Posts Tagged ‘Senior Year (11-12)’

Server move complete!

June 10th, 2012

All sites hosted in Houston, TX have been moved to our new blazing-fast site in Seattle, WA.

Sites hosted in San Jose, CA remain in San Jose, CA.

High school is winding down…

Server Move

May 8th, 2012

My annual renewal date has come up, and I will probably be moving to another provider. There will be downtime for all sites hosted in Houston. Stay tuned.

Intel STS – Day 4-7: Talking nonstop

May 4th, 2012

Intel STS Series – Jump: Day 0-1 | Day 2-3 | Day 4-7

I feel obligated to finish this. Besides an inexcusable total lack of posting in the month of April, I usually don’t end up finishing series posts (like the summer series… the USAPhO series… the US Team posts that, cough, never happened).

Well, more like, I just don’t post. Besides the Intel STS series, and miscellaneous non-content posts, my last post was in November of 2011. Add six months. It’s May. Each day without posting makes it harder to post the next day because I feel like I need to write something deep and shocking to make up for it.

Since it’s been a few weeks, I don’t remember exactly the events in sequence. Picture yourself rowing a boat, serenely swirling through the dark. The waters are calm. Bright glowing orbs light a liquid path. You gaze furtively over the rim of the boat, catching a few scenes from each fragment of my memory.


My trifold posterboard, awkwardly taped together from scraps of printer paper in all its black-and-white, Times New Roman glory. The title, left out and hurriedly jammed in at the bottom, stuck out like a sore thumb.

Supplied with army rations of bottled water and Lifesavers (for the sugar), we braved the siege, unrelenting, without even so much as a bathroom break.

At first they were sparse and few. A few interested passerbys, or a few of the backstage staff curious about the contents of these forty exhibits they just helped set up. Then came the elementary school class field trips, and the parents, of course. The parents of the other finalists were friendly. Many of them had technical backgrounds, and enjoyed the exhilarating presentations we just began rambling off.

It was still early, and we were still figuring out which lines to use and which concepts to simplify. We were still trying to decide on which figures to point out, which graphs to explain. Assembling the speech in our minds, putting in a nice-sounding line here, or a funny comment that one of the previous visitors had made. Mentally, each time an eager listener approached and we smiled and offered to explain our project, we went through the motions, point by point, figure by figure.

But it was still too soon. It was still too soon when they came.

At first it was just one or two. We didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary — the victims were silenced. But soon, out of the corner of our eyes in the middle of making a funny analogy to our captive audiences, we saw.

Towering, thundering through the crowds. Heavy-duty professional cameras, mounted on their shoulders like rocket launchers. Armed with boom microphones, stabbing like bayonets, inching ever closer to our throats, eager to taste the blood and vibration of our vocal cords.

The media was here.


We filed into the gate, government IDs in hand, knowing not what to expect. We filed into the building, where there was yet another checkpoint. They gave us badges on metal neckchains. We were separated into the citizens and the non-citizens.

We passed doors with impressive name plaques, elevators that we were not allowed to ride, and climbed flights of stairs, finally arriving at a bare, carpeted room that looked like its sole purpose was to receive large groups for photo shoots with the President.

Indeed, the walls were lined with shots of Obama around town. We lined up, stacked ourselves accordingly, switched places and rearranged our heights, gave up, started over by first ordering ourselves by height, and then re-ascended the risers.

Feeling special, and queasy, we proceed to wait another perhaps half hour. The photographers, the White House Press Corps, their own little battalion of shooters, lined up and took their places. It’s very tiring standing on risers doing nothing. Especially when you don’t know when suddenly you hear footsteps, and the President of the United States — at any second now — could walk into the room and stare you down.

So Mr. President walked in. We were gunned down by the photographers.

The shots kept firing as he gave an impressive speech and a big, you-can-tell-I’m-a-professional smile. He dove right into the middle of our euphoric gaggle and flashed that smile right back at the cameras going off.


