Category Archives: web2.0

twitterblog rides again

After almost a year long hiatus, I got my python program twitterblog to work again.

twitterblog lets me take a twitter time line and directly dump it into my typepad blog.

There were a couple of limitations of the original software, which are now fixed, and on top of which I added a couple of new features.

So the new features are the ability to specify the title from the command line with the –T option and the ability to specify an end time for a time line so you print out the tweets from 4 days ago, and only four days ago using the –e option.

I also fixed a bug related to how tweets that contained non-ascii characters were being treated. Normally twitter returns nothing but text, but if the text contains UTF-8, the rather simplistic parser I had would puke.

Now if I detect an error while parsing, I’ll do something semi-intelligent, but at least no longer crash.

Python continues to impress with it’s syntax and it’s wealth of libraries.

Drunken sailors and web ui design.

So it’s really cool that we can use dynamic web technologies to have user interfaces that allow for maximum configurability…


Just because you mr. web designer decided that I need to be able to click and remove every UI element (so that I find myself trying to figure out how I lost the all important panel) doesn’t mean you should.

Building UI elements and forcing me, the VERY BAD UI DESIGNER to figure this out is an abrogation of your responsibility.

Yech. I feel better.

Privacy and Cell Phones

Nude pics in phone lost at McDonald’s get online

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Here’s some food for thought: If you have nude photos of your wife on your cell phone, hang onto it.

Phillip Sherman of Arkansas learned that lesson after he left his phone behind at a McDonald’s restaurant and the photos ended up online. Now he and his wife, Tina, are suing the McDonald’s Corp., the franchise owner and the store manager.

The suit was filed Friday and seeks a jury trial and $3 million in damages for suffering, embarrassment and the cost of having to move to a new home.

The suit says that Phillip Sherman left the phone the Fayetteville store in July and that employees promised to secure it until he returned.

Manager Aaron Brummley declined to comment, and other company officials didn’t return messages.



With 8 GB of storage, a reasonably good camera, and a desire to photograph everything for posterity, this is going to be happening a lot more frequently than we would like.

I believe being able to remotely wipe a phone of all contents is going to be a key feature of cell phone’s going forward.

And sooner rather than later, folks are going to learn the value of encryption and strong passwords.

I wonder if we’ll see biometrics make it into phones?

I hate search engines

One of the more, most?, irritating aspects of today’s search engines is that for all of their bullshit about "content neutrality", they obviously prefer to redirect you to their sites.

So look for an image on Yahoo and you get a whole bunch of flickr pages.

Look for the same image on Google, and flickr doesn’t even exist.

Don’t believe me? Look at a search in yahoo images for Tony


And what happens when I look for Tony on Google images?


No flickr!

A pox on both of their houses!

And the money kept rolling in…

This is an interesting story about how Google’s AdSense program was perverted by folks who understood the nature of arbitrage.

The real gem of the story is the following:

In 2003, Google made another huge leap forward on the advertising side, with the launch of its AdSense program. Essentially, this application allowed people to put keyword-targeted ad links, served by Google, on their own websites, with them and Google splitting revenue tied to the volume of user click-throughs. As its popularity grew, a cottage industry began to develop called “search arbitrage.” Essentially, search arbitrage involves an individual or company buying Internet traffic through the acquisition of keywords from Google, then sending viewers who click on the ad links to a site (“landing page” in Google terminology) that appears to have content, but is actually just full of online advertising linked to the original search term. Anyone clicking an ad link there makes money for the keyword holder. For example, a company might bid for the Google rights to the phrase “small town car sales” and send traffic to a website it controls, filled with more car advertisements, called “” The keyword cost only 20¢, while a click on the advertising on the website might yield $1.50 return. According to Niki Scevak, an analyst at Jupiter Research in New York, the majority of those initially involved in search arbitrage were small players. “These were guys running search arbitrage out of their basements, making maybe $20,000 a month,” he says.

Essentially you buy “cheap” words, and populate the web page with expensive words and make a killing on the difference!

And this is legal…

Bernadette remarked that the web site does in fact allow me to export my data.

Since I can now do that, I think I will actually give the place a whirl.

My first impressions are remarkably positive.

I like the use of tags to organize information, rather than the use of fixed columns.

I like the fact that web site can search through or the Library of Congress to fill in information about books.

For example, I typed in “the echo maker” in the “add books” section of the web site.


And then the web site very quickly gave me the option to select from a set of books that matched “the echo maker”.


I picked the one by Richard Powers, and, just like that, my library know had all of the information about that book.


All it took was 15 key presses and one mouse click!

Update: Feb 17, 2008 because I mistyped the web site.

Who owns my data?


After I wrote about my Access adventures, Michael Rubin recommended a very interesting web site as an alternative to rolling my own application.

While I was looking at the site, I could not but help to notice the word Beta.

Here’s my anxiety: it will take a lot of time and effort to enter all of the data into this web site. And this web site is a small venture by a small team in Portland.

What happens if this small web site goes out of business? Do I have to re-enter all of my data all over again?

I really want the ability to have a hard-copy of the data that is independent of the web site. Such that if the web site goes down, I can move my data to some other provider.

And as much as it pains me, I feel compelled to agree with the folks at Data Portability. I own the data, not the company that keeps a record of them. I don’t have a problem with them profiting from my data, but damn it why won’t they give me  a copy?

Personal Frustrations

So of course it would be great if I had one of these tools that actually worked.

Currently WB Editor is leading the pack because of its rather nifty UI. However, when it comes to publishing images into my blog I am less impressed.

Furthermore, I must admit that the user interface leaves something to be desired. Also the fact that I must run the spell check after the fact is also irritating.

Me thinks me needs to wait for MS Word 2007 to see what the folks in Redmond did before I pass final judgement on the various tools out there.