Deep Thunk and Learning Machine Learning

Programming machine learning has been an interest of mine for decades. the last time I seriously looked into it, the technology just wasn’t there for the sorts of things I was interested in doing. Then I got busy doing other things.

Well, due to a conversation I had with a chip designing friend of mine, I thought it was time to give it another look. The available resources and programming tools for coding and using it in practical applications has grown incredibly fast in the past few years.

I’ll probably write at least a couple of articles on it, but as a “hello world” sort of thing to try and play with I decided to write up a pretty simple program that could use machine learning to train itself.

To keep things simple, I started with a nearby pile of data. Namely a bunch of articles and links to book chapters about Neural Nets and K Nearest Neighbors and the like which I intended on reading and studying.

I’m going to skip over the details of how it works for now, because I’m not sure what I’ll wind up doing with it. The gist of it is that you first put in the title, URL, and text for a bunch of articles. Then the program does a bit of hocus pocus with cleaning it up and counting words and a few other things, and spits out a list of suggested categories and what articles it thinks belongs in each category.

It sounds simple enough to do, but getting a computer to make decisions like that can be tricky. On the up side, when it works it can be particularly helpful in first pass sorts of sorting and filtering. Time will tell how things go with it, and how far I take it, but it has been a good experience so far, and I have a much better understanding of some of the theories involved, although I will confess some of the math is over my head.

Lavender Wand

I like the smell of lavender, but dried lavender is very fragile and tends to shed the wilted flowers and other bits as it dries. A common solution is to create a small sachet and sew the lavender inside, a less common (but more fun) solution is to make a lavender wand.

Start with fresh lavender. You want to select long stems with flowering ends. Depending on the thickness of the stems gather 7-21, it just has to be an odd number.

lav1smTake a foot or so of ribbon, and tie the heads together in a bunch.

lav2smThen turn upside down, and carefully bend the stems back over the flowers. Try not to bend them too sharply, and ease them into position.

lav3smUse the backward bent stems to create a cage with the flowers inside.

lav4smCarefully start to weave the ribbon over and then under each stem. As long as an odd number of stems are used, each round should be offset by one, making a basket weave pattern.

lav5smContinue to weave until the head of the wand is completed, and the flowers are encased. Then wrap the remaining ribbon around the stems to make the handle of the wand and tie off.

lav6smAnd hocus pocus, a la shazam, you have your very own wand, suitable for banishing stale drawer smells and for use as a ward against the anti kitsch.

lav7smHand crafted items have a special kind of magic all their own, especially when made with love by someone you know. The time, effort and care that is put into a homemade gift adds something that just can’t be replaced by sweatshop mass production.

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Crochet – Simple Granny Square (Left Handed) Part 2

IMG_0479Start with a little square from part 1.

IMG_0481Chain 3 (just like earlier at the beginning loop).

IMG_04842 double crochet (2 dc) in the same space created by the 2 ch hole in the previous row.

chain 2 (2 ch)

IMG_04853 double crochet still in the same space made by the 2 chain hole in the previous row. This makes the first corner.

IMG_0487Chain 2, then  3 double crochet, 2 chain, 3 double crochet all in the same hole at the corner.

IMG_0488Repeat twice more for the other two corners, then connect at start with a slip stitch and fasten off.

IMG_0490Successive rows follow the same pattern, chain 3 to act as the first double crochet in the new row.

IMG_0492Then double crochet twice to complete the first triplet.

IMG_0493Alternate the 2 chain (2 ch) and 3 double crochet, using the holes left by the 2 chain in the previous row. At the 4 corners, do 2 groups of 3 double crochet with a 2 chain between them in the 2 chain holes.

IMG_0494Successive rows follow the same pattern.

IMG_0496As many rows as desired can be added. I find 5 rows make for a nice size.

Simple Granny Square

Start: 6 ch, join into loop with sl st.

Row 1: Through loop, 3 ch, 2 dc 2 ch. (3 dc, 2 ch) x 3. sl st and fasten off.

Row 2: Through 2 ch space in previous row, 3 ch, then 2 dc. 2 ch. (In next 2 ch space in previous row 3 dc, 2 ch, 3 dc, 2 ch) x 3.

Row 3+: Through 2 ch space center of the previous row, 3 ch, then 2 dc. 2 ch. At the corners 3 dc, 2 ch, 3 dc, 2 ch in 2 ch space at corner, and between the corners 3 dc 2 ch in each 2 ch space in the previous row.



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Crochet – Simple Granny Square (Left Handed) Part 1

IMG_0499A simple granny square is one of my favorite crochet patterns. They are great for using up scraps of yarn, and can be worked on individually and then assembled into a larger project at your leisure.  There are many variations but this is the one I use.

IMG_0447Chain 6 (ch 6).

IMG_0450Join ends with a slip stitch (sl st).


Chain 3. The basic pattern is 3 double crochet, then chain 2, and repeat. This chain 3 will act as the first double crochet in a set of three.

IMG_0464Double crochet twice (2 dc), completing the first triplet.

IMG_0470Chain 2

IMG_04713 Double crochet (3 dc). This will form the first corner.

IMG_0473Chain 2, 3 double crochet, chain 2, 3 double crochet, chain 2, slip stitch and fasten off to complete the row (2 ch, 3 dc, 2 ch, 3 dc, 2 ch, sl st fasten off).

For the first round, all four 2 chain spaces will form the corners. One nice thing about this pattern is that once the row is started with a 3 chain 2 double crochet, the pattern is 3 double crochet, 2 chain, repeat until you work your way back to the start of the row. The corners are formed by making 3 dc, 2 ch, and 3 dc in the same hole from the previous row.

IMG_0476This will form the inside of the granny square.

IMG_0477You may want to make them as you go, or in batches. I like to have some around to fill spare moments with.

Onward to Part 2

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