Monthly Archives: January 2018

Reproducibility

The semester began with a canceled class day and walking two miles to pick up a textbook. With the change in ambience, I was able to snap out of the episode of anhedonia. Waking up at 6:30 am paradoxically seems to bring energy into my body that lasts through the whole day.

Another onset of loneliness and depression appears to have begun now – but this time, with a new semester and completely reset factors, the reasons are much clearer. This has nothing to do with my classes – there’s hardly anything to do. This has to do with my social tendencies.

There is a friend who actively asks me to eat dinner with him. He irritates me somewhat – if I don’t respond to him in time, he gets impatient and begins to suspect that I am deliberately ignoring him. But his spontaneity and irritability seem to be associated with each other in my mind: why should I try to be spontaneous to others, lest I irritate them? Hence, my friendships all seem to rot because I do not understand how to take the next step, whether that be visiting them, working on a project together, or spending an extended amount of time together. There are times I have attempted this, but usually only once or twice. As for girls – well, it is as if they have all been “taken” by straight men purely for the dating game. Or, they seem to be waiting on some cue from me, but I do not know how to emit this type of cue.

Japanese class almost gave me a heart attack after looking at the amount of work, as revealed to me online on Monday. However, on Wednesday when I finally started attending classes, the teacher started on the weather chapter – a very familiar chapter, with basic kanji and vocabulary that was probably ingrained into me in high school Japanese II. I asked the teacher about how to use this JOSHU software for the assignments; she asked me to just try it and we’ll see, and then I told her I came from AP – her tone completely changed, and she said offhandedly, “Oh, then for you, this will be… nothing.”

I began to resent not having taken the Japanese placement exam. The only reason I am in the class, I suppose, is because I was too humiliated and embarrassed after having gotten that dreadful 3 on the AP exam, that I did not want to endure further suffering taking an exam that might be similar in format and length. Moreover, the class seems somewhat boring (nobody is really talking to each other), but I assume this will change, and I await having to explain why my Japanese is so advanced to the teacher, after she finds an unusual repertoire of authentic vocabulary. “Well, you see… I took Japanese for four years in high school.” (And arguably under one of the best, most exigent, educators I’ve ever had in my school career. Her Achilles’ heel was lagging students whom she was too polite to fail outright, so they stepped through higher ranks not remembering basic constructs and vocabulary and slowed us all down.)

I do not think I will pursue any more counseling this semester. It’s not working: my problems are too severe and deeply wounded within each other. Group sessions encourage too volatile of a relationship between people, and I need to find out why I’m not able to make the same relationships in the real world. It is as if people are just as timid as I am, and we simply do not want to admit things to each other from our timidity – and yet there are some people who have no social interest in me. It’s like a game of Battleship, except I’m too afraid to fire any torpedoes because I don’t want to miss.

As a result of this, I may be spending another weekend in solitude, without any so-called “friends.” The Internet has been a crutch all along, but this needs to end. At the end of the day, we’re supposed to learn and take something away from simulation, not to trap ourselves in it, trying to extract all of the possible satisfaction we can. We are supposed to grow out, live together, build great things in the only life we’ve got. In awaiting great powers such as immortality and omnipotence, people hold out with simulation so that they may annihilate great contraptions, fight great wars, all without destroying a single real object or furthering us into thermodynamic equilibrium.

Life without suffering is heaven. Life without peace is hell. Life with peace and suffering is… life. I am called to sacrifice, but I am also called to enjoy life. And I am inching closer and closer to ridding myself of this curse.

Anhedonia

I have been suffering from anhedonia for the past two days, since that random moment of euphoria.

I only want to do the bare minimum daily, and nothing more. I feel too mentally exhausted to do anything productive except watch episodes of Code Lyoko. I can’t work on Animated Chatroom. I can’t learn Elixir. I can’t even dig through IFSCL for full-size Code Lyoko sprites for use in Attorney Online. I am mostly stuck thinking about the rapid stepdown I will have to undergo tomorrow, back to the horrid life I have in college with a slob of a roommate.

There is a scene in Episode 19 where a soft piano plays after Jeremie dematerializes following a failed materialization attempt (stuck in the buffer during transfer; surprisingly a very reliable operation). He succumbs to the chamber floor and is dragged all the way back to his bedroom at Kadic, in which the soft piano is still playing. It renders an impression of the notion that the experience truly affected Jeremy’s understanding of his relationship with Lyoko, as if he were bound to Aelita in some way.

After playing Pokemon as a kid, I gradually lost the wishful thinking of the “what if this was real” mentality. I do not want Lyoko to exist. I do not want to be an Animorph. I do not want to be a kid soldier fighting secretly for the world. I do not want to get sunk into a hole in the ground and get turned into a Pokemon and fight for survival. No. None of that.

