Sunday, December 02, 2007

Babbleknot New Features

This was originally posted on the blog.

The team has been gulping diet rockstar & busy adding new forums and features. Currently the board is loading at the rate of about 4,000 new forums per day, with a goal of 150,000 boards during the beta. Just now over half-way there with 78,184 forums loaded.

I continue to be amazed at the variety of boards out there, and the activity that still occurs, even with the popular web 2.0 destinations. I was a fan of King of Queens, but below is a thumbgraph of an entire board dedicated to Leah Remini. Anything is there. You just have to look. In the graph below, the "green" lines are indications of direct replies in threads, which is a clue to relationships between members.

We'll crank up the search & daily indexing rates in the future. Right now, many graphs are done on demand or at the rate of 2,000 per day in a background job. Babbleknot is running on Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud, EC2, with plans to add servers for spiders, large graph layout, and other types of large scale analysis as demand increases.

The new features are key milestones that I am happy to finally check off. Here they are in my perceived order of significance.

The biggest new feature in my opinion is background generation of graphs. Before, if you clicked a forum link & the data was unavailable, the board was parsed while you waited, hourglass clocking, driving you crazy. Now if the data isn't on hand, the generation is pushed to the background. Most complete in 30 seconds or so, but a large board with lots of content & posts will obviously take longer. The forum names appear on the right sidebar immediately & will change to a hyperlink once complete. Sending the generation the background is good for both usability & the overall performance of the site. Right now the requests are persisted for the current web session, but the thought is we will keep that history for a short time so you can go back a bit.

Second new feature is an RSS feed of the recent graphs page.

Finally, image flagging is now in with very basic functionality. Clicking the red flag next to content image will remove the image from view on subsequent retrieves of that graph. It's possible entire forums should be flagged. To me, flagging isn't necessarily bad. I believe there is a large segment of the population that would probably like to surf only the flagged content & boards. This will eventually become part of the Safe Search feature, which I think I'll brand as an opposite, like Wreckless Search.

More updates coming soon. Please post questions and comments if you love or hate

Social Graph Visualization with

This item originally ran on the blog. is now open for a public beta.

Babbleknot scans the index pages of over 70,000 message boards to generate thread / topic metrics. Things such as velocity, mass, acceleration to name a few. These metrics are used to generate input to a spider that indexes the content and generates graphs of the hot threads.

Below is a sample graph which is part of this flickr set.


On the graph above, you see people, threads, and images, with lines representing relationships between objects with a "circular" layout.

Graphs? Why? The graphs provide a top-down view of the content, people and their relationships. You can see 10s, 100s of threads & topics at once. More coming hopefully as we learn to scale. In the future you'll also be able to generate graphs that span boards & forums. The best part of these graphs are that they aren't just static images. You can zoom & pan (screencam), and all the embedded content images are wrapped in a lightbox for easy display and perusal. You have quick access to the thread & user profiles with links representing post responsibility and direct quoting. More coming.

Privacy? Yep, there will be complaints. I expect some push back. I'll be happy to pull any board that doesn't want to be indexed. We'll be respecting robots.txt soon to make that easy.

What else is coming? Identity claiming so you can link your identity to individual board identities, and delve deeper into your own social graph. Tagging of all kinds is 99% complete & will be on the home page soon. Full content indexing, thread tracking, alerts, content recognition beyond images, more board types, and maybe even posting capability.

Watch this blog for more information and give a try today.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Where is Billy Bob Bain?

I've been busy working on this... babbleknot.


It is now up on Amazon EC2. I still have lots of work to do, but it's fun and keeps me out of bars.

I need an artist / partner. I'm great at the back-end stuff, but lousy at the front-end. (or so I'm told)

The easiest way to explain it is that
1) it crawls message boards
2) draws pretty pictures
3) figures out "who is who", and their relationships
4) is great for looking at porn
5) and is a privacy nightmare if you use it right

I've talked about this here, and here.


Monday, August 06, 2007

Where is William F. Buckley Jr.?

Has anyone seen William F. Buckley Jr. post anything lately?

National Review Archive

I hope he's just taking an extra long holiday.


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Robert Earl Keen

Here are the promised Robert Earl Keen pictures from the Astros vs Rangers game a few weeks ago. Click the picture to visit flickr & view the complete set.

