## 31 December 2009

### 2009: In Review

Five influential/important/wintastic things that happened to me in 2009 (in chronological order):
• I get infected by IM disease :O
• YNABC (bridge championships) at Wash DC~
• USACO Gold (but i'm getting completely owned XD)
• The Second PUMaC 2009
• I GET INTO COLLEGE THAT I WANT TO ATTEND
What does your list look like?

## 30 December 2009

### SSD Impressions!

So for Christmas, I bought myself a very nice present!

It's real!

Well actually it wasn't totally superfluous. The week before vacation, my laptop's hard drive decided to suicide IN DATA STRUCTURES (when I booted the computer, it would try to install some random firmware update. :S), so I was left with a brick. Not fun. >:[ Well thankfully, I had a nice Time Machine backup, so I didn't worry that much. Anyway, I decided to install this little bugger immediately after I got back from my Boston vacation to see if my HDD was indeedly at fault. It turns out that it was and I now have a working laptop! In fact, I'm typing this entry on it :)

Here are some impressions (these are estimates; I was too lazy to use a stopwatch):
• Mac OS X Snow Leopard install from iPod takes about 10min vs. 20min for HDD
• Boots in 15s and shuts down in 5s. Dammnn!! O_O
• Sleep (includes writing RAM image to disk) takes about 3s instead of 10s.
• Projected battery life with WiFi enabled is now 4 hours (33% increase!!)
• Palm rest area above disk is no longer toasty after disk intensive operations
Here is some Xbench vomit for Mac geeks and benchmark junkies (performance relative to a ~6 year old Power Mac G5 with 7200RPM disk):

Disk Test 218.97
Sequential 139.23
Uncached Write 144.06 88.45 MB/sec   [4K blocks]
Uncached Write 132.67 75.06 MB/sec   [256K blocks]
Uncached Read 98.07 28.70 MB/sec   [4K blocks]
Uncached Read 246.74 124.01 MB/sec  [256K blocks]
Random 512.48
Uncached Write 593.22 62.80 MB/sec   [4K blocks]
Uncached Write 252.59 80.86 MB/sec   [256K blocks]
Uncached Read 1921.97 13.62 MB/sec   [4K blocks]
Uncached Read 609.71 113.14 MB/sec  [256K blocks]

Some more system info (specs are pretty lame for 2009, but plenty usable!):

MacBook Pro 1,1 (Early 2006)
Intel Core Duo ``Yonah'' 2.0GHz 2MB 667MHz
2048MB DDR2 667MHz RAM
INTEL SSDSA2M160G2GC MLC 160GB
ATi Mobility Radeon X1600 (downclocked)

It increased my composite Xbench score from a ~50 to 115.87. This is pretty win.

## 29 December 2009

### A Hiatus! [Part 2]

Sunday

Today's plan was to visit MIT campus and dorms. We parked in front of 77 Mass Ave and walked in a random direction and eventually encountered East Campus! The buildings look OK and there's a nice spot of grass in the middle to lie down and do hw or stuffs (when the weather is nice, of course). From there, I chose another direction and we found the back of Stata center! It looks just as weird as the front does. We discreetly slip through the back and my parents found a nice place to sit while I wandered around and looked at all the cool posters of DARPA Challenge and super old school LISP machines.

Then we walked back to the car and drove to Micro Center. Apparently it's only a five minute drive from MIT (it's near Harvard) :) After visiting it, my parents took me to Random House. It's located in the worst possible location; there's a gas station right next to it and a really narrow and dirty alley in the back. >_< There is no way in hell I'm living in that. (sorry Hamster)

Now that we were finally done touring MIT (it was about 1500), my dad decided to take us to this ``really good'' Chinese restaurant for lunch. However, we didn't find decently priced parking within an hour, so we left. We ended up eating at an awesome American restaurant near our house. Swiss burgers are so delicious :D

Monday

After finally figuring out how to work the pressure-powered stapler that we borrowed from a family friend, my parents finished setting up all the chair rails. We then went to Minado for lunch, where I stuffed myself with lots of sushi @_@ We then went to Home Depot to buy tiles for our kitchen and molding for the guest bathroom. However, there wasn't enough of the tile design that we wanted at that Home Depot, so my dad dropped us off at home and went to three other stores. Then I chilled for the rest of the night.

