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.”

Stormed In

Pit, pat, whoosh
A tingle on the tip
On the tip of my nose
A signal transmitted
To the one who knows
A sign, if anything,
It’s time to go home

Pit, pat, whoosh
And a tick tock tick;
Joined in harmony
For an experimental collaboration
For an hour or three
Drumming away
Keeping time with me

Pit, pat, whoosh
And an electronic beep!
Keep indoors they say,
As much as you can keep
Now on your telly, or old fashioned cathode-ray:
There’s a storm out and about
And it’s here to stay

Pit, pat, whoosh
And the rustling in the fridge
Make sure you got supplies!
Ice creams are for winters,
Ice creams don’t lie!
But don’t get carried away,
Get work done before the power dies

Pit, pat, whoosh
This is getting a bit repetitive,
A bit scary and boring
The rain just hasn’t stopped!
It’s been pouring and pouring,
The background while I sleep
It’s an indoor morning, and not one for exploring

Pit, pat, whoosh
Bleep bleep bloop!
Cancellations and censored swears,
Barred indoors there’s boredom and panic
Of which I’m quite aware
Looking out the window
With a sigh, a frown and a stare

Pit, pat, whoosh
More like a single long droning sound
And the whirring of cogs,
For I’ve found work to do
Indoor days needn’t be logs
The sound’s quite relaxing honestly
And there are books and books to hog

 

We genuinely do have storms, and their main risks are becoming annoying, and freezing. I have had to cancel stuff indeed, I suppose WordPress must be my sole support for the weekend. And computer science. Lots of readings. It’s surprisingly really, because I’m convinced computer scientists don’t know how to read anymore. My class and I are living breathing proof.

Have a safe weekend!

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?

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.

Goodbye Skepticism, Hello Alt-Rock

Canadian alt-rock band Goodbye Honolulu live at the Mansion, Kingston. Supports: Figure-8 and Fade Awaays.

Rock music lives in its clubs, bars and taverns. Anyone who has been to an “underground” gig can attest to that. There’s something about having a few hundred people tapping their feet to gravelling distorted sounds originating from an amplifier helped by a microphone, sounds that a little bar couldn’t possibly contain for any longer than an album or two; something about the dim, neon lights and black ceilings and dark walls; something about being so close to the ones trying to explain the inner workings of their minds on a little raised platform we call the stage, as they belt their hearts out, vocally, instrumentally; expressively. To anyone decrying the death and decline of rock music, a peek into its true dwellings would prove educational.

On Thursday, 24th October, Toronto-based alt rock band Goodbye Honolulu decided to give a demonstration worthy of representing the 2019 rock music scene as they opened their Fall 2019 tour at the Mansion in Kingston, ON.

They were joined in their endeavour by Gananoque punk rockers Figure-8, who opened the gig with a burst of energy, rocking out to a sum total of ten people as the sparse crowd got moving to fast paced, upbeat songs about growing up, tinged with a hint of Green Day’s 1994 hit Dookie.

GBH 2019 FALL TOUR POSTER (HD Web Version).jpg
Tour poster taken from Goodbye Honolulu’s website

 

Following them were fellow Toronto indie rockers Fade Awaays, a band with a sound bigger than the venue they filled tonight, with a tight, layered wall of sound emanating from the two guitars on-stage, occasionally doubling the rhythm section to form a formidable wall of sound. (For a band that only released their first EP this January, they have some surprisingly heavy weight behind them, having opened for alt rockstars Wolf Alice and up-and-coming Canadian rockers the Beaches.)

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Fade Awaays in action on stage

Goodbye Honolulu, who had been in the crowd for most of their supports’ sets, came on stage to a well warmed and receptive audience. This band packs fully formed chord progressions and rock riffs into a neat, loud singable pop package that makes their songs so memorable. Their on-stage personality is dynamic, and guitars and basses are frequently swapped onstage as they rip through their long setlist.

