Category: off-topic

Big Nate comic

Why book reports aren’t a good homework assignment any more

So, everyone knows that the kids these days are using ChatGPT to write their book reports. Even Big Nate knows it!

But what about ChatGPT’s safeguards? Isn’t it supposed to have some kind of anti-cheating baked in, so it won’t just write essays for kids? Why doesn’t that work?

Sure, it does have safeguards… kind of. If you just ask it to write an essay, it responds with a “helpful” answer about how to write an essay. The thing is that these safeguards are incredibly easy to work around.

Let’s pretend we’re a student who has to write a book report on The Kingdom over the Sea, by Zohra Nabi. Here’s how to write it in 20 minutes without even touching the book.
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Blepbot update: Hashtags

I did follow up on on of the possible improvements to the BlepBot in my last post. Mastodon has some fun day-specific tags for animal pics. I decided to use #TongueOutTuesday and #FurballFriday, since almost all the bleps are furry creatures.

# if it's Tuesday, add TongueOutTuesday hashtag
if todays_date.strftime("%w")=='2':
    post_text+=" #TongueOutTuesday"
elif todays_date.strftime("%w")=='5':
    post_text+=" #FurballFriday"

I also wanted to use a couple of cat-specific ones, but only on pictures of cats! To do that, I use to regex search the post text for “cat” (case-insensitively).

elif todays_date.strftime("%w")=='3':
        post_text+=" #WhiskersWednesday"
elif todays_date.strftime("%w")=='6':
        post_text+=" #Caturday"

Of course, we need to import datetime and re to use these:

from mastodon import Mastodon
import os,random,logging,datetime, re

The blepbot code is in github as a public template: Feel free to clone it and make it your own!


Creating a Mastodon bot in Python

Bleps always cheer me up, so I decided to create a Mastodon bot that posted one blep a day. (A blep is a picture of an animal with a tiny bit of its tongue sticking out, and Mastodon is a decentralized alternative to Twitter.)

Creating a Mastodon bot in Python was surprisingly easy, thanks to the library. I’ve documented all the steps here, along with links to tutorials for each library or builtin feature that I used.

Have you created any Mastodon or Twitter bots? Let me know in the comments!
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