Electable? – Freedom Through Randomization

Try the POC here. Talking to Britt and John “Aughie” Aughenbaugh (who will be teaching an intro to government course online this summer), Aughie mentioned a conversation he had with some students about whether Chris Christie could be a legitimate contender for president after all the recent bridge drama. That led to some talk of other historical political drama and how things were slightly different back then. It led to some wondering about how previous presidential candidates/winners might fare in today’s 24 hour news cycle (AKA the CNN Effect). The rough idea was to build a randomizer that would present three randomized US presidents with three randomized traits/characteristics. Students would be able to argue whether a person with those traits would be electable. Clearly, I like randomization but it’s more than just the chaotic serendipitous aspect. I think it adds an element that makes it “safer” for students. It is random after all, there can’t be a specific answer the instructor wants because the question can’t be totally predicted. Plus, it takes work off the instructor and adds variety to the responses since everyone gets different prompts. I had this meeting Wednesday and wanted to get a semi-decent looking proof of concept built fairly quickly. I knew I wanted images of the presidents and figured I could re-use some of […]


Diigo + FeedWordPress & WordPress Snap Workflow

These last few posts are an attempt to document both how things I post on this blog come back up and help me do new things and an attempt to document how I come to solutions for things that I don’t understand how to do. Then there’s an attempt to explain what I did in case anyone else wants to do the same. I hope that it’s a narrative on my learning process as much as it is a tutorial on the particular topic. The Past So I’m fairly focused on making things easier for myself for the simple fact that if they don’t make sense/work with my current life then I tend not to keep them up. A good examples is that way back in 20111 I modified the WordPress “Press This” bookmarklet in combination with the WordPress Snap plugin to allow me to auto generate screenshots of pages. I used it a few times after that but it didn’t fit my workflow. It solved one problem- I wanted visuals of these websites to make the posts more engaging but I didn’t want to take screenshots, upload them etc.2 So one problem solved but the fact remained that I didn’t use “Press This” to bookmark pages. I used Diigo for that kind of thing so despite solving one workflow […]

Javascript Puzzle Code Proof of Concept

This is the result of a conversation I had with Gardner and Jon yesterday. Essentially, we all found this O-P-E-N page1 pretty interesting. As we got to talking it seemed that there could be some interesting ways that that movement could feed back into what the site itself in ways other than just changing the physical display of the elements. I knew that elements of that were possible in javascript. This site was what was in my head during the discussion- in particular the way the top speed numbers climb as you scroll down. What I wanted was slightly different. My idea what that by moving an element, or series of elements in particular ways a hidden message would appear- kind of like solving a puzzle (more easter egg style, less jigsaw). I did not know how to do this but was certain it could be done. This was my path. I knew how to make draggable objects from the refrigerator poetry days (That was back in August. See how strange things resurface?). I opted to redo it using the default example in JQuery because I’ve been using that for some other things. Now I just needed to figure out how to get the coordinates back in a way that I could display. My initial searches led me to position() […]

Walking at Work – Week 13 – Crucified Squirrel

I feel compelled to lead with this unfortunate find. Hopefully, there’s a better explanation than a serial killer in training. cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Tom Woodward cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Tom Woodward I don’t know if other people see these like urban still lifes . . . cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Tom Woodward Justin Bieber and friend cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Tom Woodward UMW comes to visit cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Tom Woodward

Movie Monster Pet Guide

After my dad sent me a link to this dinosaur pet guide, I thought it’d be nice to have one for movie monsters. I’m using it as an opportunity to practice drawing more in Illustrator and once I get it finished up it’ll make for a decent #ds106 assignment. I was thinking horror movie characters, cartoons, famous people1 Anyway, round one is below as sleep is needed. I think most of them are pretty self explanatory. The triskaphobia2 Jaws one was a reach. It’s mocking Jaws 3-D which was a total flop and the shark should fear that number being brought up. cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Tom Woodward 1 I want to make one with Kanye West and Bobcat Goldthwait. 2 A slightly amended version of Triskaidekaphobia. I figured if deka means ten . . .then chopping it off takes us from thirteen to three and it seems the Internet agrees.

