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Showing posts from August, 2010

How to pick a screen name

I've been trying to sign up for an account on Steam, but I can't pick a unique username.  It seems that absolutely anything that I pick is already taken.  Obscure references to ancient Rome? Taken.  Random physics jargon? Taken.  Combinations of obscure references to ancient Rome and random physics jargon? Taken.

People generally fail as sources of randomness and I seem to be no exception (see for example this). So, I decided that what I really needed was a program that would generate random words for me, then I can pick a name from that.  But, these words can't be any random combination of letters --  I want them vaguely resemble actual words, so that they will be pronounceable.   To accomplish this I am going to try to random generate n-grams rather than random letters.  An n-gram is just a list of consecutive words or letters in a text of length n.   For example, the n-grams of length 2 (or 2-grams) in the word 'hello' are: 'he', 'el', 'll…