Some of my conference notes from the day. So much creativity and cool projects here. Wow!

Day 1


Taeyoon Choi took us on a walking tour of South Korea with stops at a local market for musicians to buy instruments and repair them.

Different ideas here. Care of technology and society, (vs making and innovation that is often on our minds) He talked about his gender identity thoughts, covid19 isolation, and his personal, very likely covid19 experience.

He shared some of his life experience with us. I enjoyed it. I think this is going to be a very different kind of conference.


Finished the talk live to tell us about the School for Poetic Computation.

The taming of the clue

  • Speaker: Cloe Revery
  • What she is: Cruciverbalist - a person skillful in creating or solving crossword puzzles

Solving crossword puzzles with an algorithm

A historical puzzle database answers ~ 30% of the clues in the average crossword puzzle. She used a few different ML strategies for the rest.

An answer generator that tries to fit possibilities into a puzzle that already has known answers into it

Boolean Satisfiability Problem (SAT solver): a class of problems that is like a predicate

Piped words, puzzle to a pen plotter. She wrote a python library that could make the plotter print letters and crossword puzzles

Little printer!

A movement for internet facing tiny thermal printers :)

Freeing Chinese characters from codepoints

  • Speaker: Gabor Ugray

The presenter deconstructs the chinese character for shadow. Wow. A gliph is a network of different concepts. We access them with the correct unicode code point to get an entire glyph.

How do we learn Chinese

How do we represent the different meaningful components in a dataset where we break out a glyph into it’s constituent parts?

Holy fuck my mind is blown …

He showed a d3 based chinese character component library explorer that linked sub-strokes in one character to others. And a drawing app that would give you possible character matches based on strokes you made

character explorer

Dijkstra’s shortest paths

Short in distance or time

1959 paper from Dijkstra, “A note on two problems on connexion with graphs”, O(v^2) v == the number of vertices

  • Optimization: search for a path from both the source and target concurrently
  • Optimization: Some roads are more important that others … weight
  • Optimization: Add edges to the graph for paths between nodes that involve multiple hops

Day 2

Chinese characters in morse code

Cost of sending a telegraph message depending on the number of characters to send. Users of the system eventually would use obscure words to mean more as a way to save money (eg toothbrush expanded to something munch longer. Can’t remember what lol)

Morse code was geared towards western languages of course. The chinese character set had to be encoded

Typing chinese into a computer also has an intermediate layer. Thousands of symbols you can’t key in 1 to 1. You get to these characters by using a mapping of sometimes multiple keys

Making a Mosquito

  • Speaker: Tim Holman
  • Mosquito.js

This was a neat, short talk about recreating the sound a mosquito makes in a browser. Lots of fun. :)

Mobile networking in rural ethiopia

  • 89 characters of base-11
  • Ben Kuhn, @benkuhn

Context: Wave, mobile money, “uber for bank tellers”

  • Money transactions in rural 3rd world country
  • sms is more reliably than mobile data
  • state owned telecom system, data network was rubbish
  • ip connection establishment requiring 4 round trips was killing them (did i say the network was rubbish?)
  • used udp fire and forget, sent each packet 4 times to get reliability lol
  • ussd codes (pay the telco for higher priority message sending)

tcp stack funny

Screwing up has never been easier

  • Slides:

One of the most important messages from the weekend -> SCREW UP!

Failing is cheaper than it’s ever been for us. Costs us a few minutes for another compile, a few dollars for burnt out electronics, a bit of time, etc

Try things out, play, experiment. Give it a go! Important reminder …