Hanging out in the eLounge — Apples to Apples, ukulele, Super Mario Bros. Wii (which I later went on to play with my siblings at home), arm wrestling and push-up contests, and of course the obligatory Wii Sports. I thought I’d at least win the push-up contest. I actually do push-ups at home, after all. Although, you really couldn’t tell.

The fancy Gala in the National Building Museum: we even rehearsed for it the night before. My mini-poster board was, of course, just like my larger trifold. After embarrassingly performing emergency surgery and sloppily taping more printer paper to my unfantastic board (not being fantastic always disturbs me; habitual overachiever perhaps, I admit to it), I took my stance and conducted my presentation a few more times to gala guests. I saw an Intel storage researcher that I had talked a lot with on nights previous — they had a “reverse science fair” one day where the Intel researchers presented their projects to us Finalists; it was very enjoyable.

At my table was an important person from the US Chamber of Commerce, a kind lady from the office of a House of Representatives member that had spoken to us earlier in the day, a courteous couple, and many other distinguished guests. It embarrasses me to recall this table conversation as it was very awkward for me. I kind of mentally freaked out and didn’t know how to hold conversation with these important people, especially since they were so kind to me. Ahh, I’m embarrassed just thinking about it.

Ahh, here’s another good memory! Eating lunch in the House of Representatives cafeteria and talking to our guides from Intel was very cool. Here’s perhaps the best moment of that day: sitting in the House of Representatives, in one of the seats. Looking up at the roof, and then gazing at the podium in the center. Poking at the voting buttons around the seats. Those seats — cushions of power, wooden towers of American history.

Inside jokes — monkey physics and the Grand Unified Monkey Theory, the pretzel stand conspiracy, and Fred’s hilarious spontaneity! — good times.

Bowling — my amazing first toss (round? serve? whatever it’s called in bowling) was a strike. And then for the rest of the game I failed, hahaha! Oh, but the food they had at that bowling alley was beyond amazing. All of the food we ate that week was amazing, but the unlimited pizza and fries were a welcome reprieve from fancy seafood and elegant exotic pastas.

The last day was memorable: back from the gala, tired, weary of course. In the Astor Ballroom, where we had eaten many meals, watched many a presentation and met each other for the first time — a dance. Complete with a DJ, catered with popcorn and an ice cream bar. After eating a whole banana split and taking down a few more delicious scoops, we danced. To gloss over the one-second-felt-like-an-eternity final moments together in two words: we danced.

Hanging out in the no-longer-called-the-e-Lounge room, moving up and around and into hotel room and out, being asleep, being awake; it all felt like a dream after that, and I don’t remember a single thing about my plane flight back.

It felt good to be home, and I closed my eyes.


I hope you enjoyed reading.

Yes, I’m reusing the separators from Somehow, Today was a Bad Day all the way back on Feb. 22, 2011. I really like these.

Also, I don’t understand what the deal is today with me and violent imagery.

iTunes Media Key Fix, Updated

March 25th, 2012

My previous media key fix for iTunes 10.4 has been updated for iTunes 10.6.

What does this do? If you have a keyboard or laptop with a Play/Pause button, you can now use it to control iTunes while working in a different application, even when iTunes is minimized. The Next/Previous keys also work.

How do I install this? It’s simple. Drop it into your Startup folder (in the Start Menu) and restart or relogin. Drop and forget — easy!

Download (Windows EXE file)

Size: 295KB




Intel STS – Day 2-3: Judging

March 13th, 2012

Intel STS Series – Jump: Day 0-1 | Day 2-3 | Day 4-7

I started Facebooking today, and I swear I’m going to regret it. Regardless, I blog on.

I explained judging in the last post, and that was before I actually went through the experience. Which… wasn’t very different from what I imagined. Before our interviews, a few minutes early, we’d drop by the second floor of St. Regis where the interviews were being held. There was a waiting room there where Diane juggled finalists and schedules. They had bottled (glass bottled, mind you) sodas and cookies and such.

