As a Windows Client (WPF, Silverlight, Windows Phone, Native, XNA,
Surface) community guy on Scott Hanselman's team at Microsoft, I am
constantly on Twitter. I've found twitter to be pretty
indispensible for keeping up with the community, and for keeping
myself sane while working from home.
First, a little on my working setup
I have three displays and two computers that I use daily. I also
have my touch tablet that I use if I need to do some touch work, or
I am preparing to go on the road. Due to the shape of my desk, I
have one 24" display on my left, dedicated to my Microsoft PC (quad
core, 8gig machine), A 23" display right in front of me, as my home
PC's main display, and then an old 20" display above the 23"
display, dedicated primarily to Twitter or to reference material
for whatever chapter/blog/article I am currently writing. When I
move my desk, I will have more displays
(preferably a 30 and a couple 24s) :) I use Input Director to share
my keyboard and mouse between my main PC and my Microsoft PC.
Here's a picture from last year.
My Microsoft PC typically has my MS email open, some internal
sites, and often times, Premiere Pro encoding some video
Twitter Columns, Groups, and Searches
Every day, I check my direct messages and my mentions for any
conversations I should reply to. I'll also check the latest in my
"all friends" feed, but won't make an attempt to really catch up
with overnight stuff. If it's below the fold, I pretty much write
it off and only deal with new items as they come in (I often
attempt to do the same with email, but that doesn't go over well
<g>). These are my Twitter in-boxes.
So far, my columns (from left to right are)
- Direct Messages
- All Friends
I then have a few different searches and groups that I keep open
and check at a few points throughout the day. From Left to Right
(currently) they are:
|Group: Extended Microsoft Team
||This has all my team mates, plus some
key product group folks.
|Search: windows client stuff
||This is a search for keywords like
"wpf" and "windows forms" (it's a long search). I use this to find
out what people are doing, what new blog posts have come out, and
where folks are running into snags.
I'll often reply to interesting tweets here. In fact, you'll
sometimes see a blog post or three from me where I have found an
interesting challenge in a tweet in this search, and then decided
to write a quick post about how to solve the problem or otherwise
help the person out.
In addition to all the blogs I subscribe to, I often mine this
search when putting together the weekly Windows Client Developer
||This is a search for several commodore
64 keywords. You'd be amazed at how many daily tweets pop up in
Mostly this is a fun search, but I also use it to check to see if
folks are saying anything about the C64 emulator I wrote.
||This is a group of local tweeps,
including influentials, friends, former coworkers at AIS, and DEs
in the area. I use this to keep up with current local events and
||A group of several fun folks I follow,
like Darth Vader, OMGFacts, alyankovic etc. Little to no business
value here, but good for off-topic stuff, and for the types of
things I include in the "Fun" section in the Windows Client
|Search: Pete Brown
||Vanity search. This is a search for my
name, common variations on it, and my domain names. I use this to
find out what folks are saying about me (or any of the other
zillions of Pete Browns) even if I'm not actually mentioned. It
also helps me when someone response to @PeteBrown instead of
BTW, if you like beer, follow @petebrownbeer :)
|Group: WPF at Microsoft
||This is a group I set up for all the
WPF product team folks that are on twitter. Good for additional
news about the products, although I don't typically find out new
things here. I'd hope I already know about it by the time it shows
up on Twitter :)
I've been on Twitter now since 2007, and it has pretty much
replaced my public IM usage (I still use Office Communicator within
Microsoft for private chat). I use Twitter to communicate with
people, share things I find interesting, and keep up with the
goings-on in the community. It has helped reduce the frequency of
short single-link posts on my blog (I simply share the link on
Twitter now) as well.
One final use for twitter is making folks aware of new blog
posts I put out. I don't believe Twitter should be used as a
replacement for RSS. However, I feel it's ok to mention your blog
posts as long as that's not the full extent of your conversation on
Twitter, however, can also be a real time sink, especially if
you're not really in the mood to work seriously. When I really need
to concentrate (writing when I'm not in the mood to write, for
example), I shut down my Twitter client, close my email, clear my
desktop and just focus on the Word document and any supporting
First, let me say that I hate that word. Religious icons and
world leaders have "Followers". The rest of us just have interested
peers. I'm not sure which word is more distracting: the complete
devaluing of the word "Friend" thanks to Facebook, or
the change in the meaning of "Followers" thanks to Twitter.
That said, I manage my followers pretty closely. When I get a
new follower notification, I always check out the profile. If the
profile is a spammer, a social
media…person, an "internet marketer", or otherwise someone who
doesn't look like they're interested in actually having a
conversation with me, I'll typically block the account right then.
I like my follower count to be representative of the community of
folks interested in communicating with me, or learning about the
things I tweet about. I'm not about increasing the count just for
the sake of seeing a higher number.
If the person who follows me is someone I've met who interests
me, has really good stuff in their timeline, or is an influential
person I recognize, I'll typically follow them right then. If I
don't know the person, I'll see what conversations crop up in the
future, and perhaps follow them at that point. I don't follow a ton
of folks because I like to keep the number that still allows for
meaningful conversations -- well, as meaningful as you can get in
Use Twitter, it's Great
If you're not on Twitter, I absolutely recommend it. If you
follow the right people, you won't be getting the feared "Just went
to the bathroom" or "Had peas and leftover hotdogs for supper"
posts you see chatted about. Twitter is an essential way to keep up
with what key folks at Microsoft are doing, and what the leaders in
the community are up to.
In fact, Twitter is even good for support. My last Verizon
service call was initiated all via Twitter. Nice!
Interesting? Follow me on twitter. :)