Saturday, August 15, 2009 - the second coming of

I used to love Then Yahoo bought it and turned it into While the new version has some good features, I overall find it too slow and bogged down in fancy, unnecessary ornation. In many ways, I prefer the sparseness of the old design.

Pinboard was recently announced as the cure for such problems. Joshua Schachter (creator of seems to be an unofficial, in-the-background consultant on this project. He posts on the Pinboard Google group.

One neat new feature that Pinboard has is a quick bookmark-this-without-tagging option which automatically puts things in a special, private "to read" pile. This is intended to work much like the Instapaper model.

The last essential piece of a bookmarking archive is automatically saving the HTML and other contents of a bookmarked page, preserving a locally cached copy for all time. The Pinboard developer is promising this in the future, for a fee.

There is a sign-up fee of ~$5. I paid it because, after seeing bookmarking site after bookmarking site go under or decay, I want to believe that one can be done right. I want to like bookmarking again. For now, I do.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Life! Don't talk to me about life!

>ask Marvin about the object of the game

"Being clever doesn't always make you happy, you know. Look at me, brain the size of a planet, how many points do you think I've got? Minus thirty zillion at the last count."

The amazing Douglas Adams/Infocom collaboration, the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy text adventure game, is playable online in Java or Flash (with added illustrations).

Marvin was so popular at one point that he recorded and released a few songs (more details on Wikipedia... definitely check them out if you get the chance), and there was even a Marvin Depreciation Society.

There is apparently going to be a sixth book in the Hitchhiker's series, written by the guy who writes those Artemis Fowl books. It's going to be called: And Another Thing... [All of the titles for the five books in the Hitchhikers' Guide series were phrases that appeared somewhere in the first book. I was hoping that any sixth book would be called "Oh no, not again" (which was what the bowl of petunias thought when it was brought into existence over Magrathea before crashing into the planet).] The book releases on October 12th, 2009. According to the Amazon page: "It features a pantheon of unemployed gods, everyone's favorite renegade Galactic President, a lovestruck green alien, an irritating computer, and at least one very large slab of cheese. " And Arthur and Marvin will be back!

Upgrading the Bayesian-filtered status reader

In a previous post, I described my assembly of a command-line program for Bayesian filtering and presentation of Facebook statuses. After a while, constantly pulling down the RSS feed (via curl) and seeing the same statuses for certain people, day after day until they expired, kind of wore on me, so I went looking for a simple feed reader. There were command-line feed readers that looked more appealing to me (Canto and Newsbeuter) but they required newer versions of Python or some series of installations of things that were not available in a sufficiently upgraded form in Fink. So I tried rawdog which is written in Python and only requires the easily installed feedparser. It seemed like it was modifiable to do what I wanted, and I even went so far as to post a triumphant blog post about my success with getting it to properly parse my Facebook feed and deliver it to my Bayesian-filtering/displaying script. And then the next day, it went haywire and started reshowing me things I had already seen and dismissed.


I decided to do everything myself. I was already partially parsing the RSS feed, so I just went a little further and parsed out the post date and compared it with the date when I last looked through the posts. (This seemed daunting until I found out that Perl already has time functions built in.) Finally I coded in dumping the output to a text file, as well as to the screen. Now the command can work on its own or have its output easily combined with my separate Twitter Bayesian filter which is a bit more sophisticated and which does a nice job of increasing my local Twitter signal-to-noise ratio. I intend to post about it someday.

The code for is here.