Archive for the 'Tech' Category

Sep 12 2009

Experimenting with adding picture tweets to

Published by under Declan,Tech,twitter

Don’t mind the mess… I’m experimenting with a new syndication plugin, FeedWordPress, and TwitPic to get my tweeted pictures to show up on the blog. It looks like TwitPic has added rss support, so this just might work! 🙂

Twitter has killed my blog updating… Trying to find a nice lazy way to kill two birds with one stone, but not be too annoying. 😉

No responses yet

Jun 03 2009

Maker Faire 2009

Published by under Declan,Photography,Tech

Last Sunday I attended the 2009 Maker Faire in San Mateo, CA.

I’ve always wanted to go and Elaine and I were up in SF for the weekend, so I made it! I walked into the building above and assumed that was the whole thing. It was an enormous place with tons of exhibits.

The first one that caught my eye was a dude polishing a piece of glass for a telescope mirror:

I didn’t quite get how it worked, but it was fascinating to watch.

Next I saw a huge living sculpture of old plastic 2 liter bottles:

There was a line and pulley system that caused the ring of bottles to undulate in a wave.

There were many robot sculptures:

and scary vacuum guns!

These bike wheel LEDs were very cool! I almost bought the kit, but resisted… My birthday is coming up, hint hint…

I think this was part of The Long Now’s 10,000 year clock. I just thought it was cool:

Next I saw Tesla coils! They set up a board with hot dogs along a wire for the current to pass through:

Then there were more robots:

Some of the robots got all evil and started decapitations:


I was getting hungry by this point, so I stepped out of the building to get some food and discovered that there was 4x more Faire to cover:

This one was giving me the eye:

I want to try hanging a camera from a kite! Can I borrow your camera?

The robots were really being mean to children even…

Then they went all cyborg on this poor innocent:

This is the robot conversion factory:

The humans allowed to live had to pass through a life sized Mousetrap Game:

One hall was full of crafts and the witches who ply their trade:

and odes to their false idols:

ok, that’s a pretty cool ode – a yarn FSM!

And what would a trip to NoCal be without hippies and their dirty habits:

It’s sad what happened to some of the humans:

but I will admit to eating all the chocolate and vanilla ribbon off of the Hostess Cupcake car! Mmm, delicious!

Sheep lady’s twittering about seeing something stranger than her:

What could it be?

WOOP, der it is:

Some brave humans fought back the robot horde:

But in the end, who can fight robots?

Especially when they use child sympathizers:

I blame the XBoX generation for this madness.

But wait! There’s hope!

Mentos and Diet Coke save the day! And we all fly away:

and eat mushrooms:

and wear awesome coats:

Oh yeah, I ran into Andrew, Kim, and Site Con #3 (dammit, I can’t remember his name. Nice kid… )

More pix here:

One response so far

May 15 2009

Ugly Web Site

Published by under Declan,Tech

I’ve been using this interface for the last few weeks, and it’s making me physically ill:


It boggles the mind…

2 responses so far

Mar 01 2009

code4lib 2009 in Providence, RI

Just got back from one of my favorite conferences of the year, code4lib 2009, this year in Providence, RI. It was great seeing a lot of my liberry geek buddies, and it was a nice reminder of why I live in San Diego and not the God forsaken hinterlands of the East. Cold is just dumb.

I took a lot of pictures as usual. They’re all up on Flicrk, but here are a few I really liked:

Our hotel was right across the street from the Rhode Island State house. I forgot to fix my white balance before I shot it, but I kinda like the effect:

If all of the cars in front were as old as the one in the middle, I could have pretended it was an old slide 🙂

Here’s a more “accurate” shot:

We headed over to the local mall’s food court for lunch:

Lotsa folks in that one – Mike Giarlo, Rob Cassion, Ross Singer, Phil Cryer.

I really enjoyed spending a few days with our intrepid Esme:

(He lives in Florida, Mike.)