Tuesday

We planned to leave sometime this afternoon, so the morning was just chill time. I did some evil sudokus (only 17 numbers :O) and calculus! However, the upstairs heater decided to fail as we were leaving and my mom insisted on getting it fixed before we leave, so my dad got a mechanic to diagnose the problem. After he left, it was about 1900, and my parents decided that it wasn't too late to leave, so we started packing up and departed at 2000. We got home at 2330 and I immediately began installing my SSD! Everything (installing drive and OS) took about an hour. The best thing was that IT WORKED AND MY COMPUTER IS BLAZING FAST BEYOND BELIEF :D

## 28 December 2009

### A Hiatus! [Part 1]

This blog post is going to detail my vacation so far! For the past [approximately] four days, I've been hanging around in my Massachusetts residence. It's a nice getaway from freezing NJ weather.

The plan was for my mom and I to take the bus from NYC after she got off from work. Luckily, we didn't have to bring too much stuff, just our backpacks and other small things. However, my dad wanted me to bring my MIT cylinder after I told him the mailman had dropped it on the porch. So now we had to bring two backpacks and a tube. Yay.

On Thursday, my mom brought me to her work place. Upon seeing the tube, my mom's colleagues were jealous. So one of them decided to go to lunch with us (probably to ask me about getting into college some more. @_@) Anyway, it was decided that we eat at a Japanese restaurant, since both her daughter (a high school frosh) and I liked sushi. We walked in a direction and spot Japanese restaurants across form each other! Our moms were unable to break the tie, but I spotted a Five Guys and just started walking in that direction and everyone followed. However, there was no sushi in the restaurant that I picked T_T Anyway, we talked more about college. I basically just told her that the key to success is pursuing a subject that you truly enjoy (and be good at it). Then my mom and I headed for the bus and left at around 1500.

We arrived at the South Station at 2000. Upon seeing my tube, my dad got a bit excited and opened it at the food court at the train station. Hungry from the bus ride, my mom and I went to the food court to grab a bite. When we got home, I decided to check the shipping status of my SSD (solid state drive for people who don't follow technology). Amazon had reported two ship dates, 12/24 and 12/31. Being a slight pessimist, I thought that it was going to come on the 31st, so I left my bricked computer at home. [Un]fortunately, it had already arrived :O So...it was good that I got my Christmas present in time, but I couldn't use it. T_T

Friday

It's Christmas day! We had nothing much planned, except for a party at a family friend's. I thought that was going to be somewhat boring since I haven't talked to her in a long time, but it turned out to be fun ^_^ I got to play Wii and tractor!! The funniest part was inadvertently convincing her five-year-old brother that their dog was ``dirty.'' (Well he asked me why I was using the bathroom, and I replied that I was going to wash my hands because the dog made them ``dirty.'' So for the rest of the night, he stayed away from the dog as far as possible.) Her family also gave me a really nice and unexpected present (Bose in-ear headphones). =]

Saturday

It's the day after Christmas! Again, we didn't have much planned for the day. Parents decided to keep furnishing the house, so we went to Lowe's to look for tiles and other stuff. On the way, I convinced them to stop at the outlet mall to see the...Apple store! (cue the eye-rolling)

On the way back, we decided to get some takeout General Tso's Chicken from the local Chinese restaurant. Their General Tso's is quite a bit different from others in that it's crispy! So the plan was for my dad and I to walk back to the house (approx. 1 mi) and my mom to drive back once the takeout was ready. Unfortunately, even with a 10 min head start, my mom passed us and got home first. Oh well, at least I got my daily dose of exercise XD

To be continued...

## 27 December 2009

### A Treat

JULIA APPROVES THIS POST. =]

Because I can't finish today's formal post and I want to make a post every day, I'm going to post some pictures from school! These are the gingerbread houses that the Culinary seniors had to make for their winter class project. Aren't they so pwnage?

London bridge is falling down

The Hut of Baba Yaga

Hagrid's Hut

I forgot what this one was called, but it actually lights up inside! (yes that is an electrical cord.)

