February 27, 2010

At PyCon, I saw a lightning talk about, a lightweight Python library for parsing webpages/interacting with them programmatically. For example, finding page elements:

>>> from scrape import *
>>> s.go('')
<Region 0:17780>
>>> d = s.doc
>>> t = d.first('title')
>>> t
<Region 247:258 title>
>>> t.tagname
>>> t.text
u'Ka-Ping Yee'

The presentation I saw focused on the use case of testing your website. This is definitely a pain point for me personally: I currently either grep the HTML with regexes or I parse the whole thing using ElementTree and use XPath. But there’s still a couple of problems: 1. JS isn’t usually testable this way; 2. you often have to construct your HTML with an eye towards testability. For example, to test pagination, you might need to add a class or id specifying that this is the pagination section and that these pages link to pagination things.

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Openhatch, the open source involvement engine

February 27, 2010

One of the neat things I saw at PyCon was a project called OpenHatch, which (among other features) indexes bugs and makes them easy to find according to your skillset and experience level. For example, lots of projects tag bugs as "easy" or "beginner" to promote newbie involvement and ramp-up; openhatch makes it easy to get involved with a project you can contribute to.

I think there’s still some work to be done — bugs about "you need a better logo" or "help, our docs are crap" don’t quite fit into this workflow. Still, good effort.

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Historical Dwarf Pie

February 27, 2010

Seen via JWZ: a fascinating story about a dwarf.

This is one of those things where I’m struck at how weird the world we live in is.

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Sex as cause of carpal tunnel syndrome

February 25, 2010

Via Suzanne, who writes "this is bad news for computer scientists".

A new paper in Medical Hypotheses journal posits that carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by sexual intercourse. From the abstract:

It is proposed that carpal tunnel syndrome can develop during sexual intercourse when the hands become repeatedly extended while under pressure from the weight of the upper body. Of the eight risk factors associated with non-occupational carpal tunnel syndrome, age, marital status, pregnancy and use of hormonal agents can be explained by changes in the frequency of sexual intercourse. On the other hand, obesity, macromastia and large chest circumference can be explained by the increased pressure imposed on the wrists by the heavier upper body associated with such conditions. The bilaterality of carpal tunnel syndrome can be explained by the fact that both hands are needed to support the upper body during sexual intercourse. A parallel decrease in the frequency of sexual intercourse and the incidence of carpal tunnel syndrome between the sixth and the seventh decades of life suggests a possible cause and effect relationship between sexual intercourse and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Also: if you do push-ups, you might invest in getting some push-up bars. See also JWZ’s experiences with his wrists.

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February 25, 2010

Seen via pixelstyle: a neat image!

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a few words about a live clip featuring the beets

February 25, 2010
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Maybe this is stupid, but I live for moments like these (seen via Sumana).

Well, I stumbled across it somehow, I’m not sure how, and I watched it, and I had one of those experiences you have sometimes with a band you’ve never heard playing a song you don’t know. One of those transformative reaffirming experiences, which you then get religious about, even if religious isn’t exactly the word you’d use but trust me it’s the word you actually mean: you start thinking, everything should be like this all the time, anything that’s not like this is a ridiculous waste of time, I want peak experiences and only peak experiences because life is all about peak experiences and people who consent to have less than constant peaking epiphanies all the time are missing out, etc., etc., all infantile nonsense of course but as feelings go a bracing & pleasant one. The permanent reoccurring 19th summer is a nonstarter as a governing aesthetic stance, but as a tool in the kit it’s not without some merits. I have a lot to say about this, actually, but it’s complicated, and hurtful to people whose 19th summer left such a profound impression on them that they think it’s the meaning of life or something, so, you know, whatever. It doesn’t matter much except when it does….

Did this clip have a press blast sent out twice a day via email to everybody? Maybe, probably, I don’t know, but by the time I saw it, it was just something hanging around, ready to be ignored, preemptively ready to be ignored, even. It’s like a good plumber: you didn’t catch his last name and you’ll forget he was even at your house by this time tomorrow, but if he hadn’t been there, you’d be up to your neck in your own shit, which is, I think, what I am trying to say. That without this clip of the Beets in your life, you are drowning, drowning forever in a river of your own excrement. Not in any way that might seem heroic or tuff or remarkable. Just unpleasantly.

I guess in a sense this was my PyCon experience. Expect to see a bunch of posts in the near future regarding the neat stuff I saw there.

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Pulsewave Poster by Minusbaby

February 25, 2010
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Seen on pixelstyle: this poster.

Be sure to come to Pulsewave this Saturday! Ha ha..

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Lots of Snow!

February 25, 2010

Via Tayeb, some cool pictures of snow.

Snow being cleared from the Trans-Labrador Highway in northeastern Canada:

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German ‘Fleshmob’ Protests Airport Scanners

February 24, 2010
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This story on Wired is pretty cool: with regard to the evolution of political parties, it’s interesting to see the Pirate Party rise to the party of personal liberty and trust.

The underwear bomber’s Christmas Day attack has prompted calls for the increased use of full-body scanners at airports that would strip-search passengers down to their naked bodies.

So to protest the use of the so-called Nacktscanner (naked scanner), members of the Pirate Party in Germany organized a "fleshmob" of people who stripped down to their skivvies last Sunday and converged on the Berlin-Tegel airport. They posted a video of their protest to YouTube, with soundtrack provided by Muse’s song "Uprising." The lyrics articulated their protest: "They will not force us. They will stop degrading us. They will not control us. We will be victorious!"…

The protesters marked their bodies with a number of messages such as, "Something to hide?" and "Be a good citizen — drop your pants."

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Zuckerberg says the age of privacy is over

February 24, 2010
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An interesting post a few weeks ago on Slashdot due to more Facebook changes. What’s the deal with privacy, anyhow?

"Privacy is no longer a social norm, according to the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. Speaking at the Crunchie awards in San Francisco, the entrepreneur said that expectations had changed, and people now default to sharing online, not privacy. It’s all right for him, but does he mean it’s ok for bodies like the UK government to monitor all citizens’ Internet use?"

Of course, subsequently, Google Buzz has botched the privacy thing entirely, and suffered a huge public backlash. So it’s pretty clear that in fact, people do expect privacy in some of their interactions.

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