Saturday, December 28, 2013

Draw Kate Like One of Your French Girls

I have to warn you. This is an odd one...

I accepted a challenge entitled, "Draw a tasteful nude sketch of Kate Micucci."

I had no idea who this person was. Here's the Wikiepdia page for Kate Micucci.

"Draw me like one of your french girls..."
 - Kate Micucci (Probably)
The original conditions were:
  1. As long as there is at least one acceptor, at least one acceptor will receive gold.
  2. If there are multiple quality submissions [the submitter of the challenge] will award gold to multiple users, at [his] discretion, up to a maximum of five users.
  3. The challenge will remain active for one month from the time of posting, or until the maximum of five rewards has been reached, whichever comes first.
Reward: One month of Reddit Gold.

Pictures had to be hand drawn, but MS Paint was apparently acceptible, judging by a few submissions which had already been rewardig a month of Reddit gold.

I wasn't going to bother with this one because I suck at drawing and I'm just not interested in helping some dude fill out his collection of hand-drawn celebrity porn, but then I had an idea. A few minutes later, I submitted this image:

Micucci Descending a Staircase
Needless to say, my submission was not accepted.

However, it did lead the submitter of the challenge to add three additional criteria to the challenge. These criteria were:
  1. Is it recognizably a naked lady?
  2. Is it recognizably Kate Micucci?
  3. Could a person conceivably be "excited" by it?
In accordance with these three criteria, I posted the following submission:

Les Kate d'Avignon
I received no further response.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Saltine Challenge

I'm attempting the Saltine Challenge, posted by Ramtom in /r/GoForGold.

To avoid confusion, this is not the traditional Saltine Challenge, which is to eat six saltine crackers in a minute or less. Rather, this challenge is simply to eat the most possible in under a minute. More of a contest, really. The one who eats the most in a minute wins.

Here are the rules:
  1. You must video tape the challenge for proof.
  2. In your video, include proof that you are eating salted saltines, and proof that your mouth is empty after eating the saltines.
  3. If you don't show an empty mouth after your last saltine eaten in 60 seconds you will be disqualified.
  4. No water until after the video/challenge is done. Must show you aren't smuggling water in your mouth before the start.
Reward: One month of Reddit Gold.

So here is a video of me eating as many saltines as possible. 

UPDATE: I won! One month of Reddit Gold is mine!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Aussie Dox Challenge

I just want to start off by saying that I'm not a stalker because I feel like this post has a better than decent chance of landing me on some sort of government watch list. This is by far the creepiest I've felt doing a challenge so far in my brief run.

A challenge was put up in /r/GoForGold in which the task was to find the name and address of the user and send him a letter. The challenge may be viewed HERE.

For those who may not know, this practice is called Doxxing. "Dox" is a play on "Docs", which is short for "Documents". Doxxing is essentially finding someone's personal information on the internet.

To clarify, this redditor was requesting his own dox, not that we dox someone else. Please do not ever do anything that I describe here. Do not ever dox anyone unless they are requesting their own dox, such as those who post in /r/DoxMe. This is a huge invason of privacy and possibly illegal, depending on the circumstances.

The rules are pretty simple:
  1. Find out who [he is], and send a letter to [his] current address.
  2. The letter must arrive within the month.
  3. Only the internet may be used.

The reward for my effort is one month of Reddit Gold.

This challenge was posted on a public forum, so I don't feel too bad reposting it here, but I feel so shameful over the things I've done over the past few days that I don't even want to refer to the guy by his username. He shall henceforth be refered to as "Waldo".
Forgive me...

So Waldo posts this challenge asking us to find him. Here's what I did and how I did it. I'm going to be a bit vague at times, because I don't want anyone else trying it.

First I read through his comment history. Reddit records every post and comment you make and these are visible to anyone who clicks on your username.

He had posted pretty often in /r/Sydney, but a few months ago, he switched to posting in /r/AskNYC and I found a single post in /r/Brooklyn.

