Ning Network Gets A Star Studded Boost From The Collective

Over the last few months celebrities have become something of a currency on the social web as services vie to attract big-name stars (and gather the resulting media coverage and new users in the process). Twitter has garnered the most attention for its roster, which includes celebrities like Ashton Kutcher and Oprah. FaceIbook too has been making strides in this area, especially since releasing its redesigned ‘Pages’ that allow celebrities and brands to broadcast their updates to fans.

Another contender in the celebrity hunt is social network platform Ning, which is already home to a number of social networks dedicated to celebrities, politicians, and musicians. Today, the company has announced that it has forged a partnership with The Collective, a management company whose clients include Enrique Iglesias, to create custom networks for a number of The Collective’s biggest clients.

Along with Enrique, Collective clients including comedian Eddie Izzard, and actors John Leguizamo and Taylor Momsen will be deploying their own social networks on the platform. And some clients, including The All American Rejects, Staind, and the Plain White T’s have already launched their own Ning networks as their homepages.

Jason Kincaid of TechCrunch spoke with The Collective partner Aaron Ray, who says that while the company’s artists will continue to maintain presences on other networks where appropriate, Ning has offered a greater degree of access to support personnel than other social networks have – clearly the site is going out of its way to foster its relationship with celebrities. But Ning SVP of business operations Jason Rosenthal says that the company is only interested in working with celebrities that will use their Ning networks to truly connect with fans, not just as vanilla corporate celeb properties.

Rosenthal also says that while many celebrities maintain presences across multiple sites, they tend to use Ning as their central hub, with their other profiles serving as satellite ’spokes’ linking back to their social networks. This isn’t surprising given the increased level of control a celebrity has over their Ning network, than say, a Facebook page. But celebrities won’t be dropping the other services any time soon – a Ning network may offer a richer experience, but casual fans are more likely to subscribe to a celebrity’s Twitter feed or Facebook page than they are to join an entirely new social network.

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Wall Fixtures Made Of LEDs & Dandelions


The Christmas is coming and I have to say that I’ve found the perfect gift, at least for me. It’s called the Fragile Future 2 and it consists of a LED lighting fixture that is custom built and I’m sure that it will look great on my wall. The light sources are made of LEDs and dandelion seed pods which means that you REALLY have to be careful around it.


It was designed by Lonneke Gordijn from Design Drift, and he says that you can have your LED lighting fixture with 3 to 50 light modules, probably depending on how much money you have. Well, each light module measures 8×12 inches so you should check your walls to see where you can fit the Fragile Future 2.


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10 Examples of Expert Doodles in Website Design

the use of doodles and hand drawn illustrations give an informal, friendly and accessible value to the website as well as giving a fantastic visual addition to the design. Check out this roundup of 30 stylish examples of doodles in web design for your inspiration, and don’t forget SpoonGraphics’ recent hand drawn doodle icons for use in your own projects.



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5 Free Halloween Photoshop Tutorials

In the spirit of the upcoming Halloween celebration we here at The Teachings of Master Den Zuko present this collection of free Halloween-themed Adobe Photoshop tutorials.

Zombie Photoshop Tutorial

Zombifying Mandy Moore in Photoshop


Photoshop Texturing Basics

This tutorial will show you how to use textures to dramatically change the look of pictures in a few easy steps.


Halloween Pumpkin Wallpaper in Photoshop

Create Halloween pumpkin wallpaper in Photoshop.


Halloween Cartoon Hag in Photoshop

Drawing a halloween cartoon – The witch in Photoshop.


Halloween Pumpkin Wallpaper in Photoshop

Halloween is near! So let’s take a pumpkin image, carve it up, and light it for this coming holiday.


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Web 2.0 News – is going the way of wordpress

Ma.gnoliaSocial Bookmarking service Ma.gnolia announce today at Gnomedex in Seattle, Wa about an upcoming product released due in September.

The guys at Ma.gnolia are kicking off development of Ma.gnolia 2, or M2 for short. What does that mean? Well, for one, M2 is a ground-up rewrite of Ma.gnolia, re-creating features we love today, taking a second run at what didn’t worked as well as planned, on a distributed, service-based architecture designed to handle the large volumes of data we’ve seen. But even more significant, M2 will be an open source project that can be downloaded to remix and run as your own.

With project goals like:

  • To promote the use and benefits of software features that encourage constructive social interaction.
  • To ensure that Ma.gnolia can survive and remain useful regardless of the status of Gnolia Systems.
  • To create and participate in public and private areas for sharing web-based resources
  • To enrich personal and/or organizational use of the web as a research, discovery, collaboration and publishing tool.

One can be sure that a whole wave of digg-like social bookmarking sites will flood the web. But that is not nessicarly a bad thing if people remember to do what the blogosphere has and diversify enough to it target community base.

