If you will allow my musing, I launched a couple killer new features to my Twitter Bot the other day that I’d like to pat myself on the back about.

My Twitter Bot now retweets other Twitter accounts posts!

Wow Terri, that’s revolutionary (NOT!) you say?

Well here’s some other details about why I think it’s pretty awesome:

  • It pulls tweets from a curated (private) Twitter list of relevant and semi-relevant accounts
  • It grabs the most recent (40 or so) post and gives them each a rating based on criteria like:
    • Is there a link? [+]
    • Have others retweeted it? [+++]
    • Are specific keywords in the tweet? [+]
    • Does it use hash tags [+], and if it does see if it uses TOO many (too many #tags = spam IMHO) [-]

With me yet? Awesome.

There was also an existing feature that automatically followed other Twitter accounts if their Twitter accounts were detected in the content of the 3rd party API I pull data from. Now it now only follows them but also adds them to a “staging list” or the curated list mentioned above, but only if their recent tweets prove relevant enough to qualify them.

A couple other tid-bits of information about the Twitter bot:

  • I get about 10x more @mentions than my personal account and more RT’s (which adds more @ mentions thanks to the system that thanks the RT’ers)
  • It hasn’t been blocked as spam thanks to the system performing self-checks to ensure duplicate content isn’t constantly posted (usually a lag of 3-7 days between repeats) well and cause I don’t spam people with annoying @ mentions

Also: I hadn’t touched it for more than a month and a half (yes I got lazy about REAL posting) and during that time it was performing beautifully & carrying on simple conversations with it’s followers. Granted the simple conversations included my “random post” asking my followers a general conversational question and them responding or the account posting some other automated tweet, another account RTing that, my bot thanking them and them responding to the thank you.

If you don’t think that’s cool and wish you had access to my GIT repo we may not be friends anymore.

If there are specific parts that I’ve described that you’d like me to go into coding detail about please let me know in the comments; I would love to go into detail but don’t have the time to explain ALL of it so request away ladies & gents!

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Post image for Braided Rag Rug in Progress

Yea I know, this is usually a code blog but I’m a crafter at heart and I really wanted to share some of the things I’ve learned with the online community!

A month back I decided to try my hand a quilting. All went well until I had to stitch together then sandwich (the front, back and batting) and as it would turn out, my machine is just not up-to-snuff for that. While researching and learning more about quilting I came across the moda bakeshop, and when I looked in my craft pile this weekend to figure out what I could make next I saw the perfect opportunity for a braided rag rug.

Before diving in headfirst I made a little braided coaster that taught me a few things:

  1. A 3 strand braid is frustrating to work with because it’s not completely flat. Learning a new braid that may lay flatter would be beneficial for my sanity on a larger project
  2. If you’re concerned about frays either cut on a bias or iron. Even just ironing strips in half helps combat excessive frays and also help make sure the pretty side of the fabric shows more consistently
  3. Sewing this is going to be a cuss fest

But I was still on board! I used about 4 fat quarters probably about 3/4 of a yard of other remnants and started cutting away 1.5″ strips using my rotary cutter. I ironed everything in half and stitched the shorter pieces from the fat quarters into longer ~40″ strips. If you are in the market for a rotary butter and a mat (ie. new to quilting/rug making) I recommend getting a set that has a mat & ruler 18″ long. The length really helps a lot! My mat is maybe only 6″ wide but I’d buy a 6″x18″ mat over any smaller more squared size any day of the week. A good rotary cutter is helpful – my next investment will be one that I can use a pinking blade on!

I used a 5 strand flat braid technique from this post and got on my way braiding about 15′ of 1″ wide braid.

15 feet of braided fabric - gonna need more!

According to the posts I’ve read online to start an oval rug (mine will be 4’x2′ to run next to my bed) you need to start with the seam in the length of the difference. (IE. 4 – 2 = 2, so I must start my oval with a 2′ length). Here’s one of the posts that I found a lot of information from rug braiding on crafttown.com as well as rug braiding techniques on Rugmaker’s Homestead

Sewing the coasters with a nightmare so I think with the rug I’ve started to use a lacing technique I’ve read about and using a nylon cord I had around the house.

Of course, 15′ into the braid all the posts I’m reading recommend you start coiling once you have enough for your first round, which would be 2′ for my seam, then 4′ to go around that. Those recommendations are based on the fact that you’ll likely need to un-braid and re-braid those strands to get the center to lay flat. This piece of advice seems to be prevalent in all the posts I’ve read: If you center doesn’t lay flat there’s no way the rest of your rug will!

Because of that advice I picked up some more fabric and started my center so I could get the first bend correct. Took 4 tries braiding the round, un-braiding and then trying again to get a bend I was happy with. I’ll finish up the yellow that I have then work the multi-color braid around that for a few time around then add a few rows of a purple on the outside.

