Clicking Paper

Back in college I fell in love with the process behind Text Markup and the programming tool that we used to analyze texts with, SPITBOL. The initial direction of text analysis was just a starting point for me and I have since created the outline for a much grander project, which has gone nowhere.

I have this theory that human speech isn’t just a repetition of words but, when done confidently, a subtle musical flow that can be extracted and then applied to texts. By finding that flow of music which is a combination of the sounds that are in each English word and the pauses and gaps between words, one could create a text to speech system that would sound completely natural to anyone listening to it.

In my spare time at college I would try to take the code I new and find out everything about how it functioned and what else i could do with it to meet this new idea. SPITBOL was designed so that it would allow me to access external programs and include them in the final compiled code. This then gave me the flexibility to create a program to create my own dictionary to build the initial phonetic sounds of each word.

The process at this point is simple. Take a list of all the words in the English language (downloaded from a website as a text file), have a program look up each word on a dictionary website and find the corresponding phonetic breakdown, and then write both the word and the breakdown to a new list.

Another list of the phonetic pronunciations of letters and letter combinations would need similar treatment but instead of just grabbing a corresponding list of data from online, one would need to create a series of musical notes behind those sounds and then apply them to the list of words from earlier. This then would give each word it’s own musical score.

From that preliminary data then, the main program could read any text and play back the resulting musical representation of it. You would be able to “hear” the words but not the actual pronunciation of the words.

Of course there would need to be a little more code to handle the various punctuation marks to add pauses and inflections as well.

That was the start of my project but things in life changed such that I never spent all the time I should have on developing it. Now, years later, I think about how this idea could be expanded upon  with some of the new neural network and deep learning tools available. I wonder if by using my musical extractor with some code that learns if I could create a program that could read any text and sound completely natural but also listen to others speaking and hear exactly what is being said.

Right now if you interact with a system that is operated by a computer, it listens for key words and then responds with new menus. This unnatural way of communication on phone menus is always awkward to deal with and you are left feeling a little off because you really wanted to talk to a person.

But if you took my system, you could build something that would not only listen to your entire speech but also know where to pull the key elements out of it to continue on a meaningful, albeit artificial, conversation. I know this sounds dangerous as well but my intentions for it are a bit more personal. I want a computer at my house to act like Jarvis from the Iron Man movies. Something that has an air of intelligence behind it.

And despite my dreams and my ideas, my lack of progress has let others find the same path and create the solutions ahead of me. Adobe has created a program called VoCo that can listen to a person speak for about twenty minutes and then creates not only a transcript of what was said, but also gives someone the ability to change the speech by just changing the text. With just a good sample of speech, you can make anyone you like (or don’t like) say anything you want them to say.

Who knows what other idea I’ve been sitting on for the last ten years that someone else is about to release. This is why I’ve decided to just write about my ideas because they just fester and become nothing so I’m letting the small group of people I interact with see what is in my treasure chest and at least get it out there even if it goes nowhere.

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Rotten Purity

I am trying to break down my time into usable sections where I can allocate some constructive processes. The online distractions of the reports of the narcissistic orange snowflake spreading a goal of fascism, digital solitary games with never ending stories and pointless rewards, cold and unforgiving floors underfoot, and the occasional feline interaction are keeping me from getting any other real work done.

My reality depends on information overloading to just keep me from losing track of how much my insanity is just a small fraction of the world and where I see pain and misery, it is nothing more than a slice of the life that everyone has a part of. We are creatures born of a small planet hurtling through a limitless expanse wondering if there is anything else out there and yet we cannot grasp that all that we are is right here. As a species we are the cancer that infects the planet as we try to benefit ourselves rather than this precious place and then I return back into my room and look at the mess on the floor and think, when do I have time to clean any of this up. I’m just too cold right now. I need to cuddle up in bed.

As the fat and greases of foods gone by slowly burns in the cells of my strange and constantly exploring mind I cannot get over how the changes in my body make my clothes less useful. I need new clothes to compensate not for my gains in mass but my losses in mass and yet it feels strange to have to get tighter clothes as I enjoy the loose flutter of cloth in the breeze. Dreams of custom clothes that flow with me would be my mark of design for all to see and their shape being something like those in kung-fu but also an illuminated robe like that in Tron Legacy. I want feathers like Azriel in Diablo 3 and blue throughout. Maybe as I transcend from youth to elder I can pull this ideas into a formal ensemble and walk the woods in peace.

I need to let go of the things that perpetuate a constant flow of stress and get back to the simpler view and just let the happiness flow into my mind and the energy which some would relate to as a soul. There isn’t any need for me to worry about how the current climate is going to affect me as right now I just don’t have any control over the bigger elements propelling the issues of mad men with dreams of having the most toys. I need to escape into my world and forget that there are people willing to sacrifice me for their own pointless goals because the fear that I have will only make my spirit needlessly latch onto this world when I have transcended into a higher plane.

