See people walking
Arm in arm and down the street;
Really miss my sleep.
I’m so sleepy. I’m also going home this weekend as reading week finally begins. All I am holding onto today as I finally end this bludgeoning week is that I’m going home, burying my face in our pup’s fur and zonking out.
“They’ve hacked into our databases!”
“No way! It was totally secure! How did they get past our twelve-layered security?!”
“Forget that, how did they get through our code? There’s like, a million lines in there!”
“Not just that, it was also coded by us.”
“What do you mean?”
“Only we know what code we write, kid. Sometimes, not even we know it.”
“Yeah, so if they’ve figured what was going on, we’re dealing with coding experts here.”
“Anyway, boot up the code, let’s see what they’ve accessed.”
“You know, there’s no shame in taking longer than a second to type in the password.”
“Shut up, intern.”
(Powering up sounds)
“Great, we’re here. Now let’s see…
What?! What’s this!”
“Looks nothing like our program! It’s all—”
“No way, you’ve got the wrong file,”
“No it isn’t. No one in this department can spell well enough to search for the path /users/SuperSecret/SDrive/scramblingfolder/fakefiles/floccinaucinihilipilification/ and access the file we’ve stored there, they’ve really got us.”
“But—isn’t that your code?”
“Whaddya mean, intern?”
“This is your code. I saw it last week. It was part of my project to add a function, and it was this file.”
“WHAT DID THEY MAKE YOU DO??”
“Relax, nothing much, just run a counter that waits for 1000 seconds and prints “Please restart the application”…”
“You did something.”
“I just documented it! God, it was just comments, it doesn’t affect the code!”
“Why did you document the code? We never document our code.”
“I know. Intern or not, your code’s disgusting to read. It’s just good practice to document it. Took me all week to read a single file.”
“The floccinaucinihilipilification file.”
“Geez, no wonder we’ve been hacked.”
“What do you mean?!”
“You guys can’t be serious.”
“You mean to tell me, that you never had any security in the first place??”
“…well, we never needed it. No one could figure out what our code ever did. It was the simplest and most effective of security: the safety of no knowledge.”
“But now that you’ve so helpfully documented everything, we’re an open book.”
“Well, what now?”
“You’re asking me?
… (sigh) I guess it’s time to put my degree to some real use, isn’t it?”
This is in no way influenced by the fact that I am learning assembly language and can’t imagine any better use for it than for concealing stuff that’s otherwise so obvious even a beginner coder could work it out. It’s also extremely cool and puts you in a very secretive environment-frame of mind.
Grey blankets on the ground
Sandwiched under by navy
Sit and watch the silence
Watch it, till it’s pierced
By a single long beep,
As the grey turns to white
And the navy to bright,
And as the soft white underneath
Is tiled by a tarmac sheet
With a beep beep bleep,
The day has begun.
Everything around looks
Nothing out of the blue;
Nothing here does,
Except perhaps you
It’s hard to notice
When everything around
But it’s a little hard,
Out of shape
On two hours of sleep.
I’m genuinely on two hours of sleep. I was at a hackathon all weekend, and when school, travel and travel costs all add up, you have to give it your all!
And so I think I may have slept a little between 4:30 and 5:30. Maybe.
Totally worth it!
The best part about hackathons is the total exploration. You often end up staying overnight in a single building designated as a coding area. Even if it’s a building you’re quite familiar with, there’s nothing a whole night there can’t teach you that you already knew from spending two hours a week in lecture there. You find new cozy hacking/study spots and if you’re home, you have a alternative to the old stuffy library for the rest of your education!
For me, this time it was about exploring (infiltrating?) a new (rival?) school’s comp sci base: I was up in Montreal! (The commute did not agree with me however!)
I snuck out on my short break and walked around some really stunning architecture. I wish I’d had more time to explore the city, but my lack of time was a whole other story!
It’s a story that probably deserves its own post: the travel post with some bonus theatrical thrills, because believe you me a sleep-deprived kid mostly confined to the insides of a computer science department building, can still get into fixes.
Hackathons are also a great way to make new friends! Even if it is at your own school or university, spending twenty four hours debugging and crying over your own bad coding habits with someone else is sure to earn you a new friend, one who always knows the pain of getting 178 nested errors only to follow them to the first instance of where thing started going wrong and for your error message to make absolutely no sense to anyone. They’ve seen you there before, in the wee hours of the morning.
Another super cool part of the exploration that goes on at hackathons is obviously, an exploration into the world of computer science, and all its wonderful skills! Most people end up learning something new at a hackathon, maybe because what you’d like to make uses a platform you’ve never used before, or if you’re playing around with totally new, shiny, cool hardware and writing code to talk to it: I will never tire of being amazed at how we bounce electricity around to get a cool chip-spider or whatever’s new in the hardware lab, to talk to your computer and do whatever you command it to do (as long as there are no bugs, of course!)
I gave InVision the ditch and tried out some prototyping on Figma this time, and my word, Figma is advanced. It looks to simple to begin with, but you can use it to come within inches of having the appearance of decently sophisticated code usable by neat UI.