Saturday, 28 December 2013

Automatic Tweets - A handy tool, Or A Hidden Danger?

In the world of social media, Twitter has become one of the leaders. At its best it allows people to interact with like minds right across the planet, allows people to tweet about what interests them, about their books, their crafts, their art, their music, their businesses and reach potentially millions of people.

How does it work? Well, for the uninitiated, it's an I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine world. To reach those millions of twitterers, we need our tweets retweeted by kind individuals. So then we retweet for them in return, then they do the same again, and others join in and so it grows.

But all this retweeting is time consuming. You can spend hours just keeping up with the retweets. And, well, many of us have other things to do.

So someone devised a way of tweeting and retweeting using an automated system.

How does it work? Well, basically you allow the automatic retweeter to take over your Twitter account. You put in some tweets of your own which it then churns out in rotation every hour or so, twenty-four hours a day. And when someone retweets for you, the automatic retweeter picks it up, and retweets their last tweet. Simple. Saves you hours. Or so it seems.

So what are the drawbacks?

Well really, the automatic retweeter does not discern what the last tweet of the retweeter was. If it is an automated message about someone's unfollowers, or if it is a personal message to someone, or a tweet of thanks, it will retweet it. The problem is that person is hardly going to be thankful for such a retweet and probably will not retweet back for you. Unless they also have an automated retweeter, in which case it is a case of a computer talking to a computer!

But isn't Twitter a place to connect with people? Or is it becoming just computers talking to each other?

But what if the person's last tweet was something you disagreed with? Religious perhaps? Or political? Or worse, what if it was pornographic?

Can't happen? Oh yes it can! It happened to me. I was with an automatic retweeter for just two days, and it retweeted something on my Twitter page which was in the realm of eroticism, with a picture. I was horrified, and I deleted it. I also left the automated retweeter immediately.

But worse, I have been on other Twitter pages since and come across hard core pornographic photographs, which I assume the person knows nothing about and probably would not have retweeted themselves. Oh yes, they have been automatically retweeted. Twice I came across this in just one week.

Could this happen to you? Could you be unwittingly retweeting porn?

Perhaps it would be a good idea to check your tweets and see what the automatic retweeter has been doing in your name.

To use an automated retweeter or not is a personal decision. But be warned, it does have its drawbacks.

By the way, if you do leave the automated retweeter, you may find, as I did, that those it picked up who retweeted for you seem to be lost to you. I found I was not getting notifications of retweets. You have to go into settings on your Twitter profile, and Apps and disallow those particular apps. I also had to get regular retweeters to unfollow and then refollow me before it would work properly again, while I did the same to them. A pain, but it worked in the end.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013


I've got two new grandbabies, twins Fearne and Freya, born just over a week ago. They were born early because my daughter had pre-eclampsia, and they are adorable tiny scraps of life. Fearne is doing well, feeding well, and will soon go home from hospital. Her tiny sister is now also on the mend after an eight-hour operation to repair a tracheoesophageal fistula. (See previous blog 'Praise for the NHS'.)

And that has set me thinking about how a child is formed in the womb. Perhaps it is something we take for granted. We assume everything will go right, and we will have a perfect little baby at the end of a pregnancy. And most of the time that is the case. But it's when something goes wrong that it highlights the miracle of why it goes right most of the time.

What do I mean?

The condition that tiny Freya had is not common, but is also not unknown. In TOF as the cells are dividing to form the baby at the stage soon after conception the oesophagus and the stomach do not join up. Freya's intestine also was not joined to her stomach. Both have been repaired by surgeons and they expect her to make a full recovery. We ask: why did that happen? But perhaps the question we ought to ask is: how does it usually go right?

I'm no scientist, but it seems to me that the different components within the body must develop independently of each other. So, the oesophagus from the throat is one stage; the stomach is another stage; and a third stage must be the bowel. Maybe there's more stages than that, but let's keep it simple! Then they all join up. (Or in Freya's case, they didn't.)

So we all know what happens when a baby is conceived. Two cells become one, then they start multiplying. At some stage the cells start to form the baby, the sac, the placenta. Within the baby part, a brain, heart, internal organs, eyes, ears, limbs, spinal column and so on all come into being. I've always thought: What makes those cells do that? What programming is it that forms the different parts of the human body?

The answer is DNA. Well I cannot go into the complexities of DNA here, it is far too complicated for me! But I found some interesting quotes you might like to consider.

Did DNA come about by mere chance?

Quote: "DNA is packaged within the chromosomes in a manner so efficient that it has been called a 'feat of engineering."

Question: So how could such an organised structure come about? By blind chance or by design?

Quote: "DNA contains all the instructions needed to build a unique human body and maintain it throughout life."

Question: How did those instructions come to be in the first place? Blind chance, or by design?

Quote: "For DNA to work, it has to be copied, read and proofread by a swarm of complex molecular machines called enzymes, which must work together with precision and split-second timing."

Question: Could a highly complex and reliable machine come about by mere chance? Or did it have a designer and builder? What then of the more complex DNA?

The more scientists find out about the human body, the complexities of the brain, the eye, the kidneys, heart, and other organs, the more they find out about all living things, about the earth itself, about the universe, the more wonderful it seems to me. Science is showing us more and more that there is design in everything around us. And where there is design, there has to be a Designer.

That's why I believe in a Creator, someone with the wisdom and power to work it all out.

Perhaps we should find out more about him.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013


How many times do we hear the NHS being rubbished because of this or that failing. Well I for one have nothing but praise for the NHS.

When other countries have to pay for their medical care, in Britain everyone pays National Insurance throughout their working lives. Not only do we get social care, including old age pensions, but whenever anyone is ill they are treated without charge, without anyone demanding if they have insurance. And they get the best care, regardless of cost.

Well, OK, perhaps there are some who would disagree. But just this week my family is truly grateful for the NHS.

Over the last few weeks our daughter, who already has two children, was taken ill with pre-eclampsia and admitted to hospital. But as her condition worsened she was given an emergency C-section on Sunday, and identical twins Freya and Fearne arrived into the world at 34 weeks and 2 days gestation. Baby Freya weighed in at 3lb 5oz and Fearne at 3lb 14oz. Small babies, but not dangerously so.

Still they were worried about our daughter. She had constant nursing throughout that night and the next day. Every attempt was made to relieve the hypertension. And at last on Monday evening it began to stabilise.

Which is amazing considering what happened next. On Monday morning the discovery was made that little Freya, the smallest twin, had something wrong. Her oesophagus did not connect with her stomach. So within hours a specialist ambulance arrived and whisked her and her daddy off to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital where the specialists are.

Tuesday little Freya had an eight hour operation to connect her tubes. And at the expense of the NHS her daddy could have a room and stay at the hospital with her.

Today she is still sedated, and being intravenously fed, but she has survived the operation.

Meantime, Mum and Fearne are doing well. Mum is much recovered, and Fearne is thriving.

What skill the surgical team has to operate on such a tiny baby! And how grateful we are to all the staff at both hospitals for the care they have given my daughter and her husband and her babies.

Thank you NHS.

Evelyn Tidman, bringing history alive.