Older blog entries for follower (starting at number 108)

TweetZombie — eating your brain. one tweet at a time.

TweetZombie is a site that does some very basic vocabulary analysis of an individual's Twitter messages. It will tell you the size of the vocabulary that the person uses and provide a vocabulary rating (v-rating). The exact rating calculation method is of course a closely guarded trade secret. :) (And yes, you can try to game it with antidisestablishmentarianism if you really want to do so. You wouldn't be the first.)

A handy pie chart shows you at a glance how often the person replies or retweets. Last I looked the highest rating was 51,801 and the biggest vocabulary was 1,240 words.

Applying new technologies

Development of TweetZombie was an exercise in integrating and learning more about a number of technologies. It was originally developed using Django, jQuery, the Twitter API (via tweepy) and sqlite but then ported to run on Google App Engine with Google App Engine Helper for Django and a side order of Google AdSense. (What do you mean assimilated? :) )

The porting exercise was interesting as developing for the App Engine DataStore with its non-SQL approach to queries was an exercise in changing how one thinks about data retrieval. The main change to thinking was pre-calculating more values up front.

I also took a brief look at making use of the Python Natural Language Toolkit for more sophisticated vocabulary analysis (e.g. n-grams) but have not integrated it yet.

Related Wiki Updates

During the development process I added a few related pages to my Wiki/Notebook:

Try it yourself

Head to TweetZombie and try it on your own account or on the accounts of your friends and then brag about how superior your intelligence must be. Or something.

Syndicated 2009-12-08 07:35:00 from follower

No Chumby for me (yet).

The Chumby is an...internet connected thing, created by Andrew "bunnie" Huang known in some circles for his console reverse engineering. The new version looks like this (unfortunately not so soft and cuddly as the previous version but apparently being soft costs too much):

Anyway, recently on his blog bunnie had a competition to guess the number of vias on the new printed circuit board in order to win a new Chumby One. Now, guessing seemed far too slapdash to me but after briefly considering writing something using OpenCV to automate detection I decided to just count things by hand.

Yes, it was as tedious as it sounds. :) It was also complicated by the fact the board is double-sided and the two images supplied didn't overlap fully. So, first I had to locate the vias on each side and then match the pairs. In some cases only one side of the via was visible and also, it wasn't always easy to match up the pairs because even after resizing/scaling the match wasn't precise. I did briefly consider using a technique similar to georectification to align the images but apparently even I have some limits to my perfectionism. :)

Now, the one issue I never dealt with specifically was that it was possible for vias to exist but be hidden on both sides of the board by components. I didn't allow for this. I could've worked out some arbitrary method for guessing the number of hidden vias but just stuck with the visible via count for my submission.

I used Gimp to perform my image manipulation. My Chumby competition submission comment included links to both a layered Gimp file and a flattened JPEG with my via count workings:

(Yeah, it wasn't pretty. :)

My guess was 729 vias which alas was not close enough to the actual total documented count of 785 as mentioned in a follow up post announcing the winner. The closest guess was 781 vias.

But the exercise was still a partial success in my book as part of my reason for documenting the ridiculous extremes I had gone to was a fairly transparent attempt to be noticed even if I didn't win, which earned this remark from bunnie:

I wasn't actually thinking anyone would try to count all the visible vias — kudos to those who put in that effort (omg follower I can't believe you did that!)...

And, this post is, of course, a totally transparent attempt to get you to notice me and think, "Hey, I've got a problem that needs that sort of mindset to solve" and email me with a freelance contract offer. :)

Syndicated 2009-12-03 07:50:00 from follower

DigitalNZ HackFest Christchurch 2009

On Saturday I took part in the DigitalNZ HackFest - Christchurch and was there for a couple of hours. "DigitalNZ is a publicly funded, not-for-profit initiative that aims to make NZ digital content easier to find, share and use."

The purpose of the HackFest was to introduce developers to the DigitalNZ API and encourage them to experiment with it.

I made some small changes to make the existing DigitalNZ API bindings for Python compatible with Python 2.5 and wrote a command line script to show how to do a basic search. (The patch has already been incorporated into the repository thanks to a quick response from the original author.) As I try to do these days, I made some notes on learning about the DigitalNZ API.

It was good to see a number of people made the effort to come along and contribute code and feedback. I'm pleased DigitalNZ made the decision to send Jo on the road to bring the event to Christchurch and I hope to see more HackFests in the future.

Syndicated 2009-09-14 07:01:31 from follower

Christchurch Creative Space meet the people video

A while back we had some video footage shot at the Christchurch Creative Space so people could get an idea of who comes along and what they get up to while they're there. View the Christchurch Creative Space video here or in the embed below:

We also had a series of friendly chats with people who have been along (thanks to Jack) and you can read the Christchurch Creative Space people interviews.

Creative Space media coverage

The Space and its activities have also been featured in a couple of other media related items. A half-page article about the Creative Space and Hackerspaces in general appeared on page 14 of this month's Unlimited magazine (it seems not to be online). The MsBehaviour Files also made mention of us:

Syndicated 2009-09-01 05:53:08 from follower

The cake wasn't a lie

It was my birthday last month and my great friends organised a personalised cake—my favourite lemon meringue pie in fact—especially for me. It was a good evening and really appreciated.

Syndicated 2009-08-31 09:47:03 from follower

Bright Bunny Project

Meet the cute and cuddly Bright Bunny Pirate who has a secret...

...his heart lights up when you feed him his favourite food...a carrot!

I designed this project for a workshop I taught at the Christchurch Craft 2.0 fair in June 2009.

We had three women and two girls participate, they learned to solder and assemble the bunnies each ending up with their own personality. It was good to have Lucy from Felt and Dave on hand to lend assistance as we under-estimated the time a bit!

It's turned out the project is an ideal introduction to incorporating electronics into craft. As an added bonus you can download the Creative Commons licensed Bright Bunny pattern.

The video above was recorded at the Christchurch Creative Space and edited in Blender.

Syndicated 2009-08-14 10:50:00 from follower

Christchurch Girl Geek Dinner on Ada Lovelace Day 2009

As I write this post it is no longer Ada Lovelace Day in New Zealand but it is still so in many parts of the world. Don't know about ALD? Read more at Finding Ada.

In a happy coincidence Christchurch's first Girl Geek Dinner occurred on ALD so I decided I'd mention the work put in by the two organisers Anchen le Roux and Lucinda McCullough for my ALD post. :-)

Thanks to being the special guest of Lucy from Board of Design and Felt ("your online outlet dedicated to all things handmade") I was able to attend the event within "the rules".

The evening had a great turnout of around thirty people—in fact, I'm tempted to make the next The Valley in Christchurch monthly tech dinner have the same admission rules in an attempt to match attendence numbers. :-)

To me what is great is that Luci and Anchen care enough about the New Zealand tech industry and their place in it that they chose to invest their time and energy in making something happen. Organising a venue, sponsors, invitations, ticketing and promotion all takes an investment and we all benefit from a stronger industry as a result.

Of significance to me was one of the organisers was heard to remark something along the lines of "I want to be the [insert name of prominent woman from another New Zealand city known for organising tech events] of Christchurch". Just like Ada Lovelace Day aims to promote, role models really do matter.

I hope more people in the tech industry—female and male—will follow Anchen and Luci's lead in becoming more involved in developing the New Zealand tech community.

Thanks to Luci, Anchen and those who attended.

Syndicated 2009-03-24 11:40:00 from follower

Christchurch Creative / Project / Hacker / Maker Space

I would like to gauge the level of interest for a hacker / project / creative / maker space in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Update: Join us this Tuesday, 17 March 2009 at 7:30pm for a planning/doing gathering. See the announcement for details.

