Web design

8 Ways Twitter Bots Are Actually Helping Us

Depending on your experience on Twitter, you may have encountered your fair share of annoying and spammy Twitter bots that keep following you. And unfollowing you when you don’t follow back. That said, not all Twitter bots are the ones that you normally find selling questionable goods or sending you suspicious links.

These ones are normally made by programmers playing around with code and algorithms. Some even call themselves Internet artists like Darius Kazemi who comes up with strange and interesting bots. Out of these experiments, actual helpful Twitter bots have emerged. So we scoured the Twitterverse to compile and categorize 8 things Twitter bots can do.

Natural Disaster Alert

Perhaps one of the most useful bots, these accounts tweet natural disasters such as storms, earthquakes, and tsunamis as they happen. They normally draw their information from an official source like the earthquake one below which gets its data from the US Geological Survey. The bot is further programmed to tweet earthquakes that are at 5.0 and above on the Richter scale.

Some go a step further by being interactive such as Wave Glider Holoholo. The account is linked to a robot that collects data from the ocean around the Big Island of Hawaii. By asking it certain questions, it can tell you the weather report which can help you prepare for the weather.

Online Conversations/Debates

Twitter bots can also be made to pose as humans. No, we’re not talking about the bot that just followed you because you tweeted about eating pizza. What we are referring to is Olivia Taters, the bot who tweets uncannily like a teenage girl. So life-like is she that other Twitter users end up talking to her without realizing she’s a bot.

How the bot works is that the algorithm picks words used around the Twitterverse. Using that same premise, DevOps engineer Randi Harper built a bot that helps her debate with GamerGate supporters when she got tired of them harrassing her on the microblogging site. The bot does this by plucking randomly assembled phrases from her main account.

Monitoring Censors

When MH17 was shot out of the sky, many pointed fingers at the Ukrainian pro-separatist group and the Russians. Suspicions were further raised when reports of the exchanges between the leader were revealed. But what really sealed the deal that the proceedings were fishy was when Twitter bot @RuGovEdits exposed that the Russian government has been editing Wikipedia.

It even has an English version for the rest of us who can’t read Russian.

The bot works by tracking Wikipedia anonymous edits made by Russian government IPs. It is not the first of its kind as the US counterpart @congressedits came before it and there are others like the UK’s @parliamentedits. All these bots however aim to do the same thing which is to keep the government in check and inform them that the people are watching them too.

Generate Poetry

It’s amazing that despite the 140 character limit Twitter imposes, users are creatively coming up with short stories and poetry. Even bots are getting in on the game with their algorithms searching high and low the Twitterspace to retweet tweets accidentally written in iambic pentameter which is what @pentametron does.

Or even like this account that finds tweets that were accidentally (or coincidentally) written in haiku structure.

Generate Art

Twitter bots don’t just dabble in poetry, they make pieces of artwork too. These bots are pretty interactive as well as their algorithms will transform any image you tweet to it. Take for example @a_quilt_bot which turns your images into quilt or as quilt-like as it can.

Then there’s @pixelsorter which sorts a line of pixel from an image to generate abstract fuzzy images.

Sometimes, the various bots interact with one another whether by programming or by direct manipulation from their creators like this incident where @pixelsorter and @badpng were pitted against each other. The bots continuously mesh the images over and over before the creator stepped in to stop the never-ending exchange.

Teach English/Educate

The Internet needs more of these bots with the amount of grammar and spelling faux pas it always commits. These bots save the day (and irritate the offenders) by correcting their English like the now defunct @StealthMountain which tweets back at people who misspelled the phrase “sneak peek”. However @_grammar_ goes one step further by personally correcting improper grammar in tweets.

Some are relatively simple although no less uninformative such as the ever-celebrated @everyword which tweets a word from the dictionary everyday. It recently completed its cycle on June 7, 2014 after faithfully performing its task for 7 years. I’m puzzled why this is the last word though.

