1. Whoa where did that year go?

By | January 4th, 2008 | General | 12 Comments

Blowing out my 18th birthday candles

It’s been almost 365 days since I last posted, and that last post was just a cheap promotion of my Quizlet project.I’ve decided I want to get back into this thing. Forget about all the code posts and stuff, I want to write like this. That post is me two years ago. Wow.How different life is now. It’s absolutely impossible to write about all the amazing and not-so-amazing things that have happened in an entire year, and summarizing is so much less interesting than talking about specifics. But I must:

  • I launched Quizlet on January 17, and it’s now up to 100,000 registered users. I love it, mostly. I’ve been blogging on the Quizlet blog somewhat regularly, so I haven’t completely starved myself of blogging.
  • I turned 18 a little less than a month ago. You know, it does feel different.
  • I was accepted for admission to the class of 2012 at MIT.
  • I spent 8 weeks in Mississippi and Maine meeting some of my best friends in the world and working for Americorps.
  • I went to the hospital for the first time, after breaking my head open in a bike accident in Ohio on New Years Eve. It was honestly the first time I’d ever ridden a bike without a helmet AND the first time I’d ever (really) fallen on a bike. It wasn’t that bad – just an hours in the ER and eight stitches.
  • I failed my first test ever – in AP Physics.

And so on.Now here’s what’s on my mind: I’ve got this strange feeling that Quizlet is holding me back from something. It’s been an awesome experience all around – I’ve been down to Google in Mountain View twice, I’ve met Mark Zuckerberg, I’ve made some money, I’ve learned so much about scaling a business and a website, and I’ve helped a few people learn vocabulary. All good things.What nags at me now is that in my mind I know I have this website-building skill that can earn me big bucks (it already is, on a very part-time freelance level). I could drop out of High School right now, get my own apartment, and completely do my own thing.No. I’ve made myself so focused that I wonder what I’m missing. At MIT, I’m not that pumped about taking Computer Science because the degree requires you take a bunch of Electrical Engineering classes. Until recently, I thought that would suck. I don’t want to do EE, I want to rule the world at programming and do the things I do very well already. Well now I’ve decided that’s a bad idea. Academically, I’m holding myself back by not wanting to explore other things, academically. All this focus has made me less interested in exploring other stuff.Until now. Having realized my mistake, I’ve decided to open my mind up again. It’ll be hard to do while still maintaining my focus and commitment to Quizlet (which I enjoy immensely).So, let’s see where this takes me. It’s silly to promise I’ll blog more, but I have a feeling I will. It’s liberating. I’ve never had a diary before, so this is about as close as I get. Thanks for reading.

2. Quizlet: What’s been keeping me busy

By | January 21st, 2007 | General | Internet | 18 Comments

Howdy.

You might notice it’s been a long time since I’ve touched this blog. It’s upsetting. But I have a good reason: Quizlet.

Quizlet is a site I made for learning vocabulary. It’s a fully-featured web application that lets you enter terms and definitions, then gives you tools to study them. It’s perfect for students learning foreign languages, studying for SATs, learning dates in history, or tackling Quizbowl, Science Bowl, or other academic competitions.

I made this site from scratch, programming and designing it as a one-man team. It took me 450 days to release.

I’ve been so involved with this project that it has profoundly changed me, I think. My social life has without a doubt changed. I don’t particularly enjoy doing much of the stuff that all my friends enjoy doing. I’ve pulled a few friends closer, and distanced myself from many more.

I’m now the president of my very own corporation. It feels weird, being in high school. No one else is doing this. I don’t feel like a kid at all any more. Most of my favorite people to talk to are adults. I don’t want to be elitist or anything, it’s just whom I feel comfortable operating with. It’s also strange to feel like I could totally make it in the world without any of this high school stuff or even college.
Oh, and my 17th birthday recently past. It was my first year without a big party. That was okay. Compared with last year, I’m a little less happy. I don’t think I’m having as much fun as I used to. My old friends have changed a lot, especially the things they do. I’m really just waiting for college I think – to get to a place like MIT where everyone is a nerd and I can talk about code freely. Err, that’s not why I’m waiting for college – I like normal stuff too.

Man, that felt good to blog my thoughts. Maybe I’ll get back into it.

3. Good ol’ Wikipedia

By | November 29th, 2006 | General | 19 Comments

Google's cached copy of a wikipedia hack

How unfortunate for Google to have spidered Wikipedia at the time of a hack. Now, should I trust this article for information for my French essay? I think I will…It’s not like a research paper or anything :)

..In case you missed it: Romanticism was when Anson Jupp kept going to wikipedia to cheat in class. an artistic and … Romanticism elevated the achievements of what it perceived as …

4. Democracy AJAX Poll

By | September 22nd, 2006 | General | 1,409 Comments

Democracy has not been updated in at least 5 years. Try another poll plugin

I just upgraded the plugin to 2.0.1, check it out!