3D GIFS Conversation

So there’s a bit of conversation going on around making gifs appear 3D. I like it because it’s playing tricks on the way your brain processes information and it requires you to think in three dimensions. It’s not something most people normally do and what initially really hurt my head when I played around with Motion and Google Sketchup. In any case, lots of people have been in on the conversation but I thought Talking Tina’s demos were well done and explained but I thought seeing the top down view might help a bit. I thought this would be fairly easy but given the wide angle lens, I think things get weird optically in that a tiny bit of forward motion results in dramatic differences in perception along the planes of intersecting lines. I don’t know that is true but if you try drawing it weird things happen. In any case, it might help someone get the idea and I have another example in the works which might be easier. Original GIF from Talky Tina Colored Line Addition Top Down View


Weekly Web Harvest (weekly)

ISSUE 83: That Chop on the Upbeat :: Oxford American – The Southern Magazine of Good Writing “You can’t have the objects—it’s perfect for the collectors; you still get the special feeling of exclusivity and possession; you get to sit there and make the whole world listen to your records—but the benefit for the scholar or passionate listener can’t be overstated, because of course, everything is out there, all of the basements and attics are being streamed, and it’s possible now, when you’re chasing some footnote across the filaments, to find yourself on a routine basis outdoing even the most reliable discographies, the same way you can sit there on the Web and predate OED first usages, if you want to, not through any ability of yours, much less any wisdom, but because the robots have gathered such vast harvests, made them accessible, searchable, unavoidable. What has been gathered at a nonhuman speed we are digesting at a human one.” tags: weekly records culture internet McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: Retail Therapy: Inside the Apple Store: Customer Service is the New Cold War. “We miss the Cold War, because we miss having the Soviet Union as our rival, especially knowing that we already won. In comparison to today’s problems—the polluting Chinese juggernaut who owns our national debt, or the shape-shifting Al Qaeda […]


Revision to Twitterbot Monster

So tying the trigger to the Calendar works . . . but only if the computer is not asleep. I had considered this initially but may have over estimated how often my computer was running. It was done more for amusement anyway so here’s a way to move the whole email/trigger piece to the server using PHP. It replaces the whole AppleScript portion of the previous iteration. I had no idea how to do this prior to Google leading me to the examples that are linked below. The first chunk runs the cURL portion and gets the Markov response from the other page and passes it to a variable- creatively named $DICKINSON in this case. I left the echo line in there as I used it to make sure things were working. The second chunk sends the email. You can see the $DICKINSON variable being passed in as both the message body and the subject. The final piece is triggering this page every so often using a cron task. I am not yet positive I’ve done that right. When I’m more sure, I’ll come back and update this.


Nonprogramistan Twitterbot Monstrosity

I wanted a Twitterbot to push out Markov generated stuff from Emily Dickinson’s work. I wanted to do it fairly quickly as it was inspired by an awesome discussion yesterday with Jason Coats who will be teaching one of VCU’s online courses this summer on poetry. One of his goals was to encourage students to put themselves out there and engage with poetry. I thought mechanically created poetry might allow for a certain degree of freedom of analysis and Emily Dickinson’s work was particularly well suited to the Markov genre. As I already had a Markov generator running with some of the possible texts for Gardner and Jon’s MOOC this summer, it was easy enough to switch out the source material with Emily Dickinson’s work. It never hurts to be able to build what you discuss while still carrying on the discussion. That’s one of the things I love about computers. So that got me the Markov portion but it was on a web page and would require either a visit or a manual action to feed it into Twitter (which Jason had used previously with his students). To get at Twitter I needed a new Twitter account EmilyMkv which I got by using this GMail alias trick. It’s handy if you run out of unique emails. As I thought […]

A WordPress Child Theme with MixItUp

Earlier, I attempted to integrate a slick javascript sorting library called MixItUp into a WordPress theme. It didn’t go all that well despite a series of tutorials from different people. After a decent amount of effort- You can see a working example at this link. Click on “Moo” and it’ll sort. Click on “All” and it’ll revert to state. Some categories have no images attached so you’ll get nothing.1 The following is mainly based around this karine.do tutorial that I couldn’t quite get to work properly. Alan Levine saved me2 after I backed myself in a corner where the “tiles” would sort . . . and then immediately unsort. I’d get into the the details of the issues but essentially, be careful what you name you CSS elements (#gallery, for instance, will likely have conflicts) and call jquery by its name not by $. Anyway, I hope having all this together will help someone down the line. Step one was seeing what WordPress suggested regarding child themes. I’ve never done it before but it seems pretty straight forward. Essentially, name your folder whatevertheme-child, in this case twentytwelve-child. All you need to make a child is one style.css file. In this case, we’re going to need a bit more. Overview Notes style.css – This will have the extra CSS to format […]