2023 January 2
2022 just ended. Here are some assorted notes about the past year.
The pandemic continues.
Almost no one wears a mask anymore. At the start of the fall term, my school did not have a mask mandate. The mandate has since been reinstated but only while in class. Compliance is maybe 75% from what I've observed, and outside of class almost no one around me wears a mask ever.
I got my second booster when I was able. (It took a while for bureaucratic reasons.)
I moved to Canada and started grad school there. It was a difficult process to move with way more complications than there should have been, but I made it through. There's not too much culture shock, but I'm now in a new phase of my life. Adapting to grad school (and generally becoming more involved in society again and having more independence than I've ever had before) is an ongoing process, but I'm doing well overall. I'm still working on having a proper social life (a challenge anyway but harder when there's a pandemic going on).
Now that I've moved, I've started to meet other musicians and make some music! I haven't yet found people who want to form a band and make the same type of music I want to make, but I'm doing more musical stuff, and that's good!
For lack of a better category, I'll put this here: I wrote an article which was published in 2600! How to Double-Spend a Bitcoin
I'm now a grad student! I'm currently working on a master's degree in computer science. Last term, I took two classes: one on Android security and one on differential privacy.
In 2021, Doug Leith, Haoyu Liu, and Paul Patras performed some experiments capturing and analyzing web traffic from mobile devices running different mobile OSes to see what kinds of telemetry they send without user consent: Mobile Handset Privacy: Measuring The Data iOS and Android Send to Apple And Google and Android Mobile OS Snooping By Samsung, Xiaomi, Huawei and Realme Handsets. In my Android class this past term, my group tried to basically replicate their experiments on privacy-focused custom Android operating systems: LineageOS (with and without microG), /e/, GrapheneOS, and CalyxOS. We had some issues and in the 1.5-2 months for our project did not complete something publishable, but it was a cool project.
The United States Census Bureau adopted a differentially private approach to census data dissemination for the USA 2020 census. The Canadian census does not take this type of rigorous approach to privacy. My group in my DP class worked on evaluating Canada's approach and whether it is susceptible to attacks.
I was a teaching assistant for a course on computer security and privacy. That was cool and fun!
Outside of classes, I have been just starting to work on something related to Tor. I'll probably talk about that some other time ;)
I'm also just really enjoying the culture of my research group (which is focused on cryptography, security, and privacy). It's nice to be around other computer nerds with similar interests and values (and not just cryptocurrency fans or people who just want a job that pays well but don't care about the implications of their work).
Within the past year, I set up GoToSocial and PeerTube instances, then shut down my PeerTube instance when I found it wasn't particularly useful to me.
I've started actually using Signal again since it's used for some school-related groups. I haven't been willing to sign up for WhatsApp or Telegram, although my classmates use those for class group chats. I'm also using Matrix a lot with other people in my research group at my school.
I've had to do some finagling and find workarounds for various things, particularly for school. I had to figure out how to use Thunderbird (my preferred email client) for my school email and how to authenticate with Duo (used at my school) without the mobile app. My bank also heavily assumes I'll use the mobile app for everything, so navigating that involves some work.
I mostly haven't been working on rsstube during the past year. I'm still planning to rewrite it in Rust, but I'm still so inexperienced at Rust that every time I try to start I just get overwhelmed. I'll get there eventually.