Christian Heilmann

Posts Tagged ‘guardian’

TTMMHTM: Piracy figures, GIF or Jiff,Pixar Short, Blind Prom,Page Speed, Bing API and Tetris

Friday, June 12th, 2009

Things that made me happy this morning:

Good to know:

Everybody say “awwww”

Code stuff

Erm, what?

TTMMHTM: Tweenbots, mostly, but also Wall-E casemod and Disney templates

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

Here’s something that put a smile on my face this morning that needs to be jackhammered off: Tweenbots. Kacie Kinzer wondered if people are ready to help a friendly, but dumb robot and build a small robot with a smile and a little flag saying where it needs to go. All the robot can do is move forwards.

Tweenbots are human-dependent robots that navigate the city with the help of pedestrians they encounter. Rolling at a constant speed, in a straight line, Tweenbots have a destination displayed on a flag, and rely on people they meet to read this flag and to aim them in the right direction to reach their goal.

The results are shown in this wonderful video:

The results were unexpected. Over the course of the following months, throughout numerous missions, the Tweenbots were successful in rolling from their start point to their far-away destination assisted only by strangers. Every time the robot got caught under a park bench, ground futilely against a curb, or became trapped in a pothole, some passerby would always rescue it and send it toward its goal. Never once was a Tweenbot lost or damaged. Often, people would ignore the instructions to aim the Tweenbot in the “right” direction, if that direction meant sending the robot into a perilous situation. One man turned the robot back in the direction from which it had just come, saying out loud to the Tweenbot, “You can’t go that way, it’s toward the road.”

Now all we need to do is deal the same way with other human beings! The other thing it proves is that cute beats smart.

Other things that made me happy this morning:

News Mixer – my first attempt at using the Guardian’s open platform content API

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

I am a very happy bunny at the moment. First of all because there is more yummy data on the web to play with as The Guardian just released a brand new API to access their archives and secondly as I was invited to play with it before it was public. The announce of the API was today and I’ve spent a few hours yesterday in my hotel room before checking out to build news mixer

News Mixer - web news and images enhanced by Guardian content

The API is simple enough to use and once you got your developer key you can search for content and request the more detailed data using a content ID. The next problem to tackle was what to build.

Access of data and tags is easy

I love that we turned the web from yet another information channel into a read/write web and that user generated content allows us to get information from everybody and not just from dedicated journalists. I also love that you can tag information and make it easier to find that way. Lastly I love that with products like BOSS you can now get access to information of search engines and use that in your own sites.

Relevancy of tags?

The tagging bit has me a bit annoyed though. While a few years ago when the idea was still fresh people tagged like mad and with high quality keywords this seemed to be on the decline a bit and as faster connections allow us to upload more and more data in bulk people stopped tagging sensibly and rely more on automated tags like geolocation or exif data in images.

Mixing user tags and professional categories

I wanted to show a news site that allows you to find keywords that match your search term that make sense and used two different APIs for that. BOSS allows you to search for news items and images and the BOSS web search also offers keyterms for certain web sites. These keyterms are to a degree user generated as this is what people entered into Yahoo to find the sites. I then used the new Guardian Data API to pull relevant articles and as these are professionally tagged by journalists this makes for more relevant keywords. Putting the two together means a good mix of professional and up-to-date information.

The outcome is News Mixer and you can download the source code to play with it yourself.

It was amazingly straight forward to build, the only snags I hit were the following:

  • Whilst BOSS provides keyterms for web searches, it does not do so for news searches. Therefore I used YQL to get the keyterms of each of the urls returned by news search in a nested loop. This is a bit hacky and I would love for that to change.
  • The Guardian API returns articles by relevancy and not by date. You can specify though that you want articles before or after a certain date, which is why all I had to do is get the current date and go back one month from that.
  • The content body of the Guardian API does not provide any paragraph or list information. This is very annoying as it results in terrible display (a massive chunk of text). I’ve worked around the issue by splitting the content at full stops and then injecting paragraphs after every third of them but that is just guesswork and not real structure of text.

In any case I am happy to have such a cool new archive of information to play with and we’re working on open table definitions for YQL to make it easy for you to get to the goodies the Guardian offers us.

Creating Happy Little Web Sites audio recording available on the Guardian blog

Monday, July 7th, 2008

Two weeks ago I went to East London to give a “brown bag” presentation at the office of the Guardian. In a very crowded room around 30 developers sat and listened to me raving about best practices in web development and what the YUI already solved for you.

There is a very nice write-up on the inside guardian blog and they also host the podcast mp3 of the talk.

The slides for the talk are on slideshare:

[slideshare id=488632&doc=happylittlewebsites-1214566328957709-8&w=425]

It is very cool to see your name on an old-school media site and the way they wrote up what the talk is about makes me realize that journalism will never be replaced by blogging and twitter.

Creating Happy Little Web Sites – my tech talk at the Guardian

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

Here’s a presentation I have given today at the Guardian office in London. In it I am covering the different great ideas I found out about developing web sites. Check the presentation here:

[slideshare id=488632&doc=happylittlewebsites-1214566328957709-8&w=425]

The Guardian have recorded my talk and will release it on the Inside Guardian blog