He made one comment in /r/Sydney where he mentioned that he now lived in New York with his wife, to whom he was recently married. I also found a picture of him.

After a while, I figured out what city he lived in in Australia and a good amount of other stuff about his life. I went to Google and tried a bunch of searches. I had a pretty good guess what his first name was based on his username, so I searched for a few dozen combinations of his first name with his past employer, name and city, name and a weekly gathering he hosted. I couldn't find anything. He just wasn't showing up.

I went to Facebook, and tried searching there, too, and I found a Facebook page for /r/Sydney. I tried searching the member list for the name I was guessing was his, but he didn't show up there either.

I tried the Facebook page for the weekly gathering he hosted, too, but he wasn't on there either, possibly because he hadn't been involved in it since he moved to New York a few months ago.

However, this Facebook page had instructions for newcomers who wanted to join the gathering and who they need to talk to to sign up. There was a picture of five people who were said to be in charge now. I figured they had to be pretty close with Waldo if they were able to take over for him when he left. Maybe Waldo was on there Friends lists, but these five in the picture were not listed by name. The photo was tagged with five Reddit usernames.

A lot of people use the same username of every site they go to, so I went to Google and typed in each username. I was able to find the full name and Facebook page of everyone in that photo.

For example, one of the guys used to same username on Steam, which listed his first name and the first letter of his last name. I searched for this on the Facebook pages and found him on the page for /r/Sydney. I then checked his page and Friend list. Waldo was not there. A few more of them had their privacy settings set so that I could not see their Friend lists.

One of them had their settings turned down, though, and Waldo was on there. I wasn't sure if it was him, though, because the profile picture was of a fairly obese woman, but I did have a full first and last name.

I googled the full name and got Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Vimeo and a few others. The pictures on those sites matched the picture I had found posted in Waldo's reddit comments.

I found him!

So I started sifting through his comments and posts on these social media sites, including the obese-lady Facebook page I had found.

After this breakthrough, it actually got really hard for me to find anything else that was useful. I found the names of some friends and family, his wife was tagged in a Facebook album of the wedding, and I found his current employer, but none of that really got me any closer to his address soley using the internet.

One of the things that began to make this difficult for me was that he had moved so recently, and from another country, no less. So there were a lot of free and frightening online directories that he could be showing up in, but he wasn't. In addition, even when I did find contact information for him, it was his former information.

I started looking into his wife, assuming they had the same address, but both her first and last names are so common that way too many results came up and I had no method or patience to narrow it down.

In the end, I contacted Waldo privately and let him know what I had found and how I had found it. Never in my life have I been so happy to fail, and Waldo was a good sport about it and said that if no one else managed to get a letter to him, then the Gold was mine.

I want to share a few things I've learned while doing this. I'm not an expert on online security, and my advice here is not authoratative or comprehensive, just a few things I've noticed.

  1. The fact that I can go onto Reddit, click on someone's username and see every comment and post they've ever made is scary. Even if you do not give out actual personal information about yourself on such a site, it's amazing how many clues and traces you leave around which are easy to spot to someone looking for them.
  2. The fact that I can go onto Facebook, type in a first name and get a last name is also scary. Facebook has this default autofill thing that works on member lists in groups and on friends lists which makes it way too easy to find people with partial informaiton. Tagging people in photos also seems like an awful idea. That's how I found Waldo's wife.
  3. On the subject of Facebook, you can set your privacy setting to whatever you want, but unless your friends do it, too, I can still find you. However, setting your privacy settings to be pretty strict does make it more difficult for me to get anything from your profile once I've found it.
  4. Also, I don't think I'll ever set my profile pic to be an actual picture of me again. If someone doesn't know what I look like, they don't know me well enough to be looking at my informaiton anyways and a profile picture is ultimately how I was able to confirm that I'd found the right guy.
  5. Don't use the same username on every site you go to. A lot of sites pretend to be secure because they only give out partial information on you, such as a first name and last initial on Steam, but if I have something in common with all of them, such as your username, then I can find all those partial pieces and put them all together myself. Odin help you if your username is also your email address.
  6. Don't pick a username that is your name, or a variation of your name, or a reference to your name, or a pun of your get the idea.
  7. If you ever start a website from scratch and purchase a domain name, do it through a service that blocks "whois" search tools. Finding the full name, address and phone number of someone close to Waldo was as easy as copying and pasting a web address into one of these search tools. GoDaddy made things very difficult for me, though.

