Una lunga risposta in Consiglio alla Petizione popolare sull’area ex-depuratore

Ieri sera si è visto in Consiglio una cosa "strana": all’ultimo punto all’ordine del giorno c’era la risposta dell’amministrazione alla Petizione sull’area ex-depuratore e il Consiglio comunale ne ha parlato in modo pacato ed approfondito per una mezz’ora. Non capita spesso, anzi quasi mai. 

Almeno un obiettivo dell’Associazione 5 agosto 1991 è stato raggiunto: riaprire la discussione sulle Continua a leggere

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See you there – or there! (March 5-6, 2016)

(Workshop member Jim Martin updates us on two upcoming exhibitions…)

The March 5th weekend will mark a first for the S Scale Workshop. For the first time in our 20-year history we will be have operating S scale layouts in two far flung venues.

Our principal display will be at our annual favourite, the Copetown Train Show.
This is a small show held in Copetown, Ontario – just west of Hamilton. The show may be small, but it attracts high profile modellers and manufacturers from across the country. It’s more often thought of as a think tank rather than a train show.

Saturday is a low pressure setup day with lots of conversation, networking, and catching up with far flung friends. Sunday, when we open the doors to the public, we all pretty much behave ourselves.

(The set-up for Copetown 2016: Click on the layout plan to view a larger version)

Simon Parent, Andy Malette, David Clubine and Jim Martin will host a large modular layout showcasing our 1:64, Canadian National Railways theme. They’ll be helped by Brian Nicholson, Trevor Marshall and Fredrick Adlhock. There is also a chance that our old friend Claude Demers will travel from New Jersey to join us.

200 kilometres to the east, Workshop members John Johnston and Paul Raham will have their S scale modules set up at the Cobourg Train Show. (Check the CARM Events page for details.) John’s excellent Burnt River module will be flanked by Paul’s Marshall Station (Featured in the May/June 2015 issue of The Dispatch – the magazine of the NASG). The layout will also include of of our two four-foot long train turntables.

Paul’s module is an engine terminal with a turntable. The point-to-point running does a fine job of engaging the viewers’ interest, as proven at last year’s show. The Cobourg show is Saturday only so we are hoping Paul and John will have enough energy to join us for the Sunday show at Copetown.

We didn’t plan to do two shows the same weekend, but John organizes the Cobourg show and was obviously locked in when the Copetown show moved from February to March. Nevertheless it demonstrates the versatility of our Free-mo format.

This is also a special weekend for the group: our 10th and 20th anniversaries.

In March 1996 we first displayed as the Southern Ontario S Scale Workshop in Brantford, Ontario. We shuffled trains back and forth on the four unfinished front sections of our first layout, the Ridgehill Central.

In March 2006 at Copetown, we first displayed our new Free-mo modules as the S Scale Workshop. We made enough of an impression on Trevor that he wrote nice things about us in the June, 2006 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman magazine*.

(Jim Martin’s Port Dover in its first public appearance – Copetown 2006)
(Oliver Clubine’s Grandview Co-op returns to Copetown 10 years after it made this “in-progress” appearance)

We expect other S scalers from southern Ontario to drop by and we will be raising our glasses later to our late founder Oliver Clubine and another fine S scale modeller who passed only days ago, Tom Spaulding.

We hope to see you there. Or there.

- Jim

(*Yeah, and look at where that got me! – Trevor)

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Comparison pictures of Hot Toys 1/6th scale Diecast RoboCop and ThreeZero 2014 RoboCop

continued from previous toy blog post

“Dead or alive, you’re coming with me.”

What’s better than having two different 1:6 scale RoboCops, one from the original 1987 film and the other from the 2014 re-boot? Put them together for pictures of course! Pictured below and for the rest of this toy blog post are the two recently released and most current RoboCop 12-inch figures, the ThreeZero 1/6th scale 2014 RoboCop 1.0 12.5-inch / 32cm tall collectible figure and Hot Toys MMS202-D04 1/6th scale Die-cast RoboCop 30cm tall Collectible Figure. Hot Toys had previously produced and released at least three versions of RocoCop (MMS010 – action figure review posted HERE, MMS026 and MMS032 – pictures HERE) and two versions of ED209 (MMS012 – reviewed HERE and MMS025) but that was a long time ago and standards have improved a lot since then, hence the release of the die-cast RoboCop (pictured below and reviewed HERE, HERE and HERE) plus the battle-damaged RoboCop with Alex Murphy two-figure set (reviewed HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE). Comparison pictures also can be seen HERE and HERE.

