’57 Classics vs Burstbucker Pros: A Pickup Comparison

Every single one of Gibson’s current offering of humbuckers seems to have the mission of recreating the sound of the legendary PAFs of old. Simple task, one would think, no? Get the specification of those, and adhere to it? Ohhhhh no. Turns out that this is basically impossible, because it seems that the golden-era PAFs were lashed together “by feel” more than adhering to any particular design spec, and so varied widely from pair to pair in their tonal characteristics. Particularly, the amount of wire wound onto the two magnets was only approximately measured out, resulting in asymmetry between the two coils of the humbucker, the degree of which affects something called the “sonic bite”.

In an effort to capture this range, or at least a few discrete points within it, Gibson now offers countless variations and twists on the original design, the descriptions of which tend to include “but with a slightly more…”. Two of the most popular of these variants, appearing on stock ES-335s and Les Paul Standards respectively, are ’57 Classics and Burstbucker Pros. These are similar insofar as they’re both based on the PAF design at heart, but with the following divergences:

’57 Classics

  • Made to the exact same specs as the original PAFs
  • The two coils of the humbucker are balanced, which is to say, each magnet has the same number of windings around it
  • The magnet itself is an Alnico II

Burstbucker Pros

  • The two coils are unbalanced, by a calculated degree to give rise to a little more attack
  • The magnet itself is an Alnico 5, which is the same only a little stronger than the Alnico II featured in the ’57 Classic

The Difference: In Words

Attempting to verbally describe the difference in sound which these differences give rise to is a hilarious business. You don’t have to look far* to find descriptions such as the following, which can only be described as poetry:

  • “a bit woodier, honkier, and more hair around the edges”
  • “ultimately, they are PAF’s with a little sumthin’ sumthin'”
  • “the bass and mids just jumps out and kicks you right in the nuts!”

* Source: the interwebz.

The Difference: In Sounds

Translating those into a sound in my head is beyond my inter-sensory capabilities, so let’s have a look and listen to these two clowns comparing guitars featuring the respective types of pickup:

Reflections on Hannah Diamond’s “Hi”

There’s an almost-palpable pregnant pause as people wait (and wait and wait) for Hannah Diamond to put the finishing touches on her debut EP, Reflections, due out god-knows-when. With six singles and a handful of feature spots drip-drip-dripping out since 2013, it feels like it might finally be happening.

Very little is known about Hannah: she’s in her 20s, she grew up in Norwich, she loves fashion and she’s a photographer in addition to being a musician. That’s pretty much it; although, at the very beginning of her career, one was able to find an interview on YouTube, in which she described herself as “always heartbroken” and “really unlucky in love” – but this was removed years ago.

Anyone born after 1988 will be only too familiar with the world Hannah exists in. Her lyrics read like text message drafts on an old Nokia, never sent but never deleted. You won’t find any songs about sex, twerking, partying or ‘drinky-poos’ with her girlfriends in the club. Instead, you’ll find desperately melancholic songs about being alone in her bedroom, feeling invisible, unrequited love, insecurity and waiting for an alert to tell her that her crush has just logged into MSN, only for her to be too shy to talk to him anyway. The simple, unassuming nature of her lyrics, and the vulnerability with which they are delivered, ends up being very disarming and you can’t help but realise how courageous it is to share these feelings and experiences in such an unrefined, unfiltered way. The designer clothes and boundless Photoshop retouches are dissonant with her unapologetic honesty and fragility, but it’s somehow all brought together to become a universal language.

The Sexiest Interracial Pairings, Based on Porn Consumption

It’s wonderful what you can get away with in the interests of science. (And it’s also true that anything you do is bound to be offensive/distasteful to somebody, so trying to avoid offending anyone is a fool’s game.)

Anything is fair material for examination. And what more interesting thing to try to describe and quantify than human sexuality?

It’s many-faceted, there are patterns, there are overlaps, it’s fairly close to the fundamentals of human behaviour rather than a derived thing in its own right… In other words, a prime sort of thing to apply a cheeky bit of Python to. Of course, you need some vast online repository of sexual material. The good news here is that, when I looked for one, I was surprisingly successful. Turns out there’s this thing called porn. Sorted on the “sufficient data” front, then…

Of course, being rather broad, trying to capture everything would be the sort of thing which required chapters, so I decided to narrow down to a certain category which seems to titillate some people, which is the old “interracial” category.

By crawling the “Interracial” section of a what I’m told is a well-known porn site1, it’s fairly straightforward to parse 1,000 pages of video titles (encompassing ~45,000 individual videos) and aggregate the views for each, ah, combination…

1Full code provided below…

Most Viewed Pairings

Wow, that “black – white” is really big… Let’s smooth the extreme range of this graph by taking \log_{10} (Views)

Well ain’t that interesting? The top 10 most popular combinations based on views alone are:

  1. black – white
  2. ebony – white
  3. asian – black
  4. asian – white
  5. indian – white
  6. black – latin
  7. black – japan
  8. black – indian
  9. arab – white
  10. arab – black

(If you struggle to read the x-values from the chart because it’s cramped, you should be able to click through and get some sweet, sweet tooltips.)

My immediate thought here is that at least some of this effect is going to be down to biases in the production rate of these various pairings, as well as the inherent “consumability” of them, so we’ll divide each count of views with the number of individual videos within that category to get a “views per video” view…

Normalised Views

Opportunities

These two graphs are different. The most-consumable categories on a “per video” basis are not the most produced. You can see that by overlaying the two:

If you put out one video featuring a black – Indian couple, you will get nearly 4 times as many views as if you produce one featuring a black – white couple, and even more if you go for Japan – Thai! If I were a porn producer, and I often wish I were, that’s where I’d be pumping my money…

(We’ll overlook the Asian – Japan combination as I suspect they might be two sides of the same coin and I could have misinterpreted the coincidence of the two words in titles.)

Bonus Filth

Of course, all of the above just looks for a certain combination of words in the titles of videos, but of course there’s a whole lot else also being said in those titles, and that’s something that’s just begging to be compared. Here’s how it looks for those top 10; the size of the word represents its relative popularity in titles for that combination…

1. Black – White

2. Ebony – White

3. Asian – Black

4. Asian – White

5. Indian – White

6. Black – Latin

7. Black – Japan

8. Black – Indian

9. Arab – White

10. Arab – Black

I’d attempt a commentary, but I’m blushing.

