The “always on” for desktop apps…

I’ve been thinking about a problem I’m having with twitter – that I want to see more than I can easily watch unless I’m checking on it every hour or so. This gets especially problematic when I’m gone for a long weekend or *gasp* on vacation and completely off the grid for a week. I don’t want to see it while I’m gone – but I would like to be able to review through what happened after the fact.

I also like using the desktop and iOS applications for watching twitter. They’re generally really good – give me a nice sliding window of news. But they only “go back” so far. The essential problem is that twitter has a limit to the history they’ll let you easily interrogate for your feed. My feed is wide enough that I’m starting to miss some pieces, especially as more of it is coming from around the globe and different time zones.

In thinking about it, we I think I need architecturally is something that’s “always on” on the Internet that can grab and watch my feed. Or, more efficiently, accept a twitter stream as events if they have a pub/sub model that is user specific (I don’t think so, but I didn’t look).

To me, that means leaving a desktop or something on all the time – kind of a pain, really. It’s way more compute than this little task needs. And my head is into cloud computing and various infrastructures – so what would it take to have something running – application as a service if you will – that I could cobble to do this for me? I think it would be pretty easy to arrange this with Google App Engine – and that feels roughly about right. A platform as a service engine – I can write and lay down the code on top of it, and then access it from the web through a browser or specifically out of an iOS application. I suppose someone could do this on a slicehost or other thin virtualization platform as well. This could all go into a dedicated JEOS VM and run on Amazon too.

What we’re down to is what’s it cost to run this sort of thing on a regular basis. Always on applications – can you do it cheaper “in the cloud” than you can at home?

And this whole thing is getting darned close to the concept of a personal agent – dealing with (aggregating, filtering) higher speed feeds on the internet than I want to dedicate my attention to. If you go beyond twitter, there’s a whole pile of social networking feeds that I review and look at with a variety of tools today – Netnewswire, browser, other dedicated applications… but all about consuming, filtering, and aggregating information I’m interested in. I get a heady feeling looking forward at how we might use it all.

Published by heckj

Developer, author, and life-long student. Writes online at

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