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Yesterday, you may of or may of nor notice my minor day-time absence, for I was away in London.

What was I doing in Landun? Well that was where the hosting Uni happened to be for the programming competition. Was very interesting indeed. Especially how well we did.

It was between 4 Unis, each uni had two pairs of 'programmers'(I use the quotes because I don't like calling myself a programmer :S). Each Uni set a challenge for the other unis to do in an hour. Now, what they asked was more than what you could do in an hour. After debugging and just understanding what they want and how you could do it. But I guess whether it worked was one thing, but most of the marks or judging will go towards programming style and how we tried to tackle it.

Also, we could use any language we liked, I stuck to Python. But other teams were using Java and I think another team was using visual basic, which I have no idea why they would pick that, but that's not my problem! It was also BYOC/L Bring your Own Laptop/Computer. I guess, its because they didn't want to hurt their own network/computer system. Plus they can't be blamed if something doesn't work!

So this made me a little hostile when I was asked "what os are you going to use?", because I had to work with a partner. So I replied "err... Linux"
partner: "Cool, what text editor?"
me: "vim"
partner: "Excellent, what's your config like?"
me: "nothing exciting, just auto indent, syntax highlighting and line numbers"

So what was pretty cool, no one having to grin and bear with something they hate to use or don't know how to use! I believe the other team, were using Windows. but I can't stand windows because the command prompt sucks and find bash and Linux a lot me easier to use for programming.

The challenges were, Challenging. I am sure I could set up a perfect system in about 2-3 hours. But we had to make do with an hour, and not as if the uni wants to be responsible for inflicting pain onto students in the form of fatige and stress (they go well don't they?).

1) Route planning - Had to input a grid with stops and work out which would be the best way to commute by time, money and carbon footprint. Which was all based on the distance. With implement what would be the best choice, depending what you wanted and a few other things I cannot remember

2) basic WikiText parser, input a wiki format file and output HTML. Seems simple, but as it depending on how far of the complex formatting to could handle. We kinda failed on this one. we should of used soem form of Regular Expressions, But we were total n00bs on that.

3) RSS feed reader with interactive console! It would get rss feeds online and read files and save them for offline viewing. This time we used a Parser called BeautifulSoup. And it indeed is Beautiful, even though we couldn't get it to work 100% the way we wanted to. It saved us time. This was probably the best one of the three.

Anyway, after the challenges, we had a talk from a guy from Microsoft. What's that hissing I hear? Anyway, while we were distracted by the talk, the judges were judging and giving points to the code. The guy who did the talk wasn't that bad. It was about user interfaces and being easy to use. He went and showed the 'Evolution' of windows, Mac and the way they web changed. To make life easier for the end user. It was interesting and much better from a MS guy, not completely on about MS. But he did end up talking a bit about the new Xbox natal or whatever it's called. Where it has a camera and with complex software knows your body position, who you are etc... the promotional videos make it seem like it's really accurate.

After that, prizes we're handed out. I forget who won but it wasn't our uni. However, we were told and not suppose to know that the pairs in our Uni came 2nd and 4th out of 8. So We did better than average. I think I was 4th tbh, the other team in out uni were quiet but were top notch students. Apparently if you combined all the teams up on a per Uni basis, our Uni would of won. So I guess the winning Uni most of came 1st and below 4th.

The winning team won 50 Amazon vouchers each. But all the marker and judges also got a 50 voucher each for their efforts of marking and generally helping out. But as two markers didn't come, there were 2 spare. We managed to snatch them and split it between ourselves. So I just ordered 25 worth of Goodies from Amazon, A DVD boxset and a book. All "computer related", as I was asked to make it so.

But on the train here and back was equally interesting. It had Free Wifi for all of the passengers, and one of the Assistance/Uni staff from my uni had his Laptop out browsing the web on the provided Wifi.

Staff 1#: "Now that everyone has their laptop on, it appears the internet has gone from slow to *really* slow"

Now, being Computer students and staff, you can see where this is going. We got talking about stuff. My idea being ARP poison, we're on a LAN be it wireless or not. I said, you could try and De-auth everyone since it's an open network, it should be easy. But meant you would have to keep on doing it otherwise they would reconnect, same with Arp poisoning really.

He went on the internet and read more about it. Then came back to me about MITM (man in the middle attacks) and other things, I think he was playing with some sniffer with Arp poison capabilities, I forget what now. But then said something out loud.

Staff #1: "HAng on a minute, it's wireless, i shouldn't need to do this, everything is being broadcasted with wireless"
Me: "Yeah, heh"
Staff #1: "I should use wireshark, it would be easier with that"

I think he was a little to engrossed with the whole ARP business he forgot what he was trying to do or at least was playing around and wasn't thinking things through much.

A little while later on the train (there are two uni staff members on the same train).

Staff #1: "Hay, Staff #2, Are you on Amazon?"
Staff #2: "Not in the past 15 minutes."
Satff #1 returns heavily concentrating on his laptop again.
Me: "Are you invading everyone's privacy?"
Staff #1: "... Well it's all anonymous"

Then we continued talks about what you could do about intercepting data and various other things, seemed like a right nerdy convo. XD.

I asked him why was he doing it in a train where he could possible land himself in trouble. But he said he wasn't intending to do anything active on the network. But generally trying to get hang of the practice from all the theory he knows about. And that doing it in a live-world example such as now is different from that of a lab.

On the way back, we took an earlier train than we book seats for, because our tickets we had were valid for that journey and the event finished earlier than expected (Shock Horror!). So we got on it, but were all over the place on random seats that were available. I spent the time with my laptop on and pretty much trying to mimic what Staff #1 did on the way there. it was interesting trying to get my Wifi Card working and check that is was so. Just general Playing about. Just learning how to do it in practice. But never really talked much, if at all after the first 10 mins of that journey.

Got home, and was generally tired. And couldn't sleep from the annoying vertigo feeling of being on trains all day and general stress from the day still getting at me. And it is now. Grrr....

Anyway, night all.


  1. Siege89's Avatar
    sounds like you had fun in the long run - the Adult Baby / Diaper Lover / Incontinence Support Community. is designed to be viewed in Firefox, with a resolution of at least 1280 x 1024.