30 January 2020

Educational Codeforces Round 81 Postmortem

What went well
  • If I had actually solved 4 problems, I would have gained over 100 elo…
  • I solved D, which was a number theory problem. (Nick missed this problem; muahahaha)
What went wrong
  • My impure thoughts on problem B died on system test #11. Since I passed all 10 pretests, I didn't think to revisit my solution and verify with fast-slow testing.
  • I took a long time to recognize the totient function. My first reaction was "some inclusion-exclusion counting" upon realizing a pattern from my scratch work. Then I needed two tries to code a fast (sqrt N) totient function.
 Where I got lucky
  • Everyone else died on B. Turns out it is rated 1800.

19 January 2020

Codeforces Round #614 (Div. 2) Postmortem

What went well
  • A was a fast 3-minute problem.
  • B was easy and I solved it decently quickly in 9 minutes.
What went wrong
  • C took way too long to code, mainly because I didn't have a good representation on blocking either diagonal path. Turns out that if cell (r, c) is blocked, then I just needed to check (1-r, c-1), (1-r, c), and (1-r, c+1). Furthermore, if I used a 2x(N+2) grid instead of 2xN grid, then I wouldn't have to do any bounds checking because the (*, -1) and (*, N) cells could never be set.
Where I got lucky
  •  I didn't do so terribly so as to get demoted to green.

16 January 2020

TopCoder SRM 775 (Div. 2) Postmortem

What went well
  • My TopCoder career is off to a good start! I solved A and B for +199 rating, which puts me midway through blue (1300-1499).
What went wrong
  • I apparently failed to understand A, so wasted 5 minutes implementing something else.
  • I was rusty on floodfill and took 40 minutes to solve B, where 30 minutes was debugging.
Where I got lucky
  • I'm decently quick on easy problems, which luckily A and B were.

14 January 2020

Educational Codeforces Round 80 Postmortem

What went well
  • The contest was so hard that I really wanted to quit after reading A, but persevered to the end. Somehow I solved three problems…
What went poorly
  • I'm terrible with floors and ceilings. I'm also apparently bad at quickly recognizing monotonic functions.
  • I'm also bad at bijecting problems; I did not recognize during the contest that C was asking for a monotonically increasing sequence of length 2n, rather than two sequences of length n with weird constraints on elements.
Where I got lucky
  • Solving three problems with a high penalty only cost 8 elo.

10 January 2020

Codeforces Round #613 (Div. 2) Postmortem

Link to contest here

What went well
  • I found a most elegant solution to B: much more elegant than the editorial.
  • I figured out D, a bits (bitmasks?) problem! I think I'm really weak at bits and xors.
What went wrong
  • B took ~50 minutes and two wrong submissions.
Where I got lucky
  • I had to think a little for A to prove correctness, but end-to-end latency still only took 3 minutes.
  • I submitted C without proving correctness and got it right??! Lucky me!

06 January 2020

McLaren 600LT Spider First Impressions

Author's note: This test drive was done in April 2019, but I have been procrastinating with publishing this post. In any case, enjoy!

I had the opportunity to drive a 2020 McLaren 600LT Spider at McLaren of San Francisco! I never got a chance to test drive a 600LT couple since their debut last year, nor have I gotten a chance to test drive a 570S Spider that I so dear wanted once upon a time. Unfortunately, the test drive happened during mid-day on a weekday, which wasn't the best time to tour back roads.

600LT specific comments:
  • No creep! This is important to me because I struggle with chauffeur braking in automatic transmission cars. On that note, I also appreciate that Tesla provides a no-creep option.
  • Same great hydraulic steering is considerably heavier than in the 570S and 570GT, especially in "track" handling mode.
  • The gunshot/whip crack downshifts are not a lie. They are incredible to experience with the top down.
  • No flames were to be seen during mild street driving in daylight :-(
  • I feel like the LT cars have stiffer (or just solid) engine mounts. I felt a massage from the seat while sitting at a red light.
  • No comment on the upgraded brakes; they were fine for street use. No comment on comparing the upgraded system from the 720S to the normal ceramics on the 570S or to the steel brakes in the 570GT.
  • No comment on the lighter weight. Need to hit the back roads or track…
  • No comment on downforce from its cute little fixed wing. Definitely need to push a bit on the track for that.
  • The normal power seats didn't go as far forward in this 600LT as I thought they would. Speaking of normal power seats…
  • This test car didn't have the critically-acclaimed Senna seats! I think that the dealer has a second demo Spider with the Senna seats. I hope I can take that car for a proper spin!
Yes, this is my normal seating position. Marvel at the amount of space behind the seat!

  • I preferred the short metal shift paddles over the extended carbon fibre paddles. Something about the metallic clink when I tap my fingernails on the paddles that's lacking with the carbon paddles…
  • Having experienced the 720S Spider roof mechanism, the legacy system in the 600LT Spider feels slow as I put the top down prior to leaving the dealer.
  • Sport Series Spider cars: the high shelf provides little rearward visibility regardless of roof position. (but who needs to see what's behind them in a supercar??)
  • 2018 and later Sport Series cars: Backup camera is in the instrument cluster screen. To me, it's harder to use in conjunction with the rearview mirror than the postage stamp display in the centre screen in the 2016/2017 cars.
  • Chicane Effect is Chicane Grey with orange metallic flakes:

I really want to do a proper test drive in the back roads with little traffic, and in a car with the Senna seats. This will almost certainly need to happen on a Saturday morning shortly after the showroom opens at 9a!

How I would spec this car: pretty barebones. The only "must-haves" I think are the Senna seats, as well as small practical items such as the soft-close doors, front lift, and battery charger. Skip the visual carbon exterior (the standard palladium pieces are actually painted carbon fibre pieces), skip the carbon interior, skip the leather, skip the audio…
  • Colour of my choice. These days, I'm feeling MSO Amethyst Black, ever since having seen a Senna in this colour during Car Week last year.
  • Standard 10 spoke wheels.
  • Soft close doors.
  • Standard Alcantara interior. Maybe splurge for the orange "By McLaren" Alcantara interior if I'm feeling lucky…
  • Senna seats, regular fit.
  • Front lift.
  • Battery charger.

Before driving this car, I used to think that the 600LT coupe is the car to get because of the possibility of the roof scoop (for the uninitiated, it makes for an unique soundtrack). However, that's available in any LT coupe, and the uniqueness of the top-firing exhaust in the 600LT cars is most accentuated by a convertible, which was confirmed by this short drive. Therefore the 600LT Spider is now my pick of the two.

[1] Neoprufrok, Roof scoop noises. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rte0WJjJIgU
[2] Vehicle Virgins, 600LT delivery. https://youtu.be/-XqaoHCWuK0?t=936

05 January 2020

Codeforces Round #612 (Div. 2) Postmortem

Link to contest here

What went well
  • I know how DP works?!
What went wrong
  • I failed to read B correctly the first time. The problem is about Set (the game), which I have only played once, over 10 years ago. I thought that all features had to be same or different, instead of each feature being independent of each other.
  • I took an hour to debug C because I wasn't confident in my dp transition function. Amusingly, my initial state was wrong, which luckily triggered an assert I left in my code, quickly highlighting an issue.
Where I got lucky
  •  Somehow placed in the top 5% with just ABC???!