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None Phone Known, Done Lone Moan, Life Without a Phone

Everyone wants to be a special snowflake. For some, it’s natural. For others, it takes four years and a quarter million dollars. For me, it took a decade to realize that unless you’re naturally gifted, it doesn’t matter how hard you force yourself to believe you’re special. One day, everything will come crashing down, leaving you alone in the rubble wondering what on earth was the point of building a 1:10 replica model of UBC’s seemingly nameless long fountain-waterfall out of papier-mâché. Let me tell you a few stories of my papier-mâché fountains, and how I eventually understood the futility and impermanence of such flimsical constructions.

Phones and Facebook. Imagine living with none of this.

Those are the paper-mashes I tried to mould, a life in modern society without modern social technology. No, I really did think doing so would make me a special snowflake. Yes, this is incredibly silly. That’s why they’re represented by paper-mash fountains.

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Starting Late, Going Late, Being Late: Two Stories of Procrastination

Author’s note: it is February first and all I have done every day in 2017 is 1. wake up 2. eat breakfast 3. go to work 4. make dinner 5. watch a movie while eating dinner 6. sleep because the commute is an hour long and I’ve never cooked before and I eat very slowly and when I’m watching a movie I eat very very slowly, so I dug around and realized that I only had one post pre-written which is this one from 2016 September, which ironically is about my dedication to conquer lateness, but now I’m publishing it late because the lateness has not yet been conquered by me, as evidenced by the fact that I have never for once been on time to work. Enjoy.

If there really are any higher powers out there, they’re trying to tell me something. I think it boils down to, “Stop being late!”

So I will. Today is the day after which I shall never be late again. (As proof, consider the fact that I’m writing this post before the last day of the month!) But first, why would I make such an absurd claim? Why would any of you care? And what really happened in these past two days? The answers to these questions are: because of what happened in these past two days; because actually, you shouldn’t care at all; and…

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The Un-Co-Operative System of Co-Operative Education

I don’t actually think Co-op is uncooperative, but I do think it’s funny writing the word “Un-Co-Operative” with so many hyphens and capitals. Anyway, I have a legit reason for being unable to publish on time this month: I don’t actually have a job yet. So. I will update this post with my reflection on the job hunting experience once I have a job. If I don’t have a job, then I’ll change this post to be about baby octopodes.

Here are some temporary tips and tricks to help you secure your first co-op term before December, unlike me:

  1. Apply early.
  2. Apply a lot.
  3. Apply early to a lot.
  4. Apply to a lot of jobs, early.
  5. Don’t apply late or apply to few jobs.
  6. Send thank you letters to your employers, or else they won’t contact you back, even if they promised to contact you back within two days of the interview regardless of whether you passed or failed, and they give offers to your two other classmates who interviewed with them on the same day and heard back within two days of the interview that they passed the first round.
  7. I-It’s not like I wanted to work t-there anyway, baka.
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The Iron Pin, the Iron Ring, and the Iron Knee

I went to UBC’s Iron Pin ceremony last year as a silly little first year with no friends accompanying, and all I remembered was a little old lady standing up at the stage whose opening remarks were something to the tune of “lol i know we girls all hate physics” or whatever. I’m trying really hard to remember what she said but I just can’t. It was something so blatantly sexist that I thought the applause would at least be a bit more subdued but nope, and that cognitive dissonance was the only thing I got out of the whole ceremony. Besides the Iron Pin itself. And a little card with the 12 Tenets of Engineering or 7 Principles of Ethical Design or whatever, which I still have and can actually read the name of but it’s too late and I’m too lazy to bother.

Anyway now that I’ve tried to think of what she said, I realize that I really can’t think of anything both offensive enough to make me remember the feeling of dissonance even until now, but simultaneously mundane and quaint enough to merit undivided applause. And that is why I will update this post when I finally remember. It might have had to do with math or computers, and it might have had to do with struggling or disliking, and it might have been the girls of the past or the girls still in secondary, and I don’t even know why I’m writing this post, stop reading it…

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A Beginner's Guide to Nethack, by a Beginner

Nethack. Some say it’s the most inscrutable video game ever. A few say it’s the deepest. Most saw the ncurses ASCII interface and never bothered to try playing a game that looks like it predates Windows. A few downloaded it and quit in frustration from the steep learning curve and unintuitive user interface.

I tried it. I downloaded it. I finished the standard strategy tutorial on the indispensable Nethack Wiki. I played for a while, went all the way down to Mine’s End and all the way up to Sokoban. Then I quit, not from frustration, but from boredom. All I did was steal stuff from shops with my pet all day long. Blah blah blah.

<The rest of this introductory paragraph is a direct copy of the introductory paragraph of my Dwarf Fortress post. But it’s the middle of midterms so I don’t have time to actually write it, or even make it to the Quest! So, stay tuned for more…>

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Lacking a Coding Interview: The Tragedy of My First Real Interview

I recently had my Google winternship phone internviews. The first went terribly; the interviewer called ten minutes late, I needed hints to get through every step of the way, and I had to cut the interviewer off mid-speech after fifty minutes because my next interview was starting. Thoroughly demoralized, I hardly fared better during the second, and as I stumbled outside, bewildered, I couldn’t help but think that I was lacking.

“Lacking what?” I thought to myself in a daze, and like a fifth-grade poem it suddenly clicked into place. “Lacking a coding interview,” I repeated silently, again and again, as I drifted into bus-induced unconsciousness, “I’m lacking a coding interview…”

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Nine Lessons from the First Year at UBC of Eugene Y. Q. Shen

University and high school are supposed to be totally different: in university, you explore the universe from a city, while in high school, you get high, and then you get schooled. Also, the general consensus seems to be that the best year of your life is either your senior year in high school or your freshman year in university. So I thought I’d have a lot to write about in this post.

