Directions for using WUTexter


Registering your cell phone to tweet

There is a simple process to set up your cell phone so that text messages you send to a specific phone number (40404) will be translated into tweets. The technical name for this approach is SMS (Short Message Service). When you send a text message to phone number 40404, the recipient looks up your registered twitter account based on the phone number from which you sent the text. Your text is then turned into a tweet, as if you were logged in to your account.

To register your cell phone to a twitter account, follow the directions here.

Note: Feel free to disable notifications on this account so you can reduce the email you get when using it.

Using WUTexter in class

You can send responses or questions using either of the following approaches.

WUTexter will pick up messages that mention a class account name. For example, if the class has account name WUClass101, then the tweet:
  @wuclass101 this is my message
will cause WUTexter logged in as wuclass101 to see what you tweet. The at-sign is necessary in front of the account name for the mention to be recognized.

One side effect of tweeting using mentions is that everybody who follows you can see what you are tweeting. It's not particularly private, so we have another way to tweet: read on.

Direct Messages
You can send a direct message to the WUTexter account, but this is permissible only after you have tweeted using a mention. The reason for this is that the class account must follow you before you can send it a message. While the request to follow you is made just after receiving a first mention from your twitter account, twitter may take some time to process the request.

You can tweet a direct message using the dm directive:

  dm wuclass101 this is my message
will send a direct message to the wuclass101 account. Nobody else will see the message, not even those who follow you. The message will be deleted automatically by WUTexter when it is received.

Direct messages are preferred (over mentions) for two reasons:

  1. The message is private, so none of your followers except the class account will see the message.
  2. There is no prohibition against tweeting the same direct message twice. Ordinary tweets with the same text are suppressed because twitter considers them redundant.

Currently supported messages

Each message sent to WUTexter should be of the following form:
@wuclassname single-char 3-digit-key rest-of-message
A direct-message form is obtained by dropping the at-sign and using the command dm to introduce the message.
dm wuclassname single-char 3-digit-key rest-of-message

These items are defined as follows:

The at-sign (@) is a mention for twitter, and it causes the mentioned account to see the message. The account is the wuclassname and it must be provided by your instructor. It will probably vary from class to class.
This single character is usually a letter near the beginning of the alphabet, in response to a multiple-choice question; or, it may be the question mark (?), in which case your message is a question to be asked of the instructor.
To protect this application from spamming, a quasi-secret 3-digit decimal numeral is generated and displayed prominently each time the application starts. Messages will only be accepted if they contain the required 3-digit key. Thus, only those who have visibility of the running application can supply responses or questions.
If you are asking a question, here is where you place the text of your question. Twitter limits the length of messages, so you may have to be brief. You can always send in multiple messages to split up a long question if necessary.


WUTexter is copyright 2011-2012 by Ben Murray and Ron Cytron, of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Washington University. All rights reserved.