Wednesday, July 18, 2007
“Energy problem? What energy problem?”
The state of Georgia just granted Range Fuels a permit to create the first cellulosic ethanol plant in America. HECK YES! This is very exciting … why?
Cellulosic ethanol can contain up to 16 times more energy than is required to create it! If that doesn't sound ridiculously impressive, consider that gasoline contains only 5 times more energy than was required to create it and corn ethanol is totally lame, containing only 1.3 times the energy required to create it.
It's discoveries and work like this that makes me worry less about “Peak Oil” than most. We're a clever species, we'll work around this problem.
Stupid Twitter Tricks
An off-site meeting was canceled, although I didn't find out about it until I got off-site. Afterwards, I slacked off a bit.
Okay, quite a bit.
I came across this post on one of the blogs I follow, and I was mesmerized. Not by the the actual post but by the often times totally irrellevent picture John Wiseman adds to his posts. And in this case, it's a portion of a screen capture of a Twitter-based site, and John's comment about said picture: “Jenny Holzer is the only person who should be allowed to use Twitter.” Jenny's site reads like surreal fortune cookies, much like the monster quote file I have (over 2,600 quotes).
I've seen Twitter once or twice; enough to get the point of it—it's LiveJournal on crank, but something about Jenny's site reminding me of my own monster quote file inspired me to do a “Stupid Twitter Trick™”—sending out my quote file via Twitter.
Two aspects of this little hack (and that's what it is, a gross hack if
you ask me) were time consuming. First, cleaning up my monster quote file.
Twitter limits you to 160-character messages (with a preference of 140
characters). Three custom programs for this—one to pull out quotes 160
characters or less (and to mark the 140th character). The second
one to trim unwanted spaces. And the third to go through converting the
quote character from the unappealing " to the much more typographically
nice “” pair. Extensive use of
sed to make some
other typographical substitutions (such as converting “--” (two
dashes) into “—” (a proper em-dash)) and a visual once-over to make
sure I didn't muck things up, and an hour or so later, I have almost 2,000
quotes ready for Twitter.
The second time-consuming bit was writing this bit of code, which took about an hour:
#!/usr/bin/perl use strict; use Net::Twitter; my $later = `./later`; my $message = `./quote -n`; my $twit = Net::Twitter->new( username => 'siwisdom' , password => 'XXXXXXXXXXXX'); my $result = $twit->update($message); `at -f ./at-jobs $later`; exit 0;
And no, it didn't take an hour because I'm a slow typist. It took an
hour because to install
I needed to install
and in the process of installing that I apparently activated the CPAN module that wanted to
install and update itself, and that took an hour (I swear, it
seemed to download the entire CPAN archive—sigh).
later program picks a random amount of time between
three and nine hours, which is given to the
at is like
cron, in that you can schedule a
program to run at a particular time, but unlike
runs the program on a set schedule,
at is a one-shot deal. I
at because I don't want a set schedule to post
quotes to Twitter—I want it randomized a bit.
quote is a
program I wrote ages ago to pull quotes out of a quote file
Like I said, a quick hack for a stupid Twitter trick.
Oh, and the name? “siwisdom”?
It's short for “silicon wisdom,” as a pun on Jorn Barger's Robot Wisdom, if you will.