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Anagraphs and Generalized Kerning (22 Dec 2017 at 18:17)
Well, merry checklistmas etc., I finally got something done this month; it's this:

Anagraphs movie; rated G for general audiences
Anagraphs movie; rated G for general audiences


The movie above is another fun project, I hope entertainingly explained, with some twists. It concerns the dismemberment of letters to generalize anagrams, which I call anagraphs. It was presaged in post 1146 which may give you some idea how long it takes me to finally finish such projects. This one lended itself to some interesting computational problems, which I wisely realized would better exist in a completely separate video; it's this:

51 minute lecture about Turing Machines, Linear Logic
51 minute lecture about Turing Machines, Linear Logic


This latter movie is far less polished and rated C for College, because it's basically a lecture about decidability, specifically two uses of the technique of reduction to prove an undecidability result, and then a decidability result. If you like that kind of stuff, you will probably enjoy it, but if not, you were warned!

Also crossed off the checklist, I 100%ed Super Mario Odyssey and finished some books I was reading, as well as keeping up my streak of running every single day (today was #159). This makes my slate clean to start on new projects, a state that I just love being in, and will likely postpone through the holiday! Happy new year to you!
Categories:  hacks  video (9 comments — almost 6 months ago)   [ comment ]
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SIGBOVIK 2017: ABC (31 Mar 2017 at 12:34)
Hello my bloggies! I back-dated this post because even though I was all set up to post about my SIGBOVIK accomplishments, which this time conveniently occurred in the month of March, I then celebrated SIGBOVIK so thoroughly as to go to bed without actually posting here.

This year's invention is a strange artifact; if you want to experience it with fewest spoilers and have some time, then check out the paper version. I also put together a youtube video, since I like doing that:

SIGBOVIK 2017: Compiling C to printable x86, to make an executable research paper, by tom7
Click for nerd-talkin'


Despite the possibly misleading thumbnail, the video is mostly live-action, as I it after a popular YouTube series called Numberphile. The project doesn't lend itself too well to video, so my feelings won't be hurt if you don't sit through this one. :) I did my best to make the ideas and puzzles fun for people that don't have deep knowledge of this stuff but are interested.

SIGBOVIK was also live-streamed, so for the first time we have a mediocre recording of all the talks if you want to tune in after the fact too. My talk's at 1:22:00, and it's more bite-sized than the above.

Also, I must say: The conference this year was excellent, perhaps the best ever. The conference hall was packed; the overall quality of work was very high; the proceedings is thick with really interesting stuff (interspersed with the requisite juvenilia), and the talks were well-prepared and didn't drag on, thanks partly to the new timer system. It's pretty crazy how this conference has a life of its own now; almost nobody from the original group is organizing or even writing papers for it. We may even be getting to the point where we have to be selective about what we print..???
Categories:  hacks  sigbovik  video (15 comments — 5 months ago)   [ comment ]
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Unlikely Bikes: The Unibicle (30 Oct 2016 at 22:15)
This month's project is a new movie for my Engineering Comedy channel on YouTube. It's not about video games, and I'm not even sure I can say what it is, except to say that I sure spent a long time filming and editing it:

Press to watch bike movie
Press to watch bike movie


I got a new camera, the 5D Mark IV, which I'm excited shoots 4k and 1080p 60fps, the latter which I'm using here. I thought it'd be fun to make one of these engineering type videos like I frequently watch on YouTube (like there are hundreds of videos of guys carefully making clocks, measuring the flatness of steel bars, and so on), and I had this mechanical project in mind, so I shot hours upon hours of the various steps of putting it together. Almost all of that was even more boring than it sounds and ended up deleted, but I think the final video is entertaining, if strange.

Video editing is a real slog, and I had like six exciting ideas for different projects while finishing up. Time to get started!
Category:  video (3 comments — almost 2 years ago)   [ comment ]
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SIGBOVIK 2016: Snacks, 3D Zelda (02 Apr 2016 at 12:57)
Sup team! Yesterday was SIGBOVIK 2016, and as usual I had some entries that were more work than warranted by a joke conference.

The minor work was Reordering the Snacks is Effective and Just, which concerns an operational and ethical question in office snack behavior. Probably not worth it unless you go for the deep cuts.

The thing I poured a month into is The glEnd() of Zelda, which is a hack to automatically emulate NES games in 3D. I spent a lot of time crafting a video demonstration and explanation with my typical non-SAG "acting", which even seems to go over well with non-nerds:

Click here for Automated 3D NES
Click here for Automated 3D NES


I sort of ran out of time on this one, so I hope to have some more refinements to the code and to then post a download in a more user-friendly form. But you know how these things go!
Categories:  sigbovik  hacks  video (11 comments — almost 10 months ago)   [ comment ]
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Portmantout: A portmanteau of every English word (30 Apr 2015 at 22:59)
Oh, wow, that was dumb. I actually have at least three good posts saved up, but for some reason I thought I already posted in April. So I backdated this one. It's really May right this second. But it concerns April work:

Portmantout video!
Portmantout video!


