How I Lost My $50,000 Twitter Username

This is some seriously scary stuff.

It’s hard to decide what’s more shocking, the fact that PayPal gave the attacker the last four digits of my credit card number over the phone, or that GoDaddy accepted it as verification.

Social engineering has been done since the beginning of time. Giving out credit card information, regardless of who is asking for it should just not be done. Since it has the powers to be used as a password substitute, it should be treated in the same manner.

Using two-factor authentication is a must. It’s probably what prevented the attacker from logging into my PayPal account. Though this situation illustrates that even two-factor authentication doesn’t help for everything.

There is no reason to not use two-factor authentication these days. Do however take note1 of all sites using two-factor auth connected to your phone , in case you need to change the phone number in the future2.


  1. I use a tag in 1Password for all sites requiring two-factor authentication. 

  2. This happened to me a while ago (a story for another day), which has lead me to always make it a conscious decision when entering my phone number on a website. I keep track of websites having my phone number using a tag in 1Password. 

Google Wave and collaboration using P2

Google Wave recently entered the spotlight after releasing lots of new invites to eagerly awaiting users. I received an invite a while back and have been using Wave for some time now and I see the great potential and where it is headed. It basically is a way for realtime collaboration between people, making discussion easy to follow and a central point for all files and other information.

The greatness of Wave is the use of open standards which means that anyone can set up a Wave server. Right now, there is just the @googlewave.com domain where your Wave user resides, but imagine when this becomes mainstream, where Waves can be sent to and from any “email” address – completely decentralized. The fundamentals can be seen today with the Jabber protocol, which uses the same type of communication and is working really well. The adoption rate of Jabber is another thing though.

The good thing with an approach like this is that it almost works like email does today, only better. Conversations are hosted by the Wave initiator and everyone sees the same information. Think of it as Email 2.0, or to put in Google’s words:

“Email, if it had been invented today.”

The benefits are that Wave is conceptually very similar to how email works today. The only real difference is that the entire conversation is hosted on the server side, and there is just one conversation – meaning that everyone sees exactly the same thing all the time. The way things currently work is that emails are sent, replied to, forwarded and bounced independently, which can make it very hard if not impossible to follow a conversation.

Since it will probably be a while before Wave will becomes mainstream, if it ever will, there are of course alternatives available right now. A very popular way of doing something similar is using WordPress with the P2 theme developed by Automattic themselves. This enables anyone to set up a sort of Wave server, but it is more focused on smaller groups, like companies or projects within them.

It almost looks like the front page of Twitter, where you have an input box at the top and messages from people under it. One thing P2 does that Twitter does not do however, is threaded conversations! It is an invaluable features and adds depth to conversations and makes the site more alive.

nb, This post was written long ago, it just got stuck in the draft folder.

Getting push replies for Twitter for free

I wanted to get notified on Twitter replies and mentions instantly, both on my Mac and on my iPhone. Since Google released Push for the iPhone a couple of weeks ago, an email based solution would be perfect.

Get Twitter Mentions is a bash script well suited for this task. It is easily customizable and you can run is as often as you like. Just add a crontab like the following on a Linux server of your choice:

*/2 * * * * /home/joch/bin/send-mentions-as-email.sh

This will execute the script every two minutes and email you if there are any new updates. Just make sure that you keep the requests well within the API limits (currently 150 requests per hour), or your API access may be revoked for a while. The emails are very well designed, having the tweets in the subjects for easy viewing and a full profile and other types of information right there in the email.

The following pictures are taken from the author’s site, but shows in a very clear way how things look.

iPhone App: Birdfeed

birdfeedA new Twitter client called Birdfeed was just released in the App Store. There are lots of Twitter clients for the iPhone so I was skeptical on what Birdfeed could do to stand out from the crowd. But being priced at 38 SEK ($4.99), it was bound to have some unique features and a well thought out interface. (or a very good marketing department)

When you first start the application you are directly taken to the timeline, which displays the tweets in beautiful looking talk bubbles. There is a button on the top labled “Load Newer” which updates the timeline and adds a separator with the updated time so you can distinguish new tweets from older ones if you are looking further down the timeline when an automatic update occurs.

When you hit the bottom of the timeline, which is set to 20 tweets by default  and can be increased up to 100 in the settings, it will load the next 20 tweets in order. This behaviour is called infinite scrolling and is very intuitive and fast.

The new tweet button is located on the top right of all screens and looks like a small talk bubble. It looks like a standard form for entering a tweet, but has a nifty character counter. Photos can be attached using Twitpic or Yfrog (configurable in the settings), and links can be shortened using the integrated tr.im service (see settings for account information). If your phone happens to ring when you are entering a tweet, or accidentally tap the close button, the draft is always saved (again, configurable), and the next time you tap to create a new tweet, the draft will pop up. If there is a draft available, there will be a dot in the middle of the talk bubble.

If you click on a tweet, you are presented with a new screen and a lot of options. Links and hashtags are clickable, and you have the option to reply, mark as favorite, forward by retweet, email or just post the link. If you are viewing a web URL, there is also integration with Instapaper which lets you save pages for later reading.

If you tap back from the timeline, you will enter the main menu which has the following items:

  • Timeline
  • Mentions
  • Direct Messages
  • Favorites
  • My Profile
  • My Tweets
  • Search
  • View User

The Mentions view looks and behaves like the timeline, but only shows tweets directed to you as always. The Favorites is very similar, but has stars to indicate that the tweets are favorites.

