Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

Non–blocking Facebook and Twitter buttons

Friday, November 19th, 2010

On all the posts on this blog (like on most other websites you probably visit) you’ll see buttons to ‘Like’ a post (from Facebook) and to ‘Tweet’ about a post (from Twitter or TweetMeme). These buttons are very popular but if you use the iframe versions of the buttons (which are easy to install) you may have noticed a problem.

twitter facebook tweetmeme logos

If either the Facebook, Twitter, or TweetMeme servers don’t respond quickly enough when your browser requests the page content, your page loading may well block. On this site I’ve seen the Facebook Like button delay the page by 1-3 seconds. The bad part about the type of blocking is that in most browsers the rest of the page doesn’t render whilst the browser is waiting for these 3rd party servers to respond. There’s a more in depth explanation of why this is so on Steve Souders’ High Performance Web Sites blog.

Browsers usually start loading resources in the order that they are specified in the HTML. Below is a screenshot of one of the pages on this site (this one in fact). The red line shows the order of loading of the page. This order is typical for blogs.

rml page load order facebook twitter

If you place the social bookmarking buttons before your content then the problem is particularly noticeable as they can block your whole content from loading. During which time your visitor may decide to go elsewhere.

Is there a solution? Yes there is a well understood solution to this problem. Simply load these externally hosted buttons after your content. Here’s how I did it on this site.

Use a div to reserve space for your buttons

You should reserve the correct amount of space for your buttons. If you don’t you’ll cause the page to be re-rendered once the buttons are inserted.

<div class="socialbuttons" style="width:450px; height:28px; text-align: top;">

In my case I’m including the compact Facebook like button which is 25 pixels high, and either the TweetMeme button (20 pixels), or the Twitter Tweet button which is also 20 pixels high. More about how I decide on which Twitter button to include later.

For this blog I’m including the buttons at the start of my content, and at the end. If you are using WordPress you could add the div to your content either directly in the template (single.php) or by using a plugin such as PostPost.

I’m including the top div in the template, and the bottom div using PostPost. The reason I’m using PostPost for the bottom div is because this plugin gives itself a priority of ‘1’ which means that it inserts the div before most of my other plugins insert their content.

User JavaScript to add the Facebook/Twitter buttons after the content has loaded

You’ll notice that the div has the id ‘socialbuttons’. This allows us to easily find the element and insert the social bookmarking buttons after the content has loaded.

Here is the WordPress specific JavaScript that I’m using. I add it just before the closing </body> tag. For WordPress this means editing the footer.php template.

<script  type='text/javascript' language='javascript'>
var permalink='<?php echo urlencode(get_permalink()); ?>';
var socialhtml='<iframe src="' + permalink + '&amp;layout=standard&amp;show_faces=false&amp;width=300&amp;height=25&amp;action=like&amp;font=arial&amp;colorscheme=light" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" style="border:none; overflow:hidden; width:300px; height:25px; display:inline;"></iframe>';
<?php if (new_twitter()) { ?>
socialhtml += '<iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" src="' + permalink + '&via=reviewmylifeuk&related=reviewmylifeuk&text=<?php echo the_title(); ?>" style="width: 130px; height: 20px;"></iframe>';
<?php } else { ?>
socialhtml += '<iframe src="' + permalink + '&style=compact&source=reviewmylifeuk&b=2" height="20" width="90" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="border:none; overflow:hidden; display:inline;"></iframe>';
<?php } ?>
var divs=document.getElementsByTagName('div');
var divcount=divs.length;
for (var i=0; i<divcount; ++i) {
	if (divs[i].className=='socialbuttons'){

This JavaScript works by find all the div tags with the class ‘socialbuttons’ and then inserting the Facebook and Twitter HTML inside the div tags.

I’ve highlighted in red my Twitter account name. You’ll want to change these values to your own Twitter account name. If you aren’t using WordPress you’ll need to replace the get_permalink() function with something that correctly encodes your current page URL.

You may be wondering what the new_twitter() function is.

PHP to select TweetMeme or Twitter Tweet button

TweetMeme is handing over the Tweet button to Twitter. As of July 2010 the recommended button to use (recommended by both TweetMeme and Twitter) is the official Twitter one. Unfortunately the Twitter Tweet counts will only be correct for articles posted after July 2010. Therefore for the moment I’m using the TweetMeme button for articles posted before July, and the Twitter one for articles posted after.

Here is the WordPress specific PHP that checks if the current post is after July 2010 (you could make it a one-liner if you like).

function new_twitter(){
	$twitter_switchover_date = strtotime("2010-07-01");
	$post_date= get_the_time('U');
	if ($post_date > $twitter_switchover_date) {
		return true;
	} else {
		return false;

If they ever remove the TweetMeme button completely it will be very easy with this code to change all the Twitter buttons to be the official Twitter ones.

Including hashtags with the TweetMeme button

The old TweetMeme button had the option of specifying hashtags for the Tweet. You can add this in as well if you want. You’ll need to write a function to get the hastags (e.g. called something like get_hashtags()), and include it in the TweetMeme URL.

You can find code for constructing the TweetMeme hashtags in the TweetMeme plugin. Look in tweetmeme.php for the ‘// append the hashtags’ section.

If you manage to create your get_hashtags() function you can replace the TweetMeme line in the JavaScript with.

socialhtml += '<iframe src="' + permalink + '&style=compact&source=reviewmylifeuk<?php echo get_hashtags() ?>&b=2" height="20" width="90" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="border:none; overflow:hidden; display:inline;"></iframe>';

(again don’t forget to replace my Twitter account name with yours!)