Code

There are efficiencies which can be made to this, but I was bashing it out after a few beers and under the disapproving eye of the gf, so once it worked, that seemed a good time to stop.

import urllib2
from bs4 import BeautifulSoup
from wordcloud import WordCloud

races = ["black", "latin", "white", "asian", "BBC", "indian", "ebony", "japan", "thai", "mexican", "european", "czech", "arab"]

raceCombos = {}

vidCount = 0

x = 1
while x <=1000:
	rawPage = urllib2.urlopen("https://xhamster.com/channels/new-interracial-"+str(x)+".html").read()
	soup = BeautifulSoup(rawPage)
	vids = soup.find_all("div", class_="video")
	for vid in vids:
		try:
			mentions = []
			title = vid.find("u").contents[0].lower()
			views = int(vid.find("div", class_="views-value").contents[0].replace(",",""))
			for race in races:
				if race in str(title):
					mentions.append(race)
			if len(mentions) == 2: #Aint considering no group stuff fam
				mentions = sorted(mentions) #So black - white aggregates in line with white - black
				race1 = mentions[0]
				race2 = mentions[1]
				combo = race1+" - "+race2
				if combo in raceCombos:
					raceCombos[combo]["views"] += int(views)
					raceCombos[combo]["text"] += " "+title
				else:
					raceCombos[combo] = {}
					raceCombos[combo]["views"] = int(views)
					raceCombos[combo]["text"] = title
			vidCount += 1
		except:
			continue
	print("Done "+str(x)+" pages, "+str(vidCount)+" vids...")
	x += 1

for combo in raceCombos:
	print(combo, raceCombos[combo]["views"])
	print("\n")
	text = raceCombos[combo]["text"]
	for word in combo.split(" - "):
		text = text.replace(word, "")
	wordcloud = WordCloud(width = 1200, height = 400).generate(text)
	wordcloud.to_file(combo+".png")

The Surprising Thing About Dating an INTJ, as an INFJ

Ladies and gentleman, isn’t love divine? More so, when a bunch of psychologists endorse your relationship based on your personalities? Ooh lala.

I have known for a number of years that I am an INFJ (Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging). I have read countless articles about my personality type and, of course, my personality’s predispositions. Common traits of an INFJ include being asked the questions below and freaking out.

“Do you want to go out to this party?” “Do you want to go networking?” “Do you want to ..[insert any activity involving more than one other person]”.
All these questions are met with a big fat

via GIPHY

INFJs are what you call “one on one” people. All my friendships are based on one on one interactions. I crave emotional intimacy. We like to feel like we are connected to people. We enjoy deep conversations and expressing our thoughts and feelings. We cannot settle for anything vacuous or superficial – if it is not deep and intense, it is truly not satisfying to us.

This is one of the biggest issues for INFJs in relationships. I can only speak from a woman’s experience, but I am sure the same is applicable to male INFJs too. As people pleasers, relationships are a way for us to showcase how much we love the other person and have a uniquely intense emotional relationship.

What better way to get instant INFJ satisfaction than in a monogamous relationship right?

via GIPHY

Out of 16 different personality types, INFJs make the rarest combination of people to exist, which means we are often misunderstood and dating can be a real pain in the a-hole.

People find it easy to open up to INFJs and we love love this. Throughout our lives we have had to learn that having a deep and meaningful conversation with every person you meet is not a viable lifestyle and most people are not used to this. We are weirdoes to most people! We must contain the crazy.

The problem with our relationships is that they can involve a lot of one-sidedness. What is a normal conversation to me (e.g me having a rant about something which then ends up with me linking it to my childhood fears) often equates to “deep topic” conversations most people would only speak of when on the brink of tears or heavily drunk. This normally results in us emotionally attracting people that may not have the best intentions for us, purely because they feel like they have never felt this emotion before. “I have never met anyone like you before”. Boohoo – I am the 1%, of course you don’t meet many people like me.

Over time I’ve had to learn how to separate the emotionally needy people from the people I can truly dedicate my time and love to, for my own emotional health. In the past my relationships have involved me giving emotional support and receiving the minimum amount back. It was an extremely unhealthy relationship for my personality type but it made me realise that I had limited emotional resources and that I could not connect with just anyone. Everyone wants to be loved and for INFJs it can be interesting to have someone to give all your affections, but that also means running the risk of someone leaching from you.

My boyfriend is an INTJ. Some well known INTJs include Elon Musk and Christopher Nolan. So my boyfriend supposedly has similar traits to the Tesla guy and the Interstellar dude. Excellent.

My boyfriend is very decisive. Our relationship is full of decisions. Gone are the days I want to eat out and a man asks me what I want and it somehow plays like this:

via GIPHY

This particular relationship has been different to the rest. From the onset, I was determined to let my boyfriend understand that he must not confuse his initial level of comfort around me with us sharing a much deeper connection at the start. Maybe I was just being over cautious but I will explain below why I did not need to go through any of that with him.

Based on what /I have read about the best relationship matches for me, the most commonly recommended mate for an INFJ seems to be either an ENTP or the ENFP. I believe that people often overlook any pairing of the INFJ with an introvert for fear that too much introversion in the relationship might lead to emotional incompatibility, or possibly a lack of balance in the relationship. From my own experience, I find most extroverts to be too much to take. I like to think of myself as being a shy peacock. Now imagine a garden full of peacocks. The INFJ peacock might find a human who takes interest in her/him and opens up and shows her/his beautiful feathers. Now imagine another peacock who has his feathers readily on show for all to see and thrives from being surrounded by all these humans in awe. This is how I see most extroverts and I honestly would not be able to cope. Partly because I find the most extroverts actually discourage me from coming out of my shell because of how present they are; I feel as though I do not have space to be myself because they are just so ..themselves. Is that weird?

Anyway, I digress. What got my attention when I met my boyfriend was: he was intelligent, decisive, self confident and incredibly witty. I had not met someone who made me feel like I was looking into a mirror, but with a deeper voice, more confidence and self assurance. I had not even considered his personality type or how compatible we may be because it all went very smoothly. From my own empirical evidence, we are very compatible, share similar values and we generally have the same approach to life.

