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The Threads FAQ

Icon for Threads app.
The icon for the Threads app.

The frequently asked questions

What is “Threads?”

Screenshot of Threads, as seen on my phone.
A screenshot from Threads, as seen on my iPhone.

Threads is a newly-released social media app created by Meta (the company behind Facebook and Instagram). It’s a direct competitor of Twitter.

Meta is promoting it as “Instagram’s text-based conversation app;” I’ve heard it referred to as “Instagram for words,” and I like to think of it as “Twitter, but with your Instagram social graph.”

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How many people have joined Threads?

Picture of crowd with the caption “10 million in the first 7 hours”

According to Mark Zuckerberg, 10 million people signed up for Threads in the first 7 hours.

This makes Threads the fastest-adopted app. It took Instagram over two months to hit the 1 million user mark, and even ChatGPT didn’t achieve 10 million users until 40 days after its launch.

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What do I need to join Threads?

Instagram icon.

You need two things: an Android or iOS smartphone, and an Instagram account.

This leads to the next question…

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Why do you need an Instagram account to join Threads?

The simple reason is that it’s an extension of Instagram. You use your Instagram credentials to log in, and your Instagram contacts are automatically part of your Threads social network.

The usefulness of a social networking application is directly proportional to the number of users — the more, the better. By “piggybacking” it on Instagram — a social network with over 2.35 billion monthly active users — they solve this problem.

The Instagram connection also provides another advantage: you don’t have to create another set of login credentials, you can start with your established Instagram handle.

You’ll also start with a network of connections made up of your Instagram friends, meaning that you’re not starting from scratch, as you’d have to on other networks like Bluesky or Mastodon.

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How do I get Threads?

You need to install the Threads app (it’s free of charge) onto your phone.

You can use the QR code below to install the app — you’ll be directed to the correct store for your phone:

Threads QR code

If you’re on Android, you’ll find it on Google Play — either follow this link, or search for “Threads Instagram”.

Threads, as seen on Google Play on my Android Phone.
Threads, as seen on Google Play on my Android Phone.

If you’re on iOS, you’ll find it on the App Store — either follow this link, or search for “Threads Instagram”.

Threads, as seen on Google Play on my iPhone.
Threads, as seen on Google Play on my iPhone.

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How long can a post in Threads be?

500 characters

A post in Threads — a “thread,” as they’re called — can be up to 500 characters in length.

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How long can a video in Threads be?

A video posted to Threads can be up to 5 minutes in length.

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Are there any “gotchas” in Threads?

Admiral Ackbar from “Star Wars” saying “It’s a trap!”

Here’s an interesting “gotcha:” according to Meta’s privacy policy, the only way to delete your Threads profile is to delete your Instagram account. That’s how deeply interconnected the two are.

The moral of the story? You want to be really sure that you want to join Threads before you sign up.

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What’s the Threads experience like?

Ke$sha’s Tik Tok — when “Tik Tok” was a song title and not an app — was the number one hit in 2010.

My favorite single-sentence summary is from Casey Newton, author of the tech newsletter Platformer and co-host of the podcast Hard Fork, who wrote in his review of Threads:

It’s basically Twitter in 2010, in other words, with one nice feature that has been added since then: the quote-tweet, which Mastodon has avoided adding but turns out (I think) to be an essential feature of the modern-day Twitter experience.

Another good summary comes from Daniel Cura of Tampa’s Tidal Marketing:

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How To

How to revoke Twitter’s permissions to access your other apps

Dumpster Fire (@DumpsterFire1) / Twitter

Twitter is a mess right now. A large chunk of the remaining employees resigned yesterday, leaving whole infrastructure teams either short or bereft of people. Management is “terrified” of possible employee sabotage and has shut down access the office until Monday. There is no CISO, and with that absence, developers were asked to “self-certify.”

This Twitter mess means that there’s also a security mess. If you haven’t done so already, you need to check your Twitter account to see if it has permissions to access other applications, and if so, revoke those permissions! This article will walk you through those steps.

(I’d like to thank fellow Florida techie Santosh Hari for inspiring this article.)

Revoking Twitter’s permissions to access your other apps

Log into Twitter, and if it’s still online, click the More link in the left-column menu:

A sub-menu will appear. From that menu, click Settings and Support:

A sub-sub-menu will appear. From that menu, click Settings and privacy:

You’ll be taken to the Settings screen. Click Security and account access, and then on the pane that appears on the right, click Apps and sessions:

The Apps and sessions pane will appear on the right. Click Connected apps:

You will now see the list of apps connected to your Twitter account. For each app in this list, do the following…

Select the app:

You’ll be taken to the permissions pane for the app you selected. Click Revoke app permissions. Then click the ← button at the upper left corner of the pane to go back to the list:

When you’ve revoked the permissions for all the apps, the list of connected apps should look like this:

How To

How to become a Techmeme reference

This blog, Global Nerdy, gets referenced fairly regularly on Techmeme. In fact, it happened today:

In this article, I’ll show you how I did it, and how you can do it too.

