A Brief Meditation on Github

By, Neo Ellison

So today I wanted to let everyone in on a little secret that every computer engineer knows. Since my readers come from some pretty varied walks of life I wanted to give a little insight to the icon on the left that looks like a squid that wants to be a kitty. That icon links one to a quite amazing site known as Github. For those of you not familiar, think of it as a place for code to live, for others to see it, and to collaborate. Github provides cloud storage for any number of projects, called repositories, a user wants and base accounts can be used for free. Because of its power and versatility it is used for everything from full-fledged websites like Twitter.com to my humble attempts at web development, don’t judge.

The genius of this site is not the storage, but the ability to sync and track projects. Imagine you are writing a book the course of a year, every day you save the new verses to your work. Now imagine that each save, instead of just overwriting...

Welcome Home

By, Neo Ellison

Look Ruby, it’s not you, it’s me. I have just grown out of you. I know we haven’t been together that long, but I will always treasure the time we spent together. Remember when we scraped Twitter? Those were good times. But to tell you the truth I am going back to my ex. I know, I know, I said I was done with Python, but Python just has, well, it’s about the analytics.

So in this installment, I want to talk about a topic near and dear to us all, analytical programming. During my little journey deeper into the heart of data science I have been struggling with where to start, specifically what tool provides the most functionality for the kind of work I will be doing, and has enough support that I won’t be all by myself using it. Given that I have been working with SAS for the last 5 years, it would seem like the obvious choice. Sadly, as those of you SAS users know, it’s actually quite a limited platform. Most of the source code has not been updated since the 80’s; it has...

Fix It With New Code

By, Emily Ellison

So as you can see, you are looking at the new and improved Fix It With Code. I decided to rebuild it this year for several reasons:

1) I wanted to make the blog the centerpiece of the site to showcase Neo's awesome posts and start adding a few more of my own.

2) I wanted to try out some new front-end tricks.

3) I got tired of the old colors.

So with that, I leave you with the coolest one-line CSS trick I learned for this website:

This makes it so no matter how long the page is, your background image stays in place. Simple, but cool.

So stay tuned. Further exploits in Ruby - and other languages - will be coming soon...

My First Bot

By, Neo Ellison

As someone who is pretty new to the whole 'hacking' thing I wanted to build a thing that did a thing. Here is my experience building a Twitter bot.

So like anyone who spent a lot of time on theory and had yet to really build something on their own, I wanted to apply my new found skill on something sexy. And what could be sexier than a pre-programmed process connecting to an API and performing automated data extraction? I know I can’t think of anything either. So with my task decided, I started searching for a target for my masterpiece. There was just one small question which I had to answer before I got started: How the hell does one even start building a bot?

The answers to this question can be fast, but understanding is a bit more of a slow process. For those of you less familiar with this topic let’s start with the basics. A bot is really just a program written in any computer language you like which performs a function, and in this context that...

Neo Joins Fix It

By, Neo Ellison

I know what you are thinking, who is this jerk and what is he doing writing on Emily’s glorious site? While that is a fair question, I actually did the HAML, so it is kind of my site too, almost. Either way, please allow me to introduce myself in what I hope is my first and not last post.

My name is Neo, besides being Emily’s husband, I am also a philosopher, beer lover, statistician, published poet, musician, gamer, and as of late a hacker.

I have always been into computers, but it was only recently that I had my renaissances into the world of actual programming. Before this time I lived in a dark world of programatic boxes. I would write some SQL here, write some SAS there, copy/paste the output to Excel, and go about my work what I was sure was the “stupid way”. Then, one day the lid of the box crept open just long enough for me to see how dark a world I had been living in.

While working, my normal routine was: pull data in SQL; do analysis in SAS; copy...