Monthly Archives: July 2010

Batch-deleting Twitter favorites

Update: This script broke when Twitter started requiring all API interactions to use oAuth2. The script would have to be made far more complex to support this change, and I have no plans to do so. My current advice: Leave your favorites in place. They don’t hurt anything. Think of them like Facebook “Like”s – you wouldn’t try and delete those, would you?

I read Twitter primarily on the iPhone, and find tons of great links I want to read in a proper browser later on (I personally find reading most web sites on an iPhone to be more hassle than it’s worth). Perfect solution: Side-swipe an item in Tweetie and tap the star icon to mark it as a favorite. Later, visit the Favorites section at twitter.com to follow up.

Unfortunately, over the past couple of years I’ve favorited way more things than I’ll ever have time to read. As of now, I’ve got 1600 favorites waiting to be read. Ain’t never gonna happen. I declare Twitter Favorite bankruptcy! Needed a way to batch-unfavorite the whole collection, and twitter.com doesn’t provide a tool for that.

Ended up writing a script on top of the Tweepy library to get the job done:

Twitter Favorites Bankruptcy

Bristlebot

Saw instructions for a giant bristlebot in this morning’s Instructables newsletter and immediately knew I wanted to build one with Miles. Then realized the smaller versions – based on a simple toothbrush head – were even more do-able. Decided on this improved version with antennae to help it resist falls and to bounce off walls and objects.

IMG_6068

Parts needed:

  • Toothbrush head – with flat, not curved bristles
  • Button cell battery
  • Small vibrating motor from a pager or cellphone
  • Double-sided adhesive foam tape
  • Nails
  • Possibly a soldering iron

Radio Shack, unfortunately, doesn’t stock vibrating motors. Nor will they give you old/returned cell phones to pull apart to pull the vibrators out of – they’re all in a database, destined no doubt for China where they’ll be pulled apart by underpaid workers in toxic waste dumps. They did, however, give us a couple of flat batteries with a bit of charge left in them. Headed for MetroPCS to see if they’d give us an old phone to tear apart. Nope, same story. But a guy in line heard us, and offered to sell us his old one for $5. Bingo!

We were able to pull the vibrating motor out just in a few minutes. But it had no leads – I was going to have to solder some onto the two bare contacts. Hacksaw and sandpaper worked perfectly on the toothbrush head. Everything came together pretty easily per the Instructables instructions. We were amazed – our bristlebot worked WAY better than expected! Totally scoots along. Turns out the key to getting it to go straight and not in circles is to really bend those bristles back, so that they store and release energy in a forward direction.

Bristlebot

Unfortunately, not everything went exactly to plan. I plugged in the soldering iron to warm up on a high-ish shelf while Miles was in another room playing with the cell phone leftovers. I went to the garage for a couple of minutes, then heard him crying loudly — he had wandered in, seen the electrical cord, gotten curious, and picked it up just to see what it was. Got burned pretty badly on his thumb and forefinger. Long period of tears, ice, ibuprofen, burn cream, and of course, ice cream. And of me feeling like a total bad dad for not warning him about it. I assumed he wouldn’t be in that room, and assumed he wouldn’t see if it he did come in. And got bitten by my assumptions. Felt horrible for the little guy. He’s doing OK, and we had a gas playing with the bristlebot at the dinner table.

Donut Seeds

After recently coming across a small package of Cheerios labeled “Donut Seeds,” decided to see whether Miles would go for it. He was skeptical, but yep – he planted a few in the back yard! I forgot about it until a few days later when he asked “Daddy were you joking about the donut seeds?” I was dodgy, and told him to keep watering them. Then, today, called him to the back yard, where I had stuck a bamboo shoot in the ground and slid a donut down over a branch.

When he came out, his eyes went wide. Took a full minute for him to reconcile what his senses told him with what he knew was possible and what was not. He figured it out of course, and enjoyed the heck out of his donut. Should have tried this when he was five instead of seven.

Kauai 2010

It’s sometimes said that Kauai is the last remaining vestige of “the old Hawaii” or “the real Hawaii” – the last bastion of island life as it was before much of it was taken over by hotel chains and tourism. Kauai isn’t without its share of commercialism, but it’s true that it’s almost entirely free of high-rise hotels, and that natural wonders abound.

At the same time, some of your old-school stereotypes about Hawaii just aren’t going to come true. Visitors are no longer greeted on the tarmac with a flower lei around the neck, you aren’t going to hear ukulele concerts or witness spontaneous hula dances on every corner, and luaus are no longer organic affairs where people sit around on the beach sipping Mai Tais and picking meat off a pit-grilled pig, scooping three-finger poi with bare hands.

To be fair, your visions of stereotypical Hawaiian nature are still real, while the stereotypes you may hold of Hawaiian culture are probably not.


View Kauai in a larger map
The two blue marker points show where we stayed on our two-week Kauai adventure.

Kauai is encircled – for the most part – by a single road running through a dozen or so major towns. You can drive around the entire island in a couple of hours (note that “driving through” does not equal “exploring,” and that driving the outer rim will only get you to the beach towns, not to the juicy jungles that comprise Kauai’s interior). I say “for the most part” because the insane terrain of the Napali coast has proven impenetrable to road builders – it’s simply not possible to build a drivable road through the mountains of the northwest coast.

Coconuts in Water

You won’t find the “real” Kauai by hanging around in the downtown areas. But if you make an effort to get even a little off the beaten path, you will find yourself surrounded by nature at its most powerful. Kauai is a volcanic wonderland of dense jungle, incredible ocean life, succulent wild fruit, and loose chickens.

Throw yourself into the environment, and you won’t be able to avoid swimming in impossibly blue/green waters, inhaling the cleanest air your nostrils have ever encountered (remember you’re surrounded on all sides by thousands of miles of wild Pacific). You will find that the Aloha spirit is omnipresent and real. You will find yourself slowing down, being reminded why you’re walking this earth, and what nature at its most raw can do for your soul.

In June/July 2010, we spent two weeks in Kauai, staying in two different houses with two different families, in two very different environments. In the end, I shot more than a thousand photos. Thought I’d turn all my vacation notes and photos into a quick blog entry on return; the process ended up taking a couple of days — which was OK since I needed that time just to transition back to “real” life and get the hang of cold weather and the absence of snorkeling grounds outside my back door. Editing the photos down to a “mere” 470 and filling in the details from my notes turned out to be the perfect obsessive/compulsive transitional gig.

Photos: Here’s the Flickr standard photo set view, but much better is the Flickr lightbox view. I’ve also embedded a slideshow version below, but for best results dim the lights, put some Hawaiian music on the hi-fi, and put your browser in full-screen mode.

Note: I lost my camera on the very last day — turned out I left it under the seat in the rental car — so the set isn’t quite complete. Fortunately I had been backing up the camera’s contents to iPhoto throughout the trip, so had an almost complete set. Super-lucky news is that Budget Rent-a-Car in Lihue found the camera and is returning it to me; I’ll add the final images when it arrives. Thanks Budget!
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