Introversion-Introversion

From the onset we have had a natural respect for each other’s private time and space. We both need our “introvert” time, and whilst I would normally spend the day alone, we have been able to come to an arrangement where we can both co-exist in the same flat and rejuvenate our inner introvert-self. The INTJ boyfriend will be reading a book on one side of the room and I will be truly demolishing noobs on league of legends. It works wonders.

I do not like big groups. He is a lot more social that I am and has different groups of friends (the mind boggles). He gets this and has always gone out of his way to make sure I am not in a situation like that, or if I have to be, that I am not there longer than necessary.  When meeting his best friend, I am aware that he agave him a talking to to not freak me out. Turns out his bestie was an INFJ and we got on rather well! Small word, eh?

We take turns talking and are both really good listeners. On this front, we get on like a house on fire. I do have to nudge him every now about communication because he sometimes seems to rely on me bringing things up before he lets it rip.

Intuition-Intuition

We enjoy discussing big ideas and solving the worlds troubles over dinner. We have similar views on the big things and occasionally disagree. I appreciate the viewpoint he brings to the conversation as he is very rational and everything seems to be black and white to him sometimes, which boggles my righteous, overly humanitarian mind.

We enjoy talking about the future. Him more so than me as I appear to be the risk averse one. I have attributed this to the ordinary fears of an INFJ when in any intense relationship.

We do seem to lack interest in everyday living. I cannot say that I spend that much time obsessing over the ironing or the washing. Mind you, until earlier this year, my dear boyfriend had existed on this earth without owning an iron. We tend to pick the easy way to effectively carry out day to day things which we do not deem “important”. The sentence “it can wait” is frequently used on a day to day basis. We are both young professionals and I suspect a large part of our desire to succeed in our careers is so that we can hire a few assistants in later life.

Thinking-Feeling

So this is where we start to diverge. Me and my boyfriend are both introverted intuitive types. However, we externalise our introverted intuitive perceptions differently. The primary difference comes down to Thinking vs Feeling. For the majority of the time, our temperaments are similar.

I am attracted to my boyfriend’s objective, tough-minded thinking. Everything can be packaged in his little Thinker head. He is one of the few people I know who can take criticism and make an action plan from it without taking offence. I call him Action Plan Man.

via GIPHY

He recently went to great lengths to prove that he sleeps less now that he is sharing a bed with me and he was obviously wrong, but he thought he was right throughout the whole coding process and whatever nerdy thing it is that he does. He tackled the problem with military precision and would completely phase out for an hour a day whilst completing the mission. I on the other hand was rolling my eyes and trying to playfully distract him as I had basically told him the answer (that I am the best sleeping buddy ever!). He asked for my input throughout the whole process and he took all my feedback well and continued on his little mission.

I cannot speak for him on this matter without tooting my own horn. Sometimes I notice how straightforward with me he is and have to remember not to take offence because a large part of the internalisation is to do with INFJs being sensitive to all emotions. So when my thinker boyfriend says something bluntly without meaning anything ill at all, it always evokes a larger than expected reaction from me.

In this respect I do believe that this is where we are well balanced. Between us we are ablate gain a lot of different perspectives before making important decisions. I do not like conflict and sometimes will go to great lengths to avoid this. It sometimes makes the situation more complicated than normal. We normally just laugh it off. There is a lot of affection in the relationship. I think he clocked on early on that this was my language of love and he has been exemplary. Likewise, I also have to be very straightforward with him about my feelings as this is the way he receives my show of affection better.

Judging-Judging

We like to use calendars to organise ourselves. If it is not in our calendars, it is not happening. The other sends an invite and we accept or decline accordingly. It really is that simple.

We are both opinionated, but this somehow has not been an issue because we are both always willing to compromise or budge. We both like to resolve matters and have been successful at each stage.

My boyfriend sometimes says he is intimidated by me and it is rather difficult to understand why because to me he’s so confident. I understand that INTJs can come across as cold, but he’s much sweeter than he likes to let on. The challenge of getting to know the real him was an interesting and enjoyable one. The more time we spend together and see how how mind works and the little things during the day he considers victories, the more I am in awe of him

My emotional sensitivity wears me down at times, but my boyfriend teaches me to separate myself from the emotions of others. His approach to most of life has rubbed on me and I am slowly starting to realise that I am not responsible for the well-being of those in my life and learning how to say “no” more often.

In Summary…

The moral of the story is, I could probably be with an ENFP or ENTP, but hey I am stuck with this guy, even though he has trouble believing that I enhance his sleep [insert eye rolling emoji]. Maybe the law of attraction cannot be boiled down to what our archetypes are and people are different. I recently read that people’s principles and values play a larger part in relationships than personalities. We both have the same outlook on life and are willing to put in the work. It could just be that simple!

via GIPHY

Anyway, INFJs, go get yourselves an INTJ! (or anything else, just be compatible!).

 

How Sharing a Bed with My Girlfriend Changed My Sleep


It’s not easy to catch some much-needed Zs with someone doing the horizontal version of the Macarena in bed next to you.


via GIPHY

And I can tell you from experience, after many months of nights like this, one begins to fear for one’s health and sanity, but it’s a difficult one to broach. Polite requests such as “OMG CAN YOU FUCKIN KEEP STILL FOR A BIT?” inevitably lead to tension, but fortunately data solves arguments, so, delicate tact having failed, my way forward was clear…

As part of a short-lived and laughable health kick, I invested in a Fitbit in spring 2016 and therefore have a presumably reasonably-accurate record of my sleep since that time. In what can only be described as a generous nod, Fitbit allows you access to your own bodily information by way of an API, which facilitated a simple comparison of my sleep quality since we began sharing a bed, to that of a corresponding single-sleeping period beforehand.

At a naive first glance, the evidence was damning:

0.6 hours, or ~35 minutes, less sleep every night. Over the course of a lifetime that equates to 1.9 YEARS less time sleeping, assuming that the sleep deprivation itself didn’t shorten your life, or you weren’t murdered as part of the sleep arguments.

Makes you think, though: was my previous sleep profile simply shrunk by a linear factor, or was there a more interesting effect going on?

Turns out, since we started sharing a bed, most nights I have the same amount of sleep as before. The change in average has happened because the distribution has squished a bit: I have more nights with few hours’ sleep, and fewer nights with a massive sleep (goodbye lie-ins):

Back in the epoch of solitude, I pretty much always got at least 5.5 hours sleep, and often as much as 9.5. As we say in East Lancashire, them were the days.