Some people working on their house.

## 26 December 2009

### Road to College: Sophomore Year!

This year was quite a bit more interesting. I started out with a close group of friends, who were in a lot of my classes, a stronger skill set, and a better understanding of how BCA works. Also, I attended Math Team every week. Life was more exciting, even though I still didn't indulge in time-wasting activities.

Perhaps the boringest activity that I did first trimester was Computer Science Club. I signed up for this club again (instead of some other clubs) because I had ``learned'' some C++ and image creation last year. However, the guest lecturer no longer came every week and all the pro people left, so it was just Dr. Nevard, Mrs. Anderson (super incompetent teacher), some froshies who were interested in ``writing computer games,'' and me. As the eldest member of the club, I was appointed president. So every Wednesday I taught them Javascript, but they just weren't interested in learning the basics.

By the time I gave up on lecturing them, second trimester had rolled by, and more computer-oriented people enrolled. However, the incompetent teacher insisted that we do independent training for FBLA and DECA, in which I wasn't involved. Sensing my boredom and urge to improve, Dr. Nevard recommended that I do the USACO. I was intimidated by the word ``olympiad'', so I tried to put it off as much as possible.

In January I decided to stop being incompetent and tried USACO! It turns out that bronze wasn't very difficult, but I made some careless mistakes and got a 556. Nevard was satisfied with the score, but said that a 1000 is within reach. I did better in the next contest (I got a 880) and was promoted! Nevard was happy. However, I was slaughtered in the March contest, not having learned any algorithms or practicing any ad-hoc problems (I had only completed maybe two training problems by that time). I got a 52 from hard-coding the first ten DP cases in the ``River Crossing'' problem. Not wanting to face failure again, I subsequently chickened out of the US Open.

In addition to USACO, I did ACSL. It was trivial compared to USACO, but the most of the theory part was new to me. Regardless, Pavel, Kamran, and I did well enough to qualify for the ACSL All Stars competition. Unfortunately, the school ``did not have the resources'' to fund our field trip so I just improved the entire thing XD My parents volunteered to drive us down to Maryland, where we stayed in this 3-star hotel with free WiFi! Then we competed the next day and did really well for first timers. We finished 4th in our division and Kamran and I got books from the individual event. Then we played Smash 64 on the way home.

Besides computer science, there was math! Even though 2007-2008 wasn't such a great year for the math team, we still had some epic trips. HMMT was the most epic trip of all. Because it snowed so hard that the administration and the bus company canceled the trip and Mr. Holbrook still insisted that we go, half of us took Chinatown buses (Fenghua bus company FTW) and the other half took cars. My car ride was pretty rough. The terrible road conditions slowed us down considerably. The competition itself wasn't very exciting. Mu A barely made sweepstakes (PEA wasn't allowed a second team in sweeps).

NYSML was also an important trip for me. We had lots of time to spare because it was an overnight trip ^_^ So on Friday night, Pavel and Sam decided to teach me bridge! I grasped the basics pretty quickly, but had no clue of any strategies (in essence I was throwing down random cards while still following the rules). Anyway, I kept playing for the hell of it and actually became competent =]

In the non-competition world, things went well. Classes seemed more lively than last year's. In particular, Analytical Calculus (BC+) was amazing. Since the class was held in the tractor trailers, we had unlimited access to the track >:D (will elaborate on that later). Anyway, since Dr. Abe loves chocolate, he made us bring in brownies on our birthdays!! However, brownies are incomplete without milk. So for our first party, we designated Kamran to bring in half a gallon of milk. But because he is Kamran, he forgot. Dr. Abe made him run around the track for punishment, while we jeered from inside the classroom. He took everyone onto the track on another day when we had nothing to do. What a wintastic class...

There was also ``that incident'' that happened late March this year. Because our sysadmins are so incompetent to the level that they drop the root password on the floor without noticing, one of the ``pro'' seniors took advantage of that and wrote a virus that spread via USB. Pavel, Kamran, and I noticed some weird files (a visual basic script, a Seniors '08 image, an executable, and a batch file) on our flash drives weeks before it was fired, and we reported it to the tech teachers. They tried to warn the sysadmins to change the root password, but somehow that didn't get through (idiot sysadmins -.-). So we helplessly watched as time went on as more computers had the virus installed by innocent students' USB drives.

