Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Thursday, October 11, 2012

So about that honours project thesis thing...

It's almost the end of the year already, and I don't think I've yet mentioned my honours project (and am too lazy/busy right now to check). So here is a brief description before I get to what I want to say. The title is something like "Machine Translation of SASL (South African Sign Language)" (it keeps changing) and what I'm mainly looking at is which sign notation to use as the middle step between video data and English text (there are quite a few notations). Go here if you're really interested.

So far, it has been one frustrating mountain after the other, like trying to walk when you're stuck in a slow motion capture. So. Frustratingly. Slow at making any progress at all.

One of the frustrating things has been the lack of available data. Even now that I (finally) have data, it is not enough. The people from where I got the software I will be using recommend "800k+ sentence pairs (1.2m+ for 'difficult' language pairs)". Sign languages + spoken languages definitely fall into the "difficult language pairs" category, and so far I have about 5000 sentence pairs. Not quite a million hey?

Now, 5000 sentences is small for translating, but it is a fair amount for reading through - something I have to do because I still need to clean the data; it is not all in the correct format. Sighs.

There is something pretty cool about this, though. The only parallel data I have been able to find is the ASL (American Sign Language) bible. It's not the whole bible, but a large portion of it (5000 or so verses) has been translated into ASL and written in SW (Sign Writing), available at This is what I will be using to train my system.

So, I am currently reading through the English sentences and discarding any that aren't fit for translation (e.g. some of them are translated from Old English versions of the bible, thees and thous and chooseth and all - not quite the language I want to translate into) or duplicates, fragments, etc. This means - I get to read the Bible and make progress on my thesis at the same time.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Digging it.

I completely forgot about my resolution to find something positive in every day. Mostly because it hasn't been hard.

Wait. Lies. I've had my bad days. I've had emotional/irritable/bleh days where I've had to kick myself in the head (meaning mentally) to get myself to see the positive side to things. To not lash out at the nearest person for something as silly as losing at a computer game.

But things in general are looking brighter. For one, I have a new digsmate (the old one was lovely, but she wasn't too stoked with the house and it's a long story, but she found a rad rad place to stay with another rad rad person, so all is well) -- I have a new digsmate whose hair at least is definitely a lot brighter than most.  She also wears a variety of clothing colours (yellow skinny jeans anyone?). And she has a boyfriend with similar taste (yellow skinny jeans any.. oh I said that already).

Stolen from Facebook because I am somewhat lame when it comes to taking original photo's...
This is me pulling Teh Coolest Face-Express Evar. And there is Awesome Digsmate of New. We happen to be on the beach (this is somewhat of an achievement for me).

Life is interesting. The bathroom is stained with splashes of pink and blue hair-dye. PLUS I've been introduced to new rad music, which is always a good thing. And she functions on Normal Student Hours which are far from normal at all, so when I get home at 11/12pm she's often still awake, and we talk till all hours about life and everything.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My brother played a gig in Jeffrey's Bay a while ago, in the lounge of somebody's house. It was a rad gig.

I found this on the table downstairs. It made me think of Tea.

(it says: "Tattoo Fund. Feed Me Jar").

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Well, no, it's not HvZ yet. But yes, I did see brains on campus.

This was too rad for me to just walk by without taking note of it; I had to take a photo for the Shark.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

There's a bug in the system.

Ironically, after posting the last blogpost detailing (without much detail, so that word is incorrect, but it's the one I have) how I was depressed-but-now-no-longer, I went home and cried myself to sleep...

I came up with this theory a while ago; I spend so much time around computers and around guys, being so very scientific and logical and cold (the labs are air-conned), that every now and then I just have to be over-girly, and I break down into tears to make up for it. There really don't seem to be any other reasons for it. Emotions are such strange strange things. You can't take them apart and analyse them, because then they're no longer what they were to start with. My emotions never seem to have a reason or a source. They just appear out of nowhere and spiral into an explosion of over-reaction. And then disappear.

I was incredibly happy the day after that, by the way.

Welcome back, dear rollercoster emotions. I haven't missed you at all.

The upside to this? I'm learning. (Very slowly). I'm trying to appreciate the meaning of scriptures like:
Consider it pure joy, brothers, when you face trials of many kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance... (James 1:2)
For I have learned, whatsoever state I am in, therewith to be content (written by Paul somewhere...)
These scriptures are embellished in my brain via my Bible-school gap year and my ACE-based schooling in primary school. I think (hope) they are finally being useful. You know, I get to actually put into practice this process of trying to find an upside to every day and bring more positivity into my life.

So. Something cool about this week? I've been getting a lift to lectures in this:

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Posi Vibes. For reals now.

This year has been a rather strange one, in which I - the over-optimistic idealist - got depressed enough to spend most of it in a rather negative state. I'm not entirely sure how exactly I got into this state (overwhelming myself with too much work via triple major ++, perhaps), but I did manage to get out of it, and here I am writing a blog post. If anyone actually reads these, you may have noticed an intense lack of anything to read for pretty much this whole year so far. This would be due to a lack of internet/computer access at home, and also due to my inability to find the energy or initiative to write.

There was a turning point towards the end of last term - during university swot week I went home, and there happened to be a prophetic conference running at my home church at the time. I was pretty stoked to be able to go to church every day; I certainly needed an overdose of God right about then. During that time something shifted. I couldn't pin-point anything exactly, but what I can say is that about a week after getting back to Grahamstown I realised I was no longer coming home crying everyday. That was a pretty big deal.

I'm still not in the greatest space, though. I feel like quite a horrible person. The biggest thing has been that I've been getting really annoyed with people around me, especially when it comes to negativity. I found myself constantly raging about everyone else. Being negative about negativity...

I have a new plan. I actually came up with this idea ages of ages ago, but I am only implementing it now (lots of good ideas got lost on the wayside last semester). My plan is to find an adventure in every day, and if there is no adventure, to make an adventure. This was kind of the point of this blog in the first place, actually - to document adventure. But for reals now - there has got to be an upside to every day, and I am going to start looking for it.

I'll keep track of my progress here.

Saturday, June 30, 2012


(mewithoutYou box set shipping notification)
(oh yeah)