But now: look at some of those nights! There were a fair few when I got less than 5 hours sleep, and considering that my employer only starts the working day at 10:00 and therefore I need to be awake at about 08:30, that speaks volumes about when I actually went to bed. Fortunately, one of the things tracked by Fitbit is what it thinks is your “hours in bed”, which presumably is a period when your bodily signals are consistent with being horizontal, still, and quiet. Comparing this metric for the Apart and Together periods yielded the following…

Whoa whoa whoa. What’s going on here? There are several deeply disturbing conclusions to draw:

  1. I’m spending a shit load less time even giving myself a chance to sleep.
  2. I’ve become a shit load less consistent in how much time I spend in bed.
  3. When I was solo bunking, there were days when I would spend as much as 12.5 hours in bed. Did I have deep-seated problems? Almost certainly.
  4. I presume some of the lower extremes are from times when the Fitbit had its battery run out, cease tracking because I was in a weird position, etc etc. Seems consistent in both the Apart and Together samples, which would support this.

So basically, I’m in bed less, and that’s why I sleep less. How does that look?

So most of the actual effect here comes from getting up earlier, with the secondary influencing factor being going to bed later…

 

 

The natural progression from this is to ask, so of the time I am even eligible for drifting off, how much of it am I sleeping? The answer is reassuring:

Conclusion

Whilst spending nights with my girlfriend results in less time in a state which Fitbit recognises as “lying in bed ready to sleep”, because we go to bed later and get up earlier, when I am in that state, I sleep better.

Footnote

There isn’t really much to the code needed to rive the data down from Fitbit, but for anyone interested, here it is:

import fitbit
import datetime

authd_client = fitbit.Fitbit('client id here', 'client secret here'
	,access_token='you get the idea'
    , refresh_token='i am your biological mother')

outfile = open("output.txt", "a")
outfile.write("Period, Date, Sleep Start, Sleep End, Mins Asleep, Mins Awake, Times Awake, Mins Restless, Times Restless, Minutes Until Sleep, Minutes After Aleep, Mins in Bed\n")

def writeData(sDate, eDate, period):

	startDate = datetime.datetime.strptime(sDate, "%Y-%m-%d")
	reportingDate = startDate
	endDate = datetime.datetime.strptime(eDate, "%Y-%m-%d")
	
	while reportingDate <= endDate:
		response = authd_client.sleep(date=reportingDate, user_id=None)
		for thing in response["sleep"]:
			if thing["isMainSleep"] == True:
				start = thing["startTime"]
				end = thing["endTime"]
				asleepTime = thing["minutesAsleep"]

				awakeTime = thing["minutesAwake"]
				awakeNumber = thing["awakeningsCount"]

				restlessTime = thing["restlessDuration"]
				restlessNumber = thing["restlessCount"]

				fallAsleep = thing["minutesToFallAsleep"]
				lieIn = thing["minutesAfterWakeup"]				
				
				inBedTime = thing["timeInBed"]
				
				outfile.write(period+","+str(reportingDate)+","+str(start)+","+str(end)+","+str(asleepTime)+","+str(awakeTime)+","+str(awakeNumber)+","+str(restlessTime)+","+str(restlessNumber)+","+str(fallAsleep)+","+str(lieIn)+","+str(inBedTime)+"\n")
				print(asleepTime)

		reportingDate += datetime.timedelta(days=1)
		print("Done "+str(reportingDate))
	return()




writeData("YYYY-MM-DD start of apart period", "YYYY-MM-DD end of apart period", "Before")
writeData("YYYY-MM-DD start of together period", "YYYY-MM-DD end of together period", "After")

outfile.close()

And the charts were made using the magnificent Pygal.

Tips for Securing a Training Contract at a Top Law Firm

My last six years have been a voyage of law career discovery, and it would have been so much simpler if someone had just told me what to do , what the risks were, and what the timescales were. As a good person, now being on the other side of that learning curve, I’m going to fulfil my moral duty and share the love.

Here’s what I wish someone told me:

First Year

So you’ve had your freshers’ year, snogged a few frogs, and are cruising through Contract Law 1, but haven’t had a chance to figure out what you want to do with your life. Now, at this point, you’re probably doing a law degree because you think it will lead to you becoming a lawyer. WELL, WRONG.

via GIPHY

Getting a training contract is now one of the hardest things in the world, next to getting a man to text you back within 45 minutes. You need to prep, prep, prep. Fortunately, you need look no further than this incendiary cheat sheet…

You’d better have your CV ready, girl. Like Tinder, it’s a numbers game. For perspective, before securing a training contract at a city law firm, I sent out my CV to every single firm in the city, and only had one response. Now, you shouldn’t take it personally, ever: it’s just like any other form of rejection. You gotta finesse that CV as if your boyfriend just left you, and you’re changing your Facebook picture. This is a game, and you’ve got to play it well.

In your first year, nobody is expecting you to have any experience. What they want is perseverance: you have to pester anyone and everyone until they let you sit in their office for a week, making tea and photocopying shizz. You might think this isn’t worthwhile, but any trainee solicitor will tell you that it’s not about what you’re doing, but that you have something on that CV when it comes to TC application day. Another thing you should definitely be doing is volunteering for the Citizens’ Advice Bureau. Graduate recruitment loves that shit. You get to show your “good human” and it’s one step closer to securing that job. Any legal-looking thing you can do in your first year is a bonus – miss classes if you must. After all, your first year doesn’t count towards your degree, so you go girl.

Second Year

Now you’ve been a good girl and followed my advice, and you’re well on track to securing a vacation scheme.

If you find yourself in second year and you’ve got nothing on your CV, you’re pretty much screwed. But fear not. It’s not the end of the world, you’ve just got to be smarter. Second year is that vacation scheme year. If you don’t secure that vac scheme place, you reduce your chance of getting a TC by 80%. Firms love people they’ve already vetted, and in some cases, the process for the vacation scheme is tougher than for the actual TC.

Research, research, research. Know the firm. Know their worth. Know your worth. I can’t stress this enough. You can’t stroll in to a national firm and say you want to do international cross-border work. And you can’t stroll up to a magic circle firm and say you want to do family law. Have an agenda, and follow it through. No one likes a confused girl, so why would you think it would work in the real world. You need to have the focus of a one-legged man in an ass-kickin contest.

