Thursday, 13 September 2018

Abbey Robot, or An Adventure With The Machine Beatles

So I trained a network on all the Beatles lyrics I could find. It never quite wrote a whole song, so what I did was took it's lines and arranged them into some kind of sense. Some kind.  I haven't edited anything internally, rearranged words or anything like that, I have cut a few lines short. It turns out reasonable couplets from time to time, and in a few cases it wrote a whole chorus in one go.

It seems to be fairly good at early Beatles poppy fun, and also it did quite well at the later, more psyched out stuff. When it gets weird(er) is when it combines the two.

I'd love to hear some of these so if you're musically inclined please do help yourself and let me know what you come up with.

This is probably my favourite, I imagine it as a kind of Strawberry Fields/Only a Northern Song kind of psychedelic wobblefest.

Love Down Shine

I wanna hold your days like you made forever, 
Love down shine.

I'm comes for the lonely life when we're doing a joy.
I'm gonna dance.

I have love me what the life down,
Cry even diamonds.

I can't lose a singing of my outs around
I'll get real love.

The word is love is love with it 
Better all the sky.

The word is love is love is love is love 
is love is love is love


Friday, 17 August 2018

An AI writes Doctor Who

So I trained a neural network (it's not really much of an artificial "intelligence", as this post will demonstate) on the entire collection of Hartnell-era Doctor Who scripts. This network was set to use whole words - some only use characters. Very simply, the network tries to follow words with other words which it thinks are likely to be in that position, based on what it 'knows' about the order words appear in the training text. Rinse and repeat.

As the system trains it gets better at putting words in order, but still makes some weird choices:

These files have been edited for clarity, capitalisation, line breaks and so on, but not actual content - that's all from the softwatre.


 [ outside the TARDIS ]

(The Doctor is trying to confuse them)

DOCTOR: Oh, it's very kind of you.
BARBARA: Oh, Doctor, what's wrong?
DOCTOR: Oh, it's a huge, isn't it?
IAN: Yes.
DOCTOR: Oh, my dear, I'm sure you're going to be right.
IAN: All right, Doctor, I've got to go and find out.
DOCTOR: Yes, I think we'll go back to the ship.
IAN: Yes, I think we'll go back.
DOCTOR: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. yes, yes, yes.

 [ laboratory ]

 (The Doctor and Ian are examining their fire)


After more training cycles, called "epochs", it starts to make some more sense. Only some. And only for a given value of 'sense'.

In addition, there's a variable during text generation called "temperature", which can be thought of as 'weirdness' - not enough weird and the system loops repeatedly over things that feel 'normal' to it (see the repeated 'yes, yes, yes, yes' above. Too much weirdness and it gets really weird. But if you balance the weirdness just right, that's when you start to get text which sounds much more 'right'

As a general rule the first third of each file linked here is temperature 0.2, which isn't very weird. The middle third is 0.5, which is usually close to the sweet spot and the last third 1.0 which is where it gets very odd. See if you can tell when the temperature changes mid document!


DOCTOR: Yes, yes, I think you'd better go back to the TARDIS.
STEVEN: Oh, Doctor, I thought you were going to make her a way.
DOCTOR: Oh, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear. I'm going to have to try out my minds.

[ warriors hall ]

DOCTOR: I'm afraid I'm not quite sure, dear boy. it's quite all right. I'm coming with you.
IAN: What?
DOCTOR: Well, I think the DALEKs are doing the best of us.
SUSAN: Oh, it's the only way out of the lift.

(he goes back to the TARDIS)

IAN: It's all right, Susan. it's all right.
SUSAN: It's all right.

(Barbara on her bed, and she enters the shop)

SUSAN: She's all right.
IAN: Yes, I think I'll do it.
SUSAN: Oh, no, I'll have to forgive you.

More here


A couple of training epochs later....


(The Doctor and Vicki enter)

BARBARA: We'd really need him.
DOCTOR: Yes, I suppose so. it's quite simple. yes, it's a matter of what you can do about that.
IAN: Well, what do we do now?
DOCTOR: Well, I'm trying to solve this problem, but we'll promise you, will you?

