Cinco Paus

Posted by: Ryan 1 year, 2 months ago
Categories: Video Games

While moving yesterday, I gave my keys to Jess so she could open doors while I used a hand truck. She left them for me on the hook - but I forgot to grab them before leaving the apartment with Violet later that night. Jess had her own set of keys - but she was at dinner with friends about 45 minutes away.

End result, violet and I had to hang out in our lobby for a while.  I had plans to do various moving and cleaning things, but I was essentially forced to just sit down and do nothing.

I ended up downloading and fiddling around with a new iPhone game by a clever developer named Michael Brough.  He makes puzzle games that appear very simple at first, but are actually very deep with complicated mechanics and interactions. They require a lot of deep thinking and strategy. They’re perfect for airplanes and situations where you’re locked out of your apartment!

This game is called Cinco Paus. All of the in-game instructions are written in Portuguese, because a part of the game is figuring everything out. In each play-through you control a little wizard who has five randomly generated wands. You don’t know what each wand does - so you need to use them to figure it out as you move around a five-by-five grid and slay monsters.  The game seems like nonsense at first, and learning how to play is the first puzzle. After you get a handle on that, the actual gameplay is quite a good puzzle too. 

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Posted by: Ryan 1 year, 3 months ago
Categories: Family, Friends, & Life

Lots of things are in flux right now. Aside from me switching to a new job, we’re also moving to a cheaper apartment where we can hopefully start saving money.
Change is stressful and scary, but sometimes you just need to go for it. Otherwise you run the risk of wondering what could have been. Nonetheless, it’s hard to step away from a good thing.
Anyways, this is a picture of Violet at the new apartment with our possessions only partially moved-in. Violet has mixed feelings about all of this moving - she doesn’t like it when we move around big furniture, but she seems to like running around in the half-empty spaces.

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Bizarre and brilliant art made by a machine

Posted by: Ryan 1 year, 3 months ago
Categories: Comet

This is a great image that was generated by an artificial neural network.  The neural network was very likely configured to apply the "style" of various romantic-era paintings to the "content" of this famous painting of Napoleon.  I am not sure if this brilliant and bizarre output was intended, but I like it.

The behavior of artificial neural networks has strange parallels with our human brains (hence the name).  This image exploits those parallels.  When glancing at it, our brain quickly identifies it as Napoleon - but upon closer inspection, the image is complete nonsense!

Here are a few other examples: [1], [2], [3], [4]  (Artist credit:

If you're intrigued, you can read this blog post by google and this technical paper for more details.


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Two years!

Posted by: Ryan 1 year, 3 months ago
Categories: Metaposts

Today is the two year anniversary of!

Reflecting back, this blog has far exceeded my expectations in terms of longevity and purpose.  It has been a way to share stories, pictures, jokes, and memories, but it has also become a vehicle for self-teaching and self-improvement.  I've learned that sitting down to write a few times per week helps me focus my thoughts - even beyond the thoughts that I am actually writing about.

I've got some fun and exciting new concepts in the works to keep the site fresh.  And there are a few bugs with the site that I intend to fix soon too.  Stay tuned.

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Machine Learning Progress Update 5

Posted by: Ryan 1 year, 3 months ago
Categories: Comet
Tags: Machine Learning

In a somewhat recent post, I mentioned that I was making a program to quickly flip through large collections of unlabeled images and assign labels to them.  I finished developing that program about a month ago, and I've used it quite a bit since then.  I named the program tkteach, and I've made it free for anybody to download, use, and modify on github (a website for sharing and improving code for programs).  As I mentioned, the program is designed to be fast, easy, and reliable.  It outputs the labels to a database, and it saves as you go - so you shouldn't have to worry about losing progress.

Over the past month or so, my time for working on machine learning has been limited.  I've spent my limited time labeling as many images as possible using tkteach.  I've labeled about 5,800 images so far - and I still have about 14,000 unlabeled images left.  It's not necessary to label ALL of those images - but the more the better.  Labeling the images is a little boring, so I usually do it while watching a twitch stream or listening to music.

The next step (which I'll likely start this upcoming weekend) will be re-training the neural network using all of these newly labeled images.  I anticipate a very big jump in accuracy since this new training data is much more representative of the actual images that the network will be seeing.

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Sunday hike

Posted by: Ryan 1 year, 3 months ago
Categories: Family, Friends, & Life

I took Violet on a hike through Cat Rock Park last Sunday afternoon.  Aside from the spot where I took this photo, the park was mostly ice and mud.  But it was still a nice time to meander through the trails.  Cat Rock isn't huge, but it has a handful of short trails.  Plus, it's one of the few locations where off-leash dogs are allowed (other than the tiny fenced-in "urban" dog parks).

I'm looking forward to spring/summer where it will be warmer and there will be more daylight for doing hikes like this.  They are good for mind and body.

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Graphics card compatibility

Posted by: Ryan 1 year, 3 months ago
Categories: Projects

I am pleasantly surprised this morning as Nvidia and AMD graphics cards are both connected to my computer and functioning at the same time.  For years I believed that two graphics cards could only work in unison if they were the exact same make and model.  The thought of using two different manufacturers' cards at the same time seemed like an impossibility.