A few tips include:

  1. Do not look at their graduate recruitment website for answers. You need to look at the client section: how they market themselves, is what they want to hear back.
  2. You need to find out if that particular firm is involved in any way with your current university, and if so, play on how much you appreciate the sponsorship.
  3. You need to know which city you want to be in. We all know that one person who wants to train in Leeds and then fuck off to London. You can’t be doing that – they see right through you.
  4. You need to have work experience. You’re never going to convince anyone in that interview room that you want to be a lawyer, if the last job you had was a barista in the hipster part of your city.
  5. You need to know why you want to be a lawyer. And saying that you liked Ally McBeal is not a valid answer 😛
  6. You need to explain why you’re doing a law degree, and if you’re one of those converts, you need to state your reasons for the conversion.
  7. You need to not appear to be a dick. Most lawyers are nice, and nothing like you see on TV, so don’t come in thinking that a show of aggression will endear you.

If you follow my advice, and secure yourself a TC, enjoy a life of a fully paid LPC and a maintenance grant (holiday money). Happy lawyering!

Third Year

So, if you’re reading this and you’re in third year, you have truly missed the boat. And… may be fucked beyond repair. I can’t really advise you much, because most firms recruit two years in advance, so you’re going to either have a year of “travelling”/”finding yourself”, or be a low-paid paralegal for some national firm/paralegal factory.

If you have no experience in your third year, you should probably reconsider your options. Whilst firms do like a mature candidate, if you have no valid reason for spending three years without having any kind of experience on your CV, you’re going to look incompetent.

You can still follow the advice above, but by the time you qualify, it might be a case of…


via GIPHY

Fourth Year

LOL.

The rules of dating a female lawyer

So you have gotten yourself a match on Tinder with an actual female. You peruse her profile and surprise, surprise, she has some legal sounding occupation. Guys, what do you do? Well, I suspect you have no idea what to do or else you would not stumble on to this virtual agony aunt platform. Don’t worry, I gotcha.

First things, first. Do not send a dick pic. I repeat, do not send a dick pic. Not only will a female lawyer not have time to look at your pee-pee, she probably spends most of her time proof reading lengthy contracts that her eye’s capacity for focussing on tiny penises is now probably rendered obsolete. You need to approach a female lawyer like you would approach the Holy Grail. Tread smoothly. A simple “hello …” with commendable punctuation would suffice. I mean if you are well hung, I am sure she won’t mind the random dick pic.

No, do not do that! That was a test. Keep your one minute wonder away from the female lawyer.

Ok so you have managed to engage her enough to get a response. She feigns an interest and replies to your messages a few times over the day but your obviously needy self wants to know how to get her to give you more. I mean at this point, the goal might just be to get her to send you some uncopyrighted nudes, but the principles will still apply here. You have to play it cool.

Female lawyers spend all day surrounded by old men telling them what to do, feeling high powered and drinking lots of coffee. You need to present a female lawyer with an alternative to her normal 8am – 8pm. I mean, be goofy if you must. All you need to understand is that she probably has hundreds of management consultants, doctors and software engineers lusting over her 24/7. If you are not man enough to handle it, leave this blog, man-child. Not many men are well equipped to deal with a woman who argues for a living. If you can’t take it, don’t waste her billable time!

If you have made it this far and are stupid enough to go ahead with dating a female lawyer, here are a few tips:

  1. Message her in the morning so she can reply to you on her commute. Do not expect communication during the day.
  2. Don’t appear emotionally needy – if you can’t handle not having attention during the day, you probably need to date batwoman’s attorney.
  3. Make weekday plans! Weekdays can be so exhausting and having company after a long day will set you apart from those weekend fuck-boys.
  4. Don’t forget that she probably lives for the weekend and there is plenty of sausage to be had on a Saturday.
  5. Ask her about her work – all lawyers like talking about themselves.
  6. Put things in her calendar – lawyers love that shit. It keeps us organised.
  7. At the earlier stages of dating, do not expect them to open up. I am sure claimant 1 thought defendant 1 would love her forever, but defendant 1 lied and now they are in the civil courts. We are risk averse because all we see are things when they go wrong, so don’t expect us to take you seriously if you promise us the world. Promissory estoppel has no place in the dating world.
  8. Female lawyers may value you according to how many units she would bill you. So you need to make every 6 minutes count or else she may have to write you off.
  9. Pencil skirts, that is all.
  10. You get the services of a lawyer for no consideration – Kerching!

If that hasn’t convinced you to go for that cold looking lawyer on Tinder, then take the above as obiter.

 

Regards,

Oxford Physics Admission Interview 2: Questions and Answers

It’s difficult to concisely say how my first interview left me feeling, but if I were forced to choose a word, I’d go with “bemused”. I’d gotten through one question fairly cleanly (like, I thought?), and one only with a significant amount of assistance from the tutors. Was that good? Was that expected? Having arrived 10 minutes early to the second interview on account of being extremely over-cautious in my estimates of how long it would take me to walk from my room to Tom Quad, there was nothing for it but to agonise over the dilemma whilst listening to the muffled voices in the room. Again I speculated how big the effect of having a good/bad candidate precede me would be.

After an awkward brushing past the previous candidate – it was a different one to before my first interview, so at least they were mixing it up that way – a face poked through the door and informed me that the interviewers would be with me in a minute. That was good. That was another unknown removed.

The setup was much the same as in the first interview: two tutors on one side of a desk upon which was some paper and biros, and me on the other. Once again, there was absolutely zero chit-chat about what I’d written in my personal statement, and question one came out…

Question 1

Imagine that you have two clocks. You can’t tell anything about their inner workings, just watch them tick. You take them both to the moon, and one goes crazy.

This was made no less funny by his saying it in a thick German accent. (I mean, he was German, he wasn’t putting it on just for the question.) I wouldn’t rise to that kind of cheap shot though, and merely nodded my understanding: sure, crazy clock. What of it? The other tutor took over…

Intuitively, what might you put this difference down to?

“GRAVITY?” I exploded, before quickly qualifying it with the more sober “I mean, a less-strong gravitational field?”

Dramatic shifts in seating positions.