Wait…what’s Techmeme?

There are still times in a conversation with techies when I’ll mention Techmeme and they’ll have no idea what I’m talking about. Simply put, Techmeme is the technology news aggregator, and a little while back, BuzzFeed News has seen fit to write about it and its creator, Gabe Rivera (pictured on the right). “I’d say Techmeme is still really a niche site,” says Rivera, but when the heads of Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and LinkedIn read it, it’s the kind of niche that you want to be in.

Using a combination of site-reading automation and human editorial, Techmeme provides people eager to follow the latest technology happenings with listing of current tech news articles. It’s an ever-updating “Page One” featuring breaking tech news stories and commentaries on those stories, from big tech news sites to tech blogs (ranging from big, corporate-funded ones to one-person developer blogs).

Better still, Techmeme leads you to interesting places. Not only do the big tech stories of the moment appear on Techmeme, but so do stories that link to that story. As a result, you get not just what’s going on, but also links to articles that follow up on, expand, provide context for and even counterpoint to that story, resulting in a rich tech news digest. This unique view into tech news is why tech reporter M.G. Siegler wrote that only three elements mattered in tech blogging: pageviews, scoops…and Techmeme.

Simply put: Yes, you want to get referenced on Techmeme.

How to do it

And now, the part you’re really interested in: how to get some Techmeme Googlejuice and readership for yourself.

The trick is a simple one: it’s to get Techmeme to mention your blog articles in the “Discussion” section for its stories, or better still, make one of your articles a featured article. Once that happens a couple of times, you’ll notice that your readership will grow from the “Techmeme bump” and if you play your cards right, all sorts of opportunities will follow. It’s worked for me at Global Nerdy, which often gets listed in “Discussion” lists for Techmeme articles and has had a few articles as feature articles, and it’s grown from zero readers in 2006 to almost 10 million pageviews to date.

How do you get that? I gave away this secret back over a decade ago, all the way back in 2006, in an article titled Jason Calacanis Swiped Our 5-Step Plan for Becoming an A-Lister! It goes as follows:

  1. Go to Techmeme.
  2. Blog something intelligent about the top story of the day.
  3. Link to and mention all the people who have said something intelligent.
  4. Repeat for 30 days.
  5. Go to a couple of conferences a month. (You can actually skip this step.)

That’s all there is to it: find featured articles in Techmeme, write something intelligent about it in your blog (don’t forget to link to the article!) and keep doing it. Like a lot of other things in tech, as long as you’ve got the threshold amount of smarts, it’s all about perseverance.

If you take on this challenge, let me know how it goes!

How To

How to save .webp images as .png files

Sooner or later, you’ll experience this annoyance:

Meme: Smiling face (Save image as), Unhappy face (.webp).
Icon: “Download .png”

If you use Chrome or a browser that supports Chrome extensions (which includes Microsoft’s Edge), you can install the Save Image as PNG extension, which adds a Save Image as PNG option to the contextual menu that appears when you right-click on an image, as shown below:

Image on web page with contextual menu displayed beside it. Highlighted item in menu is “Save image as PNG.”

Try it out! Download and install the extension and try saving the .webp image below as .png:

Image: .png image of man kayaking in rapids.

For more .webp images, visit Google Developers’ WebP Image Galleries site.

What is WebP, anyway?

It’s an image format developed by Google, and it’s meant to replace image formats that we’re all familiar with — .gif, .jpeg, and .png. It supports features that we’ve come to expect for online images, including:

  • Lossless and lossy compression
  • Alpha transparency
  • Animation

WebP images were designed with the goal of fast er internet image transmission, so they’re optimized for small size. Encoding an image as .webp often produces smaller file sizes that encoding the same image at the same level of image quality using .jpeg or .png encoding.

Most current browsers support WebP, but older browsers such as Internet Explorer don’t.

Although WebP encoding often produced smaller images than JPEG or PNG, the image quality drops a lot as you increase the compression.

Entrepreneur How To

Hackathon protips for StartupBus 2022

Banner: “StartupBus 2022: Hackathon Protips”

StartupBus 2022 happens in less than a week! For the benefit of the people who’ll be participating in this mobile hackathon — as well as those who are still thinking about signing up (it’s not too late!), here are some protips that you might find handy.

Nick Singh’s Win Hackathons in 2022: A Step-by-Step Guide

Banner: “Win Hackathons: A How-To Guide”

Nick Singh, a developer on Facebook’s Growth team, author of Ace the Data Science Interview and Ace the Data Job Hunt, and creator of a monthly tech career newsletter, recently wrote a decent-size guide on winning hackathons — Win Hackathons in 2022: A Step-by-Step Guide — and it’s good.

