Archives For programming

I’ve been experimenting with some new paperless workflows and thought I’d tell the Internet about them. You may find this useful. Or not. First, giving credit where credit is due I’ll point you to the Mac Power Users podcast which features paperless workflows and cool automation tricks regularly. The hosts of that show, David Sparks and Katie Floyd, mention the automation tool Hazel nearly weekly, and it forms the core of this workflow. I can also recommend David’s book Paperless which covers these kinds of scanning and filing automation tasks in great detail.

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My reading habits changed the moment I got my hands on an iPad. I’d been considering getting a Kindle for a while but held off in anticipation of whatever magical device Steve Jobs and his minions had in store. I’d installed Amazon’s Kindle app on my iPhone some time before, but the small screen never drew me in enough to make it anything more than a occasional reading device. The Kindle app on the iPad’s big screen made all the difference though, and I now find myself buying 90% of my reading material in Kindle ebook form.

About that same time I read Will Richardson’s post where I learned that the electronic notes and highlights that I was creating in my Kindle books could be accessed online at Wow. To quote Will, “Game. Changer.” I’m not sure I’ll ever buy a non-fiction book in dead tree form again if I can help it. (The inability of Apple’s own iBooks app to make my saved notes and highlights visible in one place is the single biggest reason I have yet to buy a book from Apple.)

Before Kindle, my typical practice was to make my highlights and margin notes in pencil and transcribe them into OmniOutliner so I could have easy access to them later. Effective, but laborious. What if, I thought, I could write some software to “scrape” the web page that displays my notes and highlights and import them into OmniOutliner directly using AppleScript. If nothing else, it sounded like a good excuse to learn AppleScript.

I had the OmniOutliner version working soon enough and added a generic OPML export too for those who don’t happen to own OmniOutliner. By that time I’d started playing around with Evernote and noticed that they had built AppleScript support into their Mac client. I decided to build an Evernote version too.

Enough delay: I’m calling it NoteScraper and making both versions available for download. Please note that there are likely bugs. This software is definitely beta. You can get more information and download the software at the newly minted Savvy Technologist software page.

I hope someone (besides Will) finds this stuff useful. I’d love to hear about it if you do.

I’ve made a few tweaks to Twitterator over the last couple days, the most significant of which is a measure of compatibility with DabbleDB. If you create a basic DabbleDB database with a single column of twitter usernames, you can specify the URL to the .txt or .csv versions of your database and Twitterator will add them to your list of Twitter friends.

This new feature should really help if you want to provide an easy way for a bunch of people to subscribe to a set of twitter users all at once. You could maintain, for example, a list of K-12 science teacher twitter users. Make as many groups as you want and simply provide the URLs in a blog post, on a wiki page, or in a Google Docs document.

Leave a comment if there’s another feature you’d like. I’ll see what I can do to put it in. Please let me know if you find a bug.

I may attract the trademark police for this, but so be it.

It seemed like an innocent enough question at the time, but when Steve Dembo (teach42) posted a tweet last week looking for a way to import a list of Twitter names to follow I decided to run with it. It seemed like a straightforward programming challenge, and after a little twittering back and forth with Dave Briccetti I had it pretty much worked out in my head.

Twitterator, then, is a really simple web application that takes a list of twitter usernames and allows you to follow them in one fell swoop. Take a look and see what you think. I have to warn you though. This is a pretty basic CGI script, and it’s not going to be particularly fast. It depends on’s servers being available which can be a bit of a crapshoot. Using Twitterator may cause dizziness, shortness of breath, locusts, giant meteors, and (wait for it) sexual dysfunction. Tell you doctor if you’re using Twitterator. Don’t taunt Twitterator!

I think this could be pretty useful for training sessions. For example, you could keep a list of twitter usernames in a file on the Internet somewhere and use that URL to follow those people. You could keep lists organized by academic subject or whatever else works for you. Once the file exists at a certain URL, a bunch of people could start following those people within minutes of creating their Twitter accounts. You can also paste in a bunch of usernames manually from a blog post, wiki page, or some other source. I tried to make it as bulletproof as reasonably possible, but you’ll have to ensure that the usernames are listed one per line.

Feel free to leave suggestions for improvements or creative uses in the comments. I hope everyone finds Twitterator useful. It’s fun to exercise my programming chops once in a while, and if this brings Dembo one step closer to world domination then it’s all been worth it.

Update: All Twitterator links have been updated to point to the new URL.