The revolution will not be photoshopped competently

Here is the drill. Every so often I photoshop this photo into what I imagine will be a willfully obscure film / TV pop culture reference for my Twitter – which turns out to be depressingly predictable 80s fare nine times out of ten.

You can see the rest of these here and here.  As always, apologies in advance for the photoshopping.

Charlie brown kicking football copy
 steven-spielberg-20070609-267574 copy
 Lost Boys
karate-kid-photo copy
 familyties copy
Dastardly_ani copy
 Dark side
 1769947-100_robocop copy
asterix2 copy
 Animal House
 James Bond
Wall st
 storm copy
 lego_spaceman copy
212_ScreenHunter_ 14-Aug

She’s a hard road finding the perfect Android Twitter app, boy

I use Twitter a lot, for work as well as my own fecking about. Much of this happens on my phone – but I’ve never quite settled on the Android Twitter app that’s quite right.*

Actually, that’s not true. Tweetdeck for Android was perfect – but Twitter killed it. It was fast, easy to use and no-frills, relatively. I’d go back tomorrow if I could.

tweetdeck-android OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Anyway. Once Tweetdeck was off the menu, I needed something else. In fact, because I use one app for work and another for me to avoid Tweeting From The Wrong Account Disasters, I need two. I’ve decided the perfect Twitter app needs to be:

  • fast (some apps are excruciatingly slow going between screens, gathering conversations, etc)
  • ad-free (this Candy Crush sounds ghastly)
  • able to autocomplete Twitter handles when composing a tweet (which is v handy when you’re trying to tweet ‘@NeilWagner13 strikes, takes out @StuartBroad8‘s off stump, @ECB_cricket now 111/8′ as fast as you can)
  • able to show mentions under a user profile (handy for stalking context)
  • to show ‘in reply to’ and conversations (as above)
  • great to look at, and easy to use. I don’t ask for much

Trouble is, even though there are heaps of Twitter apps in the Google Play store, most of them aren’t up to it. And I’ve tried them all. Here’s the run down, ordered from ‘shoddy’ to ‘quite good’.

Screen Shot 2013-07-25 at 8.49.11 PM UbersocialTweetcasterEchofon and Plume are ruled out straight away, as they have ads and no ‘mentions’ view.Seesmic is actually good. But, it has ads – and frankly, I can’t stand the icon and wouldn’t have it on my home screen. I mean, look at it. No-one wants a raccoon on their phone.
Screen Shot 2013-07-25 at 8.40.49 PM Hootsuite is great, but slow. It feels bloated and you often find yourself scrolling through endless screens to get where you want to go. I used this as my main ‘work’  Twitter account for some time, but my abiding memory is flicking between screens to get where I needed to. When you’re on mobile, you don’t want to be fecking around with that, out it went.Yes, it has all kinds of stats built in, but if I’m not paying for them, I don’t want them on the app. Humbug.
Screen Shot 2013-07-25 at 8.41.18 PM Tweetings is so close to being great… I used this as my main app for some time, and it does everything you need, short of getting you a beer to enjoy while you browse Twitter. One snag – it’s so sloooooooow. If we extend the ‘getting a beer’ analogy to a painful extent, your lager or what have you would be past its expiry by the time it came back. Shame – would trade again, if they can approve the speed.
Screen Shot 2013-07-25 at 8.40.01 PM Twitter’s own app does an admirable job. It’s fast, has autocomplete for usernames, mentions and conversations, searches well, and is simple to use.I still have no idea what the ‘discover’ tab does (does anyone?), but it’ll do. I use this for my work account on my phone, and my iPad**. If they chuck in the mentions view, it’ll be the One.
Screen Shot 2013-07-25 at 8.41.00 PM Carbon is my recommendation for Android Twitter app at the moment. Yes, it has a silly ‘sign in screen’ with a bald eagle or some such, but once you get past that (it only appears for a second, but it feels like an age), it’s great.

GREAT looking, unobtrusive animations, fast, mention views. It’s got the lot. There’s not a lot of options in the settings, but you don’t really need them, it’s good to go, from the box. Um, Google Play store. Go nuts.