Send Notifications

Similar to the weather Twitter bots and the ones monitoring Wiki edits, these bots can be used for any basic alerts that would make life easier. One good example is the Netflix account. Yes, it is a bot and it tells you when a show is available for viewing. You know, when you are expecting that latest episode or for your binge watching needs.

Now that may seem like a relatively simple bot but sometimes the simplest of things are the most useful. Such as this bot which sends out announcements on whether a school is closed or delayed in Central Ohio. No more frustrations for parents and students!

Respond

Much like the Wave Glider Holoholo, these bots are interactive. The best example would be @DearAssistant which answers questions that you direct at it. It is considered as a “mini version of Siri” by its creator as it is based on the same data source.

There are various less complex bots that merely respond to a certain catchphrases or key words like @Betelgeuse_3 (it’ll respond if you type Beetlejuice 3 times) and @DBZNappa (which tweets back “WHAT?! NINE THOUSAND?!” anytime someone tweets “over 9000″). @RedScareBot however responds to any tweet that contains the word “socialist” or “communist” in the spirit of Joseph McCarthy because politics.

Have you come across other interesting Twitter bots? Let us know in the comments below!

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Web design

8 Ways Twitter Bots Are Actually Helping Us

Depending on your experience on Twitter, you may have encountered your fair share of annoying and spammy Twitter bots that keep following you. And unfollowing you when you don’t follow back. That said, not all Twitter bots are the ones that you normally find selling questionable goods or sending you suspicious links.

These ones are normally made by programmers playing around with code and algorithms. Some even call themselves Internet artists like Darius Kazemi who comes up with strange and interesting bots. Out of these experiments, actual helpful Twitter bots have emerged. So we scoured the Twitterverse to compile and categorize 8 things Twitter bots can do.

Natural Disaster Alert

Perhaps one of the most useful bots, these accounts tweet natural disasters such as storms, earthquakes, and tsunamis as they happen. They normally draw their information from an official source like the earthquake one below which gets its data from the US Geological Survey. The bot is further programmed to tweet earthquakes that are at 5.0 and above on the Richter scale.

Some go a step further by being interactive such as Wave Glider Holoholo. The account is linked to a robot that collects data from the ocean around the Big Island of Hawaii. By asking it certain questions, it can tell you the weather report which can help you prepare for the weather.

Online Conversations/Debates

Twitter bots can also be made to pose as humans. No, we’re not talking about the bot that just followed you because you tweeted about eating pizza. What we are referring to is Olivia Taters, the bot who tweets uncannily like a teenage girl. So life-like is she that other Twitter users end up talking to her without realizing she’s a bot.

How the bot works is that the algorithm picks words used around the Twitterverse. Using that same premise, DevOps engineer Randi Harper built a bot that helps her debate with GamerGate supporters when she got tired of them harrassing her on the microblogging site. The bot does this by plucking randomly assembled phrases from her main account.

Monitoring Censors

When MH17 was shot out of the sky, many pointed fingers at the Ukrainian pro-separatist group and the Russians. Suspicions were further raised when reports of the exchanges between the leader were revealed. But what really sealed the deal that the proceedings were fishy was when Twitter bot @RuGovEdits exposed that the Russian government has been editing Wikipedia.

It even has an English version for the rest of us who can’t read Russian.

The bot works by tracking Wikipedia anonymous edits made by Russian government IPs. It is not the first of its kind as the US counterpart @congressedits came before it and there are others like the UK’s @parliamentedits. All these bots however aim to do the same thing which is to keep the government in check and inform them that the people are watching them too.

Generate Poetry

It’s amazing that despite the 140 character limit Twitter imposes, users are creatively coming up with short stories and poetry. Even bots are getting in on the game with their algorithms searching high and low the Twitterspace to retweet tweets accidentally written in iambic pentameter which is what @pentametron does.

Or even like this account that finds tweets that were accidentally (or coincidentally) written in haiku structure.

Generate Art

Twitter bots don’t just dabble in poetry, they make pieces of artwork too. These bots are pretty interactive as well as their algorithms will transform any image you tweet to it. Take for example @a_quilt_bot which turns your images into quilt or as quilt-like as it can.