The meals here are extravagant, and I don’t think there’s ever been a day when we’ve finished more than 50% of the food they served. It’s sad to think that all of this expensive food — expensive, expensive food catered by the hotel (god knows how much they charge) — goes down the drain. And when we eat out (at gorgeous places), and they always order the best, most delectable dishes, I feel like we finish even less of the food. But about the glass-bottled sodas: soda tastes infinitely better in glass.

At the Judges Introduction Breakfast I spoke with someone who worked in energy and public policy, with very intriguing experiences. My first judging interview was in Room 3, and there were no physics questions. There was an unfortunate computer science question involving computational complexity — unfortunate both because I couldn’t really answer it, and because my project happens to be in computer science. Very embarrassing. The biology lady was amicable. We discussed genetic modification, fish farming, and ethics. Despite knowing close-to-nothing about biology. Then I headed up for a nap. You’ll notice that I tend to nap a lot between and after judging sessions.

Later in the day I went to Room 4, which I don’t remember all that clearly. Really, I can’t recall anything about this room at all. Whether that’s good or bad, I can’t say, but there were still no physics questions! You can’t imagine how devastating this was for me, because physics was where I had a chance to impress the judges.

Waiting Room #209 during judging was, perhaps surprisingly, not populated by balls of nervousness. The finalists were confident and the atmosphere was pleasant — there was always a conversation going on, usually about what question this judge in that room asked, and figuring out the solution before you had to go through that room. The conversations with this bunch of 40 are always fantastic, whether about judging, school, monkey physics, or college.

As for room 2, my last for the day, I had questions about Earth and the moon being tide-locked and about drink sweat on a water pitcher. Those were perhaps technically physics-related but they weren’t knowledge-based physics questions so I still wasn’t able to use my Physics Olympiad experience to my advantage. I heard a lot of people got asked very hard physics questions that I would have loved to have gotten, but as luck would have had it, the judges, whimsical, avoided physics.

I might have mixed up some of these questions — in fact, I probably have, and I will go back and edit if I ever figure things out. I have a feeling that future Intel finalists will be reading this post, judging interviews coming up in a few hours, desperately looking for clues, help, information, data, statistics, secrets — searching for the formula to succeed in these interviews. I’ll tell you, there is none, and it’s a lot more fun if you go in without staying up all night studying and preparing. What’s most important about being an Intel finalist here in DC is not the prize or how you do in the judging. Really, it’s about connecting with the 39 other brilliant minds. Talk and laugh and joke and smile.

We had Brian Greene speak for us that night, and I was honored to be at his table for the (again) gorgeous dinner at the Astor Ballroom. His speaking was dazzling. The spiel he came up with on the spot about competition leading us forward was brilliant and eloquently delivered, and his actual presentation was mind-blowing and flawless. I applauded vigorously, but that wasn’t all — Friday night, we also each had a minor planet named after us!

That is simply amazing. Speechless. We each received a certificate and ephemeris data so we could locate our minor planets in a telescope. This the first real estate I have ever owned. I hope someday to travel to my minor planet and invite some friends to party.

For dessert (being the sweet tooth bearer I am), they had a chocolate fountain, and I tried chocolate-coating various objects ranging from pretzel sticks and pineapple to… graham crackers. It wasn’t really good, maybe because the chocolate just wouldn’t harden. Maybe I’m more of an ice cream, cake, and pie person.

That day I also went to my media interview, and the media crew was impressively professional. Stacks of MacBooks, large professional cameras, boom mics, an elaborate lighting setup, and such. Very nerve-racking.

Saturday we had our portrait sessions. The photographer was extremely kind, and told me (I remember this very clearly) that I was very photogenic. After my final interview in Room 1 where a way-past-cool Indian dude who was the only computer scientist on the panel grilled me mercilessly, and I was ripped apart by the other judges in the room — ahem, after all that, we set up our posters at the National Geographic.

Now, I have a confession — being the eternal deadline chaser and procrastinator extraordinaire I am, my poster was incomplete. Not to mention, cheap and shoddy. Looking around at the professionally-printed, well-designed posters that surrounded my table, I was struck with extreme embarassment of my own poster, with few words printed on (hear this) printer paper! — and an incredibly lame attempt at being artsy, trying to vary the font sizes of my meager sentences.

