Cracking GRE using a Twitter Bot

Back in 2016, when I was preparing for GRE, I was falling short of days to prepare properly, especially for the verbal section. I had to learn over a thousand new words in a couple of weeks and improve my vocabulary somehow really soon. And I did just that by building a Twitter bot.

With 8+ hours going in at work every day, there wasn’t much time left for myself to learn all that had to be done. It did not feel ethical to me to study for GRE while I was at work, so I did not do that. However, I noticed that even at work everyone was checking notifications on their phone. I also checked every single notification on my phone – be it WhatsApp, Gmail, or something else. This gave me the idea that perhaps I could utilise my habit of checking notifications for some good – If there could be a system that would push notifications with GRE words and their definitions to my phone, my habitual glance at the notifications would end up benefiting me.

So, I decided that I needed to build a GRE Words App.
Did it benefit me? Well, I scored a 325 / 340. So, I would say it did. 🙂

Now, I could have gone with building a full fledged Android App, but that would have required a lot more time and effort, and every minute was crucial for my preparation. If you’re giving GRE, you know this. People don’t put up vocabulary chrome new tab extensions, or word meaning screensavers for no reasons.

So, I settled for building a Twitter bot, and let twitter take care of pushing me the notifications. Moreover, it was also safe to say that even if my manager or peers saw my phone, no one’s going to judge me for some Twitter notification. 😉

This gave rise to @GREWordVocab on Twitter. If you’re preparing for your GRE exam, you can subscribe to this twitter account. And voila, every half an hour you’ll have a twitter notification on your phone with a GRE word and its definition.

An example showing a tweet with a GRE word

What I found a very nifty feature was to #hashtag the word. So, I could just click on the hashtag and it would show me other tweets using that hashtag, which often served as a good way to know real world examples for that word.

The code for the twitter bot is completely open sourced and decently documented on Github. Any Pull requests, or additions, or issues to the code are welcome.

The rest of this post is about how I built that bot, and how you could build a similar twitter bot as well.

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sudo reboot

The last post of this blog came was in January 2016. Now it is 2019! I wanted to keep continuing the blog but somehow just never prioritised it. Not anymore though. It’s been too damn long, and the blog’s going to take a fresh reboot. Soon, this blog shall have a lot of new posts.

Back then, I was pumped up, loved sharing knowledge, and it was campus placements time and it was known that ‘a tech blog could give you an edge’. To be honest, it did help me. But somehow, the whole change in lifestyle soon caused the blog to be forgotten.

Since then I’ve done a lot – switched to a Mac, won hackathons, switched to doing machine learning full time, learnt about deep learning, built a lot of small projects and automation tools, and in general learnt a whole lot. And whatever of that isn’t too outdated will be coming up on the blog in the coming days or weeks.

Hope you get to learn something as you stop by at this blog. 🙂


PVR 4DX Review (Feat. Wonder woman)

So, it’s been more than two weeks since 4DX came into Bengaluru (In Phoenix Market City), and I wanted to know how it was. But I couldn’t find any tweets, any facebook updates, or blogs about it. I could find lots of check-ins but no one describing what and how it was. So, I decided to do that myself.

So, what is 4DX?

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The First Step of AI Journey

So, recently I got seduced again by all the flashy, hot stuff that’s going around in Artificial Intelligence (henceforth only referred as AI). There was this day when it gave me chills down my spine, and it didn’t have any effect on people around me, I knew it then I had feelings for AI. So, as gradient descent does, I stepped towards it. I took courses, I helped out an assistant professor with research related to Support Vector Machines, I tried to read many AI papers and even did a 6-month long thesis on using MaxEnt approach in Inductive Logic Programming. Everything went fine.

But fine ain’t good ever. And fine is never really great. And I wanted oomph! I wanted sweat. I wanted Electricity. I wanted Amazement. I wanted something phenomenal to happen between me and AI. But, for that to happen, I would have to give it time, respect, effort and a lot of other stuff that automatically falls under passion.

So, this is the day. The day 1. The pilot episode. The first step, in a journey of the AI world. Every day, I will walk a few steps in this world. Even if it’s the busiest day and I have to read up stuff while I’m shitting (which btw, isn’t a bad idea!).

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Multiple external monitors setup with Ubuntu 14.04

If you’re on ubuntu 14.04, you’re mostly on kernel 3.13.x. Maybe even 3.14.x. But, the problem with these is, you can not have a setup like this :

2 External monitors with ubuntu 14.04

What I mean is, you can not have two monitors connected and all three screens working in harmony, in extended mode. This problem is called a DP MST Problem. DisplayPort Multi-Stream (DP MST) isn’t working, because it does not exist in that kernel version. For the record, I am using a Dell Latitude E7250, and have connected it to a DockStation or Dell E-port, whatever you wanna call it. One external monitor is connected using DVI cable, and other using VGA. You would think this should work, but it doesn’t. Both the external monitors get recognized as just one monitor and they mirror/duplicate each other.

So, to solve this problem, there are two approaches here –

  1. Upgrade to ubuntu 15.04 or higher (have out of the box support for DP MST)
  2. Upgrade your kernel and intel drivers (I’m assuming you’re having a simple machine having integrated drivers. If you have a graphic card, you MIGHT need to install its drivers too.)

I did not want to update my ubuntu because of LTS version, and knowing that most of my peers are also on 14.04, it was a better choice right now. So, I went ahead with the second method.

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Quickfix : Save ACR Recordings with a sensible name

This is a new section on my blog wherein I would be posting small scripts I have written to fix some very tiny troubles of life. Mostly they’re here to automate some manual work which would be cumbersome. These are not going to be rocket science. There might be little that you gain out of this, but you might gain some knowledge. While creating such scripts I often take aid of StackOverflow and get to learn something new every time. That is why I’m starting this section. I’m going to start the post with things you might learn from the post so you do not have to go through the whole post if it does not seem worth or you already are aware of it.
Remember that the codes written in these will not be very general. They were written to solve a very specific issue.

Things you might learn out of this:

  • Time and Date formatting in python (strftime, strptime)
  • A way to record calls on your android phone
  • How to move these recordings from phone to some storage device but still keep sensible names

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