Possible outlets of my creativity aside from this virtual construction of a diary in the binary landscape of infinite libraries and constantly changing information include working on the metal creatures resting outside my door, cleaning the wasteland of my living space, but also I have started on a small project for a friend of mine to once again attach my offset view into his collections. I’m not sure why I do it exactly but I feel that he has just enough perspective into how my mind functions that he can inspire me to create things that I know he will enjoy. Or maybe I see into his world just enough that these ideas are acceptable for his worldly connections.

My neighbor wants to take away my space as a sort of trade so they can build another garage but the irony is that they have a monster huge yard and their solution to add another building is to take more land. The idea of buying anything rubs me a little bit because I understand a culture that was based upon a different method of living and trading and that is especially so when it comes to the ground that we walk on. Homo Sapiens came up with this idea of buying and selling the ground and if you think of it, the very stuff that is everywhere really doesn’t cost anything, it is just the access you give others to be on it that the money issue comes into play. But with the neighbors, I’m not going for it. Too many future issues, I enjoy my space and having them closer to me is unnerving. Anything closer is unnerving.

The inclusion of work on a constant schedule is allowing me to pull out of a dark recess that I have had to reside in for many years. Now I’m finding ways to buy things that I need and pay off old lingering debts in an effort to maybe one day get beyond the red and into the green of a new life. Then other projects will become easier and the world will seem less terrible on some fronts while I look past my own problems and see that it isn’t all that bad. The next step is to push more into investments that I can reap in my frail years because if anything I have experienced so far is a telling story, I’m going to need a lot of extra cash to get through the years of retirement.

I’m just trying to basically dump the junk swirling around in my brain and giving myself some kind of reset. There are tasks up ahead that I need to have less angst and more clarity but I’m sure more darkness will fill back into the void of which I call home eternal. Eventually I will have to do this again but in the meantime the world shall go dark and I shall sleep on the the river within my nightmares.

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A Different Approach

Most of the time when I work on computers they are “Windows” PCs and the software is mostly made by Microsoft but from working with different companies I have gain some knowledge on other programs made by various vendors and in-house programmers. Although I have had exposure to Linux, Unix, and FreeBSD I have never really done anything significant with them. Part of this because there are not many home users that understand or operate anything outside of Windows and also because I have not found a good reason to even use a Unix flavor for anything I need at home.

Lately I have been toying with the idea of building a system that would be a central server for just my house to handle various environmental issues and maybe act as a media server as well. If not to do something that grand I would like to have a machine that could run my copy of Subnautica …

I have tried to use Linux in the past but had problems with the interfaces being so vastly different than what I am used to. Ubuntu uses a GNOME interface by default and I absolutely cannot stand it. Ubuntu Server is all text-based and I was completely lost because none of the UNIX commands I new would work and of course DOS commands are of no help either. Eventually I found Linux Mint and that opened up a greater understanding of what was going on and from there I was able to formulate a plan.

Then I go into “thinking and planning mode” which can last years if left unchecked. Pretty much any hardware available nowadays can run Ubuntu Server, the flavor I settled on using, and the download is free so really the only thing holding me back was, me.

The other day I pulled out a system I obtained though an upgrade of one of my clients and figured that with a couple upgrades it would work nicely for what I was trying to accomplish. I like to max out systems to get the most out of them and when you get something for free, the upgrade costs are less of a concern but to put the biggest CPU into this system meant spending around $300 and that didn’t include new RAM. That idea was then put on hold.

Then I pulled out a system that the school had been using for their previous security system. The case had a lot of moisture damage since their server room is also their janitor closet so I wasn’t even sure if it would power up. Soon I had the monster running but the motherboard had a problem in that two of the six SATA ports were dead and from the looks of it, whoever built this system for the school knew that when they sold it to them.

When I couldn’t get it to configure the way I wanted, I saw something in the specifications that made me really happy. The CPU sockets were the same on both systems and the processor upgrade that I wanted was actually in this second system. So with a bit more handy work I was able to upgrade the first system and get it running with Ubuntu Server. Although purists will scoff, I put KDE on it so I could see what I was doing and now it sits in my living room waiting for my next move.

Since I like to do strange things, I really would like to make this system so that it isn’t connected to the Internet and instead connect it to my unused landline. Then if I need anything from it remotely, I could just call it and if it needed to alert me about anything, it could call me. Somehow there must be a way to dial out a text message …

Until then I need to figure out how to get the sensors I want to use and get the computer to not only recognize them but also log that information. It will be my own Jarvis but I’ll give it some other name and instead of talking back to me I will set it to just mumble and randomly swear.

