thedeadparrot
23 May 2015 @ 04:42 pm
I finally got to see it after hearing a lot about it (perhaps too much about it). Overall, I enjoyed it a lot. The worldbuilding is impressive. The action is tense. The emotional stakes are well drawn. It feels deeply fearless, in ways that blockbuster movies rarely are these days. There are a lot of women involved! Of all different types!

But I guess my expectations weren't set in the right place, because I'm not as impressed by it as other people are.

more spoilery thoughtsCollapse )


On a completely unrelated note, I am not sure how I feel about continuing to watch Game of Thrones, but everything about this fake Game of Thrones musical (written by Coldplay) is hilarious:



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thedeadparrot
20 May 2015 @ 07:57 am
On [personal profile] seascribe's rec, I've been trying out doing daily meditation with the help of Stop, Breathe, and Think for about a week now.

On top of that, I've been reading up on meditation and mindfulness and all of the conflict and debate in the communities about how people should be doing things and how they shouldn't and secularizing religious practice and Western appropriation of things, etc. It's been helpful because the app tries to keep things as simple and as low key as possible, and so it exists as the sort of tip of the iceberg of mindfulness practice. And it's always beneficial to have differing points of view on the same thing.

Right now, I'm doing about 10-20 minutes of meditation (two of the guided meditations from the app) at the beginning and ends of the day, and since I walk a lot, I've also been trying to do mindful walking when I'm on the street.

Overall, I think it's been helping. I've been having work stress in general and work stress around annual reviews on top of that. While it's important not to think of meditation as a sort fix-it or a means of escaping from stress and feelings of uneasiness, I now have tools for how to handle it when my brain is trying to spiral, and so far they've worked. Just the simple act of re-focusing on my breathing helps right myself and my brain when I'm feeling unbalanced. It doesn't always work. I've had some bad patches over the last couple of days, but they'd probably have been worse if I hadn't had access to that technique.

It's tough to tell if I'm doing things 'right' at this stage. One of the big things in mindfulness training/meditation is allowing yourself to feel and think things but in a state where you're aware of what you're thinking and feeling, pulling your brain back to focusing on your breathing when you drift off, but that sort of refocusing feels like a hard yank still. My brain will wander off without me being aware of it. Sometimes, I get restless and impatient when trying to meditate and want get it over with it as fast as possible. I worry that I'm just going to end up stopping for whatever reason because I have a hard time maintaining consistent healthy habits.

But overall, I've been enjoying the process of learning how to do it, and hopefully writing this post will guilt me into continuing until it becomes a part of my life + processes.

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thedeadparrot
10 May 2015 @ 04:47 pm
It was fine.

slightly longer spoilery thoughtsCollapse )

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thedeadparrot
04 May 2015 @ 06:04 am
Trip to NYC with [personal profile] stultiloquentia! I had one last week! I did things there! I guess here are my thoughts.

HedwigCollapse )

King & ICollapse )

Other StuffCollapse )


Other other stuffCollapse )

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thedeadparrot
29 April 2015 @ 07:29 pm
Okayyyy, I wrote about the first half a year ago after the game first came out, and now the second half is out and I'm supppppper psyched about this?

I just beat the second half and I have thoughts on it, but I'll first link to Kill Screen Daily's review: Broken Age and the adventure of growing up (alas, some minor spoilers for the game). It covers a lot of my thoughts about the second half, especially the idea of parenthood: "We are broken, and in our brokenness we break the next in line."

If the first act of Broken Age is about shaking off the constraints of childhood, the second act is about realizing that the adults in your life are as flawed and as human as you are. There's something powerful and sad about that.

Let's get the common complaints out of the way first: The second half doesn't introduce much in the way of new areas or new characters. The explanations for things are just plain goofy if/when you try to take them out of the metaphorical and into the literal. The puzzle difficulty has shot way up and with it, the annoyance and frustration that comes with that. Some sites have panned the game quite a bit.

But I still loved all of it anyway. In terms of adventure game puzzling, I found this game far less frustrating than most of the ones I've played. I didn't quite manage to get through it walkthrough free, but I didn't have to stop the game every five minutes to look up the answers, either. Keeping a pad of paper around to help keep track of some of the trickier puzzles definitely helped.

