I’ve been a terrible blogger lately, but I’m going to be catching up on writing very soon. (Yes, I always say that.) I’ve got about as many “blog posts yet to write” as I have projects — and I’ve got an interesting plethora of those as of late.
…Actually, let’s talk about some of those for a minute. I plan on discussing a few of these at length over the next couple weeks (as big news is on the horizon for some), but here’s a collection of some things I’ve been working on since I last wrote:
Tabula is a browser tool that extracts data tables from PDF files — and turns them into CSVs for use in Excel and etc. We announced the initial release of the project back in April, and I presented a boatload of updates at the IRE conference last month — spoiler alert, we plan to have automagical detection and extraction working in the coming weeks. [GitHub repo]
Time Traveller is a little Foursquare app developed during a two-day hackathon hosted by the New York Public Library’s NYPL Labs division. We mashed up Foursquare’s checkin API with an NYPL-hosted photo collection (and geo locations) to provide users with historical photos near them. The app was even featured on the official Foursquare Blog. [GitHub repo]
CivOmega is a cheekily-named “Wolfram Alpha for civic data” built during a Knight-Mozilla-MIT-sponsored hackday. The idea was to create a more human (and humane) interface for wading through publicly-available data. The concept uses APIs from Census Reporter and the Sunlight Foundation, but is designed around a modular framework so that new data sources can be added fairly easily. [GitHub repo]
Nonprofit Explorer is a tool we’ve been working on at ProPublica, using nonprofit filing data that the IRS only recently has started to digitize. Using a search engine to provide powerful sorting and filtering, we hope to create a useful "broad picture" tool that can supplement websites like GuideStar and Charity Navigator.
I’ve been working on an internal fork of Cryptocat for ProPublica — mostly to solve some design/UI annoyances. (No crypto code was harmed in the making of this fork.)
To that end, I helped set up a local Jabber/XMPP server that supports both Cryptocat and normal person-to-person XMPP clients (like Pidgin and Adium). I’ll probably talk about the configuration and securing aspects sometime soon.
Oh, and unrelated to most of the above: I recently updated the public gist of my server configuration, featuring advice on configuring SSL ciphers and a description of how I serve this site as a Tor hidden service. (Using Tor? Check it out: tigas3l7uusztiqu.onion)
I’ve probably forgotten something in there… But you’ll hear back from me soon enough.
(Are you a developer-ish person? Do these projects sound interesting to you? You should check out the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews Project, get involved with the gang, and apply to be a 2014 fellow. Seriously, check it out.)