Here Dan Chudnov does his Bollywood routine in celebration of Slumdog Millionaire’s big Oscar wins:

Jodi Schneider was thrilled to see me, as always:

I finally met Ed Summers, in the middle. It’s good to see him inspiring others as he does me. Bess Sadler is enjoying the fracas as well:

Gabe Farrell, on the right, forgot he owed me $20. Never do that. It gives me WAY too much license… 😉

Mike Park left me waiting to be picked up at the airport:

Well ok, he mailed me 3 weeks before the event asking if I needed a ride and I sent him an itinerary and said I’d confirm closer to the flight. Three hours before the flight takes off doesn’t really count! 😉 Mike drove me, Esme, Brad, and Dan all over the place, either because he’s a great dude, or I’m good at making people feel guilty. Either way, I win! 🙂 Thanks Mike for being a great host.

Actually, I gotta say that the whole Brown Univ (or is that Univ of Providence?) crew kicked ass in prep and execution of this conference. BRAVO Birkin, Jean, Bonnie, and other names I can’t remember because I drink a lot.

I also take a lot of pictures, so I’ll inevitably get something cool like this:

Heehee! I love my Lensbaby!

Pizza is good!

Did you know the lead singer of Saliva is a librarian?

Ross pretends to laugh at something while trying to ignore the fat dude sticking a camera in his face:

Just looking at this costs me 14 points:

Brad, Dan, and I visited the inside of the RI State House before we ran to the airport, and decided that we should hold the next code4lib in the Senate chambers:

Never get on that end of a canon, especially when I am on the other end…

As usual, way too many pictures here:

Awesome seeing you all again!

One response so far

Nov 05 2008

Welcome to the Twitosphere – San Diego City Beat Article

Published by under Friends,San Diego,Tech

City Beat has a twitter article today, and Gabe (@gebl) is quoted.

“If you go to the standard technology meet-ups,” says Gabriel Lawrence, director of IT security at UCSD, the glow of the pool reflecting in his glasses, “it’s all a bunch of geeks standing around lecturing each other. But look at this: There’s all kinds of people here. There’s the technology people, so, if you want to talk tech and be like 1, 0, 1-1, 0, 1-1, you can. But then there’s marketing folks, there’s radio personalities, there’s newspaper media—I mean, everybody’s here. Eric Bidwell, a candidate for mayor, is here. I voted for him because I met him at a Tweetup. This is what it should be like—you get to meet lots of people, there’s lots of ideas and it’s a fun environment.”

I wonder how drunk one needs to be to speak in binary… 😉

No responses yet

Oct 18 2008

Cycorder on Jailbroken iPhone

Published by under Tech,Video

So, I decided to jailbreak the glassbroken iphone:

I used Pwnage following these instructions and it all worked well.

One app I really wanted to try out was Cycorder because it allows you to make videos with the iPhone camera. I used the Cydia installer that comes with Pwnage to install Cycorder. Running the app is simple, just remember to hold the iPhone sideways so the video isn’t sideways like I did here:


Next, I wanted to grab the video and put it on my web site at home. I installed OpenSSH from Cydia or the InstallerApp (not sure which, but they both come with Pwnage), then sftp’d the files over to my home server from the iPhone’s hard drive at /var/mobile/Media/Videos. Remember that OpenSSH’s default login is “root” and the password is “alpine”. (I highly suggest changing the password using the iPhone terminal application.) That directory has .mov files that copy over and play just fine on Windows or the Mac.

Next, I wanted to put the movies up in YouTube because my home server is so slow. It was as simple as uploading anything to YouTube, but the audio was bad. Every few seconds there was a loud hissing noise. So, I used iSquint to convert the .mov files to .mp4 files, uploaded the .mp4 files to YouTube, and that cleared up the audio noise.

Too bad it doesn’t make the quality of the video content any better: 😉


One response so far

Aug 31 2008

Testing My SDBlogger Yahoo Pipe

Published by under Declan,Tech

I’ve been learning Yahoo Pipes to see if I could add more info, specifically the name of the blog, to the SDBlogger Twitter feed that itself is fed from a FriendFeed RSS feed.

