Minor Mining

Some time last year I did some work using the Twitter Stream API and ended up with a data set of a few thousand tweets. It was interesting to mine some basic data for the client and I thought it might be even more interesting to see what I could come up with if I mined an even larger set.


After writing a small script and setting up another Twitter dev key, I was able to gather about 130,000 tweets that mentioned #yolo and had geolocation data attached. MongoLab made it easy to quickly dump that data into a MongoDB store. It ran for approximately 3 months, plenty of time to think about what to do with the data.

Fusion Tables

Google Fusion Tables lets you import a set of data and visualize it on a map. My data set fell well below their limits, so I was able to put my eyeballs on the hotspots for #yolo in the past 6 months.

There are no considerations for population density or incoming geodata precision here - this is more of an exercise in data gathering and rapid visualizing before I jump into viz tools like Dygraph or D3.

Turtlebot Iteration 1

This is the first version of the Turtlebot that I put together using parts that
I had laying around my house. It comes in at much higher than the intended cost,
with the Arduino Uno making up almost half of it.


The spark that ignited my interest in computing happened in the late eighties,
near the end of elementary school. Our computer lab opened in a new portable behind our
humble little Catholic school, and for me it was love at first type. I remember
learning how to load programs from the black, floppy disks into the new, beige
computers. The sounds of the disk drive reading the program off the floppy were
the sounds of the future! Many of my after school hours were spent looking for
a fedora’d female villain, or avoiding dysentry as I pioneered my way across the
US in a covered wagon.


The keyboard that comes with the laptop I use for my main work machine
currently a 2011 MacBook Air is pretty great. The low, square keys look great,
and they feel good enough for me to not even notice them when I put in long
hours at the keyboard. I like it so much that I now have three Apple keyboards
in use at the three different computers in my life.


For the opening night of an art show in Kelowna’s Alternator Gallery, I
recreated the classic Asteroids game in Processing. The game ran off a laptop
and could be played using a Wii controller. This particular game let other
participate too - via Twitter. The game watched the Twittersphere for hashtags
related to the show. Those tweets were then displayed in text in the middle of
the asteroid field, along with a new asteroid for the main player to shoot.


The Follower

For the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, I worked with Makiko Yoshii on The Follower.

A pair of magnetic switches detected the robot’s vector across a pair of
railroad tracks embedded in the road. An Arduino monitored the switches and told
the pair of 12V motors how fast to spin forward. This simple robot followed the tracks in a very
loose manner, appearing to wander down the Granville Island road at a walking

Twitter Volcano

This summer in Kelowna, the Keloha Volcano came to life. The chicken wire and
painted foam volcano listened to the Twittersphere for any tweets marked
#keloha and responded with a tweet and 30 seconds of bubbly fun. A Raspberry Pi
running a Node.js program triggered a relay to turn on a bubble machine that I
picked up from Walmart. Seemed like it was a hit.