14 March 2007
How to create magnetic fridge letters from keyboards.
- The first step is to determine the relative frequency of each letter. Obviously one needs more E's than Z's. I went to The Quotations Page and collected 100 random quotes. Everything from Socrates to Oprah Winfrey. The resulting text was processed to obtain a histogram:
- The next step is to choose the scale of the operation. There are two possible constraints: How many letters do you want on your fridge? How many keyboards do you have at your disposal (otherwise known as the number of E's)? After a bit of thought I settled on 85 keys, which equates to 10 keyboards:
Trying a few test phrases suggested that having only one B was consistently the limiting factor. So I added a second.
- With the paperwork complete, the next issue is to locate a source of keyboards. Unless one is seeking the ever-stylish rans0m note look, one wants identical keyboards. While skulking around with a coworker, I discovered Google's electronics dumpster. (Note to Googlers: it's in the basement of MTV-42 and you'll need an access badge to get out). All the keyboards one could wish for. A Swiss Army Knife pops the keys off nicely and one ends up with a pile of letters:
- Backing magnets are easy to find. Look for places which sell flexible magnetic sheets designed for use as bumper stickers. I got 0.3 square meters of the stuff for $6.50 on eBay (most of which was shipping). Alternatively, grab a magnetic bumper sticker that's no longer needed.
- The final step is to cut the stem off of a key, cut a magnetic square to match and glue the two together. Times eighty-six.
Not sure what a histogram is, but too afraid to ask? This is a histogram.
Update: A new version of the table sorter is now available. It is now object-oriented, extensible, better documented, and generally benefits from the programming practices I've picked up in the past three months. And we all know what a random, care-free, shotgun-debugging hacker I was before...
Update: Awwww, Microsoft's Steve Ballmer called my work "cute". How sweet of him. I think Steve is cute too.
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