* I actually googled ‘Android Twitter app power user’ once, to my shame.

** For completist purposes, I use TweetBot on my iPad, and it’s bloody perfect. I know, not really Android-loyal of me, but as far as I’m concerned, Tweetdeck For Android WAS perfect, and now it’s binned. LOoking forward to something that’s so good, it becomes the ONLY choice for Android users. I’m waiting!

Empowered to f*ck up

A few thoughts on TVNZ’s social media rules as reported in the Herald.

Before we make ‘2009 wants its social media policy back’ jokes, let’s allow for some benefit of the doubt. If you’ve ever read coverage of your own company in the papers, you’ll know there’s usually a bit more context to these stories than gets printed. And in this case, it’s hard to tell from Rachel Glucina’s article where the policy ends and her editorial begins. WOULD Greg Boyed’s burgergate tweet have been unacceptable, or is that just what RG reckons?

It’s not clear, for example, where the personal opinion line is – is it ‘Char Grill Kebab has gone downhill lately’, or ‘Peter Dunne cannot survive for much longer under this pressure’? Is it ‘everything’ or just ‘work stuff’?

The TVNZ reporters I follow do a more than reasonable job of being themselves on Twitter. Expecting them to come into line, when they’re actually taking part in the national online conversation without causing TVNZ reputation damage just fine thanks, is tricky. Some of the biggest recent scandals for TVNZ have taken place without a Twitter login after all.

If the policy is as draconian as it’s painted, it seems like a backwards step, and a possible misjudgment to try muzzling such a well connected group of natural communicators. The potential reputational damage caused by coming across as humourless and fusty is worse than the occasional off-message tweet in my opinion. Arguably, it undermines *all* TVNZ’s  social media authenticity, a weird move when their flagship current affairs programme makes a show of being part of the Twitter conversation and Welcoming Your Views.

I’ve had a little to do with writing social media policy documents, and I have to say that telling people what they can and can’t do in their own time and on their own Twitter made me feel uncomfortable, beyond ‘Use Your Common Sense*’. It wouldn’t have been easy for Michelle Romaine, an external consultant, to lay down the law on something so personal and get immediate buy-in. Again, we don’t know if there was any consultation, or if this was just an email bolt from the blue.

The preferable option (and probably the harder path) is educating and building trust with your team, so that any mis-steps  happen infrequently and are quickly put right when they do. Bear in mind you can get away with a lot by being human and owning up to  mistakes in a human fashion, remember Heather Du Plessis-Allan dropped the C bomb on the 6pm news, grinned a cheeky grin, and folk loved her for it.

In both my roles with social media element, I’m lucky to have been given rope to try things, without the fear of heavy handed-ness should things go wrong. If people are inhibited by fear of breaking the rules, they’re less likely to try something different and push the boundaries, which is where the gold is. If you’re empowered to f*ck it up, you’re probably less likely to.

*One assumes that when hiring folk to report the news on national TV, getting someone with ‘common sense’ would be a pre-req.

I don’t watch One News

As written, this policy seems to only apply to Twitter and possibly Instagram. You can supposedly do what you like on Facebook (but would anyone see it / care?)

Char Grill Kebab *has* gone downhill lately

Some guy on the NZ Digital Podcast

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to chat to Paul Spain and Sim Ahmed on the New Zealand Digital Podcast.

We talked about the new role and the old role, tools of the trade, advice for folk and businesses thinking about getting into social media and the separation between yer professional and personal activity online. Sim complimented my eyebrows at one point, which was extremely gracious of him.

Recording the show was a lot of fun – thanks to Paul and Sim for having me on, this new off shoot of the popular NZ Tech Podcast looks like it’ll be a worthwhile listen if you’re into This Kind Of Thing.

You can listen to my episode in a variety of fashions here.

2012 in mobile phone photos

I enjoyed doing this post so much last year, I’m doing it again. 2012 was ‘a bit calmer than 2011, but a bit more exhausting’.

At Mount Maunganui, there's piles of timber people have dragged up from the water every couple hundred meters #rena

At New Year’s at the Mount, there was still Rena debris washing up.

