Category Archives: Computer Talk

On happiness and remembering things

It’s the end of spring break already. I was on BearFacts yesterday researching about class registration when it occurred to me that they were telling me about picking college courses and planning out a schedule for the first time for courses that will be taught by strangers hundreds of miles away. By that time, everything will have changed and everyone will have moved away. Most of my spring break I spent shut-in cramming physics because of my ridiculously short time frame, so I haven’t really seen anyone for a week now. For brief periods, I could almost pretend that everything and everyone outside of my textbook and notes didn’t exist, as if the big change had already happened. Right then and there, I realized that it’d be no different were I studying three hundred miles north in a smaller room… more →

On big networks

It’s not surprising that online security is a commonly misunderstood and confusing topic to most people. Our news media throws around big words like cyberbullying and cyberattack, so much so that laymen are discouraged from sorting through the madness themselves. But honestly, it may not be their fault. Computer security has only recently become relevant to the average person because so much of our lives have moved onto the Internet. Whether or not humans are prepared to handle the gradual eradication of human interaction is a different matter. As for now, I just want to explain the nature of security and its relation to what happened in 3rd period today. See, the Internet is inherently insecure. Each request you send goes through several computers, all of which can read or alter the data if it wants to. Originally, when networks were… more →

Huddle now

It was such an idyllic scene outside the MPR today at 4:46pm. It was still raining slightly and I had my umbrella out. The umbrella blocks the upper part of my field of vision, restricting the foveal viewport to bounce around the boundaries of the lower latitudes in such a way that, when the veil is finally lifted, the extended range appears foreign and startling. Here around me existed a number of characters whose traits could be summarized in the color blue, deep with compassion and kindness. Perhaps this perception was one of circumstance—relative and not absolute, that is. But no matter, it remains that this was not an atmosphere of competition nor indifferent apathy. It was brotherhood in its purest sense, if the word can be applied to more than the masculine. Man with his technology—cell phones and heptagonal… more →

The only reason I'm excited for Pottermore

I never thought to try this until now. I will leave this running overnight: #!/bin/bash while [ `curl | grep “registration is now closed” | wc -w` \ -ne “0” ]; do echo [`date`] Checked Registration is still closed. sleep 20 done echo [`date`] Message has changed. Check status at []. mplayer “$HOME/Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone - Prologue.mp3” \ > /dev/null 2> /dev/null Yeah? yeah? And this. chmod +x ./;./ Alright. Let’s do this.

Consumer surplus and economic efficiency

If you’re reading this, it must mean that everything turned out correctly1. I just migrated RogerHub to a new webhost, for the next two years. Why? Because competition. Fuck yeah. Not many things in this life tend to just keep getting better and better. How it feels to be on the other side of competition, you must know already. Isn’t it great? The simple logic that better things succeed and crap fails. Let’s see what happens. The domain transfer succeeded. The nameserver updates propagated to all hosts, and the DNS records are pointing to this new server. Great! ↩︎

Functional Zen

When I first saw the term gaslighting1, I thought it referred to igniting one’s farts, which made absolutely no sense at all in context. So I did the logical thing and copied it into Google, which actually meant I wanted a Wikipedia article. Gaslighting is actually a form of psychological torture where you trick someone into doubting their memories. Click* click, and before long, it was 1:30AM and I had 4 tabs of Wikipedia articles about psychological torture open in Chromium. I don’t know about you, but staying up till post-midnight just creeps me out. I’ve got this circle of light coming from the desk lamp while through the window outside, it feels like everyone is dead. Nonetheless, there is no better time to think than during the silence of the night when everything else is muted. Look at this here.… more →


In May 1996, a bunch of computer geniuses got together to write RFC1945, an informational document on the HTTP/1.0 standard1 that was the foundation of protocol that defined the World Wide Web. Apparently, somebody noticed that referrer was spelled wrong2, but by that time, it was already too late to change it. As a result, the HTTP specification indicates Referer, with 3 r’s, as the correct header, even today. I guess it shows that everyone can make mistakes. You can see the full document here. ↩︎See the email here. ↩︎


I thought I would never find a word to describe this one thing I had when I was little: whenever I had lots of time to burn, like on the toilet, or walking home, or trying to go to sleep, I would dream up an entire universe with characters and landscapes. It would incorporate everything, from books I read and games I played to the car on the other side of a street, which would actually be a space transport in its hangar. So I’m reading Wikipedia’s article on Paracosms when I notice that their font is ridiculously small. F12 tells me that it’s 0.8em which makes for a measly 13px. For a website that’s all about sharing knowledge with the world, you’d think they’d tailor their web design to more than my grandmother’s SVGA CRT monitor1. See, normal people… more →

Computer fidgeting

Sometimes, I notice that when people use the computer, they do this fidgeting thing. Knees are throbbing up and down. Head scanning side to side. Compulsively selecting the copy then zooming in and out. It’s not exactly the perfectly calm end-user imagined by UX1 designers. Because most people are alone when they’re on the computer, they don’t consciously check their appearance, and these weird habits build up quickly. Not completely unrelated, people in movies always look awesome when they’re using the computer. They’re all doing important stuff and shooting people, when some guy sits down and brings up these nice translucent terminal windows and monochromatic data visualizations with units on a battlefield and mission strategists working around. It’s always the same thing, and it makes normal people feel inferior with their boring desktops and the ridiculously small amount of work they… more →

Migrating times

Whenever you make a permanent change to the database in Rails, you’re supposed to make what they call a migration. It’s like versions for your database, so that whenever you screw up, you can always just backtrack to a version that still works. Until recently, these migrations would be numbered sequentially, like zero, then 1, then 2. But now they’ve decided to use the date and time as your migration number, so they end up looking like 201105071935261. So what happens now? When somebody looks at your code, they’ll notice all you do on Friday nights is work on your programming projects, and considering the common self-conscious, socially-inept programmer stereotype, this could be a problem. What’s the deal here? These timestamps bring a personal touch to Rails projects. Instead of imaging some invisible omniscient entity that writes code from his watchtower in the clouds,… more →

Intentional Deception

On the club application form I created, there’s a place for you to put down a password so I don’t end up having to send a randomly generated “2foas2!v” to a million people. Being counterculture and all that, I don’t like passwords. Nobody does. I tried googling for an alternative way to identify yourself  or perhaps, I could come up with an alternative myself1. But in the end, I just went with a normal password + salted hash. Alright, well, underneath the place where you put your password, I write down “Your password is stored as a 512-bit hash. We do not know what you type”. I have to do this because, well, who would trust me with their password? It’s just too easy to harvest giant lists of email passwords. But still, including this bit is a bit troubling. Technically,… more →

First World Problems

I’m looking at the future of the WalnutNHS website and things have changed a bit. I’m supposed to choose a sophomore (not a freshman) who’ll take over the website after I graduate, and I just can’t make any sense of the situation right now. Let me explain: When I look at 2012, there are several people who definitely have the experience and know-how to work WalnutNHS. Of course, I can’t choose any of them because they’re graduating along with me. I need somebody who can inherit the website for future classes. Logically speaking, there must be about the same number of capable people in 2013, and in 2014 as well. But I’m very shaky on this point. I don’t know if I’m underestimating or overestimating the capabilities of 2013. Okay, that statement is wrong for 2 reasons: First, programming experience… more →