Icon of program: Machine Essays

Machine Essays

Key Details of Machine Essays

  • Let your computer express itself.
  • Last updated on 5/18/2016
  • There have been 2 updates

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Editors' Review

Download.com staff

Machine Essays for Mac is one of the oddest and least useful programs we've ever encountered, and yet, we find ourselves kind of charmed by it. Inspired by the infinite monkey theorem, Machine Essays asks your computer to generate blocks of random characters and then identifies any English words that happen to appear, stringing them together in non-grammatical sentences. Why? No reason, really, except that the results can be kind of interesting.

Machine Essays for Mac has a surprising number of features and options. Users can choose from two different word lists, one with more obscure -- and ultimately nonsensical -- words on it, or one with more familiar options. The minimum word length is four characters, but users can set it higher if desired. CPU usage can be adjusted, as well. Once you've configured Machine Essays the way you want it, click "Start," and the program will start creating blocks of characters and pulling the words out. You can alternate between viewing the "raw buffer" -- the strings of random letters -- and the words found, which are arranged in sentences, though they lack any order or grammar. Machine Essays can also speak its results aloud as it searches, creating an odd stream-of-computer-consciousness speech. A Help file explains both how Machine Essays works and the creator's reasons for making it. The program is fun to play around with, though in our experience it fell short of spontaneously reproducing any of Shakespeare's works.

Machine Essays for Mac installs and uninstalls without issues. And while it may not be necessary, it can be fun.

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Full Specifications

- Re-wrote the word searcher. It was originally the generic one intended to simply match words from my text cataloging subsystem, instead of detect words in a random byte stream, so it was slow and not always correct for Machine Essays. Re-wrote to be very specific for this use, now much faster and will correctly find longer forms of words (i.e., will find "intently" and not just stop at "intent". Significant enough change to bump the minor version number, much richer output.
- Added a timeout for longer word searching. If some minutes go by without finding, say, an 8 letter word then the machine will re-set word length and go again. Variable time based on your CPU use setting.
- Added auto-saving code to insure an essay isn't lost in a power outage, which happened to me
- Increased the size of the characters seen to a really really big number.
- Reduced the maximum CPU utilization.
With the new scanner the fans were spinning up because things were happening too fast.
Now low medium and high are respectively 25%,50%,75% on a dual core machine.
- took out random word generation. Didn't make sense to the project in the end.
- Added a "Pause and save" feature when an essay gets longer than 10 meg. A dialog will appear at this point asking you to save.
- fixed some UI issues. Not style, but functionality.
May 18, 2016
Latest update
May 18, 2016
Operating System
Mac OS X, Mac OS X 10.7, OS X 10.8
Additional Requirements
Total Downloads
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Developer's Description

Let your computer express itself.
This is a weird one, weirder than my other apps, believe it or not. Simply, Machine Essays asks your computer to come up with blocks of random characters. The blocks are scanned for American English words, and if any words are found they are added to the output text block. This allows you to rad what your computer wants to tell you. And hear it, of course, Machine Essays will speak your computers thoughts to you. I dunno. I just want to see. I want to see what the machine wants to say, even if it's gibberish. Am I hopeful I'll find something meaningful? Yes I am, or I wouldn't have written this. But realistically waiting for a sonnet? No. But we'll see. Sharing it with you so you can see what your machine wants to say to you. And actually running it for a while, particulalry with Speech turned on, this turns out to be really interesting art.