web page that you are reading to all of your followers. The link sent is called a short URL, as remember, you only have 140 characters to tweet with, so a long URL just won't do! If you need to create a short URL of your own, no problem, just navigate to www.tinyurl.com, which takes the longest of links and makes them 16 characters or less – perfect for tweeting!

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postheadericon Tech Talk: Another ISP Smackdown...


It is almost one year to the day that I reviewed Broadlink vs. World Link vs. NTC Internet services (as all three were installed in my small home office) - and if you recall - Broadlink smacked down the competition with it's faster speeds, cheaper rates, and a unique roaming service. But that was a year ago, and in Internet time, that was almost an eon ago.

Nowadays, from my small off-ramp on the Internet highway – Dhobighat – I can get cable Internet service from my cable TV provider: Subisu. I've been using their Digital TV line to get clear reception on my new LED TV set - works great, although it's not a true digital service without an "HDMI out" from the digital box. I would not have thought of calling them to add Internet service to my home network if my Broadlink service had not slowly slowed down over the course of the past year. But that's what happens when an ISP gets wildly popular and the company is not equipped to keep up with demand.

So I sent Subisu an email (don't even try to call) and within a few days there were two technicians out to the house to do the installation. The first thing they did was to test the existing cable line to see if it could handle the Internet right along with the TV signal. It could not. By the way, my existing cable was strung thru a window, as apparently the company does not own a drill machine, or does not trust the techs to bring one out during cable installations. After all, who knows what they might drill through...

But these techs really knew their stuff, and after measuring the signal strength, they determined I needed another line into the home - this time under the door! Once the cable was laid in, the cable modem was easily connected to my wireless router, and within a few minutes, I had a Subisu home network up and running at 512 kbps speed. 

So how does the Subisu Internet cable service compare to a Broadlink Wireless service? Well, here ya go:

Smack! On Installation, Broadlink And Subisu Both Lose
Even thought Broadlink is a wireless provider, I still have a cable coming through a window – with one end attached to a wireless receiver mounted on my water tank, and the other end to a router in my home office. Over the course of this past year, I have had the receiver (called a C1 Device) pointed at various Broadlink towers - hoping to get a consistently reliable signal. Well, we are still searching for that mythical tower of 24-hour non-stop service...

In the case of Subisu, since the signal strength of the existing cable was not strong enough (that being split and inserted into various home orifices), I now have TWO lines, where hypothetically there should be one. And I can't close my balcony door. So as far as the physical installation goes, both companies lose. As for installation pricing, both are comparable: on one hand you pay for cable and a modem, on the other, cable and a C1 device.

SMACK SMACK! Subisu Wins On Delivery
The 512 kbps Subisu service (Nrs. 5000 per month, unlimited + TV) is currently outperforming the Broadlink 960 kbps delivery (Nrs. 6000 per month, unlimited) by at least 30%. For example, when tested against servers in America, Subisu comes in at almost 1000 kbps (1Mb) while Broadlink at only 700 kbps, on average. A quick call to Broadlink confirms that their systems have been taxed lately by demand and new equipment installs. But to be fair, Broadlink was providing the rated speed of 960kbps for most of the past year.

Triple SMACK! Subisu and Broadlink DRAW on Service and Support
The techs from both companies are top notch, and I was surprised that teams sent out from both orgs came knowledgeable of both Macs and PCs, and how to connect them to the Internet without a fuss. The online user "dashboards" that control your account are near identical - and easy to figure out, although it looks like Subisu copied Broadlink's dashboard so closely they forget to take out their competitor's banner ad...just log into your Subisu account and you see a Broadlink banner ad!

KO BY DECISION...Subisu!
So to sum up, if you are looking to upgrade your Internet service with something in the 512 kbps to 1Mb range, you can't really go wrong with either Broadlink or Subisu, with the following caveats: 1) neither company seems willing to drill holes for your cable lines, so you may have to live with cables snaking in through door jams and open windows, 2) to pay for your service, Broadlink offers online or scratch card (which is nothing short of a pain in the butt), while Subisu just sends out a babu on a bicycle to collect your payment when due, and 3) you may get better speeds at lower cost with Subisu, at least for right now, until Broadlink sorts out some bandwidth problems.

But what's really crazy about finding a reliable, 24x7 unlimited service ISP is that you may find yourself in my shoes: where you need TWO. For now, I am keeping both lines from Broadlink & Subisu, so that when one company has a temporary calamity, my home network just flips over to the other line still standing.

read more "Tech Talk: Another ISP Smackdown..."

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Jiggy Gaton
lives in Kathmandu and is an aging technologist - has been since the days of Woodstock - so in the words of Roland The Gunslinger "he is from a world now gone by." However, Jigs is extremely up-to-date on all things tech and is also available for hire.
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