Thursday, January 15th, 2009
Txtract 1.5 Release on 2009-01-10, and finally with a much readable HTML export support.
Much to our surprise, Txtract passed the 10K download mark in just over a month in the Android Market. We‘re loving it.
Here are some comments from the users of Txtract:
- Html makes this awesome. Use astro app (file explorer) to get to it. Thanks so much. Good job! (Vinnie)
- Html export works awesome!! Only thing it now needs to be better is options to fine tune exports (especially such as file location, html alignment tag (Matt)
- Awesome, thanks for the update html works now. 5 star app (Don)
Release date: 2009-01-10
Codename: lufthansa (a significant portion of the code is written on a plane)
Txtract 1.5 introduced the long awaited HTML export.
- HTML Export
- Code optimizations
- Incorrect escaping of quotes and commas in the CSV export.
Sample HTML Export of SMS Messages
That’s it for now. Txtract still have a few goodies in the bag to come out soon.
Tuesday, July 19th, 2011
pubhubsubhub is a data (news) aggregator which can deliver your “topics of your interests” to you as Instant Messages.
You can almost consider it as an RSS Reader with the convenience of an IM.
Anytime I come up with (or come across an) idea, if it’s Web applicable, Google’s App Engine has been the platform of my choice. While glancing through the SDK Documents I came across Prospective Search and further more reading landed me on the XMPP.
Long story short, after reading through the docs and looking at a few samples, pubhubsubhub is born to possibly turn into something more than a news aggregator which is capable of delivering the subscribed topics (search results) as instant messages.
It is quite neat with Adium plus Growl notifications. While on GTalk widget in GMail, I’d recommend to have the pubhubsubhub popped out.
Currently, the search data is coming from approximately 1000 sources with high recent-popularity. That’s why I personally find it very useful to keep an eye on the recent / trending events.
Wednesday, July 30th, 2008
I started playing with Google AppEngine a few months ago. First, tried to port over my work in SillyDomainNames.com into AppEngine, but gave up on it after a short while. Always being on the lookout for new and interesting ideas, I somehow came up with this experimental-mash-up-site concept; NewsXperiment. Not your everyday mashup site, something different and unique. I spent some time experimenting with the code locally and after I brought the Natural Language Toolkit (NLTK) into the mix, it immediately gained some traction. Brilaps was looking for a project to test out the new Google AppEngine and it made sense to let NewsXperiment.com be the guinea pig. Google AppEngine turned out to be a great idea and it didn’t take long for me to bring this project from an idea to the first beta release. I haven’t come across anything similar yet, so if anything exists, please let me/them know.
So what is NewsXperiment? What can I do there? What is the roadmap and what were the challenges during development? I’ll try to answer those questions in this blog post.
What is NewsXperiment?
NewsXperiment is a news scrambler/generator site. In the possible simplest terms, NewsXperiment reads a bunch of RSS feeds, approximately 200, from a number of highly respected sources and scrambles their news’ titles and summaries using Natural Language Processing techniques. The idea is to create interesting, funny, and/or timely new stories based on actual real-time events as reported by news sources of all kind across the Internet. The mash often produces comical stories such as “Princess Di Dancing with the Polar Bears at Golden Gate Bridge”. How would it come up with such a story? Well at that time of our scrambling there was probably some unrelated news about Princess Di, Dancing with the Stars, Polar Bears, and Golden Gate Bridge. We randomly select and break apart each story, scramble them up, and rebuild them to construct amusing and well structured stories. The magic is in the reconstruction. The engine is still in beta and thus the scrambled Title/Summary text still needs some refinement, but it is worth a bookmark and glance every day or so, as it already generates some pretty interesting mashups several times a day.
You can simply poke around and glance at a few news entries. Or if you feel like digging in more, you can rate some stories and/or comment on them. Better yet, you can write your own version of the scrambled story using the references provided for that news. On top of all that, you can provide feedback and become a true NewsXperiment star
Roadmap and the challenges during development?
As of Aug 3rd, 2008 the basic functionality of an interactive website is in place.
Scrambler Engine, News Upload, and Admin level CRUD operations, Visitor Comments, Visitor Rating are all implemented.
Some tech specs about NewsXperiment project:
- http://newsXperiment.com redirects to http://newsXperiment.appspot.com
- Built with Python
- NewsXperiment hits Flickr per news item and grabs a relevant image.(this is the fun part)
- Utilizes NTLK libraries within the scrambler engine that runs offline.
- The generated output is a “zipped pickle” file and it is uploaded to Google AppEngine using appcfg.py.
