The Happy February Grab Bag: Bit.ly, Latitude, Pidgin and More

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Happy February, to each and every one of you. The second month being the best, and all. Not just because it is – from what I’m told – the month of my birth (James too). No, February as so much more to offer. Truck Day is this Friday, Pitchers and Catchers report a week and fourteen hours from right now, and there’s a week’s vacation to celebrate – among others – one of my personal heroes, Abraham Lincoln.

That’s right: we were born in the same month.

This year’s edition also features some interesting new musical releases from the bands I frequent, including the Heartless Bastards, M. Ward, Beirut, Passion Pit, The Airborne Toxic Event.

Besides all of that good news, there’s a lot to talk about that’s actually relevant. Or so I believe. Before I get to this week’s individual posts, the rare Wednesday edition of the grab bag. Below are items that may or may not deserve their own posts, but aren’t getting them.


On the recommendation of the Hype Machine’s Anthony Volodkin, I’ve been using Bit.ly in place of Twurl.nl as my URL shortener of choice. The compelling feature, for me, is the transparent statistics made available on the URL’s. Here, for example, is the data for a link to the Dopplr travel summary I mention below. Like Jeff, I’m concerned that they’re issuing multiple hashes for the same target URL, but apart from that it’s a very nice service.


Can’t imagine any of the location based services are terribly excited about seeing Google enter their market with Latitude, but the interesting bit here, to me, was the launch platform. Obviously it’s not a surprise that they targeted the G1 out of the gate, but I am a little surprised as an analyst – and disappointed as an owner – that they delayed the availability on the iPhone. I think we’ll see more of this as time goes along, owing to the need to compete as well as the difficulties they’ve had negotiating the byzantine Apple iTunes Store approval processes.


Pidgin, the IM project some of you might be more familiar with in its former incarnation as GAIM, and others might be indirectly exposed to via Adium, is – for the very first time – killing me. I cannot keep sessions open, it crashes multiple times per chat session, and it’s generally become unstable to the point of being borderline unusable. Nor can I pinpoint the cause; there’s nothing obvious about the behaviors that trigger the failures, nor does running it from a terminal give me any session data to work with.

If it weren’t for the fact that Empathy isn’t ready for primetime, I’d be a former Pidgin user at this point, which makes me sad. It’s been a great application for me for years.


One of the silver linings I had hoped for from the grim economic climate seems to be somewhat realized: I’m traveling less. According to Dopplr, who would know, in 2008 I spent 113 days traveling on 48 trips whose distance would have taken me 31% of the distance to the moon. While that may be child’s play for some, it’s too much movement for me. Particularly these days, when I have good reasons for staying closer to home.

Already in 2009, however, there are events being cancelled or conducted virtually that would have seen me on a plane in years past. So while that will undoubtedly have its downside and create problems, I’m happy for the respite, however brief it might prove to be, because travel is far and away my least favorite part of this job.


Alex pointed to this excellent piece from Micah on unfollowing people on Twitter, and I must say that I subscribe to most of it. I’ve long pursued a different path with respect to how I manage Twitter, and many of the reasons he culled his followers are the reasons I don’t follow in the first place.

But that’s not the only way in which I’m a bit unusual in my Twitter usage. I do not retweet (though I’m happy to point to interesting links and give credit), mostly because the seem too much like spam for me. Nor do I use hashtags, because I find them aesthetically displeasing.

Not that I judge folks that do, or recommend that you follow my lead: to each their own, as always. I’m simply trying to explain why I do things this way, because people ask.


  1. As a Pidgin developer, I’m currently working on things to try and get Pidgin’s stability to a reasonable level. Stay tuned if anything- you’re not alone.

  2. re Twitter: I chuckle when I compare James’ use to yours! I have rarely seen a more assiduous re-tweeter … and while I appreciate your reasons for not following, it’s hard not to take it personally :’)

    And I was just about to say I’m having no trouble with Pidgin on WinXP when it refuses to start! Seems the “O’Grady weather effect” is spreading to software …

  3. Been using Pidgin for a about 6 months after abandoning Trillian after many years. Pidgin additional plugins for facebook and twitter work fine but I am reading that Digsby supports them out of the box and allows status updated too, so considering changing

  4. hey man – nice round up. happy birthday month.

    question- whenever i see your photos i am surprised you don’t border = “0” to get rid of the weird margin. i think flat white frames your photographs better, and given yours in particular are becoming so *good*…

  5. Me too- on the birthday front, and on the not following and not retweeting front. Would be curious to hear more about your twitter use patterns, as I feel like maybe I’m missing out on something- dunno.

    (Pidgin as shipped in F10 remains stable as a rock for me, for what it is worth.)

  6. Thx for the reco re bit.ly. I’ve been using snipurl, for the statistics, but your example shows better stats than I get from snipurl. So I’ll have to give it a try.

    Thanks! @clairegiordano

  7. […] More recently I have been using Bit.ly. I first learned about bit.ly via Redmonk’s Steve O’Grady, The Happy February Grab Bag: Bit.ly, Latitude, Pidgin and More. […]

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