a few things i've learned

Ninjas (or ninjae?)
Come from wise masters, failure,
And dedication.

And, you know, some other things. Time's pretty important. Anyway, I have been experimenting with my sharp new Ubuntu install, and it's way fun. I haven't really used Linux as a desktop environment except during my time at Google, and being at work sort of precluded playing around with all the nifty things that it can do. I took the GRE on Saturday morning, and I think that the few weeks that I've had this thing to play with actually improved my score by a couple points, haha.

It's intriguing to me to learn the things that people think are cool about computers. On Friday I was on a panel for undergrad women who are interested in Computer Science, for example. Sarah Loos, who lived/worked/blogged with me last summer, and I tried to get the girls excited about, you know, interesting algorithms and stuff we worked on at Google, deep ideas about computational complexity, blah blah blah, but their interest was only really sparked when I offhandedly mentioned that I had a) given up Facebook for Lent and b) written a script to block me from it and allow me to access it again once Easter arrived.

"Can you really do that? Wow! What class do you learn that in?"

"Um.. well, to be honest I sort of taught that to myself. But It was the foundations that I got in my CS classes that let me do it, really."

Yeah, so it was sort of bullshit. It's really trivial, actually, to add a line to your hosts file and write a cron job to remove that line on 4/12. But they just thought it was the coolest thing. :)

Oh, I guess that's only one thing I've learned, and this is entitled "a few things i've learned." What else, then... I wrote a script that will verify that an ISO burned properly to a CD (thanks, once more, to the internets!), I've discovered the joys of aliasing commands:

$ alias ls='echo muahahahah'
$ ls

(super fun to do if people forget to lock their screens in the lab, but I have useful aliases, too ;) ), I've set up nifty passwordless logins to the computers at school, and a few other things, probably. Those are the ones that come to mind, anyway.


  1. hosts file, psssshhhhhhh. just

    $ FACEBOOK=`nslookup www.facebook.com 2>/dev/null | egrep "[0-9]\{1,3\}\(\.[0-9]\{1,3\}\)\{3\}" -o | tail -n 1`; sudo iptables -A OUTPUT -d "${FACEBOOK}/16" -j DROP

    or something like that - though the /16 netmask might be overkill ;)

  2. ITT Evan rolls his own hosts file

    But, oh man. I think a lot of people start studying CS under the impression that it will teach them leet computer skills, whereas it only concerns itself with a very specific subset of leet computer skills. Alternatively, they want to work as game developers.

  3. I gave up Lent for Lent. No hosts file needed!