This is a 2010-to-2013 archive of toki-woki.net. Here's how it looks now.

Five years of Google Talk history

My "anniversary" intro

It's been five years (this monday) since Google added the ability to simply chat inside Gmail and to store your chat history, just like your regular e-mail discussions. This poster is a celebration of that, plus a big high-five to my "chat pal" (who hopefully received my package on time), plus a technical and aesthetical look at what we wrote during these years.

Let's make history

Back to the chat history thing... I remember being pretty happy when Google announced it, mainly because I knew I'd use it for later reference, archiving links and thoughts had become much easier.

Here's a copy of the announcement they made:

Chat with your friends from right inside Gmail. There's no need to load a separate program or look up new addresses. It's just one click to chat with the people you already email, as well as anyone on the Google Talk network. And now you can even save and search for chats in your Gmail account.

So it's been five years. And I've chatted quite a lot; mainly with one guy, my buddy Renaud. We chatted around 2,800 different discussions so I thought there might be some interesting data to dig in these archives... So I dug.

But digging thousands of discussions is not an easy task, so I had to take a look on the tech side of things.

Join the tech side of the force

Before digging, I had to retrieve all the discussions we had, in an easy-to-analyse format. I used Gmail's offline feature: applying a new label to our conversations and locally syncing this label. For some unknown reason it would crash on Google Chrome so I had to use Mozilla Firefox. When syncing was done I got a pretty big file in my "Google Gears for Firefox" directory.

Cool thing is, Google Gears stores data as SQLite databases, so I fired up Lita in order to understand what the structure was like... Things looked a bit messy but I eventually found everything that would interest me; and it was in the "MessagesFT_content" table. Here's the query I ran:

  1. SELECT c1Body FROM MessagesFT_content WHERE c0Subject LIKE '%Chat%'

Almost cool. The query still returned a bunch of HTML code, our names, and other useless crap. So I fired up Flash Builder, imported the SQLite file and wrote a few AS3 lines, in order to grab the results and filter them with regular expressions. Bang: plain text! Oh, this useless AIR app is OpenSource, by the way.

Now that the data was clean and ready to be analyzed I had to find a cheap or free way to do it. I chose Primitive Word Counter, not because it's perfect but rather because it's very simple and could handle the large amount of data I was going to feed it (some other apps simply crashed)...

Running it gave me the most used words and phrases, I only picked the most interesting (at least to me) and launched InDesign.

A celebration poster

I decided to go for an A1 poster, mostly focused on those words and phrases but with a tech twist to it. I kept it all secret, got it printed, and sent it to my pal... Happy fifth Google-talk-history-enabled anniversary to him; and to all of you out there that use it on a daily basis!

Hey! – A Lego Table

When I moved in I bought an IKEA Ramvik table and while travelling this summer I had an idea (don't ask why): decorate its top with Lego bricks used as pixels. Here are the steps I went through. If you don't care about those steps and want to see a nice time-lapse video, scroll to the end of the article!

Lego bricks

First things first. What are the Lego brick sizes and colors available? Oddly enough this question is not that easily answered. Probably because Lego's site is crappy, or because nobody really cares... I eventually found Brickipedia which happens to be a much richer resource than the official ones. Everything I was looking for was there: the Lego "unit" is 8 millimeters and the color palette is pretty simple.

Table specs

Knowing my table size I had various options, depending on the "pixel size" I'd choose. Of course the number of bricks (and the price) would also vary. So I created a dynamic spreadsheet on Google Docs that'd do the calculations for me... Here it is, with all the options possible (French, sorry).

iframe: <a href="https://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=0AmyvU-n2aOBpdG5oNUN6UW0xcUJ4a2E3eXFrTTJIVnc&amp;hl=en&amp;output=html&amp;widget=true">https://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=0AmyvU-n2aOBpdG5oNUN6UW0xcUJ4a2E3eXFrTTJIVnc&amp;hl=en&amp;output=html&amp;widget=true</a>

I chose the 4x4 option, quite cheap and still offering a cool number of pixels.

Design

36x16 pixels of freedom, that's it. I tried lots of different designs, from lo-fi photos to pixel-art drawings. I decided to go for a Heavy Oblique Futura.