Yellow center of the rug with the first bend

I used the instructions to braid the first round from this no-sew rag rug tutorial. The rug in that tutorial isn’t quite my style (I like the geometric patters from the braids and the coil much better) but the part about making the first round (with pics!!!) proved very helpful for making my 5 strand braid bend around that first time.

Here’s one woman’s rainbow rug for a nursery made from jersey knit, an Etsy shop full of inspirational rag rugs, and a flickr braided rug group with tons of photos for ideas on color palettes, patterns and much more!

Other lessons learned:

  • When braiding 5 stands (thought I suspect this is true with 3 or 4 as well) your end braid is about 1/2 the length of your original strands
  • A healthy mix of solids and patterns looks fabulous. I used a batik deep purple, a blue/green/beige pattern, a purple/green/beige stripe, a bright (nearly patternless) yellow and a very neutral patterned white/beige. I think the mix is enchanting so far and I can’t wait to line the inside and outside with some solid purple and yellows when I find the right colors
  • When starting the 5 stand braid DON’T stitch the fabrics together and DON’T just lay them atop each other. Use a safety pin (quilting or a diaper pin for strength/security) and fold each piece in half and string it on sideways. You’ll have a much cleaner start that way. When the fabrics are atop each other it will take a few stitches of the braid (and a few inches) to order itself out
  • I encourage lots of mixing and matching, striped, solids, prints, plaids, anything really! Using cotton was an obvious choice for me cause it’s the remnant I had already, but it’s a nice light weight fabric that braid easily and i would recommend it to anyone just trying out rag rug making.
  • Never underestimate the learning process of making a smaller project first. Coasters, place mats, decorative under a candle type pieces. There’s a lot to learn and ruining your first big project with a new craft is not always the best way to get started with new technique!

Close up of my multi color 5 strand braid

Resources and Links

While doing my research I came across a lot of great articles about braiding rag rugs. I’ve separated them out to no sew and do sew tutorials, though no matter the method you choose remember that lacing can be used in place of sewing (for the most part) and the do sew are often hand sewing rather than machine sewing. When in doubt: wing it!

General Braided Rug Resources

No Sew Rag Rug Tutorials

Do Sew Rag Rug Tutorials

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Automated Tweets: Rules of the Road

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Auto Tweeting

I thought about just amending this to each of the posts in this series but I think it’s an important enough topic to cover on it’s own. Twitter has rules and even though everyone else doesn’t follow then you should. Now their listed rules of the road are subject to some interpretation but if you […]

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Extending Code Ignitor’s Loader / View Classes

One of my Code Ignitor based projects desperately needed a iPhone view. I didn’t have many requirements but I knew I needed to find a way to do the following NOT restructure the architecture of my existing controllers or models Display the same content in a slightly different format Use the same URLs and not […]

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Auto Tweeting Random Tweets

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Auto Tweeting

The first twitter bot I created for a site was an ugly critter. It consisted of ~30 pre-constructed tweets that the cronjob would randomly go through. Some messages were double posted, some were too similar and it was just terrible. I didn’t track numbers but I’m wiling to bet I lost a lot of REAL […]

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Auto Tweeting User’s Actions on Your Site (Part 1)

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Auto Tweeting

Automated tweets are the worst, right? What about intelligently automated tweets with a splash of randomness, some spinning as well as name and link dropping? You with me now? Let’s take a ride through a bit of back story. Looking for Code? If you are just looking for code you are in the wrong place. […]

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cURL on Local WAMP Returns Empty! (Solved)

Okay so let me first clarify this is not specific to WAMP server but may well be an issue there as well. XAMPP may also have this problem but I don’t know because I don’t use it. I installed each Apache, PHP and MySQL manually to my Windows 7 machine and had this problem. The […]

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CodeIgniter Using _remap() and Named Methods

One of the most important methods I’ve found in CodeIgnitor is the _remap() method. When you use it within a controller it hiijacks all other methods and does your bidding. This is great when you have a controller Article.php and you want the 2nd value in your urls to be the ID number or a […]

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Duplicate or Clone a CodeIgniter Controller, by Extending it!

I was working on a project a while back using CodeIgnitor and had a kind-of unusual case where I was developing two completely identical controllers and I needed to streamline the way I updated them. I hated adding changes line by line so I looked into using helpers, models or libraries. After some research, tearing […]

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Nice Unit aka. Nice Ads – AdSense Link Units as Tabs

Thumbnail image for Nice Unit aka. Nice Ads – AdSense Link Units as Tabs

Spend 2 years at an ad network and you start to notice the clever ways that companies, designers and webmasters implement their ads. Here’s one example that I though was particularly clever, though probably against the AdSense policy.

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