Auto-update Presence Info and Twitter

One challenge a person who uses various “Social Networking” web-based applications to network and share information faces, is how to keep them updated. Often, they have application programming interfaces or API’s, that a programmer can use to automate various aspects of the system.

A good example of API use is Google’s ”Statz” application. Statz allows you to update the status or presence information of various applications such as Adium, Colloquy, Conversation, iChat, ircle, Skype, Snak, Tumblr or Twitter. When you change your status in Statz, from “On the Road” to “In a Meeting” and so on, it updates the status of all the applications you have added to the list of apps Statz is meant to update.

Now let’s drill down into one of the apps that can be updated via Statz, called Twitter. Twitter is a popular “micro blog” system, in which the concept is you enter what you’re doing now, a “tweet”, which gets fed into the twitter “stream” along with probably millions of other tweets. Twitter is not a chat system per se, but has that nuance. Statz lets you put “In a Meeting” or “On The Road” or “Away” in Twitter, but another type of “what are you doing” information that might be good for Twitter is when you blogged something or uploaded a photo.

Enter Twitterfeed. Twitterfeed monitors your Really Simple Syndication or ”RSS” feeds after you enter them into your Twitterfeed account. RSS feeds are lightweight text files that automatically show site content updates and are output by many types of websites including blog, photo sharing, and forum systems. Here’s how it would work:

Create a Twitter account, supplying your email address and then setting up Twitter as you like.

Sign up for Twitterfeed, using an OpenID. I used my Google Blogger ID, but many others are available to choose from.

Now you can enter RSS Feeds into Twitterfeed. For example, Blogger, Flickr and Smugmug all have RSS Feeds that you can use. When you enter an RSS feed, you tell Twitterfeed how often to check it, and what prefix text it should append when it feeds your Twitter.

When it is set up, Twitterfeed will check your designated feeds, extract the latest feed update and appropriate URL, and post these to your Twitter stream with the text prefix. As a bonus, it uses TinyURL to help you keep under Twitter’s Tweet length limit of 145 characters. TinyURL shortens any URL into an URL like http://tinyurl.com/3wxjb4.

The resulting Tweet looks something like this:

Post: Finding Photos within a Date Range in Aperture: A friend using Apple’s powerful Aperture ph.. http://tinyurl.com/3rsbkc

Enjoy!

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