REK singing the National Anthem

REK after singing the National Anthem

REK after singing the National Anthem

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Went to see the 2 crappiest baseball teams in MLB play on Saturday. The best part of the game was the Robert Earl Keen concert afterwards... followed closely by this delicious dog.


I'll post some pics of him soon.


Saturday, June 16, 2007

baseball blackouts

I am a paying subscriber for the premium package on including mlb mosaic. The blackouts have been annoying me lately, especially since they consider the Astros a home team in my zipcode of 75044. (which is North of Dallas)

Today I fired up mosaic? What am I paying for exactly?


The only video available is some crap from the baseball channel. I will not renew next year, for $119.95. I am obviously a sucker.

Monday, May 28, 2007


Just a few camera phone pics from the last few days. My wife called this a fauxhawk.


My parents are here for the fishing trip to Arkansas.

Noah and Mamaw

This mini rc car runs for 6 minutes on a 1 minute charge. Makes a 3 year old much happier. (and dad)

Noah and MiniRC



Wednesday, March 28, 2007


We had a friend from of mine from college over & he brought his daughter. This bubble gun is cool. I don't remember anything like this as a kid.

Spring 2007 with Traynors025

She had been to a party & has some paint in her hair.

Spring 2007 with Traynors014

This looks pretty good printed in large format.

Spring 2007 with Traynors024

We called these bowheads in college I think... I'll need to ask her dad about this.

Spring 2007 with Traynors013

He likes old fashioned bubbles too.

Spring 2007 with Traynors021

Have a nice day. Maybe we won't bomb Iran tomorrow.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Rest In Peace Dave Avery

Dave Avery was only here a couple of months, but I had grown to like him.


I thought at first this might be another lame KHYI joke, but unfortunately it appears to be true.

Not sure what you drank, but I'll drink a Shiner for you Dave. The next round I buy at L&W will be for you.

Stolen from some website:
In lieu of flowers the family would like any donations to be made to:
Little sisters of the Poor located at:
2345 West 86th Street
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana 46260-1981


Monday, February 26, 2007

Hidden Well

On Saturday, the Spring Creek Forest Preserve had its 14th Annual Trout Lily Tour. Unfortunately, I had to miss it due to a conflict with incoming relatives.

On Sunday morning I woke before everyone else & went to look for myself. Now, these little guys are pretty small & I had only seen pictures before. Due to the early morning hour, they were still closed, making them harder to spot. I finally stumbled across this one.

Trout Lily 1

All of these are shot with natural light, most likely on a tripod. If not a tripod, then I had the VR on my new Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED lens. (what a mouthful!)

I had read that often, when you find one, you find another. These guys are pollinated by ants (among other things) & one theory is that after the ants take the seed, it produces a volatile pheromone that triggers something called the “dead corpse response.” They lose interest and drop the seed. Other ants ignore it as well.

Nearby I found this one.

Trout Lily 2

Now that I had spotted a couple, I started walking the trail back & noticed a few more.

Trout Lily 3

I plan to get out this week during the afternoon and catch them open.

Now, that isn't all. On the way back home, I stopped at a piece of "private property" near my house that has similar wet ground and trees to cover the ground. I was hoping to find a Trout lily, but stumbled across something quite different. I was thankful that it was daytime.

Hidden Well

An "open" well just waiting for someone to fall in. I dropped a couple of rocks down... seemed to hit a hard bottom & fall about 20 feet. I couldn't see the bottom. I may head back with a flashlight again & see what is down there.

Another shot. Not much to see... just a hole. Dangerous as hell though.

Hidden Well

To be honest, it freaked me out at the time. I recently saw bothThe Ring and Silence of the Lambs and kept thinking about what if I saw a fingernail stuck in the wall. -shudder-


Thursday, February 08, 2007

Johnny Sunflowerseed

We were doing a little random bird feeding in the backyard yesterday.

Johnny Sunflower Seed


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Dinosaurs Alive! in the woods at the Heard Museum in McKinney

My wife shot this video of a life-sized T-Rex in the woods at the Heard Museum in McKinney. There is a side-shot at 34 seconds where my son is standing right in front of the "dimosaur" and you can judge the size for your self.