What a week!

Personal update: Josh and I signed a mountain of paperwork yesterday and are just waiting… waiting… for JUST GOT final notification that we’ve closed on a house here in Seattle. This process has been nail-biting right up until very end. I sold my house in Houston back in October and we were outbid on a house in Seattle earlier this winter. That turned out to be a blessing because it enabled me to leave my job and for us to still qualify for a (smaller) loan on Josh’s income alone. All in all, we’ll be paying half as much each month on our mortgage as we’re currently paying in rent, and moving from a land of faceless high-rise condos to a wonderfully diverse neighborhood with an invested community. Anyway, the house buying process is a lot different from 2010, when I bought my house in Houston. More paperwork, more disclosures, and more “we’re all set just waiting on this oooooone little make-or-break thing….” It may sounds nuts but trust me that rent here is no joke, and *buying a house* is going to *save us money* in both the short and long-term. Crazy, I know.

So, that’s been taking up a lot of my time and mental energy. But we’re excited!!

No new work to share… but elsewhere online, here’s some stuff I’m paying attention to:

1. The Ulysses bot I’ve been following came to an end and restarted. Not surprisingly, it got a ton of retweets at the end of Molly Bloom’s monologue. Creator Timo Koola elaborates:

2. I really want to make a literary bot and this War and Peace bot is a fantastic resource. Creator Adam Dynamic has thoroughly documented the process of using Natural Language Processing Toolkit (NLPT) and Python to parse a text file into reader-friendly 140 character tweets.  He even shares his code on the page, so if you know a bit about Python already you can download your public domain e-book of choice from Gutenberg, download NLPT, run it through the code, and see what you get!

I’m working on making an Alice in Wonderland tweet-bot and I spent a good couple hours the other night working in the text file. I ran the text through Adam’s program as-is, and what I got was usable, but many of the lines were shorter than I’d like. I’m not 100% sure, but I think this is because Alice is styled with a lot of dashes and commas that are triggering the computer to say “new line now!” when actually it’s fine, they should stay together for efficiency and readability. SO, I manually went through and re-combined split lines until I was happy with it. I was able to do this manually *because*…

  • Alice in Wonderland word count: 26,762
  • War and Peace word count: 565,230

The *better* approach, as we all know, is to adjust the code to fit the text. And, I have been sufficiently punished for taking the lazy way out by a rookie-mistake in my Python script that deleted my new, manually-edited text, along with several hours of work. (This I discovered when I thought, “wait, before I start running code that writes files, I’d better back that file up…. oh look too late.”)

LESSONS LEARNED:

  1. Only in computer science is “the lazy way” also the more time- and labor-intensive way. And, if you’re going to go down that lazy path, for Pete’s sake back-up your work.
  2. Had I used GitHub to commit my project, I could have easily gone back in time and rescued my poor file. Our entire Monday class was about git, so I really ought to have known better.
  3. </self-flagellation>

3. The whole complexity conversation has turned into a lesson about SORTING, which is a real treat to someone like me who *lives* for alphabetized bookshelves, and would never dream of sorting books by color.  My “ah-haah” turning point to embracing complexity was learning about the Fisher-Yates Shuffle. And, have you seen these great videos?

If you’re not clapping and stamping your feet while you sort, you’re doing it wrong. Visualgo.net is another great resource for this.

4. The kids are playing Elevator Saga. I haven’t tried this yet, but it looks fun.

Ok, off to finish homework and pick up keys!