Showing posts from February, 2021

An idea for a cheaper robotic arm.

Robotic arms are expensive! Even if you build your own and don’t include your own labour in the cost they can still be prohibitively expensive. One of the major costs is the stepper motors which are used in almost all robotic arms. They are often used directly in place on the arm as well and that direct drive means that arms which can lift anything substantial, are expensive. The motors being on the joints of the arm add to the weight of the arm which may have a large effect on what the arm can lift. What isn’t expensive is the standard brushed motors used in cheap hovers, RC-cars and fans. Last year I was doing a lot of thinking about home automation, having got a new flat during the summer. I finally had a reason to get wifi lights and a few google homes to control them with. One thing that I noticed about home automation systems is that they are all focusing on automating things that were never really an issue in the first place. Turning on lights

COVID January project

I didn’t get around to posting much in January because I a had a single project I was working on outside of work which took up a lot of time. I decided in January that with the lockdown everlasting it was time to build a computer that I could try out some of the ideas I have for training the computer to recognise speech.  To do that I would need something with a reasonable amount of power. This is what I ended up building: The main component required for the machine learning here is the RTX 2070 which was not an easy thing to find thanks to the global graphics card shortage which doesn’t really seem to show any signs of ending. The OS (Ubuntu 20.04) is booted off of an M.2 SSD. I've included a large amount of storage which I eventually want to set up as a raid 50 array. I currently have it set up to be 3 individual drives and 3 drives in a raid 5 configuration. I did have a little trouble setting this up as most of the tutorials I found assume that the drive is small enough to be f

Notes on a kind of string equivalence

The problem I had been batteling with started when a friend was asking for me to write a program that could match the headers of differnt columns in some CSV file. They would be really similar but not so similar that casting both files headers to uppercase would resolve it. An example might be “CurveConfig1”, “Curve Config 1”, “curve_config1” and “curveconfig1”. My first ideas was that I could convert these down to the last format in that list. You would have to convert both lists of headers to the finnaly format as you can't go back the other way. Once they are all in this 'normalised' format they can be compared directly. The following is from my notes at the time: Question  Does encoding down to the lower information state make the comparison less reliable and should there be a hierarchical, not quite probability level, value stating the confidence of the comparison? If we did then:   “CurveConfig1” -> “CurveConfig1” would be   “Curve Config 1”

Git branch descriptions

I often have quite a few branches open and although my branchList command has stood me in good sted for a long time now I would like to add notes or descriptions to a branch. alias branchList='git for-each-ref --sort=committerdate refs/heads/ --format='\''%(HEAD) %(color:yellow)%(refname:short)%(color:reset) - %(color:red)%(objectname:short)%(color:reset) - %(content color:green)%(committerdate:relative)%(color:reset))'\''' I don't really want to make the branch names overly long. I find that the commit messages aren't always good enough to tell me the purpose of the branch. I guess this might just be bad practice on my part that the full information around why I created a branch cant be derived from the name and last commit message alone. Recently I found out a way to add descriptions to branches so that I can add more information as to why I would be creating a branch and what the full scope of the work I was doing on that branch was. This

Why even the most advanced AI might not be as useful as you think

Say you had been able to make a general AI. Given the level of intelligence, it has you would have thought booking you a holiday would be a simple task. And it would be if it weren’t for robots.txt and the terms and conditions websites have against non-human agents using their services. Ryanair for example forbids booking using any automated system. That means that although your AI is quite capable of booking your holiday it would actually break the terms and conditions of your holiday for it to do so. Will this be an issue? It does cause an issue, for the time being, lots of companies have to employ low paid workers to crawl through sites in a way that a simple spider program could do with far more efficiency just because the websites that would be scraped forbid that scrapers are used. It doesn’t matter if the websites know that the agent opening their website is a human or not, there will always be ways to fake being human online. The issue arises more from the legal challenges that

Solar atoms

I recently got a request from a friend to write a post on why this is obviously silly. I’m actually not sure why it is that silly. So if you take two diagrams both showing circles orbiting circles and you are told that one is the thing that contains us and the other is the thing that makes us, it isn’t too hard a stretch of the imagination to point at a circle in one image and ask if there is an analogous circle in the other image. I believe this skill of analogy is one of the things that facilitates human ingenuity.  For, by analogy, you could then think; if one and another is alike perhaps the pattern continues. After all what are those circles in the diagram of an atom made of? Could they too be made of smaller things? This is similar to looking at the map of the world and asking “Did those two ever fit together?” It’s worth mentioning here a favourite quote of mine: (One of my fav quotes) “All models are wrong but some are useful”

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