The earliest memory I have of ‘programming’ is in the early/mid 90s when my father brought home a computer from work. We could play games on it … so of course I took the spreadsheet program he used (LOTUS 123, did I date myself with that?) and tried to modify it to print out a helpful message for him. It … halfway worked? At least I could undo it so he could get back to work…

After that, I picked up programming for real in QBASIC (I still have a few of those programs lying around), got my own (junky) Linux desktop from my cousin, tried to learn VBasic (without a Windows machine), and eventually made it to high school… In college, I studied computer science and mathematics, mostly programming in Java/.NET, although with a bit of everything in the mix. A few of my oldest programming posts on this blog are from that time.

After that, on to grad school! Originally, I was going to study computational linguistics, but that fell through. Then programming languages (the school’s specialty). And finally I ended up studying censorship and computer security. That’s about where I am today!

But really, I still have a habit of doing a little bit of everything. Whatever seems interesting at the time!


Partitioning a Linked List

One more fairly standard tech interview problem (for better or for worse, you’re likely to see one of these if you go for a programming job):

Given a linked list and an element x. Partition the list so that all elements less than x are before elements greater than or equal to x, but do not otherwise change the order of the elements.


Dynamic Programming over a Matrix

Another LeetCode problem. Given an MxN matrix of numbers, find the longest path of strictly increasing numbers. So for example in this matrix: 994 668 211 You can start with the 1 in the bottom center, go left to the two, then up to the 6, and 9. That’s the longest path, so return a 4. In this 3x3 case, it’s really easy to just brute force.


Phone Words--In English!

Okay, let’s take this one step further. Rather than generating just phone words, let’s actually generate phone words. Someone has provided a list of words in English as a package, so we’ll add a filter to add that to our comprehension: from english_words import english_words_set def letterCombinations(self, digits: str) -> List[str]: if not digits: return [] letters = { '1': '', '2': 'abc', '3': 'def', '4': 'ghi', '5': 'jkl', '6': 'mno', '7': 'pqrs', '8': 'tuv', '9': 'wxyz', '0': ' ', } return [ word for product in itertools.


Phone Words

Working through a few problems on LeetCode. I haven’t quite decided what I think of the site, but it’s a fun way to play with simple algorithms. Figured I might as well write up any I find interesting.

First interesting problem:

Given a standard lettered keypad, generate all words from a given phone number.


A quick ruby DSL for creating L-Systems

L-Systems are pretty awesome. With only a bare few rules, you can turn something like this:"Barnsley Fern") do
    start "+++X"

    rule "X", "F+[[X]-X]-F[-FX]+X" 
    rule "F", "FF"

    terminal "F" do forward end
    terminal "[" do push end
    terminal "]" do pop end
    terminal "-" do rotate -25 end
    terminal "+" do rotate +25 end

Into this:


A Tabbed View for Hugo

One thing I’ve been using for a lot of my recent posts (such as Backtracking Worms) is a tabbed view of code that can show arbitrarily tabs full of code or other content and render them wonderfully! For example, we can turn: {{< tabs >}} {{< sourcetab ruby "examples/art-station.rune" >}} {{< tab "art-station.svg" >}} {{< include "output/art-station.svg" >}} {{< /tab >}} {{< sourcetab ruby "examples/astrology-and-moons.rune" >}} {{< tab "astrology-and-moons.svg" >}} {{< include "output/astrology-and-moons.


A DSL for rendering magic circles and runes

Let’s make magic circles/runes!

Turn this:

rune do
    scale 0.9 do 
        polygon 7
        star 14, 3
        star 7, 2
        children 7, scale: 1/8r, offset: 1 do |i|
            invert do
                text (0x2641 + i).chr Encoding::UTF_8
    scale 0.15 do
        translate x: -2 do circle; moon 0.45 end
        translate x: 2 do circle; moon 0.55 end

Into this:


GMail Oldest First

It’s been rather a while since I last worked on a userscript, but there’s been a problem I’ve been trying to solve for some time.

I want to have my GMail in order from oldest to newest. While you can do this for all messages, you can’t do it within a single page.


Genuary: Triple Nested Loops

The fine people of /r/generative / Genuary2021 have a series of challenges for generative works for the month of January. I don’t think I’m going to do all of them, but pick and choose. For example, the very first prompt is:


My goal was to draw a grid of circles across the X/Y the image and nest them for the third dimension. To make it a little more interesting, I added a few different color modes. seededRandom is my personal favorite, that was interesting to get working.


yt-cast: Generating podcasts from YouTube URLs

Today’s goal: Turn a collection of YouTube links into a podcast.

Start with a config.json like this:

  "brandon-sanderson": [

And it will automatically download all referenced YouTube videos, convert them to MP3 (both using youtube-dl), and serve an RSS feed that’s compatible with most podcast programs.

Tested URLs include:

  • Playlist URLs (like the above)
  • Single video URLs
  • Channel URLs

Most youtube URLs should work though.