Archive for the ‘Tech’ category


October 16th, 2013

My blog has been moved from to

It’s not like anyone linked to my posts anyways, so it’s fine (but links should be correctly redirected).

Oh yeah, I’m a college sophomore now. Hi!

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.

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




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

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.

iTunes Media Key Fix

September 29th, 2011

The version on this page is outdated. Updated for iTunes 10.5+ here.

Here’s the deal: iTunes refuses to support global media hotkeys. When you’re writing your research paper and you want to pause the song for a bathroom break, you can’t use that convenient play/pause button on your media keyboard or stereo bluetooth headset (I love that button on my Moto S9-HD). You have to open the iTunes window and move your mouse all the way to the on-screen button. Not being sarcastic; I have 3 monitors.

There used to be a cool dll that you could drop into the iTunes plugins folder and remedy everything. No more — iTunes 10.4 broke the plugin, as I was first to note in the comments.

iTunes 10.4.1 came out and claimed to fix “a problem where the media keys on some third-party keyboards work inconsistently with iTunes.” Riiight.

We can discuss the politics of Apple hating on PC users as much as we want, but some of us need our working play/pause buttons.

Drop into your Startup folder (in the Start Menu) and restart/relogin. It’s a compiled AutoIt3 script, which some antivirus programs don’t like. Deal with it.

Download (Windows EXE file) – this version for iTunes 10.4 is outdated!

Size: 294KB



Drop and forget. Simple and painless. It only works with the play/pause button [and now prev/next]. Because that’s the only button I ever use. Like, who ever uses the stop button?

Why I am posting this when I really should be writing my college application essays, I’m not quite sure.

Moral of the story: don’t “update” things that are working fine.

Bugfix 1. (9-29-2011) If another window title starts with iTunes (such as a browser on this web page) the play/pause key may not function. Fixed. Tested and uploaded. What am I doing with my life at 2am…

Bugfix 2. (9-30-2011) If the iTunes search box (on the top right) is focused the play/pause key may not function.

Update. (10-06-2011) Previous and next buttons added. Remove the old hk.exe before dragging this one into the startup folder.

WD Caviar Greens are amazing

September 6th, 2011

Just wanted to pop in to say… WD Caviar Green hard disks have amazing R/W speed and mind-blowing storage capacity. I got my hands on one, brand new, for only around $60-70 with shipping.128MB/s read and write speeds are to die for across 2 terabytes of capacity. (I realize I only tested the first 256MB of the partition, which is the outer edge of the disk that moves the fastest (because velocity equals radius times omega), lol.)

For comparison, my Seagate Barracuda that shipped with this Dell PC gets ~80MB/s (but then again Windows is running off this partition and it’s 90% full because of my anime), and an old WD Caviar Blue (really old — 80GB drive) that used to be in the server that hosted leafwood (Dell rack-mountable server server — that hard drive’s gotta be the real deal) only got ~60MB/s (but then again I’m swapping off this partition, not that Windows likes me managing its swap file, and swap is gonna take up a lot of I/O because Windows likes playing with its swap when it’s bored).

I’m installing Win7 on this new HDD when I get some free time (hopefully… sometime soon… not expecting anything). Vista’s working fine though, I guess, so no hurry. Gah, so indecisive.

Oh yeah, that last comment was the 600th comment.

Re-reading this post, those parentheticals are a pain to read.

August Advent Calendar — Week 3: Doesn’t Backdating Everything Kind Of Defeat The Purpose?

August 26th, 2011

Monday, August 15

Lots of stuff going on. It’s my final week at work. Got presentations and crap, yet my work isn’t finished yet (to my satisfaction).

Oh yeah, I got my hands on a backup server located in San Jose, since my Texas server fails so often. And this server is… OMG, amazing.

root@altair:~# wget -O /dev/null
--2011-08-16 04:10:09--
Connecting to||:80... connected.
HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 200 OK
Length: 104857600 (100M) [application/octet-stream]
Saving to: `/dev/null'

100%[====================================================>] 104,857,600 45.9M/s   in 2.2s    

2011-08-16 04:10:11 (45.9 MB/s) - `/dev/null' saved [104857600/104857600]

That’s 400Mbps speed right there! And right now it’s about 5PM, pretty close to prime time. The speeds aren’t going down as I test more! Actually, it just got faster. It just did 56MB/s; that’s 500Mbps right there! I am in awe.

And what’s more amazing is the disk speed…

root@altair:~# dd if=/dev/zero of=testfile bs=4k count=256k
262144+0 records in
262144+0 records out
1073741824 bytes (1.1 GB) copied, 3.23105 s, 332 MB/s

That’s… stunning.