I've been interested in the concept for quite a while but after spending some time in similar setups in Europe I'm even more convinced it would be a great addition to the city. While I could spout on about it having social, community, technical, educational and creative benefits I'm really only suggesting it because I want to be able to work on projects and hang out with interesting people at the same time.

If you're not familiar with the concept here are a couple of starting points for learning more:

Already I've talked about the concept with a number of people and had a positive response. There is also a possibility of an at least temporary location in the central city. I suspect we would probably start off with having gatherings one or two nights a week.

Please participate in the discussion forum / mailing list if you are interested in helping this get started or interested in participating once it's started:

I welcome suggestions for venues, funding, participants, equipment and interminable discussions about a suitably local-flavoured name.

Know someone who creates, hacks, crafts, makes or who might otherwise benefit from such a space? Please pass this Christchurch creative project space link along to them.

Syndicated 2009-03-15 12:11:00 from follower

Hardware Into Art: TVIC/Geekosystem Crossover

What will this become?

Come to The Valley in Christchurch this week (Tuesday!) and don't just find out, make IT/ART happen!

Here's some of the details, check out the event announcement for more details:

The Valley In Christchurch February dinner and hack events

When: 6:00pm Tuesday 19th February 2008
Where: The China Kitchen, on Hereford St, opposite the Flight Centre

And then join us post-dinner for a special TVIC-exclusive Geekosystem session:

When: ~7:00pm—10:00pm-ish
Where: The Physics Room, Second Floor, 209 Tuam Street, Christchurch

Rumour is that some pizza and beverages will be provided while you work on your hardware hacking masterpiece.

Thanks to Adam and the Physics Room for organising this special after-hours session for us!

The photo above (courtesy of Adam Hyde) shows some of the "raw materials" that will be on hand.

Tending Networks: The 5th Aotearoa Digital Arts Symposium

As it happens, the Geekosystem coincides with the The 5th Aotearoa Digital Arts Symposium produced by The ADA Digital Arts Network.

Self-described as "New Zealand/Aotearoa's only digital artists' network. ADA was born of the observation that although new media artists were often highly networked in terms of both their own practice and their professional relationships, there was no national organization drawing together those with a common interest in digital art."

The symposium is an opportunity for New Zealand's digital/new media artists to meet face to face. Check out the upcoming weekend's programme.

I've actually been invited to present a brief overview of some of my Arduino hacking to the group during their "lightning talk" session on Saturday afternoon. A pleasant parallel to the symposium topic is my most recent project has been an ethernet expansion shield for the Arduino. I must write some more on that.

Foo Fruition

Speaking of needing to write more... My presentation at the ADA Symposium and the TVIC/Geekosystem crossover are a direct result of my attendence earlier this month at Kiwi Foo Camp 2008 (a.k.a. Baa Camp) and some people I met there. I must write some more on that. :-)

Syndicated 2008-02-17 17:12:07 from follower

That tall transmitter tower in San Francisco

Ever since I saw it, I'd wondered about the tall transmitter tower in San Francisco. Turns out it's the "Sutro Tower" and supports radio and television antenna. It can seem quite a menacing structure as it towers over the hill.

Further Sutro Tower details can be found—unfortunately it seems no live web cam views now exist. The view from the top must be pretty awesome and somewhat freaky, I would imagine. It is possible to find some links to "satellite" views of the structure on various mapping sites.

Actually, I also just found a construction photograph: (Yay for libraries! :-) )

It's all very Triffid/Tripod-ish...

Kite Photographs

I happened to be looking for the Sutro Tower after I found a reference to this famous picture of San Francisco damage after the 1906 earthquake—apparently taken from a kite-mounted camera:

I'd been intending to track down the photographs after I read of their existence in Adventures from the Technology Underground but then they were featured on Digg.com which saved me the trouble of looking for them.

Syndicated 2008-02-12 15:30:00 from follower

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