About

Ian Ozsvald picture

This is Ian Ozsvald's blog, I'm an entrepreneurial geek, a Data Science/ML/NLP/AI consultant, founder of the Annotate.io social media mining API, author of O'Reilly's High Performance Python book, co-organiser of PyDataLondon, co-founder of the SocialTies App, author of the A.I.Cookbook, author of The Screencasting Handbook, a Pythonista, co-founder of ShowMeDo and FivePoundApps and also a Londoner. Here's a little more about me.

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7 November 2010 - 23:28£5 App #23 – “Things we built this summer”

Last Tuesday we had our 23rd £5 App event, given that it is only our second event this year we chose to let people “show and tell” about the things they built this summer. We had 9 speakers, I bought the beer, John baked the cakes.

Shardcore and the Englightenment Machine

Shardcore‘s Enlightenment Machine was installed at the WhiteNight festival a week back, here he explains what’s going on:

£5 App #23 – Shardcore and the Enlightenment Machine from Ian Ozsvald on Vimeo.

Jon and Digestly

Jon‘s Digestly lets you summarise tweets which can then be sent by email to e.g. your mum who wants to hear more about you:

£5 App #23 – Jon and Digestly from Ian Ozsvald on Vimeo.

Ian (me!) and the Social Microprinter

My Social Microprinter is a CBM 231 receipt printer + Arduino + WiShield + remote server, it prints tweets and useful info using a regular shop’s receipt printer via serial:

£5 App #23 – Ian and the Social Microprinter from Ian Ozsvald on Vimeo.

John and the Arduino Doorbell

John’s Arduino-powered door-bell couples a regular remote-control doorbell with lego, wood and a big bell:

£5 App #23 – John and the Arduino Doorbell from Ian Ozsvald on Vimeo.

Seb and Geek Family Fortunes

Seb built a Family Fortunes clone recently (we played it at BarCamp Brighton) using Flash, Nun-chucks and an iPad:

£5 App #23 – Seb and Geek Family Fortunes from Ian Ozsvald on Vimeo.

Emily and SocialTies on the iPhone

Emily is working on an iPhone app with me that we’ve named SocialTies, it helps you find your friends and ‘similar people’ when you’re at an event or conference. It was inspired by the fruitless hours I’ve spent at events wondering if I’ll ever find anyone I know…

£5 App #23 – Emily and SocialTies from Ian Ozsvald on Vimeo.

Kyran and JavaScript Social Graph Visualisations

Kyran and I have been working on some social graph visualisations, Kyran’s interface lets you see where you sit in an event’s social network whilst reading real-time updates from attendees:

£5 App #23 – Kyran and JavaScript Social Graph Visualisations from Ian Ozsvald on Vimeo.

Mike and the Tardis Money Bank

Mike’s Tardis Money Bank was designed to help him and son keep tabs on pocket money. It has gone on to be used by many families since its launch:

£5 App #23 – Mike and the Tardis Bank from Ian Ozsvald on Vimeo.

Jay and Twitter Election Predictions

Jay’s real-time election results predictor read Twitter during the UK elections, the results were interestingly accurate:

£5 App #23 – Jay and using Twitter to Predict Elections from Ian Ozsvald on Vimeo.

If you’re interested in keeping tabs on future events or would like to speak please join our £5 App Google Group.


Ian applies Data Science as an AI/Data Scientist for companies in ModelInsight, sign-up for Data Science tutorials in London. Historically Ian ran Mor Consulting. He also founded the image and text annotation API Annotate.io, co-authored SocialTies, programs Python, authored The Screencasting Handbook, lives in London and is a consumer of fine coffees.

No Comments | Tags: Entrepreneur, projectbrightonblogs, sussexdigital, £5 App Meet

6 November 2010 - 16:04Building a Social Microprinter

Over the last couple of months I’ve been building up a social microprinter (inspired by Tom Taylor‘s implementation and Matt Webb‘s original idea). Here’s the current version – Arduino+WiShield+CBM231+off-site server (powered partly by BenOSteen’s Python driver):

There’s a second quick video and talk for the £5 App event I ran earlier in the week.

