Category Archives: open source

Bills Watcher Malaysia

Recently I got involved in a Open Data Movement in Malaysia, and one of my recent project is called Bill Watcher. It is a webapp that broadcast via twitter and rss on bills that is being debated, and being passed recently.

Main Page
Bills Detail

Basically this page scraped from the malaysian parliament website. And load into a sqlite database now, which I don’t really care, because I am doing it via sqlalchemy for now, it make it easy to move to other database. just read from the database via sqlalchemy, and render it. Use 960 gs to make the rendered page look nice. 

The feature of this app, is pretty small, the pdf is iframe, there is no login. Fancy sharing feature is via twitter and facebook button and RSS. Commenting will be provided by disqus, if I figure out where to put it. Javascript is only used on twitter and facebook button. 

I consider this as MVP for this, small basic feature to be extended. So feature will be added as requested, but not all will be added. Also not a lot of information is available on the parliment bills page, so feature will be based on effort needed to extract it from other source, which actually not really easy. But otherwise, we will try our best to get feature to be added inside. 

What next, we going to host it live soon. Then we will add disqus, then finalized twitter notification. To get your hand dirty now. Go to the github link 
I will transfer to the sinar repo soon. Need to do a bit update across repo. 
Recently a bill being debated intensely, shows that how many stuff we don’t know about the decision process in the country, even though it is there on the parliament side. Which does not make it easy for use nor navigater around. 

Converting PDF to Text

So I have recently involved with a project to extract data from PDF. Which is actually evil, but that is not important now.

On linux there is a set of utilities comes with xpdf program. It should be part of the default package installation, if not, you just apt-get or yum it.

On windows you can go to the gunwin32 page, I just download the zip just so i would not have to remove it with a uninstaller.

I don’t really need the layout information, on it. so I just use pdftotext.

On windows

program_location/pdftotext.exe -layout pdf_file.pdf

On linux, just

pdftotext -layout pdf_file.pdf

The -layout would maintain the layout of the text as from the pdf. Otherwise, the positioning for certain text will be inconsistent.


using twitter from pidgin

I realize that pidgin got more interesting, and more interesting, previously I use pidgin to talk using facebook chat. Which itself is interesting because, because facebook don’t really release any, api documentation for facebook chat.

One thing I use now is pidgin-microblog, which is interesting also. Previously, the way to connect to twitter using pidgin, is to use a jabber account like google chat, then add twitter. But ever since, twitter, shut down the jabber service. SO it don’t work anymore.

On the other hand, pidgin-microblog, works quite well. 

It’s still new, but still, it is interesting to see, how creative people be with pidgin

Qemulator: a front end for qemu.

One of the most popular open source virtualization soft is qemu, arm with kqemu, it can be about as good as vmware. Most probably recognize that qemu don’t really have a front end. But it does, Qemulator is a front end for qemu.

Use an example from haiku.

just click on the + on the main menu, then fill in the name,
then open the image file. Then you done. You should have a virtual machine to run.

To install on ubuntu, it just a matter of:
sudo apt-get install qemulator

make sure you have qemu first. Which probably installed as a dependency anyway.

network diagnostic using mtr

There is a few ways to diagnose network problem, and tools like ping, and traceroute, are indispensable for the task.

Here’s another tools that, is useful. mtr. mtr can be seen as a combination of ping and traceroute. When started it runs as a ncurses program. And what make it interesting is that, it shows the result, live. To me it’s interesting. There is 2 version in the ubuntu repository, one is mtr, another is mtr-tiny. The version I use, is mtr-tiny, which do not have x11 support. to install it on ubuntu, is a matter of
sudo apt-get install mtr or sudo apt-get install mtr-tiny

To run in is a matter of

mtr destination(could be address or URL)

or to leave ncurses, useful if you want to redirect the output to a file.

mtr -r destination

or to run on certain cycle

mtr -c 10 destination

or you can combine it

mtr -c 10 -r destination

What interesting is that, when I run it, I noticed some interesting stuff, my route from my home to google always changing. Maybe it just me.

openkomodo: an open source, code editor

Open Komodo, is an initiatif, by active state, to open source some of their software. Open Komodo is essentially Komodo Edit. A shrink down version of their IDE. So what happens here is that, they open source thei Komodo Edit, which is cost free anyway. But not much of an ide, but good enough for most task.

The editor, support quite a number of language, such as python, ruby, java, and a few. One notable exception is PHP, which is not in the list. Been testing it with python, because been playing around with django.

The basics is there, such as organize as project, code completion, which is totally useful. But the code completion feature, is a bit not quite there yet. Some code in the directory cannot be imported, using import. don’t really work.

Compared to ide, it is a bit barebone, but by then it is a bit like GUI version of emacs, and vi. Probably the reason, why I think it is quite fine.

One thing is it is still alpha, but it quite usable to me now. Probably there is more to come in the future.

One cool thing is, to install open komodo, on linux, any linux, just run the shell script, in shell, chmod +x

It will copy to your home directory, and create a shortcut at the desktop. to remove it, just remove the Directory created and the shortcut. It’s in the README file,

You can get Open Komodo here

playing with simh: aka fascinated with computer history

After reading “Fire In The Valley”. I wanted to see how an Altair work. Since I am not rich, so I can’t get my hand on an Altair. The next best thing is an emulator. Such an emulator exist for quite sometime, and more importantly it’s open source, and available on Ubuntu.

Simh is not just an emulator, it’s actually a set of emulator, that emulate a number of ancient machine, that I wanted to get a hand on. Such as a PDP-11, which is used to run the first UNIX.

And to install it on ubuntu is again a matter of

sudo apt-get install simh

What make it interesting is that, each machine emulated is represented as an executable, so calling an emulator, is a matter of calling the right program, for example, running an altair is a matter, of running the program, altair on linux, altair.exe on windows.

And there is a windows version too. One reminder, it only provide the emulator not the os and program.

The links provide the emulator, source code, and windows executable.

There is links to the program that are needed to make the emulator useful

Been playing around with mozilla prism

Been playing around with mozilla prism, an interesting project, by mozilla, where a webpage(webapps), is presented like an application on your computer.

The big idea is, once you click an icon, on your desktop you should be able to launch your webpage,but this time, with very minimal interface.

Which to me is an interesting concept, because imagine, a web application, like my google apps, really look like application on the desktop.

Interesting Browser: Flock

Not too long ago flock have reach 1.0. But not too long ago, it seems to be stagnant. It is one of the interesting browser I found online, which expose me to a number of service including

What flock boast is that, it is a social browser. Which make it easy to use many services, which include,, flickr, youtube, photobucket, even facebook.

It feature a few thing like, an uploader for flickr, a blog editor(which i use to write this blog), media bar, facebook integration, which shows friends updates. web clipboard. And that is quite nifty.

the bad thing is, the interface is strange, a bit cluttered actually.



you can get flock here:

Blogged with Flock