Many Pies

Many Pies

Friday, May 30, 2008

Web 2.0 and linguistics

An old blog entry, but an interesting one: Towards a social linguistics from Peter Austin at SOAS.

It says
One of our MA students, Paul Butcher, is currently writing his dissertation on application of Web 2.0 concepts to language documentation and support and I look forward to reading what he has to say when it is finished in September. Perhaps he can be persuaded to contribute to this blog when he's done.
but unfortunately I couldn't find any such blog entry.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

My facebook app

Here it is - Vision 2025 Countdown

First steps with a facebook app

I've been working on my first facebook app. Some things I've learnt:

1. A PHP script in cgi-bin behaves differently to one not there. I should have known that really, because I have a vague concept of the cgi stuff.

2. The documentation isn't that helpful when you're starting. The footprints tutorial app is pretty good as it goes, but seems to be using an older version of the api. The anatomy overview is quite good, but it doesn't tell you how to achieve what you want in each of those areas. One thing that's confusing is how the same code, called by Facebook under different circumstances, needs to do different things. There's some good information on the page Your callback page and you.

This helps to explain the uncommented code in the footprint application:
if (isset($_POST['to'])) {
$prints_id = (int)$_POST['to'];
$prints = do_step($user, $prints_id);
} else {
if (isset($_GET['to'])) {
$prints_id = (int)$_GET['to'];
} else {
$prints_id = $user;
$prints = get_prints($prints_id);

though I haven't quite worked out what it does, because I don't need to for my app.

3. Javascript behaves differently. I took some code involving the Date object and put it into facebook and it behaved differently. I had to fiddle around before I found out what would work and what didn't. For example.
new Date("December 31, 2025 00:00:00")
returned some other date.
I had to use
end_date = new Date(2025,11,31);

The months start at 0. The hours, minutes, seconds are ignored on the constructor. All very strange.

4. It says this in the documentation, but its worth repeating - the stuff your app does in a profile is static and won't update when the profile page is loaded, so you have to find another way of doing it, e.g. on a click, or when the user interacts with the app.

5. If you're tweaking your app and you want to change the way it looks on everyone's profiles look at Fb:ref.
Good fun working on this though.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Aeroplane for Bible Translation with Artificial Intelligence

I've just come across an aeroplane which is going to be used for Bible Translation. It has built in artificial intelligence, so that it can even put tweets on twitter and sound like a human being.

Seriously though, this project is about building planes that use standard jet fuel, as opposed to the obsolete avgas that some of our current aircraft use.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hindrances to viral

One of the nuggets at the Institute of Fundraising conference was "deal with the reasons people don't want to talk about you", or something like that. Then via @jonshuler I came across Why Word of Mouth Doesn't Happen from Seth Godin. Interesting (something I can't think of the word for that probably begins with "co" and isn't "synchronicity").

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Language maps

I chucked at idea at a colleague to add maps of language areas to one of our websites and he did some investigation and found this language maps site. Interesting...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My first google app engine creation

I've just created my first google app engine creation - a list of quotes. You type in a quote and then get a random one for the rest of the list.

Have a play (but play nicely).

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Institute of Fundraising IT Special Interest Group Conference

or the IOFITSIG conference.

(One aside: on the train up I noticed that hardly anyone had a tie on, just suits and open necked collared shirts. As I'm not a regular commuter I must have missed the memo saying that we don't have to wear a tie.)

I found this very stimulating. Not being a fundraiser I found the initial session from Alan Clayton of Cascaid (that's the agency, not the careers people) very interesting.

(Update: I missed out the Social Media Game. That link is about the session that I went to.)

I went to a session which had someone from Comic Relief. Obviously that's very big scale stuff, but some of it is applicable to even an organisation like us. For example, we've been getting people to run events recently.

"A Best Practice Framework for Managing a Big, Sophisticated Fundraising Information System" was about a Raiser's Edge implementation at Help the Aged. Much bigger than us, but good lessons to learn.

"Social Media feel the fear and do it anyway" gave me my to do list to take to the boss.

As an aside, it's interesting that the Fundraisers have their IT bit. The Charity Finance people have their IT bit. Where are the Charity IT people? There's CITRA, which is owned by several organisations, including those too. However their website has events from 2004 and 2005 on it, and nothing in the future, so that doesn't inspire confidence.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Game creator on Popfly

I tried out the new game creator on Microsoft's popfly site over the weekend, including introducing a couple of my children to the art of game creation.

I've tried popfly before. It can be compared to Yahoo pipes for getting web stuff working without programming, but is more powerful. What I didn't appreciate until I tried to install it on our Windows 2000 PC is that it's based on Silverlight not Flash. After two unsuccessful attempts (because the unhelpful error message didn't say it failed because of browser or OS) I tried our Windows XP machine. I guess the whole point behind MS giving away all this functionality is to get us hooked on Silverlight. Which is fair enough in some senses. However, given that Flash and Firefox both work on Windows 2000, it's annoying that their Windows operating system lifecyle (i.e. we don't support Windows 2000 any more) applies to all their software that they could probably develop for Windows 2000 relatively easily.

Minitab statistical software

We have a couple of copies of Minitab lying around and I'm selling them on Ebay. It seems to be pretty full featured statistical sofware. It's a timed listing, going out later today (12 May 2008), so if the link doesn't work, try later.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Unicode isn't so bad

This afternoon I produced a file with this in it:

I was filled with dread because I knew it meant I had to delve into Unicode which I don't feel I understand enough. However with a bit of digging, and this article on Python and Unicode I got there without too much trouble. I had to tweak my code as different original sources were in different formats, but I got there in the end.