Then there’s @pixelsorter which sorts a line of pixel from an image to generate abstract fuzzy images.

Sometimes, the various bots interact with one another whether by programming or by direct manipulation from their creators like this incident where @pixelsorter and @badpng were pitted against each other. The bots continuously mesh the images over and over before the creator stepped in to stop the never-ending exchange.

Teach English/Educate

The Internet needs more of these bots with the amount of grammar and spelling faux pas it always commits. These bots save the day (and irritate the offenders) by correcting their English like the now defunct @StealthMountain which tweets back at people who misspelled the phrase “sneak peek”. However @_grammar_ goes one step further by personally correcting improper grammar in tweets.

Some are relatively simple although no less uninformative such as the ever-celebrated @everyword which tweets a word from the dictionary everyday. It recently completed its cycle on June 7, 2014 after faithfully performing its task for 7 years. I’m puzzled why this is the last word though.

Send Notifications

Similar to the weather Twitter bots and the ones monitoring Wiki edits, these bots can be used for any basic alerts that would make life easier. One good example is the Netflix account. Yes, it is a bot and it tells you when a show is available for viewing. You know, when you are expecting that latest episode or for your binge watching needs.

Now that may seem like a relatively simple bot but sometimes the simplest of things are the most useful. Such as this bot which sends out announcements on whether a school is closed or delayed in Central Ohio. No more frustrations for parents and students!

Respond

Much like the Wave Glider Holoholo, these bots are interactive. The best example would be @DearAssistant which answers questions that you direct at it. It is considered as a “mini version of Siri” by its creator as it is based on the same data source.

There are various less complex bots that merely respond to a certain catchphrases or key words like @Betelgeuse_3 (it’ll respond if you type Beetlejuice 3 times) and @DBZNappa (which tweets back “WHAT?! NINE THOUSAND?!” anytime someone tweets “over 9000″). @RedScareBot however responds to any tweet that contains the word “socialist” or “communist” in the spirit of Joseph McCarthy because politics.

Have you come across other interesting Twitter bots? Let us know in the comments below!



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Web design

8 Ways to Get More Attention to Your Design Work

Starting out as a freelance designer, one of the biggest challenges is getting consistent work. Clients aren’t exactly easy to come by, especially without an established name or brand.

One of the best ways to grow your design business is to simply get more exposure for your work. Getting exposure could mean adding clients to your freelance business. Below are 8 effective ways to get more attention to your design work and to ultimately help you grow your freelance business.

1. Share Your Best Work

The first and most significant step of getting more attention is becoming a curator. You have to share your absolute best work and only your best work. Each design, screenshot, or wireframe you share is a tiny advertisement for your freelance design business.

2. Build a Solid Portfolio

The major misconception a lot of designers have with the rise of design networks like Dribbble or Behance is that you don’t need a portfolio anymore. While this may work for some, it is increasingly challenging.

Building a portfolio has a number of benefits. Here are a few:

  • Keep all your top projects in one place, without distraction.
  • Write case studies and explain the reasoning/thinking behind your work.
  • Create a blog and write about design and your place in the community.
  • Share more information about yourself and your methodology.
  • Direct all traffic from other networks, sites, and any other press you receive to your portfolio.

3. Promote On Multiple Networks

Places to promote design work.

Marketing is key for any successful business, freelancing included. Sharing your work on various networks is just another great way to drive traffic, and potential clients, to your portfolio.

There are a ton of social networks these days though. Finding the right one for your work may be a challenge at first. Here are the top three networks for designers and creative people.

  • Dribbble: Show and Tell for Designers
  • Behance: Showcase & Discover Creative Work
  • Instagram: Capture and Share the World’s Moments

4. Collaborate

Collaboration is a great way to expose your work and style to a whole new audience. Working with other designers can also sharpen your skills.

If you have the time and ability, look to jump in on a collaboration this year. It is a great way to learn, grow, and improve your design business.

5. Create Side Projects

In 2014, side projects were encouraged by designers everywhere. Some of the most successful side projects turn into sustainable businesses for people.