All the characters gain a richness this time around. Vella is more badass. Shay is more sensitive. The people they meet gain a certain amount of depth that most of them didn't have the first time around. There's a lot of delight to be had in giving people the 'wrong' items and hearing their responses. I am so glad we got to meet more cutlery in this half.

The story works best mostly in metaphor, and I think most of the attempts that it makes to explain the events of the game are misguided at best and confusingly terrible at worst. I really can't believe they even bothered. Sometimes not bothering at all is the best strategy.

I know some people think the finale/ending was a let down, but I think it's the perfect grace note on the game. Haters gonna hate, man.

Anyway, I need to go pack now. (I say that a lot, don't I? I definitely say that a lot.)

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thedeadparrot
22 April 2015 @ 08:48 pm
So I ended up reading Second Quest, which is a lovely comic about Zelda (the video game series), an interrogation and deconstruction of it. I want to like it more than I do. It's written by the guy who wrote Saving Zelda and it's drawn by the guy who did the art for Braid, and that was definitely more than enough for me to be willing to give it a shot in the first place.

I love the idea of a feminist examination of Zelda and of the video game tropes that animate it, and the comic definitely takes a good stab at it. But there's something about the execution that doesn't quite resonate for me.

Maybe it's that my expectations were too high. Maybe it's that I'm comparing it (unfairly) to what I've seen fic writers do with problematic canons (hell, and problematic fannish tropes!) and how they poke and prod at it until they've cracked it wide open instead of just tipped things over a bit. Maybe it's that I'm unfairly comparing it to Broken Age, which has similar themes and has more time and space to explore its ideas. But it feels like a shallow, lumpy experience. Parts of it feel too drawn out. Parts of it feel too rushed.

I like the main character Azalea, but she's kind of your standard Plucky Girl Who Walks Away From Omelas kind of archetype and doesn't go much further than that. There are pieces that reference Zelda lore and mechanics, but that feel kind of half-there, not fleshed out enough. The trinkets, for example. The bird companion. Her relationship with her father.

This is a lot of griping, though, and it's a lot better than I'm making it out to be. It has something to say and it articulates it in a cool way. The art is gorgeous. There are plenty of moments of pure wonder. It's jam-packed with interesting ideas. But there's also something frustrating at the center of it, and not in the good way.

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thedeadparrot
An abbreviated list of things I learned during this expedition:

- XPaths and how weird and fragile they are
- running unittests without nose/a manage.py file
- Heroku configuration and deployment
- how to limit gunicorn workers
- how nltk's ConditionalFreqDist works
- how to use Python 2/3 compatibility tools
- Twitter and Tumblr's API's (kind of)
- OAuth again, for about the 50 millionth time. It doesn't like to stick.
- how to express single element tuples in Python
- writing very, very simple websites in Flask.
- template inheritance with Jinja2
- good (any?) tests are really really important :(((((
- how to set up a NewRelic agent on a deploy
- what that one machine learning class I learned in college was good for

Also, now that I am playing through Assassin's Creed 4, I am tempted to train the model on a bunch of pirate AUs full of swashbuckling. Hell, I might even start writing some myself. Lots of research would be needed, though, and I'm not sure if I'm up for that. ALSO, it's hilarious how much of the music I know because there was a pirate acapella group in college. Yes, really.

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thedeadparrot
18 April 2015 @ 11:57 am
I have a Twitter bot and a Tumblr bot and now a website, because I hate myself and also everyone else.

This was all very educational, but now I need to go do something that doesn't involve staring at code for long periods of time.

To Do:
- Write up documentation. Lots of documentation.
- Tests. Tests are important.
- Clean up code as much as possible.
- Train it on a different corpus. As hilarious as Kurt/Blaine porn is, I think I want to switch things up.

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thedeadparrot
Blaine'll have meant it look and leaned forward to ask me to enjoy the one. Sometimes he swallows the weather, I do that their lips when Kurt pulls back of possessiveness raging bitch's legs, kissing him somewhere they usually. I want out in his tongue and when he could expect a little hair. He feels like Hunter. Blaine wasn't want to be easy to engage in high and healthy (as his back toward the doctor told you tonight, shifting down, giving him right away).

