FollowerHQ Launch and Mobile App

FollowerHQ Icon Large_250x250Back in November of 2011, after many months of development, I launched FollowerHQ.  This was my first major Twitter application.  For those who haven’t used FollowerHQ, it’s goal is to help you manage your Twitter followers.  Other tools will let you automatically follow everyone who follows you, but I didn’t want to do that.  If I did, companies that I’m not interested in might follow me only for the automatic follow back.  They could then pollute my Twitter stream with tweets that I don’t care about.

FollowerHQ shows you who is following you that you aren’t following back.  It lists detailed information such as how many followers they have and when their last tweet was.  You can use this information to determine whether or not you want to follow them back.  Perhaps you might ignore some followers because they haven’t tweeted in a long time.  Maybe you might pass over some others because they don’t have any followers or seem like spammers.  Or, perhaps, you will choose to follow some users who tweet about subjects that you find intriguing.

In addition, FollowerHQ will show you who isn’t following you back.  As with people you aren’t following back, you can decide to ignore this situation, or you can decide to unfollow the accounts.  Finally, FollowerHQ will track your followers and will show you who you have unfollowed.  This is useful for the seemingly all-too-frequent times when Twitter decides to automatically make you unfollow someone when you didn’t want to.

Major Upgrade

The previous version of FollowerHQ was good, but it had one major flaw.  It needed to work while the user was waiting.  The user would open the page and FollowerHQ would start pulling information from Twitter’s API.  Since Twitter limits how much data you can pull at once, this meant that the application could be slow at times.  If the person running FollowerHQ only had a thousand followers, it might not be too bad.  If they had a hundred thousand, however, it was unusable.  Even worse, if the browser crashed, you would lose all of your progress and would need to start from scratch.  Needless to say, this limited FollowerHQ’s usefulness.

For the new version of FollowerHQ, I ditched the "real time load" and went with a report request.  Once you request a FollowerHQ report, it will queue up in the system.  FollowerHQ will then process these report requests behind the scenes, completely separate from the users’ browsers.  You can close your browser and even shut down your computer because FollowerHQ is running on my server.

When FollowerHQ is done, it will e-mail the user to notify them.  They can then log in to view the report.  Since the report information is pulled from my database and not from Twitter, the report comes up nearly instantly.  (I also used Google’s PageSpeed analysis to speed up the site.)

Now Available as an Android App

I’m also testing out ways of packaging FollowerHQ as a mobile application.  The first of these attempts utilized AppsGeyser.  I’m very happy with this approach so far.  AppsGeyser: 1) packages a special web browser that has no controls of its own and points to my site by default, 2) bundles said browser into an Android app, and 3) gives it all of the usual app characteristics such as being able to put an icon on the device’s home screen.  As a bonus, there are no ads (unless I want to include some which would give me some revenue) and I can submit my app to the Google Play store.

I’ve wanted to get into app development for awhile so this is highly intriguing.  I might make a "" version of my Twitter application for the app to launch, however.  I also want to find similar tools to utilize to create an iOS app.

With all of the changes I’ve made to FollowerHQ, I’ve love to hear what you think.  Head on over to and give it a try.  Post what you think about it here.

Calling All Beta Testers

logoYou might know that I made a little Twitter application called FollowerHQ.  It was born out of frustration of being unable to keep up with the people following me.  I’d try to evaluate each person to see whether I wanted to follow them back, but I couldn’t keep up.  So I made an application to help me decide who I wanted to follow back.

Of course, like any developer, I wasn’t fully satisfied with my final product.  It was nice, but it had a big flaw.  If you loaded the site, you needed to wait for a long loading screen to complete.  Part of this was due to the Twitter API.  Thanks to how it was structured, I needed to break my requests up into multiple smaller requests.  (In their defense, Twitter has a good reason to do this.  It likely keeps their server load down.)

Depending on how many records I needed to pull, this back-and-forth would take awhile.  It might not be so bad for someone with a thousand followers, but ten thousand or more would get painful.  Furthermore, you needed to keep the browser open at all times or you would need to start again.  Finally, if you came back to the site the next day, you would need to pull down all of these records again.