This is a video I made for my little hack about "Portmantout". Portmanteau is a stringin'-together of two words (like caviar + armpit = caviarmpit), and Portmantout is when you do that for all of the words in English! I did the work and wrote the paper for SIGBOVIK but the video is part of my slow attempt to make an entertaining Youtube channel. It's a lot of work to put together these videos but I'm happy with how it came out!
Categories:  hacks  sigbovik  drawings  video (4 comments — 3 years ago)   [ comment ]
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ARST ARSW (29 Jun 2014 at 23:36)
At the beginning of the month I published ARST ARSW, which is Star Wars sorted alphabetically. It "went viral" (I think it was actually bacterial. Gram stain was positive) almost immediately, due to some lucky press, which is fine by me. If you haven't seen it, clicky-clicky:

ARST ARSW: Star Wars sorted alphabetically
ARST ARSW: Star Wars sorted alphabetically


Literally, every word spoken in the movie is assembled in alphabetical order along with the corresponding video clip (and ties of course broken chronologically). The description contains some "fun" facts, like that "lightsaber" only appears once in the movie!

At 43 minutes, it's a bit hard to watch the whole thing in a sitting, although many have declared success. I've only been able to finish it with a break or two, in all honesty. Maybe on the elliptical machine. If you do watch, please get to at least Alderaan (link skips directly) to see how it can create unintentional humor, as each character pronounces this fictitious planet's name differently (Luke kinda goes with whatever the person he's talking to says). Some other parts I like: Two words appear adjacent in ARST ARSW that are also adjacent in the movie, such that it goes an an an an ... an analysis. All the words that appear in Leia's hologram message are interesting, like Kenobi. See how much time people spend looking for Luke in this movie, and here you can see one of my three mistakes (one of the "Luke"s is out of order because it had an invisible tab character after it in my transcript). Catch 'em all! And I think Han Solo's scene that contains almost all the uhs in the movie is pretty hilarious. There are lots more favorites highlighted in the comments, along with the ubiquitous internet abuse. (Mom, who felt protective at my Ph.D. defense: Never read the comments.)

For F.A.Q.s like "Why did you do this?" take a look at this nice article in WIRED. That was the best writeup (thanks Emily!) but there were several, like in Yahoo Movies and cracked.com and many more. My favorite thing was that Conan O'Brien made fun of me on his show! He even has his own parody version, which is pretty good, except for that atrocious font. Here is the real font for next time, Conan.

It took a while to make, but people routinely waste entire weekends just binge-watching Netflix or worse. Not only was this basically relaxing (not to mention that it absorbed that nervous energy that you probably know I'm aflame with) but I got some practice making software for video editing. The source code is here. It's a pair of multithreaded C++11 apps. Basically the process was like this: I loaded all the frames up into memory, along with the audio, and had keyboard commands for marking a section of the video (actually the audio—you need much better resolution than 24fps to chop up words) and refining its borders while listening to it in a loop. I'd find a phrase in the audio, then type "if this is a consular ship where is the ambassador" and it'd just split up that loop into 10 mini-loops of the same length, one for each word. Obviously "if" is much shorter than "ambassador", so then I'd go and adjust the edges of those loops with the keyboard. I made tweaks to the program as I went, to make it efficient and fun-ish, and eventually got pretty fast at it. Here's what the UI looks like:

The software called ARST.EXE. Click for full-rez
The software called ARST.EXE. Click for full-rez


I also learned some things from making this video and the reaction to it. First: Star Wars is a really well-made film. I've probably only seen it four times or so—I'm no superfan—but watching the movie this closely, frame by frame, was a master course in filmmaking. At the micro level, I was very surprised how densely packed the dialogue is, with almost no pauses in between lines. (And yet it doesn't sound weird? People obviously don't talk like that.) It was neat how sound effects like laser blasts were carefully placed between words of dialogue during messy scenes, so that you'd still be able to hear the characters. I was also surprised with how little actual sound you need in order to perceive words like "a" or "it"; I often had trouble even isolating what part of the audio even corresponded to the word, despite it being clear that the character was saying that word when I listened to the whole line. It was notable how much of the story is propelled by the two droids, and I entertained an alternate theory that C3PO was Keyser Söze-ing the whole plot by "interpreting" R2D2's nonsense bleeps, which is pretty plausible.

I also learned that people have done this kind of thing before. For example, someone alphabetized one of George W. Bush's speeches as Qaeda Quality Question Quickly Quickly Quiet. There's also AARRSSTW, which I was terrified to see because I thought it might have been literally the same thing, but it is in fact Star Wars reordered by the length of the shot. In general, this kind of exhaustive analysis of the words in some work is called a Concordance, which is usually done entirely earnestly for books like the bible by people who are even more extremely boring than me.

