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.
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.
All you like
With a glide
In your footsteps
Hold your chin up
Like you have somewhere to
And purpose to show
In every pace you
And they approach
With the briefest look in the
That doesn’t give away my
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?
And quiet in reality
But there’s a buzz
That cannot be heard
Even by the few that pass by
Cogs whirring and plans cementing
Wasn’t the weekend the outlet of the bold?
Not so this damp morning;
Dreams of a Monday
In the recesses of the mind
And into the rhythms of time
But only in location
Planning out the rest of the week
By a tree stump sticking out
Into a mountain of shovelled snow,
Interesting to no one else
But all I can see as I look out
On this damp, empty day.
Where did the world creep away?
There’s no one else here
Empty, post apocalyptic;
But calming, in some odd way.
It’s funny how your perceptions of Sunday are always changing, depending on who you are. Is Sunday your rest day? Is it the day to catch up on cartoons? Is Sunday morning, as Kurt Cobain said, everyday? Or perhaps as Lou Reed said, a time when the world’s behind you?
To me, it’s the calm before the storm, in every single way.
Universities tend to be quiet on weekends. Every person who walks by is a case to be thoroughly examined, Sunday is when they won’t be lost in the masses. It’s the morning after Saturday’s madness and a chance to catch your breath. For me, it brings the excitement of the next week, the Monday when I do my radio work, and a chance to do my homework and chill out simultaneously, without being guilty.
Ah, the many shades of a Sunday! How’s your Sunday?
This is the view from my window. It’s an absolutely lovely day, about fifteen degrees, not too windy, not a cloud in the sky, not a drop of rain.
If I’m being honest, I never imagined I’d ever come to find such a day appealing. I’ve spent eighteen years praying the sun away. Monsoon was not just a day when the rains poured, monsoon was a mood. It was the stop,–drop–and–roll! call, where you’d leave everything aside, pick up all your work, and just lodge your butt over a chair in the balcony. A cloudy day always held a calming presence over me, in fact it still does. But the way you respond to it varies in 30 degrees, and in 9.
We’ve had a drearily soppy week. Picture strong winds laced with rain pellets. Feel the little puddles on uneven ground, and water in your shoes and soaking into the socks. Saturday was a complete turnaround compared to the rest of the week, and Sunday’s looking like a cracker… from the glass of my window.
If it were up to me, I’d go completely Canadian on this weather. I’d go out for a long and pointless walk, just to greedily soak up a little more of the fleeting sunshine. Tomorrow’s scheduled to be cloudy. But of course, it must only look this good outside on a day I’ve really got to buckle down and work for a two-midterm onslaught to follow in the next two days.
So I’ll sit here, looking up occasionally from my work under the nefarious tubelight, and eventually the sun will go down and we’ll all sigh a sigh and forget, some of us thinking back on a lovely day well spent, and some others, in typical fashion, grunting and growling and muttering under their breath, will get ready to end a day and awake to the putrid petroleum smell of a fresh midterm season (does midterm season smell like petrol?)
Anyway, sorry for dragging you into this rant. I hope you’re enjoying a good sunny day, if you live somewhere cold, or a relaxed, cloudy, calm day, if you live somewhere hot. It’s amazing how the perspectives can shift along just a few latitudes!
Anyway, if you’re mad about five minutes well wasted, here’s some eye-candy for you. Hope the fall satiates you, and have a great Sunday!
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!”
Every new year reminds me of how bad I am remembering names, and remembering in general. I don’t know how I’m capable of forgetting someone’s name two sentences after I’ve asked it. ‘You’ is my best friend. And you, nameless friend, are a friend now, just as soon as I’ve got your name down.
On the flip side, I do hide behind the curtains of “you probably can’t remember my name either”. I don’t blame you. I also don’t help by prefixing my introduction with “uuuuh,” like I had to think of what my own name is. It’s really befuddling. I’d had a period last year where people would walk up to me (“hey you!”) and I wouldn’t remember at all having spoken to them, though they would. I guess sometimes when you don’t know someone, you’re just too busy focusing on what you could say next so that they don’t look away and you can really have a shot at making a friend.
(Of course, this is before you forget their name for the third time).
Anyway, we’re all probably bad at this. It’s just that time of the year. By December, we’ll all be used to weird names and will probably have invented a few of our own. In certain areas, I am still, in fact, known as the monocle-wearing, fedora-tipping, moustache-twirling English undercover columnist called James.