Larry Hosken: New: Tag: words

Remember phraser, that tool for generating puzzle-design-friendly word lists? I just updated it. I found OMDB, a big database of movie info with a public API. (Did I find it? Or did one of you tell me about it? It's been long enough such that I can no longer remember when/how I heard about it. Anyhow.) I used it to grab a bunch of movie titles, grind them up, and add them to the mix of the phraser word lists. Yay, a chance to inject more pop-culture data into a data set which perhaps leans too much towards Wikipedia's knowledge of real-world things like history and geography and diseases of sheep. Except… I guess I should have had more confidence in the pop-culture data I'd already used. I hoped that all of those movie titles would make a difference. The main difference they make, uhm, is that the phrase "The Making of" got a boost. Yeah, "The Making of" is a phrase you'll see in many movie titles, for sure. But those "The Making of…" movies don't tend to turn up in puzzles. (Hey people designing the MIT Mystery Hunt: please do not interpret that previous sentence as a challenge.) Bah, a lot of tinkering and staring at data to eventually figure out I'd made only a minor difference. But I guess that's gonna happen when your measure of quality is "uhm, seems like it would be good for puzzles, I guess?" And it's good to know about that OMDB thing; it's certainly easier to automate than screen-scraping IMDB. Anyhow: updated word/phrase lists at the phraser page; updated source code.

Permalink
& Comments

phraser, a word list generator

When you construct word puzzles, it's good to have a nice list of words to work with. Over the last several weeks, I've been tinkering on and off to build phraser, a tool that chugs through wiki data, Google Ngrams data, and text files to find (and rank) lovely words and phrases for use in puzzles.

Word list enthusiasts will quickly determine that phraser ripped of was inspired by Nutrimatic, which uses a similarly-but-differently generated list to swiftly find, say, anagrams for YESDIPLOMAS. Why not tweak Nutrimatic to do what I want? Well, I couldn't get it to build. (I did before! I think maybe a library non-backwards-compatibly updated since then? I didn't really try to hard to figure out what was going on because…) And I wanted an excuse to practice programming in Go. So, rather than hurt my brain figuring out how to get Nutrimatic building, I wrote a new program in Go.

So, anyhow, a program. And a big list of words. And a list of phrases which I should probably download onto my puzzling laptop sometime between now and the next MIT Mystery Hunt.

Permalink
& Comments

Bird Names, part of the new gig It's an exaggeration to say that Twitter's moving from a Big-Ball-of-Mud monolithic RnR architecture to a loose confederacy of services, but after you tone down the hyperbole that's roughly what's ha...

Permalink & Comments

Book Report: Many Subtle Channels in praise of potential literature In honor of USA's Buy Nothing Day, a report on a book that I checked out of the library: Many Subtle Channels It's a book about the OuLiPo. You've probably heard of them: they're a literary cabal in...

Permalink & Comments

Speaking of "what's this kind of puzzle called?", what is "Put together the letter-triples ION ISS NSM TRA to form a word"? It's kind of an anagram, but easier since you've got three triples instead ...

Permalink & Comments

Link: Ranking Wikipedia Pages This puzzle nerd has ideas on how to rank Wikipedia pages for notable-ness. Similar goals to Nutrimatic, but taking advantage of more data. Some of you folks might have some good ideas on things he c...

Permalink & Comments

Crossword Compiler Noob Diary Unsurprisingly, creating mediocre crossword puzzles is easy but creating good crossword puzzles is hard. Mind you, I don't feel pressured to create great crossword puzzles. For puzzlehunts, I only ne...

Permalink & Comments

Cyber-F-22 Sometime the past few years, the prefix "cyber-" changed meaning. It used to mean "high-tech". But lately, it's meant "I am trying to sell some poorly-thought-out computer crap to the USA governmen...

Permalink & Comments

Michael Agger wants a word for someone who speechifies about the future. He coined "Keynotist" but I prefer TEDifice. ...

Permalink & Comments

The voice of Wikipedia. Each article written by people writing about what they care about most. The precise language of controversies tiptoed around. The earnestness. You might think you could rob...

Permalink & Comments

Google & OpenID: discovery URL A while back, I mentioned that Google supported Opendid. There's one important detail that I had a hard time finding amidst the mountains of documentation: If the user wants to use their Google acco...

Permalink & Comments

Book Report: Alphabet Juice This book is a sort of lexicon, except that instead of definitions there are riffs. These are some of the author's favorite words, or at least words that he wanted to write about. He likes to pron...

Permalink & Comments

Book Report: Letting Go of the Words I'm a professional technical writer and I recommend this book about writing: Letting Go of the Words. I theoretically train engineers so that they can write clearly. This book would help those peopl...

Permalink & Comments

Link: Warren Spector, Playing Word Games Warren Spector does not, as far as I know, play uppercase "T" The uppercase "G" Game. But he designs lowercase "g" games. He worked on some good stuff for the Paranoia pencil-and-paper RPG... uhm, ...

Permalink & Comments

Book Report: Ambient Findability This was not the right book for me. Rather, I was not the right person to read this book. Ambient Findability is a high-level overview, a survey of the surge of information that's coming at us, and...

Permalink & Comments

Book Report: Rainbows End It pays to increase your word power. I always thought that "hyperventilation" meant "breathing too fast", but really it means "breathing too fast and/or too deeply". I didn't know it was possible to...

Permalink & Comments

Book Report: Everything is Miscellaneous I am scheduled for HEAD & NECK SURGERY. It says so, in all-capital letters on the appointment form. Don't worry, mom, HEAD & NECK SURGERY is a scary-sounding category of things, but really s...

Permalink & Comments

Link: Travelers Storybook I have mentioned this before: When I was growing, I spent a fair amount of time with Bob & Kelly Wilhelm, friends of the family. Bob was and is a storyteller. I don't just mean that he can rela...

Permalink & Comments

Link: Webster's Online Dictionary Puzzle hunts were everywhere last weekend. Midnight Madness in Hot Springs. Some movie called BHAGAMBHAG set up a promo treasure hunt in Mumbai, sounds big-scale. I didn't do any of that. I have ...

Permalink & Comments

Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, from Seattle to Siena Some awesome folks in Seattle are contributing to their local Game community by setting up a web site with announcements and forums and stuff. Check it out. I fed their RSS feed into my reader so I...

Permalink & Comments

Publishing News Tom Manshreck is in town. Tom was living in NYC, working in publishing. There's a lot of publishing around there. Tom was working on engineering textbooks, but he still cares about the literary st...

Permalink & Comments

Not Quite Letting Go of Spring Did I mention that White Mughals mentions a doctor treating a bladder infection? And the doctor is named George Ure. Ure should totally be the root of the word "urea", though it isn't, really. Tha...

Permalink & Comments

Tags