Maths, Music, and More



Mainframes Joyce, and more on Neural Networks

After a few more days messing around with the neural network (this time i’ve trained it on 4 James Joyce books, around 4 MB of text) I decided to try making a whole book. I found out that Finnegan’s wake is roughly 1.3 MB of text, so I made 5 books of 1.3 MB length, altering a few variables on the neural network each time to see what changed. I picked the one I liked the most (temperature=0.9, for reference), and then spent a few hours formatting it. Then I went to Lulu and had it printed, because why not (The texts are all available in on Github).

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Neural Networks and James Joyce

Neural Networks are one of my favourite parts of computing – they allow you to do an incredible range of things, from turning handwriting into text, to creating mildly incoherent literature. I’ve played around with creating one before, to count syllables for a haiku generator. That didn’t work so well, so I’ve decided to play around with one already written by someone else, and see what I can do with it.

The first thing I thought of was to make a haiku generating neural network, but it’s hard to find databases with text files of thousands of haiku. Instead, I’ve decided to train it on James Joyce novels. Andrej’s Github (linked above) gives a really good overview of what you need to do to get his neural network up and running, so i’ll leave that bit out.
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Stupid Programming Languages

In a class, a few of my friends and I were perusing the old entries into the C obfuscation competition; it’s really neat to see all the clever ways people come up with to make it impossible to understand what their code does (that’s the aim of the competition, to make code that is borderline impossible to understand the function of by reading it). I personally like the flight simulator in which the code is shaped like an aeroplane. And it got us thinking – what if we wrote our own programming language with the intention of making it hard to follow?
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The Great Vote Count Caper

This is actually kind of amazing – some friends of mine (let’s call them ‘the musketeers’) entered a competition; they had to record a video, and it would be judged in 2 different competitions. The main event was with formal judges and large prizes, while the side event was some form of “people’s choice” awards, were people could go to their website and vote for their favourite videos. This one had some smaller gift voucher type prizes, and is (to us at least) much more interesting.

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Haiku bot

So I had this idea for a project – If you have a little server (from digital ocean), what cool things can you do with it?

The idea I ended up with (suggested by my dad) was to make a bot that emails you a haiku – email it with a few keywords, and it’ll randomly generate a haiku using those words and send it back.
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Drives are a hard bargain

After taking some time away from the problem (school, you know), I’ve come back to have another look at the hard drive controller. The idea was to open a hard drive, and use the interior disk platters as a controller for a computer, being able to, for example, scroll through movies, or songs, or even use it as an impromptu DJ desk.

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Rubik’s cube scrambler

Rubik’s cubes (or, more generally, twisty puzzles) are one of my hobbies – at one point, they were my most prominent pastime, but they’ve fallen by the wayside a little. I decided to try building a scrambling robot, so I don’t have to scramble them myself – doing it yourself tends to leave it improperly scrambled, as you start to involuntarily repeat yourself if you do it enough.

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Water based calculator

In the grand old tradition of projects for project’s sake, A friend asked me to assist him with building a calculator with a difference – it runs on water, not electricity. The logic circuits will be built using water as their current, and pressure as their voltage. While this is a totally impractical and superfluous machine, it sounds fun, and that’s enough to inspire me.

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Hard drive controller

We had a box of hard drives lying around, and I was given them to use in projects. I found a tip online (center of reliable information, I know) that some really old drives (40 mb or less) have stepper motors – I found the smallest drive, at around 850 mb, and opened it. I found no stepper motor, but while staring at the platters, I was struck by the resemblance to a DJ desk. So, I thought, why not turn it into a little DJ desk?

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