“Cheating” at Words With Friends

It’s time to admin something. I cheat at Words With Friends. I only justify it with the fact that I at least wrote the code to help me cheat.

And cheat really isn’t the word for it. Sometimes I just stare at my letter rack for hours and come up with nothing. I wrote the following script just to get my brain going. You have two options with this script. Argument 1 always has to be your letter rack. You can use the “+” sign for the blank tile. Argument 2 is regular expression if you are looking for something specific.

If you have the tile rack aabbccd, you would run words-help aabbccd and get a dump of every combination. If you are looking for words with ba at the beginning of the word, you would run words-help aabbccd ^ba.

This script should work on anything UNIX-like that has a dictionary file at /usr/share/dict/words. You can edit the script as you need.

#!/usr/bin/env ruby

WORDS_FILE = '/usr/share/dict/words'

class Engine

  def initialize(file)
    @file = file


  def go(letters, regex = nil) 
    @letters = letters.split ''
    @regex = Regexp.new(regex) unless regex.nil?
    @words = []

    # Find the words
    letter_combinations do |letter_combination|
      letter_combination.permutation.to_a.each do |letter_array|
        word = letter_array.join('')
        if @dictionary.key?(word)
          if @regex.nil?
            @words << word
            @words << word if @regex.match(word)

    # Clean up


  def letter_combinations
    max = (2 ** @letters.count) - 1
    1.upto(max) do |i|
      word = []
      mask = sprintf("%0#{@letters.count}b", i).split('')
      mask.each_with_index do |bit, i|
        word << @letters[i] if bit == '1'

      # Substitute wild cards
      idx = word.index '+'
      if idx.nil?
        yield word
        ('a'..'z').each do |l|
          word[idx] = l
          yield word

  def read_dictionary
    # Build the dictionary
    @dictionary = {}

    # Read the words
    File.open(@file, 'r') do |file|
      file.each_line do |line|

        # Skip proper nouns
        next if line =~ /[A-Z]/

        # Skip 1 letter words
        next if line.length == 1

        # Add the word to the dictionary
        @dictionary[line] = 1


if ARGV.length < 1 || ARGV.length > 2
  $stderr.puts "Letters are required"

e = Engine.new WORDS_FILE
e.go(ARGV[0], ARGV[1]).each { |word| puts word }

This script is brute force, so the more letters you set as Argument 1, the longer it will take to run. You’ve been warned.


Visualizing Problem 15 of Project Euler

I’ve been working through Project Euler as a coding / math exercise. Problem 15 asks to find the amount of paths that exist between the top-left and bottom-right points of a 20×20 grid, without backtracking. I decided to visualize it, because just running a command line program and waiting can be boring.

Of course, this problem is silly to brute force, but by watching the visualization and working on a pad of paper, I came up with a much faster solution to solving the problem.

The code is available on github. It’s Ruby and Tk. Some Ruby installs don’t compile with Tk, so if the script doesn’t load the tk requirement, Google around for the solution.

Also note, this is a quick hack. It leaks memory, it’s buggy, it might eat your processor and will run for a very long time.


Making an Image-Flip Proxy

There have been many articles about creating a proxy server that flips or distorts images that pass through it. They are hilarious, but they tended to lack in certain details. This article will detail how to set up the OS, proxy and routing, giving you the option to either use it directly as a proxy or gateway server.

This is also very quick and dirty. It is meant to get you started as quickly as possible. This means any longevity or security concerns are ignored. You have been warned.

The original idea came from here.

Setting Up An OS

The proxy is based off of a default install of Debian Lenny from the netinstall iso. It can be found here.

For the OS install, you can accept the defaults for almost every option. There are two cases to watch out for. First, you will be prompted to confirm all of your partitioning options before proceeding. The default option is to cancel. The second case is the additional software options. I unchecked the “Desktop Environment” option, since this is going to be server.