What sort of clock might be affected by the gravitational field strength?

At this point, being aware that they were supposed to ask you about AS-Level stuff, I had an idea of where they might be going. I answered that a pendulum clock would.

If I were to tell you that the field strength on the surface of the moon is approximately a sixth of that on the surface of the earth, what would be the difference between the two clocks?

Ha! Rumbled. Fortunately, the formula for the time period of a pendulum clock was fresh in my mind from AS Level physics, and, thanks to that interview, still is to this day:

T=2\pi\sqrt\frac{l}{g}

… where l is the pendulum length and g is the field strength. In trying to compare the behaviour of the two clocks, I wrote two versions for earth-clock and moon-clock:

T_E=2\pi\sqrt\frac{l}{g_E}

T_M=2\pi\sqrt\frac{l}{g_M}

And the interviewer had just told me that g_M=\frac{1}{6}g_E, so I could write

T_M=2\pi\sqrt\frac{l}{g_E/6}

… or, to form a more direct comparison I suppose,

T_M=\sqrt6T_E

There was, again, that awkward period where I felt I’d gotten to an answer and the tutors just stared at me, so I vocalised the result I’d just derived with “the time period of the clock on the moon is root six times the time period of the one on the earth.”

And root six is about, what?

WHAT THE HELL KIND OF QUESTION IS THAT? Looking back, I suppose they were trying to see whether I thought that was a realistic answer or that alarm bells should be ringing, but at the time all I could think was “I’m being asked what the square root of 6 is in my Oxford interview.” I reasoned that it must be slightly above 2, so went with “about 2.3”. No feedback other than another awkward pause. The next question came out.

Question 2

Intuitively, what angle to the ground would you fire a cannon at in order to get the maximum range on the projectile?

I knew full-well that the answer was 45 degrees, having proved it at some stage during AS Level mechanics, and also having read recently that some guy had been the first to prove it. I was up front with this, but the interviewer was very keen that I was answering out of “intuition” rather than knowing the answer. Ah. Yes. Do let’s play that game. Talking about a reasonable compromise between vertical motion (for time of flight) and horizontal motion (for a greater rate of range progression), I went with 45 degrees with the air of one speculating that next summer might be warm.

Predictably, the extension was to prove this result, so I cracked out a cheeky diagram (framed prints are available – contact me):

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 12.50.14

… and wrote down the expressions for the vertical and horizontal components of the starting velocity:

v_V=Vsin\theta

v_H=Vcos\theta

The time of flight is decided solely by the vertical motion: the projectile undergoes constant acceleration due to gravity, until it reaches a vertical velocity of the same magnitude but in the opposite direction, by which point it will hit the ground again. (Neglecting effects due to air resistance and other important real-world factors obviously.) Using one of the constant acceleration equations (difference between initial and final velocities is equal to the product of the acceleration and time of flight), and denoting the time of flight as t and the acceleration as g, you get:

2Vsin\theta=gt

ie, the time of flight is

t=\frac{2Vsin\theta}{g}

In the horizontal direction, no forces act, so the range of the projectile is just speed multiplied by time:

r=v_Ht

r=(Vcos\theta)(\frac{2Vsin\theta}{g})

r=\frac{2V^2sin\theta cos\theta}{g}

This is all we need to answer the question – an expression for r as a function of θ, involving some constants V and g.

At this stage in the proceedings, the deities of trig identities threw me down a bone in the form of a memory. To find the maximum of this with respect to theta, you’d normally have to go through the rigmarole of differentiating, but by a lucky quirk of fate the relation sin(2\theta)=2sin\theta cos\theta was fresh in my mind, so I rewrote the above as

r=\frac{V^2}{g}sin(2\theta)

At this stage I took a chance that the interviewers would back me to know what a sine curve looks like, and that the (first) maximum occurs when the argument of the sine function is equal to 90 degrees, ie r_{max} occured when

2\theta_{max}=90^{\circ}

\theta_{max}=45^{\circ}

The tutors looked at each other. One was clearly satisfied with this, and the other clearly wanted me to go through the differentiation rigmarole. Entertainingly, for some reason neither of them wanted to say this, so there was a good deal of grunting and widened eyes before one of them caved in and came out with the next question.

Question 3

You have a blob of metal that you can deform in any way you like. You start off with it in the form of a cuboid, and measure the resistance between each “end”. Now you want to deform it into another cuboid, where the resistance between the ends is double that of the original cuboid. How do you change its shape?

Ie, I wanted to go from something like this…

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 13.33.36

… to something like this…

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 13.34.28

… so that the resistance across the block in the latter case is double that of the block in the first place.

Given that we were talking about changing the length and cross-sectional area of a piece of metal, it seemed that the resistivity formula would be relevant, so I wrote that down:

R=\frac{\rho l}{A}

… where ρ is the resistivity of the material, l is the length of material, and A is the cross-sectional area.

One of the tutors encouraged me to write down “before” and “after” equations, and impose the relation between them that the “after” resistance be twice the “before” resistance.

R_1=\frac{\rho l_1}{A_1}

R_2=\frac{\rho l_2}{A_2}

R_2=2R_1

At this stage I supposed I needed some relationship between the various lengths and areas in order to eliminate some stuff and solve, so given that I was only changing the shape of the same bit of metal, I argued that the volumes before and after must be the same. If I multiplied the numerators and denominators on each side by the appropriate length, I could express the two in terms of volumes before and after thus:

\frac{\rho l_2^2}{A_2l_2} = 2\frac{\rho l_1^2}{A_1l_1}

\frac{\rho l_2^2}{V_2} = 2\frac{\rho l_1^2}{V_1}

But, same piece of metal, so V_1=V_2, so…

l_2^2=2l_1^2

… ie,

l_2=\sqrt{2}l_1

So there you go, stretch it into a cuboid about 1.4 times as long and you’d have double the resistance. The interviewers nodded. There were a few very short questions about some areas of physics I’d mentioned in my personal statement, which amounted to little more than “so, you like that, do you?” And with that, my grand total of 40 minutes under the Oxford admissions microscope were over. In a haze of surreality I went and got my train.

