16 November 2010

I'm Still Alive...I think!

Hey folks,

Apologies for the lack of movement/posts in the last week or so. Another week of exams/projects is coming up, so I don't have the luxury of heading to MITERS on Friday nights to tinker around. Actually, I don't have time to break from studying or coding to mess around with the display, which happens to be sitting a mere foot behind me. :/ So yeah, in short, life at MIT is very busy!

What I've been up to recently: learned Cilk, an x86 parallel programming platform invented by my professor, Charles Leiserson (the tech has been acquired by Intel last year). I used it to optimize a graphical screensaver (6.172 Project 4 [pdf], if you're curious).

I also got my hands on two very sexy pieces of hardware:
  1. a 13.3" MacBook Air 1.86/4/128/320m as a replacement for my 4.5-year-old, trusty Core Duo MacBook Pro (2.0/2/160GB Intel G2/X1600). Expect a review within the next week.
  2. a 15" iMac G4, courtesy of Bayley (the dumpster diver) =D
Awwww, so cute :3

I'll write some brief notes about the iMac, even though you are probably more excited to hear about the MacBook Air. The iMac boots Mac OS X 10.2.8, but since I didn't have the password accounts to any of the existing accounts, I found a hack to let me get in by making a new account with admin rights. All you have to do is boot into single user mode, remove /var/db/.AppleSetupDone, and reboot! The Mac will think this is the first time the computer has been booted, so it will go through the traditional setup process. After approximately five minutes, I had my own account with admin privileges! =D What an easy and terrifying exploit. So much for `security' in older Mac OS X versions ;)

Besides that, the Mac has a 1GHz G4 processor, 256MB RAM (though easily upgradeable considering the vast amount of DDR RAM sitting in my drawers), and a semi-spacious 80GB disk. I theoretically could dump one of my many disks currently sitting in my dresser into it. That might make a good Thanksgiving project.

In other news, I am teaching three Splash classes: Bit Hacks by myself, and two bridge classes, Probability in the Game of Bridge and a Menagerie of Bidding Systems, with my partner-in-crime Brian Hamrick. Lecture notes and slides will be posted for your enjoyment :)

And finally, Math Prize for Girls was this past Saturday. Congratulations to all! The score distribution was much better than that of last year, with a tie in 3-5 and a ten-way tie for 8th place. The competition (and the fact that I got a MacBook Air not too long ago) reminded me of my [very silly and naive] vow if I had won the competition last year (going to the nearby Apple store to buy ten decked-out MacBook Airs immediately following the competition).

In any case, happy hacking!

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