Lots of people have asked to do other stuff with the timecoded words, especially, something where you type in a phrase and it outputs a video of clips from the movie speaking your phrase. (Or more cleverly, take the movie itself and replace each word with a clip of a different character saying that word.) There are lots of good ideas, but I decided that it would detract from the art of this one to do anything that might be perceived as "useful" or "interesting" with it. The point is the movie and that it has no point.

Moreover, although I'm always happy with attention for my projects, this one is now probably my most famous (!), at least if measured by Youtube views, which are now nearly 1 million. (Though people have watched more than twice as many actual minutes of my previous virus.) I don't want to be known as the Star Wars guy or something, so we are now done with this project and it's on to the next! Expect the next post to contain an unexpectedly resumed classic.
Categories:  hacks  video (19 comments — almost 2 months ago)   [ comment ]
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3D printing (28 Feb 2014 at 21:51)
Recently I have been doing some 3D printing, mostly for fun, but also for fixing things and optimizing my life a little. It's really pretty awesome to be able to go from an idea to a physical object in an hour or two, and to make stuff that's completely customized to its use. Here's my page on Thingiverse, the social networking site for 3D printing models. I have a few other things I've made that aren't uploaded there. I started with CAD software, which is super good for precise parts (and really fun; if you have never used modern CAD software and think you might like it, you should try it. It's almost as fun as learning to program was, for me), but recently I've been learning Blender, which is an excellent open source 3D modeling tool. It's much better than I expected (usually open source software for media, like drawing or music or video, is pretty disappointing). Last weekend I made this toy:

Spelunky golden idol 3D model

It's the Golden Idol from Spelunky, printed here at miniature size. While I'm gushing about software I like, Spelunky is so good. If you like hard platformers, you should play it. Even though it's a roguelike, the adage that "Spelunky has a robust leveling system -- it's just inside your heart" is really true, and I've been playing for months and still haven't beaten it the hardest way. Anyway, I can just make my own treasure so no big deal. Here's a timelapse video of it 3D-printing.
Category:  video (6 comments — 4 years ago)   [ comment ]
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The adventures of learnfun and playfun, episode 3 (20 Jan 2014 at 12:11)
It took an awful long time to finish, but I finally posted the third in my series of videos about my software that learns to play Nintendo games:

The adventures of learnfun & playfun episode 3
The adventures of learnfun & playfun episode 3


This one doesn't have too much technical materials, as it's the exact same program playing a bunch more games: Color A Dinosaur, Cliffhanger, Pro Wrestling, Pinball, Mega Man 2, Gradius, Double Dare, Arkanoid. There are also some new results for Super Mario Bros. It's a bit lengthy, but I tried hard to keep it dense and filled with entertainment.

I'm currently working on different projects for SIGBOVIK this year, but I also have some more ideas for the NES AI stuff. All we need is more time!
Categories:  sigbovik  video games  video (31 comments — almost 2 years ago)   [ comment ]
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The adventures of learnfun and playfun, part 2 (23 Aug 2013 at 18:15)
A few days ago I posted a follow-up video to the one I made for my SIGBOVIK paper this April. It covers 6 new games, and I already have the recordings for another 7, coming soon. This new video is a bit more polished in production values but along the same lines, new surprises notwithstanding. :) If you haven't seen the first video you should watch that one first (now over 500,000 views!) since it explains the basics.

I also put up downloadable binaries on the learnfun & playfun site so if you are patient enough to use the command line and follow instructions (and have 64-bit windows and lots of RAM), but not patient enough to figure out how to compile the damn thing yourself, now's your chance.

Three hours from now starts Ludum Dare #27, which I'm participating in as usual! I'm psyched to create something, but I have no idea what, yet...
Category:  video (84 comments — almost 2 months ago)   [ comment ]
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Sick Day video (26 Oct 2009 at 09:31)
Behold! A new music video by my band, Sick Ridiculous (&c.). Nels and I filmed this a few weeks ago and I just finally got the time to put it all together this weekend. The song is Sick Day, which is sort of our band theme song, and easily one of my favorites. Watch: Please consider watching in HD at Vimeo, or even downloading the 1080p original from that page. This is some life-size pro shit we're talking about here. The recording is new, too; get the Sick Day MP3 for your growing collection.

Also: We are playing this Thursday at Smiling Moose in the South Side, upstairs. We're opening for Sound Of Urchin (and others), who themselves opened for Tenacious D on a recent tour. Yes, we are now in the Six Degrees of Billy Joel territory. If you're in the mood to rock, come see us! The Facebook event has all the deets. Costumes encouraged.
Categories:  mp3  video  sick ridiculous (6 comments — almost 9 years ago)   [ comment ]
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