C++ Isn’t That Bad: My adventures in learning how to code

For one of my quantitative classes (I have to take two to get my degree) I am taking the introduction to programing class. I figured that a 200 level class in programing would be a better use of my time than learning how to use a web browser, aka CSI 100. So far it has been wonderful. The way of thinking is very natural for me. But there is one issue, the homework is far too easy for me. After a few minutes of the class time I finish the assignments. I wanted to try to do something hard.

Thankfully, Shirik (who seems to be the only of my friends without their own domain name) introduced me to Project Euler. The problems are difficult and the solutions aren’t the first thing that comes to mind. Sure, you could brute force an answer, but that is time consuming. So far, I have solved problems 1, 2, 5, 5, and 48. All of the code that I have written for these problems is under the MIT License. It isn’t pretty and there are some major bugs but it is for me to look back on in a few months/years.


My musical choices in 2013

For kicks, I decided to look at my listening statistics, from last.fm, for the past year to see if there are any assumptions that I can draw about myself from it. The raw data is found in the chart below. In case you aren’t familiar with a genre of music, the broad group that genre is part of is also listed.[1] Besides the normal data, I also included a column to show if an artist listed is “Christian” or “Secular”.[2]

Artist Plays Genre Group Christian
Pete Seeger 950 Folk Country N
mewithoutYou 317 Post-hardcore Rock Y
blink-182 198 Pop-punk Rock N
John Denver 189 Country Country N
Death Cab for Cutie 172 Indie Rock N
Relient K 158 Rock Rock Y
Vitamin String Quartet 155 Instrumental Classical N
Weezer 146 Rock Rock N
Massive Attack 139 Trip-hop Electronica N
Anberlin 135 Rock Rock Y
Lester Flatt 128 Bluegrass Country ?
Aaron Copland 114 Classical Classical N
The All-American Rejects 112 Rock Rock N
Flatfoot 56 111 Celtic Punk Rock Y
Reel Big Fish 110 Ska Rock N
All Time Low 103 Pop-punk Rock N
Brand New 102 Emo Rock N
The Beatles 98 Classic Rock Rock N
Mae 94 Emo Rock Y
Paradise Fears 91 Pop-punk Rock N
Avicii 85 House Electronica N
Stephen Elkins 69 Bluegrass Country ?
The Wonder Years 68 Pop-punk Rock N
Pickin’ On Series 65 Bluegrass Country N
Switchfoot 62 Rock Rock Y
Ludo 61 Emo Rock Y
The Beach Boys 59 Classic Rock Rock N
Bowling for Soup 57 Pop-punk Rock N
I Fight Dragons 51 8-Bit Electronica N
The Hold Steady 48 Indie Rock N

The thing that gets me, is the broadness of the genres, this year. In the past, my top artists could be described as some form of rock music, mostly from the punk family of genres. This year, there is an introduction of country (4), classical (2), and electronica (2) artists. The majority of the artists I listened to this year are no longer explicitly christian. This year has been a change in my music tastes.

My listens have been dominated by two artists: Pete Seeger and meWithoutYou (shown in orange below). Of my top arists, the average number of plays was 142 and the standard deviation was 163.


Without the two outliers, the graph appears to be more liner, does not follow power laws, and has a respectable R-Squared value. The average was 106 and the standard deviation 43.



[1] The genre is, for the most part, the highest ranked tag for each artist on last.fm. The group comes entirely from my own thoughts. []
[2] I had a thing for Christian music in Jr High and High School. Don’t ask. The bluegrass artists have question marks because they play christian hymns but seem to exist outside of the christian-secular dichotomy of popular music.  []

The graphs and data are released under the WTFPL V.2.

Bartlet is my president

In the past month, I have watched every episode of West Wing; all 156 episodes. If I did it straight through, it would have taken me almost four and a half straight days.[1] I never realized how great this show was before I started watching it. Jed Bartlet wasn’t a perfect president; he didn’t get much done legislatively and entangled the United States in two military campaigns.

Sadly, there is lots of Bartlet hate on the internet from liberals. People like to point out that he never overturned don’t ask don’t tell and never did anything about climate change. Looking back at the show, we need to remember that the show ran from 1999 until 2007. 2014 levels of progress can’t be expected from even a fairly liberal president during those years.

Bartlet wasn’t a politician; he was a statesman. He did what was the best for the country, even if it lost him political points. He cared about what was right more than what was popular. I wish we had people in public office today who did that.

Bartlet is my president. I would have voted for him both times.


[1] There are 156 episodes at 43 minutes a piece or a grand total of 6708 minutes. That is the same as 111.8 hours which is the same as 4.66 days. []

Arbcom (redux)

Election results are out and I am not sitting on ArbCom. I did not get a seat by one in a quarter percentage points. Several people have approached me and asked about why I didn’t “forget” to mention that I have two theses next year. The reason is, I feel that it losing an election with full disclosure is more ethical than withholding information that could change people’s votes just so I can win.

The thing that does make me angriest that I was not the only young (still completing their undergraduate) candidate for the committee. Several voter guides claimed that I should run again after I finished school but at the same time endorsed several candidates that were equally as young as I am. I guess this is the price I pay for full disclosure.

See you all in two years (Dec 2015), once I no longer have my degree hanging over my head. I will not run next year. The same issue, I can’t put a normal amount of time into the committee, hangs over my head for the next election (Dec 2014) when I will only be half way through my senior year.

On Returning Home…

157/365 - It was an ugly nightThe five weeks I have off for winter break constitutes the longest amount of time that I spend in Western Pennsylvania per year since I started college. During my summers, I have worked a jobs that have required me to not live at home. Every other time that I have returned home has been for a week or two. Because of this, returning home for winter break has felt stranger and stranger every year.

The house and the town I grew up in is starting to feel less and less like “home” and my suite and the town around the school I go to has replaced it. I have returned to a place where everything has changed since I was last here in August. Shops have closed or moved. Buildings have been put up, torn down, and/or expanded. I am more or less a stranger in the church that I was very involved in through high school. My only portal to this area during the school year shows many of my former classmates getting married and having children. I feel very disconnected from this world.

Is this just a natural part of moving forward in life?


It was an ugly night by Kenny Louie has been released under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.


In the past week, I have been contacted by a wide range of editors (via email, private message, irc, ect.) asking if I am running for ArbCom again. At this point I don’t fully know. I have been reading the accounts of former/current arbs on how much time the job takes up. I have also talked with a few on this same topic. My education comes first and I am currently a junior at a liberal arts college. For you non-americans, that means I am looking at wring my thesis next year. However, I am a double major so I have two theses (30+ pages each) to write. I am not fully sure I can write two theses, get decent grades in all of my classes, play rugby, have a social life (with real live people!), and sit on arbcom at the same time.

I am looking at the candidate pool and I am not seeing much in terms of numbers as well as experience. Of the seven, I think I would vote for only three of the candidates. I have a few reforms of the system that I would like to see happen. I do feel that I could add something to the committee.

I think I could be good for the committee but I am fairly sure the committee will not be good for me.

If anyone has any comments on this, I am all ears.

Cross posted from my talk page.