Updates on my life

Graduate school

I'm the TA for a discrete mathematics class. My responsibilities include running a Monday discussion, holding an office hour, and grading tests. I've led one discussion so far, and it wasn't as hard as I expected. One student even commented that I seemed to be prepared (hah!). In addition to TAing, I'm taking an undergrad class in cryptography and a graduate class in computability and complexity.

Overall, I'm not enjoying graduate school. I don't have many friends here, classes aren't particularly interesting, and I don't know what I'm going to research. I enjoy thinking about the computational complexity of puzzles and games, but that doesn't mean computational complexity research is for me. I'm interested in what it takes to write secure software and design secure user interfaces, but I don't know if those are real research areas.


I'm no longer listening to Claremont Shades, USC Sirens, Blackmore's Night, Sting, Sixpence, Alanis, No Doubt, Vienna Teng, or Máire Brennan continuously. Instead, I'm listening to Evanescence - Fallen (mostly Bring me to Life, Whisper, and Imaginary), Joan Baez - Play Me Backwards (especially Stones in the Road and Through Your Hands), Strunz and Farah - Americas, and James Taylor - Greatest Hits continuously. I discovered Evanescence after hearing three college a cappella groups perform versions of Bring me to Life at two concerts in one weekend.

I found out that the song from Final Fantasy 6 that I feel like I've known forever is called "Terra's theme" or "Tina's theme".


I'm addicted to a puzzle game by Pāvils Jurjāns called Net. I discovered it by reading Selene's game notes, which mostly covers RPGs. I think it is NP-complete, but I haven't thought about it carefully. I haven't played much Minesweeper (NP-complete) or Marble (I don't even know if it's decidable) lately.

I've also been playing RPGs. I played Wild Arms (ok) and Chrono Cross (good) over Christmas break. I tried Vagrant Story but didn't like it. Now I'm playing Xenogears. I like it so far, but it's very easy to get lost in 3D areas such as cities and forests. I will probably play Final Fantasy 9 next.

All of the RPGs are for the Playstation, so I've been them using an emulator called epsxe along with Pete Bernert's graphics plugins, some of which are open source. Playing games using an emulator has several advantages over using a console system: I can change the game's speed on the fly, save or load at any time, and play at the same time as my brother. It also has several disadvantages: I have to tweak the emulator settings for each game to keep it from freezing, and I have to choose between pirating the games and Playstation BIOS (illegal) or buying a Playstation and the games and then downloading them anyway (ridiculous).


Cal Animage Beta has been showing one episode a week of Midori no Hibi, Bleach, Samurai Champloo, Kyou Kara Maou, Phantom Memory Kurau, and Tactics. Midori no Hibi is my favorite of these series.


I loved Kinsey. My favorite scene was the one with the lesbian woman (not a sex scene). The religious right's response to the movie made it even better (more Kinsey-related links). I liked The Incredibles and Garden State. I didn't like Team America, and I found Mean Creek confusing.

Keepers of Lists

I contributed high-scoring items to Signs You Are Not Drunk Enough, Reasons To Move To Canada, and Signs You Should Stop Writing Items For Keepers. I contributed more items to Signs You May Be A Terrorist than the person who started the list. Over half of my items have been getting getting positive scores recently, which is a welcome change. I submitted five new lists, which will be accepted or rejected for publication over the next few months.

Existing personal projects

Pornzilla and Thumbs have been getting a lot of hits, even though I have not put much effort into them lately. The top five search phrases that bring people to squarefree.com are "porn" (150/day), "pornzilla", "thumbs", "best porn", and "free porn". (The next two are not porn-related: "bookmarklets" (25/day) and "burning edge".) I've only been updating The Burning Edge once a week, in part because the Firefox trunk isn't very exciting right now.

I'm way behind with incorporating feedback and submissions for bookmarklets and Thumbs.

3 Responses to “Updates on my life”

  1. Alex Bischoff Says:

    If you like Evanescence, you might also like Lacuna Coil as they have a similar sound. As it turns out, I heard of Lacuna Coil first and, when I first started hearing Evanescence on the (satellite) radio, I thought it was just a new Lacuna Coil track. There’re also some mp3s samples for download. http://www.centurymedia.net/bands/Lacuna_Coil.htm

  2. Erika Says:

    HCI, Software engineering, even PLs (proof carrying code, proof safety, verifiable compilers, concurency) would all be research areas where you could focus in security. In fact, finding ways to relate fields to security is popular right now (this may or may not have to do with getting government grants..=).

  3. Ian Says:

    If you are liking James Taylor and Joan Baez then you obviously need some Blues.

    Mmmm – Rolling Stones (Let It Bleed)
    Maggie Bell – Live At The Rainbow