The goal is to build a social microprinter – a printer that’d live in a social environment (currently The Skiff co-working office in Brighton) which would help bring people a little bit closer. Currently it prints tweets (for ‘theskiff’) and shows events, later it’ll show recent Gowalla check-ins and maybe some local news headlines or the weather (but there’s got to be better stuff to show, right?…ideas on a postcard please).

My original intent was to build a device that could be stuck on the wall in a cafe, it would show tweets on a screen (probably under the cafe’s or Brighton’s hashtag) and let non-Internet folk post their own messages back. Doing this nicely would have needed a screen, machine, wall space etc – using a receipt printer seemed like an easy way to prototype the idea.

Jumping forward, here’s an early version – this is a CBM231 connected to my Ubuntu laptop via a USB->RS232 lead (note – this lead is good, the cheap ones on eBay can be bad – see below). Here I’m using BenOSteen’s Python driver to send tweets via serial to the printer.

This device has done the rounds, here it is on display at BuildBrighton’s talk to the British Computer Society:

Here it is in use at Likemind Brighton showing international #likemind tweets as other groups meet around the world on Friday morning (note – unicode converted to ‘?’ as I haven’t figured out if/how to get international characters out of the printer yet!):

It ran during the weekend of Barcamp Brighton and printed out barcampy stuff, I added some notes about local cafes and a job ad for one of the companies:

The goal all along was to build an independent controller (so removing the laptop from the equation). For this I coupled an Arduino with a WiShield 1.0. The WiShield libraries are easy enough to work with, after an hour’s experimentation I got WPA2 working (it takes 25 seconds to negotiate the connection on each attempt), we use WPA2 at home and in The Skiff.

Coupling the Arduino to the printer was easy enough, I have been trying (and so far failing) to get a Max233 chip acting as a voltage level converter so for now I’m using a pre-built RS232 Level Shifter. This converts the Arduino’s 0V/5V TTL to +12V/-12V RS232 levels (powered from the Aruino’s 5V out). To output text I’m using Roo Reynold’s Aduino sketch, this handily includes some control codes to cut the receipt after printing.

Next I wanted live data. At first I simply put a short plain text file on a web site, used the WiShield to fetch it and Roo’s code to print it. Now I’m using a hacked version of Ben’s code to write tweets (including bold and underline control codes) to a text file which is stored online (microprinter.ianozsvald.com), this ready-to-print file is grabbed over the WiShield, printed and then cut. The online file is updated every 2 minutes.

The final tweak was to add a button to the printer. Using the Arduino’s demo button sketch I hooked up a big thumb-sized button. The Arduino’s main loop is looking for a combination of ‘at least 5 seconds have passed since the last print’ and ‘button pressed’, then it’ll kick off the web request for new data. Once this request returns it prints out the text.

I look for the pattern “————–” (14 dashes) to start and end the message, before this we get HTTP headers (from the WiShield) that I didn’t want to print.

Here’s the finished hardware:

This is a WiShield 1.0. The button (shown just out of shot top-left) is connected 3.3V->button, button->Pin 6 AND Ground (via a 15k resistor). For the printer I’m using Pin 8 for tx (blue lead on the RS232 level converter) and Ground, the level converter is powered by the 5V out.

Here’s the connector:

The connector is overly-connected in this image. I think all you actually need is Pin 2 from the RS232 Level Converter to Pin 3 on the 25 pin connector along with Pin 5 (GND) to Pin 7 (GND on 25 pin connector). With yellow wires I’ve shorted Pins 4&5 and 8&20 but I think this is overkill (they’re used for bus control but they’re probably ignored in this configuration).  Here’s a full pinout.

During all the hacking our faithful cat Mia has attempted to assist whenever she could. Here she’s taken ownership of the bag used to transport the early versions:

Along the way I also acquired an Epson TM T88 II receipt printer, it is ‘just another serial printer’ but takes different control codes (and it looks like it might have a smaller character set than the CBM 231). As yet I’ve only tried printing plain ASCII, I’d like to investigate further and build a library that supports this printer too.

Note on buying leads from eBay! be aware that if you buy cheap leads from eBay (e.g. £2 silver/blue leads) then you might end up with a pack of 5 (because if you buy 5 and one breaks, you’ve got 4 more that work, right?), you might have 5 dead-on-arrival leads. You could then report the problem and the nice people could then ship you a replacement set, but then you might discover that you’ve got another 5 DOA leads. You have been warned.