Further Resources

TweetStat Mashup

In lew of my review of TweetStat I decided to do an interview with the head developer of the web service. Just before I started to type up the article for the service review I sent a private message to @TweetStat on twitter. As luck would have it Damon agreed to the interview. We then settled up the time for April 10, 2008 at 3:30 MST. The transcript goes as follows:

3:37 TweetStat


3:37 Dwight Spencer


I’m glad that you agreed to the interview

3:38 TweetStat

Not a problem at all – what are you looking to chat about?

3:39 Dwight Spencer

its mainly about the site. So to start off what inspired you to create TweetStats?

3:40 TweetStat

Well it was just before my 2000th tweet and as a fairly recent Twitter-holic, I was curious how I had used the service over time.

So I sat down with some perl, Excel pivot tables, and Numbers charts and in a couple hours had a script to download all my tweets and graph them over time

I eventually posted the script to my blog and after a surprising number of downloads and seeing that other people were interested in graphing their timeline, I had the desire to make it a web service.

3:43 Dwight Spencer

very nice. which that brings up what development environment did you decide to use in development of TweetStat?

3:52 TweetStat

Short answer – Ruby on Rails.

Long answer – it was important to me that the charts looked good. I had seen some other implementations online but they had some things I didn’t like whether it was as simple as an ugly chart or more complicated as not being able to gracefully handle a large amount of traffic.

So I researched charts and seeing as how I wanted to site to have a clean web 2.0-ish look, I figured Ruby on Rails was a suitable language – I’ve also been wanting to learn Rails for a while.

3:54 Dwight Spencer

quite a good way for it too.

3:56 TweetStat

Hehe definitely – Fortunately there are a ton of good tutorials/howtos/etc.

3:56 Dwight Spencer

that there is.

As many who have used the twitter client, Twhirl have know one can use your service from it. will there be a published API for other app writers to use?

3:57 TweetStat

haha, good question.

I am hoping to provide some sort of badge or other JavaScript-fu that people can query or display on their site. I hadn’t considered a full-fledged API as this is really just a hobby project for me.

4:02 Dwight Spencer

How long did it take you to develope the site?

4:03 TweetStat

All told, probably a couple weeks time. I announced/released it one month after I put out the perl script. It was mostly coded in the space of two very sleep-deprived weekends, though.

4:04 Dwight Spencer

very nice. I’m impressed.

4:04 TweetStat

Hehe, thanks. I got oddly motivated and ignored everything else.

4:05 Dwight Spencer

I know the feeling, its the same way for me with many of my oss projects.

4:06 TweetStat

yea, I def wish I could put more time into it, but alas…have to pay the bills somehow.

4:06 Dwight Spencer

very true. and that brings me to my next question.

Why did you deside to use a donation model for the site revenue?

4:07 TweetStat

Well I’m not incurring any extra expense as the site is on a server that I already own. I was never hoping to make any money on it, but am definitely appreciative of any donations people make.

That being said…

I would definitely like to be able to make the site perform better and am considering ways to do that. I, personally, am not a big fan of ads although I do realize they are a primary means of generating revenue on the net these days.

I made TweetStats because I enjoyed doing so, not because I wanted to rake in cash – call me naive.

4:10 Dwight Spencer

nah, I’ve found that’s usually how it goes for developers that’s not from Silicon valley. Its nice and refreshing in these days.

4:12 TweetStat

Yea, as I mentioned – my motivation was to have fun, enjoy learning a new language and if people liked it then so be it.

4:12 Dwight Spencer

Very nice indeed. How do you see the site growing in the new future(features, users, traffic)?

4:13 TweetStat

I’ve gotten a number of feature requests for different types of stats – more detailed, % of replies that are @’s, etc.

Right now I’m trying to focus on some more detailed stats and helping users identify their followers better. For example:

1) The ability to see your activity over a specific period of time. The past x days, etc. This is in “alpha” at the moment.

2) Try to incorporate JavaScript charts as well (current charting component is flash-based) so they can be embedded on web pages/blogs and work on the iPHone.

3) Branch out into other areas where I see a need in Twitter such as the ability to visualize your followers better, find intersections and see who else you might be interested in following.

It’s not the most “useful” site, I’ll admit – but it’s definitely fun. I’ve gotten some spikes when big names on Twitter mention it or it gets blog, but the traffic usually hovers pretty low.

Of course – the above is all based on the assumption that I am able to add extra hours into our current 24-hour based days. I’m working on that as a side project too, hehe.

I think there’s a lot of room for Twitter to grow in the statistics area to improve the user experience (see and while I would love to further that goal…my time is limited.

That of course offers the question – should I open source it and allow others to contribute?

