Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2016 scientific society talks in London blog post

Sunday, 11 September 2011

A super magic editable spreadsheet for UK science festivals from @lulucrumble

Last Wednesday I tried to find a list of UK science festivals, couldn't find the list I thought I'd made myself so asked Twitter and moments later @arlloyd pointed me to this one:

http://big.uk.com/festivals which is pretty comprehensive.

A few other people expressed an interest in hearing more about and collaborating on keeping such a list updated (a Twitter-mediated distribution of labour with others contributing updates etc in a crowdsourcing way) and then @lulucrumble mentioned that she had an incomplete table / spreadsheet of some of the bigger UK festivals with deadline dates that she's been working on.

She's sent it to me and given me permission to share it. It's incredible. It's not just a list of some important festivals but she's managed to do something utterly unknown to me which is to add in an equation that will tell you, when you open it, whether or not you're about to miss the deadline. I can make columns add up and that's about it. I am in awe :-)

This also means that Excel knows what day it is today, does anyone else find that a bit unnerving ;)

Get the file
The original file can be downloaded here from my Dropbox account (publicly viewable, not publicly editable) and if anyone wants to play around with a Google Docs editable version, that's here (publicly viewable and editable).

Note that the two files are now different formats (uploading an .xls to Google Docs lets you save it as a Gdocs format which I've done) as well as having different content as soon anyone makes a change to it.

Thanks to the following for their input @JamieBGall, @endless_psych, @jimbobthomas, @amyplatypus, @Dalradian and of course @arlloyd and @lulucrumble

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Facebook privacy, again

Facebook has tweaked its privacy settings again. You may want to block these options so that you're given a chance to OK anything in which you're tagged. Other than this it seems that Facebook has mostly improved its privacy settings of late. Still, best to keep your wits about you.

  • Click on Account > Privacy settings.
  • Scroll down to How tags work and click on Edit settings.
  • Edit settings to suit - most of these seems to be default to letting people tag you and check you in to places (which I'd originally had disabled I think, so check to make sure).

When I first went on this new page there was a little tour to tell me what each button does - I copied the text and added it below. In the picture the 'Friends' button is highlighted.


First button on the left that looks like a 'plus person' symbol
"Use this button to tag people to say who you're with. You can tag anyone. When you (or others) add tags, the people tagged and their friends may see the post too. You can choose to review tags others add to your stuff.
Note: we removed a setting that limited whether the friends of people you tagged could see a post. Now you control this by choosing who you tag and approving tags other people add to your content. Your old posts won't change."

Location button
"To easily say where you are, you can add your current city or neighborhood to your posts, or add a specific place. You can turn this on or off at any time."

Friends button (controls who can see this information)
"Use this to manage who can see and comment on posts you share, including ones with location, if you add it. When you change this setting, it will stay how you set it for future posts until you change it again. Posts (including check-ins) from old mobile Facebook apps will use your new default privacy setting.
Also, we've changed the label for "Everyone" to "Public," but your posts will still reach the same people."

Friday, 2 September 2011

Is Twitter just a tiny bit broken? Links stop working on being retweeted if comments added

Edit: 8 July 2012 - well this appears to be entirely fixed, making this post fairly pointless :)

These new short links are fine until someone tries to retweet and add a comment. The missing http:// in the originally shortened link renders the retweeted version unclickable, as shown below. I'm using either Twitter.com on Firefox, IE or Chrome on my computer and Tweetdeck for iPhone - this link is unclickable in all of them.

This means I don't click when I'm on my iPhone as it's just a bit of a palaver. I need to pretend to RT the tweet so that I can get it in an editable format, select the relevant bit, copy and paste it into Safari - no. I wonder if others give up too and if this means fewer people see stuff. I've heard a fair few bleats about this but far fewer than I'd have imagined - so what iPhone tools are you using that means you're not noticing or troubled by this? (Copying and pasting is the work of seconds on a PC so I don't care much about the extra step there).




Not everyone agrees with me but I really think that one of the strengths of the 'classic' RT is to use it exactly as Ed has done here and add a comment, bon mot, bit of context or some other contribution (if enough space it could be a link to a related item).

Doing so, with the new style of shortened links, wrecks the clickability of the link though. Any time Ed (or anyone) posts an RT and adds an emphatic "This!" to it, or any other comment, if I'm reading on my iPhone I'll have to miss it or fave it for later.

The "correct" way to RT this is to do so without adding any comment (the link seems to work fine then). On iPhone Tweetdeck you're given a choice as to how to RT something - 'classic' or 'new'.

But if I see a post because Ed's retweeted it (I follow him) and decide to retweet it myself, then Ed gets no 'credit' as far as I can tell. Twitter records me as having RTed Zoe Corbyn but the network of how it got to me (I follow Ed, Ed follows Zoe) is missing.

Since Twitter seems to be all about making networks more explicit (if it isn't it's been doing an awfully good impression of it and I often follow a new person because of how they've been interacting with and been RTed by others that I follow) this seems a bit of shame.

So... the new shortened link system would seem to direct users to use the new style RT and I already disliked the new RT anyway (in most cases) because of its 'network-hiding' properties.

Given that Twitter brought in the @ protocol after users started using it and the 'new RT' after people had been manually RTing posts for years (OK that is one advantage of the new RT system!) and also given that the protocol of MT for modified tweet has gained ground (funnily enough I learned of it through following Ed) I would like to suggest that Twitter brings in some sort of auto-MT system so that any link in a manually retweeted link can be made clickable. Or do some magical thing that makes anything in the format blah.blah/blah show up as a link...

Background to the shortened links
Twitter's brought in auto-shortened, active links (text that isn't written as an http://blah..com web address but which goes to one when you click on it, like this) that dispense with the http:// bit at the front.

The good thing about this is that there are two ways in which you can get more text in your tweet - the link will be shortened anyway and you'll gain an extra 7 characters from the http:// bit. Another bonus is that when you hover over an address it will show you the real address (this allows people to see where a link is going to take them - see more at this Mashable page).

If you're on a desktop / laptop computer and type a full-length web address then you'll see it as it is, Twitter will tell you it'll be shortened and your character countdown re-adjusts itself to tell you how many characters remain based on the shorter URL. It's pretty cool. It's not optional though (for the last three years I've turned almost every link I've ever posted as a fairly-short is.gd/ URL and I think even these get tweaked).

Shortened link (ha!) for this post is http://is.gd/dZThpn - I put it at the end cos I thought it would be a bit confusing at the beginning, but I have these in most of my posts.