Overcoming Writer’s Block with Automatic Transcription

Hi everyone! I would like to share this article by Descript, which seems to be suitable for a variety of applications and needs:


If you’re a writer — of books, essays, scripts, blog posts, whatever — you’re familiar with the phenomenon: the blank screen, a looming deadline, and a sinking feeling in your gut that pairs poorly with the jug of coffee you drank earlier.

If you know that rumble all too well: this post is for you. Maybe it’ll help you get out of a rut; at the very least, it’s good for a few minutes of procrastination.

Here’s the core idea: thinking out loud is often less arduous than writing. And it’s now easier than ever to combine the two, thanks to recent advances in speech recognition technology.

Of course, dictation is nothing new — and plenty of writers have taken advantage of it. Carl Sagan’s voluminous output was facilitated by his process of speaking into an audio recorder, to be transcribed later by an assistant (you can listen to some of his dictations in the Library of Congress!) And software like Dragon’s Naturally Speaking has offered automated transcription for people with the patience and budget to pursue it.

But it’s only in the last couple of years that automated transcription has reached a sweet spot — of convenience, affordability and accuracy—that makes it practical to use it more casually. And I’ve found it increasingly useful for generating a sort of proto-first draft: an alternative approach to the painful process of converting the nebulous wisps inside your head into something you can actually work with.

I call this process idea extraction (though these ideas may be more accurately dubbed brain droppings).

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Digital Image Processing Class: First Unit Exercises

This post is dedicated to the Digital Image Processing exercises with professor Agostinho, which is happening during the second semester of this year. Here, the exercises related to the first unit of the class are going to be listed, to be a part of the class final grade. The OpenCV is going to be the main library used in this course, with the C++ programming language. A simple tutorial can be found on my friend’s website.

All the codes can be accessed by clicking the titles of each exercise.
The root directory can be accessed here.

2.2.1: Negative of a region

The first exercise is to create the negative of an image inside a given rectangle. The following image illustrates the concept:


For implementation simplicity, the images were converted to gray-scale. The trick is inverting the values of the pixels inside the selected region. If we consider the range of the gray-scale to be from 0 to 255, as the following code does:

for(int i=x0;i<y0;i++){
  for(int j=x1;j<y1;j++){
    image.at(i,j)= 255 - image.at(i,j);

The user is asked to give the rectangle points at the beginning of execution.

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My experience at Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology Global Internship program


My research opportunity starts with the announcement of an internship program at the city of Gwangju, located in South Korea. My advisor Diomadson saw the GIP flier and noticed me about it. Then, I thought that it could be a great opportunity to enhance my curriculum. With the chance, I started to provide the necessary documents and essays about myself, including academic achievements, personal experiences, and grades. The program details can be found here. The biggest challenge encountered in the registration process was obtaining an English certificate, since many proficiency certificates may take a long time to be got depending on the exam type, and I needed the result fast because I noticed the opportunity late. Luckily, the TOEIC exam is well accepted in a lot of Korean universities as I heard, and it is relatively fast and cheap to obtain its certificate. I recommend new participants to try to do a proficiency exam as soon as possible to avoid deadline issues, but if you are tight on time, TOEIC is a good option to meet this constraint.

I have found many reasons to apply for this program, among them, Korea is a well-developed country in the technology industry which is very interesting for my major. I thought that it could bring me new opportunities and develop my network. The other main reason is to visit my Korean girlfriend, which I had the happiness to meet during an exchange program in the USA.

In the application process, it is required to choose a laboratory where you will be developing your work for two months. From there, I tried to search the laboratory that best fitted with my academic experiences. The ICSL lab seemed to be the best choice, the fields of study are very related to my laboratory in Brazil. So I decided to email the lab professor to assure that it would be a good option. The following paragraph illustrates the email sent and its response.

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A way to remove special characters from a text file

Hi everyone! I have been busy for the last months with various duties related to my university classes and research. But now I have separated a little time to write another post! Soon I will bring more contents related to my university environment.

Last month, the campus party happened in my city. So my friends and I decided to participate in two hackathons that happened simultaneously during the event just for fun, which later showed to be a great challenge. The first hackathon involved data science directed to the Brazilian health, and the second one was intended to accelerate the national overall judgment process. In the picture below I am presenting my groups work related to the data science hackathon, the TV shows a correlation matrix made from various databases data.


Jumping now to this post purpose!

While trying to develop a solution for one of the hackathons, we had to process the text of pdf files.  To do so, we used the PDFMiner package. The next line illustrates its usage:

pdf2txt.py -o 'output file' 'pdf file'

The application seemed to extract the pdf text pretty well, with just one little peculiarity: There were special/control characters (“Ctrl+l”) inserted whenever there was a new page at the original pdf. The picture below illustrates the character with the VIM text editor:


This character got in our way to process the file for our final purpose. At first, we tried to just remove it with ordinary python functions and with different inputs representing the character, without success at the beginning. So we found a pretty interesting solution!

text_file = open('text.txt','r')
text_file = text_file.read()
text_file = repr(text_file)
text_file = text_file.replace("\\x0c","")
text_file = literal_eval(text_file)

The trick consists of using the “repr()” function which returns the completely “raw” string. From there, the special character can be easily identified an removed. In the end, just return the string to the original form with the “literal_eval()” function! The relation of “\x0c” and “Ctrl+l” was found by analyzing the raw text file with the “repr()” function.

