A coworker recently gave a talk on Enchanted Objects, a framework for designing objects that blend into an environment while also providing useful information through electrical components or a connection to the internet. Most devices we think of connecting to the internet use screens, but Enchanted Objects tend to be more grounded in familiar objects.

I was super inspired by the talk to build a thing that might fit this framework and this is what I came up with — the Peach Advocate.

Picture of the finished Peach Advocate, a paper mâché cat with Arduino sensors attached to each of its paws
Picture of the finished Peach Advocate, a paper mâché cat with Arduino sensors attached to each of its paws
The Peach Advocate, advocating for all cat litter needs

The Peach Advocate was built to answer the question: did I change Peach’s litter today? Or was…

Recently my friend started an Etsy shop selling candles inspired by various video games and TV shows and I could not be more proud! So proud, in fact, that I wanted everyone in our little Discord server to know every time her store made a sale so that we could all react with some 🎉 💥 🤑

Here’s what the final integration looks like:

Discord bot sending an alert for a new sale with a gif of Claude from the Fire Emblem franchise
Discord bot sending an alert for a new sale with a gif of Claude from the Fire Emblem franchise
Hey Claude! 😉

Initial Planning

So, together with my partner in crime Jimmy, I began looking into how to query the Etsy API for a shop’s sales data. The plan was:

  1. Poll Etsy’s API for shop sales
  2. When there’s a new…

tl;dr: here are some scripts I used to streamline my writing process using all free and open source tools 🎉

I spend a good chunk of my time coding and another good chunk of my time doing some creative writing. These are rather similar hobbies— both involve me sitting sedentary in front of a computer and typing. Somewhere along the way, I decided they should involve similar tools as well. There’s a ton of really good coding editors and tools out there but in my opinion not really any good and free writing tools. There are of course Word-esque products…

Cortico launched its Local Voices Network earlier this year, an initiative designed to bring under-heard community voices, perspectives and stories to the center of a healthier public dialogue. Members of a community come together and participate in small group discussions gathered around a “digital hearth,” a specialized device that records the discussion and also has a speaker that enables hosts to play clips from previous conversations to prompt discussion and cross-pollinate diverse perspectives across the community.

The digital hearth

When we first set out to build the digital hearth, we only had a few requirements:

  • Record a conversation on an 8 mic array

At Cortico, we’ve made talk radio searchable in order to help surface underrepresented voices across the country. Using talk radio, we can get a sense of what people are talking about on the local level. However, it turns out there is a lot of duplicate content in talk radio, from syndicated content (for example, an NPR segment airing across all of its member stations), to commercials. This not only clutters up our search space as well as our top terms results, but also makes it harder to hear local voices underneath nationally broadcast content. …

At the beginning of June 2018, Amazon made their Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (EKS) generally available. Also at the beginning of June, we at Cortico, always eager to put on our learning hats and brave the scars of living on the cutting edge, stood up our first Kubernetes cluster on EKS. We were already doing a lot of stuff with AWS, such as using EC2 spot instances to transcribe talk radio, Athena to sift through Twitter data stored in S3, and ECS to host our Docker containers, so it made sense to try to have AWS provide us with…

When I was a kid, like many other kids out there, I really loved Harry Potter. Big deal, you’re probably thinking so did half the world! I don’t think my story is unique- I grew up waving a chopstick around as my wand, yelling Expecto Patronum out the window at passing cars, dressing up with my friends as each of Voldemort’s horcruxes for midnight movie screenings, and building Quidditch hoops out of PVC pipes and hula hoops in the basement. …

Allison King

software engineer | writer

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