Update 07/02/10: Please note that there is now an official wordpress widget for twitter. As such, hosted wordpress accounts are no longer constrained by not being able to use third party addins described in my previous update.
Update 22/03/09: Please note this method describes integrating your twitter account / feed with your hosted wordpress blog. If you are hosting your wordpress CMS yourself, there are a number of plugins and / or widgets you can use (nice round up here) instead as you can change the templates and are also not bound by the ‘no scripting’ limitation of hosted wordpress blogs. I initially wrote it back in June 08 but the method still works well to this day. If you have any questions please feel free to ask me via email (on my about page) or on Twitter @KonradS.
Many of you will be familiar with Twitter, a short message microblogging platform used by the ‘technorati’. I wanted to utilise this platform in order to display my updates as a widget on my wordpress blog. Initially I encountered difficulties given that WordPress sanitises all scripting. As such, default twitter ‘badges’ are useless. I was about ready to give up, when I found out that Twitter has RSS feeds for every account.
Initially I hit a brick wall with this as well, the main RSS feed (http://twitter.com/statuses/friends_timeline/insertuseridhere.rss) was for your friend’s updates, not yours and required you to be logged in with Twitter. This clearly is not that useful. However, there is a second feed, a user_timeline feed which does not require you to be logged in and only shows your updates.
The URL for this is : http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/14526317.rss (substitute 14526317 for your twitter user id.) It is a little tricky to find this URL and to be truthful – I did this a few weeks ago and have completely forgotten where I found it, but it is there somewhere.
To find your own twitter ID, the quickest way is to goto the RSS button on your Home page. This is found on the bottom left part of the feed section. This RSS feed is not the right one, but it contains your numerical ID number. By substituting your twitter ID into the user timeline in the above paragraph, you will save yourself some ferreting.
Anyway, combine your RSS feed with the WordPress RSS widget and hey presto – a customisable, configurable Twitter feed widget.
Its unusual to see such a user-unfriendly way of managing (or changing) the default settings in a program. Windows Vista ships with Vista Sidebar, a gadget/widget engine which brings limited but extensible functionality to Windows Vista.
The main criticism I had initially was with the RSS widget – there seemed to be no way of changing the default feeds that shipped with Vista from the default and fairly bland MSN rss feeds. Despite tinkering with the widget and sidebar program, I eventually conceded defeat and did a bit of digging.
It turns out, rather counter-intuitively that the way to change the RSS feeds is via Internet Explorer. Fire up Internet Explorer and hit “Control+J“, this is the keyboard shortcut to bring up the feed window.
Once here, you can add / delete / modify the RSS feeds that Vista shows to your heart’s content. In doing so, you expose the greatest weakness of Vista’s default RSS widget, it does not scale very well. Whilst in “at-a-glance” RSS perusal for a few feeds works rather well, its over simplification is its greatest downfall.
There is no easy way to change between RSS feeds / groups (it has to be done via a menu each time) nor is there a way to dismiss headlines which have been read. This greatly limits the usefulness of this widget for any serious RSS subscriber.
I had a brief look, but I could not find a 3rd party, general purpose RSS feed widget on the Microsoft Live Widget site. Whilst this gadget is certainly of use, its limitations greatly diminish its usefulness.
UPDATE: Just a brief note to say this works in exactly the same way for Windows 7.
And they say the real world is stranger than fiction – certainly in this case, it is! Many will remember the Laptop Gun from Perfect Dark on the n64, a compact automatic with a good rate of fire. What separated this fictional gun into a category of its own was that it could be deployed into a fixed turret to provide automated fire-support. It featured at number 6 (~2:30) in the GameTrailers top 10 guns of all time.
My only regret was that you could only throw one at a time (and that it only had 50rounds.) Now fast forward to 2008, more specifically the MagPul Industries demo at Shotshow 2008.
I gave the game away a bit by the introduction, but I hope you were as surprised as I was to see this ‘torch’ unfold. Now, if they could just build in an automated sentry feature….
A random package appeared at my doorstep from ebay this morning. Not having ordered anything (from Leeds anyway) recently I was surprised as the package was ~A5 size (or that of a DVD slim case.) Curiously I unwrapped the packaging to discover what, on first inspection looked like a box of cheap ebay branded Christmas cards.
I thought ‘great, another cheap mass produced product sent in the hope cheap people will send them out and ebay will get free advertising…’ But on digging further through the packaging, I discovered a rather (cheap but nice) set of ‘EBAY’ festive coloured lights powered by USB. I would never have put them on a tree but they look rather nice on my desk, so I have to give Ebay a thumbs up for this rather unexpected but nice Christmas present ( / advertising tool.)
Sorry for the bad picture, but they were too bright to snap without the flash. Anyone else get these?
EDIT: They look better in a dark room