Woot Arduino Printer

I recently bought the Ardunio inventors kit from Sparkfun to play around with the Arduino and I’ve been looking for a project to make with it when I saw DangerousPrototypes Thermal Twitter Printer based on their web platform. I thought that I could build upon that and use the Arduino and add and LCD to it.
Enter the finished product

It uses the Arduino, Arduino Ethernet Sheild, a serial enabled LCD, and thermal printer from Sparkfun. It works by scraping a couple of twitter rss feeds and outputting the results. The LCD parses the @wootoff twitter account and formats the results to start with the price. It checks for updates about every minute. In my next version I’d like to add a last call notification to the display.

The printer works in a simpler function and pulls tweets from the @wootchatter account that are also displayed on Woot’s community forum. I use several variables to save the last printed tweet and check it each time that the rss feed is parsed to make sure that it is not printing the same tweet every minute. In the next version I’d like to make some better formatting of the tweets to make them more readable and stand out more.

Buddypress 1.2 Comes Out

Buddypress is a great plugin (and to say it’s just a plugin is to demean it somewhat) that was originally built for WordPress Mu installations, but the new version 1.2 now works with standard WordPress installations as well. I’ve used Buddypress to build a site I started called PodcasterTech.com and really like the community functionality and built-in forum feature.

With the update to 1.2 also a new default Buddypress theme is released, and I immediately switched over. The new default theme was exactly the look I was going for when I installed Buddypress and tried to squeeze out of the old default theme. The new version is also easier to install and increases the social interaction features with greater support in the activity pane. It incorporates some twitter like features like @username support.

Download it and try for yourself at  Buddypress.org

Put This On


Put This On, Episode 1: Denim from Put This On on Vimeo.

The first episode of “Put This On,” a video podcast that comes from two “Monsters of Podcasting” Jesse Thorn (host of “The Sound of Young America” & “Jordan, Jesse, Go”) and Adam Lisagor (member of the “You Look Nice Today” podcast) made it’s web debut today. Put This On is a change from the normal tech based talk that often comes to mind when talking about podcasts. Put this On also is different in how it got started, they used Kickstarter.com to help raise funds to get the podcast project started. Kickstarter.com is a site that touts itself as ” A New Way to Fund Ideas and Endeavours” and provides a place for those with an idea and the willingness to to the footwork to gain funds to get started. Many of the Kickstarter.com projects come from artists wanting to make a book, record a new album, and other projects of the like. Thorn and Lisagor were able to use Kickstarter.com in a way to test the virtual waters to see if their idea for Put this One would work and to attract sponsors and gain the startup cash to get the series started right.

Thorn and Lisagor were looking for $1,500 to start “Put this On,” and within days of announcing their intentions and using twitter to get the word out quickly exceeded their initial goal and at the end of the funding round had pledges from people and businesses in total of more than $3,900. In full disclosure, I was one of the backers pitching in a couple of bucks to the cause. Most of the donnors pledged fifty dollars or less while Metafilter.com (a longtime sponsor of Thorn’s other podcasts) stepped up with $1,500 in return for a post-roll advertisment by Thorn and Lisagor that airs at the end of each episode.

The production value of “Put this On” is excellent and should serve as an example for anyone who wants to start a video podcast and really shows that online video has grown up to take on old media. Certainly, anyone who has ever worn jeans or ever will should check out the first episode of “Put this On.” I think the use of Kickstarter.com is an interesting development in the world of podcasting. It is a twist on the donation model that many podcasters have tried, but with varying degrees of success.  Not only do the donnors have the enjoyment of seeing the project come into reality, but they also feel a sense of ownership as they were there on the ground floor, getting the project started. It will be interesting to see what Jesse Thorn and Adam Lisagor come up with in future episodes of “Put this On” as they attempt to educate people on how to dress like grownups. I will admit that I could use the advice as there was a period in middle school where I wore sweatpants everyday, and despite what Michael Jordan’s hanes commercials would lead you to believe, sweatpants will not help your jump shot or help you in the ladies department either.

Revision3 Launches an Online Sitcom

At the end of this week’s Diggnation (episode 221) Kevin and Alex show a trailer for a new show Revision3 that is launching on October 7th.  The show, Web Zeroes, is a departure from the normal variety and current events programs that make up the rest of the Rev3 lineup.  The show is centered around three best friends living in Houston, TX that aspire to become internet superstars. Check out the trailer below.