I have no faith in works of fiction. I would rather live in the discordant world of today, a world ruined by crony politicians and businessmen, a world where the only thing that blocking progress is economy, a world where humans fight each other for no reason other than for the land they kill each other on, a world where men lust, a world where priests must ask for the repentance of sins, a world where I type away on a keyboard for no logical reason other than a chemical imbalance – than a world where every problem is already solved and where, despite all of my treacheries and misadventures, nothing really stops me from holding a secret power that repeatedly saves a dull, ignorant world.

Would I love to inherit the greatest computing machine ever devised that nobody at all knows about, bounded systems manual included, and actually fit myself into the system’s inner workings like a glove? Of course. Will it ever happen? Of course not. Would I love to save a girl trapped inside said supercomputer? Gladly and valiantly. Will it ever happen? God, no.

The whole “AI” business is so esoteric, anyway. How are researchers supposed to go from talking about eigenvalues to developing computer algorithms for solving real problems? So far, the most complicated algorithm they’ve discussed in CS classes has been Huffman encoding and all of the cases for adding an element to a red-black tree. Yet I always feel like I’m inches away from solving the problem of general intelligence. The neurons in the human brain follow a basic set of axioms, axioms that can be made easy to reproduce on a Turing machine. But which axioms? That part continues to elude me. How does the brain decide where to insert new neurons? Is the physical segmentation of neurons for specific tasks an intentional design to optimize access? How does that even work?

But everywhere I look, I’m simply met with more and more introductory classes, as if I were being intimidated and mocked by my own naïveté. Why would I be the first to place my being into a computer system? Why would I be the first to create a service for true personal assistants using the full power of artificial intelligence, not mere statistical twiddling (and of course, the so-called twiddling is a culmination of forty years of research)?

My imagination clouds my reality, presumably because my reality is grim. I have wasted too much time under the illusion that with time, “something will happen” and things will magically improve. They always seem to follow an unsurprising status quo.

Maybe I am just a consumer with a big imagination. Let’s face it: have I really made anything of my own creation? A mathematical proof? A machine? A program that is not chiefly driven to take what others have made and mash it up in some (un)desired way?

I am not genius. I am insane and anxious. All that idleness I faced in those high school days – it seems that that is the same anhedonia and anxiety crap I am suffering through today, except that now the problem is getting increasingly intolerable and intense.

This must end.

The only way to weasel my way into a psychiatric evaluation without waiting until I am 18 is by telling my father about how it would feel if two people independently came to the conclusion that I probably have Asperger’s/ASD. But I cannot take such a risk, for I dread that he is ignorant enough to rebuke me and those who believe it, only for the sake of keeping up the appearance that I am a perfectly fine individual.

Computers were the effect, not the cause. Computers are not the reason I tore apart my relationships, but rather the consequence of a constant fear of rejection and social anxiety to a point that I use the Internet as an escape from the derision of my father.

I want to stop. Free me of this burden, this curse. I knew too well that the chemistry would rebound after that event, but how hard it was going to rebound was inestimable.

Pre-deployment

I’ve been all right since the beginning of the break. My classes must begin again next week, despite my intolerable, demoralizing living conditions, and work on Animated Chatroom will have to slow down once more.

Knowing that the rebound will be intense the next day, a song led me into a state of near euphoria yesterday. It was more of an anticipation of the future: a future where I get a nice place to live, I work diligently for a humble company (my diligency and energy nicknames me “the intern”), and I dress however I want. But it seemed to be centered around solitude and apparently enjoying life without others.

My friend brought up the topic of Asperger’s for some reason. He believes it is fairly obvious that my reluctance to be social; an intense, unceasing focus on computers; and an inability to capture a relationship indicates that it would be easy to diagnose me with Asperger’s. (He also suspected I was an “egg,” a term I had to look up. I was not really offended, to be honest.) I do not disagree with his beliefs. If these are indeed the symptoms of high-functioning autism, then so be it. But so long as my parents disagree and continue to elude themselves that everything is fine with me, that I am living life “correctly,” then no psychological evaluation will pass by them while they have custody over me.

As I looked to the sunset yesterday after arriving home, I contemplated the types of conversations I would often have, and realized that they are over petty matters: buying this, selling that, managing money, how stocks work. They are all predominantly consumerist affairs – and it dawned on me right then and there that my father is not really working, in the sense that he tends to escape from labor. This is in stark contrast to my mother, who wakes up punctually at six in the morning and does not arrive until seven in the evening, and can only really survive hard work with all the faith she can muster. She no longer really cares about my dad: she protests no more about how my dad wakes up late, plays games until 11 am, leaves for work at noon, returns home at 6 or 7 (usually earlier than her), and plays games until 12 or 1 am.

The others were right when they said that no communication is a bad sign, for indeed, my parents drive separate cars, eat with space between each other, and seldom greet each other or say goodbye or encourage each other to do anything in particular. Almost every discussion between them ends with an argument, with either my mother fleeing to her room or my dad continually saying, “Okay, okay. You’re right. You’re totally right,” or, “Jeeeeeeesus.”

