Tag Archives: Hacks

A speech called “The Nontrepreneurial Spirit” about the benefits of working for companies, the crappy side of being an entrepreneur, and how to do what you want while getting paid vacations and not having to deal with accounting etc.

A prime-time sitcom where one of the minor characters is bitterly aware they are fictional but hides it from the others to not seem crazy.

A game where you hunt animals, then you hunt people, then you are hunted. For mobile phones.

Poison as a Service – firefox and chrome extensions that instead of hiding your actions on the web the perform more background noise type actions. Perhaps they swap your tracking ids with those of other users.  For systems where there are insufficient penalties for putting in bad claims, make it much much easier to submit claims.

Key idea: When you are faced with an all consuming monster, you don’t fight it, you feed it more than it can handle.  Let its strength become its weakness.


Greasemonkey Hack: Adding tags and autosuggest to trunkly

The Backstory

del.icio.us was awesome. It was my first introduction to truly social software. It was my first introduction to tags and folksonomy vs. taxonomy – which blew my tiny mind.

And it was useful. Immediately, quickly, crazy useful. You could find the stuff you had seen! You didn’t have to be on the computer you had originally seen things on! You could bubble up lists of things you were interested in! I was struck with love.

Then Yahoo bought it and did the thing that Yahoo does to promising and interesting websites. It starves and kills them. So delicious is now getting bought by AVOS.

The New Thing

I’ve moved on and Trunkly looks like the best replacement so far. It is free, they will import all of your delicious bookmarks, scrape your twitter and facebook feeds, and one of the first things they built was a way to get your stuff back out of the site. I always like to have an exit strategy. I suggest trunkly as a delicious migration. The developers are really responsive and they have the freedom right now to do new and surprising improvements.

Not a small benefit: It is EARLY and short names on trunkly are available. So I was able to get http://trunk.ly/mk

Finally, the Point

The trunkly submit bookmark form is a bit crap though. I fixed it. See:
Turns into:

You need the Firefox browser and the excellent Greasemonkey addon. Got those installed?

Great – now click here to install Autosuggest Tagging for Trunkly.
. You can always see the source or file bugs on it at the UserScripts.org page.

What to do when you get detached from your head, you git.

I found myself wandering about detached from my head, fully committed. You don’t want to commit when detached from head, but I had.

I didn’t know how it happened, but there I was, headless. What a silly, silly git.

I reached out to a friendly spider and the answer was there in the web.
Before you wander back to your head, it is important to mount yourself to a branch, then you can use that branch to reattach your head quite easily.
Here is how the magic incantations go:

git checkout -b the_wanderer
git rebase master
git checkout master
git merge the_wanderer
git commit

I’ve tied the branch to where I am, then grabbed where I was and attached that, then bound everything back together.
Clear as mud? Already done git checkout master? Check the spellbook that inspired me.

My Valentines / Music Hack Day NYC app!

Why I wasn’t around this weekend.

I was at NYC Music Hack Day!

You can try out the idea here in our valentune.es beta. We send love and music over wires and wireless to your special sweetheart.

You put in your sweetheart’s Name & cellphone, a couple of key words about your them and then ask the app to get busy.

It goes out to the MusixMatch lyrics service – finds lyrics that describe your sweetheart and then gives you a list of songs we can find streaming full mp3s online for. You choose what you don’t want in the play list and hit send.

We call your sweetheart up using the Twilio API , give them your sweet message and then play them your custom made mixtape over the phone! Yes, my lovely wife Sam was the first non-developer to get a call from the valentun.es robot.

Getting SongsPick songs on the iPhone!

Don’t have a web browser handy? Surely you jest! If you’ve got an iPhone you can use the iPhone app.

If not, the website is mobile compliant and works great on Android phones. The website uses CSS3 and WebFonts for style, but degrades well to older browsers. How old? IT WORKS ON LYNX!in case you need web 3.0 from a terminal

So all of this was accomplished by 6 talented and dedicated people over the course of 24 hours in NYC. The whole team was positive and awesome. I’m really proud of what we did so quickly. It’s got bugs 1 , but it works. I didn’t sleep the whole 24 hour hack session and I worked on a lot of the bits.

  • The Musixmatch call to find lyrics that talk about your sweetheart.
  • The Skreemr call to find playable songs with those lyrics
  • Adapting Jeff’s web mockups to Django templates
  • Calling into Alex’s Twilio wrapper
  • Pitching the idea and the vision and recruiting the group
  • Helping design the process flow and settling on using Django with Nate
  • Helping coordinate who would do what and figuring out the pitch with Jeff
  • Presenting the whole thing in 2 minutes to over 300 people with Anna and Nate

It was a busy 24 hours!

  1. the Title element has the wrong spelling of valentunes and the message doesn’t always go through and the songs sometimes take a long time to play, etc…   (back)

Police bees will hunt rogue geneticists


Regine has a lovely interview with Thomas Thwaites 1 about a future where the police hunt growers of hallucinogenic plants via special bees.

How did the pollen forensics researchers react to your project?

In general the reaction was that it was almost believable… which is the reaction you want for a futures project I think. A plant geneticist, (who’s ‘Crash Course in Synthetic Biology’ I later crashed) saw the project and said he’d thought about taking genes from the Marijuana plant and putting them into a tomato plant (being a respected scientist I’m sure he wasn’t saying he’d thought about ‘doing it’, just ‘about it’).

And this gem of what’s actually happening now to translate pollen to crime:

Are the police in the UK already using pollen forensics?

Yes, and its been pretty instrumental in several very high profile cases. There’s this lady called Pat Wiltshire who is the police’s go-to person for pollen forensics. She can look at a sample of pollen from clothes or whatever, and visualise the landscape it’s from – a filed of maze, with a river next to it, and an oak tree in the middle – or something like that. The impression I got about police work when I was interviewing James, and a detective, was that it’s really arduous. Pollen forensics would be one detail in many that would lead to cracking a case, and as importantly, proving it in court.

This high weirdness is definitely part of the adjacent possible, one of those strange futures that hasn’t happened, but should.

  1. He’s the guy who tried to make a toaster out of raw materials, start to finish   (back)

Review: Makers by Cory Doctorow

I loved this book.
Forget my review and go get it now, it’s wonderfulIf you don’t have the scratch right now, that’s ok:  Cory Doctorow walks the talk and has published his book under a creative commons license.  You can get “Makers” for free at his site as a pdf, as html, ePub, or as an audiobook.  Just go get it and read it. Why?
The characters felt right and true and good and wonderful, like people you’ve always wanted to be friends with.  It’s the story of people playing around and doing the creative work that felt right to them, pushing to stay free and work on beautiful things.  Their hard work takes a damn beating from the world around them and they rise up after that beating.

I was sad closing it, because I wanted more from them, more for them, and another thing…

I always wanted to be Perry, but I looked in that book and I’m Sammy.