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Idea: The Data Shuffle

About fifteen years ago I came up with an idea on how to encode data in such a way that it made it easy to not only compress but infinitely so. After much time and a little more research the core design was found not to be a viable solution and that idea ended as so many do and landed into a notebook never to be touched again.

From that one idea came another that was related in the general design but time and money was holding me back from doing anything with it. Plus, later I would find out that my mind was deficient in certain hormones and it made thinking clearly doubly difficult when it came to developing things. After going back and forth with what I should do, I’m just going to attempt to describe this thing and let someone see if there is 1) a way to actually create it and 2) figure out if there would be any real need for it or the methods by which it works.

As for owning this idea, I can go back through my records and show when I came up with this if need be and of course having written it here is just further documentation. I don’t expect this to make any great waves though because there is technology out now that I’m sure defeats this idea anyway. This is just my way to get it out of my head and let someone else pick at it.

This is a method for encrypting data that doesn’t necessarily work by using algorithms and keys like current methods do. Much of the math and seeds system that encryption uses doesn’t work well in my mind because I have a hard time with processing math. However, I do very well with spatial thinking and visualization so what I have done is taken data and rearranged it into a virtual three dimensional space and then scrambled it with a specific manner so that it can also be unscrambled.

Granted, I’m going to “try” to explain this. Its hard to convert what I see in my mind into words.

Imagine a large set of data in the format of a computer file and in that file the machine code is a specific jumble of hexadecimal numbers that make up the various parts of the data or program. If you were to print out that file you would get pages and pages of ASCII symbols that represent the hexadecimal code in it. Lets say that instead of printing out the information onto separate pages, you could print it out on one large square sheet of paper and see all of the code laid out before you.

Now take this square and adjust it so that the data fit upon most of the page with very little white space at the end. Then cut the page up into multiple smaller squares and form them into a stack much like a deck of playing cards making sure that all of the smaller sheets remain in order so that the top card is the start of the data and the bottom card is the end of the data. Also, each card will be labeled with a unique sequential identifier.

If you look at the sides of the stack, you will see the edges of the data on each card. You will want to find a side where no two cards match so every card has a unique line on it. Think of a book where the pages have been cut right next to the words on the page and you would see that each page has a different pattern because of the placement of those words.

From here you make a copy of that one side and this becomes the key. The cards that you “stacked” with their unique identifiers can now be scrambled with new random identifiers and now the data file is pretty much useless without the key to know which cards go in what order on the stack.

I don’t see a typical computer program being able to find the method of putting the code back into the correct order because the typical method of finding patterns wouldn’t work. The lines of data can only be seen in a pattern by aligning the cards in a very specific way.

To make matters worse, once you have the key that shows the order of the cards of data, you can then create false cards that don’t match any of the cards on the key. A randomized card with completely useless data on it can be made with a random identifier and without the key to show that it isn’t part of the stack, there would be no way to exclude it as a real card.

Provided the size of the cards you create are of different sizes, you could shuffle multiple data files together and without the keys it would be difficult if not impossible to figure out how it all could be sorted out and reassembled.

Because this involves thinking in a three dimensional space, I just don’t know exactly how you would create a computer program to generate this virtual encryption. I would be interested to see if anyone can create this and see how it would function in the real world.

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Anxiously Forward

I really didn’t do anything today and I’m kind of alright with that. It was relatively a nice day out and I stayed inside most of the time to just take a break from everything. There were some plans to get some work done on the house and the Sentra but after looking over my feelings, my anxiety steered me away from being productive.

With the Sentra I just need to change the oil but since it is late fall and there is no snow on the ground it didn’t feel right to be under a warm engine in the mud. I want to have that ice and snow under me with the warmth of the engine above me and the hot dirty oil on my hands. It just holds in the memory of previous winter oil changes and with the forecasts it appears that I will have that day come along soon enough.

As for the house I have a couple new windows to install and today would have been the best day to install them. However my anxiety talked me out of taking on this project as I have never done one before and if I didn’t get it in just right then I would be left something I couldn’t really adjust until it got warmer again. I could not risk the change in the short time period I had to work on this and so the windows will remain the same and the new ones will wait in their plastic wraps.

The next couple days are going to be long ones and so I won’t have much time between them to do much more around the house but I want to get things cleaned up fore the holidays come around again. The usual chores of paying bills and filing paperwork will no doubt take a little of my time but once I consciously make the decision to do some major cleaning, I know my anxiety will start screaming at me to stop what I am doing and try to bribe me with relaxing in bed with a video game. It will just be a matter of willpower and hopefully I will have enough to succeed.

