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!

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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.

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.)

Finals Approach

And I’m at my productive best, ain’t I?

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I mean approaching, formally. Like the absolute value of the difference between my math final and I, is getting really small and fast. And thank goodness for that absolute value, because this distance would’ve been negative without a doubt otherwise.

Also, mathematicians must hate physicists. And computer science first years too, probably.

Perceptions

The “Turn Wi-Fi On” button can be dangerous space.

I’ve been sitting around for a while, working on the last—would you believe it, the last?!—big assignment I have for this term.

Of course, that meant my Wi-Fi has been firmly turned off, blissfully isolating me from the almost other world we call the Internet.

For all the physicists complaining about how we haven’t, and never will, have enough energy to open an interdimensional portal, and one wide enough for people to traverse through it, well, they’re not looking hard enough. Right here, for a dime off your phone bill, exists a portal to an alternate reality where even your best friend may not be who they seem.

But I digress!

The point is, often, you can’t really keep away from the Internet. If not to avoid distractions or hour-long breaks, then you’d have to check back in because half your work in online, and being a computer science student, that’s all the more so true.

So every now and then I need to hit that unstable metaphorically-red button and hope that nothing blows up. You know, like a lot of time.

But today, opening up the dropdown options to reconnect, I saw this.

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Ordinarily, I’d have interpreted that as someone hitting a random letter on their keyboard and keeping it pressed. It turns out, people are absolutely terrible when it comes to naming stuff. Ask any computer science kid ever, in particular. That’s probably how we ended up with an application called Facebook in the first place. Shed your familiarity with the term for a minute and really look at it. Face-book? We’re in 2 AM territory!

Naming something we’ve been working days and months on really puts us on the spot.

Naming variables is a nightmare.

Naming 25 test case files is a nightmare.

I have a friend who gave up explaining what exactly he was testing on each file’s name midway and just calling all his remaining test files Testpacito_(1/2/3…). It was a glorious moment.

At this rate, it’s a wonder I have a name at all, isn’t it?

So one might imagine someone would’ve thought, Well, it’s a Wi-Fi connection, but just calling it ‘Wifi Konnekt’ probably means I’ll never find it again. Hmmmm…

What about my dog’s name? But no, every time I ask someone to connect for me, my dog’s going to get confused hearing her name!

What about that mean first grade teacher I had?

Oh, lord, she was awful! She made us write our times tables out every morning! I can’t even begin to…

(five hours later)

Oh well, what the hell, I’ll just hit a random letter on the keyboard!

Only now, with the context of approaching finals, I’ve been having different ideas for that ending.

(five hours later)

No, wait, what? It’s been five hours already?! But–but, it was literally five minutes ago…
Have I really been trying to think of a wifi name for the last FIVE HOURS? Oh dear, who’s going to round the errors on those physics readings I took? Who will mess up the French grammar in my place? Complete, debug and turn in my coding assignment??*

AAAAA, SO MUCH WOORKKKKK!!!!

(hits ‘aa’ on the keyboard at random out of frustration)

Some random wifi checker: *name is valid*

Wait… did — after five HOURS, did you just—

Oh well.

I guess its a miracle any of us are named. We struggle, we name, and then some. Whose idea was a band name?

*Yes, you code first, feel hella proud of yourself, and then run into 17 bugs per line. 

And now, seeing how I plugged right back in and have spent the last half hour most definitely not doing any of my work, I’m going to make a quiet exit.

Better get going before the imps of either the Internet or Time find me strolling in the digital park!

I’m Craving School

My boundaries may just be blurring in dangerous ways.

I think I’ve been spending way too long on Reddit. Part of me regrets signing up, because you can subscribe to communities, and they pop up on your Reddit homepage. When you’ve been accustomed in life to having to go out of your way to even get ice cream, Reddit shoving its content into your face tirelessly is a something you’ll readily take. Jokes on me though, I spend way too much time these days.