I think the scariest thing about this challenge is not that someone could find my info online, but that anyone could find my info online! I have absolutely zero exerience or knowledge in this sort of thing and with only a few hours of looking I was able to find an absurd amount of information on Waldo and many of his friends and family.

Privacy is no more. I think I'm going to go delete some stuff...

Until next time!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Two Minute Deck Memorization: Complete!

Well, I managed to finished this challenge with literally less than a second to spare. I finally managed to do it on

A while ago, Ed Cooke posted a contest on there for $10k to the first person to memorize a deck in two minutes. That contest is done and over, but the course is still up and it is one of the resources I've been using to practice since it had a convenient little timer up in the top right corner to tell you how much time has elapsed.

When I first started this challenge, I could not remember a single card. In fact, I couldn't even get through the deck without forgetting the cards before.

When I finally worked up to a full deck, it still took me well over 10 minutes to do it. Slowly that time came down and yesterday I finally made it.

Two Minutes. One Deck. Zero Errors.

I was able to work my way through the first three suits pretty easily, but when I got to a full deck, I really hit a wall. Nevertheless, I eventually made it and I'm calling this challenge done.

However, I really liked this one and I think I'm going to keep going with it in my free time. Once I get to the point that I can do this consistently, then I will post a video as I've done for the previous suits.

I want to thank Ed Cooke, who will probably never read this, for creating and essentially teaching me to do this. Also, thanks to everyone at for all their advice, insight and support!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Two Minute Deck Memorization: How To Memorize a Deck of Cards

Well, Memrise has been down for a few days, which means I don't have a way to practice memorizing cards in a way that lets me convniently post the results.

I have been able to practice with a deck of cards, and on, but I can't easily post times with these.

Before Memrise went down, I was able to get fairly close to completing this challenge.

2:16. So close...

To be honest, I'm not even sure whether I've completed the challenge already because I'm too lazy to work a stopwatch at the same time as I'm trying to memorize.

At any rate, while I wait for Memrise to come back up, I thought I'd teach you how to memorize a shuffled deck of cards.

The first thing you have to learn is just that you can do it. You may think you can't, or that you don't have good enough memory, etc, but relax. It's not some special gift that just some people have, you just don't know the tricks! You just don't know how to use your brain!

Wait. Let me rephrase that...

You're brain is like an incredibly powerful computer. The thing is, you have to excercise it like a muscle and, just like a computer, you have to present the information in a certain format that is easily processed and stored.

For example, one thing your brain hates in long strings of random numbers, letters and symbols. Unfortunately, a shuffled deck is very much like a long string of random numbers, letters and symbols. In fact, that's exactly what it is!

So you have to take that information and convert it into another form that is easy for your brain to process and retain.

One thing your brain loves is images. Really vivid picutres are great. It also loves things that are familiar. Strangely enough, it also loves things that are bizarre and unusual.

There are a few different systems to allow you to memorize a deck and most of them include converting strings of numbers and letters into familiar, yet unusual, images. I use one popularized by Ed Cooke, a Grand Master of Memory (and Tony Buzon and Dominic O'Brien before him). Here it is in a nutshell:

They're ALL face cards

First, you have to convert each card into an image. Again, there's different ways to do this. Some people use objects like teddy bears, saws, pineapples and more. I use celebrities, politicians, and other public figures (with a few oddballs thrown in). 

So let's say for example that the King of Hearts is Barack Obama, the King of Spades is David Beckham, the King of Diamonds is Prince William, and the King of Clubs is Jay-Z. You have to do this for every card in the deck and you have to become so familiar with your system that you can instantly make the association between the card that comes up and the face it is associated with.

