Bleurg

To all my lovely followers who put up with my spastic posting habits and wildly varying topics, I'm sorry I haven't posted anything terribly interesting lately. I've had a lot of school work, and in general have been so exhausted from a terrible sleeping schedule that in my free time my brain turns off and doesn't produce anything more interesting than "I'm hungry" and "I have to pee".

Basically, nothing interesting has happened and my brain is mush.

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Last week T and I bought some vitamins. We ended up picking up ULTRACRAN pills (to prevent UTIs, yay) and vitamin D, and we also take B12. T's mom made us promise we'd take the D and B12, so there you go. I feel like a new-age hippy for some reason.

There was a good line from some youtube video that I forget. It was something like,
You know what we call alternative medicine that works? ... We call it "medicine".
There was another good line too, something like
I use herbal remedies, it's true. Why, just this morning I took some extract of willow bark. Do you know what I called it? I called it Aspirin.

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We were walking by two professors in the hall and one of them seemed confused and distressed, and I heard him say, "The sky is red and I don't know why." I think that's a wonderful expression for when something is terribly, unexpectedly wrong and there's no clue about what's causing it.

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"If quizzes are quizzical, what are tests?"
"... evaluations."

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That's all I got.

How bright is your computer?

A discussion with T turned silly today as we were talking about arbitrary measures of performance as reported by computer hardware manufacturers. Basically, there are very few standards for measuring PC hardware performance and comparing it effectively - and when I say few, I actually mean "none at all". So, we developed our own arbitrary performance metric: brightness.
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Step 1: Find the manufacturer-reported wattage for your power supply.

Step 2: Divide your power supply wattage by 60 to obtain the number of 60-watt light bulbs your power supply is equivalent to.

Step 3: An average 60-watt light bulb emits about 800 lumens of light. Multiply the value obtained from step 2 by 800 to obtain the number of lumens your power supply is equivalent to.

Step 4: Realize that, just as with humans, power draw determines how fast and powerful your PC is. So it's not just your power supply that is several thousand lumens bright, but your whole computer!

Step 5: Find the nearest computer geek and explain how powerful your computer is, in lumens, as well as the process you went through to obtain your measure of performance. Try to keep a straight face at their reaction.

Here's the brightness of my PC:
1) My power supply is reported as a 500 watt PS
2) My PS is therefore equivalent to 8.3 lightbulbs
3) That means my computer's brightness is 6640 lumens
4) MY COMPUTOR IZ R FAST

I'm not going to explain how each step contains a hilariously bullshitty figure resulting in the most bullshitty measure of performance ever invented. I'll leave that as an exercise to the reader.

(I learned that from lazy textbook writers. ;))

Baby's first cipher: The affine cipher

The affine cipher is simple, cute and easy to implement. The affine cipher is a monoalphabetic substitution cipher (each plaintext character is mapped to another character in the ciphertext), and as such is susceptible to all the common attacks, such as frequency analysis, simple brute forcing or even a lucky guess. It is, therefore, rarely used as more than an introduction to cryptography, number theory or as a programming exercise.

But, as I said, it's a cute, fun little cipher. You can use it for an alphabet of arbitrary length (for example, to include punctuation), but for here I've kept it to the 26-letter alphabet.

Encryption

Step one: Substitute each letter in your plaintext message with a number.

The most common is to just use a=1, b=2, c=3, ..., z=26. It is not integral that your numbering scheme be clever of misleading. A generic letter that has been transformed into a number in this way will be refereed to as a

Example: with the plaintext 'hello' we first translate it into numbers (using a=1, b=2,..., z=26), resulting in '8,5,12,12,15' or '0805121215'

An update about unicorns

Unicorns play an important part in my life (apparently) so I've made a shiny new label just for them. I suspect that the "drunk posting" and "unicorn" labels will have a lot of overlap. Like a Venn diagram of awesomeness.

Here's the unicorn I unicorn bombed with.


Apparently it's a baby unicorn halfway through its apparition birth. I think unicorns are like narwhals, where you can tell its age by the size of its horn. (I may have made that up) Also, I don't think unicorns are born like other animals, I'm pretty sure they just come into being. You'll also note that when the scanner realized it was a unicorn it was reading in, it felt it was necessary to add rainbow details to the horizontal page lines.

I would like to point you in Biohazard's direction to see the amazing drunk unicorn she drew for me because I'm awesome and she's awesome and it was necessary to celebrate our collective awesomeness with unicorns and vodka. Awesome

Lastly, here's a page from my history class notes, also featuring a unicorn (A fully-birthed adult unicorn that happens to like spawning gnomes out of its horn)




Doodles help me learn.

I may or may not be drunk right now...

... but I felt a sudden urgent.... urge... to uh.... blog. I guess.

ANYWAY.

A loooooooooong time ago, like, three or four months ago, I wrote a quiz for a class I had been to one class of (due to enrollment complications). This class didn't have a textbook.

The professor wrote the quiz on the board. I stared at the questions being like, "Ummmm,... excuse me?" and I attempted a few half-hearted answers on a topic I had had nothing more than a very basic introduction to.

