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  • By Lizzie Siegle
    Detect Hair Color with AutoML, MMS, and JavaScript Detect Hair Color header image

    A few weeks ago, I hosted Anna Lytical on my weekly Twilio TV Twitch show, #GreatHairCodeShare, to talk about making tech more inclusive and accessible, their path to Google and drag, and more! Anna Lytical is the sickeningly entertaining and educating coding drag queen dedicated to engaging a more diverse audience with code and technology, especially the LGBTQ+ community. During working hours, they are an engineer at Google working on the developer experience for Google Cloud Platform.

    Together, we built a hair color detector using Google AutoML, Cloud Functions, Twilio MMS, and JavaScript to show off on Twitch. Read on to learn how to build it yourself and see it in-action by texting a selfie or image with hair to +18182757423!

    Steph Curry hair color

    What you need to get started

    To follow along with this post, you will need

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  • By Lizzie Siegle
    Zsh Tricks to Blow your Mind zsh header

    In UNIX-based programming, we often talk about shells, terminals, and the command line interfaces. Bash is probably the most well-known, but there are other widely-used options as well, such as Zsh or the Z shell. Read on to learn more about Zsh and some tips and tricks to optimize your development.

    What is Zsh?

    Zsh, also known as the Z shell, extends functionality of the Bourne Shell (sh), offering newer features and more support for plugins and themes. Starting with MacOS Catalina in 2019, Zsh became the default login and interactive shell in Mac machines.

    Install Zsh

    You can install Zsh using Homebrew with brew install zsh.

    While you're at it, you can also install the most popular Zsh plugin, oh-my-zsh, that comes with many built-in plugins and themes using this install script:

    sh -c "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/robbyrussell/oh-my-zsh/master/tools/install.sh)"

    9 Lesser-Known Zsh Tips and Tricks

    1. My teammate …

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  • By Lizzie Siegle
    Monitor chess progress using Twilio Serverless and SMS header img chess

    After the Queen's Gambit came out, I, alongside many, began playing a lot of chess and completing chess puzzles. This tutorial will go over how to build a chess progress monitor using the chess.com API, Twilio Functions, and the Twilio Serverless Toolkit. Text a chess.com username to +14243260196 (for example below, mine is lizziepika) to see it in action.

    SMS example


    1. A Twilio account - sign up for a free one here and receive an extra $10 if you upgrade through this link
    2. A Twilio phone number with SMS capabilities - configure one here
    3. Postman (you could alternatively make cURL requests from the command line)
    4. Node.js installed - download it here

    Make a chess.com API Request  

    cute Disney man chess gif

    Che …

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  • By Lizzie Siegle
    Is it safe to say at Thanksgiving? with Transfer Learning and SMS thanksgivingtg.png

    This Thanksgiving, you might find yourself in interesting discussions with family members who have differing viewpoints. Read on to see how to determine whether or not something would be divisive to say at Thanksgiving dinner using Zero-Shot Text Classification and Twilio Programmable SMS in Python.

    shorter text example


    *You should not travel for Thanksgiving due to COVID-19--this post is just for fun. Here's how the CDC recommends celebrating this year.

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  • By Lizzie Siegle
    Announcing the TQ Tumult Winners! tq tumult winners header

    Last month, we hosted the first ever TQ Tumult contest for student developers. This March Madness-like event took place over the span of two weeks and featured 101 students from 24 different schools completing missions and objectives in TwilioQuest, a PC role-playing game inspired by classics of the 16-bit era where players helped defeat the evil Legacy Systems while learning skills related to Twilio and general programming.

    TQ Tumult leaderboard night it started

    775,750 experience points (XP) was completed by the end, making it the second highest achieving TwilioQuest event after Virtual Superclass at SIGNAL 2020.

    Today, we’re happy to announce the winners of the contest who will receive personal streaming setups and school honor. Here are the winners:

    TQ Tumult Winning Teams

    1. Taking first place was team rip mixer, a team of five Harvard juniors that together earned 137,500 XP! They took a lead early on, starting to complete missions and earn XP …
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  • By Lizzie Siegle
    Announcing the TwilioQuest Tumult Contest tqtumult.png

    Calling US-based college students!

