Author Archives: mzsanford

Vespa Fender Replacement

After a minor accident I needed to replace the rear fender on my 2001 Vespa ET4. The person who rear-ended me was curious what was entailed in replacing the part but we couldn’t find a good time for him to visit while I made the repairs. I busted out my handy iPhone and took pictures of my repair progress so I could share. This post is really aimed at that one person but should anyone need to replace the fender on an ET series (especially one with crash bars) hopefully this helps.

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Sufferin’ Safari: Quirks Between Safari Versions

Browser incompatibility is so 1999, isn’t it? Well, while we spend our time fretting about IE version incompatibility and cross-browser issues we often overlook the version issues of other browsers. Over the past week I’ve been working on the twitter-text-js support for hashtags in Russian, Korean, Japanese and Chinese. Along the way I ran into two bugs in some versions of Safari that surprised me. I didn’t find much online about it so I wanted to take a moment and jot this down. Continue reading

R2rb – Mirroring CSS direction

I’m proud to announce the release of what is possibly the smallest Ruby gem I’ve ever worked on, R2 (R2rb on github, simply r2 on Anybody who has read my older posts knows that I’m interested in Arabic, and more specifically Arabic information processing. While talking about something unrelated I found out that Dustin Diaz ( has written a Node.js module called R2 for mirroring the appropriate CSS values needed to alter the directionality of a page. While this isn’t a silver bullet it does do a very good job on pages that have successfully separated presentation from markup (read as: don’t use inline CSS styles). Continue reading

Crowdsourcing vs. Community

This is post is about how I have come to use the words “crowdsourced” and “community” to distinguish different, but related, activities. I’ve been working on Twitter’s community translation tools since before they were launched and this is a lesson I’ve learned during that time. This all started with my reply to a Quora topic  and much of the information was already covered there. But since Quora is a smaller community than the web at large I wanted to re-format the information for widest consumption and change some of the examples to be a little bit clearer.

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The Effort of Content Creation: An Evolution

Much like my previous posts about omnivores and MC Hammer this is something I’ve told many people in person but I’m only just now putting down in writing. Many people ask me why I think Twitter is popular, thinking there is some part of it they have yet to see. The ‘killer feature’ isn’t some page on they haven’t seen yet but rather it’s the simplicity of what they already see. It’s not about something complicated but rather the sum of the uncomplicated parts … not unlike the internet itself. I’m way ahead of myself. This post is about the evolution of people’s self-expression on the internet, people’s internet-identity, and how I see Twitter in that context. This isn’t some lofty vision from a Twitter founder or executive. This is the view from a guy who just happened upon all of this and is still trying to explain it however he can – to himself most of all. Continue reading

MySQL and Unicode

I used MySQL for a great many projects over the years with the assumption that a charset of utf8 and a collation of utf8_unicode_ci was going to support all of UTF-8 and that was all I need to do. I was sorely mistaken but there was no point in writing until now, because MySQL 5.5 has finally helped rectify the issue. Up until MySQL 5.5 (released December of 2010) the UTF-8 support was severely hobbled. With MySQL 5.5 the server can now support the full range of characters that UTF-8 allows but it’s not the default behavior. There are still plenty of pitfalls for the naïve developer starting out with MySQL. Continue reading

MC Hammer showed me the future of Twitter

If you’ve seen me talk at a conference or meet-up about Twitter you’ve likely heard about MC Hammer (@mchammer on Twitter). Well, since I don’t do that many speaking engagements I wanted to take a moment and record my story about about what MC Hammer taught me about Twitter … and I already worked there.

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Grease Monkey programming for #NewTwitter

So the new Twitter redesign (a.k.a. #NewTwitter) is out in the wild at last, even if it’s only a small percentage of users. Soon enough we’ll all have access but even before that I wanted to write about customizing #NewTwitter using Grease Monkey. Much has been said about the new right side “Detail Pane” real estate as a platform but I don’t know about any of that. I suspect that annotations and the Details Pane will be a match made in heaven but that’s not something I heard at the office, just my personal view as a former Platform team member, and former 3rd party Twitter developer. What I’m interested in right now is customizing the Details Pane for myself using Grease Money.

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My life in the start up arc

I’ve been working for a pretty early stage and popular start up for a few years now and I’ve learned some things. None of what I’ve learned is news to people who have been through the start up mania, and I bet there are better posts out there on the internet. These are my personal ramblings about my experience and might not reflect anyone else’s experience. Having said that, when I was making my decision to join a start up I wanted an informal description of this arc and all I found where venture capitalists and people yearning for the bygone ’90’s bubble. I’m neither of those. I’m just a guy who likes to play with badly formed analogies.

Start up life is complicated so no one analogy really explains it all. Instead I’ve opted to break it into three phases, all alike in dignity. It’s not like there is a day where you switch from one phase to the next … and I’m not even sure I could spot these again if I were in the middle of them. This is a hindsight look at the last two years. The craziest and possibly best years I’ve known.
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The Honest Omnivore

I have many friends who are vegetarian to one degree or another and I’m happy to accommodate that. I respect their choice in the same way they respect mine. In asking around about people’s dietary restrictions over the years I’ve found a group who annoy me: The Dishonest Omnivore.

I am an omnivore and I’m not ashamed. I’m also not squeamish about where my food comes from. I know that pork used to be a pig, beef a cow. I can’t say I love the feel of raw chicken in my hands. What I can say is that I like the taste of chicken more than I dislike dealing with it in the raw … and because of that I’m unashamed to be an omnivore.

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