I believe this approach can be used to similarly solve other issues involving different characters and programming languages.

Robot path generation from a Genetic Algorithm

The project presented in this post was accomplished during the Artificial Intelligence class given by professor Caroline. It consisted of using the Genetic Algorithm (GA) to make a robot (from the iRobot Matlab toolbox) navigate from a start point to an end point without hitting any obstacles (walls).

A GA flowchart is shown below to quickly resume the method. At the beginning, a new population of possible solutions is created, each individual of this population can be the solution for a given problem. The population size is strictly fixed to a selected size. Next, an evaluation (or fitness) is applied to each individual of the population, to know how well their solution fits into the problem solution. From there, the process of “evolution” begins, a new generation is created by selecting the best individuals, reproducing them (crossover) and applying a chance of mutation for each individual. At the end, this new generation is evaluated and the process of creating a new generation starts again. The algorithm stops when the evaluation of the population is good enough or the number of generations specified is reached.


source: http://techeffigytutorials.blogspot.com.br/2015/02/the-genetic-algorithm-explained.html

The robot path generation was adapted based on the explanation given of the GA. A brief summary of the developed code in this post is shown:

  1. The start population is created from the possible paths that the robot can follow. Each path (individual) is composed of a sequence of cartesian coordinates (x,y), the path is constructed from the interconnection of those coordinates. It is important to check if the path is valid (no obstacles in the way).
  2. The evaluation (fitness) of the population is retrieved based on the success of the path to reach the destination and the distance traveled from the start point to the finish point.
  3. A new generation is started by selecting the new individuals randomly (Roulette selection) until a selected percentage of the population size. The individuals with the best evaluation have more chances to be selected (Elitism).
  4. The last empty spots of the new population are filled with the reproduction (crossover) of two individuals selected the same way as step 3. The reproduction generates a single child which has one part of the first selected individual and another part of the second individual from a common intersection of both.
  5. With the new population filled, a chance of mutation is applied to each individual. Each Cartesian coordinate have a really small chance of being replaced by another random one. It is also important to check if this new random point is valid to create a path. Mutation is applied to avoid the global minimum solution to the problem.
  6. The population is evaluated again, and the algorithm repeats from step 2 until the requirements are matched.
population_size = 100;
path_size = 10;
%Start point coordinates
start_x = 3;
start_y = 3;
%End point
desired_x = -3;
desired_y = -3;
%survive rate for next generation
keep_alive = 90;
%Number of generations
epoch = 10;
%Mutation chance for each node
mutation_chance = 0.0005; %For each point in the path

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A simple chat with Sockets using Python

The following work was developed during the Computer Network class given by professor Carlos Viegas at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte. The group was composed of Lenildo and me.

The assignment consisted of implementing a simple chat with Sockets based on a client/server communication. We also needed to insert some functionalities into the application, like changing the name of the user, listing the active clients connected to the chat and even to start a private chat with a specific user. There is no direct communication between clients, all messages need to pass through the server to reach the other end.

Now let’s start to talk about the code!

The strategies to create the system involves using threads to communicate the clients and server parallelly with the help of sockets:

# import libraries
from socket import *
from threading import Thread # thread

Beginning with the server, the following lines were used for the main configuration. It is needed to describe the server IP, port and operating protocol (TCP in our case):

# Server IP
serverName = ''
# Server port to connect
serverPort = 12000
# TCP protocol
serverSocket = socket(AF_INET,SOCK_STREAM)
# Bind the Server IP with its port
# Ready to receive connections

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Analyzing the state of the Basic Health Units of Brazil (UBS) using Python for Data Science

This work was developed during the “Python IMD challenge” happened on 10/21/2017 with Igor, Ricardo, Luiza and me. The competition purpose was to develop a project involving Data Science during 5 hours. Our goal focused on choosing something impactful and at the same time simple to be developed in the short given time. We were very happy to know that we won the first position in the competition at the end! The prize is a free ticket to the national Python event that is going to happen next year.


Without further ado, let’s talk about the project itself!

During our searches for datasets about various topics, we found the national website which contains numerous pre-formatted data about national interests:   http://dados.gov.br/

The subject that called our attention was about the Basic Health Units of Brazil (Unidade básica de saúde), which are small public hospitals basically. The dataset had some interesting columns that we thought could bring an important conclusion, for example, the hospitals coordinates and their evaluation about different aspects like the hospital structure and medical supplies.

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