Does it make a difference?

From my experience of using this code it definitely makes a difference. The annoying delays (caused mainly by the Facebook Like button) have gone. The button still sometime takes several seconds to load, but at least it isn’t blocking the rest of the page.

More info on how to customise the buttons

If you want to customise the buttons have a look at the developer documentation for each one.

Who are North Korea’s 13 Twitter friends?

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

In the past few months North Korea has embraced social media, first creating a YouTube channel, and in August a Twitter account with the name @uriminzok, which roughly means ‘our people’ in Korean.

uriminzok following wide

uriminzok followingNorth Korea has since been busy and has already racked up 457 tweets for its 10,334 followers. Pyongyang is however being very selective over who it chooses to follow. As of today it has followed only 13 other accounts. Who are these 13 accounts that North Korea has deemed worthy of following? You might be surprised by the answer.

1. @noaheverett

noaheverettNoah Everett is the creator of TwitPic, the service that makes photo sharing on Twitter easy.

North Korea has become a regular user of TwitPic to share photos from around North Korea, as well as political cartoons. To date they have shared 30 photos using the service.

Perhaps that is why they have befriended the TwitPic creator.

2. @TwitPic

twitpicAs if to confirm their love of TwitPic, North Korea are also following the official TwitPic account. Presumably to keep up to date with the lastest TwitPic features, and API updates.

Sidenote: North Korea are also heavy users of TinyUrl on their Twitter account but haven’t become friends with them yet.

3. @ljwalters

ljwaltersDespite only having 4 Tweets with a combined total of 12 words, ljwalters has managed to get 50 followers including the North Korean account.

ljwalters 12 tweeted words reveal a Happy Birthday message to ‘Peter’ and the fact that he/she is reading ‘Outliers’. Still this was enough to grab the attention of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and mark ljwalters as one of the chosen 13.

4. @RadioactiveHair

radioactivehairRadioactiveHair is a Twitter user who follows 93, and has 16 followers. This user’s 168 tweets reveal a possible like of ‘Rap’ music. In September this user sent a message to North Korea’s @uriminzok account expressing admiration for Kim Jong Il. They are now Twitter friends.

5. @comandantmarcus

comandantmarcuscomandantmarcus runs a socialist website on tumblr where he lists ideas for housing, transport, music, alcohol and more. Perhaps the DPRK were inspired by his thoughts, which prompted them to follow him.

6. @_chinpingpong

 chinpingpongIt is harder to understand why North Korea is following _chinpingpong. This user is a very regular tweeter with 9,414 tweets and 191 followers.

Recent tweet topics include Inception, music, and The Big Bang Theory (the TV show). This account doesn’t look like an obvious one for Kim Jong Il and the DPRK to follow. But that changed after _chinpingpong retweeted one of @uriminzok messages. North Korea then decided to follow this user.

7. @JimmyDushku

jimmydushkuJimmyDushku is another committed tweeter with 2,649 tweets to his name. He is tweeting about life and the news. One of his tweets caught my eye: “Only way things would go better would be if I got my N. Korean visa”.

Perhaps this is the reason for North Korea’s interest in Jimmy. Maybe they want to ensure that his visa is successfully obtained, and that he has a good time when he visits.

8. @DaveP18

davep18DaveP18 only has 13 tweets, but two of them reference uriminzok. Other tweets reference Tiger Woods, the App Store, and Vladimir Putin. Seems that was good enough for Pyongyang.

9. @________T__

        t  ________T__ (if that is his real name) only has two tweets in his account. The first is a retweet of a tweet from uriminzok. The second is thanking uriminzok for following him. “It is an honour” he says.

10. @eduardo_89

eduardo 89eduardo_89 is a student from Mexico living in Berlin who is interested in politics, economics, history, architecture, and photography (it says this on his website).

The link between him and North Korea seems to have started on September 14th when he sent a tweet to uriminzok asking how to get a visa to visit. uriminzok tweeted back the advice that this can be arranged at the embassy or consulate mission to the DPRK and that “Pyongyang always welcome you”.

They have been mutual followers ever since.

Sidenote: If you want to visit North Korea there is nothing stopping you. The government run tours of selected sites, and as long as you are happy to be followed by their guides 24/7 and do what they say, you should have no problems. Wikipedia has an article about tourism in North Korea here.

11. @khomeninja

khomeninjakhomeninja tweets about Obama, Palin, and politics. Maybe Pyongyang appreciates the political opinions offered by this user’s 173 tweets.

12. @olakrez

olakrezolakrez has produced 23 tweets so far and is mostly tweeting about what he/she is doing. Nothing North Korea related until a welcome message to uriminzok was posted on September 2nd.

uriminzok returned the favour by following olakrez.

13. @qwertyvn

qwertyvnqwertyvn lists their location as Vietnam, and sends uriminzok a message announcing that their countries are friends on September 3rd. And according to Twitter they are! qwertyvn has only had time to post three messages but two of them reference North Korea’s official Twitter account.


Can we learn anything about North Korea’s secretive regime from who it is following? I don’t think so. I’d guess that when they set up their Twitter account, they just followed the first bunch of people who tweeted messages to them or about them. Maybe at some point they’ll clean up the list and follow a different group of people who better reflect the political opinions of the DPRK.

If you want to be updated by Twitter when new posts appear on reviewmylife you can follow me at @reviewmylifeuk.