Dr. Horrible Sing-Along Blog on the Emmys

Last week Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog made news winning the first Emmy for a show that never aired on TV.  This was just another in the line of firsts that Dr. Horrible’s has blazed since it debuted on the net last year and became a run-away success, showing that the internet TV business model could be profitable.  Last night Dr. Horrible broke into the Emmy broadcast in a skit that poked fun at the advancing new media early day technological problems. Some on twitter found the skit in poor taste, but think it is just cute as the old media is trying to combat new media and we will see who will have the last laugh as more and more of our entertainment is found online.

Where did all my followers go?

Many twitterers awoke Friday morning to find that they had a significant drop in the number of people following them. On Thursday, twitter admins pushed several changes through the system to help identify and clean out spam accounts as well as clear up some lingering database issues that reported incorrect data for some users.  I, myself, saw a drop of more that 60 followers following the recent change.  As one might imagine, the sudden and drastic change in follower count alarmed and angered many users.  I feel these users don’t really “get” twitter and are fixated on increasing the number of followers they have, but I feel they are really missing out on what twitter can offer to those who engage in the community and provide useful content.
Twitter Fail Whale is back
Creative Commons License photo credit: playerx

Having been a twitter user since January 2007, I can regale new users of a time when there was free access to the public time-line, and the top users were almost exclusively the nerd famous, with the top user with the most followers switching back and forth between Leo Laporte and Kevin Rose.  Those times are now just a distant memory as twitter has become infiltrated by spammers and self branded social media experts. Not long after twitter integrated the trending topics section into the main site design, did those topics become the opponent’s flag in a online capture the flag game where spammers latched on to twitter and spew forth their wares in attempts to gain the recognition of being on the trending topics list. Trending topics is a whole other issue as its usefulness has decreased and doesn’t give any back story as to why something is a trending topic. When you click on a trending topic in hopes to find out why it is a trending topic, you are bombarded with dozens of users tweeting out that same question as well as an alarming amount of users that send out tweets just listing all the trending topics in hopes that someone will click and follow them.

Fighting spam is something that twitter has to be very proactive in if they are not turn into a myspace of friendster. If twitter were a comedy club, spammers would be hecklers shouting out nonsense in attempts to get attention. The spammers feel they have a right to be there, but are ruining the show for everyone else that came to the show. To the people dismayed at their loss of their fake followers, I say get evolved, and engage users; if you provide value to people they will follow you.  The true value of twitter is in the conversation.

Wordcamp Dallas this Weekend

This weekend is the second year for Wordcamp Dallas.  The two day event is being held at the UT Dallas School of Management. I didn’t go last year and I signed up months ago and have been counting the days till the geekout event this weekend. I really like the power that WordPress gives me to mange my content and I use WordPress on most of my sites. I think it will be a great opportunity to meet with other geeks and since its at UTD its my home turf. It will be a great networking oportunity (even though I really hate the “N” word) and hope to learn some things to help step up my game. I’ll be blogging and twittering  a lot this weekend, so let me appologize right now.
Logo
Wordcamp Dallas

New Year’s Resolutions

It may by April, but with a quarter of this year already behind me I have a better idea and a better chance of keeping with my New Year’s Resolutions. More of a todo list than normal resolutions.
(in no particular order)

1. Start my own business
2. Loose weight
3. Start video podcast
4. Graduate college
5. Pay down credit card debt
6. Learn to play the guitar. (real kind, not just the rockband kind)
7. Brew my own beer
8. Apply to grad school

Gary Vaynerchuk’s SXSW 09 Keynote

It’s been almost a week since I left the awesomeness that is SXSW Interactive. In that time I have been trying to put together my plan and get focused on what are going to be the one or two projects that I tackle and  and get off my ass and make a real effort in making something happen. This was my first year going to SXSW and for me on of the highlights was Gary Vaynerchuk’s keynote session. I’m getting on the Hustle 2.0 bandwagon and Gary’s session was really inspiring and game changing. It’s great to see someone that really gets it and wants to genuinely help others in the space. Embedded is the session, the video isn’t great but just hearing it gives you a real sense of the energy of the room.

Check out:

www.garyvaynerchuk.com winelibrary.tv

A scientific view of America’s Economic problems and a way out

At this years TED Juan Eriquez gave a great talk analyzing what caused the problems that we are facing today in the economy and how we can be headed on the right track back to a growing and strong economy (remember those days). I agree with and take heart his theory that how we can create the new economic growth is to invest into science and children. The previous administration has set back America’s bio-tech efforts by almost a decade with his banning of federal funding for stem cell research. In Eriquez’s talk he urged the well to do venture capitalist types that gravitate to events like TED to invest into these growing technologies like biotechnology and robotics.