Friday, August 30, 2002

just got back from the back-to-school dance

Tonight's back-to-school dance was lots of fun. I had been looking forward to it for several weeks, and it was well worth the wait. The nice thing about dances is that they're always a great way to start the school year. Only three and a half months to go until the one in December!

While I still kind of miss my family's recent trip to Hawaii, the dance brought back memories of the nightlife in Oʻahu for sure. I'm not going to lie - I certainly wish I was still in the Aloha State right now. Haha.

Currently listening to: "Cry" by Mandy Moore

found a vulnerability in my school's student information system

So the Los Altos School District started using a new student information system this year called the Digital Locker System, or DLS. The software is being developed by a company called ACMA, and the administrative tasks for LAHS are managed by our two physics teachers, Mr. Randall and Mr. Florendo. The DLS is still in an early stage, so we're essentially testing it for the company.

While familiarizing myself with the DLS this morning, I noticed a rather serious issue: every student's default password was the same as their user ID, which was part of their profile URL. I immediately reported this to Mr. Randall, and the problem was promptly fixed. He was definitely glad that I told him about the issue.

I should mention someone else had independently discovered the vulnerability a bit earlier than me. However, that person chose to abuse it instead of doing the right thing and reporting it. He apparently used the exploit to compromise several dozen accounts. I'm really glad we found out what was going on before he could cause more damage.

Update: The culprit has been caught. According to Mr. Randall, the student was not only banned from the DLS, but also had his computer privileges revoked. Serves him right.

Currently watching: Dolphins (2000)

Monday, August 26, 2002

I'm now an upperclassman!

Summer has come to an end, and this was my first day of junior year at LAHS. In other words, I'm now an upperclassman. One thing for sure is that it feels great to be one of the big boys on campus!

From what I've heard, many people consider 11th grade to be the hardest year of high school because of the AP classes. I don't have any this year, so thank heaven for small favors. I'll still have to take them in 12th grade, but I'll worry about that when the time comes. :P

I do have Physics Honors this year, and that's not an easy class either. It's probably not all that bad because I'm pretty interested in science in general, and that Mr. Randall is an awesome teacher. His sense of humor undoubtedly livens up an otherwise difficult subject.

That having been said, it's kind of hard to return to school just after coming back from such an awesome trip to Hawaii. On the other hand, the back-to-school dance this coming Friday is certainly something to look forward to. :-)

Currently listening to: Deus Ex soundtrack - "Main Title"

Friday, August 23, 2002

back from Hawaii

"Everyone behave on the bus. I discipline people with machine guns." -- our tour bus driver in Oʻahu

Summer ended with a bang as we just got back from Hawaii. The trip was especially fun as the Shiehs were also there. Though they had a different itinerary and only stayed five days, our families got to spend time together.

Day 1

The first leg of the trip was a morning flight to Honolulu. Because it's illegal to bring fresh fruit into Hawaii, travelers had to go through an agricultural inspection. However, my mother had a pear in her bag that she had forgotten about. Imagine her surprise when it showed up on the X-ray machine!

Mom thought she would get in trouble, but the agents merely told us to eat the pear or throw it out. Dad chose the former so that it wasn't wasted. It was a funny sight to see him eating the pear next to the inspection station.

The five-hour flight to Honolulu wasn't too bad. For one, the lunch was delicious as far as airline food goes. I also saw Spider-Man and Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron on the plane. Both were good movies, although I personally liked Spider-Man better. Peter Parker is definitely one of those characters that would be fun to hang out with.

It was only 2 p.m. when we arrived in Honolulu due to the time difference. Dad got hungry after checking into our hotel in Waikīkī and decided to go to Taco Bell for a quick bite. As far as I can remember, this was my first time eating at Taco Bell. The quesadillas were quite good.

There was plenty of time to see what Waikīkī had to offer. Because this is a popular tourist destination, the waterfront was full of people. I can see why Oʻahu is called the Gathering Place. There were also countless hot chicks everywhere, although I was too shy to talk to them. Oh well.

We later went on the Aliʻi Kai sunset dinner cruise as part of a package deal. The host welcomed us aboard the catamaran and gave us a talk about Hawaiian culture. This was followed by the buffet dinner. People also gathered on the deck to watch the sunset as evening approached. The entertainment consisted of various shows and dances. Following the performances, the DJ put on some party music and invited us to hit the dance floor. The cruise was easily the best part of the trip.

Day 2

The morning began with a stop at the Polynesian Cultural Center, also included in the package. It was amazing to watch the natives climb coconut trees without any harnesses. The live Hawaiian music and the hula dances were also enjoyable. Even more impressive were the fire dances - those guys were like martial arts experts. It was nice to get a glimpse of the local culture. Our day at the Polynesian Cultural Center concluded with a great buffet lunch. Yum!

The Shiehs arrived in Hawaii in the afternoon. We met up with them at the hotel where they were staying before it was their turn to go on the Aliʻi Kai cruise. I had so much fun on the cruise that I certainly wished we could have gone on it again with them. However, one cruise is certainly more than enough.

At any rate, my family spent the evening checking out Honolulu's nightlife. Mom later noticed a large crowd gathering the beach. It turned out Ocean's Eleven was being shown on a giant projector screen. The three of us watched it for about 10 minutes before continuing on. That was a neat experience.