Today: Ichiban for lunch in La Canada (or is it Pasadena). Amazingly cheap Japanese food. It was like, what, $7 or 8 for a 3-combination bento box!

Couldn’t make it to the Crawdads baseball game and dinner today.

Tuesday, August 16

That post up there was not backdated! Amazing, no?

I actually have a detailed calendar of this week, because I actually maintained my Google Calendar. So these next few posts are only psudo-backdated.

Today was lunch with my Tuesday lunch crew, and then left for Apache Days.

Got there just as the doors were closing. Quite a lot of good exercise there, with all that sprinting. Ran into Justin (and, later, Alfred and Rose) amongst other friendly faces.

I made a fatal math mistake, forgetting to subtotal the graduation and grad night fees, so the check my dad wrote wasn’t enough. Luckily they told me I could pay this later at the ASB office.

It kind of doesn’t make sense that you have to pay $135 in order to graduate, but whatever.

The PTSA desk lady refused to stamp my sheet, trying endlessly to guilt me into donating $5. Damn Asian saleswomen. She seriously wouldn’t let me go, even though I told her I owed $135 and really didn’t have any money on me.

On another note, PTSA probably hauled in a huge load of money this year due to her. I applaud.

Justin followed me home to my house and proceeded to watch YouTube videos of people playing games. I told him to make sure I did work (was writing my draft), and somehow magically I managed to do more work that I usually would.

Maybe I should let Justin come over more often.

Wednesday, August 17

Much work was done regarding my final presentation this afternoon.

Many private legal issues were turned over in my head until both sides were well-done. As a result, my brain was cooked.

Thursday, August 18

Final presentation of my internship. My group supervisor came by, and he liked it. We had an invigorating chat. It felt great. The private legal issues were still being lightly sauteed in my mind.

Late afternoon: Spanish lessons at my job in Methodist Hospital! My amigo treated me to onion rings (anillos de sebollas — para llevar por favor!). The onion rings that the chef makes in the hospital cafeteria are brilliant (although all he does is deep fry them — maybe it’s something about the oil that makes them particularly tasty).

Important words to remember for my next impromptu Spanish lesson:

perdon – sorry, excuse me
¿que me dijste?
– what did you say?
¿que quiere decir (esto)
? – what does (this) mean
¿que quiere decir
? – what do you mean?
¿como se dice (esto)
? – how do you say (this)
no se – I don’t know.

I have horrible memory (especially regarding names), so the only reason I remember these is because I put them down on a notecard.

On a side note, I love those inverted question marks.

Friday, August 19

Final day of JPL internship. Private frying pan stuff, mostly. Ran around the entire campus; HR, education office, Office of General Counsel, Ethics Office — it’s like a tour on my final day.

Private frying pan stuff stressed my mom out. I tend not to get stressed out by stuff these days. Or maybe I just don’t feel like I’m stressed, but subconsciously I really am.

Saturday, August 20

Summer BBQ Bash at my JPL mentor’s house. I babysat my little brother in the swimming pool, mostly. Played pingpong, threat was dripping down my chin. It felt good. I need sunglasses for these situations.

The food tasted good, but on Sunday I had diarrhea so…

Sunday, August 21

Verbatim from my calendar:

9-10am: wake. That’s the most spectacular part of my day. I WOKE! And on top of that, before noon! And, as if that still weren’t enough, I was able to wake at 9am!

10-10:30am: week 4 day 2 of the 100 Pushups program. I think by this point I was up to about 150 pushups per day (exceeding my mom’s requirements). It still hasn’t become a full-on habit yet. I can do about 30 to 50 pushups in a row. Somehow I still don’t look buff or anything.

Although I can’t really imagine myself with highly developed pectorals.

10:30-11am: call Cindy RE:JVLG. That’s right, I wasn’t really sure if there was a meeting today, but I couldn’t find Cindy’s number. I ended up embarassingly late to the meeting. Embarassing!

10:30-11:30am: write all backdated August Miniposts. Hur hur… (this is being written on August 26th).

11:30-12:30pm: Lunch. Okay, following my calendar verbatim gets uninteresting from here on.

My afternoon was spent at the Junior Volunteer Leadership Group meeting for Methodist Hospital. Nothing too remarkable.

I was planning on seeing the counselors on Monday (both for the Stanford issue and my research competition forms), but I fell asleep or otherwise was incapacitated and unable to complete the forms. In addition, I overslept on Monday.

Remaining time before school starts: 1 week.

