Saturday, December 26, 2015

My writing challenge

So I know I'm kind of a shitty writer. I come up with novel ideas pretty often but I lack the clarity of vision and the motivation to ever really follow through (hence the pathetic conclusions). If you've read the first story of Mage: The Awakening with the journal then you have some idea of what I try to replicate (stuff like "Note Important Capital Letters. Magicians Use Lots of Capital Letters" pretty well reflects my humor). Unfortunately, I have to set aside time to really work on my writing alongside programming.

Lately I've been playing with Racket and its really interactive which means its really easy to get into a flow. Compare that to writing blog posts where it feels like a monumental effort to make even a small amount of content and its easy to get lost. I try to avoid being a passive consumer of content but its hard. There's so much good content out there at Shamus Young's blog, various comics, and on youtube(I'm not linking that) that its easy to get down and convinced that you really aren't worth reading.

My solution to this is that every day, for one hour from 10-11 PM, unless I have to be away from my computer, I am going to go into the blogger editor (or find something that doesn't make me feel like I'm bashing stones together) and write from now on. I don't care if I'm super tired, I'll sit down and deal with it. I've got 12 years experience of worming out of things I don't want to do and I need to get over that before college. That doesn't mean that I'm going to have a post a day, it just means I'm going to write. Some stuff will be too personal and some will be too large to finish in 1 hour. Still, I might post them later.

Anyways, I was wondering, what sort of things do you do to be more productive? It doesn't matter how old this post is, it still might help the next person like me who just doesn't know how to deal with everything and just run away.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

On RMS and Clang

So for those of you not in the know RMS is the screen name for Richard Stallman, notorious "free software" firebrand and overall fanatic.
I don't like Richard Stallman.
My main gripe with Stallman is his total single-mindedness on his particular brand of open source to the detriment of his own goals. Stallman believes that all open source licenses should be covered by one of the Gnu licenses, of which there are three, the LGPL which mandates that if you modify it you must open source your project under LGPL or GPL or at least open source the modified version if you dynamically link to it, and the GPL and AGPL which mandate that if any code is anywhere in the source tree or dependency, you must release under the same license. Its a little more complicated than that but that's the gist of this. Recently I found an old email on the gcc mailing list which exemplifies this. See, Stallman believes that everything in a system should be open source and so he set up a project called GCC to make a compiler along with a bunch of other projects. GCC is licensed under the GPL which should in theory protect it from being copied into proprietary projects. This wasn't enough for Stallman though and he set up the project so that it was really hard to reuse any code from GCC to make other compilers.
Big mistake. Coders hate when stuff if obfuscated from them.
See, there's a group in academia that's interested in proving interesting things about programming languages. Naturally, these guys write compilers all the time, so obviously they're going to want a decent base to work off of. Now they could have used GCC but lo and behold, GCC sucks for making anything that's not its own project with significant rewrites to the codebase. So, these guys went and made LLVM. LLVM is like GCC, only with extensions so it is easy to make new compilers with LLVM and LLVM uses a permissive license. Stallman likes to pretend that the reason for LLVM's success is that it has a permissive license. He completely overlooks the fact that he could have ended up with the same result in GCC if he wasn't such a paranoid ass. Not only that, he pretends that the LLVM community owes him something because he fights for "freedom". It just makes him such an easy target since he acts like a clown, and average programmers with an interest in open source like me suffer. Stop hurting the entire movement Stallman.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Doing nothing is good?!

So being a high schooler, I have to put up with parents bugging me. One thing they don't like is me spending too much time on my phone. Its a reasonable concern and one I won't begrudge them. What I have a problem with is when I have nothing else to do and they insist I get off my phone. Yesterday I was in a car for about 30 minutes, coming back home from my sisters basketball game. Since my sister wasn't playing, I sure as hell wasn't paying attention and was reading Hacker News threads.

During the car ride, my mom demanded I get off my phone.

Now one of my admitted faults is that I don't idle well. My mind likes to be crunching on something, even if its vapid and pointless to a ridiculous extent. My mom tried to justify this by saying doing nothing is sometimes good. Since when? I hate being forced by fiat to just do nothing and I don't understand the arguments as to how it could possibly ever be good to sit idle for five minutes. For my personality type, its not relaxing, it's mind numbing and agonizing. Listen to music, write, watch tv, code, read news threads, do homework, anything to avoid having to sit still and do nothing. Hell, I sometimes do multiple things at once, like listening to Pandora while writing this post. Now I accept the idea that negative consequences are things one has to deal with. What I hate is the puritan idea that pain and suffering "builds character" and should be actively sought.

