Tweetie for Twitter is the New Zippo

Twitter Zippo

When I was in University, I didn’t have a mobile phone, email, or internet access. Most people didn’t. There was no TXTing, no IMing, no poking people on Facebook, and certainly no twittering. The way you met new and interesting people was by smoking. I’m serious. If you wanted to become friends with random cool people, you’d make sure you had a well-fueled Zippo and you’d practice opening it SHINK, lighing it KTCHSH, and closing it KHLUP.


That sound was an advertisement to people within earshot that 1) you were a fellow smoker, 2) that you had fire, and 3) that you might even have an extra cigarette. “Hey, got a light?” was the opening line to many friendships and relationships.

How you lit your Zippo was part of your personality. Some people did it one handed, some people liked to snap their fingers over the flint to create the fire magically, and others could open and light their Zippos off their jeans in one fluid motion. The crazy ones would pour a bit of lighter fluid in the palm of their hands and let it go up in a short burst.

The design of the Zippo was another expression. There were lighters from headshops with skulls and pot leaves and Harley logos. Some were monogrammed, some were gold and ornate, and most were just plain stainless steel. But they all did the job of lighting a cigarette for a fellow addict in need and sparking conversation.

Today I don’t smoke. I have an iPhone with ubiquitous internet access, email, and unlimited texting. There’s a program for every flavour of instant messaging service. There’s a decent Facebook application. And then there’s the Twitter app Tweetie: the new Zippo lighter.

Let me explain: So today, instead of wanting to be friends with social malcontents who are trying to start grunge bands, I want to be friends with geeks. Geeks know a lot of stuff about a lot of stuff, so there’s always something to learn or to talk about. And how do you break the ice with a cool geek? Easy. Get Tweetie for iPhone. Instead of walking up to a total stranger and asking “Got a light?” you say “Hey, aren’t you @[insert Twitter username here] who just tweeted about [insert topic here]? That was hillarious. I’m @jted.” Then you shake hands and the rest is history.

For example, at a recent Chuck Palahniuk reading in Toronto I was using Twitter to broadcast a few choice quotes from the author. Out of curiosity I used Tweetie to do a search for users also talking about Chuck. I was surprised to find 5 or 6 people in the audience broadcasting snippets of what Palahniuk was saying and what was happening in the room. A few of them had photographic avatars , and by tapping on them I could see a full-screen picture of their faces. After the show I recognized one of them talking to a group of friends. I thought it was crazy that Tweetie could transform a random stranger into someone I not only recognized, but shared a sense of humour with. I never did talk to the guy. But the point is that I could have. I was in a bit of a hurry that day…

Zippos have engraved images; Tweetie shows your avatar. Zippos smell like lighter fluid; Tweetie smells like a cheap iPhone application. Zippos attract smokers; Tweetie uses the built in GPS to find fellow Twitterers via the Nearby button. Zippos can be used for flaming parlour tricks; Tweetie’s Trends button can be used to read the collective mind of human consciousness. Now if only Tweetie could make that SHINK KTCHSH KHLUP sound…

Everything You Always Wanted To Know About TXT*

*but were afraid to ask.

A co-worker disappears into the bathroom, yet their Facebook wall magically updates. A friend tells you she can’t make it to your party because she’s not feeling well, yet her Twitter post raves about the new sushi restaurant downtown. It’s getting harder and harder to tell lies, even little white lies, when you are ‘lifecasting’. It’s also getting a lot harder to hide. People are TXTing from their mobile phones from just about every mobile location. They are telling everyone exactly what they are doing. But are they really?

Employing the 10 Ideas in 10 Minutes technique, I came up with ten things to consider (or conversely block from your mind) when you receive a text message (or IM, or Tweet).

  1. Is this person driving a car? “Don’t Text and Drive!” will be the slogan for the next generation.
  2. Is this person crossing the street? If so, they’re about to get hit by the texter from #1.
  3. Is this person operating heavy machinery? I saw a road worker texting with one dirty, gloved hand through a clear plastic bag (to keep his phone clean). With his other hand he was distractedly pushing a giant, wet, screaming radial saw into hard concrete. We’ll see how long he has two hands.
  4. Is this person standing at a urinal, or sitting on a toilet seat? It’s not like the bathroom germs can be transported via satellite, but it’s still a bit too intimate and disturbing. I suppose it’s still more polite than talking on the phone, which I’ve witnessed in a few men’s bathrooms.
  5. Is this person drunk? Look for an increase in miss-spellings, as well as odd confessions , extra X’s and O’s, and <3’s.
  6. Is this person high? Look for sentences that aren’t completed, words replaced by numbers, and strange shortened versions of common words.
  7. Is this person getting lucky? If they are sexting you, that’s okay. But if they are conversing with you digitally while having sex with someone else, well that’s just wrong.
  8. Is this person eating? Don’t text with your mouth full.
  9. Is this person in a completely different emotional state than they are projecting? How tragic to be sending out little :-) when there might be tears streaming down his or her face.
  10. Is this person standing somewhere nearby, watching you? Does that sound creepy? Because that’s what people used to do before mobile phones: stand near each other, look at each other, and talk out loud.

Twitter Tweet Sheet 2

A lot has changed on Twitter since I posted the original Tweet Sheet in February of 2008. It’s being used more (thanks to aplusk, oprah, and countless others) and it’s failing a lot less. There have been a few evolutions to the nomenclature on Twitter, and I decided to dust off the old Tweet Sheet and give it a fresh coat of paint. You’ll notice the font is a bit smaller, because more info is crammed into this one. It contains all the commands you know and love, with the addition of OH (Over Heard), RT (ReTweet) and the # (keyword/hash tag). It also mentions a few applications for desktop and iPhone. Makes the perfect gift for that Twitter newb friend of yours.

This PDF doesn’t waste as much paper either, with 11 cards on a standard letter-sized sheet plus instructions.

Enjoy. And please comment. (I’m sure there are still plenty of typos to find and correct.)

Tweet Sheet 2

Download Tweet Sheet 2

Twitter Tweet Sheet

UPDATE: Tweet Sheet 2 is now available, with updated geekiness. Check it out here.

There’s one things that annoys me about Twitter. Okay, there are two things:

  1. They are always down.
  2. There doesn’t seem to be one official place (including their own site) to get a complete list of mobile and IM commands.

I have fixed all that. Or at least I have fixed #2. I have created an exhaustive, ultra-portable, business-card-sized tweet sheet that you can download, print, cut out, and stick in your wallet or purse. Just click on the image below to download the pdf. Don’t all thank me at once, just go to and follow jted.

Tweet Sheet big

UPDATE: v1.1 has fixed the “PERSOANAL” typo. Not sure exactly what Perso-anal Commands are, but they are now gone.
UPDATE: Another typo has been fixed after almost a year: FAVE now reads FAV. Also, Twitter has disabled TRACKING indefinitely.

Contact Info Pending

Note to self: Need to update site with all my contact information. I don’t think there’s even an email address published here…

Actually, on my Pownce page, the right column details 20 other networks you can compile conflicting information about me on:

This just makes me want to look for more.

Pownce forgot to include:

And I’m sure there’s much more out there.