2014 RoboCop director José Padilha avoids direct comparisons between his RoboCop and Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 film – attempting to honor the original by forging a significantly different direction for the reboot. Still, longtime fans will without question notice a few knowing nods to the 1987 film. RoboCop starts in the traditional silver / grey suit until OmniCorp CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) decides an all-black “tactical” version would make for a better “product.” After the final battle, RoboCop returns to the fan-favorite silver / grey design. And that’s why I got the ThreeZero 1/6th scale 2014 RoboCop 1.0 collectible figure as I much prefer the silver and black color scheme.

Scroll down to see all the pictures.
Click on them for bigger and better views.

In the original 1987 film, in addition to super strength and durability, one of RoboCop’s most iconic features was his gun holster – a mechanized compartment inside his right thigh that opened to reveal a single modified Beretta 93R “Auto 9.” The machine pistol was heavily altered for RoboCop (with a longer barrel as well as a reported 50-round magazine) – fired in three-round bursts. The 2014 reboot RoboCop had two internal thigh holsters, and takes advantage of different firearms depending on the situation – including a custom Beretta Pistol (NI-408) that fired non-lethal (50,000 Volt) and lethal (200,000 Volt) XREP taser cartridges, a heavily modified (and fictional) .50 caliber RoboCop SMG, as well as a Heckler & Koch MP7A1 submachine gun.

Here’s another look at Hot Toys MMS202-D04 die-cast RoboCop (pictured below and reviewed HERE, HERE and HERE)

And the recently released ThreeZero 1/6th scale 2014 RoboCop 1.0 (12.5-inch) collectible figure (posted on my toy blog HERE and HERE)

Here are the two RoboCop figures placed side-by-side for height comparisons. Hot Toys MMS202-D04 1/6th scale Die-cast RoboCop is 30cm tall whereas ThreeZero 1/6th scale 2014 RoboCop 1.0 is 32cm tall

Related posts:
May 17, 2014 – Review of Square Enix Play Arts Kai RoboCop 2014 version 1.0 – super-human cyborg posted HERE, HERE and HERE
June 12, 2013 – Just some RoboCop and RoboCop movie-related figures on display, including ED-209 & RoboCain HERE
March 28, 2009 – Kotobukiya 1987 RoboCop mini-figure HERE
March 20, 2009 – Hot Toys 1987 RoboCop (The First) posted in my toy blog HERE
April 26, 2008 – RoboCop 3 (1993) by Hot Toys, released in 2007 (review and pictures HERE and HERE
February 25, 2015 – Review of Hot Toys Movie Masterpiece Diecast Series 1/6th scale RoboCop Collectible Figure posted on my toy blog HERE, HERE and HERE
July 22, 2015 – Review of Hot Toys MMS266 1/6th RoboCop (Battle Damaged Version) Collectible Figure posted HERE and HERE

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Assemblea pubblica sulla Villa Rosales

Buscateblog commenta. Quando il Sindaco alle 23,45 ha chiuso l’assemblea pubblica sulla Villa Rosales-Abbiate  annunciando che c’è già pronto un "pacchetto" di proposte  per risolvere la questione annosa, tutti si sono chiesti :"Ma perché allora non ce le ha presentate queste proposte prima  invece di far menare il can per l’aia per oltre due ore ?".
I maligni, ma noi non crediamo una sola Continua a leggere

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On the Personalities of Dead Authors

Posted by Marc Pickett, Software Engineer, Chris Tar, Engineering Manager and Brian Strope, Research Scientist

“Great, ice cream for dinner!”

How would you interpret that? If a 6 year old says it, it feels very different than if a parent says it. People are good at inferring the deeper meaning of language based on both the context in which something was said, and their knowledge of the personality of the speaker.

But can one program a computer to understand the intended meaning from natural language in a way similar to us? Developing a system that knows definitions of words and rules of grammar is one thing, but giving a computer conversational context along with the expectations of a speaker’s behaviors and language patterns is quite another!

To tackle this challenge, a Natural Language Understanding research group, led by Ray Kurzweil, works on building systems able to understand natural language at a deeper level. By experimenting with systems able to perceive and project different personality types, it is our goal to enable computers to interpret the meaning of natural language similar to the way we do.

One way to explore this research is to build a system capable of sentence prediction. Can we build a system that can, given a sentence from a book and knowledge of the author’s style and “personality”, predict what the author is most likely to write next?

We started by utilizing the works of a thousand different authors found on Project Gutenberg to see if we could train a Deep Neural Network (DNN) to predict, given an input sentence, what sentence would come next. The idea was to see whether a DNN could – given millions of lines from a jumble of authors – “learn” a pattern or style that would lead one sentence to follow another.

