The Second Annual Hack@Brown: A Review

Hack@Brown Logo

To attend the opening ceremony of this year’s Hack@Brown and then sit in the same Salomon auditorium approximately 30 hours later for the presentation of finalists, closing remarks, and rewarding of prizes is a strange experience, mainly because of how paradoxically similar and different the ceremonies are to one another.

Different in that everyone there seems a little more tired than before, measurably more experienced than before, and substantially closer to those around them than before. Similar in that Katy Perry is once again blaring from the speakers (more than likely the first time “California Girls” has ever echoed through that hall).  Not the most CS-oriented artist in the world–Kraftwerk might be a little more appropriate–but catchy nonetheless. More importantly, similar in that the sense of tired satisfaction filling the audience is a weird kind of twin to the overflowing energy and enthusiasm of the opening ceremony.

Sayles Hack@Brown

Hack@Brown, a nearly day-and-a-half long whirlwind of creativity, coding, and camaraderie, was kicked off on Saturday, February 7th with remarks by Paul Zuchowski ’87, chief engineer at Oracle. While at Brown, Zuchowski, who also helped found successful startups HeartLab and Greenbytes, majored in CS and music.

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Brown Mythbusters: The CIT shower

10727108_10152578442312529_1544607490_o It’s no secret that Brown is full of urban legends. Even if you don’t believe in ghosts, you have to admit the Hay’s human skin-bound books are enough to give anyone the heebie-jeebies. Granted, you may not be losing any sleep thinking about all the mysteries floating around campus, but where there is a myth, there must be a busting. To ease into this series without any explosions or having to step on the Pembroke Seal, BlogDH investigated the question plaguing CS students for years: is there a shower in the CIT?

Phase 1: Field research began in the Sunlab, where we first got an anonymous tip about “the shower upstairs.” Immediately there were so many questions: Is the notion of CSers living in the CIT more than hyperbolic? Who has access to this VIP shower? Is there also an accompanying gym in the CIT? Do I have to put a shower in TASafeHouse?

Phase 2: We began asking around, and started with the TAs. Either they had no idea about the shower’s existence or they lied to protect its exclusivity. It was clear we would have to go higher up in the CS food chain, so we went straight to the top–Google. Consulting Google about the shower will get you confirmation of its whereabouts from the Brown Daily Herald and, explicably, Andy van Dam’s Wikipedia page.

Phase 3: To find the shower, we needed a key-holding member of the CS society to get to the fourth floor, plus a personal tour-guide to navigate us through the labyrinth. After minutes of searching, there it was: the CIT shower in all its glory and absurdity. IMG_4854.JPG Phase 4: The shower-head was still dripping and it smelt like Irish Spring Soap–how recently did someone use this?IMG_4857.JPGWhile it was certainly not the day-spa we had hoped for, the water pressure must be good enough to keep people coming back. The room comes equipped with a little hand-held mirror, a chair, a drying rack, and whatever the hell this sign means. Untitled So, yeah: This myth is confirmed. As a humanities concentrator, I would recommend going to the CIT for free food before the free shower, but hey, any shower is better than none. Untitled

Images via Albie Brown ’16, Julia Elia ’17 and via.

A Cool Thing You Shouldn’t Miss: Animation Show of Shows


As the weekend approaches, and parties entitled “2 Chainz, No Midterms” and “Top Gun: Drink Like You Love Freedom” near, you are bound to need some serious R&R by Saturday evening. RISD’s Film/Animation/Video department has you covered: the Annual Animation Show of Shows will be screened on Saturday, October 26th at 7 p.m. in the RISD Auditorium. No, not this animation show. The Animation Show of Shows features 12 award-winning animated shorts from around the world. The festival is curated by Ron Diamond, the founder of Acme Filmworks, who compiles DVDs of short animated works that are otherwise pricey and difficult to find. You can even purchase DVDs from past shows before and after the screening: each DVD includes three films and goes for $5. Free admission! Open to the public! (Although seating is limited to the capacity of the auditorium.) RISD students who attended last year’s show gave it rave reviews, deeming it “weird, but amazing!” Continue Reading

Got hygiene?

The CS undergraduate listserv received the following e-mail today:

Apparently, men in the CS department, while skilled at video games, aren’t as adept at aiming in real life. Looks like they’re spending too much time in the Sun Lab.


Cella: A kick-ass tool to help you out with the housing lottery

If you’re participating in the Housing Lottery (aka Shelter Games), you’ve got until Wednesday the 11th (numbers 1 through 460) or Tuesday the 17th (461 through 697) to map out your strategy. Which (at least for my freshman and sophomore groups of 11 and 8 people, respectively) meant contingency plans upon contingency plans upon contingency plans. Historically, it has proven a huge pain in the ass to navigate the huge amount of room info, past results, and other pertinent information from the Res Council website: there’s just so much.

Fortunately, some students created a tool to make the process at least 10,000 times easier (actual mathematical figure). Nathan Malkin ’13 and Sumner Warren ’13 have developed Cella over the past semester as a successor to their CS32 project Domus, a desktop app with similar functionality created with Miya Schneider ’13. This tool is incredibly versatile as well as informative. It uses a database of rooms and your preferences (only want to live on Main Campus? Want to live anywhere but Pembroke? Know what dorm you want to be in?) to provide you with tons of options for a group of a specified size, also taking into account your lottery number in comparison with past results in order to rank the probability of each room. It also provides links to floor plans and other info specific to each dorm (gender neutrality, apartment rate, etc.). If you want to play around with different breakdowns of a large group, create as many separate searches in separate tabs as you want. Check out their About page to see what else the tool can do, or better yet, go forth and experiment. The design is incredibly intuitive and easy to use.

May the odds be ever in your favor.

BlogDH Explains: Touch Screens at the Blue Room

Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. If you happened to stop by the Blue Room yesterday afternoon, you might have noticed the big touch screen with an interactive exhibit about Brown.

The man responsible for the exhibit is CS professor Andries van Dam, and BlogDailyHerald managed to get a few answers direct from the source about this cool new project.  Continue Reading