Tag: biography

  • Clone Wars Watchlist

    Who am I?

    My name is Nicolas Ward, generally known as UltraNurd on the intertrons. I am a software engineer working in Natural Language Processing for BBN Technologies in Cambridge, MA. I am a part-time masters student in computer science in the Harvard University EECS department. I am the guildmaster of Mellonea in World of Warcraft. I am a huge geek.

    What is this blog?

    To be honest, I don’t really know yet. I have recently gotten interested in social media, mostly as a Twitter user. I used to blog on LiveJournal (you’ll note the complete archive of that is available here), but once I got into a work routine, I didn’t have much to post about, or rather never took the time to post. I am now trying to get back into regular long-form blogging, since basic life updates and short comments to the void are fulfilled by microblogging on Twitter.

    I am naturally interested in all things computer-related, but I have a wide variety of interests. I like to think of myself as a maven (as per Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point). I expect my posts will fit into several potential categories:

    • Computer howtos
    • Book and video game reviews/discussions
    • Political and religious commentary
    • Software ideas (probably focused on NLP)
    • Current school projects
    • My experiences with social media
    • Responses to friends’ blog posts
    • LiveJournal archive

    If any of that is interesting to you, I hope you’ll enjoy reading at least some of what I blather on about.

    I license everything I write, as well as all of my pictures, using a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0-US (“CC-BY”) license. In general, that probably means you can quote or copy anything I post, as long as you say it’s from me, except where otherwise noted. For a number of reasons, including licensing issues, I won’t be blogging with any specifics about what I do at work. They own my brain when I’m on the clock.

    What do I read?

    You can check out my blogroll on the left, but I’ll highlight some of the blogs that aren’t written by famous people, and explain why I follow them.

    • An Bui – An is a friend of mine from college, and she is directly responsible for getting me on Twitter. She writes about social media marketing.
    • The Camel’s Knees – My sister Joanna is currently serving with the Peace Corps in Gao, Mali, West Africa. Her ability to post is intermittent, but she writes about development and nutrition issues, as well as describing elements of Sonrai culture.
    • Tweetworks Blog – Tweetworks is a Twitter threading tool developed by Boston local Mike Langford. He writes about the Tweetworks tool, as well as general Twitter issues.
    • Brett Nordquist – Brett is one of the first people I started following on Twitter randomly; he writes about tech issues, and raising his kids.
    • Ku Photos Blog – Emery was my college roommate for three years, and is an awesome photographer. Check out his work!
  • Sunspot

    A small Yorkshire Terrier lies in a pet bed on a green upholstered chair in a sunny living room.

    I wish I could nap like Pike naps.

  • The Muppets Meet Murderbot

    For the last year and a half or so Andrle and I have been having a ton of fun as part of an online book club put together by my friend Tanya. Unlike most book clubs where you all read the same thing, we all just share things we love that we’ve been reading.

    One recommendation that kept coming up was The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells, and I’m glad we finally ran with it and started reading them. We’ve been bingeing the last few weeks and they’re really, really great. Highly recommend (even though I’m only on Book 4.)

    Unsurprisingly another thing I’ve been reading about and thinking about a lot is the advent of Large Language Models, particularly as manifested by ChatGPT. My past work life as an NLP practitioner has me a mix of curious, envious, and highly suspicious of what these are and how they’re being used. In the short term I don’t mind using them as a toy that I can play with for the purpose of a joke, which is what this post is about.

    A recurring topic in this book club is how we might have the Muppets interpret a particular book, or how we might recast a movie with Muppets (but keep one human actor). This provides a lot of fun discussions, especially since I grew up regularly watching the classic Muppet movies on VHS recorded off of TV, and I really like musicals.

    That all brings me to some prompt iterating that I did to get ChatGPT to write the painfully cliché finale to a Muppet musical featuring Murderbot. (Apologies to both Henson and Wells.)

    Verse 1 (Murderbot):
    I used to be a killing machine,
    A rogue cyborg, feared and mean,
    But then I met the Muppets and Kermit,
    And learned what friendship truly meant.

    Verse 2 (Kermit):
    I'm just a simple frog, it's true,
    But I believe in friendship too,
    And when I met Murderbot, I knew,
    Together we could do something new.

    Chorus (All):
    We don't need to kill no more,
    Our friends are all we're fighting for,
    With Murderbot and Kermit side by side,
    We'll show the world what we stand for.

    Verse 3 (Murderbot):
    I never wanted to be a tool,
    But that's all humans see in me, it's cruel,
    I used to dream of breaking free,
    From their endless schemes and greed.

    Verse 4 (Kermit):
    It's true, I'm always happy-go-lucky,
    But I've been through some tough times that were quite yucky,
    But now with Murderbot and the gang,
    I know our friendship will never hang.

    Chorus (All):
    We don't need to kill no more,
    Our friends are all we're fighting for,
    With Murderbot and Kermit side by side,
    We'll show the world what we stand for.

    The past is gone, the future bright,
    With friends like these, we'll win the fight,
    Our love and trust will guide us through,
    Together we'll see this journey through.

    Chorus (All):
    We don't need to kill no more,
    Our friends are all we're fighting for,
    With Murderbot and Kermit side by side,
    We'll show the world what we stand for.

    So let's raise our voices high,
    And let the world hear our battle cry,
    With Muppets and Murderbot side by side,
    We'll change the world and turn the tide.
    OpenAI. (2023, Mar. 16) [Iterative prompt conversation starting with “This Muppet movie is about a rogue cyborg traveling to different space stations and learning the power of friendship from the Muppets” and “I need some lyrics for the big finals. The music is big broadway style number about how the rogue cyborg doesn’t need to kill bad guys anymore because it has friends.” and then encouraging more dialogue between Kermit and Murderbot] https://chat.openai.com/

    Yes, I looked up recommendations on how to properly cite ChatGPT output.

    Overall the result was mildly amusing. I couldn’t get it to capture Murderbot’s signature style, presumably because while information about the novellas are in its model training, not enough text from the novellas are in there.

    I’m still not sure what useful things I could do with this kind of tool, but in the meantime, I can make it make silly songs.

  • Fox Ferocity

    Pike playing with a toy almost as big as he is.

  • Groomed Pike

    Tiny freshly groomed Yorkie sits on a teal couch wearing a monstera bow tie

    I love this little gentleman.

  • The Kale Wanter

    A small black and brown Yorkie stands on a cream rug in front of a brown cupboard begging for the bunch of lacinato kale in hand in the foreground.