Technical Blog

Using a Raspberry Pi for Proctorio

30 Jan 2021
school, raspberry-pi

For one of my classes I am required to take a short weekly exam via Proctorio. There’s been some controversy surrounding this software. Although it claims it’s trustworthy, it’s not open-source, so no one can verify their claims. So naturally, I was reluctant to install it on my primary machine. Enter: the spare raspberry pi I have sitting around.


FreeBSD on a Raspberry Pi 4 with 4GB of RAM

28 Dec 2020
raspberry-pi, freebsd

This is the story of how I managed to get FreeBSD running on a Raspberry Pi 4 with 4GB of RAM, though I think the setup story is pretty similar for those with 2GB and 8GB.1

I also managed to get Rust built from source, (kind of) which is nice because the default Rust installer doesn’t seem to work for FreeBSD running on a Raspberry Pi.


Dr. Loopback, Or: How I Learned to Stop DOSing Myself and Love the Pi-Hole

11 Dec 2020
network, pi-hole, mistakes

I noticed that my Internet was acting strangely: whenever I visited a web page, my browser would hang for a good second or two before it started loading anything. Zoom calls worked without a problem for school, so this tipped me off that something was wrong with the DNS lookup or the handshake. Sure enough, I popped open my Pi-Hole admin console, and was greeted with this: The green number in the Total Queries box would jump by 10, 20, or sometimes even 100 every second. ...

RMS Does Not See the Future of Emacs

27 Nov 2020

I am an avid Emacs user. I’m using it right now to compose this post. I use it every single day for everything from work to school to personal notes. Most of my activity on GitHub comes from me tweaking little things in my configuration files. I now have an editor that perfectly fits my hands. Emacs is a big part of my life.

I’m afraid it’s dying.


Thoughts on Goals in Programming Language Design

4 Aug 2020

I’ve been thinking about programming languages a lot recently. A question I asked myself was: why do we work on, refine, and create new programming languages? I thought of several reasons, but they seemed to boil down into two broader reasons: Better abstractions and more automation: some languages automate and ease some tedious tasks like memory management, concurrency, or type annotations. Almost all languages give you some ways of creating abstractions that let you reason with concepts in your problem domain, but different languages do this in different ways. ...

Transitioning to GUI'd Emacs on macOS

22 Jul 2020

I went on an adventure today. I left behind the stable comforts of the terminal and compiled bleeding-edge Emacs that uses a native window system. This is a big deal for me. As long as I can remember, I’ve used Emacs from within a terminal. I’ve decided to give the GUI’d Emacs a whirl. My Journey # I’m running macOS Catalina (10.15.5). Originally I tried using the pre-built packages via brew (brew cask install emacs) and those available at Emacs for Mac OS X. ...

Programming Languages and Typography

15 Jun 2020
programming-languages, design

An analogy occurred to me this evening as I was thinking about programming language design: Choosing good keywords and function names is like picking a good font; the ideas conveyed may be the same, but a change can drastically impact legibility and enjoyment of use. PHP does a spectacular job of providing a bad example. It’s like the Comic Sans of programming languages. Now there are many reasons why PHP is not a good language—I’d like to investigate this particular aspect of its design here briefly. ...

Computers and Abstractions

20 May 2020
computers, philosophy

Computers are funny things. At the lowest level they’re just a pile of ones and zeros that we assign meaning to. It’s something you can easily take for granted, but there’s a disconnect with how we talk about how things operate at the hardware level and then again at the software level. Since writing a compiler, I’ve been able to bridge that gap in part. The fundamental idea is that we represent some meaning in a concrete, though still high-level form. ...

Starting Fresh

9 May 2020

I’ve been building a compiler for a small lambda calculus that compiles to x86. It’s pretty broken, and I decided to start from scratch. I checked out a new branch in Git, and then deleted the entirety of my compiler before I had a chance to do anything else. It hurt. But it was a good kind of hurt. I don’t usually just blow everything away like that. Even this time, I’m keeping many of my auxiliary functions. ...