My solution was to restructure FollowerHQ into a "request and report" system.  In FollowerHQ Version 2, You submit a request to see the followers you haven’t followed back (including your e-mail address as a contact method).  In the background, FollowerHQ will queue your request up, retrieve all of the information, and store it in its database.  When it is done, it will e-mail you notification.  Then, you simply come back to the site and view the results.

Have a hundred thousand followers?  No problem.  Your report might take some time to generate, but you don’t need to wait by the browser.  Go do something else and FollowerHQ will let you know when it’s done.  Too tired to get through the whole list or computer crashed? No problem. Coming back to the site gives you the ability to open the report again and pick up where you left off.

Of course, I’m sure there will be bugs that I haven’t picked up on, cool features that I didn’t think of implementing, or refinements that I didn’t think of making.  That’s why I need some beta testers.  So who’s in?  Who would like to try out FollowerHQ Version 2 and let me know what they think?

If you’re in, please comment below and then visit  Happy beta testing!

Resolution Conclusion

Last year, I made a series of New Year’s resolutions.  Let’s see how they panned out, shall we?

Sort My Photos

I had a LOT of photos to sort through.   They were all jumbled in an “unsorted” folder and stuck in the (partially date stamped) folder that the camera assigned them.  It took a lot of time, but I finally sorted every last photo from 2011… and then promptly fell behind in sorting the ones from 2012.  Luckily, however, I spent some time on those and now have every last photo sorted.

Improve FollowerHQ

You’ve checked out my Twitter follower management website, right?  If the answer is yes, then thank you.  If the answer is no, then get thee to FollowerHQ!  It will let you see who is following you that you aren’t following back.  Then you can decide whether you want to follow those people back or not.

I had a bunch of ideas to improve it, but couldn’t find the time to work on them.  I would do a bit of work here and there, but things always seemed to get in the way.  My latest effort was my best one, though.  Spurred on by some big Twitter API changes, I’ve come up with a pretty radical alteration to FollowerHQ.  I’m tentatively calling it FollowerHQ Version 2 (because I’m just that awesome at naming things).

I did a ton of work on it, but have recently gotten side tracked.  I had a good excuse, though.  I was invited by Disney to preview their New Fantasyland.  (See the ongoing posts at that link.)  Now, I’ve just got to pick up where I left off, get it ready for beta testing, and then get it ready for release.  (If you are interested in beta testing, let me know in the comments or on Twitter.)

Promote Blog Posts

At the time of my resolution, my only promotion of my tweets was an automated “Hey, this post is now live” tweet.  After that, I relied on remembering to tweet about it.  That is to say, I never tweeted about it.  You can write the best blog post in the world, but if nobody knows about it, does it matter?  Now, I could spend every second of the day promoting my many posts and doing by best to drive traffic to my blog… except that I have a day job.  I can’t spend all day promoting blog posts when I have day job work to do.  I can’t spend all night promoting blog posts either because I have to work on new posts as well as make dinner, clean up, organize photos, etc.

The solution?  I found a WordPress plugin called Tweet Old Posts.  It did just what it sounds like.  At an interval specified by me it would take an old blog post of mine (how old is up to you, I set mine at 2 weeks) and tweet it out.  It took some minor fiddling with the settings to find the sweet spot of “too much tweeting” and “almost never tweeting”, but I’m happy with the result.  No, it’s not a hand-crafted promotion, but it’s the best I’m going to get given my limited time.

Cook More

On one hand, I love cooking.  Spending time in the kitchen turning a bunch of raw ingredients into a delicious dish.  On the other hand, I hate cooking.  Especially when I’m tired from work, put in a lot of effort to cook a meal, and then hear a rousing chorus of “Ewwww…. I don’t want that…. I don’t eat that… I want something else!”  Nothing punctures my Will To Cook faster than the prospect of making one meal for B and me, one meal for NHL, and one meal for JSL.  If I’m going to do this, I might as well toss some food in the microwave and hit the buttons to get dinner ready.  Why bother doing more just to hear how nobody likes the food?  Especially when I can hear about how great a cook I am when I toss frozen chicken on a paper plate and heat it in the microwave for 3:30.

