Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Twitter Archives Provide a Personal Diary

I was thrilled this week when my friend @RandyKnob shared the news Twitter users would be able to download a complete history of their messages. This feature is being rolled out and is not available to everyone yet. Luckily my archive was available and I enjoyed spending hours reading what I was sharing about my life up to five years ago. I was really surprised there was no cost for this service. I was expecting it to generate revenue for Twitter and I would have paid a reasonable fee.

Using to download archives
The first step to find out if your archive can be downloaded is to check your Twitter settings.





Click on your Twitter settings and scroll all the way down to the bottom.

If you’re lucky you’ll see “Your Twitter Archive” with a button that says something like “Send email”. Since I’ve already downloaded my archive my button says Resend email.  If your archive isn’t available yet you won’t have anything between Country and Deactivate my account.


In my case, even with over five years of data I instantly had an Email available.
My Email arrived with both an AOL friendly link to a download page and a copy of the actual link which I’ve blurred out. I was happy to see that the ID for downloading my tweets appeared long enough to protect users from curious folks like myself.  If the ID wasn’t secure it might be possible to guess random numbers and download someone else’s archive. Since most Twitter feeds are public it may not be a big deal but I’m sure someone will still figure out a way to download the archives of random people.

Caution: New Phishing attacks coming
I would also be wary of Email that comes out of the blue saying you have a Twitter archive available. You won’t receive this Email unless you request it from Twitter. Just like all the eBay, PayPal, Bank, UPS, Wire conformation I expect we’ll be seeing fake Twitter Emails claiming to be an archive of your Tweets.


Once available it was an easy download. One gotcha is since it includes many files to make a nice presentation the download will be a .zip file.  You’ll need to extract all the files into a folder and then click on the index.html file. I recommend creating a new folder and just extract the zip file into the new folder.


One nice touch is in the data sub folder you’ll find separate .csv files for each month so if you want you can view all your tweets in Excel or other spreadsheet program.

For me having a diary of many of my personal activities is extremely valuable. Over recent years my wife has had many hospitalizations and tests. Our local Ellis Hospital has been completely messing up our billing so now I can compare my old tweets to actual events.

My First Tweet

It was nice to know that my first Tweet was March 9th, 2007. I made one more boring tweet that month and never tweeted again until August when I shared news of my trip to Germany. I’d like to think my Tweets became more interesting. There’s no doubt after reading my old tweets that I’ve had the pleasure to make many new friends and follow some good people.

I love stats and January 2009 was my most active month with 279 tweets.  Many were related to Windows 7 and my upcoming MVP Summit. I was very surprised when I discovered tinyurls like were still active.  I expected many url shortening services would have a limit to their availability.  I was also able to confirm my predictions for 2009 were close to perfect.

Friends I Appreciate Even More
One special advantages of reviewing old Tweets is noticing I have amazing friends. They may not RT all my specials anymore but I owe a lot to folks who over the last five years have helped in one way or another encourage folks to upgrade to @WinPatrol PLUS. Thanks to @EdBott  @ChrisPirillo  @SecurityGarden  @TeMerc  @MSSpringBoard  @DaveZatz  @ryanranaine @kimkomando and many more.

While there were concrete reasons for having access to my old tweets mostly it’s just really fun to look back and see what was going on in my life and others.

Since there are still many without access to their archive I’ve copied the readme.txt file below.
# How to use your Twitter archive data

The simplest way to use your Twitter archive data is through the archive browser interface provided in this file. Just double-click `index.html` from the root folder and you can browse your entire history of Tweets from inside your browser.
In the `data` folder, your Twitter archive is present in two formats: JSON and CSV exports by month and year.

* CSV is a generic format that can be imported into many data tools, spreadsheet applications, or consumed simply using a programming language.

## JSON for Developers
* The JSON export contains a full representation of your Tweets as returned by v1.1 of the Twitter API. See for more information.
* The JSON export is also used to power the archive browser interface (index.html).
* To consume the export in a generic JSON parser in any language, strip the first and last lines of each file.

