more notes on Presence – how to stay in contact when you’re everywhere

Posted by on February 25th, 2008 in presence, SNS

all-seeing eyeAttention Conservation Notice: This is a long and heavily detailed step-by-step guide to creating your own digital personal-assistant that will let you keep tabs on your distributed presence across the internet without having to log in to each site on a daily basis.

In an earlier post I wrote about Presence, giving some tips on how you can link websites together to get the maximum benefit out of all the online communities out there. Hopefully now your content is flowing through the internets, gathering more eyeballs and helping to spread the Grinder message.

But that’s only half the picture. What’s the point of being present everywhere if you can’t respond to all the comments you get?

Once again, you can either login to every site all day long and check your messages or find a simpler way.

So now I’ll guide you through the creation of your very own digital personal-assistant, one that will notify you almost instantly when someone comments on your posts, pictures or videos.

We’re going to do this using Twitter, because it can notify you when you’re online, via IM and offline, via SMS.

A quick side-note: if you’re using Twitter, but aren’t getting notifications for everyone you’re following OR aren’t following everyone that follows you then make sure you track your own username. It’s literally just sending “track USERNAME” to Twitter, then you’ll never miss those @replies again.

Moving right along.

Creating your digital personal-assistant

The first thing you want to do is go to Twitter and create a new account. This is your digital personal-assistant. Choose a cool name and give it a pretty user-pic if you want.

Now set it to follow your twitter account, then logout and login to your twitter account and set that to follow your sexy new assistant.

Lastly and most importantly, log back into the assistant account and check the Protect my updates box; the tweets it will generate are for your eyes only.

Now get on over to Twitterfeed to create an account there. This is how your assistant’s tweets will be generated.

If you have a Livejournal, Vox, WordPress, Blogger or Yahoo account follow the instructions to login.

Otherwise you’re going to have to create yourself an OpenID – do that and then login.

Now you’re ready to start plugging in RSS Feeds and get your instant notifications on. Almost.

Creating an email2rss address

As we’re about to learn, not every site has an RSS Feed for you comments. But every site has email notifications. And thanks to MailBucket you can convert your emails into an RSS Feed. (thanks MailBucket!)

First you need to choose an account name. MailBucket is pretty basic in this regards; there’s no duplicate username notification. So you have to use trial-and-error to see if the account name is free or not.

Just enter into your browser and if it says “No messages are stored for this address” then you’ve got it.

Now add to your Twitterfeed account.

The email address used to populate the RSS Feed is But here’s where we add just one more layer:

I think this will work best if you use your Gmail account’s Filter functionality to auto-forward your emails to your mailbucket address.

This is for two reasons: 1) it will give you a backup archive and 2) it will give you a fall back in case MailBucket dies in the future.

Go to SettingsFiltersCreate New Filter in your Gmail account.

Here’s the trick: in the To Address field you add and set it to Forward to, and to Archive them – you won’t need these emails appearing in your InBox, but they’ll still be there and be searchable. is now your email2rss address.

Side-note: If you don’t have a Gmail address and/or don’t want to bother with another email account then don’t stress. You can create a Gmail account in minutes, do the above, then create another Filter to forward any all emails to your preferred email account. Or you can just use as your email2rss address.

OK, we’re nearly there.

Collecting the comments left on your works

This last part is pretty repetitious, but remember we’re doing all this now to make life simpler in the future.


Go to your blog’s front page. Look in your sidebar or at the bottom of the page, depending on your theme layout. Or you can just search for Comments RSS. Grab that url and add it to your Twitterfeed account.


Login to Flickr. Go to YouRecent activity on your photos. There’s your feed at the bottom, add it to your Twitterfeed account.


Login to Vox. Go to Your Account and update it to use your new email2rss address. Now, go to Notifications and check all the boxes for Email Notifications.


Login to Zannel. Go to Account. Go to manage accountedit and update it to use your new email2rss address. Then, go to alert settings and select yes for when I get a comment on my zannel and when someone comments on my updates.


Login to VIBR. Go to Account/SettingsAccount Info and update it to use your new email2rss address. Now, go to Account/SettingsNotification Settings and check all the boxes under Comments.


Login to Livejournal. Go to Account and update it to use your new email2rss address. Now, go to AccountManage Notifications and tick the Someone comments in my journal, on any entry check box.


Login to MySpace. Go to Edit ProfileAccount Settings and update it to use your new email2rss address.


Login to YouTube. Go to AccountEmail Options and update it to use your new email2rss address.

What Else?

That’s it really. You should be good to go now. No longer do you have to log in to each site to see what activity there’s been on your posts.

One last thing, changing your email address on all these accounts may seem weird; especially if you’d already been getting the email notifications. The intended benefit here is to streamline all the comments you get into one place. And to move from a browser-based email account, to a thin-client IM/SMS setup.

I hope these tips help you to manage your Presence online.

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32 Responses to “more notes on Presence – how to stay in contact when you’re everywhere”

  1. cheers Spiral!

  2. Excellent work, m1k3y.

  3. Nice work.

    Took me a couple tests to figure out that the “+” in “” is a necessary component, not just an indicator, but I got there in the end.

  4. @Joseph – yuh, that’s a neat little Gmail hack.

    It ignores anything after a “+”, so you can use that to create Filters to auto label, forward etc.

    It’s a great way to put all emails per mailing list into separate folders, for instance.

    Sorry I wasn’t more clear about that.

  5. Gmail ignores periods, too- and username@gmail are the same address.

  6. @Stackhouse – yeah, but you can’t use that to create Filters.