If you’re buying your first microprinter do try to buy a working serial lead with it (it’ll probably be a 9 pin to 25 pin converter lead) – if you get the wrong lead (null modem vs straight serial – I forget which you need!) then you won’t get anything (the bane of my first few week’s of testing). Buy a printer+lead that’s known to work and you won’t go wrong.

Spend the £8 per lead and buy from Amazon if you don’t want to waste hours wondering why your printer is just printing out reams of ‘?’ rubbish:

If you want to build your own then the first best source of info is the microprinter wiki. Roo Reynolds has Arduino drivers (which I hacked a bit for my implementation) that don’t depend on external data sources.

You’ll find my Python server source and Arduino sketch (which assumes you’ve got a WiShield 1.0) here: social_microprinter. Note that the code is horribly hacky, it was written over many short sessions when I could steal an hour or two from other projects.

It could do with being straightened out and commented and a few nice new features would include Gowalla check-in notifications, event RSS reading and weather printing.

Many thanks to my fellow hackers at BuildBrighton for help debugging my early serial problems and to Barney for the lend of his RS232 Shifter (I’ll soon get this Max233 working, promise!).

Here’s the finished, installed unit on the work bench at BuildBrighton in The Skiff (just by the social kitchen space). Once it is a bit more robust it’ll move to the front of the building:


Ian applies Data Science as an AI/Data Scientist for companies in ModelInsight, sign-up for Data Science tutorials in London. Historically Ian ran Mor Consulting. He also founded the image and text annotation API Annotate.io, co-authored SocialTies, programs Python, authored The Screencasting Handbook, lives in London and is a consumer of fine coffees.

2 Comments | Tags: Life, Programming, projectbrightonblogs, Python

26 October 2010 - 19:22£5 App #23 on 2nd Nov, 8pm at The Skiff

Next Tuesday at 8pm at The Skiff we’re holding our 23rd £5 App event. This is our second this year, we’ve been a bit slow. To make up for being slow we’ve given it the title “Things we built this summer“, here’s our fine speaker list:

The evening will run for about 2 1/2 hours, we’ll provide free beer and cake as usual. My Mor Consulting is sponsoring the beer, John‘s fine cooking skills are providing the cake.

Because we’re buying beer and baking cake we need to know if you’re attending! Please sign-up on Lanyrd or Upcoming (and unAttend if you subsequently can’t attend).

I’d be especially happy if you use Lanyrd (you just need to tweet ‘@lanyrd attending #fivepoundapp’ for that to happen automatically) as I’ll be collecting that data for Emily‘s Social Ties talk.

As usual we’ll drift to the pub after the event. If you want to meet a bright selection of get-off-of-bottom-and-do-interesting-things people then you should attend next Tuesday.

Whitenight Festival

If you’re attending the Whitenight festival this Saturday (you really should if you’re in town) then do check out Shardcore’s Enlightenment Machine and Cats and BuildBrighton’s Light Brigade build-flashing-social-lights hack event.


Ian applies Data Science as an AI/Data Scientist for companies in ModelInsight, sign-up for Data Science tutorials in London. Historically Ian ran Mor Consulting. He also founded the image and text annotation API Annotate.io, co-authored SocialTies, programs Python, authored The Screencasting Handbook, lives in London and is a consumer of fine coffees.

No Comments | Tags: projectbrightonblogs, sussexdigital, £5 App Meet

5 August 2010 - 23:08Selling ProCasts

Having built ProCasts during 2009 (from ‘just me’ to a fab team of four) and then letting it sit quietly for the first half of this year I’m now selling the site as a lead-generation opportunity for a lucky fellow screencaster.

The site continues to generate leads each week – this has lead to some odd conversations where I try to explain that I’m not taking on any work – even though the client might be rather desperate for a UK solution. After another odd conversation a week back I decided it was time to pass the site on.

The site is listed at flippa.com, the auction ends in 11 days. Via the message boards I’m having good conversations with existing screencasters and a few new entrants. It feels good to have built an asset that’ll help someone else win more business. Not only does the site generate leads but it also has solid traffic with a Page Rank of 6 and the business gets linked in forums by friendly third parties. Flippa.com has the full details, there’s also a short link on the ProCasts blog.

