Archive for the ‘ Languages ’ Category

How To Write A Name Generator (In Ruby)

How To Write A Name Generator (In Ruby)

by Alan Skorkin on July 19, 2009

I love reading fantasy, I’ve even written about some of my favourite fantasy series on this blog. One of the things that I have always found interesting about fantasy literature (besides unworkable economies and unsustainable population densities – I tend to over-analyse when I read :)) was how they come up with the names for all the characters. Large fantasy series often contain hundreds of characters – that’s a lot of names. This line of though naturally led me to think of what I would do if I ever needed to make up a bunch of names and being the software developer that I am the answer was naturally – get my computer to make up the names for me.

If you do a search around the web for name generators you get quite a few results, unfortunately most of those don’t tell you how they do what they do and even that is besides the point since I wasn’t really happy with the results that most of these name generators produce. Either the results are way too random (how about 6 consonants in a row) or they are not random enough with clear traces of human intervention (i.e. choosing from a list of pre-made names). Then I found Chris Pounds excellent name generator page. One of the things that he has on this page is his language confluxer (lc) script so for my first attempt at writing a name generator I decided to basically take his script and clean it up a little bit. There were two reasons for this:

* he uses a pretty clever algorithm for his name generator, it is completely data driven and is therefore able to avoid the 6 consonants/vowels in a row issue while producing output that sounds similar to the data it is based on

* it was a yucky Perl script and nobody wants to work with that (except Perl programmers), so I felt it was my duty to make it a little bit nicer and since I’ve been playing around with Ruby lately, well you get the picture 🙂

The Name Generator Algorithm

As I said the script is completely data driven in that it takes a list of words (names in our case) as input and uses these to produce a bunch of randomised names that hopefully sound similar to the original input. It does the following:

* produces a list of starting letter pairs from the input data (all our names will start with one of these pairs)

* produces a map of which letters can follow which other letters based on the input data

* generates words/names by randomly selecting a starting pair and then appending to the word by randomly choosing a letter from the map based on what the last letter in our new word currently is

* this continues until the word length falls into a particular range (this range is hard-coded in the script)

There are a few more little twists that make this whole thing function but that is the essence of the algorithm.

via How To Write A Name Generator (In Ruby).

Top 25 Best Linux Commands

Top 25 Best Linux Commands.

25) sshfs name@server:/path/to/folder /path/to/mount/point
Mount folder/filesystem through SSH
Install SSHFS from
Will allow you to mount a folder security over a network.

24) !!:gs/foo/bar
Runs previous command replacing foo by bar every time that foo appears
Very useful for rerunning a long command changing some arguments globally.
As opposed to ^foo^bar, which only replaces the first occurrence of foo, this one changes every occurrence.

23) mount | column -t
currently mounted filesystems in nice layout
Particularly useful if you’re mounting different drives, using the following command will allow you to see all the filesystems currently mounted on your computer and their respective specs with the added benefit of nice formatting.

22) <space>command
Execute a command without saving it in the history
Prepending one or more spaces to your command won’t be saved in history.
Useful for pr0n or passwords on the commandline.

21) ssh user@host cat /path/to/remotefile | diff /path/to/localfile –
Compare a remote file with a local file
Useful for checking if there are differences between local and remote files.

20) mount -t tmpfs tmpfs /mnt -o size=1024m
Mount a temporary ram partition
Makes a partition in ram which is useful if you need a temporary working space as read/write access is fast.
Be aware that anything saved in this partition will be gone after your computer is turned off.

19) dig +short txt <keyword>
Query Wikipedia via console over DNS
Query Wikipedia by issuing a DNS query for a TXT record. The TXT record will also include a short URL to the complete corresponding Wikipedia entry.

18) netstat -tlnp
Lists all listening ports together with the PID of the associated process
The PID will only be printed if you’re holding a root equivalent ID.

17) dd if=/dev/dsp | ssh -c arcfour -C username@host dd of=/dev/dsp
output your microphone to a remote computer’s speaker
This will output the sound from your microphone port to the ssh target computer’s speaker port. The sound quality is very bad, so you will hear a lot of hissing.

16) echo “ls -l” | at midnight
Execute a command at a given time
This is an alternative to cron which allows a one-off task to be scheduled for a certain time.

15) curl -u user:pass -d status=”Tweeting from the shell”
Update twitter via curl

14) ssh -N -L2001:localhost:80 somemachine
start a tunnel from some machine’s port 80 to your local post 2001
now you can acces the website by going to http://localhost:2001/

13) reset
Salvage a borked terminal
If you bork your terminal by sending binary data to STDOUT or similar, you can get your terminal back using this command rather than killing and restarting the session. Note that you often won’t be able to see the characters as you type them.

12) ffmpeg -f x11grab -s wxga -r 25 -i :0.0 -sameq /tmp/out.mpg
Capture video of a linux desktop

11) > file.txt
Empty a file
For when you want to flush all content from a file without removing it (hat-tip to Marc Kilgus).

10) $ssh-copy-id user@host
Copy ssh keys to user@host to enable password-less ssh logins.
To generate the keys use the command ssh-keygen

9) ctrl-x e
Rapidly invoke an editor to write a long, complex, or tricky command
Next time you are using your shell, try typing ctrl-x e (that is holding control key press x and then e). The shell will take what you’ve written on the command line thus far and paste it into the editor specified by $EDITOR. Then you can edit at leisure using all the powerful macros and commands of vi, emacs, nano, or whatever.

8 ) !whatever:p
Check command history, but avoid running it
!whatever will search your command history and execute the first command that matches ‘whatever’. If you don’t feel safe doing this put :p on the end to print without executing. Recommended when running as superuser.

7) mtr
mtr, better than traceroute and ping combined
mtr combines the functionality of the traceroute and ping programs in a single network diagnostic tool.
As mtr starts, it investigates the network connection between the host mtr runs on and HOSTNAME. by sending packets with purposly low TTLs. It continues to send packets with low TTL, noting the response time of the intervening routers. This allows mtr to print the response percentage and response times of the internet route to HOSTNAME. A sudden increase in packetloss or response time is often an indication of a bad (or simply over‐loaded) link.

6 ) cp filename{,.bak}
quickly backup or copy a file with bash

5) ^foo^bar
Runs previous command but replacing
Really useful for when you have a typo in a previous command. Also, arguments default to empty so if you accidentally run:
echo “no typozs”
you can correct it with

4) cd –
change to the previous working directory

3):w !sudo tee %
Save a file you edited in vim without the needed permissions
I often forget to sudo before editing a file I don’t have write permissions on. When you come to save that file and get the infamous “E212: Can’t open file for writing”, just issue that vim command in order to save the file without the need to save it to a temp file and then copy it back again.

2) python -m SimpleHTTPServer
Serve current directory tree at http://$HOSTNAME:8000/

1) sudo !!
Run the last command as root
Useful when you forget to use sudo for a command. “!!” grabs the last run command.

HtmlUnit : GUI Java Less browser

HtmlUnit – Welcome to HtmlUnit.

HtmlUnit is a “GUI-Less browser for Java programs”. It models HTML documents and provides an API that allows you to invoke pages, fill out forms, click links, etc… just like you do in your “normal” browser.

It has fairly good JavaScript support (which is constantly improving) and is able to work even with quite complex AJAX libraries, simulating either Firefox or Internet Explorer depending on the configuration you want to use.

It is typically used for testing purposes or to retrieve information from web sites.