Of course, I had to rush to finish my poster. Luckily, the Business Center in the hotel had an awesome printer (though unfortunately only black-and-white). Somehow, I finished, and double-sided-taped the scraps of printer paper to my board. I could go on for a rant about double-sided tape: it is godly.

Well, then we had a nice dinner and a strange tour of landmarks in Washington DC. It just passed 3am, and tomorrow is a busy day, so here’s where today we pause.

Intel STS – Day 1

March 8th, 2012

Intel STS Series – Jump: Day 0-1 | Day 2-3 | Day 4-7

Well, really the second day for me — the ten West Coast finalists arrived a day earlier and had a fabulous stroll through DC, getting completely lost and returning past curfew. I must mention the hidden TV in the mirror at St. Regis. It’s so strange everyone always mentions it. I assume the prime ministers and movie stars that stay here are so busy they only have a chance catch their television while brushing their teeth.

St. Regis, the hotel we’re staying at, is right down the street from the White House (2 blocks!). The rooms were gorgeous, but I prefer my own bed at home (not used to hotel pillows and beds). I had a sore throat before I left on my flight, and so far it’s been tame and hasn’t developed into a cold. The bad luck of catching a cold at the most inopportune moments has always bothered me — wiping my sore nose with brown, rock-hard bathroom paper at UMD during US Physics Team camp… haunting. Luckily, the 4-hour plane flight was quite comfortable, and I kept myself hydrated at every opportunity (discovering ginger ale). There were other finalists on my flight, but their seats were further back. I slept.

I think the 10-person West Coast group on Wednesday was awesome, and now that we’ve grown to 40 people, it’s a lot harder to socialize because the group is so large, and you don’t know everyone anymore. (My inaptitude at associating names is no help, of course.) I’m simply amazed by the other finalists. It’s like a re-run of US Physics Team, except with research geniuses and not olympiad stars. They have bright personalities and are in no way antisocial or shut-ins. I’m blinded and humbled by their brilliance.

Oh, that’s right — today Intel and SSP confirmed that we would indeed be meeting Obama this year! I can’t even list all of the crazy guests that will be coming in — the Intel President/CEO, Dr. Brian Greene…

It’s not all fun and games though. Judging interviews are tomorrow, and they say the best way to prepare is to not prepare (I wish more things in life were like this). In my opinion a lot of the possible questions will be physics questions, so I have a nice advantage (and experience with olympiad-type stumpers), but I think they will recognize this and try to equalize and make it fairer. Meaning, I will likely be blown apart with biology questions. With some mathematical grenades thrown in to heat things up.

My roommate is Andrey, who hails from Washington state. I’m still getting to know him better, but he is definitely very high on the cool scale, and his Russian+British accent must get all the girls back home. The finalists hang out in the e-Lounge, which is downstairs in one of the (probably way expensive) conference/meeting rooms in St. Regis. They have a huge library of Blu-ray movies, board games, Wii games, sofas and pillows and music, and most importantly, computers and internet access. But not just any computers: these twenty HP Folio 13-2000 ultrabooks are amazing. I want to take them home. These are the best ultrabooks I’ve seen, perfect form factor, perfect keyboard, amazing SSD and unbelieveably thin and light. It beats out a MacBook Air, hands down. I need to complain about the trackpad though, it’s still difficult to use, and you can’t press it down at the top. It’s also hard to drag, since the left mouse button is also part of the trackpad area. The processor is lagless and adequate, but if I were in the market for a laptop I’d wait for Ivy Bridge’s lower power. Also, the display is only 1366×768 — come on, where is the Full HD?

Half of the finalists are currently sitting in the e-Lounge (it’s about 11pm) working on the laptops or hanging out on the sofas discussing strategies for tomorrow’s judging. The judges split into four rooms, and through the course of Friday and Saturday each finalist has 15 minutes in each room. I like that, because it means we have (a ton of) free time when we’re not having our judging interviews. Tomorrow I have three of my interviews. Ugh, this ultrabook feels so nice!

