BerryCraft, the Blackberry Minecraft chat client, allows you to chat in-game with your Minecraft buddies on the go, or administer your Minecraft server using standard commands.  Source also available for developers! More »



A (very) ongoing science project – the ultimate goal: a neural and genetic emulator, capable of growing fully functional, and biologically accurate, neural networks from virtual DNA. Phase 1, growing a neural network from virtual DNA, capable of associative learning and long-term potentiation, is now complete! More »


Creating a Blackberry Game

Java programmers, get your Blackberry out and start making games! This set of tutorials goes over creating a Blackberry game from start to finish by following the development of the Galactic Blast Demo, available at Synthetic Dreams. More »



A new game for the Commodore 64 based on Guitar Hero. By making use of the PSX64 interface, players are able to connect a Playstation Guitar controller to their C64 and play a favorite modern genre of game on their beloved classic computer. More »

Finished up Multithreading in SynthNet

With BerryCraft done for now, I’m jumping back into SynthNet again – finished up multithreading today.  Now the emulator can utilize multicores/multiple processors, which allows substantially larger neural networks (which means more complex behavior and fun to be had).  There is still quite a lot of optimization to be done, but this was the biggie by far – I wasn’t really able to make anything much larger than the previous test until I got this working.

I changed the DNA from the demonstration a bit and grew a network with more neurons in the neural pathway, then had it listen to a piece of music (The Duel from Electric Dreams).  Captured a quick video of it – no practical demonstration, but fun to watch!

BerryCraft Source – Jave Minecraft I/O Engine

Below is the source to BerryCraft.  Most of the project is pretty trivial – however, (MineCraft IO) contains a class capable of full communication with a Minecraft server, correctly sending/receiving all Minecraft packet types as documented here.  BerryCraft itself only implements chat/time functionality (and logins of course), but the MCIO could be used to build out any Minecraft functionality (player positioning, mob spawning and attributes, inventory, etc).

If you do end up using MCIO, let me know, I’d love to see the results!

BerryCraft Source



BerryCraft Available for Download

I fixed up the last of the bugs, and added in a small amount of new functionality, and the first iteration of the BerryCraft, the Blackberry Minecraft chat client, is now complete.


The first iteration includes the following functionality:

  1. Connects to Minecraft server from your Blackberry (handles both authenticated or offline modes)
  2. Allows chatting with players online (and sending commands such as /time, /list, etc if available to your account)
  3. Has 3 user-assignable macros for repeatedly used messages/commands (good for admin commands)
  4. Allows user to set launcher and protocol version, which assuming no major protocol changes, should allow the client to continue to work with future server versions.
  5. Works with BB devices OS 5.0 and up over any connection type (Wifi, BIS, MDS, etc)

Additionally, the source code is available here – it includes an IO engine that fully sends/receives all packet types and a shell Game class to implement future functionality past chatting.

Download OTA here!

BerryCraft – Update 5/13/12

I was hoping to release the first iteration of the BerryCraft client tonight, and though I got a lot done this weekend, there are still a couple errors that are preventing it from going primetime.

Most importantly, I fleshed out 99% of the Minecraft protocol IO functions, so it can send and retrieve all 68 or so packet types as documented.  Obviously it only actually implements the basic connection/chat/time functionality (as opposed to drawing anything), but as far as communicating with the server, it understands everything (just  a couple errros still popping up from things not working right).  This is almost a necessity, as the server could potentially send any packet type over, and if the client doesn’t receive it properly, it will crash – so it has to be ready for anything in the protocol specification.  Internally, it can tell when mobs are spawned/move/look, when painting/items spawn, player abilities/movements, sound effects happen, etc etc.

Also – the client stays up for as long as desired (I ran it for 30-40 minutes at one point) – so it should be stable once the fixes are done.

Hopefully it won’t take more more than a couple nights to fix the bugs – expect another post when it’s good to go!

Authenticated Minecraft Logins Working for BerryCraft

A quick update – a lot of people had shown interest in BerryCraft – the Blackberry Minecraft admin/chat client I’d been working on.  It was a bit of a hack before and didn’t work with servers that required authentication, so I wanted to fix it up before starting to release it out.   Tonight I successfully got the authenticated logins working.  I want to clean it up a bit more, and then stat releasing it in iterations.  The first will be mainly just a chat client, since that’s pretty much implemented.  Then we’ll see about inventory management and some other goodies if things work out well.