I especially prefer using people, rather than objects, because it makes it easier to "upgrade" your system later. More on that in a bit.

Walking Through the Palace

Once you have a face for each card, and you are able to instantly recall the correct face, it's time to start trying to remember them in order.

There's a concept commonly refered to as the "Memory Palace". I think that sounds really pretentious, so I'll just call it a Memory Space.

What you need to do is have a place you can imagine in great detail and which you can imagine yourself walking through. It could be your house, your workplace, or a fictional place that only exists in your mind. Whatever works for you.

Now, as you walk through this space, you pick certain spots which you will use every single time, and you always go through them in the same order. These are the places where you will place your images as they come up.

For example, I imagine a classroom. This classroom has four tables. Each table has four seats. 16 seats total. I move from seat to seat clockwise and from table to table clockwise. 

So if I were to go through a deck and  got the King of Hearts, the King of Spades, the King of Diamonds and the King of Clubs, I would imagine Barack Obama, David Beckham, Prince William and Jay-Z sitting around the first table. This image is much more memorable than any combination of four cards.

You can do this with an entire deck of cards as long as you have a Memory Space with places for 52 images and a few days to practice. 

In addition, you can go through the deck backwards simply by walking through your Memory Space backwards. Finally, you can tell which card is in a randomly chosen position simply by remembering who was at that position in you Memory Space. The 19th card is the person sitting in the 19th seat, for example. You can also go the other way and determine the position of a random card by remembering where that person was sitting. The Seven of Clubs? That's Galileo. Galileo was sitting in the 4th seat, so the Seven of Clubs was the 4th card. Easy.

However, if you are going for speed, then you'll need a more powerful system.


PAO stands for Person-Action-Object. Again, this is one of many systems. Use whatever works for you. However, this system is the natural evolution of the concepts described above.

In this system, each card not only has a person associated with it, but also, as you may have guessed, an action and an object, but the action and the object should also somehow be associated with the person to avoid confusion and link back to the card easier.

For example, the Three of Spades is Ben Stiller.

It's a familiar image.
In the PAO system, the Three of Spades would be:

P: Ben Stiller...

A:...zipping up on...

O:...his $#&%.

So for every card in the deck, not only do you have to have a face associated with it, but also a verb and an object, such as, "Julian Assange exposing a conspiracy," or, "Princess Kate losing a glass slipper," or, "Barack Obama giving a speech about 14 trillion dollars."

Now, once you have a person, an action, and an object for each of the 52 cards, and can instantly recall them, you're ready to go through the deck again. Here's how you do it:

Imagine three cards. Let's say the King of Hearts, the Five of Hearts, and the Three of Spades.

Once again, you can choose whatever images you like, but for me, that would be:

Barack Obama, Julian Assange and Ben Stiller.

But instead of having these three sit around the table as we did for the four Kings above, we're going to have only one. The first card is the Person, the second card is the Action which that person is performing, and the third card is the object of the action. So in these three cards, we only have one image, not three.

For example, these three cards refer to:

King of Hearts
P: Barack Obama... a speech on...
O:...14 trillion dollars.

Five of Hearts
P: Julian Assange...
O:...a conspiracy.

Three of Spades
P: Ben Stiller...
A:...zipping up on...
O:...his $#&%.

We pick the Person of the first card, the Action of the second, and the Object of the third and we get our composite image...

Barack Obama exposing his....

Well, you get the picture (literally). So sitting around my table wth four seats, I can have up to 12 cards, not just four. My classroom has 48, not just 16. In addition, these images are much more vivid and definitely more unusual. They are, therefore, much more memorable. Finally, every time I memorize an image, it eats through three cards, not just one.

It may seem like adding an action and an object would take so much more memorizing, but it's not that bad since the action and object are related to the person anyway, and the benefits of the action and object far outway the cost.

You can demostrate for yourself just how effective this system is by keeping track of how long it takes you to forget the image of Barack Obama standing up in a classroom and exposing his whatnot for all to see.

It'll be a while...

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