70s era Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet as seen at Tauranga model railway club expo

Thanks to my four year old, I’ve enjoyed getting to know the wacky world of model railways.

There we have it, chips omelette

I did a lot of bad food photography – I’ve left most of it off this post, except for CHIPS OMELETTE! H/T The Kitchen Maid.

Lunch at Euro. Recommended.

Doh! #foodtweet

I baked a lot of bread this year.


I also started blogging as part of the Corporate Lunchbox team – it’s fair to say my contributions have been sporadic so far. These burgers are from Char Grill.


I did enjoy a lovely meal at Depot.

Just hangin' out reading the news and that cc @cateowen

The fantastic @cateowen let me sit in the 3 News chair. In fact, most of the cool shit I did this year is thanks to Cate. Ta 🙂


I got to be Jeremy Clarkson for a weekend.


And here is THE JUDGE!

#ladsweekend prep coming along nicely

Had yet another v. successful Lads Weekend, at ‘catching fish’ and ‘binge drinking’ levels.

Fish for tea #ladsweekend



Work-wise, I enjoyed myself thoroughly, even though it was another challenging year. Lot of issues, lot of change. I was even on the bloody telly at one point. I’m missing a lot of the folk in this picture.


The Telecom ONE unconference was another raging success, with bonus manly-disregard for safe trailer stacking practise.


My rugby team The Chiefs only went and bloody won the title. I was very happy.



Scenes from last night #aintnopartylikeahamiltonparty

The 40th birthday parties kicked right in.

Retrieved these from someone's paper recyling. Bit weirded out but mostly stoked.

Two childhood flashbacks – I fished these MAD magazine paperpacks from a paper recycling facility because HOW COULD YOU THROW THEM AWAY?!?!, and commandeered the family lego for my kids.

In other Lego news, a bad-ass spaceship.

I got on Instagram, and found it’s useful mainly for taking photos of ‘things’, or close up photos of objects. They could be it Def Leppard tapes or drawings of a man with a toilet for a hat. For proper photos, it’s still Flickr.

I met Hillary Barry. She was lovely and didn’t mind having her photo taken with Mr Arkward arm.

I had a STORMING year, tech-wise.

This photo is the remains of my beloved HTC ONE X – which I smashed, to be replaced (thanks to me bursting into tears in front of our FANTASTIC device team in a most un-manly fashion), with Samsung’s S3, which I also lurve. Both these phones are big, with bright, vivid screens and superb cameras. Fast. You name it. I rely on it / them a lot to get stuff done, whether it’s work, organising our chaotic weekends or just fecking about on the bus.

At home, I obtained an iPad 3 and the Apple TV for home. Will save the in-depth run down for a future post, but yeah, they’re all fantastic.


My wee chap and my wee girl (she’s a bit bigger now). Family is the whole point, team.

Top parenting tip: multiboxes and coaxial cable make great toys for ten month olds


This ain’t no funky follow party

In the last month or two, I’ve been on an unfollow binge.

 @richirvine ‘following’ stats July – October 2012

When starting out on Twitter, I followed my mates who had blogs, then sportspeople, then local media and online types. I was as free and easy with the follow button as I am with peanut butter on toast. I’d go through other interesting people’s follow lists and follow away with what turned out to be reckless abandon.

Like (I suspect) many professional SM-folk, I followed many people out of professional obligation. Competitors, customers, industry types – which is all well and good, but for the odd occasion they spoke up about something that may become an issue for the employer, the trade off was often a whole lot of irrelevance.

Slowly things became more and more out of control – people you thought would be fun turned out to be too noisy, too whingy, over share-prone or self obsessed. I’m loathe to begrudge anyone a decent bit of self-obsession (hey, check out the domain name of this site!) but this was *my* Twitter – I wanted it to be awesome.

I think everyone owes it to themselves to make their Twitter great. Those pithy little updates and avatars are much more personal and important to me than, say, Facebook with its ever-shifting rules, ads and stuff a mysterious, unaccountable algorithm thinks (THINKS?) I’ll like.