Quick Shoutout –

James Pearn at was nice enough to include SynthNet in his list of resources related to artificial intelligence.  Check out his site if you get a moment, it serves as a well laid-out directory of many neural network and other artificial intelligence projects going on around the world, as well as job listings.  Very cool site – thanks James!


Hardware Monitoring: Syncing Drupal with Zenoss


One of the more daunting tasks of managing a larger network is keeping track of all your devices – both physically, and from a network monitoring perspective.  When I arrived on the job 3 years ago, the first major task I laid down for myself was implementing both an asset management system, as well as a network monitoring system, to ensure we always knew what we had, and if it was functioning properly.

I decided almost immediately that Drupal was the right candidate for the job of asset management.  There are a number of commercial IT/helpdesk systems out there which work great, but they are usually fairly expensive with recurring licensing costs, and my history with them has always been shaky.  Plus, I find myself not always using all the functionality I paid for.  I knew with my Drupal experience, I could get something comparable up in almost no time – this is not a discredit to IT packages, but moreso the power of the Drupal framework.

Network Monitoring – Cue Zenoss

Now that I had the hardware DB taken care of, I needed a NMS for monitoring.  Originally I was planning on Nagios, but a contractor who works for us (now friend) had introduced me to Zenoss, another open source alternative.  Zenoss is awesome – is absolutely has its quirks, and is not the most intuitive system to learn, but once things are up and running it’s great – and tremendously powerful.  So the choice was made.

Now – I had both pieces, but I absolutely hate entering data twice, and the interoperability guy in me loves integrating systems.  So I decided to write a script that would sync our Drupal database with Zenoss.  Drupal would serve as our master system, and any hardware we entered into it would automatically port over to Zenoss.  Any changes or deletions we made (IP address, location, name, etc) would sync over as well.

The below script performs this synchronization.  Some warnings up front – I’m not a Python guy by any means, I specifically learned it for this script, so I apologize for any slopping coding or obvious Python-y mistakes.  I’ve tried to thoroughly comment it to document how to use it and how it works.  Hopefully it can help some others out as well!

# Description: Sync devices to be monitored from Drupal to Zenoss
# Setup Work: Create a (or use an existing) content type that houses your hardware items to be monitored.
# They should have CCK fields for the IP address of the device, the name, and the type of
# device it is. The device type will determine the Zenoss class the script adds it to, and hence
# the kind of monitoring it will receive (e.g. Linux server, switch, ping only, etc)
# Additionally, in Zenoss, create a custom property field that will house the nid of the Drupal
# node. This serves as the foreign key and will be used to link the item in Drupal to its entry in Zenoss
# Usage: This script should be run from zendmd, and may be run once or periodically. We run it every 20 minutes from
# a cron job.
# It will create new entries in Zenoss for items not yet imported, delete ones that no longer exist in
# Drupal (it will only delete ones that were originally imported from Drupal), and will update ones that have
# been updated (type, IP, location, etc).
# Note: Excuse all the extra commits - we experienced some issues with data not being saved, and I threw some extra in
# there - they're almost definitely not necessaryimport MySQLdb

# Take a taxonomy term from Drupal identifying the type of monitoring to be done,
# and convert it to the appropriate Zenoss class path. Update these to whatever terms
# and Zenoss class paths that make sense for your environment. We setup ones for
# Linux and Windows servers, switches, waps, UPSes, PDUes, etc, as can be seen.
def getClassPath(passType):

if passType.lower() == "windows":
return "/Server/Windows"
elif passType.lower() == "linux":
return "/Server/Linux"
elif passType.lower() == "switch":
return "/Network/Switch"
elif passType.lower() == "mwap":
return "/Network/WAP/Managed"
elif passType.lower() == "uwap":
return "/Network/WAP/Unmanaged"
elif passType.lower() == "ups":
return "/Power/UPS"
elif passType.lower() == "pdu":
return "/Power/PDU"
elif passType.lower() == "camera":
return "/Camera"
elif passType.lower() == "cphone":
return "/Network/Telephone/Crash"
elif passType.lower() == "sphone":
return "/Network/Telephone/Standard"
elif passType.lower() == "printer":
return "/Printer"
elif passType.lower() == "converter":
return "/Network/Converter"
elif passType.lower() == "ping":
return "/Ping"
return "/Ping"

# Connect to Drupal's MySQL DB (Replace these values with the appropriate ones for your system)
imsCursor = imsConn.cursor()