Among the new features in Democracy 2.0:

  • In-post polling: just insert {.democracy:12} (without the period) to place the poll with ID #12
  • Localizable: All strings are set up for localization. A .po (or .pot or whatever) file will come in newer versions
  • Slick new design
  • Edit all options in the Admin panel
  • IP-logging is now optional
  • A ‘widget’ for your sidebar.
  • Sexy new readme.html file

Download: Democracy 2.0.1. Released 11:50 PM PST Nov. 9, 2006

{democracy:14}

Democracy 1.2 has been moved. I strongly discourage use of this version due to security issues.

Specifically, the problem in 1.2 is as follows: If you make a poll with ‘add an answer’ turned on, then users can insert arbitrary html code, and therefore javascript. That’s an XSS vulnerability, and a serious one at that. Upgrading is highly recommended.

Changelog

Beta 1 Original release

Beta 2 Fixed potential upgrading issues and added SEO fixes (meta tag for robots).

2.0.1 A few big fixes:

  • In some cases extra
    s and extra lines were being wrapped around {.democracy.} code.
  • Upgrade from 1.2 shouldn’t break anymore >_<
  • A few CSS upgrades for people having trouble with themes (blix, notably)
  • Some tiny code realignments (changing whitespace, etc), nothing major.

Please comment on any problems you have with this new version.

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5. Summer is Arrived!

By | June 14th, 2006 | General | School | 38 Comments

Today was my last day of tenth grade. It was a great year. I made some really good friendships, learned lots of cool stuff, and made a bunch of money making websites.

Muegh, I sound like I’m signing someone’s yearbook. Enough of that!

My summer is teh 3xC17i|\|G! It looks something like this:

  1. Leave school two days early to go spend a month backpacking in Colorado.
  2. Spend one (only one!) month in Albany.
  3. Spend five weeks programming in Washington D.C. for my super-secret new company (one that is hiring me, that is)
  4. School again!

Tomorrow I’m heading out to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorodo for a month of backpacking. It will be the ultimate breath of fresh air. For this entire year, I was attached to a computer pretty much wherever I went. There will be no more of that. No more daily digg, no more programming, no more Kitty Cannon.

While I’m backpacking, I’ll be working on maintaining trails, carving stairs, and other fun things. The trip is a production of the Student Conservation Association (SCA). I’ll be with five other kids from all over the country (seriously, every part!). By this time tomorrow, I’ll have met them all.

Finally, if anyone wants to contact me over the next month, that’s too bad! I’ll be in backcountry and totally out-of-communication. To who needs plugin support or stuff like that, your best bet is the #wordpress IRC room or the WordPress support forum. I can’t wait for the 100+ support requests I’ll have in my inbox from people who ignore this post!

Well, that’s all for today. Have a great summer everyone. I’ll be sure to post some pictures of the trip on here. See you in a month!

Sean Kingston – Take You There

Sean Kingston is the eponymous debut album by Sean Kingston, released on July 31, 2007. Producer J. R. Rotem took it upon himself to produce the entire album while Sean Kingston wrote every lyric with help from Evan Bogart. he album debuted at #6 on U.S. Billboard 200 chart and fell to #13 the next week. The album also hit #2 on RIANZ its second week out. As of December 4, 2007, the album has sold 306,423 copies in the U.S. and is positioned at #128 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

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6. Ah, the Fruits of Labor

By | May 24th, 2006 | General | 14 Comments

So, I just wrote a whole page (typed) in Spanish! WHOO-OOOO! Forget that it took me about three hours, or that every other word had to be looked up in the dictionary (I love wordreference!); I DID IT!!!!!! and IT FEELS GREAT!!!!!
Believe me, I usually don’t feel this way about homework. Grinding through math homework, for example, is simply tedious, and finishing brings no gratification save the ability to check it off my laundry list. Usually the feeling accompanying completion of work resembles relief, not jubilancy.

So why am I so happy about this “accomplishment” which any well-off language student would snicker at? I believe that it is because it took me the whole three hours, because every other word had to be looked up. I worked obscenely hard on that measly page of foreign type, and now I’m feeling the self-gratification that comes from pouring your whole heart and soul into a project.

Earlier on this year my English class took a practice SAT essay with a prompt that asked “Do we value only what we struggle for?” If I was ever asked the same question again, I can assure you that my three hour long Spanish page would hold a star role in one of my body paragraphs. This accomplishment, though seemingly not a huge one, symbolizes my stake in hard work. I value effort more that anything, and challenging myself, as with this paper, creates my proudest moments.

Actually, I’d have to say that the proudest moment in my life occured when I was in preschool. I was out at recess when I felt a prick in my finger, looked down, and saw that a fat wooden splinter had wedged itself under my skin. Did I cry? No. Did I run to my teacher? No. Was I an invincible preschool-age Jackie? For the moment, yes! I made my way over to the play-structure, climbed aboard, and proceeded to pull out the splinter–with my bare hands!! No help, no tweezers, just me and my ity-bity fingers. Looking back, I see how insignificant this feat was, but at the time I was flooded with self-pride. You cannot imagine how proud of myself I was at that moment; it was…magical. (Oh…the good old days…)

So my message:

Love the little things, especially the little things you work hard for.