Flaws In The Plan

“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.”
“Wait, what?”
“Anyway, boot up the code, let’s see what they’ve accessed.”

BLEEP BLEEP BLOOP.

Ping... ping ping ping ping! (Intel Processor sounds)

Clickity clackity clack. Clack clack.

BOOP.

(Swearing noises)

“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”…”

“And?”

“Well, I,”
“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.”

“Yes,”

“Geez, no wonder we’ve been hacked.”

“What do you mean?!”

“…”
“…”

“No way.”
“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?”

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Terrible photography and procrastination at its finest, I sometimes dig down in my gallery and find random photos of code I either was writing on the verge of giving up writing. No one has code photos on their phone. No one should.


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.

Exploring

Everything around looks
So normal
Ordinary
Nothing out of the blue;
Nothing here does,
Except perhaps you

It’s hard to notice
When everything around
You seek
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!)

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I’d like to walk here more often. Would you? The seamless coexistence of old and modern architecture make for a very interesting picture—and is quite similar to Toronto’s case.

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.

I do want to make another one of those process boards series I made for another prototyping project that was quite close to my heart… and I will, on the other blog that’s supposed to have my art/design stuff in one place! In the meanwhile, you’re welcome to play around with the app from this morning that I wish I’d coded and not just prototyped… Figma genuinely can make stuff look real good!

Screenshot 2020-02-02 at 10.30.29 PM
Knock yourselves out. Don’t doubt that my exhausted ass will be anticipating you every tap with manic glee that only comes with excessive hours of prototyping in a day that manifest in the form of unnatural attachment to a sequence of light bulbs going off on an LCD monitor.

Pride

Stride
All you like
With a glide
In your footsteps
And pride
Hold your chin up
High
Like you have somewhere to
Go
And purpose to show
In every pace you
Move
And they approach
Calm, composed
Silent,
With the briefest look in the
Eye
That doesn’t give away my
Lies
Push on
One step
Back to my back

To let it all out
In a jelly wobble.

Walking through new buildings looking for a study space is one of the most psychological experiences I have in a day.
I know most people are only trying to help, but when I’m in a new building and looking around for someplace I might want to plop and get working, I really don’t want you asking me, “Where do you want to go?”
Am I lost? Yes, I’m lost. Can you help me? No, because I don’t know where I want to go. Yes, you’ve been around this building for years and years and know every inch of it by the inhale at the start of the syllable it begins with, but you still can’t help me, and I don’t want to stick around and hear it.
I know you’re being nice, but I’m just feeling like there’s impending judgement. Just don’t acknowledge me. I’ll find somewhere to sit.

Apart from that, exploring new buildings is also admittedly one of the coolest things you can do, because as a student, you’re legally allowed to just walk into a random building and it’s not trespassing, and you get to live out your Dora The Explorer dreams.

I got me supplies, let’s go!

What do you find exciting in a normal day? And what terrifies you, even though it’s totally normal?

Breaks

“Alright, James, this is it.

Our big moment. Our day in the sun. Our breakthrough. The beginning of the dream.
No longer will this old life continue. This is the start of fame and fortune, and a successful career.

James, oh James!
Make a bold statement, James!”
“I already did, Lily, here it is, in bold, and italics too. Good luck paying for the printing.”

Short Tails

“You two can keep squabbling over whether that’s a head or a tail.
All I know is, it’s two dollars, and a mint gum costs that much, and that’s just what I’m going to hop over and buy because you’ve been arguing so long, my mouth’s gone stale from disuse.”

Inspiration

“Come on,” she said, staring dispassionately at my laptop screen.


A pop-up ad had decided that now was the best time to inflict its superlatives upon me, but she didn’t know that.

“What?” I said, dishing out a beat rivalling a drum machine as I clicked the invisible cross in vain.

“You can do better than that. You’re better than a inspirational quote tells you you are”, she said, walking away.

“Are YOU a college student feeling dead inside? Is YOUR 90’s website failing?? Are YOU looking for a bartender’s mixing bottle?? CLICK HERE to find the perfect solution to your life’s problems!!”

“Google, what’s this?”

“I dunno miss, it’s based on your search history.”

“And who told you you could have that?”

“Oh look dear, the cross button’s moved to the bottom left corner now.”

My search history is pretty weird and I’d like to be a fly on the wall during the thought process of whatever algorithm is trying to profile me. Bartender’s mixing bottle, magician’s hat, 90’s websites, dead-looking college students and cat’s feet are genuine searches indexed in my history now. I blame my comics and the fact that I cannot draw. Who knows what evil cat machinery Google will be trying to sell me next?

