This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at abulsme@abulsme.com are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.

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Secret Project Done: Wiki of the Day podcasts

I just finished a secret project! It is THREE brand new podcasts I am officially launching as of right now. I hope you will check them out!

These are quite a bit different than Curmudgeon’s Corner, the podcast I have done with Ivan Bou since 2007 where we talk about current events each week. That podcast will continue as always. (If you aren’t already listening to that, you should of course check it out too!)

Instead, these are short quick hit podcasts. Little bursts of knowledge to enlighten your day. Just a few minutes long each. Often shorter than 2 minutes long in fact. The podcasts consist of the summaries of Wikipedia articles. Each of the three choose which articles to highlight in a bit different way. Because it is just the summaries, not the whole articles, they are quick digestible chunks of information.

I of course don’t have the time or consistency to create three podcast episodes every day, even 2 minute podcasts. So the trick here is that these are fully automated podcasts. There will be new episodes every day, even if I am super busy and swamped with other things. Now that things are all set up, they will (hopefully) just run on auto-pilot unless I decide I need or want to change something.

The idea for these had been percolating in my head for a couple months, and a little over two weeks ago I pulled the trigger and started working on it an hour here and an hour there as I had time. Basically, the daily topics are chosen from Wikipedia APIs or RSS feeds, I pull the content from Wikipedia using another API, then I generate the actual audio for the podcast using Amazon Polly and assemble the Podcast RSS feeds. I also set up a website… wikioftheday.com… that dynamically shows the most recent episodes of each Podcast, gives easy access to old episodes, and has a detail page for each episode with the text of the episode script. I did most of this with PHP since I’m pretty familiar with that, with a few Unix shell bits where that was more convenient.

It was fun to do, and I hope at least a few people will find the actual podcasts interesting too. Go to wikioftheday.com and you can check them all out and listen to a few of the episodes that have been produced so far. There are just a handful so far, but there will be new ones every day!

They are indeed read by computerized voices… a bunch of different ones episode to episode for variety… but that technology has come a long way in the last few years, and they are actually pretty decent to listen to.

I’ve started to submit the three podcasts to the directories for this sort of thing, but it will take awhile for them to start actually showing up when you search for them in your podcast player of choice. So for the moment if you want to subscribe, you’ll have to tell your podcast player app to subscribe manually using the link to the feeds. Below are descriptions of the three podcast along with the feed links. Please subscribe! And listen!

For each of the three, I exclude articles with no summaries or really short summaries. I exclude “articles” that are just lists, disambiguation pages (which John Smith did you want to know about?), and other pages of that type. I also have each of the three podcasts set to not repeat the same article within 100 days, even if it comes up again in the source feed. Stuff like that.

Anyway, please check them out, and subscribe if you enjoy them! And let me know what you think of them! :-)

Oh… and tell your friends about them too!

I appreciate it!

ALeXMXeLA Episode 100!!

We have just posted the 100th episode to Alex’s YouTube channel. You can watch above, or go to ALeXMXeLA.com to subscribe. He decided not to do anything special for the 100th episode other than continuing to play through the Portal 2 Community Test Chamber series called “Into the Multiverse” that we were in the middle of. You can watch all of our play through of this series that has been published so far here.

He continues to record new episodes faster than I have been able to push them out to YouTube. Episode 100 was recorded way back on May 29th. The most recent episode, recorded this Tuesday, will be Episode 240 when I eventually get around to getting it posted…

He has 25 subscribers now and is very serious about his channel. He may only be six, but he knows what he wants!

Subscribe and tell your friends to subscribe too! :-)

Curmudgeon’s Corner and Election Graphs Demographics

Presented without comment other than… “Interesting”.

Demographics of those liking the Facebook pages for my podcast and my election tracker:

Curmudgeon’s Corner

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Election Graphs

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Why Six Year Olds Shouldn’t Fly Planes

We are way behind in posting the episodes, but back in May Alex celebrated the 10th subscriber to ALeXMXeLA.com by spending two episodes flying various planes in X-Plane 10. Especially in the last few minutes of the first of these (starting at about the 17 minute mark) you can imagine what horrors you might experience if you were in a 747 piloted by a six year old. In the second episode he gets a bit better, although you probably still wouldn’t want to be on that plane. Anyway, enjoy!

Daddy’s Visitor

When I got home from work Friday evening, I told a story of something that had happened to me (and a visitor) on the way home from work. Alex insisted that I had to write it down, with pictures, and make a book right away… so that we could remember the story. So I did. I guess what resulted is my first children’s book. Although…

Anyway, here it is:

Scan 2

Scan 4

Scan 5

Scan 6

Scan 7

Scan 8

Scan 3

Uh, OK, I know, cheery ending. Oops.

Trick or Treat 2014

What’s that I see on Wednesday?

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Bad Idea?

I told him I would let him try… So there we go. Alex cutting my hair.

But we are now both on the way to the barber for our periodic joint haircuts. He really wants to keep his hair long though, so just a trim for him. He doesn’t even want that, but we are going anyway. We shall see how cooperative he is.

I want mine short again. We considered actually doing mine at home, but Brandy didn’t like my plan of “just go vroop vroop vroop with the beard trimmer across my whole head”. So barber it is… After letting Alex have his try first of course.

Last Day of my Staycation

I took the last week off from work for the purpose of working on a variety of personal projects.

The above is the timelapse from my home office webcam for my last real day of vacation. Hit play to start it. I’m currently experimenting with a fisheye lens so you can see the whole room, although with a bit of distortion. But this way you can see what Alex, Roscoe, and if you don’t blink Amy too, are doing in the room, rather than just seeing a closer view of me at my desk. :-)

It has been a good week.  I got a few things done, although of course not as much as I would have liked. I made a decision early in the week not to worry too much about it, and also use the time to just take it slow and relax a bit. So I didn’t push myself.  I’m still a bit under the weather and tired…  and I’ll probably end up trying to finish a few more things over the weekend even though that is harder when Alex isn’t in school. So I’m not sure I’ll head back to work fully relaxed and rejuvenated, but it was still good to take the week.  I should use my vacation and personal days a bit more than I do.  I always end up leaving those on the table because I don’t use them.

Anyway, good week over all.  Glad I did it.  :-)

Hours of Doctor Who per Calendar Year (1963-2013)

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The first new Doctor Who of 2014 airs on August 23rd, less than a month away, with a new Doctor to boot.

So with that in mind, I present a chart I worked up showing just how much of the show there has been in the 50 year history of the show.  As you can see, there has been a lot of variation over the years.  To date, there were more hours in 1964 than in any other year, with 19 hours, 2 minutes and 12 seconds of Doctor Who. That record looks pretty secure.

(Source: Wikipedia)