Not only are side projects a great way to take a step back from your work, but they are a good way to attract new attention to your work.

Designers, developers, and creatives alike all share a passion for their work. Take some time in 2015 to start a side project and see where it takes you.

6. Write

Having an active voice in the design community can help you become an authority. Not only will other designers respect you, but clients will too.

Write about your process. Write about the challenges you faced in certain design projects. Write about the unique aspects of your business.

You can really write about anything. Just make it your authentic voice.

7. Get Involved

Design Communities DesignerNews

Participate in design communities like DesignerNews and the CreativeMarket Forums. Actively jump in to conversations about where design is going on Twitter. Attend meetups and connect with other designers in real life.

These are just a few examples of how you can get more attention for your design work without specifically promoting it. Writing is one thing, but jumping in on the conversation and having a voice in the design community can help build trust and authority even more.

8. Teach

One of my favorite articles by Nathan Barry mentions his respect for Chris Coyier as a teacher. Nathan shows how Chris improved his skill set at the same pace as him, but since he was also actively sharing his process he built a business in the mean time.

Take the time to share your experience this year.  Not only will it improve your experience as a designer, but it could help grow your business.


Mike Moloney is the owner of FilterGrade, a cool little shop offering Photoshop actions and resources to photographers and creatives. He also shares more photo editing and photography tips/resources on the FilterGrade Blog.

Header image created using 36 Hand Drawn Sunbursts & Stars by GraphicsFuel.

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Web design

6 Ways Social Media Has Changed Christmas

Deck the halls with boughs of holly as #Christmas is here! Obviously a lot has changed in the ways we celebrate the holidays, with the continual rise of smartphones, social media, and selfies – just try and stop your Christmas dinner from showing up on Instagram. Rather than send Christmas cards via post or invite friends over for the Christmas party with a call, we now drop emails and invite them via Facebook Events.

While you may bemoan over how technology has changed the traditional Christmas spirit (curses!), it is time to observe the change of time. So in lieu of this festive season, we present to you 6 ways social media has changed the way we celebrate Christmas.

Spruce Up Your Accounts

If you have the time, the first thing to do to get into the festivities is to dress up your accounts. Like updating your Facebook cover picture with a Christmassy wallpaper or giving your Twitter display photo a Santa hat.

And why stop at one social network when you have multiple? Change your Tumblr theme colors and take a new selfie for Instagram; update them all!

Construct Your Wishlist

Because sometimes (or most times) people just don’t know what to get you for presents and end up giving you the boring old mug to add to your collection. It ends this Christmas and with the power of technology.

It can be as simple as a Facebook status with a picture of the object of your desire or an entire Pinterest board with everything you want in it. Complete your not-so-subtle hints with the hashtag #ChristmasWishlist or #IWantThis.

Send Season’s Greetings

With 1000+ followers/friends, ain’t nobody got time to wish them all. So a festive tweet would have to do when the clock strikes midnight and you take a little more time to craft a touching and thankful Facebook status because you are #deep.

Then you spend the next hour or so refreshing and going back and forth between social media to reply, retweet, and check for likes.

Oh and you can’t forget to mass WhatsApp your contact list. Or LINE them. Or send them a KakaoTalk. Or WeChat. And then there’s that Skype call you have to make…

Document The Festivities

You put in a lot of effort wrapping that present for your bestie by customizing the wrapping paper and carefully tying the ribbon with add-ons. It’s a piece of art (!) so you Instagram it. Heaven knows how much time you took to put up tinsel and baubles and lights all around the house and the Christmas tree. You stand back to admire your handiwork and Instagram it.

Your mom spent close to 8 hours cooking up the Christmas feast that now sits on the dining table. Before anyone could dig in, you take a picture and Instagram it. And hashtag your post with #foodporn, #Christmasdinner, #turkey and #blessed.

A photo posted by Anna Aromin (@seldabelda) on
Nov 11, 2014 at 8:09pm PST

Just Take All The Photos/Videos

Vines are the new family videos. Vine the carollers who stop by your front door with their sweet voices. Vine everyone’s reactions when they open their presents. And when you run out of moments, do it (read: make some up) for the Vine.

Besides, you can send a couple of the decent ones as Season’s Greetings to far off relatives who are “joining” the festivities via WhatsApp.

https://vine.co/v/h9WWm6xuv1n/embed/simple

Count Down Till Midnight

…to be the first to wish/tweet all your followers Season’s Greetings and have a Happy New Year. Hey, it’s much more comfortable doing it in your warm house and in your jammies than counting down out in the streets and in the cold with too many people singing too loudly for your liking.

But if you’re out there because life is too short to stay holed up at home and because YOLO, you have got to take that selfie.

Have a #MerryChristmas!



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Web design

6 Ways Social Media Has Changed Christmas

Deck the halls with boughs of holly as #Christmas is here! Obviously a lot has changed in the ways we celebrate the holidays, with the continual rise of smartphones, social media, and selfies – just try and stop your Christmas dinner from showing up on Instagram. Rather than send Christmas cards via post or invite friends over for the Christmas party with a call, we now drop emails and invite them via Facebook Events.

While you may bemoan over how technology has changed the traditional Christmas spirit (curses!), it is time to observe the change of time. So in lieu of this festive season, we present to you 6 ways social media has changed the way we celebrate Christmas.

Spruce Up Your Accounts

If you have the time, the first thing to do to get into the festivities is to dress up your accounts. Like updating your Facebook cover picture with a Christmassy wallpaper or giving your Twitter display photo a Santa hat.

And why stop at one social network when you have multiple? Change your Tumblr theme colors and take a new selfie for Instagram; update them all!

Construct Your Wishlist

Because sometimes (or most times) people just don’t know what to get you for presents and end up giving you the boring old mug to add to your collection. It ends this Christmas and with the power of technology.

It can be as simple as a Facebook status with a picture of the object of your desire or an entire Pinterest board with everything you want in it. Complete your not-so-subtle hints with the hashtag #ChristmasWishlist or #IWantThis.

Send Season’s Greetings

With 1000+ followers/friends, ain’t nobody got time to wish them all. So a festive tweet would have to do when the clock strikes midnight and you take a little more time to craft a touching and thankful Facebook status because you are #deep.

Then you spend the next hour or so refreshing and going back and forth between social media to reply, retweet, and check for likes.

Oh and you can’t forget to mass WhatsApp your contact list. Or LINE them. Or send them a KakaoTalk. Or WeChat. And then there’s that Skype call you have to make…

Document The Festivities

You put in a lot of effort wrapping that present for your bestie by customizing the wrapping paper and carefully tying the ribbon with add-ons. It’s a piece of art (!) so you Instagram it. Heaven knows how much time you took to put up tinsel and baubles and lights all around the house and the Christmas tree. You stand back to admire your handiwork and Instagram it.

Your mom spent close to 8 hours cooking up the Christmas feast that now sits on the dining table. Before anyone could dig in, you take a picture and Instagram it. And hashtag your post with #foodporn, #Christmasdinner, #turkey and #blessed.

A photo posted by Anna Aromin (@seldabelda) on
Nov 11, 2014 at 8:09pm PST

Just Take All The Photos/Videos

Vines are the new family videos. Vine the carollers who stop by your front door with their sweet voices. Vine everyone’s reactions when they open their presents. And when you run out of moments, do it (read: make some up) for the Vine.

Besides, you can send a couple of the decent ones as Season’s Greetings to far off relatives who are “joining” the festivities via WhatsApp.

https://vine.co/v/h9WWm6xuv1n/embed/simple

Count Down Till Midnight

…to be the first to wish/tweet all your followers Season’s Greetings and have a Happy New Year. Hey, it’s much more comfortable doing it in your warm house and in your jammies than counting down out in the streets and in the cold with too many people singing too loudly for your liking.

But if you’re out there because life is too short to stay holed up at home and because YOLO, you have got to take that selfie.

Have a #MerryChristmas!

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