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Connect a thermal printer to If This Then That » 3number of comments:

I just figured out something that my little python script is really good for.

If This Then That is a neat service which connects a whole bunch of web services together with a really simple interface. One of the actions available in ifttt is to create a text file in Dropbox. Combine that with my little python script, and now ifttt can print to your GFR printer.

As a proof of concept, I just created a rule that will automatically print anything I star in Google Reader. But you could do all kinds of stuff. You could, for example:

  • print any tweet that mentions you
  • print out a warning if rain is predicted for tomorrow
  • print anything added to your delicious or pinboard or Evernote accounts with the tag ToPrint
  • print out anything that you text to the ifttt number

That’s right, I can now send text messages to my GFR printer. This is pretty awesome.

38 Studios » 0number of comments:

Here is the story of a spectacular disaster in progress, being funded by my state tax dollars.

Former Major League Baseball pitcher Curt Schilling owns a video game studio called 38 Studios. They recently moved from Massachusetts to Rhode Island, lured by a $75 million dollar loan from the state. This $75 million dollars is more than half of the money Rhode Island allocated for job creation.

Mistake #1: Spending our limited budget on a risky venture like creating a video game.

Mistake #2: Overpaying for the jobs this venture created: The math works out to $260,417 per job actually created. They could have created four or five times as many jobs simply by hiring people directly. Our roads are terrible here; if the goal is to create jobs, why not just hire a thousand people to work on our roads?

So people were already pretty upset about it, but they were working on their new MMO (code named Project Copernicus) and all seemed to be going well.

Then about a week ago the news broke that not only could 38 Studios not make payment on their loan, but they also couldn’t make their payroll. So the local news here has been talking about how the governor and his staff were in meetings to try to keep the company alive so they could keep paying their loan. (As the old saying goes, if you owe the bank $75 dollars, you have a problem, but if you owe the bank $75 million dollars, the bank has a problem.)

Things were obviously not going well, but hopes were high. 38 Studios released a video showing off the work done so far on Project Copernicus, which looked pretty impressive.

Then two days ago, 38 Studios laid off their entire staff.

Oh, but it gets worse.

38 Studios also had a employee relocation program. Employees were told that they could move to RI and the company would sell their old houses. They didn’t. So some of these freshly unemployeed people also have surprise second mortgages!

All of that to say: Rhode Island is about own an MMO. Which could be kind of cool.

If you’re interested in reading more about this train wreck, Metafilter user ericb has been posting several excellent links about the story over the past few days.

Automatically Printing Text Files to a Thermal Printer » 6number of comments:

Ever since seeing this Microprinter post I’ve been fascinated by the idea of having a thermal receipt printer to play with. But they were always a bit too pricey for a toy, and I wasn’t sure that even if I got one I’d be able to make it work.

Then I discovered the Printer project over at Go Free Range. James Adam had already done most of the work for me. He’s got detailed instructions on how to put this together with a cheap thermal printer from Adafruit, an Arduino with an ethernet shield, and a few LED’s, resistors, and wires.

What I’ve done is written a python script that takes a folder full of text files, converts them to HTML via Markdown, and then sends them to one of these free range printers. Here it is in action:

Here’s the script. It includes the Markdown python library and all the other libraries are standard, so you shouldn’t need to track down any dependencies. You’ll just need to update the variables in the script to point to your folders and your printer URL.

I’ve pointed the script at a folder in my Dropbox, which means that I can save these text files from anywhere and have them print out automatically. I’m also using Hazel on a Mac Mini to automate running the script as soon as a new file arrives in the To Print folder, but you could just as easily run the script via chron or the Windows Schedule Task program.

What will I use this for? I don’t know yet. But I think it’s pretty neat.

Writing Motivator Script » 0number of comments:

I wrote a little python script to help people get motivated to write more*. It compares the word count of a text file (by default “mywork.txt”) to a target number; if you’ve exceeded your target, it will congratulate you and download a recent picture of a kitten from flickr.

I wrote this over a couple hours, so it’s mostly rough edges. It depends on having wc and wget installed (which you already do if you have linux). I know it works on Python 2.7.2, but it should work on anything > Python 2.5.

Installation instructions:
1. Install the Python flickrapi module (on Ubuntu, sudo apt-get install python-flickrapi)
2. Download and extract this motivator script zip file.
3. Get a Flickr API key; it’s super easy, just sign into flickr and fill out a 2 line form.
3. Edit the .motivator file with your target # of words and with your Flickr API key. (Can’t find .motivator? try pushing ctrl-h to show hidden files if you’re using Ubuntu.)
4. Write more words into mywork.txt than your target number of words.
5. From the command line, go to the motivator folder and run “python”
6. Collect your kitten photograph from the rewards folder.

Don’t like kittens (you monster)? You can change the rewardtag variable in .motivator to whatever flickr tag you like.


* Actually, it was more to play with Python for an evening. I will probably never touch this again, but it was fun and, who knows, maybe someone will get something out of it.

Bookmarks for December 22nd » 1number of comments:

I don’t like how my blog now consists of a bunch of links. I’m turning off the automatic post machine and I have replaced it with a neat widget on my home page that lists my latest bookmarks on Pinboard.

Alternately, you can always Subscribe to my Pinboard RSS feed or view all these bookmarks on Pinboard directly.

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Bookmarks for December 13th » 0number of comments:

Bookmarks for December 12th » 0number of comments:

Bookmarks for December 10th » 0number of comments:

Bookmarks for December 7th » 0number of comments: