National Novel Generation Month, 2017 Edition

November is traditionally “National Novel Writing Month.” The goal is to write a short novel that is 50,000 words in length. I always have grand plans to attempt it and have started a number of times over the years but have never actually finished. (One day, I swear!)

Recently, I stumbled across a geekier take on it, called National Novel Generation Month. The goal of this particular project is to write code that can generate a 50,000 word novel instead. Hey, why not?

I published my code at the beginning of November for my project: The Complete Encyclopedia on 1,449.5 Random Ways to Make a Sandwich.

This book of 1,449.5 random sandwich recipes was created for NaNoGenMo (National Novel Generation Month) 2017. You can view the source code for this project on GitHub.

It uses data parsed from a 1909 book, entitled “The Up-To-Date Sandwich Book: 400 Ways to Make a Sandwich”, written by Eva Greene Fuller and now available for free in the public domain.

For this particular book, new sandwich recipes were generated using Markov chains created from the above text.

Please don’t try to actually make any of the sandwich recipes created with this process. However, if you do, please contact me and show me pictures.

Disclaimer: I cannot be held responsible for any health issues that may arise from eating any of these sandwiches.

There are definitely some interesting ones…


Use three slices of Swiss cheese, spread fresh butter and two tablespoonfuls of olive oil, the juice of two oranges and knead the mixture.

How to play Civilization on your iPad

Do you have an iPad? Because you can totally play Civ on your iPad.


JUST WAIT! I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about Civ V (and even Civ VI).

Photo Proof here:

How does this magic work?

Yes, you guys will think I’m crazy but I regularly play Civ on my iPad. (What?!). I’m also a masochist. But you can totally make it work.

There are a few options:

  • Through Nvidia’s Geforce Experience app:
  • Have a Windows PC with an Nvidia graphics card (What if you don’t have one? We’ll tackle that farther down.)
  • Make sure GeForce Experience is installed. This basically allows streaming through the same protocol that Nvidia Shield uses.
  • Install Moonlight on your iOS device (iPhone?!?!) or even an Android device. Open source app that can connect / parse Nvidia Shield streams.
  • Play Civ! (Via dragging your finger around to simulate a mouse, sometimes tedious, but it works!)

Pros: You get to play Civ on your iPad!

Cons: Kind of a pain to setup.

Through Remotr:

  • Have a Windows PC (hmm, there seems to be a pattern here).
  • Install Remotr on your PC. It should auto-detect Civ V. It doesn’t auto-detect Civ VI for me though.
  • Install Remotr on your iPad.
  • Open Remotr and play Civ!

Pros: You get to play Civ on your iPad! And it’s much easier to setup on your Windows PC, plus you aren’t tied to an Nvidia only GFX card.

Cons: The iPad app is free (good!). But whenever you disconnect from your game (or maybe something crashes), it will show you one of those cheesy popup ads that won’t let you click away for 10 seconds or so. You can optionally pay for a monthly pro subscription through an in-app purchase. Also, Remotr tries to squeeze your (probably 16:9) resolution display into the iPad’s 4:3 display. So things will look janky. Just change the resolution of Civ to 1024 x 768 and things will look good on your touch screen device. (Obviously, change it back when you get back to your real machine though).

Through Screens (I also have a Mac) or a similar VNC client.

  • Install VNC server of your choice on your Mac or Windows machine.
  • Install a VNC client of your choice on your iPad or other mobile device.
  • Open and play Civ!

Pros: You get to play Civ on your iPad!

Cons: While Civ isn’t what we think of as a graphically intense game, prepare for a bunch of jerkiness as you move the map around, delays while various modals pop up, screen tearing. But… you get to play Civ.

Comet PanSTARRS!


I was finally able to catch Comet PanSTARRS tonight from our roof in North Oakland. So hard to see, but awesome.

Caught it with my DSLR and a 200mm lens.

See you again in 110,000 years, PanSTARR!

No spoilers (of the geologic variety)

Hah, a year ago I was on my way to Florida for the STS-134 NASA Tweetup!

Anyway, I just had an update from Timehop emailed to me regarding an interesting Facebook post of mine from exactly a year ago (I don’t think I had publicly shared this otherwise):

British couple behind me is looking out the window and ask a nearby flight attendant if that’s the Grand Canyon below us and to our left.

She says yes, so I look out the window and see that it’s actually Valley of the Gods in Southern Utah (neeeeerd). I turn around to say something, right as the husband says, “Oh, that is so great! I’ve always wanted to see the Grand Canyon!”

Alright then. Just smile and turn around, Dave. 🙂