Scripps National Spelling Bee 2008 / guerdon

Sameer MishraThe 2008 National Spelling Bee was won by a 13-year old student Sameer Mishra from Indiana. There was a record number of 288 participants this year. Sameer Mishra beat Sidharth Chand of Michigan with the word “guerdon”, which means “something that one has earned or gained”. It was a close fight. This was Sameer’s fourth and Sidharth’s first Bee competitions. Sameer was coached by his sister who was also one of the contestants.

The profiles of other contestants are great and many had attempted the Bee before unsuccessfully. The youngest was an 8 year old boy Sriran Hathwar.

I love spelling competitions and have always followed them. The movie Akeelah and the Bee is one of my favourite movies. If you like spellings, English grammar/vocabulary and origin of words, you’ll really love that movie.

Read more about this on CNN and Yahoo! News.

Sameer Mishra is an American of Indian origin, so some of the Indian news websites lapped up the news.

Rediff.com misspelt the word American as Amrican in its title post!! Very good tribute to someone who won a Spelling Bee.

Rediff misspells American

My Perl module – Twitter Badge

I wrote my first Perl module Twitter::Badge sometime back and just released version 0.02 with a minor change.

This module provides you with the API required to check any Twitter’s status and other details. The general procedure is something like this:

1. Install the Perl module with CPAN (Linux, Unix, or Mac) or PPM (if you use Windows).

Using CPAN, you have to do this:

perl -MCPAN -e shell

install Twitter::Badge

If you want to do it in one line:

perl -MCPAN -e 'install Twitter::Badge'

You can also download the source, and build the module with:

perl Makefile.PL

make

make install

2. After installing Twitter::Badge, test if its running with a simple example.

use Twitter::Badge;

# Try it with my Twitter ID
my $id = shift || 14512139;                   # define the Twitter ID
my $twitter = Twitter::Badge->new(id => $id); # create the object for that ID
$twitter->fetch();                            # get information for this ID

# Display status
print $twitter->name.' says - '.$twitter->text."\n"
    if defined $twitter->text;            # display status
print $twitter->name.' has '.$twitter->followers_count." followers\n"
    if defined $twitter->followers_count; # display follower count

You can find the complete documentation here.

This module is very basic right now and subject to change whenever Twitter changes its XML output.

The latest version of Twitter::Badge is 0.02. You may use it at your own risk.

Let me know if you would like any features added in this module.

UPDATE: I have a couple of screenshots (following Chittaranjan’s post) to help newbies use this module.

Screenshot 1

Twitter badge code

Screenshot 2 [execution]

Twitter badge execution

It can be used in any Perl script, either executed on the command line or for the web.

If you're a Perl developer or have developed simple CGI scripts, this will be a piece of cake for you.

I lost my Violin

What is with violinists and their carelessness these days?

David Garrett smashed a $1 million violin when he fell over after a concert in London over Christmas.

[February 13, 2008]

A Wiltshire man leaves a 1698 Venice-made Goffriller valued at £180,000 on the train.

[April 14, 2008]

And then, in today’s news, I read this:

A violinist who left his 285-year-old instrument in the back of a New York cab has played a concert to thank the driver who returned it to him.

The violin was valued at $4 million. The violinist Philippe Quint rewarded the taxicab driver with $100 and a 30-minute performance, plus tickets to his future show. Philippe Quint also nominated to the Grammy’s.

For someone of Quint’s stature, $100 is way too small a reward and smacks of extreme miserliness!

Maybe the next violinist who loses his violin on the train or taxicab better not even bother looking for it.

Obama’s hand – Is it real?

I keep seeing gimped/photoshopped images of the US presidential candidates all the time. My favourite one is Obama answering a phone call.

Today’s photograph in BBC News made me wonder if its real or manipulated. Obama’s palm seems way too big. Maybe someone at BBC wanted to try out her hand at photo editing. Or maybe he just has very long fingers.

Obama\'s hand - is it really that big?

Okay, you’ve seen the photo. Now get back to work.