To provide feedback, ask questions, or share ideas with other Twitter developers, join the discussion forums on

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Monday, December 10, 2012

WinPatrol 2013 Enhanced for Windows 8

Since before the release of Windows 8 I’ve had more emails than you might think asking if WinPatrol was compatible with Windows 8.  Like most existing programs, WinPatrol isn’t available for Windows 8 RT but it has been running smoothly since early preview versions of Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro. There has been some confusion about security related programs so many early adopters have written to be sure we’re compatible.
WinPatrol has never worked like a traditional security application so it has been running fine on Windows 8 machines. I’ve heard from folks with brand new computers saying Scotty has been very helpful removing unnecessary pre-installed crapware. Computer companies are paid to include software that runs on Startup. In many cases they are not full versions and often cause problems when they expire. These programs will appear in WinPatrol’s list of Startup Programs where PLUS members can verify their purpose. Once these programs are removed by WinPatrol your new computer will certainly start quicker and often run noticeably faster.

Naturally, we have tweaked a few things to make sure WinPatrol continues to work its best. Many changes are minor but required due to new Windows 8 conventions. One example is how cookies are stored by Internet Explorer 10. While Microsoft doesn’t support or encourage 3rd party cookie managers, WinPatrol has been successful in helping remove unwanted tracking files.The cookie folder used to contain a file index.dat which Microsoft renamed to be container.dat.  This broke cookie handling but like other minor changes a little tweak and we’re back to normal. For protection, other internal changes are not being disclosed at this time.

WinPatrol 2013 works as you’d expect and with your support I’ll be adding some Windows 8 specific features as they are needed and/or suggested. I’m also learning how to create Windows RT apps so given enough interest perhaps there’s a WinPatrol RT in our future.

Using WinPatrol to launch to Windows 8 Desktop mode

A lot of folks aren’t sold yet on the new Start screen that is part of the Windows 8 new tile or Store Interface look. While I love the interface on my Surface RT tablet, like many users I switch to the Windows desktop on my office system. I still have many existing programs I use with familiar shadowed icons and File Explorer.

WinPatrol can actually be configured so that after booting and some initialization we’ll switch users to the desktop mode.  It’s a simple process and I owe the idea to an article by Greg Shultz in the Tech Republic.

WinPatrol 2013     Start Programs under Windows 8

The secret to switching to desktop mode can be accomplished by adding the new File Explorer program to the list of programs Windows launches when it boots up.
When you click the Add button the following Add New Startup Program will appear allowing you to select a program you’d like to run when you start your computer.


While in the past it was known as Windows Explorer you’ll start to hear folks refer to it as “File Explorer.” I’m sure there was some confusion between Explorer and Internet Explorer. For our purposes, having File Explorer (still named explorer.exe") as a Startup Program will cause Windows 8 to switch to the desktop mode.

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Saturday, December 01, 2012

Microsoft’s Future and Windows 8

Now that there isn’t as much discussion about Romney and Obama the passion appears to focus on the future of Microsoft and Windows 8.  I’ve already published three articles but I haven’t taken a stance strong enough to generate any hate mail yet.

Some folks have posted very positive and very negative reviews of their Microsoft Surface experience.

Dave Ward loved sharing, “A month with my Surface RT
Meanwhile,  James Kendrick let ZDNET readers know,
”Why I can’t recommend the Surface RT for table shoppers”

Paul Thurrott known for his research and Supersite for Windows took a much broader look at the big changes in Redmond with “Microsoft’s Mobile Strategy is Correct”. Paul’s popularity means he’ll generate the hate mail from the Apple Fan Boys but I’ve come to a similar conclusion that Windows 8 will be a success.

One real sign of potential success comes from the reaction I’ve had from complete strangers. Any time I’ve used my Surface I’ve immediately been interrogated by interested consumers. At my doctors office, I clicked the keyboard in place and everyone behind the counter stopped what they were doing as they jumped up to ask questions. I had heard Microsoft spent an extra bit of time getting the click sound they wanted.  Based on my experience, the recent Surface ad campaign has been very successful. The cost of the campaign has been effective since they’ve been able to advertise both the Surface and Windows 8.

The Windows brand is as strong as ever and nothing currently on the market is going to drastically change the focus. I learned a big lesson when I was involved with the “One Laptop Per Child” program. 

olpcFor $200, you could purchase a laptop and one would be given to kid with a desire to learn about computers.  The XO Laptop was an amazin innovation but it lacked one thing; Windows. It turned out even poor kids in 3rd world countries still wanted Microsoft Windows.

Just like we found true in the recent US election, people are comfortable with that they know. Microsoft is moving forward with change and I suspect folks will follow a brand that has always met their expectations.

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