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  • By Rob Spectre
    Using Natural Language Processing for Better SMS Interfaces Using Twilio and Python’s TextBlob bill_and_teds_excellent_adventure_5

    The International Telecommunications Union, the telecom agency for the United Nations, recently released some data suggesting for every 100 people on Planet Earth, 96 of them have a subscription to a cellular service.  That means there are nearly as many cell subscriptions out there as human beings – a stonking 6.8 billion.

    Holy biscuits – that means there might well be more cell phones out there than people.

    With Twilio, you can build apps with that touch every last one of them.  Voice and SMS are the only apps that come preinstalled on each of the devices those 6.8 billion people use.  However, with that many types of phones and languages out there to interface with, building interfaces that work for every human can be a fascinating engineering challenge.

    Take SMS for example.  We’ve all come accustomed to text interfaces that ask for a KEYWORD in all caps and then …

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  • By Rob Spectre
    The Road Coders Survival Kit Twilio_Selects-3

    Your friendly neighborhood Twilio developer evangelism crew racks up a fair amount of road time around the world in our continuing mission to see the incredible stuff you all build. In addition to accumulating buckets of frequent flyer miles, mapping power outlets in every airport from LHR to SFO and taste testing the entire menu from Buffalo Wild Wings, we’ve also collected  in our travels a bag of products that are essential to anyone trying to cut code on the road.

    Road coding is not easy – cramped screen real estate, scavenging for decent wifi and coping with your devices’ insatiable thirst for electricity can wreck concentration and shred context.  This isn’t a list officially endorsing or promoting anything for the affiliate green – these are just some products we dig.  If you’re pounding pavement while pushing commits, we’ve found this gear that will help you stay sane and productive …

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  • By Rob Spectre
    Unit Testing Your Twilio App Using Python’s Flask and Nose rob-spectre-lo-res

    DuckHuntIt happens every time.  You fire up your editor.  The Twilio app spits off your fingers, deftly wielding the TwiML primitives you know to build your voice or SMS functionality.  You save. You commit. You deploy.  You set the request URLs for your Twilio number.  You gingerly unlock your phone and confidently tap in the digits.  Then you hear it:

    “We’re sorry.  An application error has occurred. Goodbye.”

    Rage wells inside you familiar to the impulse hearing the dog laugh at you in Duck Hunt.  You open the Twilio App Monitor and find the culprit – a fat fingered typo on your Dial verb.

    Cue the sad trombone.

    It happens to all of us.  And when you’re iterating on your Twilio code, the wash-rinse-repeat cycle of changing code, deploying to a web server and manually testing on your phone can become tiresome quickly.

    One technique I use to …

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  • By Rob Spectre
    Replacing Hold Music With New York Times Headlines NewYorkTimes

    So I was straight chillin’ on the Internet, fixing to moderate another troll post on my favorite Justin Bieber fan forum, when my buddy Amit posts on Twitter:

    Amit

    I said to myself, “Hey self, Amit is right. That would be cool.”

    Out With The Hold, In With The New York Times

    Twilio’s Conference noun sports functionality that lets you customize the hold experience.  The waitUrl value accepts any valid TwiML document, which means instead of playing some lame elevator muzak, I can use most of the Twilio vocabulary, including our newly improved verb.   Further, I live in a town with a mighty fine newspaper that can be programmatically poked to spit out JSON of today’s headlines.  With these ingredients firmly in hand, we have all we need to turn Amit’s tweet into reality in little less than an hour with full unit testing.

    In this post we’ll …

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  • By Rob Spectre
    For #BostonMarathon, A Way to Call Your Family via Your Browser logo

    Our hearts go out to anyone touched by today’s tragedy. We know cell service has been up and down with cellular traffic so put together another option for people to be able to make calls. Visit http://callyourfamily.twilio.ly to make calls directly from your browser. It works over Wifi and will not be affected by any cell service issues.

    Other Resources

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  • By Rob Spectre
    Advancing Business Communications logo

    Thank you all very much for the warm congratulations and well wishes following the coverage on Twilio and AT&T’s Advanced Communication Suite, on Techcrunch and our release. We appreciate all your tweets, emails and calls you’ve made offering your support.  The end result will be small, medium and enterprise customers benefitting from improvement of business processes through pre-built communications applications built by third parties on Twilio’s communications API platform.

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  • By Rob Spectre
    How To Tell A Story With Code logo

    Photo by kodomutWhether you are in front of a packed room of hackers, a huddled group on a trade show floor or a sweaty basement filled with gutter punks, every audience just wants you to tell them a story.  From sprint demos to superhero flicks, telling a good story is the surest way to captivate a human being’s attention, spark imagination and compel absorption of your ideas.

    Narrative is this crazy itch we all want scratched – if you think back to the last speech, song or standup routine that really grabbed your attention, chances are good that it told a story.  This very human craving is something we try to feed on our developer evangelism team here at Twilio.  But, I’ll be the first to admit, constructing a narrative out of code is damn tough.

    As a developer myself, I want the presentations I attend to be full pragmatic utility …

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  • By Rob Spectre
    Instant Satisfaction with Twilio and Box logo

    You may remember our Twilio and Box mashup contest from last year. Since then, we’ve all been hard at work bringing instant satisfaction to the cloud and our friends over at Box just released a new irresistible feature.

    Announced today, Instant Mode is the ability to provision Box storage in a user’s account without authentication – it is as simple as passing an email address. This new RESTful endpoint creates a folder within the account that only accessible by your app and the best part is that the user doesn’t even need a Box account. Users without an account will have the storage created and associated with their email address. Users with an account will see it appear in their account just like the rest of their Box folders.

    We’re so stoked about this new version of the Box API we’re celebrating it the best way we know how …

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  • By Rob Spectre
    hackNY Raises The Bar Again For Student Hackathons logo
    Students huddle for opening demos. Photo by Matylda Czarnecka.

    Occupying New York University once more, hackNY students again raised the bar for student hackathons this weekend.  With the fifth installment of their long running companion event to their successful fellowship program, the joint NYU / Columbia venture hosted over 375 students, a new record.   Hacker League logged 56 different projects in total built during the 24-hour event with students participating from every major engineering program in the Northeast US.

    Students representing NYU, Columbia, MIT, Harvard, Yale, Rutgers, Princeton, Brown, RISD, UPenn, and Carnegie Mellon all congregated in the Courant Institute for Mathematical Sciences for the 24-hour buildoff.  Dragging along their sleeping bags and second monitors, the undergraduate hackers, hustlers and designers signed up for no sleep and lots of food over a weekend celebration of creativity.  The hackNY hackathons have become street cred showcases for East Coast students looking to …

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  • By Rob Spectre
    Trying To Save The World In A Weekend, Penn Students "Hack The Change" logo
    Hackers hear the weekend's problem statements
    Hackers hear the weekend's problem statements

    The Philadelphia tech scene assembled late in the afternoon last Friday with a spectacular ambition – change the world in a single weekend.  Dubbing the event Hack The Change, University of Pennsylvania students from the Penn Society for International Development organized a new breed of hackathon where developers and development workers joined forces for a weekend to tackle big problems and effect real change.

    Equal parts NGO workshop and frantic prototype sprint, Hack The Change kicked off in Philly’s new co-working space venturef0rth with a novel approach for a hackathon.  Instead of pitching business plans, social good change agents presented a curated set of problem statements, trimmed and treated to be tackled over a weekend.  Representatives were on hand from Amnesty International, USAID, STAND, and many others to present their problems, most of whom never attended a hackathon before.

    Organized by Penn undergraduates …

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