Personally I’ve returned to my long-term field of artificial intelligence research. The A.I. Cookbook is my new project site, I’m pushing out the ideas that I’ve sat on for years. Times continue to be interesting.


Ian applies Data Science as an AI/Data Scientist for companies in ModelInsight, sign-up for Data Science tutorials in London. Historically Ian ran Mor Consulting. He also founded the image and text annotation API Annotate.io, co-authored SocialTies, programs Python, authored The Screencasting Handbook, lives in London and is a consumer of fine coffees.

No Comments | Tags: ArtificialIntelligence, ProCasts, projectbrightonblogs, Screencasting, sussexdigital

27 June 2010 - 17:04Emily’s new blog

Emily (@fluffyemily) has started a new blog – EmilyToop.com – to note her progress with iPhone app development, robotics and general geekery.

Her first post is Objective Flickr on the iPhone, inspired by some of the difficulties she had building her demo app for my Optical Character Recognition web service on the A.I. Cookbook.


Ian applies Data Science as an AI/Data Scientist for companies in ModelInsight, sign-up for Data Science tutorials in London. Historically Ian ran Mor Consulting. He also founded the image and text annotation API Annotate.io, co-authored SocialTies, programs Python, authored The Screencasting Handbook, lives in London and is a consumer of fine coffees.

No Comments | Tags: projectbrightonblogs, sussexdigital

10 May 2010 - 18:59“Artificial Intelligence in the Real World” lecture at Sussex University 2010

I’m chuffed to have delivered the second version of my “A.I. in the real world” lecture (I gave it last May too) to 2nd year undergraduates at Sussex University this afternoon.

The slides are below, I cover:

  • A.I. that I’ve seen and have been involved with in the last 10 years
  • Some project ideas for undergraduates
  • How to start a new tech business/project in A.I.

In the talk I also showed or talked about:

Artificial Intelligence in the Real World May 2010 Sussex University Guest Lecture

Here’s the YouTube video showing the Grand Challenge entries:

Update – the blog for the A.I. Cookbook is now active, more A.I. and robot updates will occur there.


Ian applies Data Science as an AI/Data Scientist for companies in ModelInsight, sign-up for Data Science tutorials in London. Historically Ian ran Mor Consulting. He also founded the image and text annotation API Annotate.io, co-authored SocialTies, programs Python, authored The Screencasting Handbook, lives in London and is a consumer of fine coffees.

No Comments | Tags: ArtificialIntelligence, projectbrightonblogs, Python, ShowMeDo, sussexdigital, SussexUniversity, £5 App Meet

4 December 2009 - 13:29£5 App Music-Themed Xmas Special

On Wednesday night we ran our music-themed £5 App Xmas Special (fivepoundapp.com).

It was fab!  John and I had a fab time organising things and watching the night run so down-to-earthly – it seems that many others did too.  I particularly like:

“I bloomin’ love £5 app! The event that’s happy to be itself, and is more rewarding for all as a result. Here with @ribot & @lastminute teams” – ribotminimus

“Home from #fivepoundapp, letting the awesomeness sink in.” – j4mie

Get to the end of the very last video and you’ll hear a special £5 App rendition of Jingle Bells.

Note: I want photos!  Email me links to flickr’d images please.  I also want your blog write-ups, mail them to me or comment down below.

Particular thanks for our sponsors Alan Newman (Sensible Development) and Paul Silver (PaulSilver.co.uk) along with John (psychicorigami) and my ProCasts for putting up cash to fund a few hours of free beer.  Also super-huge thanks to the Ribots for supplying piles of mince pies (yummy!) and John for baking a batch of crunchy cookies.

The event was organised through Philip and Declan of PlayGroup, they use Hector’s House for arts and science gigs (thanks BuildBrighton for the connection!).  Cheers chaps, it was exactly the space we needed!

“Seb’s Slightly Failed Music Career”

Seb spoke on the highs and lows of forming a band, showed previously-unseen footage and generally gave the lowdown on how it all works. Rick-rolling was included.  Seb has his own write-up.

Sadly Seb’s hard-drive died after the talk taking all his transcoded footage but on the flip-side Seb inspired Simon to share footage from his old cover band.