And so, I started unfollowing. My inspiration was this article, Why I just unfollowed everyone on Twitter. Killer quote: “It’s exhilarating.” Unfollowing *everyone* seemed a little extreme (quite tempting though!) but like eating chips, once I started, I found it hard to stop.

Many of the accounts were pure newsfeed accounts I’d long since lost interest in and had been mentally skipping over anyway. Many people were the professional-obligation crowd* and others were friends of friends I’d followed because they were friends of friends, but it struck me I was getting mentally involved with people I didn’t actually know. Which, on paper, felt weird. Unfollow.

Google has a few tools for managing Twitter followers, but I found it easier to just go through my follow list in a web browser and start unfollowing manually. It didn’t take very long, I unfollowed a 2-300 people and I’m much happier. My Twitter feels leaner, sharper and has more meaningful updates, better signal to noise ratio, all that.

Like any time I dramatically cut back on RSS subscriptions (here’s another good article) or what have you, I don’t miss it. And because I’m a recidivist offender when it comes to welcoming feeds, accounts or noise into my life that will easily distract me, no doubt I’ll have to repeat the process over at some stage, but I’m (generally) OK with it.

Yes, I’m aware this post makes me sound like a dick, but I assure you that’s not the intention – I just want my Twitter to be a nice place, and make it about what works for me rather than trying to be everyone’s mate. Or something. One of the things I love most about Twitter is that you control completely what you see and can quickly change it if it’s not working for you. Don’t put up with noise, claim back your Twitter people! For you!


* This is a valuable search tab I have saved for making sure I don’t miss mentions of the employer, with the added bonus of seeing who says what about the employer when they think you’re not seeing it, by not using the handle.

What did we learn?

This last couple of weeks I was lucky enough to:

Speak at the Social Media and Mobile Apps forum, with a Telecom case study; “Social and corporate values – making them play nicely”

Attend The Flying Social Network’s The Social Media Breakfast

Both were fine events, and they made me think about conferences and expectations.  If there’s one thing ‘social’ ‘media’ has been good at, it’s creating conferences. And nobody is happy about them, if you read the Twitter commentary. They’re too ‘101’. They’re just an argument about why you should do social media. The presenters just read this shit on Mashable this morning*.

I’m just wondering what people expect. In the information-diarrhoea age we live in, there is no shortage of social media how-tos, gossip, case studies and news on the internet. It’s highly unlikely that a presenter will give birth, live on stage, to a unique information snowflake that will instantly make everything crystal clear and can be readily adapted to make your own SM strategy roar like a some kind of online Harley Davidson.

It’s worth remembering that this stuff is still new to most people, especially if they’re not among the daily-Mashable-reading set. It seemed to me that at the SoMo forum in particular, many of the audience WERE there for a 101. Fair enough, and that’s pretty much what they got for their money.

Over at Air NZ’s event, Wildfire’s Jessica Gilmartin gave a fairly 101 level presentation and the twitter hashtags lit up, railing against the basic level it was pitched at, as well as a lack of local case studies. But when Randi Zuckerburg gave her top ten ‘what’s hot’ tips, which included mobile, gamification and curation, the audience gave her a considerably easier ride than Gilmartin, despite many of the hot tips having been around long enough to cool off somewhat by now. It helped that RZ was generous with the war stories about Facebook’s early days and appeared relaxed, charming and to be thoroughly enjoying herself. She’s a great presenter, so folk were willing to forgive the content, which I dare say you could have largely googled up yourself, saving yourself the early start and $75.

So what about conferences then? Should you bother? Yes, because there’s other actual humans there articulating the problems and solutions they’re working on, both on stage and over shit coffee. There’s a limited pool of both presenters and potential attendees for social media conferences in NZ, so maybe we should just decide if we can take the time to attend, and if we can, STFU and take the day on its merits and enjoy meeting new folk and catching up with old ones. Or maybe I shouldn’t read so much into the Twitter conversation.

*Incidentally, at both these events, at least one presenter advised reading Mashable. One specified ‘every day’.

