Among all my personality defects, some of which have been explored at great length both here in comment threads and over drinks at Netroots Nation, the most grievous and least appreciated of them is this:
I’m A Hacker
Step over the inscrutable squiggle of additional content … but play nice, or I’ll melt your computer over the internet.
This is me, in my living room, hacking.
Oh, wait, got all script kiddie there for a second. This is what it really looks like.
So what’s happening here is typical hacker stuff. I’m installing FreeBSD under VMware. I’m forced to run Microsoft Windows (aka The Start Button Virus) on my laptop due to some software I use for work. All of our Twitter stuff runs on a proper operating system named FreeBSD, which you’ve likely never known you were using, but you have. I don’t know if it’s true any more, but a few years ago two thirds of internet sites ran on FreeBSD based systems. You know, rinkydink little things like Hotmail …
Once I have the system installed in this ‘sandbox’ I’m going to bring two pieces of software I wrote on to it for some clean up before I release it.
One of those things is our Team Management software, which I’m going to release Open Source, probably by posting it on github. This is the system behind Progressive Congress News, it’s what we use for elections, and there are various activism things that use it, too. Mostly it exists to let multiple people run a single Twitter account, concealing who is doing the tweeting, branding each tweet with a custom application name, and if you’re willing to fiddle a bit the system can use a Google Voice account to do mass text messages.
The other thing is our Twitter Press Agent, which I am not going to just hand over to the unwashed masses. Twitter relentlessly hunts spammers and automated content sources, but our stuff, built using the principles of voice network congestion management, looks so realistic their automated patrol stuff doesn’t see it as a problem. It also ‘feels’ nice to humans, as it quietly whispers links to things they want to see, without overwhelming a conversation. Unless, of course, someone uses the ANNOY injector, but we won’t talk about that here, now will we?
So I’ve combined Windows and FreeBSD system administration, perl programming, the Net::Twitter library, various bits of the Google APIs, some hundred year old theories of Agner Krarup Erlang, and produced something that no one else has.
And that is just one aspect of the wide world of hacking …