After my very sad attempt at answering the questions, I had twenty minutes to kill before the quiz time was over. So, in my exam booklet, I drew a unicorn.

(Tomorrow when I'm sober I'll scan it in, if I can find it)

I got a zero on that quiz.
I bombed so bad on that quiz that I gave up and drew a unicorn. It doesn't have to be a unicorn - I have certainly doodled fairies and elephants before. But, from now on, this is called "unicorn bombing."

Delusions of Grandeur

I'm on the city bus, packed in with other commuters, inching our way through the usual morning traffic. Our route takes us past a high school and the district transportation headquarters. Large yellow school buses snake their way through traffic, converging on the former or the latter depending on the state of their load.

We pass a bus going in the opposite direction, heavily loaded with medium-sized children. The driver waves. Our driver does not.

What are you thinking, school bus driver, with your ears full of the shreikings of excitable children? Are you trying to buddy up to the city bus driver? Do you feel a slight tinge of jealousy when you watch the city buses elegantly slide by, with their loads of mature students and quiet elderly folk?

Your vehicle is conspicuously bright, yellow, lacking creature comforts. The seats are faux leather, covered in graffiti, the floor slippery with puddles from the snow melted off of little boots. You are stamped with the name of your employer - SCHOOL BUS and DISTRICT 9 in bold black letters. You have several emergency escapes in your vehicle, tastelessly cut into the hull. Do you wish you had a second door in your bus, like the motion-activated doors on the city bus? Do you wish you had rubber handles, a wide aisle, steel bars and little yellow strings that go "DING!" when you pull them?

Do you wish to have passengers who are polite? Passengers who want to go where you're taking them? Passengers you can have a causal conversation with - what about this weather and did you see the game last night? Do you long for the sense that you're taking people somewhere special, rather than to the same building every day? Do you think that driving the public bus will give you the same feeling of freedom you get on those (oh-so-rare) field trips?

You waved at the city bus driver and he didn't wave back. How did that make you feel?

The city bus driver didn't even see you. He was concentrating on the bumper before him, on the coffee in his hand, on the numbness in his rear. The seat is well-padded and heated, but after so long, it doesn't matter. The coffee is fragrant and hot, but it doesn't do anything to wake up his soul. He smiles at the pretty women who board at the next stop, but he is staring longingly at the building to his left. Yellow school buses are sliding in, empty, to deposit themselves in the dirt yard. Two hours in, he thinks, Only five left to go.

Another school bus driver waves, and he notices this time. Raises a few fingers off the wheel in tribute. The school bus turns into the dirt lot and he suddenly thinks, Those bastards don't know how easy they got it.

Second best tights evar!


Lace tights over bright, solid colour tights is now my favourite fashion-y thing.

I'm extremely out of it today. I haven't adjusted to my new schedule yet. I've been having to get up at 7am instead of my usual 11am and it's frying my brain. I feel like I'm in high school again, but only for three days a week - I go to campus for 8:30, stay until 2:30 and have a one hour lunch break.

Everything else is better than high school, though. High school is the worst time of anyone's life, I suspect. And if it's not, they're doing the rest of their life wrong.

Small things to make your Blogger blog better

I've only been blogging regularly for roughly 7 months, though the blog has existed since February of last year. In that time I've constantly honed and polished it with a never-ending number of tweaks and improvements. I've also spend a fair amount of time reviewing others' blogs and studying them - things I like, things I dislike, things I'd do differently. This has given me a clear picture of what I look for in a blog, and a fair sense of what others look for as well. Not only that, but I've spent so much time looking for how to do things that I've made a nice list of little tricks and tweaks to make your blog that little bit better.

The Tips

I'm shallow when it comes to blogs - I like nice looking blogs. I am more likely to read a blog if the layout intrigues me. The layout should do two things, in my mind - enhance and frame the content, and scream the author's personality. The first covers readability, post formatting and "clutter", while the second covers color choices, images, descriptions and the title.

Readability

- Main blog content should be on a pale background with darker text. Many people want to be different and use an inverted colour scheme, but there's a reason most websites use the former: it's far easier to read.

- Appropriate font size and font choice. The choice between a serif and sans-serif font is a great one: make the choice wisely. Keep your post font somewhere near the 12 point area - too big and it looks silly, too small and it's hard to read. Also, don't italicize your entire blog. I know you want it to look like script but just... don't.

- Make use of whitespace. Whitespace is your friend. This means paragraphs in posts and padding in widgets.

- Prune back your widgets on a regular basis. Having auto-playing music, a fish pond and thirty "blog farm" badges may seem fun and useful to you, but it really screams "I SHOULD BE ON A GEOCITIES DOMAIN"

- Ads are the great divider - torn between the average person's hate for ads and the desire to make money, many small-time bloggers choose the latter. I prefer not to see ads - I feel they are often glaring and jarring, and sort of... desperate. For the average blogger, they're not worth it anyway.

