Category Archives: Tools

Visualizing Complex Files

Inspired by a very interesting TED talk by Chris Domas, I decided to make my own tool that did the same thing.

Download the binary (.NET compatible)

Download the source code

As you can tell from the source code,  the mechanism is very easy:

  1. Split file into bytes
  2. Loop through the bytes (currentByte and previousByte)
  3. X axis is 0 – 255 (currentByte)
  4. Y axis is 0 – 255 (previousbyte)
  5. Plot intersections of X and Y

The technical name for this is digraph.  Doing this in 3D or 4D would require a very similar process.

Below are screenshots of some of the files that I visualized.


Note how everything is in the upper left corner.  That’s because bulk of plain text is ASCII bytes 32 (space) to 126 (~)



Some similarities to a text file in terms of well defined patterns except that binary file won’t be restricted to below byte 127.


Notice the shades of gray.




This was about 32 MB file.  If I had a bigger file that was even more random I would expect the entire screen to fill white.   Any pattern visible here is a tale tale to a lack of randomness (or a small sample)



Pingb: Bandwidth Measuring

Ever needed to get an estimate of a link’s bandwidth and all you have is shell access to one of the end points?

Normally you would need access to both endpoints and run something like iperf across the link.   That’s the proper way, but it takes a lot of time to setup (poke holes through firewalls etc).   If you don’t want to go through that hassle and just need a quick estimate, you can use pingb.

Pingb estimates the bandwidth by measuring the difference between ICMP echo requests of different sizes.


Dance Pad Walking Controller

After playing Step Mania I realized that my pad might be useful for more than just dancing.  Gaming is such a sedentary activity so why not use the dance pad to actually walk in a game using your own two legs.  My first attempt was adapting the game Exult.  This is how you can make it work:

  • Get your dance pad ready
  • Install AutoHotKey
  • Launch my controller script using AutoHotKey
  • Launch Exult
  • Place the dance pad in a diagonally in front of your computer, Up arrow facing in the NW direction, right arrow facing in the NE direction

  • To walk stand on two arrows at a time and just press one at a time … NW-NE makes avatar walk N. NE-SE walk E … etc. It’s pretty natural after a while. …. basically left-right-left-right just like walking. Of course walking east and west is more of a front-back-front-back kind of an affair, but feels pretty good too.
  • You will soon realize that you don’t have a mouse and keyboard handy. I handled this problem by mapping the start button on the mat to combat toggle and the O button to inventory.
  • For mouse movement I just grabbed a hard writing pad and used it as my mouse pad. It worked pretty well, you can organize your inventory pretty efficiently and if your legs get too tired you can cheat and walk with the mouse.
  • If you have problems it’s probably because of the joystick mapping

Have fun 🙂 … I already finished Trinsic and walked to Britain to pick up my supplies from Lord British. But then I thought I could walk to vesper to pick up the Golden Akhn that Lord British said I could borrow … and the slime got Iolo and then me in the swamp … I should have ran 🙂 … left-right-left-right

Let me know how you like it … it’s definitely a work in progress. One thing that’s especially annoying is controlling walking speed so that in the future the faster you walk the faster your avatar walks.

If you like this, you may like Step Maze