Oxford Physics Admission Interview 1: Questions and Answers

Finding yourself at the culmination of two years’ anticipation and attempted preparation is oddly giddying. I’d visualised the beginning of my interviews so many times and in so many ways that standing in a dingy staircase in Blue Boar quad counting down the clock was absurdly low-key. For something that I myself had long-since defined as an important crossroads in my life, there should have been more drama. Maybe a murder. Something like that.

There I was though, sitting in one of those mass-produced plastic chairs that are ubiquitous through school, making forced conversation with some posh twat interviewing for History of Art or some bullshit, whose Mum turned out to be from the same town as me. Looking back, it was sort of disheartening how utterly flabbergasted he was to have come across another person who came from the town.

The interviewee before me scuttled out of the room and gave me no more than an inscrutable glance before going down the stairs. My competition; my rival. It’s strange to think that now, as we became, and remain to this day, great friends and shared most of the ups and down of uni. But in that moment, statistically, there was half a place that the two of us were going head-to-head for. Grr.

None of this was helpful to be thinking about, of course. A few minutes later I was sitting across the desk from the two interviewers, with a few sheets of blank A4 and a couple of biros between us. One was a tutorial fellow of the college who I’d stalked at length, the other a younger post-doc type. Someone had drawn a Gaussian and the number “1089” on the whiteboard. The manner of my showing in struck me at the time as bizarrely muted – was I in the bad books already? It didn’t occur to me until years later that the majority of professional physicists are simply awkward AF.

With very little in the way of preamble, the first question was forthcoming.

Question 1

Imagine that you have a length of fence, which you can bend at arbitrary points to make “corners”. You also have a wall, whose length is very much greater than the length of the fence. You’re going to use the fence to make three sides of a rectangle, and the fourth side will be some of the wall. What’s the maximum area you can enclose, and how do you arrange the fence to do that?

That was such an odd thing to hear said out loud that I thought I’d better draw a diagram to confirm whether I’d even understood the question…

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 12.23.05

(I know. Should have been an artist.)

The free variable was to be the length of wall incorporated, labelled x. Given that our enclosed area is rectangular, then the opposite side of the rectangle must also be of length x. If we denote the length of our fence by a, then we must have (a – x) length of fence left over for the “sides”. This must be shared equally, so each “side” must have a length of (a-x)/2.

Bringing out some pure Year 7 Maths gold, I proceeded to declare that the area must then be

A=\frac{x(a-x)}{2}

All going well. There were a few weary, affirmative nods. The lad is shit hot on rectangles. No worries there.

So what I wanted to find out was what value of x would result in the maximum A, which sounded comfortingly like a “differentiate, set to zero to find stationary point” thing. I announced that this was what I was going to do and sincerely hoped that they wouldn’t want me to go to first principles and show why that gave rise to a max/min. Thankfully they were happy with me just going ahead and doing it, so I wrote down the agreeable-looking expression

\frac{d}{dx}\frac{x(a-x)}{2}=0

Firmly in my comfort zone by this stage, I ploughed on…

a-2x=0

x=a/2

I underlined this with a flourish. There were frowns and tilting of heads as the tutors attempted to read upside down what I’d written. “So… what’s the area?” one said. Good point. I hadn’t actually answered the question. My value for x represented the length of wall which gave you the maximum area, rather than the area itself.

A_{max}=\frac{(a/2)(a-(a/2))}{2}

A_{max}=\frac{a(a/2)}{4}

A_{max}=\frac{a^2}{8}

Yes? Yes. Great. That went well.

Can you draw a graph of the area enclosed as a function of x?

Erm… Well… My eyes strayed towards the Gaussian on the whiteboard. But that couldn’t be right. It must be a parabola. And it must have zero value when x=0 and x=a. AND I’VE MOTHERFUCKIN JUST FOUND the max point! With those three points I sketched something. With a=4 it looks like this:

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 20.53.13

The interviewers nodded to each other. From that, I took that my answer sufficed. HA! Gaussian, pfft.

The younger of the two interviewers piped up to move us onto the next question.

Right, let’s go on to something that’s not easy.

A layer or two beneath the nerves I was feeling, I felt a ripple of anger at this. “Don’t feel pleased to have done that because it was easy. This won’t be, though.” Since that night I’ve been on the other side of the interview table many, many times, and I can’t imagine being motivated to undermine or discourage someone like that. Anyway, there was no time for that, because…

Question 2

Choose any 3 digit number. The only constraint is that the first digit within it has to be bigger than the third. (Eg, 321). Reverse the order of its digits, and subtract this from the original number. (Eg, 321 – 123 = 198). Reverse the digits of this new number, and add the result of that, to the new number. (Eg, 198 + 891 = 1089). You’ll notice that the answer has been written on the whiteboard behind you for the duration of the interview. Why is it always 1089?

Now, I won’t lie, my initial reaction was simply to think “oh shit”, because I had absolutely no idea and didn’t really know where to start. The proof is as follows, and eventually I got to it, but it was very much with the prompting and cues or the interviewers. It would not be fair in any way to say I proved it myself, even laboriously.

The reason it happens is because the process of reversing and subtracting twice effectively recovers and cancels out the original digits you chose, but with a few artefacts left over from all the dicking about reversing them (flipping digits between the hundreds and units columns), which sum to 1089.

Denote your initial 3 digits (comprising your number) as A, B and C. (Recalling that it is stipulated that A>C.) The number is then given by

100A+10B+C

Following the sequence of steps set out in the question, then,

(100A+10B+C)-(100C+10B+a)

=100(A-C)+C-A

Now we are instructed to reverse this number, which will be a 3 digit number because of the constraint A>C. We need to therefore rearrange it slightly to represent it in units of hundreds, tens and ones, and therefore be able to algebraically reverse it…

=100(A-C-1)+10(10)+(C-A)

But again, A>C, so we have to borrow a 10:

=100(A-C-1)+10(9)+(C-A+10)

Reversing again,

100(C-A+10) +10(9) +(A-C-1)

And adding this to the last variation, we get

((100(A-C-1)+10(9)+(C-A+10))+(100(C-A+10)+10(9)+(A-C-1))

=100(A-C-1+C-A+10)+10(9+9)+1(C-A+10+A-C-1)

=100(9)+10(18)+1(9)

=900+180+9

=1089

With the tutors prompting me through, I was as surprised as anyone when this number appeared on my page, but made some agreeable “ahhh” sounds of understanding. You can see just from the above that all it boils down to is addition and subtraction algebra, but of the kind that’s awkward to keep track of when you’re nervous and under pressure.