I guess what I'm saying is that I subscribe to a minimalist approach to work, come up with the simplest, most efficient way to approach a task and then execute it. If a task has no point, I get rid of it. Bill Gates said to give the hardest work to the laziest people and they'll find the most efficient way to do it, and I like to pretend I'm in that group. Earlier this week I had to do some practice with stacks and queues for UIL and while my code was considered weird (the question had to do with manipulating the order of a stack and I popped all the results into an array, sorted, and pushed 'em back in) I finished first with my problems. I tend to mentally automate my tasks and explore all of what I can do before settling to a comfortable pattern. Of course, when I have to get actual work done I drop the whole exploration thing but still, that's how I handle things.

I dunno, maybe there's some good reason, but I don't get it. *Sigh* maybe its a cultural thing.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

On AP Lit

Well apparently some other people have actually seen my blog. Fuck. I already feel the responsibility bearing down on me like a giant flaming turtle descending from heaven. Probably want to add some meat to the blog. So as a senior I'm required to take English Literature as a course. Being one of those people who insist on making my life a living hell, a prestigious group currently filled by my AP physics teacher Mr. Khan from junior year, (names not changed so as to finger the guilty) the school admins with their idiotic rules with such selective enforcement on rules like IDs (the best way to stop criminal activity on campus because there's no such thing as forgers) which must be on a noo- lanyard around your neck except no one ever checks other than some teachers in the hallway, I took it as an AP class. WHY DID I DO THAT THE PAIN IT BURNS MAKE IT STOP MAKE IT STOP MAKE IT STOP. Allow me to rant a bit about the exact problems I've faced.

1. Choosing the least interesting books possible

So as we all know, work isn't work unless it's pointless and painful. As a result, for the modernism unit, our class is reading Heart of Darkness which is about the worst book I've ever read.
I highly doubt that's the one I;m talking about. It looks almost interesting

 Now, dear readers, you may believe I'm being whiny or unfair to the book but no, it sucks worse than that hooker you hired last time you visited Taiwan. The main problem I have is that every single character is portrayed as the second coming of Satan, to be judged by the fair and noble Joseph Conrad. Now look, I have no problem with moral ambiguity in my stories. Despite my poorness, I acquired the New World of Darkness PDFs and have been reading through them. They're quite enjoyable reads. I also really enjoyed Code Geass. I like moral ambiguity. I hate 40k style everyone is evil and no one has any redeeming qualities. I also had to read The Awakening and they taunt me by showing an exerpt from a much better book Lady Windsmere's Fan which appeals more to my satirical sense of humor.

2. Exalting obfuscated meaning as a virtue

So AP Lit requires that you read a lot of poetry. Now, if you've ever read poetry, you know that poetry has this awful habit of obfuscating all meaning behind several layers of bullshit and references which leads to it being rather hard to understand without an extremely thorough grasp on the other pieces of literature from the time period and an understanding of the cultural norms of the time. I don't know about anyone else, but I don't care enough to learn enough about Renaissance Christianity to understand John Dunn. I accept symbolism and enjoy analyzing shows and games, but the idea that making things unreadable is a good idea is completely unpalatable to me.


Now the usual answer to this question  is that English, and only English, will teach you how to think. This is the most stupid lie I have ever heard. From the start of the year, I learned quite a bit in school about debate, biology, and... history. I learned shit-all about writing or logic. I learned writing by, funny thing, reading. ON THE INTERNET. When the standard of the internet outpaces anything I can learn in a class, you are pathetic. There's really no point in continuing past this.I'm going into Engineering. Why do I give a damn if I don't know how to interpret Shakespeare. It's all meaningless.

Hello Doomed, Dying, Pointless World!

Hello and welcome to my quivering mass of despair and hatred. Trust me, we'll be best of friends.

Who the fuck are you?

Good question, nonexistent figment of my imagination. My name is Hersh. I'm a senior who basically is through with high school. I'm also an (incredibly amateur) programmer with an interest in AI and distributed computing. I also find game design interesting, watch anime, and am saving up for GURPS so I can maybe run some RPGs after AP testing is done this year and two out of my three (wierd school district) courses are done with the pretense of teaching me things. (Really I should just bite the bullet and run Eclipse Phase since the PDFs are free to redistribute) I also have a light interest in politics. My sense of humor is mostly derived from Dilbert and the Onion which leads to a healthy dose of sarcasm.

Great. Why do I give a shit?

Another excellent questioned from the figment of my imagination! Give him a hand folks! (VALIDATE ME!!!!) You really shouldn't. This will serve more as a diary than anything else, as well as a way to put pointless diatribes on things that really irritate me. Look, if you want entertainment, go watch the Trump twitter feed. Always good for a laugh.

Great, can I go now?

But then you might miss my next amazing blog post about the meaning of life in which I pro-. No, I can't type that with a straight face. See ya.