My grandparents left on Monday with few words, back to that collapsing world of despair, no electricity, and little running water. It is a crime to wash dishes while my grandmother is home, as doing chores is merely taking away things for her to do during the day.

I am stuck between the gap of my family life and the new life I am forming for myself. It is particularly clear that my parents do not care about my life.
Struggle? It is normal.
A terrible roommate with terrible conditions? Yep, everyone goes through that.
Can’t find friends? Well, you have some already. And don’t talk to that kid who we think does drugs.
You need money for textbooks? Well, use your own, you’ll get it back when you get a job next summer.
Need to pay a large fee? (sigh) … I’ll see how the budget works out.
Food sucks? Well, there are plenty of places to eat in Austin!

Most favors I ask have always met with inaction by my parents. My life could be so much better if they regularly expanded their intellectual understanding of things and purged that which is not physically needed anymore. The cluttered library in my house seems to reflect well the inability of my parents to react to gradual events and transitions. A temporary workaround becomes a permanent one: instead of fixing the doorknob of their bedroom door, they simply close the door with a bungee cord, with only minor regard to the damage that it is causing to the door. In response to my father not tending to the house which he paid for with his own money, my mother pretends she has no power over these matters, and the passive-aggressive attitude of my father is simply met. There is absolutely no reason things must be done this way.

What can I do? Nothing. Why would I even attempt to wrest my custody out of them in a court of law, if my father cooks incredible food and my mother is the reason we are the contributive, practicing Catholics we are today? Yet how can I even begin to remove my own self from the illogical, invisible barriers imposed by my parents, and enter a larger world of transforming identity?

It raises those same unanswered questions that I started with at the beginning of the break: on Asperger’s, depression, and asexuality. How could I have known last year that these would be the questions I would rest on today, and how can I know how I will look back on these questions next year? Is this a minor lapse in self-identity, or are these defining topics that will become cornerstones that will strengthen how I view myself?

I knew this day would come since June 28, 2017. Actually, no, way before that. I did not know in what mental state I would be, but I can recall what mental state I was in at that time. I can hear the lids of the trash cans methodically clanging with the wind in the courtyard of my high school sometime in May, with my friend in front of me biting on a sandwich, and me taking out whatever it was that I had in my lunch box. Such was the basis of lunchtime since sixth grade: a bite of food followed by some banter and laughing.

I can feel my weak bones, teeth and eyes as I unmade the bed at 2 pm on June 28, looked out at the cumulus clouds, and tried to stop the memories from spilling of the unfamiliar world that I had just come back from. I can remember the arrival to the Narita terminal on June 22, shortly after telling my friend of the “wise words of Filthy Frank: ‘Welcome to the rice fields!'” There, on the left wall of the somewhat amber-colored hallway to the security checkpoint, was a Japanese policeman looking forward and to no other direction. It was a hint of what I would witness throughout my trip: of the labor that the Japanese person dedicated himself to. (Now you can inference why this specific memory was recalled, in relation to the relatively slacking nature of my father.)

Since those days, my mind has predictably rearranged itself in a new state. I must tackle new problems with new solutions. My brain expands with learning Elixir for fault-tolerant applications, and the time is almost coming to purge what I have kept for far too long.

The problem of image formats

In the making of Animated Chatroom, I’ve been encountering a major snag: none of the popular image formats seem to fit my needs. I need an alpha channel (that isn’t 1-bit!), animation support, and good compression. Here are the candidates:

  • GIF – used since the 90s. Good compression, excellent animation support, but palletized and 1-bit transparency. I can’t use it for the complex 3D sprites, though. Dithering hacks are still used to this day to try to mask the limitations of GIF.
  • APNG – It’s meant for transparent animations, but has poor support by most libraries. Not even standardized; some browsers may be looking to remove it (already?). Many implementations implement it poorly, by stacking each PNG frame next to the other, without compressing the blocks shared by both frames, leading to an inflated file size (often more than GIF).
  • WebM – Alpha support was thoroughly devised in VP8 via the YUVA420P pixel format, yet left as an afterthought in the conception of VP9. Nevertheless, VP8 has excellent compression, but again, the consideration of supporting YUVA420P is cast aside in many implementations of FFmpeg decoders, leading to the alpha layer getting silently converted to a black or white matte.
  • PNG image sequence – Brute force solution. No inter-frame compression, leading to intolerable sizes.
  • MNG – Are there even up-to-date implementations of MNG? Does anyone even use MNG in 2018? I thought so.
  • WebP – Seems decent, but inferior compression and lossy by default.
  • FLIF – Are we really ready to enter into “the future”? While FLIF may fit the bill for literally all of my needs, there is no stable support to be found anywhere, except in the form of a native library. I need support for Python if I am to get anywhere.
  • My own format – Why in the world would I want to do this? I would rather put LZ4 on APNG than reinvent the wheel.

For now, I don’t have much of a choice for animated image support except GIF, until certain bugs are fixed in pyglet that prevent alpha support when decoding via FFmpeg.