Author Archives: thealchemist

Life, the Universe, and Everything.


The double rainbow guy was on to something….

Voice is worthless

I completely agree with Gigaom on this: Telephony in and of itself will become worthless in the near future. It’s just going to be another protocol sent over the internet. The sooner cellular carriers realize they are wireless ISPs, the better it will be for everyone.

Two Roads To Courage

Two Roads To Courage

A truly excellent gift: Bourbon and Brass Knuckles in a suitcase.

The CRM114 discriminator

“… Now, in order to prevent the enemy from issuing fake or confusing orders, the CRM114 Discriminator is designed not to receive at all… That is, not unless the message is preceded by the proper three­letter code group.“

–George C. Scott, playing the role of General Buck Turgidson, in Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove

One of my favorite stories about Dr. Strangelove is that apparently, Kubrick asked George C. Scott to do several takes of each scene, and specifically in one of takes, to be completely over the top, totally outrageous. Kubrick almost exclusively used the over the top takes in the final edit of the film.

What that story has to do with the automated machine learning library CRM114, other than the obvious link to Dr. Strangelove I don’t know, however, CRM114 is fricken amazing. In the words of the its creator Bill Yerazunis CRM114 is like “grep was bitten by some radio active spider”.

Essentially, if you have some stream of documents, data, bits or whatever and you’d like to automatically classify it into categories, CRM114 is your new bicycle. CRM114 learns, and it learns fast, how to accurately categorized your stream of data, with accuracies of up to 99.9% (with a little bit of love). It’s a swiss army knife of machine learning.

Gimme Shelter | Studio Multitracks

Studio Multitrack recording of Gimme Shelter. Keith Richards’s lead guitar really shines. Now, on to spending the rest of my evening pulling out samples from all of the other tracks.

Gimme Shelter | Studio Multitracks.

The Post Scarcity Toolkit

The GVCS is a collection of 40 machines needed to “create a small civilization with modern-day comforts…like a life-size Lego set”.

via Kottke

Cthulhu Trooper

Yeah I did it.

A New Sith, or Revenge of the Hope

An excellent essay on the Star Wars hexilogy, by Keith Martin. I doubt that this remotely resembles anything that ever crossed George Lucas mind, however, looking at all six movies in this light adds quite a bit of depth to the movies. So much so, that I think if Chewie and R2 were supposed to be as important as this essay postulates, the movies would have been much different. Lucas doesn’t have a subtle bone in his body.

24 hour image of the sky

Shot by Chris Kotsiopoulos in a 24 hour time period in athens greece. Stitching together over 60 different shots, including one long exposure of the stars, all shot at cape Sounion, the the temple of Poseidon.

Hustling

Hustling.

An RC tricopter, helium balloons, fireworks…

And one of my most vivid childhood dreams made real:

Also, pan and tilt camera on an RC plane. The rest of the videos on that youtube page are also amazing…

The Revolution is currently being televised

Live footage from Al Jaazera Egypt. http://english.aljazeera.net/watch_now/

Android, Tasker, and Blogging

One of my new year’s resolutions is to write a blog every weekday. Not tremendously ambitious, I know. So, how do I go about making sure I don’t fall behind?

I looked into a bunch of different solutions: a cron job that check to see if I’ve blogged that day and pesters me if I haven’t. I thought though, wouldn’t it be nice if my phone would notify me if I hadn’t written a blog, and then, if I persist in not blogging that day, my phone would send me an email?

Setting this up was fairly straightforward. I use a program on my phone called Tasker. It gives you the ability to perform actions given some state of affairs. For example, I use tasker to pay attention to what cell phone towers I am near. If I’m close to either my home, work or my girlfriend’s place, Tasker can automatically turn on my wifi and attempt to connect to the appropriate wifi network for my location. Or, If I plug in my phone, Tasker changes the volume of the alarms, sets the brightness of the screen, and a whole host of other options as well.

In order to check to make sure I’ve written a blog, every weekday, after 4pm Tasker connects to the internet and downloads my blog. It checks the contents of the blog to see if the current date is in the contents. If Tasker doesn’t find the date, it creates a notification on my phone reminding me to write a blog post. If it’s notified me three times, meaning it’s 7pm, and I still haven’t written my daily post, Tasker sends an email to my address, reminding me yet again.

I could have written all of this up in a little ruby script, and used notif.io or the Android Push Notification service, but there is something kinda neat about having my phone check up on me. I always joke that cell phones are personal pocket robots, but it’s increasingly true. My Nexus One is several times over more powerful than my first computer.

Update: Tasker can’t actually send emails, yet. So, I’ve followed these instructions on setting up the android scripting environment to send emails.

Data Scraping for Non-Techies

In a world where so much data is online, yet, simultaneously, almost completely inaccessible, Propublica.org has posted an excellent introduction into the arcane arts of scarping data, aimed specifically for journalists and non-techies alike: Scraping for Journalists

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