Category Archives: softwares and tools

[Webapp Idea] Twitter Link Browser

I use Twitter quite some. A lot of the people I follow share quite a lot of links. When I browse twitter on my mobile in the morning, I can’t check out all the links. I usually ‘Favorite’ the links that seem interesting and then browse them later. I’d actually prefer a better interface to this, which enables me to tag these links privately so that I can look for them later as well.

I found one such webapp whose name I now forget. The problem with it was it had a sucky interface and didn’t let me preview all the links properly. Then there’s also Tweetree which offers previews of shared links. I also like the Google Reader/Gmail sort of interface which keeps track of new links and already read links. And also, when multiple people share the same link, I’d like to see it all collapsed as one with “X, Y and Z shared this” next to it. Or something.

So this is one thing I’d like to build using Google App Engine.

The steps to do so would be as follows:

  1. Find a nice Twitter API interface for Python which can preferably be integrated with Google App Engine.
  2. Write code to get tweets from your Twitter timeline.
    2(a) Learn how to use Twitter OAuth.
  3. Detect tweets with links. When they do, extract the unshortened link.
  4. By now, you have a set of links, and can choose to display them as you wish.
  5. Use the App Engine datastore to store previously viewed links. Possible attributes to be stored along with link can include users who shared this link, timestamps of tweets which shared these links, viewed-or-not (when dropping into database after extraction, this attribute should have the value ‘No’), title of linked page. Also store time of last login.
  6. Workflow: On login, extract links from timeline and drop into database until the timestamp of the tweet you’re reading is lesser than the time of last login. Then display those links with ‘viewed-or-not’ value as ‘No’ as ‘Unread items’ and the rest as ‘read’ items. On clicking each link, mark them as read. Also provide checkboxes to mass-markAsRead.
  7.  Basic interface: Gmail HTML sorts. Previews and stuff can come later.
Components to build a basic version:
  • OAuth
  • Tweet-getter
  • Link-extract-and-drop-in-database. This in turn includes Link extractor, unshortener, title-getter, database interface.
  • Database queries to view links and mark them as read/unread.
  • User interface.
Anything missing so far? Loose ends? Anything can be done better? Are you working on this? Any advice on getting started or any of the individual components?

Reading PDFs – Superpain.

I face this huge problem of late.

I have a lot of documents to be read which are in the .pdf format. Fine, it’s a universal format, yada yada.

It however is not without its pitfalls.

Firstly, .PDF is more for the visualization than for the content. By this, I mean once you write something to a .pdf file, it’s like you’ve written it to paper. It’s a format for printing out stuff more than anything else. So while there is plenty of software to create .pdf files, there are very few to actually edit them.

So why do I want to edit .pdf files? Well, most academic papers are written with 11pt or 12pt font which doesn’t make for easy reading. And I abhor the large spaces wasted in the margins. I tried Foxit PDF editor, but it turns out that it lets you correct typos, add images, delete images, and add and delete pages, but that’s about it. It won’t let you modify a file in the true sense of the word.

So convert it to Word format. I found an online PDF to DOC converter, and did so.

Job done, right?

No.

You change the font size, it messes up the equations and tables and general layout. You decrease the size of the margins, same issue.

Oh dear god, I really wish I had the original LaTeX source that I could just modify small bits of it, or fit the same text and images into a layout better suited for reading. But trying to do that from a .pdf is like trying to get a live cow from roast beef.

It’s about time proceedings of NIPS and CHI got published in Kindle format, don’t you think? Papers are written to be read, right?

PyBrain

Machine Learning Library for Python. Yay. Here.

Beginning with LaTeX

Using LaTeX for the very first time. I’m finding the LaTeX wikibook rather useful. I’m using LEd and MikTeX. Simple so far. Here goes nothin’.

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