# Execute the query to grab all your items to be monitored. In our case, we have a node type called "hardware" that had CCK fields identifying the IP address,
# the type of hardware (a taxonomy term that dictated the Zenoss class of the item - see getClassPath above), a physical location, etc.
# You'll want to change the specific table/field names, but the inner join will probably stay, as you'll want to grab both the node and CCK fields that belong to it.
SELECT node.nid, content_type_hardware.field_hardware_dns_value, content_type_hardware.field_hardware_location_value, content_type_hardware.field_hardware_ip_value, content_type_hardware.field_hardware_monitor_type_value, content_type_hardware.field_hardware_switchname_value, content_type_hardware.field_hardware_switchport_value
FROM node
INNER JOIN content_type_hardware ON node.nid = content_type_hardware.nid

# Loop through all returned records - Check for additions, changes, and removals
while (1):
#tempRow is our current hardware item record
tempRow = imsCursor.fetchone()
if tempRow == None:
# No more entries, break out of loop
# Search Zenoss records for the nid of the hardware item. A custom field will need to be created in Zenoss to serve
# as this foreign key. In our case, we used MHTIMSID - but you can use anything you'd like - just be sure to create the field in Zenoss.
found = False
for d in dmd.Devices.getSubDevices():
if d.cMHTIMSID != "":
if int(d.cMHTIMSID) == tempRow[0]:
found = True

if found == False:
# Hardware item not found, add it if it's monitored
if tempRow[4] != None:
dmd.DeviceLoader.loadDevice(("" % tempRow[1]).lower(), getClassPath(tempRow[4]),
"", "", # tag="", serialNumber="",
"", "", "", # zSnmpCommunity="", zSnmpPort=161, zSnmpVer=None,
"", 1000, "%s (%s - %s)" % (tempRow[2], tempRow[5], tempRow[6]), # rackSlot=0, productionState=1000, comments="",
"", "", # hwManufacturer="", hwProductName="" (neither or both),
"", "", # osManufacturer="", osProductName="" (neither or both).
"", "", "", #locationPath="",groupPaths=[],systemPaths=[],
"localhost", # performanceMonitor="localhost',
tempDevice = find(("" % tempRow[1]).lower())
# Save nid to Zenoss record (to serve as foreign key) for syncing
tempDevice._setProperty("cMHTIMSID","MHTIMS ID","string")
tempDevice.cMHTIMSID = tempRow[0];
# Hardware item found - delete, update, or do nothing
if tempRow[4] == None:
# Delete if not set to monitor
# Update DNS and IP to current values
if d.getDeviceName() != ("" % tempRow[1]).lower():
d.renameDevice(("" % tempRow[1]).lower())
if d.getManageIp() != tempRow[3]:

# Change class if not set to "Manual" (We setup a taxonomy term called "Manual" that would turn off automatic Zenoss class selection during syncing
# and allow us to manually specificy the class of the device.
if tempRow[4] != "Manual":

# Update comments (location change)
d.comments = "%s (%s - %s)" % (tempRow[2], tempRow[5], tempRow[6])

# Save any missed changes

# Close connection to database

Watch SynthNet in Action!

In case you haven’t seen yet, the videos demonstrating SynthNet in action have been posted to YouTube!  In the first clip, I demonstrate growing a brain from virtual DNA, hooking into my Lego robotic buddy Bit, and then conditioning Bit to associate hearing a tone with getting his touch sensor pressed.  The demonstration is a recreation of classic fear conditioning experiments.

In the second clip, I give an explanation of how SynthNet functions, how the demonstration above was setup, and the future of the project.

Thanks for checking them out!


Site Makeover

After finishing up phase 1 of SynthNet, I came to the conclusion that I really missed updating the blog.  When I get involved in a project, I tend to get wrapped up in it (more accurately – completely and ridiculously obsessed where it takes over my life) and other things drop off the radar.  However, I’ve decided I want to make a real effort to not get AS wrapped up in projects, and remember to give the blog some love.

New and Improved!

As I went to write my first article after recording the SynthNet video, I also noticed the blog was looking a little tired.  They’d also made a number of improvements in WordPress since when I first installed everything, so I decided to take the leap, get a shiny new template, and put some new life into it.  I think it’s definitely an improvement – hope you enjoy it!


fMRI of Bit “Hearing” My Voice

This is what an fMRI of Bit’s (current) brain looks like while listening to my voice (red is active neural structures – it indicates a higher membrane potential). This will probably be the last picture before the video of the associative learning demonstration – I think I’ll be ready to record by Sunday night (hopefully). Exciting stuff!