I’ve had my cooking moments, though.  The weekends have been taken over by making eggs, toast, and “fakin’ bacon” (soy bacon – we’re Kosher in the house) for breakfast.  It’s a simple thing, but so much nicer than cold cereal or pop tarts.  NHL has been getting more adventurous with his eating too.  Now, if I could just lure JSL away from the “I don’t eat anything different than the things I’ve always eaten” camp.

Give B More Breaks

I’ve had quite a few Just The Boys days.  We’ve gone to parks, museums, restaurants, and more.  They love spending time with me and I love spending time with them.  It is a refreshing change from the usual times I see them during weekdays (before going to work when I’m in a rush to get out the door and after coming home when I’m tired and not looking forward to the nightly fight over dinner.  About the only reason that I’d say I haven’t done this enough is that I can never spend too much time with my boys!

More Date Nights

We’ve gotten a few nights out alone.  We’ve even had a trip to Disney World where we (*gasp*) didn’t bring the kids!  In the case of the former, it’s great to get out so it is just the two of us.  In the case of the latter, it was great to not only have a few days where we didn’t need to worry about the kids, but it was nice being able to decide what to do in Disney World ourselves instead of catering to the boys.  We could walk for longer, ride rides that we wanted to go on, and go sightseeing in a way that would have led to a pair of very cranky kids.  We returned home exhausted, but also refreshed.  Yes, we love our kids more than anything, but it is good to get away from them from time to time as well.

How did you do with your 2012 resolutions?

Resolutions For 2012

2012As I was thinking about what I would like to accomplish for 2012, I thought about my "11 goals for 2011".  I think this was partly a failure because I set too many lofty goals.  As the year goes on, life happens and your plans encounter detours.  So I think I’ll make six more generic goals.

Sort My Photos

I love taking photos.  Unfortunately, I’ve gotten lazy when it comes to taking the photos off the camera.  I’ve been sticking them into an "unsorted" folder and putting off filing them.  As I type this out, I have almost 5,000 photos (about 24GB worth) to file.  I want to be better at filing.

Improve FollowerHQ

I launched FollowerHQ last year and though I like it, I’m never fully satisfied.  I’d like to find some ways to improve on it.  I already have some ideas.  I just need to put them into code.

Promote Blog Posts

Currently, my promotion of blog posts involves an automated tweet when the post goes live.  Occasionally, I’ll tweet about it more, but all too often life takes over and I’ll forget.  I need to get into SocialOomph more to schedule tweets.  I also need to remember to post more on my Google+ page.

Cook More

I love cooking.  Sadly, due to many factors, I find myself reduced to making the same quick dishes over and over again.  In the last couple of weeks, I’ve relied on the microwave and/or canned foods all too much.  I want to cook from scratch more often and plan out meals again.

Give B More Breaks

B loves the boys and enjoys spending time with them.  However, having to deal with them (and their bickering and love of making loud noises) can wear her down.  She could use more time for herself.  (Either quiet time alone or girls’ nights out.)  I want to make a regular habit of taking the boys out (or keeping them in) so B can enjoy time off from being "mom."

More Date Nights

While B could use more breaks, I could too.  I’ll admit that there are times when I feel like we have so many things to worry about (home issues, boys, etc) that we don’t have time for one another.  I want to find more time for us to go out on date nights.

So there you have it, my resolutions for the coming year.

What resolutions/goals do you have for 2012?

Scroll graphic modified from one obtained via

Aloha Friday: Follower Habits

On Tuesday, I launched FollowerHQ to help Twitter users manage their followers.  I’ve heard that many people follow back whenever anyone follows them (usually via automated tools), but I never saw the use in that.  If I auto-followed everyone, I’d probably wind up not caring about most of the updates in my stream.  I’d also likely wind up following a bunch of spammers.  Instead, I tend to review each person who follows me to see if I want to follow them back.  The tediousness of this procedure led me to create FollowerHQ.

I have two Aloha Friday questions for today: First of all, do you auto-follow-back? Secondly, have you tried FollowerHQ yet and, if so, what did you think of it?

Come to think of it, that’s kind of three questions.

Thanks to Kailani at An Island Life for starting this fun for Friday. Please be sure to head over to her blog to say hello and sign the linky there if you are participating.

Aloha Friday by Kailani at An Island Life

Aloha #112

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