Here’s the 60 minute video of Seb’s talk:

£5 App #20 “Seb’s Slightly Failed Music Career” for the 2009 Xmas Special from IanProCastsCoUk on Vimeo.

We were absolutely honoured that Seb and Jenny unveiled their new Xmas song tonight, see it here and share it around:

“Toby Cole – Zero to Theremin in 20 days” (with demo)

Toby Cole shows the ThereThing constructed through BuildBrighton and unveiled at a live gig the previous month.

Paul Silver took a video of the ThereThing in action:

Sadly the ThereThing is slightly out of shot during the video of the talk but you can hear Toby and see the screen just fine (and the ThereThing link shows it in detail).

£5 App #20 “Toby Cole – Zero to Theremin in 20 days” for the 2009 Xmas Special from Ian Ozsvald on Vimeo.

“Jim – Mrmr/LiveAPI guitar-mounted iPhone ableton live interface”

Jim Purbrick showed Mrmr, the LiveAPI guitar mounted iPhone Ableton live interface.  Jim’s also the head of Second Life (UK) and is known for building robots.

£5 App #20 “Jim Purbrick – Mrmr/LiveAPI guitar mounted ableton live interface” for the 2009 Xmas Special from Ian Ozsvald on Vimeo.

“Lastminute.com Lab’s with Bottle-Rock-It” (with an additional proper demo video)

Richard, Sam and Mathias (LastMinute.com Labs) came down from London (thanks guys!) to demo Bottle-Rock-It, a group iPhone musical instrument.

The background talk gives loads of detail, sadly the demo went a bit sideways so we sang Jingle Bells as a loud (and slightly tipsy) group instead.

Check this BBC News story to see Bottle Rock It in action.

£5 App #20 “Lastminute.com’s Bottle-Rock-It” for the 2009 Xmas Special from Ian Ozsvald on Vimeo.

100 Robots (band)

After the talks finished Jim Purbrick and Max went on to play live n’loud as 100 Robots.

2010 and beyond…

If you want to keep in touch with future £5 App events then join the £5 App Google Group – it is very low volume and is mostly there just for the announces.

We’ll probably run some more competitions next year, the 5k competition went very well and John wants to do more around that idea and I want to play with some open-source A.I. kits.  Details to follow.


Ian applies Data Science as an AI/Data Scientist for companies in ModelInsight, sign-up for Data Science tutorials in London. Historically Ian ran Mor Consulting. He also founded the image and text annotation API Annotate.io, co-authored SocialTies, programs Python, authored The Screencasting Handbook, lives in London and is a consumer of fine coffees.

2 Comments | Tags: Life, projectbrightonblogs, sussexdigital, £5 App Meet

11 November 2009 - 12:12£5 App Christmas Special – Weds 2nd December

John and I are very pleased to announce our upcoming music-themed £5 App Christmas Special on Wednesday 2nd December, 8-11pm at Hector’s House in collaboration with the lovely Playgroup guys.  Please do the usual – sign-up on Upcoming so we know how much beer to brew for you all.  If you don’t know what this is then see last year’s Xmas Special write-up and details of all the previous events (with videos).

We want 40-60 of you along this year so please spread the word – Tweets and blog posts would be hugely appreciated!

Outline:

  • Seb Lee-Delisle – “My life as a wannabe rock star at the birth of the internet music boom” – full description below
  • Toby Cole – “Zero to Theremin in 20 days” – How BuildBrighton built a feature rich, ultrasonic, laser etched MIDI controller in under three weeks”
  • Tom Hume – “You’re all an orchestra, get over it” – Bluetooth devices will interact with the audience to create changing ambient music, created by Future Platforms for a Music Hack Day
  • Jim Purbrick – “A short talk on the Mrmr/LiveAPI guitar mounted iPhone ableton live interface by the head of Second Life Europe and later a demo with 100Robots”
  • lastminute.com labs – Bottle-Rock-It, a music game for n iPhones where (with any luck) n > 3 (Richard, Russ, Sam, Mathias)
  • 100Robots – Jim and Max Williams play live and loud for us

Seb has the main talk, his full blurb is:

“Before Seb Lee-Delisle was peddling his digital creations, he had an entirely different life. He spent most of his 20s setting up Solar Records and promoting his band Stargirl (later Laine). Investing over £50,000 of their own money, they released their own CDs, made it onto the radio and TV, played in front of 30,000 people, recorded at George Martin’s Air Studios and had full page spreads in the nationals.