But - I happened upon an article online that claimed it was possible.  I connected the foreign AMD card alongside my incumbent Nvidia GTX - and I prepared for what I thought would be a long night of battling with drivers and compatibility issues.  But - amazingly - the two cards worked together almost immediately.  It resulted in a 50% increase in crypto mining speed.  Glad I didn't throw it away.

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Satoshi Nakamoto

Posted by: Ryan 1 year, 3 months ago
Categories: Fluff

A month ago, I took my first steps into the world of cryptocurrency mining.  So far, the mining itself has been great - I've made about $80 by mining Ethereum, and I expect to accelerate that a little bit when I finally hook up my second video card that's currently sitting around doing nothing.  While $80 doesn't seem like much, it was essentially free money.  The impact to our electric bill has been negligible - and the mining is technically putting off a little bit of heat which offsets the gas bill.  Aside from mining, I also invested a (very) small amount of money into Ethereum, which hasn't done great as an investment so far.  But that's OK.  I'll let it ride.

When I first posted about crypto, I said I would follow-up with another post all about Satoshi Nakamoto (the mysterious inventor of bitcoin).  I had the Nakamoto post written about a month ago, but I forgot know...actually post it.

Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?

The short answer is that he is the inventor of bitcoin and, more importantly, the blockchain technology that makes bitcoin work.

The long answer is that 'Satoshi Nakamoto' is almost certainly a pseudonym.  People who reviewed the computer code for bitcoin say that it was either made by a single genius or a group of specialists working together.  While the true identity of Nakamoto is unknown, there are a few theories…

A computer scientist named Craig Steven Wright has claimed to be the true Nakamoto on several occasions, and a few big names in the community have confirmed it.  But, a few other big names have claimed that he is a phony.  Some say that the evidence he provided was falsified.  The jury is still out.

Someone did an analysis of Nakamoto’s writing style and found that it matched the writing style of a man named Nick Szabo, who was the inventor of an earlier electronic currency in the 1990s.  A finance journalist studied the matter and concluded that Szabo would be the only person with sufficient experience and knowledge to invent bitcoin.  Szabo denies being Nakamoto.

There is a Japanese American physicist named Dorian Nakamoto, who was born under the name Satoshi Nakamoto.  A journalist once asked him if he invented bitcoin, and he said, “I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it. It's been turned over to other people.” Obviously, that response made people freak out.  He later said he misinterpreted the question, he thought it was related to his work at Citibank, and that he hadn’t ever heard of bitcoin.

An electronic currency pioneer named Hal Finney happened to live near Dorian Nakamoto during the release of bitcoin.  It is known that Finney participated in some of the first bitcoin transactions and that he helped fix a few early bugs in the bitcoin code.  Analysis of Finney’s writing style also closely matches that of Satoshi Nakamoto.  Finny denies that he is Satoshi Nakamoto, and a Forbes journalist who met with Finney and studied him more closely reported that it’s unlikely that he is the true Nakamoto.

A Tesla intern even claimed that Elon Musk was the developer of bitcoin.  Musk denied it.

A software developer named Gavin Andresen has been the lead developer – and the main figurehead – of bitcoin since 2011.  In fact, Satoshi Nakamoto officially designated him as such.  Some rumors began to swirl that he may be the real Nakamoto, but then during a convention, Andresen said something to suggest that Craig Steven Wright was the real Nakamoto.  Shortly after, he retracted his statement.  Another interesting thing about Andresen: he lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.

From my limited amount of research on Nakamoto, I've learned that tech journalists are obsessed with searching for him, and the cryptocurrency community generally doesn't care who he is.

...big shoutout to wikipedia and the first 5 webpages that come up when you google "Satoshi Nakamoto" for giving me this info.

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Posted by: Ryan 1 year, 3 months ago
Categories: Fluff

Quartz (A digital magazine/news source) recently released an article about Panpsychism.  This is a theory/concept that all physical things have consciousness (even rocks).  The Quartz article essentially claims that a scientifically rigorous explanation of consciousness in humans/animals has eluded neuroscientists, philosophers, and physicists; to the point where the theory of Panpsychism makes more sense than the concept that brains somehow produce consciousness from non-consciousness.  In other words - they are struggling to understand why assembling non-conscious organic flesh in a very specific way to make a brain causes consciousness to occur.

Panpsychists posit that non-organic matter has a form of consciousness that is "unimaginably simple" - so it's not like your bedroom mirror has any thoughts about your outfit choice.  While this concept initially seems ludicrous, they question why a scientific truth must make common sense to begin with.

You can read the Quartz article here.  You can read the wikipedia article on Panpsychism here.  I learned of this Quartz article from, which is a monthly email newsletter full of fascinating tidbits.  Image is from Shutterstock.

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Sleigh Bells

Posted by: Ryan 1 year, 3 months ago
Categories: Music

On Wednesday we saw the band Sleigh Bells perform at The Paradise in Boston. It was a fun concert.  The band mixes pop vocals with distorted hard rock guitars and drums.  They have a really stripped down and intense sound.  Even when you listen to their music on low volume, it sounds loud. I think it’s the built-in distortion on the tracks.

This band isn’t for the faint of heart! 

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