Women In Punk Music

Just an ordinary Wednesday for celebrating all the brave women in punk rock music. The playlist is one I created for our ongoing themed radio show on CFRC 101.9 FM (Or maybe not. I never get the station frequency right… give it time!)

Essentially, this is also me learning how to use technology and marvelling at how a playlist embeds… which was something I was pretty 50-50 on whether would happen or would fail and vanish midway, and will continue to be unsure of until I’ve hit publish… ah, technology, how I marvel at thee in spite of being a computer science major funnily enough.

Enjoy the music, appreciate the circumstances it was made under, and continue to cheer on the courageous women who continue to inspire the genre!

Bikini Kill onstage. Credits: Pitchfork; by Debi del Grande

(Yes, I should’ve talked more about each song and the wonderful stories behind them. I did on the show. And I will here too. I’m just a little busy gaping with a dropped jaw at the embed. Technology. All hail programmers.)

(In short, yes, this whole post was just me testing out whether I can embed Spotify content on a blog without using the new editor, or not.
The answer is a frustrating no.)

The Path

Trudging down the path
The beat path I knew well
A path my shoes had smoothed over
And the lack of friction was proper hell

It seems days of walking
Had exposed something buried
And the something buried caught my eye
As along the walk I scurried

Ooh, shiny! said my brain
Let’s stop and take a look
So stop I did before the sand
And another look I took

Nothing particularly interesting
Just probably photo-worthy
For whatever it was, that faux flash
It seemed just quite earthy

But I’m on a well-worn path!
And schedule I must not betray!
Oh, can I stop and smell the rose?
Should I go or should I stay?

As, of course, Smart Alec will say
There’s nothing here to smell;
It’s a bloody sun-reflection
As a closer look will tell!

Well, tell that to my distracted soul
That’s stopped to take a snap
And just as the shutter closed once
Time sneaked up on me and gave me a smack

Heavens, where did my time go!?
The shiny thing is gone!
“Of course, you silly thing,
It only shines when the sun’s on.”

And now it’s 10:30,
And I trudge along home,
The day’s gone, but it’s too early for bed:
Just some more time to waste alone.

An A-Mu-sing Situation

Happy Halloween! I’ve managed to be late to everywhere, and Halloween’s one of them too. At least it’s not yet December!

October’s not my favourite month. I’ve been skipping film club all month because I’m not very fond of horror films. Half the time I find stuff cheesy, the other half of the time it gets me thinking, but a little too much. It’s not like I’m afraid or anything, I just value my good night’s sleep. I’m a comp sci student at uni, there’s horror abound and I don’t feel a particular dearth!

Go ahead and laugh, I’ve got a very late comeback. Late. Haha. Halloween pun.

This should knock your socks off if you’ve had to sit through statistics/maths/physics or just generally want to be a-mu-sed.

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Mu is the mean in statistics, the refractive index and coefficient of friction in physics, micro- units in measurement (10−6 anythings), just a fancy variable to impress your non-math friends, or to give your math friends nightmares.

I did a quick search to see if there was anything I missed, and the answer was a loud, resounding yes.

Mu stands for a lot of things, even within the same field, there’s an impressive list on Wikipedia!

Well. Happy late Halloween. Wooo, wooo.

Domestic Woes

There aren’t monsters under beds,
I think I can say that for sure;
There’s one in the bathroom
And it’s a toilet paper-vore:
Yesterday, I changed rolls,
Today, I’m changing roles;
It’s the third one this week
That’s just been devoured whole
So one and all,
Lo and behold:
Your poet’s stepped into
The investigator’s mould—
Is this a stroke of genius
By a next door neighbour bold,
Who has us in the palm of their hand,
And our rolls in their stranglehold?
Have I just lost all my sense
Of normal space and time?
Maybe all those tests are now
Eating this brain of mine
Or is this just a frantic
Effort on life’s part
To get this indoorsey CS kid
To finally trip down to Walmart?
Either way, one and all,
The joke’s growing old;
This is not the college story
I’d like twenty years hence told!

 

For the record, I’m not really indoorsey, I’m just cold. It’s 9 degrees outside and we’re on the lakefront. It has dramatic effects on a nice warm day’s efforts to keep you from freezing. It belittles the sun until it loses all motivation, and if that doesn’t ruin your day, you need to sign up for a CS degree.
And I really did change the toilet rolls yesterday, and they’re over today. Someone is eating toilet paper here, and this is not the sort of thing I imagined would make a Sherlock plot scene. “Mr. Holmes, we’ve been loo-ted!”

Sunday update: four. Four rolls.