Day 3

The highlight of the day was the Pearl Harbor tour. The focus of the tour was the USS Arizona Memorial. For those who fell asleep during history class, Arizona was the ship that suffered the most losses when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941 and started World War II. The memorial contained a wall that contained the names of all those who perished. It was a touching tribute.

The three of us visited a few nearby beaches in the afternoon. The blue waters of the Pacific Ocean were absolutely beautiful and made for great pictures. Like the day before, my family spent the evening checking out the nightlife. Party on!

Day 4

The second half of our trip began with a short flight to Kauaʻi. Unlike Oʻahu, this island had few people and was much quieter. On the other hand, the scenery here was incredible. From what I've heard, many movies were filmed on Kauaʻi for this reason.

We met up with the Shieh family again in the afternoon. They then took us on a tour of the island. The first stop was the Kauai Kookie factory in Kalāheo. The company specializes in cookies with unique flavors and even had samples. I regret not buying some of their cookies.

The other point of interest was the Red Dirt Shirt factory in ʻEleʻele. As the story goes, the factory had a large batch of shirts that were ruined by the namesake red clay during a storm. Instead of writing off its losses, the company decided to sell the shirts as is - and they sold really well. I wish I had bought one.

Day 5

The morning was nice as we went to Waimea Canyon State Park with the Shiehs. The seven of us took a short hike to the Waimea Canyon Lookout to see the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. The view of the valley was incredible. Waimea Canyon State Park was definitely one of my favorite stops in Kauaʻi.

Because the trails were wet and slippery due to the moist climate, I was kind of afraid one of us would slip on the mud and fall to our doom. It didn't help that there were no guardrails anywhere. To my relief, everyone made it out of the park in one piece. Perhaps I worry too much.

Day 6

This was the Shieh family's last day in Hawaii as Cathy had to go back to school on the 21st. It was a bittersweet moment as we helped them pack up. Though this wasn't a big deal for them as they had been to Hawaii before, I could tell Cathy wasn't too happy about having to go home. We spent much of the day hanging out with the Shiehs before accompanying them to the airport.

Speaking of which, they let us use their suite for the remainder of our trip. The suite was luxurious and had everything we needed. This was easily one of the best hotels we've ever stayed in. Although the Shiehs are quite generous to us, I couldn't help but feel a little guilty because the suite was very expensive - about $400 a night to be precise. Yikes.

Day 7

We were all tired from traveling and mostly just drove around Kauaʻi again. One attraction we hadn't been to was the Spouting Horn. It was one of the coolest sights in Kauaʻi. The area around the blowhole was fenced off for safety reasons, but some teenagers ignored the warning signs and entered the closed area anyway. Darwin Award candidates for sure.

One unusual thing about Kauaʻi is that there are wild chickens everywhere. I couldn't help but wonder if people hunted them for food. It wouldn't surprise me if they did.

Day 8

I was also a little sad about having to go home as this was the last day of our trip. The three of us had to go to the airport right after breakfast to catch our 10 a.m. flight to Honolulu.

It was soon time to board the flight back to San Francisco. The time difference meant we would lose the two hours we had gained. The flight was uneventful as there weren't any good movies. On the other hand, there was an amazing sunset just before we landed. This incredible sight was the perfect ending to a perfect vacation.

Conclusions

There was never a dull moment in Hawaii. The dinner cruise was my favorite part of the trip. I liked Oʻahu more, but Kauaʻi was pretty enjoyable too. Its beautiful views were simply unforgettable. No wonder Kauaʻi is called the Garden Isle. I really wish the trip didn't end so soon.

Hawaii is a fascinating place due to its unique culture. Considering that we only visited two of the eight main islands, this trip had barely touched the surface. One thing for sure is that I'd love to go to Hawaii again. Speaking of which, I've heard great things about the Big Island and Maui...

Now that we're home, I should probably get back to studying as school begins next Monday for me. I'm a little sad that summer is almost over but am also looking forward to seeing everyone again. :-)

Currently watching: A Ring of Endless Light

Historical note: Pictures from the trip are available here.

Friday, August 9, 2002

last day of summer school at Gunn

This was the last day of the SAT preparation class at Gunn High School. As much as I hate to say this, the class wasn't exactly a positive experience.

We actually started out with a really good teacher. But two days later, the administration moved several students - myself included - to another class because the original one was too full. This wouldn't have been a problem, except the new teacher was horrible. She was very lazy and never taught anything useful. All she did was read the newspaper while we studied on our own. I just hope I won't bomb the exam because of this. *sigh*

Mom paid around $300 for the class and wasn't too happy either. The only positive thing to come out of this is that the workload was lighter. I guess every cloud does have a silver lining.

In other news...

We're heading to Hawaii with my cousins Connie and Cathy's family later this month. I've never been there before and am extremely excited!

Thursday, August 8, 2002

1,000 skill total in RuneScape

I just reached 1,000 skill total in RuneScape after playing for 18 months. Here is a screenshot of me leveling up!

Though this isn't such a big deal anymore - mainly because it's easier now that there are more skills - I'm still proud of reaching this milestone. Being a member for a month definitely helped. :-)

Currently playing: RuneScape