If you read only one guide for winning hackathons, read this one. Among his tips:

  • The demo should be the center of your project. Your pitch should revolve around the demo, and the demo should be captivating.
  • Don’t do “design by committee.” As Nick puts it: “You want to tackle an idea when—and only when—at least one person is a true believer. Going with everybody’s second favorite idea is disheartening and ultimately dangerous.”
  • Stick with tools you know well and can rely on. You’re under a lot of time pressure on StartupBus, and there are a number of “unknown unknowns” you’ll have to contend with. These challenges will be much worse if you’re using StartupBus as an opportunity to try out new tools — you’ll be climbing up a learning curve while trying to get an application running under tricky conditions.
  • Ship the MVP. “MVP” in this case means “Minimum Viable Product,” a product that does just enough for customers to be willing to pay for it. Stick to the main functionality, avoid adding unnecessary features, run it locally on your computer if you can, skip or use smiulate login if you can do that, and so on.

How to win $60,000 in a Web 3.0 Hackathon

StartupBus Florida will provide some utilities and other goodies for anyone who wants to work on a Web 3.0 project. I personally think that Web 3.0 is still a lot of snake oil and NFTs are basically FourSquare mayorships for JPEGs, but others on the team think that it’s the hottest thing of the moment, and I’m here to support StartupBus projects. I leave it to the buspreneurs and readers to make their own call.

With that in mind, the YouTube channel Dapp University has a video covering strategies for getting the most out of a Web 3.0 hackathon, a good number of which are applicable to hackathons in general.

How to Win ANY Hackathon — Everything You Need to Know

Need a “how to win a hackathon” video that’s a little less crypto-bro-y? Maria Sikovets’ video is for you.

How to win a hackathon? 12-step recipe from Apptension

Apptension, a software development consultancy based in Poland, has a 12-step recipe for winning hackathons, both virtual and in-person.

Among their tips:

  • Map out your project. “Before you start coding, gather your team and walk them through the product you’re making so that everyone gets it 100%.”
  • Think like a judge. Remember, the winner is determined by a panel of judges, who”ll judge startups based on the pitches.
  • Get some sleep. Sleep deprivation ruins your judgement, and a lot of hackathon activity is making judgement calls.

9 Ways to Win a Hackathon… Without Coming in First Place

I was a buspreneur on StartupBus Florida 2019, and our team made it all the way to the finals and was the first runner-up. We didn’t come in first place, but we won in different ways. For me, doing well in StartupBus gave me a great resume item that most people didn’t have, and that helped me land my last two jobs.

There are all sorts of ways to win StartupBus, even if you don’t come in first place, and even if you don’t make it to the finals or even the seminfinals. This article points out different ways of viewing success at StatupBus. Check it out!

Everything you need to know to win StartupBus is in this podcast

Gimlet Media’s Startup podcast sent a reporter to join the New York City StartupBus for the 2017 event, and the result was a five-part series that tells the story of the buspreneurs on that bus.

Before going on StartupBus 2019, I listened to this podcast in its entirety — twice — to get a better feel for what the experience would be like and to try to glean insights into what would give me and my team better odds of winning.

I wrote a five-part series called Everything you need to know to win StartupBus is in this podcast, where I share notes on every episode of the podcast series. Check it out, and learn!

Entrepreneur Florida How To Podcasts What I’m Up To

Everything you need to know to win StartupBus is in this podcast, part 5

The title of this post should be a big hint: Everything you need to know in order to win StartupBus North America 2022 is contained within a podcast. This is the third in a series of posts covering the “Startup Bus” series of episodes from Gimlet Media’s Startup podcast, which covered the New York bus’ journey during StartupBus 2017.

Did you miss the first four articles in this series? Here they are:

I’m posting this series as a prelude to StartupBus 2022, which takes place at the end of July. I was a contestant — a buspreneur — on the Florida bus in 2019, which made it all the way to the finals and finished as a runner-up. Now I’m a coach — a conductor — on the 2022 edition.

Here’s episode 5 of the podcast series…

…and here are the lessons I took away from this episode:

  • A lot of what makes success is just showing up. At the start of the episode, podcast host Eric goes for an early morning walk with Colleen Lavin of team Daisy and discovers that she was nce the Illinois Knights of Columbus free throw champion for girls age 14. Here’s how she tells the story:

COLLEEN: I was like getting my school volunteer hours, helping my dad at the free throw contest, and I was in the right age range, so he made me compete. I made two baskets, because I was not a basketball player. But no other girls in my age range showed up, and he made me go to the next competition and no other girls my age range showed up. Finally, I was almost sent to D.C to compete in the nationals after making a total of like four baskets.

ERIC: Because nobody had showed up?