Finally the cracker activated the virus. We were listening to Dr. Abe lecture us when the computers decided to play some Rhapsody. Alarmed by the sound, Dr. Abe walks to the back of the room and turns on the screen. We all see the ``Seniors '08'' image and the computer nerds instantly knew what was going on while everyone was laughing their butts off. Dr. Abe then force shut down the computer and continued teaching.

Now all the technology teachers were super pissed off. The day after the virus went off, some tech teachers found Kamran, Pavel, Sam, and I hanging out in the hallways and decided to question us. We all say that we weren't involved, but they didn't believe us. They even threatened to suspend us O_O Then they proceeded to eke as much information out of us. We told them as much as we could, but they still took our words with a truckload of salt. Frustrated, they went away. Man that was pretty nervewracking >_<

Not long did they find the perpetrator. He was basically banned from school and told ``not to come back.'' So he didn't.

And that was that.

Overall the year was quite nice. My GPA was higher than that of the year before, which my parents were really happy about. My PSAT score was ehhish, but they were ok with that too XD I was also pretty happy that my skillz got better and acquired a new hobby :)

## 25 December 2009

### Road to College: Freshmen Year

Background: In eighth grade, I went to school in a different county and was the star mathlete there. I easily pwned the other people in the Mathcounts club. I was friends with most of the Asian girls, especially the anime lovers. However, none of them shared my love of math (one did, but she wasn't as devoted) and I didn't share their love of Asian music or dramas. They were still sad that I was leaving, though. So I came to the Academies knowing no one.

My first encounter of my future classmates was BCA Math Camp. [A/N: I had met Ian Osborn at Mathcounts States in 7th grade.] There was one kid who was competent (Mark Velednitsky), but the others just went because their parents thought it was an ``extra help'' program. I did also meet Patricia (one of my bridge buddies) there, but she was interested in the humanities.

Then school started. I still hadn't became close friends with anyone. I didn't know the math skills of my homeroom buddies and they didn't seem very inviting. So I ate lunch in the Digital Electronics lab with Dr. Karuv because I wanted to work with him on a project. However, that soon got boring, so I ate in the cafeteria. One day, I overheard a small group of guys talking about Windows Vista! Curious, I tried to join the conversation, but one of the guys was like ``Get lost random person!'' I didn't give up, and soon enough, he relented. Having finally found people with the same interests and [approximately] similar math skill level as me, I was delighted, since these were my first close friends at BCA ^_^ Then we ate lunch together for the rest of freshmen year. Coincidentally, they were also going to be my math team buddies. =]

I met more math/computery people as time passed. However, not all people that I befriended were knowledgeable in this aspect. Sometime during the first few weeks of math team, I met Hannah! (I think my parents talked to their parents about the Academies and college and how her twin brothers both got perfect SATs. we just talked about random stuff. haha) Then in phys. ed. class I met Julia! At first I was surprised that she was in Culinary, but that turned out to be fortuitious. (hello free food!) I was pretty happy with my collection of friends.

At this time, I wasn't a big part of the math team (even though I did well on exams) because I didn't attend the weekly practices. My dad thought they were a waste of time so I stayed home every Saturday afternoon doing math problems at my own pace. I probably attended one out of every four meets. I didn't really care; all that mattered to me was getting better and shining in Holbrook's eyes. Anyway...

In February I went on my first math team trip - Harvard-MIT 2007! It was really exciting. I spent the night before torrenting and watching an episode with Hannah in my hotel room. The next morning, I somehow misplaced my phone. =[ The teachers and my parents spent a while trying to locate it, but to no avail. We headed over to MIT, registered our eight teams, and did math for four hours. The problems were fun, even though most were beyond my level. I contributed quite a bit to the team round ^_^ We ended up winning 4th place in B division, which really surprised Holbrook, since he thought only Mu A would win something.

