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Call me Dr. Geoff

I don’t often write personal blog entries, but this warranted it. As of just a couple weeks ago, I am officially not a student anymore. I am not a student. I’ve been a student for, what, 25 years straight? To suddenly not be a student and have the freedoms (and salary) that come with that is jarring. And to top it off, not only am I not a student, but I now have a Ph.D. People can call me Dr. Geoff.

dissertation page 1 Here are some stats on my dissertation, titled Improving Disease Surveillance: Sentinel Surveillance Network Design and Novel Uses of Wikipedia:

  • page count: 151
  • word count: 34,573
  • character count (with spaces): 222,941
  • number of references: 198
  • number of tables: 10
  • number of figures: 16

The dissertation will be posted on The University of Iowa’s Institutional Repository some time soon. It’ll be open access. I’m really proud of it. Once it’s published, I’ll post a link here in case anyone wants to read it.

My defense couldn’t have gone better. All the publicity our Global Disease Monitoring and Forecasting with Wikipedia paper has gotten, which just so happens to be chapter 3 of my dissertation, couldn’t have been timed better. I may be a little biased, but chapter 4 of my dissertation, which uses some natural language processing techniques to elicit disease information from article content, is pretty damn cool stuff too. That paper should be submitted in about a month.

I’ll be sticking around Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). I’ve become quite fond of this place. I work with some amazingly talented people on some extremely cool work. I mean, we did a Reddit AMA that hit the front page! Besides that, LANL is located in a really neat little town that suits me perfectly; it has one of the best climates I’ve ever experienced, and it’s great for biking in the summer and snowboarding in the winter.

Overall, I feel like a tremendous stress has been lifted from my shoulders. I can now work with fewer distractions and more tenacity. Perhaps more importantly, I no longer feel guilty for doing fun things in my off time. Grad school has this inherent ability to make you feel guilty when you’re not working. It’s certainly nothing my advisor (Alberto Segre) or LANL mentor (Sara Del Valle) pushed on me; it’s just something all grad students feel. I’ve always maintained that’s it’s incredibly important to separate work from life, but when you’re in grad school, that’s often easier said than done.

During the decompression phase after my defense, I realized that I’ve never gone on a vacation. Sure, I’ve done little weekend snowboarding trips or backpacking trips, but I’ve never taken a real vacation. How could I? I’ve been a student practically since I was born! In the short term, I’m going to be snowboarding a lot. I’m going on a cruise with my sister and some good friends in late January. I want to travel a lot next summer; I’m thinking about a long motorcycle trip with my buddy Rajeev.

Whatever happens, I am done with school. Forever. Here’s to the next phase of life!

How to fix the Home/End/Page Up/Page Down keys for OS X terminal and vim

People all over the internet complain about Apple’s (incorrect) mapping of the Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down keys. I spend a lot of time in the terminal and in vim, and it’s important to me that these keys function properly. Here’s what I needed to do in order to get these keys working properly in the terminal and in vim:

  1. Open up the terminal preferences.
  2. Go to the Settings tab, and select the desired profile.
  3. Go to the profile’s Keyboard tab.
  4. Add (or edit) the Home key so that it sends this text to the shell: \033OH
  5. Add (or edit) the End key so that it sends this text to the shell: \033OF
  6. Add (or edit) the Page Up key so that it sends this text to the shell: \033[5~
  7. Add (or edit) the Page Down key so that it sends this text to the shell: \033[6~

There are some other commonly recommended sequences (e.g., \033[1~ instead of \033OH), but the sequences above are the only sequences I’ve found that work in both the terminal and vim.

More changes to Digsby’s Python package manager and SA’s emoticons

I decided to alter my Python script that automates the process of the creation of the Digsby SA emoticons package.  I’m changing it so that it will automate the creation of the emoticon pack for other IM clients (namely, Adium, Miranda IM, and Pidgin).  tweekmonster of SA seems to have disappeared off the face of the Earth, and his SA emoticons page is doing wonky things (why does it contain 523 emoticons when SA’s smilies page has only 376?).  I figured I’d rewrite it correctly and put it up on my website.  The changes to my Python script are almost complete, and then I just need to add the web frontend.  This will hopefully be done this weekend.  🙂

Well, for right now, I’ve decided not to do this.  I may change my mind sometime in the future.  Right now, I’m content with just maintaining the Digsby SA emotes.

More on the Digsby SA emoticon pack, NextHub news

I wrote my own packaging solution in Python for the Digsby SA emoticon package that I’ve been maintaining.  I was previously downloading the Gaim SA emote package from the SA emoticon pack site and modifying it manually to fit Digsby, but it didn’t seem right.  For some reason, the package has way more emoticons than SA actually has (SA has 373, but the SA emoticon site’s package has 520).  I figured I’d just write my own package manager.

My solution checks to see if there is an update, and if there is, it’ll automatically download all the emoticons, create the emoticons.txt file, and then package the whole thing up into a zip file with a file name like SA-emotes-[date].zip.  The whole process is completely automated.  All I have to do is run the script and then upload the file to the digsbies site.