Today the other 30 finalists arrived, and it was mostly an off day. Breakfast was gorgeous, lunch was fabulous, and same with dinner. I could get used to being treated like a VIP, but I miss my parents’ home cooking and Chinese food. Eternally Asian. I had a nice nap, and ran into Ari and Saurabh at lunch. Ari, foodie, graciously explained food facts and knowledgably led us around DC.


Traffic is complicated in DC. From 7am to 7pm, you aren't allowed to turn on red. Also, from 7am to 9:30am, on Mondays through Fridays, the direction of traffic on the street changes direction. From 7 to 9:30am and 4 to 6:30pm, Mondays through Fridays, you can't turn left. Except holidays. Oh, and no idling.

There’s a universe more to talk about, but sleep is highly valued for me right now, so I will retire to precious dreams.


November 30th, 2011

I’ve been reading a lot of self-improvement blogs. This is mainly because I have a huge problem: waking up in the morning.

It’s been a month since my last major post, and I think it’s high time for an update. Nothing really happened during Thanksgiving break.

We had turkey. For once. Well, last year we had some half-baked thing from Pavilions or 99 Ranch Market. I’m not a fan of turkey, and my suggestion was to just make dumplings. But this year, we had to please my little siblings, who had been learning about Thanksgiving and pilgrims in school. They tottered around the dinner table, back and forth between the kitchen and dining room, setting up plates and tableware and pouring drinks for everybody.

The kids didn’t like the turkey. Despite my anti-turkey sentiments, I think I ate the most turkey.

That was the only significant event during the break. My work accomplishments were less eventful. I had this elaborate schedule planned out for every day of my break, and followed none of it. It’s my typical way of spending a break. Well, I suppose I don’t follow schedules even when it’s not a break. The wait until 12/15 is peaceful.

As the date approaches, it becomes even more important to try and forget about it. This is where I’d like to say I’ve been spending my time crafting culinary creations, or learning how to figure-skate. Unfortunately, I don’t have those stories to tell yet; I’ve been spending my free time more on studying math. USAMO is the goal I was never quite able to reach in high school. Even though the case could be made that I really don’t need it, it holds a bit of sentimental value. And– math is beautiful.

There are two kinds of people: those who can follow their calendars, and those who can’t. The main reason: a bad start. My wake time is more volatile than a bowl of alcohol left out in the California sun. And it’s not because I don’t want to wake early. It’s because when I’m groggy, I don’t want to wake early. When I think rationally, I want to follow my schedule; wake on time; eat a good breakfast and get started on my work. Unfortunately, I don’t think rationally very often. And definitely not when I am within five feet of my pillow.

Men are like dogs. Some of us are well-trained to respond to a whistle, or an alarm clock. It’s nothing conscious or rational. I don’t have presence of mind when I’m half-asleep. Thus, if I can solidify within myself a habitual response to my alarm sound, getting up and going to brush my teeth automatically whenever I hear an alarm, morning mood improvements could become possible.

I tried that. I set my alarm for 5 minutes, turned off the lights, and got in bed. After I fell half-asleep, I got up the moment I heard the alarm and walked to the bathroom, washing my face. Rinse and repeat for a few hours, prolonging the alarm time until I really fell asleep.

Here’s my report: it didn’t work. In the morning, I still convinced myself that it wouldn’t hurt to jump back in bed just a little bit longer.

This is what they call self-discipline, isn’t it? What’s that?

Windows 7 Software RAID1

November 30th, 2011

After the painful parentheticals of the parent post, I promise not to pummel you with prodigal phrases. In fact, let’s keep the words today at this.

» Read more: Windows 7 Software RAID1

It’s curious that…

November 7th, 2011

… only a few weeks from staring at these essays every day, hating their guts, and ripping out the essence of my soul to imbue in these dainty words, I like them.

