Practice Your Code-Fu: Programming Contests and Puzzles Online

by in Fun Projects on February 26, 2009

This is a list of the best sites on the net for practicing your coding chops, showing off your programming skills, and competing for fame and fortune. Exercise your brain by untangling obfuscation, applying algorithms knowledge, growing your inner math geek, or playing a bit of code golf. These sites have exercises to build on and refine what you already know, or learn the language du jour. Continue reading »

6 Easy Ways To Get Started Programming Open Source

by in Fun Projects on October 31, 2008

Open source projects can be a good way to geek out and do what you love, and having a side project can help improve overall job satisfaction, keep you at the top of your hacking game, and can often lead to other opportunities. The problem is a lot of people have trouble making that first step because they don’t really know where to start. Here are 6 easy tips for getting started with F/OSS. Continue reading »

E2: The (NP-Complete) Kids’ Game with the $2 Million Prize

by in Fun Projects on April 21, 2008

The Eternity 2 (E2) puzzle has attracted the attention of puzzle fanatics, computer programmers, and mathematicians for many reasons, not the least of which is the $2 million prize for being the first to solve it. E2 is an edge-matching puzzle with 256 pieces. The general class of edge-matching puzzles is known to be NP-Complete, but it is unknown if there are aspects of E2 that can be exploited to make it tractable. In the spirit of cooperation, a few people have made their automated solvers available online, and I have provided an overview and back-of-the-napkin analysis of two of them. Continue reading »

How to Write Original Jokes (Or Have A Computer Do It For You)

by in Fun Projects on March 1, 2008

This is a Common Lisp code walkthrough for generating original jokes. You seed the generator with knowledge about different objects, and it uses that vocabulary to generate unique jokes. All of the jokes are of the form: “What do you get when you cross X with Y?” This code was originally written for my CS288: An AI Approach to Natural Language Processing class at UC Berkeley in 2004. Continue reading »

Ravatar WordPress Plugin for Random Avatars

by in Fun Projects on January 27, 2008

I was looking for a WordPress plugin to spice up comments with custom avatars, but I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for. So I hacked together the Ravatar WordPress plugin that will display a randomly generated avatar for each visitor. The icons are based on email, so a given visitor will get the same icon each time they comment. It’s totally customizable, so you can set it up with images that match your blog’s theme. Visitors can optionally choose their own avatar by setting up a Gravatar. Download the plugin here. Continue reading »