College Emails

(Frivolous blog content, posted as part of a daily posting streak I have openly committed to; standard disclaimers apply)

Out of boredom and curiosity, I graphed how many emails colleges sent me, excluding the colleges I actually applied to. I am being extremely polite and just calling them emails. I’ve wanted to make this for a long time, but it wasn’t until I saw this post about an email experiment on that I understood which tools I could use to quantify my emails. (And then I actually made it and procrastinated posting it here for two months. If you look at my GitHub page or activity you might have seen it already, though. Oops.)

I don’t think the results were expected. Other than saying that, I leave the interpretation up to the reader because I’m on a tight blogging schedule. Cool? Cool.

Step-by-step instructions:

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Puzzle 46 / Fillomino [LITS + Extra Region + Walls + Anti-Walls + Inequality + Tapa + Masyu]

5:27 PM phenomist: do you use gridderface to make pretty puzzles?

5:52 PM phenomist: actually nvm excel is probably easier lol

Okay I’m sorry this is a horrible puzzle where the rules don’t make sense and I didn’t even get it testsolved. I just wanted an image to concisely demonstrate the capabilities of gridderface, my puzzle marking and creation program, for the project homepage, after somebody expressed interest in using the program to write a puzzle. Then I got tremendously carried away.



  • L, I, T, S are comparable, but not in that order.
  • The Tapa clue isn’t part of any polyomino.
  • The Masyu clue restricts the borders around three intersections, including itself.
  • (Is there a name for Fillominoes with the opposite of walls?)

Other than that, you’ll have to figure out the rules yourself (partly because I am lazy and partly because if I listed the rules it would probably take longer to read and understand them than to apply them to the puzzle…)

Anyway, this post is actually to say that it is now possible to use the Scala reboot of gridderface without spending forever to attempt to install Scala, because I figured out how to make .jar file releases. It’s probably still hard to use but who knows?

Because it’s a full rewrite, the version is back to 0.2 unlike the old 0.5. As I noted earlier, the code base was horrible.

By the way here is the Heyawake phenomist eventually made.

Okay back to homework (and agonizing over which college to go to).


HabitRPG: harnessing the addiction of web games with cheap leveling mechanisms to destroy bad habits, avoid procrastination, and improve your life.

(Ironically, I discovered it on /r/InternetIsBeautiful.)

These claims sound a bit hyperbolic, but they are actually working on me. Most notably: for the three days after I discovered it, most of which has been spent at IOI selection camp away from school and worldly concerns, I’ve only gone on reddit once — and only for about two minutes. Instead, when I got bored of programming, I worked on economics homework, which is something that never came close to happening during the earlier iteration of camp. I just finished it and checked the to-do item off; as a result, I leveled up to Level 2 and unlocked the item shop. Yay! The sense of achievement is every bit as real as it is ludicrous.

I don’t know if I should be happy that I finally found such an effective way to psychologically manipulate myself out of procrastination, or sad that I’m so susceptible to psychological manipulation. I also don’t know if this game will be so effective after its novelty wears off, but considering the fact that I stuck with my last equally ridiculous sort-of-RPG for about three years, I can hope it’ll work for a while.

One of the unproductive things I’m trying not to do is staring at blog posts that don’t really have a solid conclusion and spending half an hour writing and deleting the last sentence, so I’m going to avoid doing that. Let’s be productive together!


Parts of this (a majority of questions, I hope) are intended as satire. Other parts of this are silliness created to blow off steam from being coerced into spending nine unproductive hours. Still other parts exist simply because I wanted to have equally many questions per test. Also, 256th post w00t.

“Verbal Reasoning”

Directions: The questions in this test are multiple-choice. Each question has four possible choices. Read each question and decide which answer is the best answer. Find the row in your answer sheet that matches the number of the question. In that row, fill in the oval corresponding to the answer you selected.

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List of things I did this weekend instead of studying for next week’s midterms:

  • create that Python gist from last post with all the atomic weights of the elements in it
  • arrange all the weights in said gist into a space-aligned periodic table
  • solve (read: walked through via chat) chaotic_iak’s non-hoax hidden puzzle
  • listen to approximately every Pentatonix video in existence (these people are just insanely skilled)
  • randomly play the piano and sing to myself for the first time in a few months
  • three separate commits on Gridderface (not that they’re big changes or anything)
  • go through (you’ll know when you reach the end)
  • update my pixelated avatar
  • attempt to use rudimentary trial-and-error to make my Twitter profile seamless
  • choose a new design for this blog and create a banner almost from scratch
  • write two random blog posts, including this one (but not the one-liner on AoPS about a certain troll polynomial)

What a productive weekend!

Adventures in Typing

I don’t think I ever seriously trained my typing. The good part of my typing is of course its speed, reaching 100 wpm for sprint runs. The bad part is the phenomenally awful typing habits.

A possibly biased analysis of my QWERTY typing reveals that my right hand pretty much adheres to the touch-typing rules, except that, some shortcuts excepted, it’s always responsible for holding the shift key for capital letters no matter which hand has the letter key. My left hand’s habits are what the monster might do if Frankenstein ever got a modern complete remake with a plot point involving a keyboard. Its “resting position” is on the QWER keys; it types A, S, Z, X, C with the thumb bending over to the left and R, T, D, F, G, V with the index finger. I’m kind of scared that it’s attached to me now, but I seriously can’t type if I try to make it stay at the correct home row. So this is what happens when you don’t learn touch typing the right way. Urk.

With this sort of typing skills I’m pretty amazed I only felt any awkwardness in my wrists a week ago. Six days ago (which, I should mention, was the last day of summer vacation, hence why I decided to add the category “procrastination”) I figured out the Dvorak setting on this laptop and started learning. I haven’t even mentioned acquiring a MacBook Air here, right? Yeah, that happened, and it’s partly for my gold medal and partly because the old one was rapidly approaching unusability anyway; this might or might not make another post.

That would be the end of the story except that I always have second thoughts about whether switching is a good idea. Followed shortly thereafter by third, fourth, and fifth thoughts, ad nauseam. I blogged about similar thoughts when I was endlessly comparing web services. After three days and committing the keys to conscious memory, I became a bit annoyed by the punctuation and the disproportionately awkward placement of R, L, and F. Of course it’s far better than my twisted QWERTY, but it was enough for me to look around for more options.

There is one other layout that showed up somewhat commonly, Colemak, which is much closer to QWERTY (all punctuation and nine letters preserved), and fixes those issues for me. So obviously I have to boot up my overanalyzing brain sector after reading about two hours of anecdotes on the web. In fact this is more justified than my typical overanalysis because, as also supported by those anecdotes, once I seriously learn to type in one, it won’t be worth it to switch to the other.

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