Monthly Archives: August 2009

Just chatted with the folks from FastPen…

Just chatted with the folks from FastPencil. They are quite excited about what we are doing and interested in learning how to make their product even better through the process.. Now, since this is so new, we are not exactly sure WHAT the process is going to be, but thats the fun part right? One suggestion was to create a FB fanclub as use that as a means of getting people signed up.

Plan of action for code examples. Create a twittFilter lite

At first we were going to just write a few examples, but Jon thought it would be better if the reader came away with a useful program by the end of the book.  Agreed.  So we decided to take twittFilter and strip it down the basics. I took a screenshot of TF and marked out what we are not going to have in the book.  I will create a new site with the stripped down code.  We can then work backwards in putting code examples together.

Today Andrew found a really cool experimental theme for the blog.  As you can see, its WAY more focused for quick updates and comments.   Since the idea is try to have as much community involvement as possible, we are going to explore various tools and techniques.  AND if people out there have idea, let us know.


Using cURL to dig into the Twitter API

Twitter has some really good docs online for beginners to start using the Twitter API. If you have access to a command line, you can get started right away with a versatile tool called cURL.


This is a simple command to get the latest tweets from the public timeline. It will return an RSS feed that is probably of little of no use to you right now. Let’s try something more useful.

curl -u username:password

Make sure you use your username and password for this command. This will return the latest Twitter updates from the people you follow. Take a look at the data:

  Mon Aug 31 00:32:37 +0000 2009
  Show a Bank of America card and get into a museum for free. Time to visit deYoung. (
  <a href="" rel="nofollow">Nambu</a>
	Andrei Zmievski
	San Francisco, CA
	I'm Russian. 'nuff said.
	Sun Mar 11 18:05:57 +0000 2007
	Pacific Time (US & Canada)


If you are new to XML, it’s a breeze. Think of it as “data about data”. It’s structured data. The Twitter API allows you to use XML and JSON (which I prefer personally because it’s easier to use with Javascript).

The last thing I will show you in regards to cURL is how to post an update.

curl -u username:password -d status="your message here"

Make sure to escape any double quotes in your tweet.

You can do a ton of things with cURL, which I will explore in a later post. Play around with it, and let me know what you think. Here is another good resource about using cURL and Twitter.

Trying to put tools together

First step when writing a book with partners is to decide what tools to use.  I used google docs when I first started outlining the idea and then putting an outline together.  Google docs actually works pretty well when you are doing a single page draft.  However, to write a book, and a technical book at that, we need to step it up a notch.

So far, fast pencil looks like what we are going to use.  Major found these people and had them give me a ring.  That like the idea of a socially edited book and are eager to get involved.  Should be interesting.

Lesson: Creating a shared chat is not that easy when everyone uses different chatting systems.

Writing the Twitter API in 24 hrs book.

This is an experiment.  Its not an open source project per sey, but we thought it would be an interesting experiment to not only let people see the processes of putting a technical book together, but invite feedback on comments as the process goes along. We do not have a full idea of how this will work … and thats the fun of it.

So first off, lets put a little background together…

When I thought about writing this book, I was going to write it myself and go about it the traditional way.  Then I thought it would be more fun, and a better book, if I brought in a few friends. As we started thinking about how we can work together using various social media tools including this blog. Then we thought.. Why dont we open this process in the spirit of social media?  And thus we begin!