Sharpies

As readers of this blog probably know, I am not an MITAdmissions blogger. It was kind of disappointing at the moment, but now I rarely think about it except when I come up with good reasons why I shouldn’t be an MITAdmissions blogger. One reason is that I am not very good at coming up with advice that could generalize to a wide audience, even an audience only as wide as people at or coming to the ‘Tvte. (There can be only one!) This by itself probably wouldn’t be so bad because there’s plenty of generalizable advice to go around, but I also don’t like repeating well-known stuff. Don’t skip class, except when you really know when you’re doing, which you probably think you do when you skip class. Get enough sleep, maintain good study habits, set aside time to keep up with old friends, back up your zarking data, alternate alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks, do not forget the factor of one-half when computing the area of a triangle. You get the picture.

There’s only one piece of advice I can say that I believe is generalizable to any degree, and in particular I think my past self would have appreciated and also had not heard, even in passing, from any other source: Get a Sharpie.

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Carpe Annum

A fun/interesting/unfortunate/fortunate consequence of the mental world model of Inside Out (2015 Pixar film) (which is a great movie, and I’m saying this as a non-movie-type — I laughed, and I cried, and just omgwtfbbq Disney/Pixar) is that imaginary friends that are capable of autonomous flight are probably immune to being forgotten.

The above statement and the below statement seemed to me like they would be more connected than I think they turn out to be, but anyway, you’ve already read this far and are even getting through an irrelevant grammatical aside that prides itself on being pointlessly obtusely self-referential and otherwise content-free, so you might as well keep on going.

By a somewhat arbitrarily selected timestamp, the timestamp of this post is Deltaphor’s first anniversary plus four days plus sixteen hours ± 1 minute. You can probably find more than one deep numerological significance to all this if you look hard enough (1 minute ≈ 64 seconds!), but the reality is just I’m bad at remembering times and time zones.

(Somebody told me to update…)

[warp]clicker.html

Okay, just one more post for the streak milking the stuff uncovered in my old hard drive, and then it’s over, I promise. Here is a silly three-button idle game I discovered, which I apparently made in 2010 when I was a bored eighth-grader and the most recent jQuery version was 1.4.x. Instead of enjoying a text wall, please enjoy trying to get 16,384 clicks in the non-warp version. (There’s no victory message or anything; it’s just a nice round number that I reached while writing this post. And yes, I know you can call JavaScript from your developer console, or edit the source or DOM. That’s cheating.)

And I realize this is short even for filler posts, so if you don’t want to play an idle game, here is a remix of numbers.bmp to stare at and feel inspired by. Or disgusted with, or indignant at. Your choice.

(To be clear, I made this remix just a few days ago.)

numbers1

Old Tests (and a Mysterious New Student)

(Short streak post. And for the uninformed, I’m using Spivak pronouns for this post just because.)

Generally, when people I don’t already know through math competitions ask me or my parents about something like how to teach their intelligent child to make em really good at math, or even English or whatever, I am skeptical by default because there seem to be a lot of Taiwanese parents who have alarmingly rigid and largely baseless expectations or assumptions about what their children ought to be interested in and excel at.

You can lead a horse to water, and honestly I think you could find a way to force it to drink if you really wanted to, but you can’t make it enjoy the process of being force-fed. Um. Force-watered? Force-hydrated?

You can teach your child math and English, and you could make em ace all eir tests, but you probably can’t make em enjoy the test so much that e decides to create more diabolical versions of these tests to give to eir fictional characters in eir stories for fun!

These are all actual illustrations from the old stories I mentioned in part 2.5 of “More Fiction”. Stories I wrote in 2004. As a first-grader.

This is kind of horrifying.

test6blurred
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numbers.bmp

Mom dug up an old hard drive for me to find photos of my elementary-school self participating in the same math competition I’m presenting at in a week. I discovered a lot of other interesting old stuff there. So today’s filler post image for the streak is courtesy of Brian2003/03/23. I don’t think it means anything, but sorry, I really really need to work on that presentation.

numbers

To be clear, I didn’t actually upload the original .bmp file. The PNG format is older than I am, so I guess I just wasn’t well-informed enough in 2003 about which image format was best. The original BMP was 1,701,270 bytes and the .png file you see above is 39,596 bytes. Compression is amazing.

Translation Party

Just a short anecdote for the streak today. Hmm, I guess this developed beyond being just another filler post, which is good.

In addition to preparing my presentation, the other job I have to do for the math competition I’m attending in a week or so (not as a participant, okay?) is translating various guests’ speeches between English and Chinese.

The speeches’ length and formulaicness really get on my nerves, but then again my standards for speeches were skewed upward by Richard Forster’s speeches during the opening and closing ceremony of IOI 2014, but on the gripping hand I don’t think it’s that hard to at least try not to be formulaic and I really can’t see any effort on their part whatsoever. Off the top of my head, pretty much all the speeches tend to go like this:

  1. Welcome!
  2. Math is great!
  3. This competition is great!
  4. The city hosting this competition is great!
  5. The college hosting this competition is great!
  6. You contestants are great!
  7. Good luck!

Except each bullet point is a paragraph that lasts a minute.

(Ninja edit: Which is not to say they didn’t put any effort into their speeches at all, but that much of the effort seem misguided to me. I don’t see how anybody who has been in the audience for one of these speeches can overlook the same flaws in their own. Unless it’s like, at some point in the natural life cycle of the human brain, people spontaneously start enjoying these safe and repetitive speech topics instead of some earnest and maybe lighthearted advice and anecdotes and jokes? Like how people somehow start enjoying spicy stuff, or the bitter flavor of beer and wine, or writing teenage-angsty ranty posts complaining to nobody in particular like this one? Tough questions.)

Anyway. My mom actually does most of the translation but I am the grammar stickler post-processor and we work together on the hard parts. The second hardest things to translate are idioms. The hardest things to translate are quotes. It turns out that lots of people find translated quotes to Chinese and it can be incredibly difficult to reconstruct their English versions. Here is the quote that today’s story is about, which we were tasked with providing the English translation (or original) for and which the speech attributed to 克莱因 (trad.: 克萊因).

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A*

Nope, still no meaningful post today. Instead here is a pretty diagram of the A* search algorithm
(A-star in English, for my search crawler overlords). At least, I hope it is; I spent more time fiddling with the pretty colors than making sure the algorithm I implemented was actually A*. It looks right, though? In the background, red component measures traversed distance from start, (inverted) green component measures difference between the traversed distance plus heuristic distance and the theoretically optimal heuristic distance from the start, blue component measures heuristic distance to goal.

Pretty visualization of the A* algorithm

I made this for my presentation because I found all the pictures of A* on the Internet so boring, and it gets worse if you filter for reuse. So of course this picture is actually unapologetically CC BY-SA 4.0. Look ma, RDFa tagging!

(edit: omg I forgot to link to the streak)