So that was that. Holbrook's expectations grew as time went on as we excelled; I tied with Sam on our first AMC12, Sam and Mark made Red Mop, and Mu B got an award from ARML (it was a site award thingy). Things were looking good for AAST Math Team's future.

In the school side of things, Kamran discovered a neat Windows scripting language called AutoIt. We were instantly hooked on it; we spent our free time in the computer labs writing mischevious programs to annoy other users. Our favorite function was blocking out user's mouse and keyboard input, so they could hopelessly stare at their computer opening notepad and autonomously typing "OH HAI. ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US." and saving the file on their personal drive. We basically were competing against each other to see who could write the most annoying program. Ahh good times... XD

Classes themselves weren't bad. They were pretty easy, or so I thought. I was able to finish all of my homework and still had time for math/programming at night and still slept at 2300. Then again, I didn't indulge in unnecessarily time-consuming activities. I finished with lots of A's and a few A-'s, so my academic record was looking great. What a nice end to freshman year =]

## 20 December 2009

### Successed!

Oh hello.

Guess what?

for mwa =D

and five of my friends, who all happened to have made one olympiad or another. Let's see:

me - USACO Gold
Kamran - USACO Gold
Pavel - USAMO, NACLO
Ian - USAMO x4, USNCO, NACLO
Mark - USAMO x2, Red Mop
Sam - USAMO x3, Red Mop, USACO Gold, USAICO (camp)

…and for reference:
Brian Hamrick - USAMO x3, USAMO Honorable Mention x2, Red Mop, Blue Mop, Black Mop, USAPhO x2, NACLO x2, USACO Gold, USAICO x2, IOI x2

Wow. That's a lot of olympiads. But olympiads aren't everything. Let's see what else we have:

me - Math Team [deputy] captain, Compsci Team Founder, only high school female in USACO Gold this year, ACSL stuff, bridge stuff
Kamran - ACSL stuff, \$40/hr job (i honestly don't know what else he does >_>)
Pavel - works on lots of open source software projects, chem research, psych research
Ian - quizbowl, chem research, student council
Mark - Math Team captain, psych research
Sam - he's SAM THE FINGERET

Also, all of us happened to be on either the school's 2009 ACSL flagship team or the winning 2008 iTest team, Purchase Cellophane (Mark-sempai named it xD)

me - ACSL, Purchase Cellophane
Kamran - ACSL
Pavel - Purchase Cellophane
Ian - Purchase Cellophane
Mark - Purchase Cellophane
Sam - ACSL, Purchase Cellophane

[Aside: If you need extra practice in set theory, solve the following questions. Otherwise, skip this block of italics.]
1. $latex$
2. $latex$
3. $latex$
4. $latex$

Also x2: Everyone but me had 1500+ SAT (CR+M) [lol i'm a fail, but it's okay]. (that also proves that SATs AREN'T EVERYTHING. ASIAN PARENTS TAKE NOTE!) Everyone had triple 800 in SAT II's: Math 2, Physics, and Chemistry.

So yeah. None of the people who didn't make any olympiad were deferred, and one physics olympiad semifinalist was rejected (though he didn't have such a great GPA). Who knows what Admissions was thinking? Hmm.

Anyway Mr. Holbrook was super pleased with our results, since all of us were on math team. Yes, this is going to be massive bragging fodder for him, but oh well! We need to motivate the [failing] froshies to get better somehow. (cues propaganda "IF YOU'RE NOT ON MATH TEAM [*cough* Mu A or Mu B], YOU HAVE NO CHANCE OF GETTING INTO MIT! ALSO, SATs AREN'T EVERYTHING SO DO MORE MATH EVERY DAY!") [A/N: this only holds this year] Maybe more people [girls] will come to me to train. It'd be nice to have a successor follow the same footsteps as I did. =]

I hope this has been a somewhat informative post for those of you underclassmen who want advice for getting into MIT and other top colleges. I'll probably post more about stuffs that I did in the near future. Stay tuned! =]

(title comes from http://thedailywtf.com/Articles/Successed!.aspx)

## 01 December 2009

### Webassigns

suck. but…

wtf is that apparatus anyway?! o_o i still dont' get why anyone would build one