CATEGORY: blog

What a lot of people are saying

Given the election season of 2020, I wanted to dive deeper into the divisions that have stricken the U.S. I thought this book might shed some light on issues of the day. A Lot of People Are Saying: The New Conspiracism and the Assault on Democracy by Russell Muirhead, Nancy L. Rosenblum felt like the right book for today’s wild political climate.

A Lot of People Are Saying Cover

The strange state of Google Short Links

You might remember the recent sunsetting of Google’s URL shortener.  This was something I took notice of because it meant that the url.cwl.cc service (based on their link shortener) was going to be shut down. Right? To be fair, I took notice, but also didn’t do much at the time. March 30, 2019, came and went and I could still use the service. 2020 arrived, and the service was still functioning. Now, more than a year and a half past the end, I can still create short links. This is perhaps the biggest oddity I have ever seen from Google.

Google's Link Shortener

Bond, Jim Bond

With recent news exploding with talk about a possible Tom Hardy Bond casting and, well, this being the year (hopefully) another James Bond movie is released; I decided to dig into some lore around the character. In the process, I came across The Real James Bond: A True Story of Identity Theft, Avian Intrigue, and Ian Fleming. This book doesn’t cover much about secret agent James Bond, Ian Fleming or much identity theft for that matter. This is primarily about the man whose name was lifted from a book cover to (somewhat randomly) name the world’s most popular Mi6 agent.

Piranesi – a world of prisons and obsessions

Every so often a book comes along that, once I start reading it, I’m so deeply enthralled that I absolutely must finish. This became that kind of book. I felt as if I was the rather innocent Piranesi himself, picking up clues yet not knowing exactly the grander significance.  As it all unravelled in front of me, I descended deeper. Not purposely, but I devoted an entire afternoon to soak up the constructed world that is “The House.” It is hard to imagine for me that a book of mere 272 pages could be so interesting and layered.

Piranesi Cover

Piranesi Cover

Goodreads really sucks. We book readers deserve much more.

Goodreads Recommendations

Hate for the book-tracking, Amazon-owned Goodreads is near-universal. Since Amazon purchased the tool on March 28, 2013, Goodreads has languished in a kind of purgatory that would have doubled over any Google moonshots (Google loves to shut down stuff). For all its pains, Goodreads is so frustrating because it has value. Any attempt to improve our experience as book readers has to transfer over this value to be a worthy replacement, but none have come along. Let me get into this a bit more though.

The age of lies and fake news

Source: Mikey on Flickr

Fibs, half-truths, lies and the liars that tell them. There’s now a clear sense in this 2020 U.S. election season that our reality is being shaped by those who craft false stories – what’s left is equally false outrage and more lies. I can’t really point to the moment all of this started, but technology plays a very large role in getting us here. We’re living in societies that move lies as fast as light travels across a fibre cable.

How to gather email addresses from mail and other data to create a list

"email" by Sean MacEntee is licensed under CC BY 2.0

A disclaimer, you shouldn’t just add people to a newsletter list indiscriminately. You should endeavour to get them to opt-in in every way possible. Another other option sucks. While what I describe is a bit of a special case, all the addresses that I extracted were used to solicit opt-ins.

Right, so my problem here was that a client asked needed to extract data from a few disparate sources and build a clean, usable list of email addresses. Certainly, no small feat since some of this was going to have to come out of an email account itself. I wasn’t even going to benefit from working from contacts either – addresses had to come from the messages themselves. I’m going to describe what I did to get there.

Also, this only relates to work with data locally. This does not describe scraping email addresses off websites, etc. That may be another challenge for another day.