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Selectively tweeting via free Android application Twitsper

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As a long time Twitter user, there are admittedly a variety of flaws in the system and culture, one of which is the ability to control who sees what you tweet publicly. Many (like me) have a private account which gives one measure of control, but others feel awkward about denying some people the ability to see their tweets. Imagine your broker, your ex wife’s best friend or your weird neighbor follows you on Twitter- sometimes it’s easier to accept than ignore.

Given that, as Android users, we’ve been on the lookout for ways to manage our Twitter accounts better, one of which is a free Android app called Twitsper which looks to be created by a University of California at Riverside grad student in the Computer Science and Engineering program. Twitter + whisper = Twitsper which allows you to limit the audience for your tweets based on groups of followers you select and you have control over each individual tweet’s destination be it fully public or to a select group.

You can create lists that have subsets of followers and the tweets are only received by other members of the list who follow you back. When no lists are selected, tweets made through Twitsper go to all followers in the normal broadcast fashion.

Scan in the QR code below to download:

So far, I’m experimenting with the app and because I have a high number of followers, not much is loading and I can’t quite make a list yet but the theory of Twitsper is sound and I plan on making it work for me because there are times that I need to message just a select number of people messages without bombarding all of my network. Benn and I host a monthly party in Austin and I plan on grouping attendees so I can message them about #BASHH without all of you in real estate around the globe being inundated with messages that don’t pertain to you or your interests.

What will you use Twitsper for?

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Harsha Madhyastha

    December 6, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    I am one of the developers of Twitsper. Thanks for writing about it.

    I would like to clarify that you can create lists even online at twitter.com. You don’t necessarily need to create lists within Twitsper; especially for users with a large number of followers like you. When you come back to Twitsper, you will see the list you created online, and you can then send private messages to those on the list.

    • Lani Rosales

      December 6, 2010 at 4:49 pm

      Ah very good to know, thanks for sharing, Hasha! We dig the app!! 🙂

  2. Kelsey Teel

    December 6, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    Hooray! I’ve been wondering when someone would come up with a way to organize and sensor who sees your tweets. Facebook has done a good job with this through their use of privacy controls and groups.

    Then again, I’ve always thought that maybe that was Twitter’s prerogative from the get go. They have gone in a different direction than Facebook in many ways. While Facebook has been updated multiple times, Twitter has remained notoriously simple with the one recent update being the only one. Why hasn’t Twitter already done this?

    The main advantages would be privacy and cutting down on useless tweets. Too bad it can’t magically stop spam, excessive quotes, and auto DMs asking me to become a fan of a Facebook page. 😉

  3. Agent for Movoto

    December 6, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    this should prove to be really useful to agents who want to get specific with targeting certain clients with particular listings or tips!

    • Lani Rosales

      December 7, 2010 at 10:28 pm

      Exactly! Agents could have a hyperlocal neighborhood news list even!

  4. Ann Cummings

    December 7, 2010 at 6:28 am

    Love this idea! I don’t have my new phone yet, which will be a Droid, however I’ve been saving the great suggestions for when I do get it, hopefully in next week or so. I need to get much better about lists and how to use them – love what you’ve written about here Lani. Thanks for sharing!

    • Lani Rosales

      December 7, 2010 at 10:28 pm

      Let us know when you get your phone, we love swapping app tips!!

  5. Sara Bonert

    December 7, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    Just last week I switched from a blackberry (loonng time user) over to the droid. It has been a huge adjustment, but every day I am amazed by how much more I can do on it. I am just getting into tweeting mobilely on it, and still trying to use tweetdeck because that is what I am used to on my pc – but no such feature exists in their system. So I’ll have to add this to the 1000 other new things I have yet to learn on the new phone!

    • Lani Rosales

      December 7, 2010 at 10:27 pm

      Ha ha, when we got our new phones we were obsessed for the first two weeks. It gets easier, I promise! 🙂

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Having your license plate data stolen is worse than you think

(TECH NEWS) California’s license plate camera system not only records everyone, but has some glaring security issues that could expose sensitive data.

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license plate camera

Turns out, California’s been recording millions of license plate information. What’s the deal?

Another day, another privacy violation. That’s sure what it seems like in our increasingly connected world – from our speakers spying on us, to our phones recording our every move – but that shouldn’t stop us from interrogating what is happening and whether or not it should continue.

For instance, should the government be allowed to store images of license plates for no apparent reason? Because that’s exactly what’s happening in California.

Okay, it’s probably happening in plenty of other states too, but California’s recent audit revealed the extent of their privacy violations. In fact, 99.9% of all license plate images stored had no connection to cases from law enforcement. This is bad enough, but the audit also revealed that this information was shared with all sorts of agencies for no justifiable reason.

And it should come as no surprise, but California’s audit also revealed that none of these agencies are up to snuff when it comes to the state’s 2016 privacy policy. In fact, few of the agencies audited even had reliable protections on their cloud based storage system, which leaves them vulnerable to outside attacks. This would be bad enough if they’d only stored information collected for legal purposes, but the storage of plenty of innocent civilian’s records makes it much worse.

Don’t get me wrong, California isn’t the only state to have troubling policies when it comes to ALPRs (automatic license plate readers). In fact, it’s been revealed that many of these cameras are connected to the internet – and make it terribly obvious to boot. That means if you live in an area with a heavy concentration of ALPRs, any stranger might easily be able to learn about you: your preferred route to work, the times you’re typically out of the house, sometimes even where you live. In short? Not great.

There is some glimmer of hope, though. Last year, Virginia became one of the few states to more strictly regulate ALPRs. After being sued by the ACLU, a Virginia court ruled that a license plate can only be recorded and stored if said plate was part of an on-going investigation. They’re now one of 16 states to have some sort of regulation on LPRs.