This initial system had no author ID at the input – we just gave it pairs (line, following line) from 80% of the literary sample (saving 20% of it as a validation holdout). The labels at the output of the network are a simple YES or NO, depending on whether the example was truly a pair of sentences in sequence from the training data, or a randomly matched pair. This initial system had an error rate of 17.2%, where a random guess would be 50%. A slightly more sophisticated version also adds a fixed number of previous sentences for context, which decreased the error down to 12.8%.

We then improved that initial system by giving the network an additional signal per example: a unique ID representing the author. We told it who was saying what. All examples from that author were now accompanied by this ID during training time. The new system learned to leverage the Author ID, and decreased the relative error by 12.3% compared to the previous system (from 12.8% down to 11.1%). At some level, the system is saying “I’ve been told that this is Shakespeare, who tends to write like this, so I’ll take that into account when weighing which sentence is more likely to follow”. On a slightly different ranking task (pick which of two responses most likely follows, instead of just a yes/no on a given trigger/response pair), including the fixed window of previous sentences along with this author ID resulted in an error rate of less than 5%.

The 300 dimensional vectors our system derived to do these predictions are presumably representative of the Author’s word choice, thinking, and style. We call these “Author vectors”, analogous to word vectors or paragraph vectors. To get an intuitive sense of what these vectors are capturing, we projected the 300 dimensional space into two dimensions and plotted them as shown in the figure below. This gives some semblance of similarity and relative positions of authors in the space.

A two-dimensional representation of the vector embeddings for some of the authors in our study. To project the 300 dimensional vectors to two dimensions, we used the t-SNE algorithm. Note that contemporaries and influencers tend to be near each other (E.g., Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville, or Marlowe and Shakespeare).

It is interesting to consider which dimensions are most pertinent to defining personality and style, and which are more related to content or areas of interest. In the example above, we find Shakespeare and Marlowe in adjacent space. At the very least, these two dimensions reflect similarities of contemporary authors, but are there also measurable variables corresponding to “snark”, or humor, or sarcasm? Or perhaps there is something related to interests in sports?

With this working, we wondered, “How would the model respond to the questions of a personality test?” But to simulate how different authors might respond to questions found in such tests, we needed a NN that, rather than strictly making a yes/no decision, would produce a yes/no decision while being influenced by the author vector – including sentences it hasn’t seen before.

To simulate different authors’ responses to questions, we use the author vectors described above as inputs to our more general networks. In that way, we get the performance and generalization of the network across all authors and text it learned on, but influenced by what’s unique to a chosen author. Combined with our generative model, these vectors allow us to generate responses as different authors. In effect, one can chat with a statistical representation of the text written by Shakespeare!

Once we set the author vector for a chosen author, we posed the Myers Briggs questions to the system as the “current sentence”, set the author vector for the chosen author, and gave the Myers Briggs response options as the next-sentence candidates. When we asked “Are you more of”: “a private person” or “an outgoing person” to our model of Shakespeare’s texts, it predicted “a private person”. When we changed the author vector to Mark Twain and pose the same question, we got “an outgoing person”.

If you’re interested in more predictions our models made, here’s the complete list for the small dataset of authors that we used. We have no reason to believe that these assessments are particularly accurate, since our systems weren’t trained to do that well. Also, the responses are based on the writings of the author. Dialogs from fictional characters are not necessarily representative of the author’s actual personality. But we do know that these kinds of text-based systems can predict these kinds of classifications (for example this UPenn study used language use in public posts to predict users’ personality traits). So we thought it would be interesting to see what we could get from our early models.

Though we can in no way claim that these models accurately respond with with the authors would have said, there are a few amusing anecdotes. When asked “Who is your favorite author?” and gave the options “Mark Twain”, “William Shakespeare”, “Myself”, and “Nobody”, the Twain model responded with “Mark Twain” and the Shakespeare model responded with “William Shakespeare”. Another example comes from the personality test: “When the phone rings” Shakespeare’s model “hope[s] someone else will answer”, while Twain’s “[tries] to get to it first”. Fitting, perhaps, since the telephone was patented during Twain’s lifetime, but after Shakespeare.

This work is an early step towards better understanding intent, and how long-term context influences interpretation of text. In addition to being fun and interesting, this work has the potential to enrich products through personalization. For example, it could help provide more personalized response options for the recently introduced Smart Reply feature in Inbox by Gmail.