COLLEEN: In my age competition!

  • Be prepared for possible twists in the finals. Elias Bizannes, the creator of StartupBus, loves drama. In the 2017 competition, even though there were five finalists, Elias decided to create a sixth team made up of people from teams who didn’t make it into the finals. The team would create a blockchain-powered voting app. Why did he do it? In his own words…

To mess with people to be honest. Because that’s what we do with StartupBus, we push them and we break them. And what happens is this remarkable thing comes out when people go beyond the limits they think they can, they actually step up. And so by introducing a new team, it was gonna add another level of competitive threat to the finals.

  • The finals will feature far more polished pitches and apps: “From the moment the pitches begin, it’s apparent. This is a very different level of competition than yesterday. The presentations are all well-crafted. Each of the products makes sense. You could imagine people making these pitches to actual investors.”
Entrepreneur Florida How To Podcasts What I’m Up To

Everything you need to know to win StartupBus is in this podcast, part 4

The title of this post should be a big hint: Everything you need to know in order to win StartupBus North America 2022 is contained within a podcast. This is the third in a series of posts covering the “Startup Bus” series of episodes from Gimlet Media’s Startup podcast, which covered the New York bus’ journey during StartupBus 2017.

(Did you miss the first three articles in this series? Here’s part onehere’s part two, and here’s part three.)

I’m posting this series as a prelude to StartupBus 2022, which takes place at the end of July. I was a contestant — a buspreneur — on the Florida bus in 2019, which made it all the way to the finals and finished as a runner-up. Now I’m a coach — a conductor — on the 2022 edition.

Here’s episode 4 of the podcast series…

…and here are the lessons I took away from this episode:

  • If you can find teammates that are on your wavelength, you can achieve a lot. Although they’re on the Florida StartupBus and not the bus that the podcast is covering, they remain a source of fascination for Eric, the host. Not only do Robert Blacklidge and Trey Steinhoff get along so well, but they also work so well together, and the synergy will take them far together. (Full disclosure: I worked with Trey at Lilypad, and can vouch for the fact that he is a great teammate. I also know Robert and can understand why he and Trey got along so well.)
  • A conflict within the team doesn’t have to destroy the team; in fact, not only can conflicts be resolved, but they can even strengthen a team. Ash from the Denari team had rubbed many of his teammates the wrong way, and there was talk of kicking him off the team. Things have turned around in this episode: everyone’s getting along, and Ash is considerably less acerbic — even optimistic-sounding.
  • The StartupBus format borrows some of its ideas from reality TV game shows, which means that there can be intentional confusion. “The teams have been getting different information about the competition all day. They’re hearing conflicting things about timing, about whether or not pitch decks are allowed. And this confusion, it all feels weirdly intentional.”
  • StartupBus is supposed to be a challenge. It’s not supposed to be easy, and as anyone who’s done it before will tell you, it can be gruelling at times. And that’s a good thing — if StartupBus works as designed, you shouldn’t be exactly the same person at the end of the ride. As one of the Denari people puts it: “This is a Navy SEAL training program for startups. This is like we’re going to push you to that to the limit of your mental strength, like every single person on their team is that like living in a role that’s very different from what they walked on the bus wanting to do.”
  • Speaking about come out of StartupBus a little different, you can see some of the buspreneurs’ change — they’re more certain, more directed, more convinced of their ability to change their personal course through life.
  • You can most definitely incorporate singing and music in your pitch. The pitch for singing telegram startup Yeti featured one of their buspreneurs in a full Marilyn Monroe costume, singing Katy Perry’s Firework, but with StartupBus-specific lyrics. I also did that with the accordion at StartupBus 2019.
  • You can also use audience participation in your pitch. Tampa-based CourseAlign did that by asking the audience for a show of hands, using questions that would get a specific kind of result.
  • Be ready for tough questions. During the Q&A section of their pitch, Denari — the Blockchain-powered GoFundMe-like startup — is asked how they plan to prevent their system from being turned into a money-laundering platform.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself. After getting that tough money-laundering question, Colleen Wong, who’s been leading Denari, felt bad about her answer and said that she didn’t feel that she was a good leader. Eric the host had to reminder her that she did the near-impossible — “Are you kidding me?! Have you, like, seen yourself this week?! …You, like, pulled together the, like, craziest team on the bus. It was a great thing.”
  • Anything can happen in the judging room. Eric the host was invited into the judging room to record a reenactment of judges’ discussion as they tried to decide who would move the next round. But as they reenacted their discussion, they started changing their minds. The judging process can turn on a dime.
  • There is a downside to making it into the finals: It means that although you’re in a party town, you can’t party. You’re going to be working on your product and your pitch for the finals. Trust me on this one — I was in New Orleans, one of the best party towns in the country, and I spent Saturday night with my team working on our startup.