Then again, I could just sulk. That always makes time stand still and then I would have more time to get what I need to do later … ;P

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Fire Show

Last night I was trying to find some paperwork regarding my past computer and printer certifications so I could get them added to my various portfolios. Paperwork that should be in one finite location is actually stored in several boxes located in different rooms under varying categories in an organized chaos of sorts.

My home has some older lighting fixtures in it and when I was trying to turn off one of the room lights I accidentally knocked into it causing it to flicker, zap, and then explode with sparks and at least one glowing red chunks sailed through the air. The house went dark and you could smell what I can only describe as the aftermath of using a cap gun a lot.

After a shrug I navigated through the house to find my phone so I could at least get some light to find my way to the basement. The house does have an advantage in that only the upstairs lights go out when that breaker is tripped so the basement lights worked just fine. Sure enough, the breaker was tripped and I initially just reset it but did not turn it on because I did not know the state of that fixture.

I grabbed my tools and a new fixture I had on hand to go replace the toasted one but I ran into another problem. The wire coming from the ceiling was so old that the wire inside of it was just terrible. How the wire never caught fire previously is just a miracle of chance. What I did next though surprised me to no end.

The light fixtures that hang from the ceiling have little porcelain bases to them and on those bases are little groves that you would find on a handle grip. Just out of frustration I gave one a twist and the assembly came apart allowing me to make the repairs without have to hang upside down from a ladder. I had no idea they did that or that they made such a thing. When I finished putting new wire in the bottom piece and added a new fixture, I merely twisted the fixture back onto the ceiling and flipped on the breaker.

I do see one major flaw in their design that now gives me the chills. There are two screws on the underside that you can touch but those screws hold the contacts on the inside of the mount which means that they are always electrified. Most of my ceilings in the house are too high to reach those contacts but the one in the kitchen is within reach. I think its time I work on getting them replaced with something newer.

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The Aria of Design

As part of my weight loss regimen, I have been keeping a close eye on my day to day weight. I know full well that its going to fluctuate each day based on how much water I have drank and how much food I recently ate and with that knowledge I use it as a guide and some entertainment.

Originally I was using an average digital scale that could handle 360 pounds but after talking with my sister about my FitBit tracker, she said I could have her old FitBit Aria. It’s a sleek looking WiFi enabled smart scale that does two major things: it measures your weight, and it measures your body fat percentage.

From the day I brought it home I could not get the Body Fat Percentage function to work and I went online to find out answers. It turns out that there is very little information on a real solid fix other than calling FitBit to see if they will send you a replacement and then you can just toss the old one. However, I wasn’t going to take that road.

I found an article online that shows how to open the scale at the following link:

Before I decided to open up the scale, I checked with my sister and she said that the Body Fat function worked just fine when she had it. Also, I took another step that isn’t mentioned anywhere else and that was to remove the cover that is over the display. From there I could see how the surface connects to the computer and that in turn is the reason for this issue.

The FitBit Aria Smart Scale looks really modern and with the digital display, WiFi, and glass top it appears to be very well designed. But with any product there are flaws to trump that assumption and in this scale it has to do with the glass surface.

I reasoned that the metal surface on the glass had to connect to something and that something should kick back a resistance value if I could measure it. So I got out my multi-meter and checked the Ohms of the glass surface and found that not all of them would give me a reading. Without knowing more about what I was dealing with inside the scale, I plunged into the guide and opened it up.

Why there are screws in the battery compartment is a mystery to me because even with them removed it was a real chore trying to separate the two halves of plastic. There are little tubes in the top that little posts fit into from the bottom and at least one of them was glued together. FitBit doesn’t want you to try and repair this thing. After opening it, the inside looked exactly as it does in the instructions but what isn’t covered is the pathways for the Body Fat sensors.

On the computer, there are four wires going to contacts on the upper right that lead to four points near the display. Each wire connects to a clip that touches the glass on the other side, underneath the display cover. The contacts themselves are labeled as RT, LT, RH, LH or (Right Toe, Left Toe, Right Heel, Left Heel). Connect the multi-meter to RT and LT and you should get a positive value and then do the same with RH and LH. When I tested the connections under the lid, they all show resistance so I knew then that it had to be something with those clips.

Here is where the design of this scale is its downfall.

Most other devices that measure body fat use metal plates that you touch but this scale uses a metal coated glass and you can’t solder a wire to it. What they did is press a metal contact against the glass with the hope that it would remain there with enough surface area to allow current to pass into the coating and through you and the computer. But the clip on mine came so ever so slightly loose from the surface and then the Body Fat function quit.

The fix was rather simple after finding this by just pressing down on the little contacts on the glass surface to make sure they touch the coating. You can’t really glue the contacts down though because if you get anything between them and the coating, you lose the signal.

By just pushing down on those contacts, my scale works perfectly and now I can get a better picture of how fat I really am. 😛

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