Social Media Club Hamilton

Being a Waikato chap, I was pleased and honoured to be guest speaker at the first Social Media Club Hamilton event.

The crowd had that friendly / awkward vibe of people who talk all day on the internet meeting each other in real life, maybe even for the first time. That vibe is a wonderful vibe, team – online communities are stronger communities when everyone gets together for a beer and a yarn face to face every one in a while. Wellington does this really well. The SMC Hamilton committee deserve a lot of credit for making the event happen – it was well attended, and the venue really worked for them. It’s off to a great start.

I did my little spiel on Telecom and social media, looking at the who, where and why of it, the importance of *listening* and what we do when it all turns to custard. Luckily, no-one obviously fell asleep and there were some great questions. I thoroughly enjoyed telling our story, chatting to some new faces, meeting legendary fishermen and having me mum along to hear wot her eldest does over on the dark side (!).

If you are a Hamilton or Waikato resident, I highly recommend making the effort to get along – like I say, I’m sure future events will be a great success. As in the rugby, Hamilton has it all over Auckland at the moment, SMC wise. Ahem.

Doing my best Mr Burns impression at SMC Hamilton. Photo credit: Innes Fisher.

Getting sociable and sensibile in the Bay

MediaSense is a new social media conference put on by Hal Josephson, a Hawke’s Bay entrepreneur, impresario and top bloke.

For me, this was a fantastic chance to meet folk I don’t normally meet, with people from all around the country attending. The Bay was well represented and I was most impressed with the locals’ friendliness and enthusiasm. These guys have secured interesting and challenging jobs or taken the plunge and started their own businesses in an area notorious for a vibrant food and drink scene. It had me scratching my chin several times about life outside Auckland. Hmmm. Needless to say, we were well looked after eating and drinking-wise, enjoying the hospitality of the Craggy Range and Black Barn vineyards, who hosted the event itself.

I was there as the corporate perspective in the local case studies section, along with  Tim and Matt from Uprise, Jayson Bryant, Tom from Catalyst 90 and Kayla from Mini Monos.

My case study was crisis communication. I told our earthquake story, which has some solid examples of the power of using social networks, and is a neat way to outline our approach in general. I think I got points for being honest(!), and I was pleased to get some  thoughtful anecdotal and online feedback.


I throughly enjoyed the afternoon panel hosted by Nat Torkington and featuring Xero’s Rod Dury, Matthew Miller from Mogul websites and Paul Brislen from TUANZ – local examples almost always give me more takeaways than any other section of an event like this. I was hugely impressed with Matt from Mogul’s common sense approach to social – it’s easy to overthink this stuff. Like Telecom, Xero is a heavy Yammer user, interestingly. I enjoyed Paul’s war stories from his the early days of doing this at Voda – can relate!

A nervous glass of water before speaking, while wishing I’d chosen more irreverent footwear like Jayson and Paul. Photo credit: @gnat.

It was observed that Twitter was roughly 70% of the conversation, but someone did point out you need to look at it in context with all social channels available to achieve your goals, especially the lesser known ones like TradeMe forums, even databases and email! Karen Leland gave her two hot tips for PR in social media as 1. pick up the phone, and 2. go to lunch. I liked that.

Full credit, as they say, to Hal and Odette for putting on a thoroughly valuable and enjoyable event, with some fantastic hospitality and conversations the night before, during and in the bar afterwards – I hope to be involved in some capacity next year. Recommended.

PS I need to mention Tweet2Eat – if you’re in the Bay, you MUST follow for all your food and drink recommendation requirements.

Putting the twit into Twitter

You know gang, if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing stupidly. And so, whenever I have two and a half minutes to spare (insert your favourite “too much time on hands” joke here), I like to take this photo of me serving wussy milky drinks *on a boat* and make a new Twitter avatar.

I’m actually quite glad these don’t show up full size on Twitter itself. Ah har.


Chief Brody

A Bruckheimer production
Hemingway- the old man and the idiot
#redandblack for Canterbury
One bad Photoshop deserves another
Aero helmet for the Tour De France
Boyhood hero
All Whites at the Football world cup 2010

Best left