- Runs on Google AppEngine.
- Uses Django for server-side rendering.
What’s in the bag for near future development:
- Sometime in the near future, a “Fork This News” feature will be added. “Fork This News” feature will enable the visitors to make a copy of an existing news entry, and write their own version, which can be rated, commented and yet again forked over and over again. Currently, visitors can simulate doing the same thing using the “Comment” form assigned to each news item.
- A better front-end design would be nice, but I highly doubt I’ll loose sleep on it. I absolutely wouldn’t mind if someone with good design skills taking a stab at it.
- NewsXperiment surely needs a new logo.
I’ll leave the challenges and the technical mumba jumba to another post… Any feedback is appreciated. Please feel free to comment here. If you prefer email communique, see “About” link on NewsXperiment.com for contact info.
Sunday, August 10th, 2008
As stupid as it looks, and it “does NOT make any sense” at many angles, NewsXperiment bears a few interesting software technologies and paradigms.
NewsXperiment project consists of two parts: NewsXperiment Scrambler Engine (NSE), and Web frontend.
NewsXperiment Scrambler Engine runs offline and gathers, processes, scrambles and outputs a zip file that consists of scrambled news item pickles.
Once executed, NSE goes through its categorized feed repository and retrieves the feeds. Thanks to Mark Pilgrim’s excellent “feedparser” library.
Now that the feeds are read, the engine performs the following:
- randomly picks a certain number of news items from each category as base feeds.
- randomly associates a certain number of scrambler feeds to each base feed.
At this point, the engine has the initial data in place. There comes the scrambling…. However, before scrambling anything, all the entries picked to be scrambled need to be tagged, chunked, chinked.
- Using NLTK, all the titles, and summaries read are tagged, chunked, chinked.(i love this part)
- Accoding to the chunkie, chinckie data, each base feed item’s title and summary are scrambled with the set that was destined to be the scrambler for the base. Ofcourse, this does not always result in a well-constructed sentence.
- At some point, the scrambling process is completed and time to generate the output file.
- Output file is created out of each scrambled item, and consists of a list of titles, summaries and links back to the news items that are used to create them. This file is a pickle dump dictionary elements.
- The output file is datestamped, and zipped. Zip file because, doh!, it’s compressed. Plus, I couldn’t find a way around uploading the pickle content to Google AppEngine. Very likely a MIME type issue, but didn’t dig deep into that. A zipped pickle dump was all I needed, and I had it.
Very well, I have the zipped pickles, what do I do with them? If I cannot get them up to Google AppEngine’s data store, how possibly could I share ?
Monday, January 12th, 2009
Application Market Place for Android based phones is a funky place. The commenting system is truly jacked up. I saw many nasty and disturbing comments left by users. Many discussions around the matter can be seen here, just search for “comments”.
From a developer’s perspective it’s extremely sad to be trashed by a bunch of bozos. Almost feel lucky that our stuff was not trashed that bad. Fingers crossed. The interesting part on the matter is Google’s reluctance. It looks like they recently started cleaning up some of those comments; I see less and less. Come on Google, how difficult could it possibly be to integrate a profanity filter !
I didn’t intend to bitch about the epic fail of Google’s Android Market commenting system. It is what it is and it will stay as it is until they fix it.
This one, on the right is a recent comment which is left for Txtract . I find it sorta amusing and witty. A different kind of compliment (if it really is a compliment). “victory and female genitalia to you” . Oh well! Thanks to you “punkofevil”, for your good wishes. Wishing the same back at ya
And Joanna, sorry that you have to do something like that.
Google, Google; when will you implement the “paid” applications in the Android Market !
Monday, December 22nd, 2008
Another first from Brilaps. A brand new native G1 application to search the blogosphere.
Andorati is a Technorati.com client that brings the blogosphere search to your G1 Phone. Pick your tag, or type your search. You’ll get the latest of what’s being blogged around the world.
Andorati also features an easy bookmarking mechanism. You can add the blog, and the blog post to your browser bookmarks. This way, you can also access those sites from the G1’s web browser later on. (*hint: Andorati also implements a multi-select bookmark cleanup feature)
The initial beta release of Andorati is “Andorati4Geeks“. Andorati for Geeks require that you have an APIKey from Technorati to enable the searches. The APIKey is assigned to you when you register a free account on Technorati.com (http://technorati.com/developers/)
Andorati4Geeks 1.1 Released on 2008-12-22.
Release Notes: AndoratiReleaseNotes