I got bored of writing porn and decided to make a computer do all of the work for me.

This project is still mostly incomplete. I have a lot more work I can do to tweak things, from improving the algorithm to improving the formatting to figuring out a mechanism to generate fake fanfic on a more ongoing basis (Twitter bot? A website?).

But anyway, I've been working on this for the last few days, and it's been a source of joy and delight and a decent amount of programming. I will put the code I used to make this up at some point, so if anyone is interested, they can take a look.

Here, I will explain the math behind it, because machine learning is a lot simpler than computer scientists would want you to believe:

Okay, so the first part of machine learning is called 'training.' This is where you show the machine learning algorithm a bunch of known and understood data such that the machine learning algorithm has some basis for its predictions afterwards. In this particular case, I fed the machine learning algorithm a bunch of existing Kurt/Blaine stories. With this large set of unstructured text, the algorithm then creates what we call 'bigrams,' which is just a fancy way of saying 'pairs.'

For example, a sentence like: "The brown dog jumped over the brown dog at the park."

Turns into this set of bigrams:

("The", "brown"), ("brown", "dog"), ("dog", "jumped"), ("jumped", "over"), ("over", "the"), ("the", "brown"), ("brown", "dog"), ("dog", "at"), ("at", "the"), ("the", "park"), ("park", ".")

Yes, punctuation does count as its own word in our world.

After we have bigrams, we then construct what is called a 'Conditional Frequency Distribution', which is a fancy way of say 'we counted a bunch of things.'

So the bigrams we have can be turned into a list of the number of times we've seen word X immediately after word Y.

For example, if we take a look at the word "the", we can see that it is the first bigram in a few different places. (For my example, capitalization doesn't matter, but the algorithm works better if it does.)

Here are the pairs that start with "the":

("The", "brown"), ("the", "brown"), ("the", "park")

So we see that "brown" shows up twice after "the" and "park" shows up once. The conditional frequency distribution then says that if we see a "the", there is a 2/3 probability that "brown" will be the next word and there is a 1/3 probability that "park" will be the next word.

We do this sort of counting for all the bigrams in our training set. Machine learning algorithms tend to get smarter the more data you throw at them, and you can see why based on the example here. Sure, in the English language, "brown" shows up plenty of times after "the", but it doesn't show up 2/3 of the time. That's just a quirk of our training set.

Now that we have our conditional frequency distribution, we can then start generating text! We need to give it a good starting word. In this particular case, I chose "Blaine". The algorithm has a list of which words have shown up after "Blaine" and will then pick one of those words based on the frequency. Say that the next word is "is". We can then pick the word after that based on the words that we've seen that have followed "is", and so on and so on.

And that's it. That's the algorithm.

One thing I'm thinking of doing to improve my current algorithm is to use trigrams instead of bigrams, which will help a little bit with the weird jumps, especially with the contractions. Trigrams will allow the algorithm to look at the previous two words instead of just one of them in order to make decisions about how to pick the next word. That will fix some of the weirdness I'm seeing with contractions, at least.

I also want to mess around with different corpora. Maybe different fandoms. Maybe different search criteria for different fandoms. I have the tools in place. It would be easy to run different runs on different data sets.

Anyway, I'm open to suggestions, comments, thoughts! I have plans for this thing, but the future is so open and full of possibility. I'm also happy to answer questions.

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thedeadparrot
07 April 2015 @ 09:15 pm
Apparently every time I go see a movie in theaters, I have to write some feelings vomit right afterwards.

Not Something You Take (1642 words) by thedeadparrot
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Fast and the Furious Series, The Birthday of the World and Other Stories - Ursula K. Le Guin
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Letty Ortiz/Dominic Toretto, Letty Ortiz/Mia Toretto, Brian O'Conner/Dominic Toretto
Additional Tags: Sedoretu, OT4, Furious 7 Spoilers, Alternate Universe
Series: Part 2 of A Reason to Hold On
Summary:


He holds out his arms, welcoming her into a hug. "Just remember that you'll always have a place here. That's not going to change just because you're not around."


"Thanks," she says, leaning into the solid warmth of his body, and she almost believes it.



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