Turns out that, for me, university and high school were basically the same, and both were totally boring. Instead of writing about my daily drudgeries directly, I’ve decided to compile them into a list of dubiously helpful Tips and Tricks™ for first-year students. Follow them at your peril…

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A Collective Review of a Collection of Introductory Lisp Books

This post contains exactly what it says on the tin—I read some introductory books this summer, as promised in April, and I’d like to review them. Note that I did say introductory books. If you already know any Lisp, then reading this post will be a complete waste of your time. Otherwise, reading this post will probably still be a waste of your time, but let’s not bicker over details.

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It's Easier to Lie than to Ask for Permission

I was going to post something here but then it was too late again, so I’ll post a temporary thing here until I shed enough of my laziness to find some situations that may encourage deceit in those who haven’t read this 2016 June blog post.

Basically, my family’s been renovating a dilapidated 1920s era house (or so the renovationist claimed before suddenly vanishing) because we’re too poor to hire actual renovationists to renovate it. For whatever reason unknown to me and mankind, this entailed ripping out all the 1920s era drywall, by my parents’ hands. Now we’ve been running around town for the past week trying to find a place where we can actually dump drywall, seeing that the city landfill only accepts “new, unfinished cuts of drywall without tape, mud, paint, or texture coating from new construction and never installed”, a.k.a., nothing. Eventually, my parents decided to dig a huge trench in the back of our house and illegally bury all the drywall there just because the official process was so frustrating, but not before sending a sample in for analysis just in case our 1920s era drywall wasn’t actually carcinogenic and they both didn’t receive lethal doses of permanent lung cancer.

Turns out there was no asbestos in it after all and everyone lived happily ever after. But there are plenty more situations that may encourage deceit in frustrated folks, and I’ll get to those when I get less lazy…

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The May Exams: My Awful Years in IB's Education, Xenial, Authoritative, Maybe Superfluous

I was going to post something here but then it was too late, so I’ll post a temporary thing here until I shed enough of my laziness to talk about my three years in International Baccalaureate related programs.

ts;dr: I got rejected from every university I applied for except for UBC, I got really mad at IB for forcing me to waste all my time studying humanities, I realized that the time-wasting was done by me not IB, ultimately I guess IB is OK? It teaches you to have a welcoming international perspective, it has broad comprehensive learning outcomes, but maybe some subjects have excessively redundant elements.

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Why Hacking Hardware is Hacking Hard, for Weary Students

(Spoiler: it’s the student’s fault.)

Let’s start with two stories.

nwHacks, end of February. I got together with a bunch of fellow UBC Snowbots software team members, all first-years, all hella smart, myself excluded. We met up over the reading break to brainstorm ideas for about fifteen minutes and decided that we would do a hardware hack with the newest, coolest NFC technology. Little did we know how old and warm (uh, not new and not cool) it would be…

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The Experience of Aiding Teachers, as a Teaching Assistant

“By the way, I was wondering if I could be a TA next term?”

Way back in October, before the first midterm of APSC 160, Introduction to Computation in Engineering Design, I came up with some lame question to ask the instructor, Hassan Khosravi, during his office hours. It was the only office hours (office hour?) I ever went to this entire year, and I felt pretty nervous. For one, I didn’t understand the concept at all; it seemed absurd to dedicate an hour of time every week just to meet with students. On the one hand, you’d expect nobody to go: students can ask questions during lectures (lecture?), on an online forum specifically created to answer questions about APSC 160, to their friends, to Google, etc. On the other hand, you’d expect too many people to go: if one question takes fifteen minutes to answer, one office hour can only help four students a week, and there were over 500 students taking the course!

Of course, the reason I went to office hours was to become a TA.

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A Beginner's Guide to Dwarf Fortress, by a Beginner

Dwarf Fortress. Some say it’s the most inscrutable video game ever. A few say it’s the deepest. Most saw the ncurses ASCII interface and never bothered to try playing a game that looks like it predates Windows. A few downloaded it and quit in frustration from the steep learning curve and unintuitive user interface.

I tried it. I downloaded it. I finished the quickstart guide on the indispensable Dwarf Fortress Wiki. I played for a while, built up a fort of over a hundred dwarves over three ingame years. Then I quit, not from frustration, but from boredom. All I did was craft rock crafts all day long. No goblin wars, no necromancer raids, no forgotten beasts. No pump stacks, no magma, no caverns. I followed all the beginner’s tutorials and then got stuck doing nothing, missing out on half the features of the game. But two months ago, on December 1, 2015, Toady One released the first major update since July 2014: Dwarf Fortress v0.42! Now, I thought, was the time to get back into the game, and really get into all its features. The goal of this post is simply to see every major feature, in a beginner’s guide for people who understand the basics but want to see all the fun they could experience, through a playthrough—my first real one—of Dwarf Fortress.

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The First Post of Eugene Y. Q. Shen, First Posted by Eugene

I am Eugene Y. Q. Shen, and this is my first post.

I was born as 汪煜钦, or Wāng Yù Qīn, which according to Google Translate means “ooze glorious respect” or if you read it backwards, “royal brilliant expanse-of-water”. Since neither of these describe me, and my dad later randomly decided to change his last name to my mom’s 沈 (Shěn), and my multiethnic kindergarten classmates never could pronounce /y tɕʰin/ without turning it into /ju dʒin/, so I eventually became 沈煜钦, or Eugene Shen. According to Google Translate translating that into Chinese and back into English, Eugene Shen means “outstanding gold sink”, which is fittingly my current occupation, i.e. a student at the University of British Columbia.

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