I hated them after I was done. I could never finish spending enough time on them, tuning each inaudible overtone, deciding to switch the verb tense of a sentence, and then minutes later deciding to switch it back. They were abominations, thinly-veiled stitch-togethers of twenty previous deceased essay drafts. Ideas and themes rose from the dead to haunt me. The entire direction of my essay was a flop, and QC should never have let it leave the factory. It was Chinese manufacturing, and there were needle tips in the plush; hormones in the 60% sawdust milk powder, ready to poison my chances of admission. Re-reading the essay only brought back the perceived taste of sawdust.

Well, it’s curious and very unexpected, but I like them. No, they aren’t brilliant. But I like them.

Nightmare before Christmas (on December 15th)

October 27th, 2011

Naively, I thought that after I finished applying early to a certain East Coast academic institution, the rest of my senior year would be a thrilling downhill ride that I would breathtakingly enjoy every scenic moment of. Well, breathtaking, yes, but not quite scenic, and definitely not enjoyable.

First of all, yes, I do need to also apply to a certain West Coast academic institution that I fell in love with this summer. I’m evidently quite tired of college apps, so I’ll put that off at least for a week or two. I still have competitions — Intel STS is going to be fun, especially — and I plan to put a lot of time into studying physics and seriously aiming for IPhO ’12 as US Team. Also, yes, I plan to miraculously jump from AIME to Red MOSP (pronounced “mop”), and that is going to take some serious mathematical work. Studying for competitions is actually quite fun (especially in comparison with college essays). Math competitions have been a frustrating area for me since freshman year, but that’s why I want to put in a final spurt. Unfortunately USAMTS conflicted with my early app this year, so I’m not participating and aiming for a gold (after all these consecutive years of silver and coming so close to gold… sigh). But yes, nationally speaking, I am quite dumb at math.

For the near future I guess I’ll review the Lagrangian and attempt to teach it to physics team — the Lagrangian is fun and I expect it to be fun to teach. Oh, but I guess not all of them know calculus.

My overbooking is especially apparent looking at my calendar (which I’d love to post a screenshot of, but no), it’s almost like one of those strange works of modern art that go in every direction with all these abstract arrangements of color and shape. Well, I appreciate my calendar, and I’ve become a bit better at following it (just a bit). I’ve gotten into the habit of entering my sleep times in there too. Later on in senior year I’ll have fun reminiscing on how little I slept.

Just to put it out there, yes, I am writing this blog post in lieu of working on my Chaucer essay. Also, I love my APENG teacher. I’d like the class if it wasn’t first period, but hopefully caffeine supplements will be able to remedy that.

My seat partner in English, Kenny, has been very good to me (despite my frequent sick leave — bad immune system, it’s true). In the last few days we’ve been discussing Asian music, and I’ve found I really don’t know much about Asian music, even J-Pop. It’s because I’m too contrarian, of course, but I definitely felt I needed to get out there and explore mainstream J-Pop and Mandarin music. I’m Chinese, after all.

I haven’t been following anime at all during the month of my college application internment. Coincidentally, Fall 2011 has many series that I thought I would be very eager to see, but now that I have had time available to watch anime, I find that I’ve only been keeping up with the series I’ve been watching previously (Beelzebub, Fairy Tail pretty much). Looking back at Shana, I don’t really want to watch Shana III (and that movie has been sitting on my hard disk somewhere, too). Mirai Nikki is great (beyond great, loved every page of the manga) but I feel absolutely no compulsion to watch it. In fact, I feel no compulsion to watch any new series, and I only forced myself to watch Fate/zero because… well, it’s Fate/zero and by all accounts THE anime of the season. Oh, it was epic all right, but I don’t feel eager to watch the next episode. For some reason, I don’t feel eager to watch anime. I guess it’s what a month without anime does to you.

So yes, I’ve only watched one episode of one series of Fall ’11 strangely, considering how many non-dumb stories this season has. By request, I’ll check out Guilty Crown soon.