Follow my progress at

This all started when Matt Browne set up a FriendFeed room for SDBloggers, a gathering of rss feeds from local bloggers’ sites. Matt then set up an RSS to Twitter feed using that took the RSS from the room and posted it as the Twitter user SDBloggers. By following this user, people could get a tweet telling them that something new had been posted on any of the blogs in the room.

Now, there are over 50 different blogs in the room, any of which could alert Twitter that it had a new post. The problem I had was that the tweet looked like this:

I couldn’t tell by looking at the tweet which blog it was referring to. The “(via Blog)” part of the title was generic and the same on every tweet, regardless of the sender. I mentioned to Matt that he should change that. Manager that he is, he tasked me with looking into how to do it… 😉

I knew from the raw HTML on the Friendfeed site that the name of each entry’s blog was available. And when I looked at the RSS feed provided by Friendfeed, all the parts where there. The item.content was made up of a lot of HTML and included some consistent text – specifically “an entry from” followed by an “a” tag that changed per entry, then the closing “a” tag. I just needed to parse the RSS, rip the blog name out of item.content, then replace “(via Blog)” with “(via ” + real blog name in the item.title.

At first I started with a perl script I found called RSS2Twitter. After spending a good part of a day off re-learning perl for the 17th time, I said, “heck, let’s learn something new…” and started playing with Yahoo Pipes.

I’m technical, but I’m not a programmer, so I usually start with some example and hack a piece of code until it does what I want. The initial problem I had with Pipes is that I wasn’t sure what context I was in. I knew I wanted RSS in and modified RSS out, but I was confused how to go about it. I looked at a couple examples and figured out I needed to start with a Fetch Feed object, and to stuff the Friendfeed RSS URL into it. The debug window was a bunch of help, showing me what the output of each object was as I clicked on Refresh.

So, now I had a list of RSS entries. I knew where my pieces were, I just couldn’t figure out how to extract them. I Googled “pipes tutorials strings” and the first link was from and helped a ton. I needed to copy the item.content to a temporary variable so I could do some work on cutting it up without hurting the original item.content. From Daybarr’s page, I saw to use the “Rename” object and invoke the Copy As method (not sure that’s proper programmer talk) to replicate the value of item.content’s to my new variable called content_holder.

Here’s where it really gets ugly. I hadn’t touched regular expressions in a long time, but I’d need one to isolate the blog name from all the HTML. Another few Googles gave me some tutorials, and I settled on one from Apple. The intro mentioned Reggy, a regex validator that lets you write ugly little regex code in the top pane, paste some text into the bottom pane, and see the results in real time. It really helped:

You can see the regex I used in a Pipes Regex object in the top pane of Reggy above. What I’m doing is finding whatever is in that space, shoving it into the regex variable $5, then replacing the whole of content_holder with $5. It seems kludgy, and it probably is, but it works. 🙂 I use another line in the regex object to strip the generic “(via Blog)” text from the item.title.

Believe it or not, the next Pipes object was the hardest to get my head around. It helps a lot to cursor over an object’s connection points to see what input and output is expected and delivered. I did this for a long time before I read Daybarr’s loop example. The Loop objects consumes items and lets you perform operations on them individually, as opposed to the whole stream of items at once. The Loop object is modular in that it allowed me to plug a String Builder object into it. Once I understood that I had access to each item’s fields, with the blog name stuffed into my content_holder variable, all I had to do was add string parts to the String Builder in the order I wanted them to be concatenated. The last little trick in the Loop object was to assign the results to item.title.

I’m not really clear why everything else just gets passed through untouched, but that’s the context problem I was struggling with. Once I stopped worrying about all the details and concentrated on the parts I knew I wanted to change, I made a lot of progress. It’s not how I normally work. Understanding the boundaries of a system usually helps me know which way to start a solution. Assuming that “it’ll all be ok” doesn’t occur to me naturally.

One last Regex object to strip the content_holder variable out of the resulting RSS, and it’s all clean.

Here’s the Pipe:

I fed this to and it fails validation, BUT after waiting the 30 minute delay, I got results!

Here you can see the name of the blog (in this case it’s mine for testing) right in the tweet!

Ok, it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but I learned something new and now I have a blog post I can go back to when I forget it all! 🙂

My regex is probably flawed. If there were a blog with “an entry from” in the title, I bet it would fail. And I didn’t use any “[” or “^” so I’m not very cool.

How would you have gone at this problem differently? How have you learned Pipes?

8 responses so far

Jul 22 2008

iPhone wordpress app

Published by under Tech

Playing with the new WordPress iPhone app

This is Andrew.


So I’ve been using it for a few weeks now and I am very happy with it. You can work on things in a local space, then change the status to Published and it will be pushed to your blog. On slow connections, it will time out sometimes, just like any uploader. It does remember it’s state though, and tries again the next time you try to upload.

I have had an issue setting more than one category on a post. It seems only the first one gets added, but I’ll need to test more before I complain officially.

Another interesting issue I found with my first few posts was that even though it looked like a post had been successful from the phone, the post didn’t show up on my blog page. I didn’t have time to mess with it, so I checked the blog a few hours later and it showed up then. I tested with another post, and got the same issue. I looked in the list of posts, and it was there, it just wasn’t showing up on the homepage. The issue turned out to be that the time stamp on my server was off by a few hours, so the post from my iPhone looked like it was from the future and WP embargoed it until the time stamps matched.

2 responses so far

Jul 19 2008

New Toys! 24″ iMac, iPod Touch, iPhone 3g

Published by under Declan,Elaine,Erin,Tech

I am not a Mac head, but we’ve had some additions to the toy cache. The campus bookstore had a great deal on a 24″ iMac, with a rebate on an iPod. So Elaine got the big Mac and I got an iPod Touch. It’s a ton of fun!

Our newest arrival is an iPhone 3g that I got for work. It is even cooler than the Touch because it has a camera. I’ll have a lot of lower quality photos now, but it’s super convenient.

A couple complaints about the phone, that I’m sure I’ll get the whine about on the MacVeritas podcast soon:

Battery life – with 3g, wifi, and heavy use, don’t expect this thing to last more than 5 hours.

Charging change – this just kills me. The device won’t charge in my car now. Lots of discussion on the forums that Apple decided to drop the pins where most car systems charge the phone. I’m hoping there can be a firmware fix. If not, maybe my car device has a switch, or I can build a little wire switching dongle. Either way, shame on Apple for messing with this with no real warning.

Exchange email set up was a snap – but I think I’m missing some emails… It’s being a little flaky with the ActiveSync. More experience with the device is needed.

Calendar confusion – some recurring events that have canceled exceptions are showing up as valid meetings. I know this is complicated programming from the WirelessKnowledge days. Apple needs to get ahead of this or people will lose confidence in their data.

Apps crash a lot – and have to be reinstalled. AIM, Twinkle, and others just try to start, then go back to the home dock. I’ll even get an occasional reboot.

Other than that, the device is nice! It’s sleek, so it slips in and out of pockets nicely. So far it is way more resistant to scratches than my 60G iPod.

Now that I have the phone, I don’t know if I need the Touch. The girl wants it, but I might sell it and the cool Surefire flashlights I won and buy a proper lens for the camera.

2 responses so far

Jul 19 2008

Cool or Obnoxious?

Published by under Photography,San Diego,Tech

I can’t decide whether this is cool or obnoxious:

Five planes flying at high altitude in formation dot matrix printing the sky is geeky cool. Reading about insurance companies and bad radio djs in the sky is kind obnoxious.


Five aircraft flying at 10,000 FT. emitting biodegradable vapor "PUFFS" in a dot matrix pattern. These puffs are regulated by an onboard computer that controls the sequencing of the vapor to form the letters in the sky.
The average time to skytype a character, "The size of the empire state building," is only four seconds! The hang time for a eight mile long (25-30 characters) skyboard is three to seven minutes. That's a lot longer than a fifteen second TV commercial... or the average sign on the road read at 55 mph in 7 seconds!

No responses yet

« Prev - Next »