Twitrack – Keep track of unfollows

I’m not one of the sort of folks that gets irritated when people unfollow me on Twitter, but I do like to keep track of it.  Qwitter used to provide that service, but it’s been absent without leave for a good long while.

So I hacked together a little Ruby script that when run shows me the folks that have unfollowed me since the last run and a little info on them.  Just add your username / password right up there at the top and let the disgruntledness begin! Enjoy.

Patch to fix RSS feed for news.yc

I’m an avid reader of news.yc, but it’s annoyed me for some time that the RSS feed is rather broken.  So, I decided to dust off my Lisp skills and give it a go.  The biggest chunk was adding code to do conversion from UNIX timestamps to UTC in Arc.  Significant stuff that works now:

  • Articles are properly sorted newest to oldest.
  • Articles have proper timestamps so that they’re sorted properly by feed readers.
  • Articles that drop off the homepage aren’t immediately removed from the feed to prevent them from being duplicated in if they come back.

Patch is here.

The Long Walk To 2.0

I got started with web programming in the early days. ’97, specifically. was the soup of the day for 4 years straight.  But starting in early 2001, I went off to do server and desktop programming and didn’t return to the web until 2008.

I’m not a designer; I’ve never intended to be.  But I do think I have a better eye for it than the average hacker.  So it’s been an interesting process getting my feelers out to web-design again.  These are the 5 designs (in current form, the first two have been updated to look nicer) that I’ve done in the last year.  It’s been a steady progression from my out-of-the-90s-let’s-get-Pearl-Jam-on-the-phone style design to something more modern.

Design seems to work like a lot of things.  When you’re not doing it, you’re not paying attention to how it works, what you like or why you like those things.  Once you start paying attention to it, start becoming self-aware, it starts coming more naturally.

The downside is that there’s a wake of designs I’m not thrilled with behind me.  The Directed Edge page is hurting for an update, but it’ll probably be deferred to our next product release.



REST API tester UI sketch

After a handful of Tweets on the topic a while back I ended up having a brief email exchange with John Musser from Programmable Web (great site, by the way, basically an index of web service APIs).  I’d mentioned that I’d really like to find a tool for handling both quick and systematic tests of REST APIs.  I went ahead and sketched out a UI here for how I might do something of the sort.  Perhaps at some point in the not too distant future I’ll actually implement the code.  curl is a bit tedious.


Here’s the Qt Designer file.

Winter Wunderland

We’ve had more snow in Berlin this year than since I moved to Germany in 2002.  I’ve been a wanna-be-amateur photographer for a few years now, so this morning after the heaviest snow of the year — the good sticky kind of snow — I set out to Görlitzer Park with my Olympus E-500.  The last shot is now my desktop background.  Kind of creeps me out with its tunnel-of-snow look.

Berlinale ’09

 Really looking forward to the Berlinale this year.  So much, in fact, that I’m going to see 5 of the competition films:

I’m an armchair enthusiast in film and have quite a few friends involved in film production.  In the past I’ve always been too slow in sorting out tickets to see the films that I really wanted to, so this year I was glad to get a couple days with several films in a row that I wanted to see.  Since weekends have all but evaporated since co-founding Directed Edge, it’ll be a welcome break.  It almost feels like a short vacation on the horizon.  One of the things that I enjoy most about living in Berlin is its status as an arts and culture mecca, so it’s wonderful getting to take advantage of having one of the world’s largest film festivals a short bus ride away.

I’ve been listening to too much Charlie Hunter.

Yesterday, in a rare display of lack-of-guilt-for-not-working, I pulled out the bass for a bit and started improvising into the sequencer. Pretty soon it needed a second line. Then I ripped the G-string in half on my bass and decided to round out the ending on guitar, which I never did, hence the track still ending abruptly, but I did a little guitar ditty in the middle. Then it needed organ. You get the idea.

Even though my musical efforts have been mostly focused on electronica for the last many years, every once in a while it’s fun to lay down some stuff from good old stringed instruments. Not for really any other reason than posterity, since this is a rough mix that I’m likely to never cleanup, and a structure that doesn’t really work, but well, these are the interwebs, this is a personal blog, so indulge me. It’s under two minutes of bass wankery, in a moderately funky, semi-fusiony, way.


BirdFood: Smarter RSS Feed for Twitter with Yahoo! Pipes

I’ve become quite a Twitter junkie.  I don’t use one of them new-fandangled Twitter clients; I read the RSS in Thunderbird.  Twitter’s RSS feeds are, however, well, shite.  The biggest annoyance is that links aren’t linked.

I’d also heard a lot of good things about Yahoo! Pipes, so today I decided to put two-and-two together and give the tubes a run for their money.

Here’s a list of things that are better about this version of the RSS feed:

  • Links are expanded out to their titles, italicized and linked
  • User names at the beginning of the update are linked
  • @nicks are linked
  • #tags are linked to the appropriate search

Now, for instance, instead of this:

mbites: The FT on the @andyburnham story

I get this:

mbites: The FT on the @andyburnham story | Tech Blog | UK culture minister “kidnapped” in online protest at net ratings plan

This makes the world a better place for those of us reading Twitter via RSS.

As for Pipes? Well, naturally a bit of well-placed Perl would have done the task more quickly, but this did give me a chance to play with, you know A Cloud Solution.  I’m supposed to be into that now.  Pipes is mostly really groovy.  It has a couple of limitations in logical flow, mostly in the interplay between text and items in a feed, that make things a bit clunky.  And there’s a bug in the regular expression implementation that means that only one URL, or tag, or reply gets expanded properly (you can set it to do global substitution, but then it only replaces the value with the first, rather than the appropriate captured value).  Any ambitious reader who cares to find a work-around will have praise heaped upon them in an update.  

For now, the rest of you can get the goods here:

The new hotness.

I’d somehow outgrown my other collection of blogs.  I’ve got the one for KDE, which isn’t really appropriate to spam with my born-again-web-iness and startup ramblings, the Directed Edge blog, which seems should at least tentatively be related to work.  There are a couple of other ancient feeds that I’d used for personal friends, but alas, there’s been a gap for rants intended for public consumption that aren’t quite work and aren’t quite open source and aren’t quite private.  So, friends, here we go.