This blog is gone elsewhere!

To facilitate the sharing of contents, I’ve decided to move my personal work blog to Tumblr. Thus, The Rice Cooker has now become The Electric Rice Cooker.

Android Ice Cream Sandwich on a Pandaboard

I got myself a Pandaboard a few weeks ago. It’s a community-supported fan-less board sponsored by Texas Instruments. It sports their OMAP 4430 chip, which is the same CPU as found in the Kindle Fire, Motorola Droid RAZR and a bunch of other smartphones (the Galaxy Nexus has its successor, the 4460).

So, when I first got it, I installed Ubuntu Linux (Linaro) on it. Used it very little, and sort of figured out the basics, such as installing an Apache webserver, but finally noticing that it lacked support for things I wanted to try out, such as Google Video Chat (which is not yet available for an ARM architecture, the one commonly found in most smartphones today).

So, I instead followed instructions on a YouTube video from the Pandaboard website that said you could install Android 4.0. And turns out you could, by following the instructions (you can find clearer instructions on the Web). So, now I have Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on the board… Next step is to figure out how to get (or just wait for) the Google Apps (Gmail, Gtalk, etc.), and support for basic hardware such as video and audio capture.

In terms of media and journalism, there is perhaps some potential to create new ways to interact with information, by plugging a projector and some sensors to detect human input. In computing power, the Pandaboard is probably as powerful as a top of the line smartphone, yet at a much lower price of US$178 (but then, so flashy touchscreen). The form factor is interesting for embedded systems, which is something I only discovered this year.

New attributes in Sina Weibo API’s V2

Sina released a second version of their API about a month ago. It’s good to mention that we have moved some of our crawling scripts along to V2.

Of our interest, the status entity now had the following new attributes that can be used:

  • reposts_count
  • comments_count
  • mlevel

The first two are self-explanatory. The third probably means “maturity level”. We’re happy to get the first two and think it was about time that Sina start giving us exact numbers. To their defense, repost (and comment) numbers on Sina Weibo are much much higher than on Twitter, because status entities are much better preserved on Sina (on Twitter, those attention hoggers just keep re-writing posts to include their names).

  • allow_all_comment
  • avatar_large
  • verified_reason
  • bi_followers_count
  • verified_type
  • lang

It’s to be noted that the last two, verified_type and lang, were not documented yet, and I saw them just this afternoon (and promptly made it be reflected on our scripts). They are self-explanatory. Unlike for Twitter, Sina verification can be of several levels. My Weibo account is “verified”, but just because I was verified to be a JMSC employee (not because I am famous, bah). There are corpo accounts that get a different kind of verification, and there are probably others that I’m not certain about (power users?). “lang” is very interesting. We have mobile clients in English; we have Web interfaces in Traditional (for Taiwan) and Simplified Chinese (for the mainland). So, is Sina really preparing international versions?


After several e-mails from the audience, we do acknowledge that we also faced some auth problems, but were also lucky to have started the project early, such we don’t face some of the other problems (such as the need to specify in the devapp whether we are foreigners). I don’t know if it has anything to do with the rate limits you end up getting.

We’ve also had a few problems with the friendship (friends / followers) functions in V1. Those are still there in V2. Namely, the site won’t work with just OAuth. You also had to have cookies (thus a Web browser accessing the API URL, while signed on your Sina account). If you see some inconsistencies, feel free to e-mail us.

We’re submitting our social media project final report this week. So, expect in the next weeks (not months, I hope) that we release the tools we developed in the wild pretty soon. Some of them are already up on our GitHub.

We are now on GitHub!

Naturally, to share code, there is no equal to GitHub, a Web-based hosting service for code using the popular Git revision control. In plain language, it means that the code that I am writing, mostly for the JMSC nowadays, will be available on GitHub.

To start things, I put some of the Python scripts that I wrote for our online social media research project:

For those who are unfamiliar with GitHub, it has been ubiquitous whenever I needed source code (mostly for compiling into usable programs). I assume that many people already know of SourceForge, the open-source code repository started at the turn of the century. GitHub innovates compared with by decentralizing version control.

For starters,