"maybe it's 'cuz 'cuz
we're all gonna die die"

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Two fun Twitter hacks: voice-to-text tweets and file-sharing

I love Twitter. Dave Winer wrote that "Twitter is a coral reef, and Pownce is just a shipwreck." For aspiring non-tech-inclined geeks like me, Twitter offers endless possibilities for just messing around with stuff for no reason at all. Here are my latest two ideas. Maybe someone will actually read this (unlikely, but who knows) and find them useful (probably even unlikelier).

First, the voice-to-text tweeting. There's one way to do this that works, another way that doesn't, and neither is perfect. First, the easy way, the one that works. Open an account on Jott, then check out the new (?) "Jott links" feature. (I just discovered this today, and their blog seems to suggest that it is, indeed, quite new.) Give Jott your Twitter credentials. Then you can phone Jott, say "Twitter" when asked you you want to send your Jott message to, and speak your tweet. ("Speak your tweet" -- has a kind of a ring to it, doesn't it?) Jott will transcribe your message and post it to Twitter within a few minutes at most. I find their transcription is, well, not perfect, but pretty impressive, especially given that the times I'm most likely to use such a service I'm usually talking on a cell phone in a noisy environment (plus I have a very low-voiced, muttering way of talking). Anyhow, you'll get a tweet that looks like this:
Jott Links and Twitter - results screenshot

The problem with this is that if your transcribed text goes over the 140-character limit, it seems to be just gone, and in fact i think the limit is lower because Jott adds "powered by http://jott.com" to the end of each tweet. For this reason it occurred to me you might do the following. Go to Twittermail and enter your Twitter login credentials. You'll get back a long, convoluted-looking email address. Any text you send to this address will be Twittered. The nice feature of Twittermail is that if you send more than 140 characters, they'll archive it for you and insert a link into your tweet, with a result that looks like this:
twittermail tweet screenshot
If you click on the tinyurl link, you'll see this:
twittermail screenshot
So, take that Twittermail email address and add it to your Jott contacts. Then, instead of Jotting to "Twitter," you can Jott to "Twittermail," and it'll send your whole email to that address, and whatever goes over the 140-character limit will get archived.

Well, it doesn't work, because the email that gets sent ends up looking like this:
What a Jott email looks like
Not exactly a text-only email, you see. Apparently this simply overwhelms Twittermail. When I tried it, nothing ever got posted to Twitter.

So, if Jott would provide an option to send mail to certain contacts as text-only, wouldn't that be great? Jott, are you listening?

The other thing I came up with is to use Twitter as a file-sharing platform. Here's a sample tweet:
shared file tweet screenshot
This is pretty simple but requires several steps. First, open a Box.net account. They have decent free ones available. Upload the file you want to share. Tag it "post:twitter" or whatever. Then, you need to enable public sharing (i.e., publishing) for that tag. The only way I could figure out to do this -- it's a pain -- is by going into my display preferences, and asking to be shown the "old" file view (or by logging in and going to the URL www.box.net/browse#mybox). This view displays a column of tags down the left-hand side of the screen. You can then click on the pulldown menu next to the tag you want to publish and select "Share." It'll give you a page URL and as feed URL. Copy the feed URL. It will look like this: http://www.box.net/shared/t_iupej4pkc1/rss.xml Replace the word "shared" with "public." Really. Then you'll have a working feed URL. I'm guessing tag-based sharing isn't really supported by Box any more since their redesign, but this seems to work anyhow. Try it. http://www.box.net/public/t_iupej4pkc1/rss.xml Paste this feed into Twitterfeed and there you go. Anything you upload to Box.net and tag with post:twitter will automatically get published to your twitter stream. Eat your heart out, Pownce.

These instructions are pretty telegraphic; if you need clarification, let me know (comment or twitter or email or whatever).

No comments: