What's Twitter?

Twitter.com is a free social networking site that allows you to send 140 character messages to anyone prepared to listen. These posts are called "tweets". You can "follow" organisations or people to receive their messages. Think of it as a public SMS.

Why are OxMUG using it?

Twitter came into being to help people stay in touch. The OxMUG Committee use Twitter to advise of forthcoming meetings and to underscore official announcements like the AGM. It's use was inspired by the snow of January 2010 which left some members literally out in the cold!

How does it improve my life?

The service is now well and truly mainstream thanks to the likes of Simon Mayo (twitter.com/wittertainment) and Stephen Fry (twitter.com/stephenfry).

Like any social networking site, the quality of information imparted depends who you follow. Users writing on a particular topic can insert a "hashtag" beginning with # (Alt + 3 on a UK keyboard) - so searching for #iPad will return all tweets with that tag in the content, for example. Twitter's by-line is now "What's happening?" and it is a way of seeing what is top of mind for a broad cross-section of the tech community at any given time

As well as accessing it through its own website, there are many great iPhone clients such as Twitterific - you can even tweet by SMS from your phone, although there is no good reason if you have an iPhone to go to the expense of SMS.

"The qualities that make Twitter seem inane and half-baked are what makes it so powerful," says Jonathan Zittrain, professor of Internet law at Harvard Law School and certainly it is lower-maintenance than keeping a full-blown blog - some people find the limited number of characters helpful in refining thoughts they want to share.

While often mocked as self-regarding drivel, the impulse to keep a diary is as old as Samuel Pepys. Many people find the mild narcissism therapeutic, but as with all social networking, be mindful that your thoughts may persist on the interweb forever …


Mac Help Tips

Thanks to Peachpit press for these excerpts, click the headings below


Add a Saved Search to the Sidebar

When you save a Spotlight search as a smart folder, you have the option of adding it to the sidebar with other predefined searches. Click the Save button near the top of the New Smart Folder window. In the dialog that appears, click the Add To Sidebar checkbox to instruct Mac OS X to add an alias of the folder to the sidebar.

When a Dock Item Jumps Up and Down

At some point you might see a Dock item jumping up and down, over and over, as if it's trying to get your attention. It is. The jumping indicates that a particular application needs you. Click the jumping icon, and that application will "come forward." Then you'll probably see a message on the screen, such as "Do you want to save this document?" or "This application couldn't do what you wanted." Just do whatever the application wants you to do. This jumping action is different from the "bouncing" you'll see when an icon starts to open. The bounce is little; the jump is big. It's actually kind of cute.

Print as a PDF

The print capability in Mac OS X is useful even if you don't have a printer, or you don't want to make a paper copy of something. Because the Portable Document Format (PDF) is deeply ingrained into the operating system, you can "print" a document to a PDF file. This feature is great for saving receipts of online orders or articles to read later when you may not have an Internet connection. Choose File > Print, click the PDF button, and choose Save as PDF. Specify the file location and any desired metadata or security options, and then click Save to save the PDF to disk.



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