How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bot

With apologies to Stanley Kubrick for the post title, I’ve been thinking about writing a Twitter bot for about a year now.

Most of my infatuation with the topic started when news reports about Russians using social media bots to try to influence voters in the 2016 election cycle came to light.

My own purposes are slightly less nefarious: proper spelling

Now correcting someone’s spelling on Twitter can be the act of a troll or, at least, pretty pedantic. No one is going to add you to their LinkedIn if you’re out there doling out “actually”s.

But if a Twitter Bot does it that’s (arguably) something different.

A Twitter Bot can be humorous in its delivery.
A Twitter Bot can make fun of folks in a winking, knowing way without being an asshole.
A Twitter Bot can bridge the gap between people better especially when folks know it’s a Twitter Bot.

With these precepts in mind, I set out to build my own “Whoa Bot”, a pun-ny name that still makes me smile.

After searching for a suitable handle and going through the necessary steps that Twitter assigns both for accounts and for apps, I just had to write some Bot code.

The quickest and easiest platform to try was Glitch. I’m a long-time follower of Anil Dash and so I thought I’d give the service a try. Thanks to their very simple twitterbot template, I was off & running.

I wish I had a better story to tell you about laboring on code tweaks, but all I really did was adapt some code that Mark Rabey had written for a Node.js twitter bot to conform to some of the existing code & setup that Glitch provided, et voila!

For those that use Glitch here’s a link to the code.

If you’re the type of person that wants to see folks who spell the word “WHOA” as “WOAH” be corrected for their spelling error, give Whoa Bot a follow. And if you’re not, hopefully you don’t find my particular brand of silly sententiousness too sour. 😉

I feel like the addition of Keanu Reeves’ face in the avatar & header adds to the air that it’s all in good fun and I seem to get a few knowing replies, retweets, and faves every day.

If I offended anyone too severely, I’d stop.

The only rule I’ve run afoul of in the weeks since I turned on the Whoa Bot is to be rate-limited by Twitter, but that was an easy problem to fix in the code.

In the end it was fun for me to research and write, it’s fun to see the bot out in the wild saying “WHOA!”, and most of the folks who get quote-tweeted find it fun. That’s a win-win-win, so I hope you like it too!

Brewer’s Advent Calendar 2017: Day Four

Today’s beer: Bergbräu Pale Ale

I’m not entirely sure why a German beer assortment would include a pretty classical example of an English Pale Ale (more malty than hoppy; low alcohol; mineral-y body). It might’ve made more sense to include a German Altbier which is a similar style, just more traditionally Teutonic.

From the picture you’ll see I switched up the glassware to match the style. Not all of the contents of that big can fit, but it felt more authentic that way.

Now that I’m four beers in, I think it’s safe to say that while none of the beers have been amazing (4 stars or better on Untappd) they’ve all been good examples of their style.

And if they’re any indication of the health and diversity of the German craft/micro scene, that’s still really encouraging.

Some of the styles I’ve had (and those to come, since I cheated and looked at the calendar box) are woefully under-represented in the States, so it’s good to have a sample or two from their native land.

Happy Monday!

Beer Miles & Milestones

Corey Bellemore of Canada just set a new Beer Mile World Record of 4:33.6

My own personal record (on one attempt) is a little over 10 & a half minutes. I don’t think I could run a sub-5 mile unless I was on roller skates, with or without beer.

I’d also like to take a moment to recognize the amazing Martin Luther – he of the Protestant Reformation – who also altered the course of beer history by embracing hops as a flavoring agent and preservative.

Because he thumbed his nose not only at the Catholic Church’s oppressive grip on the written gospel, but also their monopoly on other beer ingredients, we have the beer we know & love today.

I think I’m going to go for a run later then have a nice, hoppy IPA to quench my thirst.

Happy Friday!