Reddit may not be the villain here, but it is on the verge of turning me into my own worst nightmare: a mindless content consuming drone. Nightmare? Scratch that. It’s the end of me, my biggest fear.

So I’ve been scrolling through an amount of posts that would put my… ex-math textbook to shame. It was thick. It also put a serious smile on my face to call it my ex-textbook. I’m almost longing for a new one now, three months is the sort of vacation no one should be allowed to have.

If I digress for a minute, just imagine the sort of profits the entertainment industry would make if people had three month long holidays. After a point, people would begin to pay the trashiest posters on Reddit, Instagram, whatever else they use, just to fulfil their daily cravings.
Although, it’s not exactly as if sitting at your desk at work or at school during a quiet moment, you don’t feel the urge to check Buzzfeed. I guess as long as the world has people bored and numbed, the creative industry will soar. The irony is that the creative industry is practically of the Ones Who Broke Away.
But I have resolved to get back onto YouTube. I’ve stayed away from live music recordings for way too long, I can’t lose touch with that!

Anyway, I’ve been mindlessly scrolling for the moment. I guess I didn’t realise how instinctual it had become. This morning, I was reading the newspaper and was on the comics page (no, the actual comics page). I read through a comic I liked, and just for a second, my index finger tensed as if preparing to lift itself up and hit the Upvote button.

Oh shit. The cynical observer in the Man vs Robot war is falling prey to the enemy. This is probably more of the reason I haven’t blogged for so long. I have got to get my brain running again. I’m going to dig out those old physics notebooks.
Jokes on me again, though. The physics notebooks have been out all week, I have sort of been aware of my Reddit (semi?) addiction for a while now. It’s pretty much numbed my mind, killed my wit and is retarding my writing style too. That’s actually why I’ve been afraid to write anything significant for a while. I know I’m going to look back on this and cringe hard.

I never thought you’d hear me say it. I’m craving school right now. I need the school environment to get me interested in learning again. I need a change, I guess.

If I read this post title in isolation, I’d check me into a mental institution, but I guess Stockholm Syndrome’s hit me. After reading this, I’m just fucking ready to check into university, help me.

But the guitar sort of helps. I’m doing almost nothing creative these days, save maybe a three-chord arpeggio riff, nothing major. My other blog’s nearly dead and I haven’t written any poetry in a long while. Even though I nearly die almost every time I walk back home from design class, there’s tons of fodder, but I need to become more receptive to it again. Maybe then I’ll tell you about how awkward it can be to be a science student among art majors. Huh? What is this ‘friend’ you speak of? Is it a new algorithm? A mathematical mnemonic? New drug in the pharmaceutical lab? …Oh, wait.
It’s a long story I will attempt sometime soon when I’m not cringing as I write. I’m really just thinking out loud right now.

The guitar still helps though I’m restricted to only playing it, because like every other muscle in my body, my vocal chords are stiff and I cannot sing to save my life. I’m trying, but sheesh, I’d really rather not do it with anyone around. Things are literally going like this.

Me: (attempts to mumble)
Mum: (mildly concerned looking out of the window) “Is a kid crying in the next building?”
Me: (tries to cover up mouth movements by pretending there’s something stuck in my teeth)
Me: (tries to hit the lower notes)
Mum: (looking out the window) “Bikes can be so noisy.”
Me: (tries to falsetto but vocal chords are in the middle of a union strike over unemployment)
Mum: “alkjmp Darn that construction!”
What?!

So yeah, not my best period. I was trying to play along with my iPod today, and it probably wasn’t a great idea. I’m playing along with the track and Elliott Smith begins to sing, and I forget to play, because it has been a really long time since I’ve heard a real singing voice and one that’s not begging for death. Elliott Smith also just happens to be amazing.

At least so far, my fingers have only been stiff some five times.

Who knows, maybe the truth really is Stockholm syndrome. I kinda miss trashing school.