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Weigh In – Week 21

I crossed a major milestone this week – I’m now in Onederland.  I have a very long way to go but there was a part of me that didn’t think this was even possible, that I needed to accept my fate and my size and try not to think about it.  But … Continua a leggere

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Executive Replicas "2001: A Space Odyssey" 1:6 scale Discovery Astronaut Blue Space Suit

continued from previous toy blog post

From Cotswold Collectibles:
Academy award winning 2001: A Space Odyssey was the highest grossing North American film in 1968 due in large part to its pioneering special effects, imagery, and relevant themes. The film follows Dr. Dave Bowman (played by Keir Dullea) and other astronauts on a trip to Jupiter. Arguably one of the greatest and most influential films ever made, 2001: A Space Odyssey set the viewing public’s imagination ablaze with the possibility of what the future might hold.

Executive Replicas is proud to present the first ever Blue 1:6th scale Discovery Astronaut space suit. Executive Replicas “2001: A Space Odyssey” 1:6 scale Discovery Astronaut Blue Space Suit Features: Space helmet with connecting hoses, Oxygen tank, Front control unit, metal connector rings, interchangeable gloved hands, interchangeable regular hands, Removable astronaut suit, space boots, Stand with Printed Logo, Full Color Packaging. NOTE: figure not included with set.

Scroll down to see the rest of the pictures.
Click on them for bigger and better views.

Related posts:
“Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” Dragon Models Limited (DML) 1:6 scale NASA Apollo Astronaut “Buck” 12-inch figure reviewed on my toy blog HERE
Full review of the Dragon NASA Apollo Astronaut
Fly Boys 6 – Astronauts (including Crash Crews)
Fly Boys 7: Mercury Space Capsule, Voskhod 2 – Russian Space Craft by Kubrick, Lunar Roving Vehicle – “Moon Buggy” and Manned Manoeuvring Unit – MMU
The AWESOME BBI Elite Force 1:6 scale 12-inch USAF U-2 Pilot “Bob Chapman”
“One small step for Man, one giant leap for Mankind” – celebrating and commemorating the 40th year of the Moon landing
Full review of the Action Man Lunar Rover or Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV)
G.I. Joe 1:6 scale Space Shuttle Astronaut REVIEW HERE
Review of ThreeA Adventure Kartel 1/6th scale Dead Cosmonaut Golovorez 12.5-inch figure HERE and HERE

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Executive Replicas "2001:A Space Odyssey" Gary Lockwood Discovery Astronaut 12" figure

From Cotswold Collectibles:
Gary Lockwood is a self-described cowboy-surfer, actor, rule-breaker, risk-taker, woodworker, and chef. Working in television, film, and even Broadway, Gary appeared in Tall Story with Jane Fonda, Splendor in the Grass with Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty and It Happened at the World’s Fair with Elvis Presley. Gene Roddenberry cast Gary to star in his TV series The Lieutenant, which led him to star in the Star Trek pilot “Where No Man Has Gone Before”. Soon after, he appeared as “Frank Poole” in Kubrick’s 2001:A Space Odyssey, today considered to be one of the finest films ever made.

Executive Replicas and Phicen Ltd. are proud to present Gary Lockwood’s first ever figure. Executive Replicas “2001:A Space Odyssey” Gary Lockwood Discovery Astronaut 12-inch figure features: 1960’s Likeness for head sculpt, Phicen Ltd. new jointed male body: 3D Cad Computer Designed, Over 40 Points of Articulation, Posing Hands, Carefully Painted Skin Texture, Made of Extremely Durable Plastic (PVC & ABS), Improved Leg & Ankle Joints for Extra Stability. Space helmet with connecting hoses, metal connector rings, Oxygen tank, Front control unit, interchangeable gloved hands, interchangeable regular hands, Removable astronaut suit, space boots, Stand with Printed Logo, Full Color Packaging

Scroll down to see all the pictures.
Click on them for bigger and better views.

Related posts:
“Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” Dragon Models Limited (DML) 1:6 scale NASA Apollo Astronaut “Buck” 12-inch figure reviewed on my toy blog HERE
Full review of the Dragon NASA Apollo Astronaut
Fly Boys 6 – Astronauts (including Crash Crews)
Fly Boys 7: Mercury Space Capsule, Voskhod 2 – Russian Space Craft by Kubrick, Lunar Roving Vehicle – “Moon Buggy” and Manned Manoeuvring Unit – MMU
The AWESOME BBI Elite Force 1:6 scale 12-inch USAF U-2 Pilot “Bob Chapman”
“One small step for Man, one giant leap for Mankind” – celebrating and commemorating the 40th year of the Moon landing
Full review of the Action Man Lunar Rover or Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV)
G.I. Joe 1:6 scale Space Shuttle Astronaut REVIEW HERE
Review of ThreeA Adventure Kartel 1/6th scale Dead Cosmonaut Golovorez 12.5-inch figure HERE and HERE

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