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Showing posts from 2013

Esperanto Accented Characters in Windows

It's not as easy to set up as clicking a checkbox like Ubuntu/Gnome, but it is possible to type proper Esperanto characters in Windows using Right Alt as a modifier key. You need to create and install an alternate keyboard layout and then set the new layout active. The program Keyboard Layout Creator is used to create the layout, and is available for free from Microsoft. Once it's downloaded and installed, start the program. Navigate File > Load Existing Keyboard and then select your primary keyboard layout (standard US layout in my case). You'll use this as a base and augment it with the Esperanto characters. For each key that will should an accented character, right-click its position on the virtual keyboard and click "Properties for VK_? in all shift states". A dialog will appear in which the necessary Unicode code points can be entered. The code points for the accented Esperanto letters are shown below, as well as for the Euro and Spesmilo just for fun:…

Password Woes

Happy belated International Change-Your-Password Week! Earlier this month, thanks to the generous sponsorship by the great folks at Adobe, people all around the world were changing their passwords and tech blogs were parroting guidelines for choosing a strong password. But let’s be honest – passwords are a hassle. And, as Adobe was so kind to remind us, even the strongest unique password can be an open door if the company storing it isn’t doing so competently. As someone who is a programmer, I’m aware of several technical solutions to our password woes. As someone who suffers from cynical realism, I believe the barrier to adopting these solutions to be red-tape and human nature (ego and laziness). There’s no reason for every website to require their own login credentials when OpenID and OAuth exist. Perhaps we should increase liability for password storers and provide incentives to the crackers who hack them. A smart company would migrate to an SSO-provider to mitigate their responsi…

Urba Semajnfino: Sirakuso a Success

The following is an translation of the article I wrote for La Ondo de Esperanto to share the Urban Weekend: Syracuse event. Thank you to everyone who attended and helped make the event a success.Urban Weekend: Syracuse, the third Urban Weekend event to happen in the United States, took place during the weekend of August 31 in Syracuse, New York. Esperantists came from near and far to meet new friends and explore the city.As the main organizer, I was a bit nervous. I had never organized an Esperanto event before. Would the weather hold out? Would anyone come? Would they enjoy their time together? But indeed the weather was beautiful, and people came from Rochester NY, Virginia, and even Brazil! Everyone had fun and Urban Weekend: Syracuse was a success.A little before noon on Saturday, four of us met the city's central park and then walked to a nearby restaurant for lunch. The restaurant is popular for its beer, brewed on-site, and also for its support of Central New York agricultu…

Building an Array with array_reduce?

Whether it’s twisting a function or taking advantage of side effects and flexible language constructs, it’s no secret I occasionally take joy in writing bastard PHP code. The other day I was in an evil mood and used array_reduce() to construct an array.If you’re not familiar with array_reduce(), it’s a function that iteratively reduces a given array to a single value using a callback function. For example, suppose the function array_sum() didn’t exist. We could achieve the desired functionality using array_reduce() like so:<?php $nums = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]; $sum = array_reduce( $nums, function ($acc, $val) { return $acc + $val; }, 0 );array_reduce() executes the callback function for each element in the array, passing to it an accumulator and the current array member. The returned value is used as the accumulator value for the next iteration. This is roughly the functional equivalent of this iterative approach:<?php $acc = 0; foreach ($nums as $val) { $acc = $acc + $…

Composing Music with PHP

I’m not an expert on probability theory, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. And even my Music 201 class from years ago has been long forgotten. But if you’ll indulge me for the next 10 minutes, I think you’ll find that even just a little knowledge can yield impressive results if creatively woven together. I’d like to share with you how to teach PHP to compose music. Here’s an example: You’re looking at a melody generated by PHP. It’s not the most memorable, but it’s not unpleasant either. And surprisingly, the code to generate such sequences is rather brief. So what’s going on? The script calculates a probability map of melodic intervals and applies a Markov process to generate a new sequence. In friendlier terms, musical data is analyzed by a script to learn which intervals make up pleasing melodies. It then creates a new composition by selecting pitches based on the possibilities it’s observed. . Standing on ShouldersComposition doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Bach was f…