Not watching anime has definitely freed up a lot of time, but somehow I still feel much busier. Most of the work is AP Mandarin, which I think I somehow still have an A- in despite my utter failure in every realm. I think I’m really learning a lot in this class, though, and I hope I can read 95% of a newspaper by the time I get out of high school. Still, I don’t feel AP Mandarin is really worth the effort, and I’m afraid college adcoms will frown on me for being Chinese and “taking the easy route” by taking Chinese in school. In this regard, I truly should have gone for French or Spanish (both languages I am very interested in anyways). Japanese would also be easy and fun.

I’ve picked up trying to read Japanese light novels again. After giving up reading untranslated manga. It’s just too difficult trying to look up words you don’t know. In light novels on the computer, all I need is a mouse-over or middle-click, and my definition is right there (courtesy of Yomichan or Rikaichan or any other member of this inordinate family of tools with -chan inexplicably tacked on). One more click, and a flash card of the word is added to my flashcard deck on my computer (I worshipped Anki).

Speaking of which, I haven’t had a chance to add AP Mandarin words to my Anki deck that I haven’t reviewed in half a year. Anki was even convenient for learning physics — it was quite useful memorizing facts and formulae for my physics competitions back in the day. I have a server set up to host the LaTeX notation rasterized into PNG files, and I can review my flashcards from anywhere on the globe with a web browser, or the awesome Anki Android app on my phone. So yes, I am plugging Anki for all your memorization needs. I have a cool Needs Statements flashcard deck with Precalc/Calc A and Calculus BC versions, if anyone wants. With really cool LaTeXed math notation, and word-for-word from the Needs Statement sheets. Ahhh, calculus feels so nostalgic. I also have my Mandarin 4 deck, but they changed the textbooks after my year.

With all this language-learning, physics, math, college applications, research, and much miscellaneous matter, I haven’t had a time to code, work on projects, and fix up my Linux servers. I need to put Altair to good use as my backup mail server. This summer I put lighttpd on Altair (Reverie has Apache2), and — by god — the performance is astounding! I have a fully-functional web server on maybe 30MB of RAM with Debian 6. I put nginx for Windows on Mizu (pretty much just used to host my flashcard media), and it’s been a snap to use as well. Apache is definitely going out of business. Well, I guess it’s open source, so that’s technically not possible.

Yes, I did set up FCGI on Apache (and suexec since I plan on doing shared hosting). Messing with Apache is not fun. PHP loads a lot slower than mod_php, but I can squeeze a lot more httpd processes out of my precious RAM. I wish people wouldn’t spam, so I wouldn’t have to run spamd. It eats like >70MB whether there is mail or not. It’s been great at blocking spam though, and I have it configured to automatically delete mail with a spam score over 15. It pained me incredibly, but recently I added the Spamcop and XBL blacklists to my Postfix configuration. I don’t like blacklists, but the spam volume annoys me. I purposely held off on the PBL list, because I am in support of people running private mail servers on their home ISP networks. I remember when I was running my copy of hmailserver on my Windows box through a crappy AT&T (those are synonyms, I checked the thesaurus) DSL line. Haha, good times. Fellow computer enthusiasts for the win!

My east coast college’s interview is coming up as well. I’ve been increasingly noticing the unpleasant, slightly nasal quality of my voice. Besides generally improving my speaking skills, I really need to train myself to not make that noise. From what I’ve read online, the key to getting rid of the nasal quality is to act like you’re about to yawn when you talk. The reason for the nasally noise is because the soft palate is not completely blocking the path to the nose, so some the sound from your vocal cords also passes into and reverberates through the nasal cavity. And when you yawn (and you can feel it yourself), your soft palate completely closes the passage to the nose so this problem is solved. I know close to nothing about anatomy, but this makes a lot of sense to me. Unfortunately, making sense does not make it any easier to put this into practice…

I’m thinking of getting this book or this from Amazon. The reviews are very laudatory, of course. Speech tutors/therapists must be expensive.

Rather than doing nothing but waiting for the nightmarish announcement coming on December 15th (and groundlessly hoping/praying for a fat envelope), I’m up to my nose.

I’ve spent too long ranting. Time to get back to work on that essay.

Edit: Amusingly, this blog post is longer than my essay.