GSB Emails Volume 0001

October 31, 2016

GSB is a social event in CSAIL hosted every Friday. I am running it this year along with another grad student and one of our duties involves sending a humorous email before the event every week. I have collected some of my emails from August through October below, enjoy!

Contributing Back

There’s been a lot of talk this week on csail-related about getting undergrads to work on more open source projects, but why haven’t more people been talking about getting the open source projects to contribute undergrads back?

The Tor Project could send us three random students so we can communicate with each other without anyone knowing who we are talking to [1]. Google could send students who look over your shoulder when you’re reading and try to sell you junk based on what they think you like. Haskell would send a student who leaves all of their work to the last minute and attempts to finish it right before the deadline [2]. We can thank Mozilla for already sending a student to borrow a bunch of white board markers and never give them back [3]. Rumor has it they are also sending another student to invent a new language for every project they work on. Facebook is sending a student who runs everywhere and knocks things over [4].

  1. Extra points if the third undergrad is kinda shady and impersonates the person you think you’re talking to.
  2. Lazy assignment evaluation.
  3. Firefox often “borrows” several gigs of ram on my machine.
  4. “Move fast and break things.”

TV/VCR Repair

As many you probably know, ITT Tech was shut down by the federal government this week [1]. But what does the Department of Education have to say to people like me?!? I graduated ITT Tech with a degree in TV/VCR Repair and a minor in Laserdisc Studies. Now I sit here at MIT [2] pursuing a PhD in Cassette Tape Hiss Reduction.

I wonder if anyone else will have the experience of climbing to the forefront of technology through exploitation by a for-profit university! Who will fill all of those new slots opened up by the new MIT.floppy building [3]? Who will advance the exploding field of vinyl records [4]? Who will invent the next HD DVD?

I don’t know what the future holds, but I think things look rather bleak for revolutionary technologies like zip drives, minidiscs, CRTs, and wax cylinders.

  1. ITT Educational Services, Inc. to Cease Operations at all ITT Technical Institutes Following Federal Actions
  2. MIT shares two letters with ITT. Coincidence?
  3. Building 5.25.
  4. This one might only be a half joke.

A Transversal Imaginative Journey across the Realm of Mathematics

Have you ever wondered what a paper written from Atlantis looks like? Wonder no more.

If you want to go deeper down the rabbit hole, check out the paraconsistency newsletter. A word of warning though, it might be the only math newsletter with a soundtrack so turn your volume down [1].

  1. It’s pretty good though so you might want to turn your volume UP instead.

Elevator Coin

Are you tired of waiting for the elevators in the Stata Center? We’ve all been there, you call the elevator to go to class and by the time it arrives you’ve missed your midterm! There has been a surprising amount of research on elevator scheduling [1] but as far as I can tell no one has proposed a purely capitalist solution to elevator scheduling. Therefore, we propose Elevator Coin (EVC).

Here’s what you can expect from EVC:

  1. Elevator reservations. Know you’re leaving the office at 6pm and don’t want to wait for an elevator? Schedule an elevator using EVC! The elevator can be reserved by whoever is willing to pay the most per second to hold an elevator at a certain time. 30 seconds at peak time might cost you but you can save money (load balancing!) by scheduling your elevator trips at off peak hours.

  2. Elevator preempting. Have to be somewhere right now and don’t want to wait? You can preempt an elevator in transit by paying more than the sum of the people in the elevator. The elevator will instantly change direction to serve the highest bidder.

  3. Anonymity. EVC uses zero knowledge proofs to facilitate transactions keeping your destinations and bids private. This also makes EVC perfectly fungible as elevator miners won’t be able to reject your transactions based on previous trips to shady destinations [2].

  4. Elevator safety feature abuse prevention. EVC takes the abuse of elevator safety features to subvert the payment system very seriously. Holding the elevator door with your arm to allow a freeloader in will result in instant fines based on current elevator bid amounts.

  5. EVC derivatives. Since we expect EVC to really take off we’ll be selling derivatives on the performance of EVC. Want EVC at today’s price a month from now? Buy EVC futures! Convinced that some elevator abusers wont pay their fines? Buy EVC credit default swaps!

But don’t just take our word about it, here’s what free market proponent Gary Johnson had to say about our revolutionary idea:

“What’s Elevator Coin?” –Gary Johnson.

  1. “Elevator traffic handbook : theory and practice” by Gina Barney is a 400+ page book on elevator scheduling! It’s also available at the MIT library.
  2. Like the G9 lounge at 5:30pm on a Friday.


Remember when passwords were easy? You always knew your password was just “password” or your username. But now with all the increasingly complex requirements your passwords are quickly becoming too hard for everyone to know! While some might argue this has some benefits [1], it also makes your life harder. A new study showed that the average American wastes 5 years of their life filling out password reset forms and that number is only going up. Our presidential candidates are all unacceptably silent on this issue.

But fear not! We at GSB have found the solution. Everyone in the world should just use the same password. After much deliberation [2] we came up with the perfect canonical password to satisfy even the most obnoxious minimum password requirements. Here it is:


The best part is, if everyone uses it you don’t even have to remember it. Forgot which parts are capitalized and which parts are numbers? Just Google, “what’s my password?” and you’ll get the answer in seconds.

If your favorite website [3] requires passwords longer than 8 characters, simply pad the end of the password with 1s to reach the minimum (but do not go over the minimum). So, a 12 character minimum password would be “P@55w0Rd1111”.

Finally, this change makes life easier for programmers. No longer do you have to worry about salting and hashing passwords to store in some big database. In fact, you don’t need to worry about passwords at all! Just hard code “P@55w0Rd” in your application as the only acceptable password.

  1. Like keeping unauthorized users out
  2. Roughly 5 minutes.

RIP Vine

As some of you may know, Vine is being discontinued. I must admit though, I never mastered the art of boiling something down to six se [1]

  1. Insert endless loop here.