Diploma on the Blockchain

Today I received the notice from MIT that my digital diploma was ready. They asked students a few days ago to download a certificate manager app on our phones so here it is...


And a minor on the side in ENERGY STUDIES

And a humanities concentration in POLITICAL SCIENCE

Onto the next adventure :)

Why is the C Programming Language called C?

Recently I have been doing some Javascript programming both for work and not-work. Javascript has a bunch of funny characteristics in comparison to other major programming languages. For example, JavaScript numbers are always stored as double precision floating point numbers, following the international IEEE 754 standard.

Short plug for https://projecteuler.net/. A wonderful site where a number of simple to complex problems designed for a computational solution are presented and solution checkers are provided.

Q: Why is the C Programming Language called C? or it's derived variants for that matter...

A: It's historical and follows a pattern of prior work.

CPL was a British project to create an all-singing all-dancing programming language.  The Common Programming Language.  The language was not a huge success .
CPL (programming language)  (1963)

The British computer scientists scaled it down a little. They reduced the scope and the ambition. This produced the "Basic combined programming language"
BCPL - a smaller language which was good for low-level programming. It was well suited for writing compilers and system code. BCPL  (1966)

This, in-turn, inspired the "B" language..  at Bell Labs
B (programming language) (1969)

And this was the basis for "C" at Bell Labs by the now famous engineer Dennis Ritchie.
C (programming language) 1969-73

C of course has many derived languages of its own; including popular C++, C#, Objective-C and many more.

(credit to Quora post from Glyn Williams)

Book Review: The Handmaid's Tale

Spoilers in this text:

Last night, I finished The Handmaid's Tale from Margaret Atwood. The story originally appealed to me while I was flipping through titles on the Internet Archive. I have been using this website to find books and other media to browse in my new found quarantine free time. I had heard of this particular story before from both previous classes I had taken and the Amazon TV series based on the book.

I won't get into summarizing the story. However, to read this review without understanding the story should be feasible. To that end, you should know that The Handmaid's Tale follows the first-person perspective of the main character 'ofFred' in a dystopian regime which is a post-American religious  theocracy laden with elements of authoritarian systems. This theocracy is called Gilead. In this system, 'ofFred' takes on the role of a "Haidmaid" who serves in a family of the elite to bear children as a forced surrogate mother.

In the novel, Margaret Atwood's writing style allows the reader to place some of their own guesses into both what ofFred and others are thinking. The dystopian world building in the story is largely off the page throughout a large part of the novel and is instead pieced together by the reader through memories of the main character. We, the reader, are not meant to think hard about the nature of how the dystopian formed, but instead how the character lives within it. To this end, I believe that the story told is not meant to have readers consider the extremity of the world created by the author but instead consider how our world could be molded by similar extremists to fall into becoming an oppressive regime like that of Gilead.

The oppression that ofFred experiences is that of an enforcement. They play an essential role, the birth mother, yet are treated with limitations to nearly every action and thought. Similarly with other members of the Gileadean society, individuals are tempted with the thoughts of what they could do if not limited by the system. Later, when ofFred is seemingly ready to absolve herself entirely to the horrible system they are saved from the oppression by a secret sect of rebels.

At the last chapter, the reader can understand the perspective of the whole ordeal told in the novel. In this final chapter, the story as a whole is presented by a lecturing professor who is recounting recordings left behind by the character 'ofFred'. This lecture takes place roughly 200 or so years after the events of the novel in the same universe. However, the perspective take by the lecturer is one of analysis. This is somewhat strange as the reader is thrown from the dramatic climax of the novel's action into the calm reflective lecture which leaves many more questions to be answered. Indeed, the last words of the novel are those of the lecturer asking if anyone listening has questions.

The reader is set up to ask if themself if this oppression could happen again.


Germination and Boston Walks

In my greater free time, I picked up some seeds from the local hardware store and I am going to see if an old trick I learned in grade school applies to a variety of different seeds. Maybe I can find somewhere to plant these when they pop out of their seed shells. The idea is that you can wet a paper towel with a water/fertilizer mix and place seeds on the paper then slip it into a clear bag. The bag is left open for air transfer and placed in sunlight. It takes a few days for the seeds to germinate but reduces the change of losing the seeds to passing birds, bunnies, or bugs.

Saw this Nova by the Target near Fenway.

On a sad note, I went by Fenway park today and noticed the souvenir shops had signs which read "Open Year Round" which obviously are false at the moment. Of course, this is likely not their own decision as all non-essential businesses in the area were asked to close up shop by a governor's order. Now I'm curious when they will open up again. When they do, it will likely be a much different world for consumers and business people alike. I saw that the consumer spending index for March and April is down almost 20%. Some of it shifted online but there is a serious drop there.  

Got a package of various home goods from my father. Thanks dad.

Warmer Weather and Flowers in Bloom

I keep my distance on these walks in Boston and Cambridge. I have noticed that a number of shops on Winter Street near Downtown Crossing have shuttered their doors and windows. It makes sense as Massachusetts is continuing to fight the COVID outbreaks in the state. In my effort to take a selfie at each MBTA station, I was able to hit some of the busiest stations in Boston over the last few days and I will continue next with some more of the Green line this weekend. If you are in the area, I would suggest taking a socially distant walk through the Public Gardens as seeing and smelling the flowers there put me in a good mood especially when I definitely should spend less time watching the news.

Run the T, starting point

I have decided to generate a simple objective to attain during these odd COVID times. Instead of the deliverables related to school and work, I have set an objective to take a selfie at each MBTA station in the main subway system (not including the commuter rail... maybe later?).

Today I started by going from Symphony down to Heath Street.

Saw this while I was out.

My right knee was sore while running so I took the green line back, saw these notices up

Stopped by a Red Hand

French Toast

If you walk around Boston enough, eventually you will run into seeing a few of these red hand

symbols. The hands indicate that you should not cross the street since it is the turn for motor vehicles

and cyclists to pass by. Usually a lot of people in Boston ignore these red hands. They typically argue

that the red hands are present for too long and only delay the objectives and timelines of everyone

around them. For the most part, they are right. I too have found myself waiting for the red hand to

turn into the white walking person when no cars or cyclists were present to pass by me. Regardless, I

found myself yesterday facing another red hand and I chose to stop when I could have walked freely

without much, if any, recourse. I did so deliberately because lately I have felt so forced to continue

pushing and continue driving forward wheels of productivity in my life when everything seems to be

encountering a great struggle with the global pandemic. Instead of rushing back to my apartment with

two bags of food from Trader Joes', I instead sat on a bench and breathed deeply. There is not enough

time spent towards these small acts for many of our lives. There is instead somewhere to be and

something to do. Lately, feeling over-encumbered by constant news of the international sorrows the

only thing I want to do is reflect with those around me about the weight of the world and what we can

 do to resolve it. My recommendation is to stop when you get the sign to do so, and sit down and

reflect when you have the time.
The red hand I saw

A restaurant I visited often before things changed.

Geese and their babies.

Leap Year Benefits

  People don't talk enough about leap day. It's a completely different experience than most days. Because of that added day, sunsets...