Import Soul Wouldn’t it be nice if things just worked


The programmers itch

As one could easily tell by reading the articles on this site, almost all of which revolve around computing or programming I take great enjoyment in having just enough skills with a computer to be able to whip out a laptop and peck out a quick program to solve some mundane problem.

I have been seen to pull out my laptop, on the bus on the way to a ski-trip to create a program to gather statistics on my skiing day, during family holidays to make up a spreadsheet to easily score and graph the progress of games of cards, to come up with scripts to get out of having to go though pages of paper to count up different things and many other occasions.

Just recently I have discovered how strong this "itch" to write programs to solve  silly programs to solve every day problems, when lying in bed, flicking though comics and I came across this.

While the regular person may be amused by the joke, or think it isn't funny at all the programmer in me instantly thought, It couldn't be that hard to figure out what he said. So of I went, ending up with this little program.

from collections import defaultdict

def strip(word):
    out = ""
    for letter in word:
        if letter in "aeiou":
            out += letter
    return out

def paths(tree,base=''):
    for leaf in tree[0]:
        if len(tree)==1:
            yield base + " " + leaf
            for branch in paths(tree[1:],base + " " + leaf):
                yield branch

words = defaultdict(list)
f = open("words.txt")
for line in f:
    line = line.strip().lower()
    stripped = strip(line)
    if stripped:

col_width = 10

raw_sentence = "A UI AOE UIE OU EAI"
sentence = raw_sentence.lower().split(" ")

sentence_tree = []
for word in sentence:

for result in paths(sentence_tree):
    print result

I am quite proud of some parts of my code, like the nice little recursive function/generator for traversing the tree, but I was a bit lacking foresight as to what kind of, or should i say how many results my program would produce. To try and figure out exactly how many results I began with adding a rather naive counter to the final loop and commenting out the print statement. 20 minutes latter and still with no results, I realized how this approach was not going to be a success. That gave rise to this line, which is able to calculate instantly how many possible things could have been said in the comic.

print reduce(lambda a,b:a*b,map(len,sentence_tree)), "possible arrangments"

And this makes it fairly obvious why it was taking so long to list the results with 24299547659100 possible arrangements. Naturally this led on to looking up different topics such as language parsing so that I would be able to determine how much grammatical sense a sentence makes. Only at this point did I realize that I had got rather sidetracked on trying to get to sleep, and gave up on finding out what he could have said as a problem for another day. Maybe in the next couple of days I will get really interested in the problem again and try and write a program where I can outsource to the internet and have it present people with a sentence and have them say yes or no to if it makes sense.

And that's what has led me to write up this article, this "itch" to think you are able to come up with a clever way to try and figure out what the majority of people would not even consider.


Analyzing Skiing Data

My favorite sport would have to be skiing by far, nothing can match the awesome thrill and relaxation that it provides. Over the past few years I have begun skiing with a handheld GPS so that I have been able to record things like distance traveled, max speed ect.

While this has provided some interesting stats over the years such as and overall top speed of 88.8 km/h or a total distance traveled in a single day as 81km, I have always wanted to be able to see more detail on my day's skiing.

This year I have finally got around to having a crack at making a program to analyze GPX file that my GPS records and trying to separate data from lifts and ski-runs. After a few hours procrastinating during exam week and a few hours on a bus on the way to our school ski trip i have managed to come up with a woefully inefficient but reasonably effective program that is able to do just that.

My program takes the GPX file and outputs a range of statistics on runs and lifts as well as outputting a KML with the ski-runs separated from lifts. Here is some example data from my current version of the program generated from last day of skiing on the trip.

Runs:			| 28
Lifts:			| 24
Max run speed		| 94.06
Ave run speed		| 10.035
Max run length:		| 3568
Min run length:		| 49
Ave run length:		| 1459
Total run length:	| 40877
Max lift length:	| 1763
Min lift length:	| 389
Ave lift length:	| 921
Total lift length:	| 28319.7737391

This data is reasonably accurate except for the maximum speed which is only measured as an inaccurate point speed (I will soon average speeds over a few data-points) and the discrepancy between the number of runs and the number of lifts is caused by things like the loss of GPS reception when I went into a restaurant for lunch.

To accompany the raw data here are some screen shots from within Google Earth. In the pictures chairlifts are represented by the solid read lines and the runs are represented by the squiggly blue lines. The pins in the middle of each lift are click-able and provide statistics on the lift when clicked.

Direct top down view

A slightly side on view

A closeup of the lift data

Unfortunately there is no version of this program that i deem suitable for download at the current time. In the future i plan to work on this further making it more efficient as well as turning it into a website where people are able to upload their skiing data to generate their own maps and statistics as well as including some social aspects into the process.



As part of doing the report for my Software Design and Development project i tried to find an easy tool that i could use to convert all of my git history into a basic (but nice looking) logbook that i could hand in as part of the project.

Unfortunately i couldn't find any tools that would do this for me. The closest i could find was the commit log that git-hub provided something similar to what i was after but provided alot of stuff such as avatars and commit hashes that i didn't need.

So i decided to quickly whip up a script to pass output from git-log and turn it into a nicely crafted logbook.

To interface with git i originally looked into GitPython but it proved to be rather buggy and hard to work with so i ended up going the much more low tech method of just parsing the output of a standard git-log command.

For the output i decided that using HTML via Jinja2 would be the easiest method as it would allow the template to be updated very easily down the track.

Eventually i came up with a system that i am reasonably happy with, it could do with a bit more work but it will do for now, at least until i have got all my projects out of the way.

An example of the output can be seen HERE

The script is available on github at


Cleaning up the itunes media directory

In the process of moving my iTunes library to my new laptop (well its not so new anymore), iTunes has somehow managed to duplicate my entire library, creating a copy of every track, movie, tv show ect, and giving the duplicate some obfuscated name, i.e. ABCD.mp4

Besides being a large bunch of unnecessary files, they eat up a lot of HDD space, around 100GB.

After finally finding out what was eating up my HDD space it was easy to write a quick little python script to find and remove all of these files.

import re, shutil, os

CLEAN_FROM = r"C:\Users\Hugh\Music\iTunes\iTunes Media"
CLEAN_TO = r"C:\Users\Hugh\Desktop\junk"

FILETYPES = ["mp4","m4a"]

if not os.path.exists(CLEAN_TO):

pat = re.compile("[A-Z]{4}[.](%s)"%"|".join(FILETYPES))

print "Starting"
for dirpath, dirnames, filenames in os.walk(CLEAN_FROM):
    for fname in filenames:
        if re.match(pat,fname):
            print "Moved: "+fname
print "Done"            

I do not guarantee this script will work for you and check what you actually delete before you actually do it


Enter Squiglet

The graphics style i have chosen for the game i am working on, Saga of Sol, is very simple. The majority of the graphics such as ships, buildings, will be composed only of plain old white on black lines, with some "highlight" or "feature" lines being drawn a different colour to denote what team it is on.

I didn't think that it was appropriate to go for a full on vector/SVG library for pyglet such as Squirtle. So i have begun the creation of my own much simpler vector library "squiglet" that will handle the graphics for my game.

As of yet i have the basis of most of the vector classes complete (no functions yet to draw them into the game) and am about 80% of the way done on my own editor for the vectors.

If your interested in the project it can be found on GitHub at or you can follow along on my blog HERE