Once the OS is installed, log in as root and run the following commands to prepare our environment:

apt-get install squid3 apache2 imagemagick  
chmod -R 777 /var/www

Configuring the Proxy

Open the /etc/squid3/squid.conf file in your favorite editor. Near the top of the file is a configuration option for http_port. Change it to look like the following:

http_port 3128 transparent

Next, find the line that begins with INSERT YOUR OWN RULE(S), which should be around line number 2138. Below that line, add the following to allow your private network access to your proxy. Make sure to change the it for your network.

acl lan src  
http_access allow lan

Lastly, go to the bottom of the file and add the following line. This is the magic which will flip the images for you.

redirect_program /usr/local/bin/flip.pl

Save the file and exit your editor.

The Flip Script

Edit the file /usr/local/bin/flip.pl and add the following to it:


$count = 0;  
$pid = $$;  
while (<>) {  
    chomp $_;  
    if ($_ =~ /(.*)(\.jpg|\.png|\.gif)/i) {  
        $url = $1 . $2;  
        system("/usr/bin/wget", "-q", "-O","/var/www/$pid-$count$2", "$url");  
        system("/usr/bin/mogrify", "-flip","/var/www/$pid-$count$2");  
        system("/bin/chmod", "777", "/var/www/$pid-$count$2");  
        print "$pid-$count$2\n";  
    } else {  
        print "$_\n";  

The script is fairly simple. Squid passes URL’s to the script. If the URL ends in image type, it is pulled down to root of our web server. Mogrify then modifies the image in place. Lastly, it tells Squid to pull the image from our webserver instead of the internet. If the URL isn’t an image, we just dump the origin URL back out.

Once the file is in place, make sure to make it executable.

chmod +x /usr/local/bin/flip.pl

You should have enough to test. Restart Squid with the following:

invoke-rc.d squid3 restart

You can now set up any browser to use the server as a proxy on port 3128. If you visit a page you have been to before, make sure you refresh a couple of times. Your browser might have cached the images locally, which means they won’t go through our proxy.

Making A Transparent Gateway

The last part of the process is to make the server a gateway which will transparently redirect web requests through the proxy. Create the file /etc/network/if-up.d/00-firewall and add the following to it:



# delete all existing rules.  
iptables -F  
iptables -t nat -F  
iptables -t mangle -F  
iptables -X

# Always accept loopback traffic  
iptables -A INPUT -i lo -j ACCEPT

# Allow established connections  
iptables -A INPUT -m state --state ESTABLISHED,RELATED,NEW -j ACCEPT  
iptables -A FORWARD -i eth0 -o eth0 -m state --state ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT

# Allow outgoing connections  
iptables -A FORWARD -i eth0 -o eth0 -j ACCEPT

# Masquerade  
iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -o eth0 -j MASQUERADE  
iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -i eth0 -p tcp --dport 80 -j REDIRECT --to-port 3128

echo 1 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_forward

Now make the the script executable and restart the networking.

chmod +x /etc/network/if-up.d/00-firewall  
invoke-rc.d networking restart

At this point, you should be able to set any computer’s default gateway to the IP address of your server. You don’t need to set a proxy address for your browser. Everything is now routed and all HTTP requests are redirected through the proxy.


Git Switch

I have a need to change my git profile depending on what I’m working on. I created a simple script that I could run in the shell to switch between my profiles.


case "$1" in  
git config --global user.name "Your Name"  
git config --global user.email foo@bar.com  
git config --global user.name "Your Other Name"  
git config --global user.email bar@baz.com  

git config --global user.name  
git config --global user.email

If you put this script in your PATH, you can then run git switch place, where place is the profile you would like to use. In the script above, place1 is your first profile and anything else is the second profile. This allows you to run git switch, which just switches to the last, default profile.

The magic of git is that if you run git something, it looks for the command git-something in your path and runs it. If you save the above script as git-switch in your PATH and make it executable, you can execute the command as if it were apart of your git tool chain.