Direct Messages on the other hand, look an awful lot like the Messages app in the iPhone itself. Each correspondent has their own thread which makes it very easy to backtrack a conversation, and it is abundantly clear that you are in fact sending a private message. This means no private messages being sent into the open stream again!

Search works like you would expect, and has support for showing only nearby tweets, as well as the current trends on Twitter.

So the verdict? It is so sweet it has replaced Tweetie as my standard Twitter app on the iPhone! It’s not cheap, but if you are using Twitter a lot or just like well designed software, you will not be disappointed. There are some bugs though, like with all other 1.0 software, but nothing you will experience a lot, or perhaps not even notice.

Addition: It currently does not have support for the landscape keyboard.

Check out Birdfeed in the App Store.

Twestival Stockholm — The Pictures

There is only one way of describing the Stockholm Twestival which took place last Thursday — a thundering success!

Everything from the organization of the event to the music and speakers were just fantastic. I haven’t heard the official sum of all donations yet though, but I’m sure that it was not bad at all, considering the amount of people who actually showed up.

It was a great opportunity to see some Twitter users here in Stockholm as well. Even though Sweden is a small country, there are lots of highly talented people working in all areas from marketing, IT and other fields. It just shows that Twitter and similar tools have such a huge impact on how people have chosen to effortlessly communicate and share. It is so easy to reach lots of people, not only from particular group, but anyone who wants to listen.

Seeing how Twestival just started as a simple idea on Twitter, it was amazing to see it literally explode into such a huge global event. It really comes to show how people can get events like these things done on a global scale bringing a great number of volunteers together with just a simple social web tool like Twitter.

The only sad thing is that I forgot to bring my camera for some odd reason. I couldn’t let a thing like forgetting the camera keep me away from taking pictures though, so I had to rely on my trusty ol’ iPhone to work its magic. Sure, there are phones with exceptional cameras with lots of “megapixels”, flash and image quality. The iPhone just isn’t one of them. The images are, well, not that great to be frank. The image quality is so bad that I didn’t even bother trying to get everything lined up and think about framing, since most images will still be blurry and grainy. Anyway, here you go.

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Twestival 2009: 12 February

twestivalThis Thursday, there is a global event planned called Twestival. It is currently taking place in over 175 countries worldwide!

It all began in London, UK where Twitterers decided to come together to see the faces behind the avatars. It all lead to the event now formally known as Twestival. By getting together on a global scale for one day, the aim is to bring awareness and raise some money for the Charity: water cause.

Charity: water

Charity: water is all about bringing fresh water to those who need it the most. The mission of the charity in their own words are:

Right now 1.1 billion people on the planet don’t have access to safe, clean drinking water. That’s one in six of us. Many communities in developing nations often have a plentiful supply of clean drinking water just below the ground, but no way to get to it. This is where charity: water and their partner organizations come in. Drilling a well can cost from $4,000 – $12,000 USD and many living on less than $1 a day cannot afford one in their community, even if the money is combined.

 They even have their own Twestival page, where you can learn more.

What you can do

There are several ways of contributing to this cause. The Twestival website lists the following means of providing your support.

The best way to take action after donating in some way is to spread the word any way you can think of, like blogs, talking to coworkers, friends, and of course to your followers on Twitter. What makes Twestival so great is the power of numbers — there are thousands of people involved and the number is growing every day!

Twestival Stockholm

The Twestival here in Stockholm, Sweden has been announced, and everything from refreshments to entertainment and speakers seem to have fallen into place. The following information is taken from the Twestival Stockholm website:

Venue: Timbro offices, Kungsgatan 60.
Time: 19-21
Ticket price: 150 kr per person
Capacity: 115 people

Program:

Key speakers:

  • Roland Poirier Martinsson -Timbro Media Institute “Social Media Phenomenon”
  • Thomas Bjelkeman-Pettersson- akvo.org “Water, Sanitation and Akvo”
  • Magnus Lindkvist- Trend spotter “social entrepreneurship, and the future of the developing region”

 Music:

  • Sofia Talvik
  • The Deportees

 Refreshments: light refreshments served.

Buy your tickets today! Special discount for early birds!

Everything has to my knowledge been organized by @Raiha, so a big thanks to her for making this happen! You can be notified with updates for Twestival Stockholm by following @sthlmtwestival.

Twestival Gothenburg

There is a similar event taking place in Gothenburg, and more information can be found on the Twestival Gothenburg website and by following @gbgtwestival.

WordPress Twitter integration

If you have followed this site for a while, you might have seen some Twitter integration being done here lately. I use two plugins for the integration:

TweetSuite is responsible for announcing new posts to Twitter and to display “tweetbacks” in the posts. This part is not that integrated yet, but I will work integrating it with the normal comments an trackbacks as soon as there is time.

I actually planned to create a similar plugin after reading the Mashable post from earlier this year, but Dan Zarella beat me to the punch. I don’t really need more things to do, so I’m glad for that.

Twitter Tools is used to create daily digests with my tweets. I can see that TweetSuite will probably integrate a similar feature in the future.

This is really the year of Twitter, as it has recently literally exploded here in Sweden!