Name: Follower
Member since: 2001-10-18 15:58:06
Last Login: 2007-02-27 15:07:17



See: follower writes words a> for all my new adventures!


Python Gmail library provides access to the Gmail webmail service. Includes demonstration SMTP, POP and FTP proxies.

Mozilla add-on that allows you to select text on a web page and store it in a clipping file (along with URL and date info) simply by choosing an option from the right-click menu.

Python+Jabber based bot plugin framework. Existing plugin functionality includes:

  • automatic multi-language chat translation
  • state- based multi-message conversation facility (currently implemented as a phone directory operator)
  • Advo-Jab, update your Advogato diary by sending messages to the bot. (Uses Advogato's XML-RPC functionality.)
Based on the jabberpy framework. (

(Code currently available on request, when I've tidied it up I'll put it up on my site...)

Recent blog entries by follower

Speaking of Twitter...

Like my recent TweetZombie — twitter vocabulary analysis post (see what I did there? :) ) this entry is also Twitter related...

I've had my @followr Twitter account for a while but it's protected and I generally limit followers to people I know or have met IRL. But that's not entirely satisfactory when I'm happy for people to follow along for general technical content. What I really want is a per-Tweet flag for protected or not but seeing as that's not a possibility I'm going to experiment with a second account.

So, if you'd like to follow along check out @RancidBacon for your viewing pleasure. While you'll miss out on such deeply personal insights as "Did I mention I really like warm sunshiney days like this one? :)" you will get most of the technical content. I'm slowly making my way through the backlog of follow requests and will follow them via the RancidBacon account.

Thanks for your interest...

Syndicated 2009-12-09 05:35:00 from follower

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

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