In the meantime, if you’re in California – or one of the 34 other states without regulations – drive carefully. You never know who’s watching.

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Futuristic air commuting via drone-like air taxis is around the corner

(TECH NEWS) German aviation company, Volocopter, and southeast Asia rideshare company, Grab, partner to take business to the skies in Singapore.

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air taxis taking flight

Move over, Jetsons! You too, Leela and Fry! You’re not the only ones living in the future. If Volocopter and Grab have their way, you’ll soon be able to hail an air taxi as painlessly as you hail a rideshare, at least if you live or travel in Singapore.

Nothing thrills me like being airborne, so I am excited to read this. The dreams of my childhood are unfolding before me. Electric air taxis transporting us across the urban landscape? Yes, please, and hurry up. Are you with me?

Imagine what a powerful–and fun–flex it will be to summon your own private electric multicopter and hop from rooftop to rooftop (AKA VoloPort to VoloPort), arriving at your destination in high style. Eyebrows will go up, and jaws will drop as you saunter into your appointment with a nonchalant air of confidence. In my mind, clients and investors will rush to sign contracts with you, and potential mates will move you up to the top of their short lists.

This is the reaction I imagine at first, when Volocopter and Grab launch their test commercial flights in 2022. If we are to believe the hype, this experience won’t always be such an exclusive one. The long-term goal (at least ten years) is to offer affordable and accessible rides for the general population, not merely the posh and pompous among us.

Drone-type electric Volocopter air taxis are single-passenger multicopters. Other companies are also dabbling in these vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft as well, but the Volocopter 2X has beaten them to the punch with successful test flights in Germany, Dubai, and Las Vegas.

By many accounts, multicopters with several chopper blades are simpler to navigate and more stable than a traditional, single-blade helicopter. However, flying requires mucho power, which must be why Volocopter has set its sights on multiple, short flights vs. long-distance transportation. They currently are projecting a maximum distance of 17 miles and 30 minutes per ride.

Singapore-based Grab is already part of daily life in Southeast Asia, much as Lyft or Uber is in the U.S. and elsewhere. Singapore is one of the fast-growing financial hubs in Asia, one of the Four Asian Tigers. Wealth and commerce abound in this charming island nation/city. In general, Singaporeans are quick to embrace modern solutions that add value and convenience to their lives. As such, it’s a dream location to test the waters for using VTOLs as a means of transportation.

Therefore, it makes sense that German aviation startup, Volocopter, and popular southeast Asian rideshare company, Grab, would team up in Singapore to make this futuristic dream a reality. No word yet on the cost-per-ride of traveling via the uncrowded skies of Singapore, but one can assume it will start out fairly prohibitive. Testing these flights with commercial clients first ensures that the math checks out for now.

However, Volocopter foresees a time when their VTOLs can land in a park or parking lot as easily as at a sanctioned rooftop VoloPort. Bring on the glory days of your average commuter as they hop from home to work to the nightclub with the greatest of ease. I want to live in this reality.

By 2035, Volocopter and Grab predict building up the capacity to deliver up to 10,000 Grab air taxi rides per day in Singapore alone. The commute to work never looked faster, easier, or sexier. One day in our nearish future, we may shrug and see air taxis as a mundane part of daily life, a mere getting from point A to point B.

I expect it to stay exclusive and kind of a thrill a while longer. However, if you’re planning to travel in Singapore, and your company is an early adopter of the first commercial Volocopter air taxi flights, rest assured your glamorous sunnies and fanciest gear will not look out of place–yet.

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You’ve seen the job listings, but what exactly *is* UX writing?

(TECH NEWS) We seeing UX writer titles pop up and while UX writing is not technically new, there are new availabilities popping up.

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UX writing

The work of a UX writer is something you come across everyday. Whether you’re hailing an Uber or browsing Spotify for that one Drake song, your overall user experience is affected by the words you read at each touchpoint.

A UX writer facilitates a smooth interaction between user and product at each of these touch points through carefully chosen words.

Some of the most common touchpoints UX writers work on are interface copy, emails and notifications. It doesn’t sound like the most thrilling stuff, but imagine using your favorite apps without all the thoughtful confirmation messages we take for granted. Take Eat24’s food delivery app, instead of a boring loading visual, users get a witty message like “smoking salmon” or “slurping noodles.”

Eat24’s app has UX writing that works because it’s engaging.

Xfinity’s mobile app provides a pleasant user experience by being intuitive. Shows that are available on your phone are clearly labeled under “Available Out of Home.” I’m bummed that Law & Order: SVU isn’t available, but thanks to thoughtful UX writing at least I knew that sad fact ahead of time.

Regardless of where you find a UX writer’s work, there are three traits an effective UX writer must have. Excellent communication skills is a must. The ability to empathize with the user is on almost every job post.

But from my own experience working with UX teams, I’d argue for the ability to advocate as the most important skill.

UX writers may have a very specialized mission, but they typically work within a greater UX design team. In larger companies some UX writers even work with a smaller team of fellow writers. Decisions aren’t made in isolation. You can be the wittiest writer, with a design decision based on obsessive user research, but if you can’t advocate for those decisions then what’s the point?

I mentioned several soft skills, but that doesn’t mean aspiring UX writers can’t benefit from developing a few specific tech skills. While the field doesn’t require a background in web development, UX writers often collaborate with engineering teams. Learning some basic web development principles such as responsive design can help writers create a better user experience across all devices. In a world of rapid prototyping, I’d also suggest learning a few prototyping apps. Several are free to try and super intuitive.

Now that the UX in front of writer no longer intimidates you, go check out ADJ, The American Genius’ Facebook Group for Austin digital job seekers and employers. User-centric design isn’t going anywhere and with everyone getting into the automation game, you can expect even more opportunities in UX writing.

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