4:18 Dwight Spencer

hey, that’s my next question.. hehe

Would you ever consider offering up the project to the open source community?

4:21 TweetStat

I’ve gotten a couple requests to do so and I am considering it in order to make the site better. As a novice Ruby coder, I’m sure others code do a much better job.

4:22 Dwight Spencer

well it would be nice to see it opened up. I know I have a few ideas for RSS output and xml API already.

4:23 TweetStat

I would also like to set up a Jabber server so I can pull from the public timeline instead of having to go back and scrape tweets – but again, that full-time job keeps getting in the way.

4:24 Dwight Spencer

so true. heehe

that’s about it, other than Who holds the credit for the service? or as Scoble puts it bluntly, Who are you?

4:27 TweetStat

Daunting question.

I suppose I wrote the original script, but TweetStats wouldn’t be what it is without the work of many others in the community such as backgroundrb developers, Fusion Charts developers, @kejadlen who wrote a ruby port of the twitter stats script that got some use and the awesome rails tutorials that are available on the net…

oh, and I guess I should mention I’m @dacort on Twitter and my personal blog can be found at

4:31 Dwight Spencer

smashing. Well unless you have an questions for me? I think that’s about it for the interview

4:32 TweetStat

Just wondering where the interview will be posted and when I suppose?

4:32 Dwight Spencer

great question

its going to be at The Teachings of Master Den Zuko( and I’ll have it up by tomorrow morning

4:33 TweetStat


4:33 Dwight Spencer

I usually do a tweet when I post a new article

4:33 TweetStat

Well thanks for the interview, I definitely appreciate the interest in TweetStats!

4:34 Dwight Spencer

your welcome. and I appreciate you taking the time out for me to do the interview.

4:34 TweetStat

Of course, anytime.

And now I’m off to pick up @MarinaMartin (who, as luck would have it…I met on Twitter lol)

4:35 Dwight Spencer

nice. have fun mate. cheerio

All in all it was a very good interview and I still can’t thank Damon for agreeing to the interview. Though, there was some network hiccups there on my end, but those where edited out for readability.

The Day the Tweets Went Silent, Using Twitter Metrics and Blogger Resources

The teachings of Master Den Zuko

There has been tons of buzz on the web about micro blogging, in particular about twitter. If you haven’t heard about twitter by now then where have you been for at lease the past 6 months? At macworld the service went down do to all the flood of tweets. Then along came SXSW and in anticipation they quickly upgraded and was well prepared for the influx of tweets on the service. Then there was Monday April 7th, 2008(Twittergate), the live stream of the internet marketing gurus Ed Dale and Dan Raine‘s Thirty Day Challenge vodcast. Their goal was to get as many people to sign up for twitter as possible. A part of me thinks that they’re only half right on this as there are several other services for micro blogging with a social network out there, just not with the same community of geeks and application writers whom seemingly can’t get enough of being bombarded with information overload. But I digress, in the course of minutes the web server hosting twitter died, so much for lighttpd ehh??, and for a good hour and a half at the very lease, didn’t bother to count the mintues being too busy with at that moment, twitter was dead. Though in the misted of the slience and how rare it is with the web these days. Your digital sensi and master cyberlord found the one thing that just about every blogger from CenterNetworks’ YouTube Adds Full Video Metrics; Where Are Twitter’s Metrics? to big name blogger Robert Scoble himself complaining about not being there.

Its called TweetStats, and its a great way to keep track of your stats and usage metrics or anyone on twitter for that matter of fact. I’ve tested out the service and its great. Its got a nice clean interface, quick and ease usage. Plus, you don’t have to sign up for anything, there’s not even an advert or click tracking on any page. You just simply enter in the twitter user name and with in a few moments, depending now much the service has to gather, you’ll have a nice graph of all the tweets that have been done. Though, I will say this since it hasn’t even broken the Alexa top 100,000 barrier and its clear tnat Damon aka dacort has put a lot of effort into the site. Before, bookmarking or graphing any tweets, please do click on the donate button. Then rush off to enjoy all the new graphs and metrics that where previously hidden away on someone’s web server access log.

Never heard of twitter? Play the video and find out what the buzz is about.

While I found that little gem, I also found another web service that puts my article on using google hacks to find twitters to shame. its Tweet Scan. This gem is a real-time Twitter search engine. Its free to use, there is a free member subscription for keeping track of your favorite searches in much the same way as Google Alerts or any top meta-search engine does. Plus, a wiki area for users and a blog from the behind it. The also do offer up a clickthru advertisment to its members to help generate traffic from the site’s sidebar. Which is a single link, at 140 charactures for $10 USD a week. I don’t know about you, but that does sound like a very tempting way of generating traffic to any given site.