We Meddle Lists

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Making lists is tedious. So it is on Twitter. We make lists to share with the world, but no one will make personal lists for us. You have to make the close friends list, the family list, the tech list, the coworker list. Phew.

That’s the problem We Meddle Lists wants to solve. It uses the history you’ve naturally built up in Twitter and turns it into some nifty (private) lists. Below is one of the lists We Meddle created for me. I track Inner Circle in Seesmic’s Twitter app. This list is especially useful when I’ve been away awhile and need to catch up. We Meddle also does some cool community detection. Try it here!

my inner circle

VIM">A Love Letter to VIM

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Despite its hideous logo, VIM is a fantastic editor. VIM gets a kiss of death from HCI: it’s modal, has a steep learning curve and requires mental & muscle memory. Whenever I praise it around HCI folk, they crinkle their noses. But it’s an expert interface. Although I learned it many years ago, way before I knew anything about HCI, here’s 3 reasons I still love it:

  1. It minimizes programmer energy. VIM never makes you take your hands off the keyboard! I cannot say this enough. You never have to take your hands off the keyboard! An IDE like Eclipse will do lots of fancy stuff for you, but you have to click-click-click. It’s horrible. You should spend 95% of your time on the keyboard, not clicking. Time clicking is time not coding.
  2. It rocks on data files. I often have complex data files that I need to hack up in some structured way. Like, find the second ::, delete from there until the next !. Repeat 10,000 times. The only other way is often a script. VIM solves this problem quickly and indulges my inner laziness.
  3. It’s everywhere and needs only 2MB of memory. My app should need 300MB of memory, not my editor. Couple this with the fact that it’s standard on every *nix box (OS X too) and you’ve got a strong reason to give it try.

Grasses or Cords

Friday, November 2nd, 2007

bundles of cords (or grasses)

Living in the prairie, I like grasses. This weekend, I played around with code that generates a system of grass (or cords) bundles (like CAT5 cords). A sprig of grass usually joins an existing bundle, but with some very low probability will strike out on its own. Thick clumps have a higher probability of getting new sprigs than thin clumps: a rich-get-richer scheme. Sprigs that do not attract any friends get killed off by a periodic layer of transparency. The three images above represent 3 different experiments to distribute the clumps: dense noise, sparse randomness and dense randomness. No data…just something to do besides read research papers for a while.

Remodeling Reader

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

reader tag cloud interface
screenshot of remodeled list of feeds

Google Reader is one of my favorite apps. My biggest complaint, however, is the waste of space in the list of feeds on the left side of the interface. This summer I toyed around with a Greasemonkey script that transforms the interface into a tag cloud. It’s not perfect, but I use it day to day. To use: install GreaseMonkey, then install the script (you only need to click the link — GreaseMonkey takes care of the rest).