Short Story: The School Play

This week in the writing group, we did an exercise where there were eight randomly generated words and we tried to use them all in our story. I managed to go through them in order three times, but points off for using some of them twice in a row. Can you guess the eight words, [...]

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Short Story: Edward Snowden as a child

At today’s writing group the focus was on improving our dialog writing. We randomly generated about ten dialog prompts, the goal was to pick one or two and use them in a story in 15 minutes. I managed to use all of them; which is less impressive than it sounds because by luck, they all [...]

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Short Story: One Year in the Future

I’ve started attending a writers’ group here in England, meeting every two weeks. Every meeting we do a fifteen minute writing exercise; I guess I’ll start publishing the results of the exercises here. This time around the theme was writing for teenagers. The scenario was randomly chosen: “A character goes forward one year in time. [...]

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Analysis of Franz Kafka’s “The Castle”

I recently finished Franz Kafka’s “The Castle”, and promoted it to one of my favorite novels. (I won’t be liable for officially recommending it: It’s an acquired taste.) Below is my analysis. Just as Kafka left the novel unfinished, and his friends had to assemble what they could from unorganized scraps, so too I will [...]

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Technicianing the Architect

I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon wherever there’s a forum for people to comment on suggested software changes. You can see this phenomenon in the “Suggested Features” subforum of any big indy game community, or in the “Feature Request” discussion groups of any popular indy software package. I call it Technicianing the Architect. Technicianing the Architect [...]

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Why programming is hard to automate

A common question in amateur science forums goes like this: how long until we can fully automate computer programming, in the sense of telling the computer what we want it to do in a few English sentences? That’s a wonderful fantasy, but it goes beyond “technically infeasible” and into “doesn’t even make sense”. In this [...]

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100 uses for blank MP3s

In 2010, I posted a collection of Blank MP3s of various lengths. Yep, the same kind of MP3 files you use to listen to music, except minus the music. Sound pointless? Well, since then, grateful users have sent me a lot of messages telling me how they use blank MP3s. The title of this article [...]

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Peer Reviewer’s Oath

I recently completed my second peer reviewing assignment. I enjoy performing peer review. It gives me a finger on the pulse of cutting edge research (at least the cutting edge research that’s trivial enough to entrust its reviewing to lowly old me). It makes me feel good to do my part, however small, in advancement [...]

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Infinitary Species

One of the papers I had the most fun writing, was my paper, “Infinite graphs in systematic biology, with an application to the species problem”. And one of the funnest notions in that paper is the notion of the infinitary species. This notion is fun because of some of the really preposterous properties it has, [...]

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Announcing PORAL: The Patterns of Resemblance Arithmetic Library (in C)

I am in the process of moving various scattered projects onto GitHub. I’ve just moved one of my most technical projects there, PORAL. PORAL stands for “Patterns of Resemblance Arithmetic Library”. Patterns of Resemblance form a large ordinal notation system. They were devised by my advisor, Timothy J. Carlson. For a geometric introduction (note, the [...]

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