 

 

 

Tonight, the band gave the crowd many songs off their yet-unreleased album, a little dose of their own political opinions, in light of Canada’s just concluded federal election (“fuck Andrew Scheer! Fuck Andrew Scheer!”), many little exchanges with the audience, and on popular demand, crowd favourite single “Typical”.

I saw Goodbye Honolulu live at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto six months ago supporting Californian punk rockers SWMRS, and had thought them to be a very well organised act. This time around, in, if possible, an even more intimate setting than Toronto’s iconic club venue, the band let loose the raw energy of a band rearing to take on the notions of what it means to be a rock band as they embark on their latest tour.

Find all three bands on their respective websites (or better yet, at a North American live venue near you!)

Goodbye Honolulu: YouTube | Spotify | Soundcloud
Fade Awaays: YouTube | Spotify | Soundcloud
Figure-8: YouTube

Fruitful Musings

“Matter can neither be created nor destroyed”, said Antoine  Lavoisier.

Then explain fruit flies.

My room can be an almost perfect vacuum at times, (with a WHOLE lot of approximations, which seems good enough for physics and so is good enough for me cuz I’m hardly home) yet those things manage to get in, every week. I’m starting to suspect they arise out of the ashes of my dustbin.

It’s just pure putrid energy, gathering all the essence it can from its surroundings, slowly and gradually forming a tiny mass in its centre, solidifying black… and voila, all of a sudden there’s a new buzzer born. Sexual reproduction is overrated. Do it like fruit flies: just sheer, pure energy, willpower and thought. Lord supreme over those gigantic oafs, those brainless creatures they call humans, so weak, so needy, so dependent on another of their kind to reproduce. They vainly search for so-called advanced life on distant planets, and at the edges of their knowledge of the universe; pity the puny beings, they’d hardly know that the pinnacle of evolutionary perfection hovers under their very nose… and in typical mindless human fashion, they swat it aside. But pity the fools, for they know not what they miss; what they’re spending billions searching for! Haughty scientists, cloudy crystal ball-gazers; if they ever knew the truth… hehe.

Puny bipedal losers.

They call us small, weak, say we live only upto 16 weeks; what do they know, for our kind, it is enough. We have perfected every art form they could not! Efficiency, a full life in sixteen weeks! They spend that long moping over their failed relationships in life. Locomotion, we’re not dependent on gas-spurting guzzlers to take us everywhere, neither will you see us cussing at a lamppost if our heaving bull refuses to move forward: the poor race, it’s not even the master its own creation! They look at acrobats and marvel, call it an extraordinary skill, when we have perfected daredevilry itself: the breathtaking trajectories, the sharp turns, we live on the the edge!

Ask any other species of animal (the categorisation their “civilisation” has spent centuries trying to distance itself from) who the most annoying is and that’s where the puny race really shines. Interfering, annoying, bumbling idiots! They use us in trial and haste: experiments indeed! Bzzzzing bzzzes!

(Sorry, we don’t normally give into the lowlife human penchant for cussing and stressing out over naught. It won’t happen again. Word of a true ‘civilisation’.)

Yet it seems we have outdone them: annoy the annoyance! They swat at us, and we’re certain it’s not out of joy. How quickly we elicit a reaction from them! Our shiny-eyed fruit fly-scientists have benefitted dozens from clocking their emotions: they get frustrated fast and give way to easy mistakes: the faster we get to our food, the more we’re making of our sixteen weeks than they ever will!

Sixteen weeks. They make it sound like such a tragic thing. We’re of the opinion that it’s actually good. It helps keep things in perspective. You eat, you live, you play, and then, with the sheer power of your superior mind, you leave your legacy to carry on for you, and then you die.
We haven’t much evidence that humans work that way: their little trinkets seem to get in the way. Their minds are so very precious to them: use it or lose it they say. They work so hard to give themselves meaning over their aeons of time, it’s almost a little heartbreaking to our kind. But of course, we understand, they must find some use for their brains, you see. Not every species can use its mind’s seemingly infinite power to create life itself.

Oh, and all those fruit fly cloning experiments?

Please, that was all us.