Why Does ‘Twitter API’ Keep Asking for My Password?

Sites around the web are getting splashed with a mysterious dialog Tuesday, thanks to a change in the way Twitter handles user authentication.

Some Wired.com website visitors see the dialog box shown here when visiting any of this site’s blogs. It states that a username and password are being requested by Twitter, with the unhelpful message, “Twitter API.” The same dialog has been spotted on ReadWriteWeb and even on Twitter’s own website.

In addition, users of some Twitter apps, including Twitter’s own Tweetie and BlackBerry apps, Tweetdeck and Twitterrific, have complained of Twitter login problems.

In the case of the website dialog, entering your username and password doesn’t do anything useful, and won’t make the dialog box go away. Indeed, it will often reappear several times during a session.

The cause of the trouble appears is a change in the way Twitter handles user authentication for remote sites and programs. As Wired reported yesterday, instead of giving a Facebook app your Twitter username and password, for instance, Twitter now requires the app use a protocol known as OAuth to hand you off to Twitter’s website. Once you’ve authorized Twitter to share your information with the other site or app, it hands a token back to that app, and the two can share information with each other.

The new, OAuth-based method is more secure and ultimately more reliable (for instance, you don’t have to update every Twitter app you use whenever you change your Twitter password).

However, now that Twitter has switched, programs and sites using the old authentication method are not working properly.

That includes websites using Twitter widgets with older code. These widgets, which embed the latest tweets from specific Twitter users, appear to rely on the old authentication method.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you. It’s not called the “OAuthcalypse” for nothing.

The solution, in almost every case, is simply to upgrade. If you have old widget code on your website, go to Twitter.com and get a new widget embed code. Similarly, if you’re using a Twitter app that’s having login problems, the solution is almost certainly to upgrade to the latest version. Twitterrific’s developers, for instance, have spent the day urging the app’s many users to upgrade. Developers have known about the authentication switch for months now, and most have been able to release updated versions of their software that works properly with the new OAuth system.

Originally published on Wired.com, August 31, 2010.

Why Does ‘Twitter API’ Keep Asking for My Password?

This Day in Tech for August 27, 1874: He’s Ammoniac, Ammoniac at the Fore

1874: Carl Bosch, a chemist whose work would transform agriculture and industry — and eventually enable the Green Revolution — is born.

Bosch’s contribution to humanity was the development of the Haber-Bosch process, a technique for creating ammonia in large quantities.

Ammonia is an essential component of agricultural fertilizers, because it’s rich in nitrogen — which makes plants grow bigger. Bosch’s work led directly to a massive increase in agricultural productivity in the 20th century, and at least one professor has estimated that 40 percent of the world’s food (.pdf) can now be traced back to the process.

Coupled with the development of plant varieties better able to absorb nitrogen, (spearheaded by Norman Borlaug in the 1960s) the Haber-Bosch process helped save many people from starvation. It also no doubt helped facilitate the population explosion of the past century.

And it won Bosch the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1931.

Continue reading “This Day in Tech for August 27, 1874: He’s Ammoniac, Ammoniac at the Fore”

This Day in Tech for August 27, 1874: He’s Ammoniac, Ammoniac at the Fore

Stats Show iPhone Owners Get More Sex

Gadget lovers have long held to the secret belief that the right camera, smartphone or large-aperture lens will make them sexier.

Now dating site OK Cupid has proof.

According to OK Cupid’s survey of 552,000 user pictures, digital SLRs make you look more attractive, Panasonic cameras make you sexier than Nikons, while using a flash will make you look 7 years older, and large-aperture lenses make you hotter.

And iPhone users have more sexual partners than BlackBerry or Android owners. By age 30, the average male iPhone user has had about 10 partners while female iPhone users have had 12. By contrast, BlackBerry users hover around 8 partners and Android users have a mere 6.

As the blog’s author’s wryly observe: “Finally, statistical proof that iPhone users aren’t just getting fucked by Apple.”

That should give iPhone and iPad users some comfort for being considered ‘selfish elites,’ as another recent survey found.

OK Cupid has been analyzing the behavior of the site’s millions of users for some time, and has discovered many interesting tidbits: People tend to lie on their profiles, people’s political preferences change as they age, and men can increase their chances of getting a date by being open to older women. The site’s massive dataset, huge volume of activity, and interesting slicing and dicing combine to produce some keen observations on human nature.

But for gadget heads, there’s no more pertinent observation than (hard) data. The Panasonic Micro 4/3 camera will make you look far more attractive than a Canon DSLR, which in turn is better than a Nikon or Sony DSLR. And forget about cameraphones: Android, Nokia, BlackBerry and Windows phones all make you look less attractive, with Motorola phones at the absolute bottom of the list.

Similarly, the type of camera you wield makes a big difference. There’s a dramatic illustration showing how the same woman looks photographed with a cameraphone, a point-and-shoot camera, and an SLR. That makes sense: As we’ve explained before, larger image sensors give you better-quality images.

Along the same lines, a larger-aperture photo lets you put the background out of focus, increasing the apparent attractiveness of the person you’re taking a picture of.

So if you wanted an excuse to buy a fancier camera with a bigger lens, OK Cupid’s got all the rationale you need.

As for switching from Android or BlackBerry to an iPhone? Well, that’s up to you. Unlike with the photos, it’s hard to tell whether iPhone use is the cause, or the effect, of having more notches in one’s bedpost.

OkTrends, via EthanZ

Image: via OKCupid

Stats Show iPhone Owners Get More Sex