    We want YOU to lead your intrepid crew representing your school on a mission to save The Cloud!

    In TwilioQuest, a PC role-playing game inspired by classics of the 16-bit era, you will help defeat the evil Legacy Systems while learning skills related to Twilio and general programming along the way.

    At the end of the 2 week-long tournament running from October 19th-October 30th, the team with the most number of missions completed will earn honor and a streaming setup worth ~$1000 per team-member!


    How it Works

    Some rules:

    • You must be a current US college student (undergrad or grad). Please use your school email!
    • You do not need to be studying computer science or have any programming experience.
    • Each school can have more than 1 team, but we'd like for each team's members to all be from the same school
    • Teams should be 4-5 …
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  • By Lizzie Siegle
    Build an Interactive Bar Chart of Taylor Swift lyrics with D3.js and Observable tswiftvis.png updated

    Data visualizations are handy ways to examine and think about data. Observable is a Jupyter Notebook-like tool that makes it easy to quickly run JavaScript code in cells so you can see what you're doing in real-time.

    This post will go over how to make an interactive bar chart showing Taylor Swift's most-used words from her lyrics with Observable using D3.js. In the meantime you can view the completed notebook and visualization here, and you can fork and edit it yourself.

    gif bar graph

    Brief Intro to Observable

    You can think of each different cell as a function. Cells come in two primary forms:

    1. Expressions. Expression cells are the most concise and are meant for simple definitions and in Observable outside of a closure, you don’t need a var/const/let keyword.

    simple cell equation

    2. Blocks. Block cells are encompassed by curly braces and include more complex code …

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  • By Lizzie Siegle
    5 Questions to Ask Yourself before Working with a Dataset header img dataset

    Recently I was looking for some datasets to analyze and make predictions based on data for a blog post project. I got stuck when I kept running into datasets that were fun but not good: oftentimes, AI projects struggle due in part to data-related issues.

    What makes a dataset good or bad? What are some things you should consider when looking at a dataset? How should you interpret a dataset, from beginning to end? Read on to find out!

    5 questions to ask yourself before working with a dataset

    1. How was the data compiled? 

    Was it aggregated from multiple sources? Did you compile it? If it came from different sources, you may have to format the data so different variables within a given attribute are consistent, such as dates, times, addresses, states or cities (maybe they’re abbreviated?), numbers like currency, etc., and some of the data may not be …

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  • By Lizzie Siegle
    6 JavaScript console methods like Taylor Swift folklore lyrics taylor swift js header img 6

    If you do web development, you've probably used console.log at least once (or over a thousand times...who's counting?) because that's the best debugging method! But did you know there are other console methods? Taylor Swift's most recent album folklore is chock full of pensive metaphors, allusions, and symbolism, and this post will liken some of those lyrics to six lesser-known JavaScript console methods.

    What exactly is the console?

    The console is a global object letting developers access the debugging console. It has a plethora of methods that make it easier to log statements, variables, functions, errors, and more--oh my!

    6 console methods that are like folklore lyrics

    1. console.log = "But it would've been fun // If you would've been the one" 

    console.log is the most commonly-used method. Used for general purpose logging, it displays the message passed to it in the web console. Did you know you can decorate …

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  • By Lizzie Siegle
    Participate in Local Issues with a SMS Chatbot header image

    If you have opinions about how your city is run, it’s more important than ever to make your voice heard. This blog post will go over how to build a SMS chatbot using Twilio Autopilot, Twilio SendGrid, Twilio Functions, TwiML Bins, and JavaScript to engage in local civic issues. 

    One example might be San Francisco, where the city is planning to permanently cut 40 of 68 bus lines and free bus rides for youth

    In this blog post, concerned citizens can tell members of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority to not cut bus lines. Read on for a step-by-step process to build the bot, and you can text the +14153068517 number to see the example!

    SMS image

    Set Up your SMS Chatbot

    To follow along with this post, you need three things:

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