(Barbara takes the tray before, backs into the room, into a glass torpedo. Vasar's hut. A clearing, Ian stops, and a girl gets inside. Vasar bolts. The door comes out, Ian.)

IAN: Vasar!
VASAR: Right.

(Ian crosses to the Barbara over)

IAN: Vasar!

(the door opens)

IAN: Susan!

(Barbara and Susan leave)

IAN: Barbara! Susan!

(Barbara gets and Susan shut up)

DOCTOR: Barbara!
SUSAN: Grandfather!
DOCTOR: No, no, no. the DALEKs have brought you here in my ship.
SUSAN: Grandfather!
DOCTOR: Please, stop it!
SUSAN: Grandfather!
DOCTOR: I'm not going to have a look round, child. come along.

(Susan and Barbara go round)

DOCTOR: What's that?

(he notices the TARDIS, smiles.)

DOCTOR: No, no, no, no, no, no, no. no, no. no, no. no, no, no. no, no, no, you'll have to hold it.
SUSAN: Well, why do you not have a look?

More here


And the final training run (at least for now, these are very resource intensive and it took 24+ hours to get to epoch 14 on my laptop):


(elsewhere, the DALEKs set in the jungle begin to glow and pulse around the end of the bar.)

DALEK: Do you think it's been too late?
SARA: Yes.
DALEK: Do you think of this?
DOCTOR: Yes, I think so.
DALEK[OC]: Exterminate them! exterminate them! exterminate them! exterminate him! zero!

(the DALEKs trundle off, followed by the zombie.)

BRET: All right.
DOCTOR: All right.

(The Doctor and Bret do the DALEKs.)

[ outside the TARDIS ]

BRET: Doctor, I think we should get back to earth.
DOCTOR: Yes, I think so.
STEVEN: It's too late to get down there.
DOCTOR: Yes, well, I suggest we take a look at Maitland.

(the scanner shows the cave of mouth as Steven fires.)

DOCTOR: What do you want?
CHUMBLEY: Four dawns.
DOCTOR: Well, I think we should experiment further on our tracks.
VICKI: Doctor, it's very good.
DOCTOR: Yes, I think it's a very good idea.
VICKI: Look, Doctor, it's possible.
DOCTOR: Oh, indeed, yes, very well.
VICKI: Doctor, you've got to.
DOCTOR: Yes, I see.
DALEK 1: We are expected.

(the capsule's power falls)

Episode four - the DALEKs

Thursday, 25 January 2018

The Amen break ring

A set of silver stacking rings featuring the famous "Amen break"

More on the Amen break here. Of course it's relatively simple to apply this technique to any other sound sample. Maybe the Apache break, or Funky Drummer. Or even something which isn't a breakbeat. 

Friday, 18 August 2017

Jewellery Pickle Comparison and Test (aka, The Great British Pickle Off)

The question of pickling jewellery seems to come up quite a lot. What can I use as pickle? What's the best?

Short answer is that any acid will work to "pickle" (to remove oxides from after heating) copper or silver. Longer answer is that some acids are more effective, quicker, than others.

Much longer answer is this video in which I test vinegar, citric acid, sodium bisulphate (aka pH down aka safety pickle) and phosphoric acid against each other.

For some reason Blogger embeds video at tiny size, so if you'd prefer then click here to watch on YouTube.

Sunday, 21 May 2017


I trained a neural network on the various party's manifestos and now I want to vote for it. All text generated by AN COMPUTER which didn't understand words until a few hours ago (and still doesn't) and now it's making almost as much sense as our glorious leaders..
All images licensed for reuse.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Making a wooden ring - choose your own adventure

So, I make quite a few tutorial videos and people always say "yeah, that's cool but what if I don't have all that gear"

Well, hopefully this video addresses that problem.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Casting with Delft Clay

A custom request from a lady of excellent taste, asking for a spitfire ring. Challenge accepted!

This video shows how to casting a spitfire using the Delft clay casting system. Delft clay is an oilsand designed for fine casts - it's a mixture of sand, clay and oil. The process is fairly straightforward but as you'll see, it's not as failsafe as other casting methods. I got it right second time though!