Actual size:

Looking good.

The Lego palette

I set my type to white, on a black background. The anti-aliasing process creates gray-scale pixels to smooth the curves, which is great, but Lego bricks aren't available in all colors! To have a realistic preview of what it would look like I had to create a Photoshop Color Table matching Lego's gray-scales (if you're interested, just ping me [UPDATE: here they are]). Here's a comparison between Photoshop's default gray-scales (left) and Lego's palette (right):


You may notice that Lego's black is a little bit light and the grays are yellowish.

Time to order bricks!

Already? Nope, not that fast. Before ordering I had to know exactly what to order, that means counting the pixels. Well, I'm not this kind of guy. I'm a developer; I hate repetitive chores, you know.

So I fired up Flash Builder and came up with PaletteCounter a simple, OpenSource, app to count pixels of each color. I also added some kind of "assembly instructions generator" to help us build it. Handy.

Time to order!

Really? Yup. I placed an order on lego.com's Pick A Brick and received it a couple of weeks later. Yay!

Let's do this

I'm not going to describe the process (that happened this saturday), just have a look at this time-lapse vid. 1020 pics shot in about an hour, yummy. Thanks to Céline and Julie for helping out!

This page has been translated in Russian by Karina.

TW x PK

C'était hier soir, c'était à Bordeaux, y'avait du monde... Et j'avais bien fait de m'entrainer un peu avant !

Le son n'est pas extra, l'image est un peu moyenne mais l'ambiance est là ! Merci aux organisateurs d'avoir pensé à moi, merci aux gens qui sont venus me voir après pour parler ornithorynque, merci à Céline pour avoir appuyé sur le bouton aux bons moments (et pour l'encodage !), merci à Renaud, à ma manageuse, aux tickets boisson, au tram qui n'a pas accepté de nous prendre... Je m'arrête là, de toute façon personne ne sait de quoi je parle !

Voilà donc ma session de cette 4è Pecha Kucha, hop.

Mise à jour (08/05/2010) ! Une photo et la liste des slides, avec quelques liens...

  1. No Online Friends
  2. Cahier d'enfant - Icônes
  3. Mon bureau - Play Station
  4. L'ornithorynque
  5. Scroll Clock
  6. Scroll Effect
  7. dribbble
  8. Kwot
  9. Kid Acne
  10. FFFFOUND Desktop
  11. Erosie
  12. Buck 65/20th
  13. Eltono+Nuria
  14. Les sites morbides...
  15. Alopecia+Alopecia
  16. Boks
  17. Les Gens
  18. Jan Vormann+truth
  19. Paper
  20. No Requests

Boogie down!

Pecha Kucha Night — Bordeaux

English readers: jump straight to the end, and excuse my french!

Jeudi prochain (le 6 mai) je vais participer à la 4ème Pecha Kucha de Bordeaux, parmi une quinzaine d'autres intervenants. Pour ceux qui ne connaissent pas le concept, c'est assez simple : une présentation (à la Powerpoint) avec 20 images et 20 secondes pour chacune. Un peu plus de 6 minutes pour présenter ses travaux et ses sources d'inspiration ; ça va vite, ça passe du coq à l'âne ("comme dans une partouze à la ferme", comme dirait Fuzati) et y'a des gens intéressants !

Je ne peux pas dire grand chose sur ma propre présentation parce que le suspense c'est sympa, et puis que je suis encore en train de préparer...

Bref, venez me jeter des pierres à la gueule ! En plus, parce que vous êtes des gens bien, j'ai invité mon poto Alain Juppé à venir aussi poser son slam ; coup-de-pouce style. Toutes les infos sont sur le site officiel et sur Facebook, fastoche.

Fais gaffe, la suite du billet est en Anglais, retour à la normale quoi !

On thursday (May 6) I'll take part in Bordeaux's fourth Pecha Kucha (France)! If you don't know what a Pecha Kucha is yet, the PK guys have set up a page for you.

Now I can't tell you much about what I'll talk about and what I'll show because I need to keep up the suspense... And even though my slides are set and sent I'm still practicing and deciding what I'm really going to make out of these 20×20 seconds!

Fun fact? One of the other presenters is Bordeaux's current mayor!