    The key here is that username@gmail and username+BLAHBLAHLBLAH@gmail both go to the same address.

    So if you subscribe to MailingListA with username+MailingListA@gmail you can create a Filter to handle that.

  7. Ah, thank you.

  8. I could follow, but still had hella time doing the stuff. My phone/company didn’t recognize the 5 digit number I was supposed to call and then submit a coded number in the text/memo line…so, hell as usual with me. I have the twitter account now, but don’t have the twitter assistant and sexy or no, I have my rss feeds there at twitter of my blogs…whenever I update/create a new blog…we shall see. Thanks for all your help/work on this, but, something for me, this complete retard, is needed, plus the damn S60 phone for using / posting like every one else seems to be doing…come on VERIZON come on, say OKAY to Nokia, and Please, Nokia, come up with some rocking G4 (the new system for Verizon) internet/voip-skyp/word/camera/voice recording/wi-fi/usb plug, 2.5 plug or something I can buy adaptor wise, and a 5 or 8 hour battery life device, that doesn’t cost $900 U.S.!!

  9. And what’s with this MailBucket crap? Been to the site and there’s no link to even “sign” up. At least at the Twitter (and, why do I have a twitter?) there’s all kinds of hoops and chutes to endure…and the one I like the best is NOW, where I can’t even get to the damn page I was before, to update and put on there my rss mailbucket url!! Frustrated to say the least. How long have I been on line? I’m supposed to be double spacing my novella to submit it and maybe get the hell out of the faerytaleland job I have and finally write for a living…as much of a pain in the arse as that will be.

  10. Ok, so far so good but let's say I have 2 myspaces (band and personal):

    Once all the emails are forwarded into the mailbucket, is there a way to tell which account the notification is for?

  11. @radian – maybe what you want there is two separate mailbucket’s one for personal and one for the band?

    then in the Twitterfeed settings can you set the message prefix to say “band: ” for example.

  12. Ok, thanks. I was trying for ages to find a way to get gmail to prefix the subject but your way is perfectly neat.

  13. [...] Crear un asistente digital: Guía paso a paso para construir una twitter-secretaria. Con ello se puede seguir lo que está diciendo la gente sobre uno y [...]

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  16. Wow, thanks for this post. This is going cut down on a lot of wasted time. Keep up the good work.

  17. This is an awesome tip. In our special report on twitter marketing we talk about all the awesome “mutations” that are developing out of Twitter because it’s such a useful service and the boundaries & limitations are yet to be determined.

    There’s so many undiscovered applications and technically inclined people such as yourself are always coming up with new & innovative ways to really put Twitter to good use.

    Would you mind allowing us to include this article in our report in exchange for a link & reference back to your site or bio?

    Let me know,


    P.S. – thanks again for this awesome “how-to” it’s very helpful & much appreciated.

  18. [...] builds off the Digital Personal Assistant I documented over on If you have already done that, skip ahead. Otherwise, go through the steps laid out in Creating [...]

  19. Hey,

    For some reason on the twitter account and on the mailbucket xml page all email notification messages from MySpace that are translated to RSS appear to be encrypted garbled mumbo jumbo…

    Any idea why it would look like that?

    Here’s a sneak peek at what all my myspace messages are looking like on my twitter digital assistant and on mailbucket:

    Any thoughts on how to correct this?

    I’m using this step by step demo you describe here in a screencast video I’ve created for my members, I plan on giving you a link as well..



  20. That’s a very good question.. and I don’t know why MySpace is doing that..

    does anyone else?!

    at a guess I’d say it’s encoding something in the Header section of the email. a security certificate or something maybe?!

  21. [...] m1k3y has posted a step-by-step guide to building a twitter-secretary who can track what people are saying about you and where, and inflate your ego (or trigger you [...]

  22. Cheers, I’ve had this running for a while now and it works like a charm. It almost gives me more of a sense of being connected to the net too :)

    One thing bears mentioning: although those tweets are indeed for your eyes only, that rss feed is still publicly readable.

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  26. Excellent step-by-step instructions for Personal Assistent and Digital Secretary
    Regards Happy Holidays
    Tweet me: cernescu

  27. Nice post. Helps me to stay connected offline with my fellow Tweeters

  28. @m1k3y: not to nitpick. but you _can_ use periods in gmail addresses to create filters. very useful for sites that don’t allow the “+” sign.

    Very useful article nonetheless.

  29. [...] » Blog Archive » more notes on Presence – how to stay in contact when you’re everywh… "This is a long and heavily detailed step-by-step guide to creating your own digital personal-assistant that will let you keep tabs on your distributed presence across the internet without having to log in to each site on a daily basis." (tags: presence twitter how2 reputation management gtd) [...]

  30. [...] » Blog Archive » more notes on Presence – how to stay in contact when you’re everywh… – Attention Conservation Notice: This is a long and heavily detailed step-by-step guide to creating your own digital personal-assistant that will let you keep tabs on your distributed presence across the internet without having to log in to each site on a daily basis. [...]

  31. A fabulous post, I’ve just followed the instructions and i think (hope) that it seems to be working. Looking forward to trying to lever in other accounts to this new email account. What a great way to use these free tools, will save me time and effort. Great Work!

  32. I cant get mailbucket to work. No email gets forwarded to the mailbucket email address. When I go to my personal mailbucket.xml site, I get a ‘No Messages’ screen. Did mailbucket close their service?

    Is there an alternate?