• # Analyzing Geneseo's Yik Yak Community

13 Feb 2015

Due to the nature of the data analyzed this post contains strong language.

The pseudo-anonymous messaging app Yik Yak has been making waves in high schools and college communities for the last year, with officials and community claiming that the application promotes bullying and hate speech. In March of 2014, Dr. Keith Ablow wrote an opinion piece for Fox News stating that "Yik Yak is the most dangerous app [he'd] ever seen." SUNY Geneseo, a small rural college with a campus population near 5,000 students, has a burgeoning Yik Yak community with hundreds of users. Like other college campuses, Geneseo's campus is in the debating the social pros and cons to the type of anonymous forum that Yik Yak provides.

Figure 1: Peter Steiner's famous cartoon published by The New Yorker on July 5, 1993. Steiner's comic showed the general transition of the Internet out of the hands of purely government and academic use into the hands of everyday individuals. It also touches on the pseudo-anonymous aspects of Internet culture providing a disconnect between individual identity and community membership.

Regardless of the rhetoric and vitriol surrounding the app and cherry-picked examples to be lambasted by the media, very few people have put their money where their mouth is in terms of the content on Yik Yak. Is Yik Yak really as socially dangerous as Dr. Ablow would have people believe, or is it simply a diverse and vocal community like other social networks?

• # Creating Cellular Automata: Life-like Cellular Automata

01 Jun 2014

In a continuation of understanding models of life, one of the most interesting cellular automatons is a two dimensional "life-like" automaton. The first life-like automaton was created by John Conway in 1970, and was published in the October 1970 release of Scientific American. The intrigue that surrounds the automaton comes from the emergence and self-organization of highly complex patterns as the simulation evolves. As a result, these automata have attracted the interest of computer scientists, mathematicians, biologists, and physicists.

Figure 1: An example of life-like cellular automata. This simulation is represented as Unicode characters from an automaton implemented in python. White characters represent cells that are alive. As the simulation progresses, it approaches a state of stability and order. Some patches of complexity remain and migrate through the world.

Let's examine the rules of Conway's cellular automaton and see if we can implement a simple life-like cellular automaton in python.

• # Creating Cellular Automata: Elementary Cellular Automata

03 May 2014

Sometimes the best way to learn about something is to create it. If I want to learn about an interesting subset of mathematics, eigenvalues perhaps, the explanation of the math can only go so far. I must let my pencil do the talking as I learn through construction. Programming is no different. So, when I became interested in cellular automata, I decided to make some examples of different types. Today, we can go over elementary automata.

Figure 1: An example of elementary cellular automata following rule 110. Each row in the image represents a segment of time in a time series from top to bottom. Each back space represent an organism, and each white space represents a dead organism. By defining a rule set, we can determine the outcome of the system. Rule 110 is named as the binary equivalent to the binary series 01101110.

Elementary automata are particularly interesting for two reasons:

1. The limited number of rules and interactions make them very easy to study.
2. The visual nature of time allows for deep investigation into changing patterns.

With these two characteristics, elementary cellular automata have become a tool to explore emergence, chaos, and complexity in a non-linear system.

• # Connecting to Cisco IPSec VPNs on Arch Linux

26 Feb 2014

In preparation to some travel abroad to Ivrea, Italy, I decided that I needed a secure way to connect back to my server at college. SUNY Geneseo is kind enough to provide a Cisco IPSec VPN into their heavily firewalled network and, with a little work, we can VPN in without an issue.

Figure 1: A generic visualization of the priciples of VPN tunneling. In this figure distict networks are able to connect with one another via the internet whilst preserving annonymity. Image by Ludovic.ferre licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.

## VPNC and the OpenConnect Client

Cisco provides a proprietary VPN client for users, however this application lacks official linux support, and remains unstable on Arch Linux. The open source community has created an alternative to the Cisco VPN client called the OpenConnect Client. Arch Linux has a package in the official repositories called openconnect To install, open a terminal and run

pacman -S openconnect


Once installed, we can configure and initialize a VPN instance using the openconnect command.