November 4, 2008

Facebook Election Widget

This election year is the first with a very well established social networking world. I thought this real-time counter that Facebook put up today was really cool.

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You can watch the number go up and up in as people report in. This was a screen shot at 9:44 am central time.

I love this trend. Socially we know that people tend to act in groups and if they see a million other people on Facebook have voted it will encourage people who might not take the time to vote, to get out there and do it.

Facebook Dear Diary
November 2, 2008

Pause, Pause, Play?

I was flipping through the Economist this morning and this ad for Cathay Pacific caught my eye. I guess that’s the goal of advertising and all, but this seemed like it had to be an error. Here is the copy from the ad.

The world (PAUSE) of

entertainment (PAUSE) is

at your control (PLAY).

Does that make any sense? Why would you start with a pause”? And why would you hit pause” after already hitting pause”. This is all wrong. I guess you could argue that sometimes hitting pause” after having hit pause” already will resume playing, but then why would you hit play” on the 3rd action? I can only imagine it is an error since this makes a lot more sense. (Edit in red)

The world (PLAY) of

entertainment (PAUSE) is

at your control (PLAY).

Right? Start with play”, then pause” for interruption, and resume with play”.

Dear Diary
November 2, 2008

Baked Oatmeal

Tammy found this recipe in the October 2003 issue of Cooking Light magazine and thought it would be something I would like. The recipe is originally attributed to Susan Baldwin of Eatontown, NJ. She highlights that it’s a great dish to reheat, and I can personally attest to that. I like to make this on the weekend and then have it for breakfast for a couple of days. On top of all that, it is pretty healthy too.

The cinnamon and fresh nutmeg are my additions. I really like the flavors they add. If you don’t a nutmeg grinder you probably want to double the amount of nutmeg. Either way the raisins, walnuts, cinnamon and nutmeg are really all to taste and you could certainly experiment with other ingredients as well.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups uncooked quick-cooking oats

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

  • 1/3 cup raisins (more or less to taste)

  • 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts (more or less to taste)

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free milk

  • 1/2 cup applesauce

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

  • 1 large egg, beaten

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.

  2. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Combine the wet ingredients separately. Add the wet to the dry and mix thoroughly. Pour into greased 8-inch square baking dish. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes.

Recipe Cooking
November 1, 2008

Mazie’s 3rd Halloween

Mazie greeted her 3rd Halloween with much excitement and anticipation. I think this is the first holiday that she has been really, truly excited about. She kept asking us in the weeks preceding when it was going to be Halloween. She was practicing saying Trick or Treat” and Thank You”. She couldn’t decide if she was going to go with her Princess outfit or the Train Conductor. In the end she decided that her love of trains would prevail.

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She had an awesome night and was giddy with excitement. It was all just great.

Mazie Dear Diary
October 31, 2008

Stop Twitter Direct Messages

My relationship with Twitter ebbs and flows. Sometimes I find it very enjoyable, and at other times it seems like a worthless distraction. However, there is one part of Twitter that I have never liked, direct messages.

Why not like direct messages? I’m not a fan of anything that creates another queue that I have to monitor and respond to. I try to keep everything in one workflow, and that workflow is email. My annoyance isn’t limited to Twitter direct messages, but extends equally to Facebook messages and any other website specific inbox. I think Facebook could actually do their members a huge service by making their message system IMAP-capable. It would make it infinitely more useful and you could happily sit in your choice of email clients. On the other hand I would rather just not deal with Twitter direct messages.

I’d thought for a while that part of a Twitter Pro premium service could be to turn off direct message function. I decided to take matters into my own hands and rid myself of direct messages now instead. You can use this little program to do the same for you.

The first thing to do is tell Twitter to stop notifying you of a direct message. Go to your account Settings and in the Notices tab uncheck the Direct Text emails option.

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Now, this 28-line Ruby program will simply respond (via direct message) to any direct messages you have received and then delete the direct message from your account, leaving no queue behind. If you don’t like the delete, you can just comment out line 24. To make life easy this uses the Twitter4R library for Ruby. You will have to edit lines 9 and 19 to your credentials and personal message.

# Get requires out of the way
require('rubygems')
gem('twitter4r', '>=0.2.0')
require('twitter')
require('time')

# Let's get a Twitter Client created
# TODO: Put your credentials in here
client = Twitter::Client.new(:login => 'USERNAME', :password => 'PASSWORD')

# Get Direct Messages
messages = client.messages(:received)

# Loop through any direct messages received
messages.each do |message|
  # Reply to the message
  # TODO: set the message text to what you want, make sure it is Twitter length compliant
  response = Twitter::Message.create(
    :text => 'PUT YOUR MESSAGE HERE. YOU PROBABLY WANT YOUR EMAIL IN HERE.',
    :recipient => message.sender,
    :client => client)

  # Delete the message
  client.message(:delete, message)

  # Put a brief pause here just to make Twitter happier
  sleep 5
end

There is no error checking and by default it outputs nothing. It is intended to be invoked via cron at whatever interval you would like. If you do not have the Twitter4R Gem installed just run gem install twitter4r.

Ruby Twitter Techie
October 31, 2008

Caught on Camera at One on One

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When I worked downtown I was really lucky to have this very cool independent coffee shop just a block away from the office. I made a daily trip, even in the freezing cold of January, to get a coffee from One on One. Now that I’m not downtown all the time I don’t get there as often, but it seems I did make it into the background on a recent photo shoot!

I was there a couple of weeks ago and I remember them moving some bikes around and it seemed a bit goofy. I saw a photographer and just figured they were doing some promotional shots for the website or something. Turns out it was actually for an article in the Star Tribune and I snuck into the background. See the top-left corner.

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If you are in the area and like coffee, bikes or both stop by. I highly recommend the cold press coffee, this is where I was turned on to the wonders of that stuff.

By the way, the Robin Williams visit mentioned in that article was captured in person at the end of my Farewell video by my buddies Jim and Kent.

Thanks to Eric Marshall for tipping me off to this!

Coffee Dear Diary