The best tights evar

Blog tweaks

I've been busy the past few days making small tweaks to my blog. It feels a lot more... coherent now. Some of the things I've changed:

- Added a webfont from Google's font directory. Headers, navigation links and other text matches the title image now. The one I used was 'Orbitron'.

- Blogroll will only show on the homepage, so it won't vertically stretch post pages!

-Installed an updated version of the "Recent Posts" widget. This one is formatted much better.

- Moved post data and labels links to the top of the post, under the header.

- Made the comment box wider

- Added a few small graphics, such as a post divider.

- Spruced up the About page a little. It's done in pure CSS, my favourite <3. In the process, I found out that webkit browsers render rounded borders in a very silly way. (This is a great page about how each browser handles rounded edges.)

You Should Play | Borderlands

I swear this isn't a super obvious hint to you. (You know who you are)





Borderlands is a gritty blend of RPG and FPS four-player co-op game. The co-op is essential - find some friends and make them play with you, or else don't bother playing. You don't get any AI to help you, so you need those other players. Oh, and make sure you name your characters with ridiculous names. Any game is made better when your character is named "Fuck Machine" or "Dance Baby."

The game is set on another planet, filled with horrible beasties and baddies and rumours of a vault filled with alien technology, money, fame and women. (Don't ask how the women are still alive after being in a vault for so long). The plot is tenuous and thin, but really... who needs plot when you have things to kill? And they've added several DLC packs to the game that add plot of their own - zombies and a robot revolution, notably.

You play one of four treasure hunters, each character representing a "class." The classes are best described as tank (MEATY), sniper (LONG RANGE. Also he has a falcon.), elemental (PHASEWALKING and ELEMENTAL SMGS) and soldier (GUN. SUPPORT. Also, TURRET).

Classes, Winter 2011

Here's my class lineup this semester. Let's hope that at the end of however-many months they're all listed on my transcript with an A, B or C next to them, eh?

Operating Systems II
I'm super excited for OSII this semester... except that it's an 8:30 class, bleh. I'm taking it with one of my favourite, most friendly professors - who has actually been to our apartment and seen me stupidly drunk as I fed the guy he was escorting absinthe.
ANYWAY... this course should be extremely interesting and fun. Oh, and I'm suuure you can guess what the final project is. If you can't... well, we'll be writing an operating system for a dev board of our choosing. That will be simultaneously fun and extremely frustrating. Fun because it'll be tooling around with low-level stuff (C and assembler!) and frustrating... well, for the same reason, actually. On the plus side, there are no assignments for this class!

WAYWT | Hobo layers

Today was cold.
Also, I missed all my morning classes.
Also the buses are retarded and only go by once an hour in the afternoon so we had to walk to class and were five minutes late.
BUT
I dressed like a hobo and it's Friday, so it's allllllllll good.

So, I upgraded my computer...

I got a new processor, motherboard and RAM for Christmas this year. Had some trouble upgrading because I found out soon after opening it that my current CPU fan and power supply wouldn't "fit" the new stuff. Not only that, but the mobo wouldn't fit my old case. We ordered the missing parts and dug out T's old desktop case. Well, the new hardware arrived in the mail yesterday. After installing it all, Windows wouldn't boot. *sigh* So, I made T do a fresh install with 64-bit Vista (had been using 32-bit vista before) and it is finally done.

I ran the PassMark benchmarking suite on the machine before and after upgrading. (OldBaseLine - the red one - is before the upgrade) I'll let the following two screenshots speak for themselves:

Summary of all hardware elements


The CPU benchmark results


Dear fuck that is a marked improvement. Also, I have a 23" moniter instead of a 19" one. It's biiigggg.

Here's some of the specs for anyone who is technically-minded and curious. Uno was originally a Compaq Presario SR2180NX, but I'd upgraded the GFX card (right now it's an Nvidia GeForce GTS 250 1GB), power supply, RAM and hard drive since I bought it. SInce I've now upgraded away everything in the new computer, including the case, I've named my current desktop "Hydra". May she never die...


Hydra (Upgraded) Uno (Previous)
Motherboard EVGA P55-LE-E653 ASUS Leonite 5.0
CPU Intel i7 K875 2.93 GHz Intel Pentium D 2.80 GHz
CPU cores 4 2
Hyperthreading? Yes No
OS Vista 64-bit Vista 32-bit
RAM 4 gigs DDR3 3 gigs DDR2

Fishkeeping as a hobby


It's been under a year since T and I took the plunge and set up a small aquarium, and we are completely addicted. (I almost said "completely hooked" but I figured I would spare you the pun.)

As hobbies go, fishkeeping is actually quite rewarding. Caring for living creatures is fantastic for your health, and a great motivator. (Unless you're a heartless bastard, you're not going to neglect your hobby because there are lives that depend on you.) It can be stressful at times though - fish get sick and you can't exactly take them to the vet. I've stood in the fish medication isle, minutes before the store closes, fretting over whether I should try a bacteria treatment or a parasitic one while a store clerk hovers around, trying to get me to make a decision. Right now one of my fish has dropsy and I've done everything I can think of to help her... to no avail.

Fish health-related challenges aside, it's been a pleasant experience.
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"Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect."