show and tell for hackers in DC.

Round 29: Opulent Superhuman Skepticism

09 Feb 2016

Here are the Hackpad presentation notes from Round 29: Opulent Superhuman Skepticism.

Chris Nguyen

Sound with code

Chris turns code into sound! Used Sonic PI? Played “Hello” by Adele with code, supercollider?

Sonic Pi is a live-coding synth instrument – you use code to make music and sounds!

It’s made to be powerful and used even for live-coding performances among DJs and other performers.

The code is relatively lightweight and requires a little bit of musical literacy to put together, but overall it’s not that hard to write songs!

Chris put together Adele’s Hello using Sonic Pi here.

Ramsay Lanier

WordPress Express

Ramsay really dislikes PHP but needs to do Wordpress development. What’s the solution?! It’s also on Github:

It uses Node.js and Express to pull data from a WordPress database using GraphQL. Relay fetches the data and delivers it into React components.

Bonus: It’s NPM installable!

Ben Klemens


The IRS website is pretty bad and calculating your taxes is really complex. Companies like TurboTax lobby to keep it that way.

Along comes Ben Klemens with Py1040, a script to calculate your individual taxes using the IRS 1040 form.

This overwhelming graph shows just how complicated the tax filing process is – and how much more streamlined the process would be if we got rid of a specific form (like Schedule E).

Right now it doesn’t cover all the forms, but that’s what crowdsourcing is all about!

Jim Webb

Seeing is Believing

Jim’s presentation showed off a bunch of optical illusions – could visual misfires be a result of knowing and hacking our visual systems?

His presentation was full of upside-down faces that look right at first glance; grey dots that appear between black squares, and used contrast to show negative images superimposed.

So by staring at crosshairs before meeting your nemesis, you can blast them in your mind. Or stare at a halo and see it superimposed above someone’s head.

By oversaturating our visual systems, we continue to see the negative image of what we had just been staring at.


Surgezilla + Snowzilla

When Snowzilla hit, Uber had Surgezilla! So Annie started tracking Uber’s surge pricing using the Uber API.

She tracked surge pricing in 10 minute intervals at various locations: Arlington, Columbia Heights, Dupont, and Georgetown.

Turns out there’s even surge pricing when there’s no cars on the road (Saturday morning)

~ 2.9 max surge

“If surge pricing is low but wait is infinite does it really matter”?

Annie’s presentation is here, which includes lots of great charts tracking the surge pricing over time.

Eric Haengel

Delfino TI C2000

Eric brought in a Delfino, TI C2000 and showed it off for the hardware-loving Hack and Tell crew.

At $30, it’s full-featured, having 200 MHz CPU, lots of ports, 1 Analog-to-digital converter with 3.5million samples per second. That translates to 44K/sec for a sound card.

Eric humble bragged his mini electronic lab, and collected sine wave data to test max output.

Hack and Tell doesn’t get a ton of hardware hacks, but when we do, they’re tons of fun. Thanks Eric!

Kunal Johar

Finding valid email addresses

Kunal’s hack probably needs a big disclaimer that it should only be used for good and not evil!

Kunal created a Google spreadsheet tool to guess e-mail addresses for “lead generation.” If you know someone’s first name/last name and domain name, you can check to see if the email address is valid. It works by sending an HTTP request to a service that sends SMTP guesses to the target server until it gets a combination that works. Works unless a domain blocks requests from unauthenticated providers.

An overview of how the process works is here:

Doesn’t work in Microsoft Exchange, and you’ll want to be wary of honeypots and catch-all email addresses. As Kunal warns, “you’re screwed anyway, this is just a cheaper way of being screwed.”

Travis Hoppe


Travis created Hyperop, a Python library for representing really, really, really, really large numbers. No, bigger than that still! Addition, multiplication, exponentiation, tetration … even bigger!

This is the first python library that supports Graham’s number. Largest number used in a mathematical proof. Larger than all the atoms in the universe.. 64 times over! Travis wonders given infinite memory and time, if Python would even be able to represent Graham’s number?

How does it work? Hyperop uses functional programming within Python.

Please direct your complicated mathematical questions to @metasemantic

Thanks to everyone who presented, everyone who attended, @svthmc for the writeup, and @jessicagarson for the live tweets.

A shoutout to our sponsors WeWork for hosting!

Round 30 is being planned, stay tuned for the date and time. In the meantime, you can sign up to present. See you all next month!