If you want the Python source code, feel free to ask, and I’ll post it. It’s my first real Python program, and it’d probably be useful to a fellow Python newbie since it demonstrates many of the language’s features (regex, lists, dictionaries, downloading from the web, crypto, compression, file I/O, etc).

In other news related to NextHub, Andy has been working on a NextHub client (he’s calling it NextClient).  It’s still pretty rough, but it’s in SVN now, so if you’re curious, you should definitely check it out (pun intended)!

Digsby emoticon page

My Digsby emoticon pack has been gaining popularity, so I figured I’d split it off and add a separate page just for that pack. This is where you’ll get the download link and instructions for using it.  I’ll no longer be maintaining the default.7z file on my site.  I will now be releasing the updated emoticon pack on the digsbies site.  You can find the project link on my Digsby emoticon page.

Digsby emoticon page:

Digsby SA Emoticons

I’ve been maintaining the SA emoticon pack for Digsby for the official Something Awful Digsby thread. Here is where you can get the emoticon pack. Alongside the emoticons, I’ve added 2 batch files: 1 for XP and 1 for Vista/Windows 7. These batch files will automatically backup your old emoticons and copy over the new ones for you. Make sure that Digsby is not running when you install these emoticons. These batch files must be run from the same drive letter where Digsby was installed (most likely, C:).


If you use this emoticon pack, please let me know how you like it.

Updated Digsby SA emoticon package

The Digsby SA emoticon pack that I maintain has been updated to include 2 batch files for auto-backup of your old emoticons and auto-install of the new ones.  The batch files are simple.  Here’s the code for emotemove-32.bat which is for 32-bit systems:

SET OLD_LOCATION="program filesdigsbyresemoticonsdefault-bak"
SET NEW_LOCATION="program filesdigsbyresemoticonsdefault"
echo "Copying files.  Please wait...."
copy default* %NEW_LOCATION%*
echo "Done!"

The code for emotemove-64.bat is the exact same except that the default directories are in program files (x86) instead of program files.

Thanks to ryanbruce and Tedronai66 on SA for these easy installation scripts.

SA Emoticons for Digsby

A few posts ago, I mentioned how I’d like 3rd-party support for emoticons for Digsby.  I said I’ve been using the SA emoticon pack for a long time with Pidgin.  What I didn’t say is that I’ve been maintaining this pack for Digsby for the official SA Digsby thread.  If you wish to get this emoticon pack, all you have to do is download this file and extract it to /res/emoticons/default/ in your Digsby install folder.  Also, know that every time Digsby comes out with an update, you’ll need to re-extract these files to that folder since it overwrites the emoticons.txt file.

Let me know if you use this, and let me know if you have any issues with it.  I’ll try to keep it updated as often as possible.

Digsby Rocks

I’ve been using Digsby for the past month or so, and I have to post here to help give it some publicity. Digsby’s a new IM application that’s not just an IM app…it’s also an e-mail and social networking application. Currently, it’s in beta, but the developers are quite impressive. They’re dedicated, and they fix problems and add new features constantly. It’s definitely worth checking out. See some sample screenshots for an idea of what it looks like and how it functions.

There’re a few things I’d like to see Digsby add/improve upon:

  • I’d like to see OTR implemented. OTR is a commonly supported cross-platform plugin for many chat clients that allows private chats. It’s supported in Adium natively, Pidgin, Miranda, and virtually any other chat client via the OTR localhost proxy. There’re tons of very solid implementations out there, and it shouldn’t be too challenging to incorporate it natively into Digsby.
  • I’d like to have the ability to hide new messages when away. This is extremely useful if I’m at work. If my boss comes in, for example, to discuss something with me, I’d rather not have an IM pop up in the middle of our discussion. Pidgin does this very nicely by hiding new IMs in the system tray, and I’d like to see Digsby implement something similar. Until then, Pidgin will have to remain my primarily IM application at work.
  • I’d like to see TLS encryption support for IMAP/POP e-mail.
  • I’d like to see native support for 3rd-party emoticon packs. I’ve historically used the SA emoticon pack, and although it can be modded and manually put into Digsby, the original Digsby emoticons must be overwritten, and this seems like a rather sloppy hack.
  • I’d like to see a plugin architecture. That way, if the devs choose not to implement something like OTR or support for 3rd-party emoticon packs, a 3rd-party developer could write a plugin that would support them.
  • I’d like to see a better history searcher added in. Currently, in order to do any sort of meaningful search of log files, the Windows search must be used, and this is clunky. This would be rather simple to implement, and I suspect it will be implemented soon.
  • Memory usage is fairly massive right now. At any one time, it’s typically hovering around 75-100mb. This figure should still be able to be decreased rather significantly.

Even with all those wishes, Digsby right now is still my client of choice (I’m coming from Pidgin). It’s still beta software, though, and it’s got a ways to go. I’m very impressed so far, and this project is shaping up to revolutionize the IM world.

Oh, and don’t forget that Digsby is coming to Mac and Linux! Very cool!