There was an awkward pause where nobody made eye contact. Obviously I felt pretty foolish. Apparently not being able to bring themselves to speak to me about maths and physics any further, The Man Who Found Things Easy piped up with “I’ll show you out, then” and proceeded to walk carefully to the door, open it, and watch me through it, all in utter silence. It was weird.

And with that, I was one interview down. I had literally no idea how I’d done. It was about half past five in Oxford in the pit of mid-winter. I headed back to the room I’d been loaned to de-suit and whiled away the 21 hours until my next interview. Read all about it in part 2…

Automated Anonymous Interactions with Websites Using Python and Tor

The debate around privacy and anonymity on the internet really grinds my gears, because tbh shouldn’t it be everyone’s basic right to make a script to vote 10,000 times from 10,000 different IPs in a poll on the website of your local newspaper? I think so. The battle against anonymity is kinda like the battle against piracy, in that thermodynamics favours the dissenters. What I mean by that is that whilst there may be many solutions to a problem like blocking The Pirate Bay, there are many MORE workarounds, so, although a certain system may be working now, there are inevitably many higher-entropy states. In a scenario where you’re trying to block, or even discern, a path between two entities, somehow there’ll be a way. And people are smart. Bless ’em. Leaky buckets.

ANYWAY, let’s bring things right back down and set out how you can do stuff on websites en-masse. Anonymity is only relevant because most sites are clever enough to recognise that when the same identity tries to do the same thing a few times, something a bit dodge may be afoot. To mitigate that, we’ll be harnessing the power of Tor. If you don’t know what Tor is, I hope you’re having a pleasant retirement.

A few swift disclaimers:

  • Don’t do anything bad. It’s not my fault if you do.
  • Whilst everything below seems to maintain anonymity, it’s not my fault if you end up living in the Ecuadorian embassy.

Python, wonderful, wonderful language that it is, has libraries that both interact with Tor, and interact with web pages. With a little jiggerypokery, you can get these to talk to each other and do amusing things.

Prerequisites

  1. Install the Tor browser bundle. We’re not actually going to use Tor browser for this shizz, but it’s the easiest way to get a fully configured Tor setup, and to start that service up.
  2. Install the Python splinter library. This is what we’ll use to control a browser window in code: send it to websites, click on things, fill in forms, and anything else we fancy.
    sudo pip install splinter
  3. Install the Python stem module. We need this to talk to Tor.
     sudo pip install stem
  4. Install the Firefox web driver, which is included in the Selenium installation. We need this because Firefox plays most nicely with the rest of the setup, and I’m too lazy and/or inept to figure out how to get everything working nicely with my preferred browser.
     sudo pip install selenium

Now we’re laughing. HAHAHA.

Connecting to Tor

Open the Tor Browser, allow it to go through it’s little initialisation, then once you get to the green screen congratulating you on being connected, minimise but don’t close that window. Having the browser open means that a Tor connection is running on your computer, and, whilst we aren’t going to use the Tor Browser window we just opened because we can’t control it automatically through Python, we are going to funnel our traffic through said Tor connection.

What we now do, is instantiate a Splinter browser, and tell it to use the Tor instance running locally on port 9150 as a proxy for SSL, socks and ftp…

import stem.process
from stem import Signal
from stem.control import Controller
from splinter import Browser

proxyIP = "127.0.0.1"
proxyPort = 9150

proxy_settings = {"network.proxy.type":1,
    "network.proxy.ssl": proxyIP,
    "network.proxy.ssl_port": proxyPort,
    "network.proxy.socks": proxyIP,
    "network.proxy.socks_port": proxyPort,
    "network.proxy.socks_remote_dns": True,
    "network.proxy.ftp": proxyIP,
    "network.proxy.ftp_port": proxyPort
}
browser = Browser('firefox', profile_preferences=proxy_settings)
browser.visit("http://www.icanhazip.com")

If you run this and it’s working, a Firefox browser will open itself, go to www.icanhazip.com (which, for the rain men among you, is a website which tells you the IP you’re using to access it), and receive an IP other than your actual one.

If you get some error related to loading “the profile” or similar, check you have the most recent version of selenium via

sudo pip install --upgrade selenium

If you get some error about the proxy server not accepting connections, make sure you have Tor Browser open. (I did mention that earlier, if you recall.)

NB: you have to include the “http://” in the website url.

Getting a New IP

Given that this is potentially something that we’ll want to do often in…. whatever it is that we’re doing, it makes sense to make it into a cheeky function:

def switchIP():
    with Controller.from_port(port=9151) as controller:
        controller.authenticate()
        controller.signal(Signal.NEWNYM)

The “NEWNYM” signal is apparently what you send to your Tor connection when you want a new identity. Who knew?

To test that this is working, we can request a new IP 10 times, and after each request visit www.icanhazip.com to verify that we are indeed coming via a different exit node…

for x in range(10):
    browser.visit("http://www.icanhazip.com")
    switchIP()
    time.sleep(5)

Greatness beckons.

Interacting With Websites

Ah yes. Doing stuff. This is where Splinter delivers.

What this code looks like depends very much on the website you want to do stuff on, and what you want to do. For this example I’m going to a bit of commenting, but if that doesn’t cover whatever you want to do, then Splinter is extremely well-documented so just zip over there and look it up.

Purely by way of an example, let’s head over to dogdogfish.com and register our opinion once or twice…

def interactWithSite(browser, deduplication):
    browser.visit("http://dogdogfish.com/python-2/generating-b2b-sales-data-in-python/")
    browser.fill("comment", "But the thing is... Why would anyone ever want to do this? I must have thought that "+str(deduplication)+" times...")
    browser.fill("author", "Pebblor El Munchy")
    browser.fill("email", "barack@tehwhitehouz.gov")
    browser.fill("url", "https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/16/Drevil_million_dollars.jpg")
    button = browser.find_by_name("submit")
    button.click()

For finding the names of textboxes, buttons, etc, just do a cheeky “inspect element” on the page:

Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 20.53.43
Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 20.25.19

Then finally you can draw all of this together with the following few lines:

for x in range(1000):
    interactWithSite(browser, x)
    switchIP()
    time.sleep(5)

Internet, I am thy master.