They were at the forefront internet music boom of the late 90s. The future was looking rosy for this group of dynamic 20-somethings. So come and find out what it was like, how the hell they got the £50K, and why their plans didn’t quite reach fruition…”

Beer – several of us who are doing well this year will put up some bar-money (Alan of SensibleDevelopment, Paul Silver of Brighton Farm and my ProCasts so far, several more to come, get in contact if you want to share the love).

Food – maybe nibbles.

Next, please sign-up on Upcoming so we know how much beer to provide and tweet/post about the event to help us spread the word.  Cheers!


Ian applies Data Science as an AI/Data Scientist for companies in ModelInsight, sign-up for Data Science tutorials in London. Historically Ian ran Mor Consulting. He also founded the image and text annotation API Annotate.io, co-authored SocialTies, programs Python, authored The Screencasting Handbook, lives in London and is a consumer of fine coffees.

2 Comments | Tags: Life, projectbrightonblogs, sussexdigital, £5 App Meet

7 September 2009 - 11:31BarCamp and “Screencasting in 7 Minutes with Jing” workshop

Jay, Jon and co. ran another excellent BarCamp Brighton this weekend which followed dConstruct09.  There’s a long, good write-up here.

I’m not entirely sure of the right tag for flickr – it seems that ‘bcb4′ (which I’d thought was official) conflicts with BarCamp Bangalore and BarCamp Boston…ho hum.  Anyhow, here’s one of mine:

My session was a 30 minute workshop on ‘Screencasting in 7 minutes with Jing‘ (now picked up by TechSmith – thanks Betsy!), I signed-up 7 new people to screencasting including freelancers and a Thales employee so I consider that a Win.  The link has a break-down of what was covered, a video of the session and the resulting screencast by Jez via my machine.

In the session I covered the following as examples of how screencasts are used by others:

  • Jay’s Gibraltar Software screencast produced in 3 days with Camtasia on Windows (via my friendly critique)
  • Google Chrome screencasts for examples of 10-20 second feature tours
  • DropBox intro screencast which shows two computers syncing (via a virtual Windows instance) – see the Windows desktop about 1/6th of the way into the video
  • ShowMeDo’s OpenStreetMap videos for open-source tutorials
  • MailChimp’s homepage video as a warning – lots of style (it is quite pretty) but very little informative content!

Musical entertainment was provided by 100 Robots (Jim of SecondLife and Max, Alex was absent so we had Jim loudly on the vocals), the foundation of the Old Music Library shook nicely:


Ian applies Data Science as an AI/Data Scientist for companies in ModelInsight, sign-up for Data Science tutorials in London. Historically Ian ran Mor Consulting. He also founded the image and text annotation API Annotate.io, co-authored SocialTies, programs Python, authored The Screencasting Handbook, lives in London and is a consumer of fine coffees.

No Comments | Tags: BNM, projectbrightonblogs, Screencasting, sussexdigital, The Screencasting Handbook

12 August 2009 - 23:3019th £5 App Write-up

Last night’s £5 App went very well, below are the videos for Tony the electronics inventor, Seb the guaranteed-to-lose-money website creator for IWillPayYourParkingTicket and Rosie the flash-mob-tester via SoftwareTestingClub.

£5 App #19 Tony Ellis as Electronics Inventor from IanProCastsCoUk on Vimeo.

£5 App #19 Seb and Jamie with I Will Pay Your Parking Ticket from IanProCastsCoUk on Vimeo.

£5 App #19 Rosie on FlashMobTesting from Ian Ozsvald on Vimeo.


Ian applies Data Science as an AI/Data Scientist for companies in ModelInsight, sign-up for Data Science tutorials in London. Historically Ian ran Mor Consulting. He also founded the image and text annotation API Annotate.io, co-authored SocialTies, programs Python, authored The Screencasting Handbook, lives in London and is a consumer of fine coffees.

No Comments | Tags: projectbrightonblogs, sussexdigital, £5 App Meet