August Advent Calendar – Week 1

August 13th, 2011

August has come — school is starting again in the blink of an eye! As this sad date advances closer and closer, we are filled with more and more regret for the things we could not do in the summer. Thus, to compensate and cheer us all up, I decided to hold a sort of Advent Calendar. No, you don’t get chocolates, or virtual items for your Neopets, or toys. I have something better :)

Each day of August, you get a brand-spankin’ new mini-post! (Disclaimer: mini-post can consist of as few as one sentence.) I’ll stop blabbing here; let’s get this party started!

Week 1 – Monday August 1 to Sunday August 7

Monday, August 1

(By the way, I am backdating this minipost. Hee hee… yes, I am cheating.) The Common App launched today, and I haven’t even bothered to think about it. I had a dumpling party yesterday with Vincent, Mr. Zhang, Lucy, and Sue (and various parents). Originally I just invited Mr. Zhang, Vincent, and his dad, since it was supposed to be a little private get-together to celebrate Vincent’s departure as he would be moving permanently to Boston. Lively party was interesting to me (and I usually don’t find social functions interesting), but my parents thought that everybody’s parents kept talking about pointless things and making stupid arguments about stuff that nobody cares about. True, I guess. Vincent’s dad was different from what I expected. He disciplined Vincent well, as I expected, but he didn’t feel as oriented as Vincent. Something I talked about with my parents — why would he follow his son all the way to Boston? It’s like he didn’t care at all about his own life and dedicated everything he did to Vincent. In fact he outright affirmed that, making a splendid metaphor to how he was the first-stage rocket of the spacecraft known as Vincent. I suppose Harvard or somebody he meets there would become his second stage, propelling him furthermore on his journey to the stars.

Today Simon, one of the senior interns under my mentor here at JPL, came back finally from his school. Yes, it is around the end of his internship already, haha. Anyways, to celebrate, we went to this severely overpriced restaurant in Old Town Pasadena (or at least I think that’s Old Town) called Gyu-Kaku. I don’t know why white people like Asian food so much, but they do apparently. It was pretty good, but for the cheap $10 value meal thing I ordered, they barely gave anything. It’s a Yakiniku restaurant, and I think this is the first time I’ve been to one. It’s like a hotpot restaurant, except it’s not a hotpot, it’s a grill-thing. They give you meat, you cook it. What I thought was pretty interesting was the spinach they included in the value meal (because spinach = value!). Yes, it was just spinach. Raw spinach. Anyways, they wrapped it in aluminum foil with a few slices of garlic for you to, uh, toss on the grill (read: “cook”), and it was pretty good.

And yeah… crap happened in June and July, but meh. I’ll backdate a few posts to talk about important stuff, of course. Like Stanford. Oh yeah. Still need to write that post…

Have I mentioned that the Common App came out today? And I still haven’t started?

Tuesday, August 2

(Also backdated.) I had lunch with Zack today, where I failed a physics problem. After chatting about Zack’s cruise, the hot Russian grade-skipping genius college chick he met, how he stole her from her boyfriend, and how that made him totally cool, we were talking about the softball game I was going to play tomorrow (Wednesday). Of course, I have absolutely no athletic talent — even less than my artistic talent.

Wednesday, August 3

(Hey, guess what, it’s backdated.) Highlight of the day was my softball game. I was catcher, and I was completely clueless so I didn’t know to call foul or fair. Yet, everybody still helped me and said kind things, gave helpful advice. It feels great to be part of a team.

Thursday, August 4

(I’m serious, I intended to start this, but Thursday’s minipost is also backdated.) Today I met with the most important lawyer in all of JPL/CalTech. Considering lawyers charge like $500 per hour, and I got a half hour with him, that’s a nice $250 worth of legal counsel there.

It turns out he was actually a patent lawyer in his previous job for a big aerospace company. How brilliantly convenient!

Friday, August 5

I liked this quote from the Official Google Blog about startups:

We’re a small, close-knit group of friends that spend most of our time huddled in a room making decisions on the spot and moving fast to launch a product in a matter of months.

Here are the results of today’s productivity:

I love making post-it art. The things that end up coming out of my pen are always so random though. And yes, of course, my artistic capabilities are not quite proficient.

Saturday, August 6

(This is backdated again — I didn’t get to finish writing my other backdated posts so more stuff got pushed back.) My presentation yesterday got cancelled. But now I have to work on my presentation and paper instead of enjoying my weekend. Mwahh.

Ended up goofing off most of the day. Who would have expected.

Pic somewhat related. Somewhat.

Sunday, August 7

(Backdated.) This is one of those rare days when I was able to make myself do work. I feel so accomplished — wrote a huge huuuge detailed PowerPoint and came up with some key concepts to emphasize. Unfortunately I couldn’t write much of my paper.