Category → cs

Thoroughly Stripped

CSAW CTF 2017 Finals (Forensics, 200 pts)

Woo, first CTF writeup. I got the opportunity to participate in the 2017 CSAW CTF finals with Don’t Hack Alone.

Dumped by my core, left to bleed out bytes on the heap, I was stripped of my dignity… The last thing I could do was to let other programs strip me of my null-bytes just so my memory could live on.

We are provided with a core dump. Examining the flavor-text and the dump, we notice that the dump has no null bytes; we conjecture that they have been stripped out.

Next, we examine the hexdump and look for any clues. There are a bunch of ASCII strings, but they look like normal debugging symbols. One thing that jumps out is that there are a couple fairly convincing regular striped patterns that become vertically aligned if you display 20 bytes in each line. Once we do that, we notice the following section. (This dump is from xxb but xxd -c 20 thoroughlyStripped is quite sufficient.)


--... ---.. ....- ..... ..--- ----- ....- ....- ...-- -.... ...-- -.... ...-- . ....- ....- ..--- ----- ....- ..... ...-- ----. ...-- -.... ....- ...-- ...-- -.... ..... -.... ....- ....- ..--- ----- ...-- ..-. ....- ----- ..--- ----- ...-- ..--- ...-- ..-. ....- ..... ...-- .- ...-- ..... ....- ----- ....- ..... ...-- -.... ..--- ----- ...-- --... ....- ----- ....- ...-- ..--- ----- ...-- ..--- ...-- ..-. ...-- ---.. ....- ....- ....- ..... ..--- ----- ...-- -.. ...-- .- ...-- -.-. ...-- -.... ..--- ----- ...-- --... ...-- .- ...-- ..-. ...-- ..... ...-- .- ...-- ..-. ...-- ---.. ..--- ----- ....- ....- ....- ----- ...-- . ...-- -.... ....- ..... ...-- ----. ...-- .- ...-- ..-. ...-- ---.. ..--- ----- ...-- ....- ....- ----- ....- ----- ...-- -.. ..--- ----- ...-- ..--- ...-- ..-. ...-- ..... ..--- ----- ...-- ..... ....- ----- ....- ---.. ...-- ..-. ..... -.-. ....- ..... ....- ----- ..... -.-. ...-- -.... ...-- ..--- ....- ...-- ....- ..... ...-- ----. ..... -... ..--- ----- ...-- ..--- ...-- ..-. ...-- ..... ..--- ----- ...-- ..... ....- ----- ...-- .- ...-- ..-. ...-- ---.. ..--- ----- ...-- .- ....- ..... ..... -..

Jam-Packed Fun and Games

Did I say “fun”? That was short for function calls. Which are fun too, admittedly. Blah, I always go to such lengths to come up with snappy yet justified post titles and end up achieving neither.

One more complimentary breakfast later:

This is it.

Google Code Jam World Finals. [Google Code Jam 2015 name tag with my name and handle and country] Let me take a moment to reflect. Seriously. I do not know how I made it this far this year. I guess I might be a top-500-ish competitive programmer globally, maybe even top-150-ish, but definitely not top-25-ish. And Log Set, the hard problem that got me through Round 3, doesn’t seem like it plays to my forte particularly either. It’s a bit mathy, but the math bits aren’t the hard part; I think it’s largely implementation, with one psychological hurdle where you have to realize that, because of how few distinct integers there are in S′, you can efficiently solve the subset-sum instances you need to produce the lexicographically earliest answer. I’m actually kind of impressed I got that. It seems like the sort of hurdle I usually get stuck on. How did this happen?

Maybe randomness. Maybe I was just particularly clear-minded during the round and wrote less buggy code than usual, because I had no expectation of making it whatsoever and so could look at the contest detachedly (until midway through the contest I accidentally noticed that my rank was under 20, and even then I tried very very hard not to think about it, and it kind of worked).

But it happened, and now I’m here. Time to roll.

In some emails much earlier in the Code Jam logistical process, Google had asked for “requests for changes and/or additions” to the software that would be installed on our competition computers, and I had sent them a long list:

Here are some things I’d like if they were installed, in decreasing order of priority:

  1. The Vim plugin syntastic ( )
  2. a Haskell compiler (probably Haskell Platform 2014.2.0.0 even though it’s a year old)
  3. the Haskell package hdevtools ( ) so that the above two may be integrated
  4. (I don’t have enough Linux experience to name a specific thing to install, but command-line utilities that are the equivalent of pbcopy and pbpaste on Mac OS X, which allow me to redirect text into or out of the clipboard from the command line easily)
Of course, this is my first Code Jam and I don’t know how reasonable these requests are. Any nontrivial subset would be appreciated.


Nope, still no meaningful post today. Instead here is a pretty diagram of the A* search algorithm (A-star in English, for my search crawler overlords). At least, I hope it is; I spent more time fiddling with the pretty colors than making sure the algorithm I implemented was actually A*. It looks right, though? In the background, red component measures traversed distance from start, (inverted) green component measures difference between the traversed distance plus heuristic distance and the theoretically optimal heuristic distance from the start, blue component measures heuristic distance to goal.


tl;dr: anybody want to add me on Line or tell/remind me about other phone chat apps? betaveros as always.

Wow, talk about uninspired post titles.

I got a new phone today. Or, well, it’s second-hand, actually. I try to make electronics last a long time, but I think this was justified given the state of my last phone’s screen:

old phone screen, with a visibly malfunctioning black patch

Besides, I’m going off to college and all. Anyway, the phone is pretty cool. It’s a slick shade of red, it came with a cover and everything, and it has one of those fancy 3x3-grid locks. How secure are those again?

Well, we could just find the answer on StackOverflow, but that’s boring.

Chi Banner

Okay, I think I’m figuring this out. When I make a filler post for the streak, it should be an unabashed filler post, so I can accumulate some of the blogging time I find each day to work on a serious post (and for doing the other important stuff I should be doing!) instead of wasting it right away. Life. I’m programming something for Dad involving a parser using Jison, and one of the tasks involved stuffing a custom lexer into the parser.

College Emails

(Frivolous blog content, posted as part of a daily posting streak I have openly committed to; standard disclaimers apply)

Out of boredom and curiosity, I graphed how many emails colleges sent me, excluding the colleges I actually applied to. I am being extremely polite and just calling them emails. I’ve wanted to make this for a long time, but it wasn’t until I saw this post about an email experiment on that I understood which tools I could use to quantify my emails. (And then I actually made it and procrastinated posting it here for two months. If you look at my GitHub page or activity you might have seen it already, though. Oops.)

I don’t think the results were expected. Other than saying that, I leave the interpretation up to the reader because I’m on a tight blogging schedule. Cool? Cool.

Adventures in Unicode Forensics

What do you do when you get a bunch of files like this from a zipfile? I’ve blurred the messed-up file names because I’m not convinced it’s impossible to reconstruct the Chinese names of people from them and I’d rather err towards being paranoid about privacy. Except for the one file name whose author’s identity I’m OK with disclosing. Back story: I have been tasked with collecting everybody’s Chinese assignments for this semester.

Puzzle 46 / Fillomino [LITS + Extra Region + Walls + Anti-Walls + Inequality + Tapa + Masyu]

5:27 PM phenomist: do you use gridderface to make pretty puzzles?

5:52 PM phenomist: actually nvm excel is probably easier lol

Okay I’m sorry this is a horrible puzzle where the rules don’t make sense and I didn’t even get it testsolved. I just wanted an image to concisely demonstrate the capabilities of gridderface, my puzzle marking and creation program, for the project homepage, after somebody expressed interest in using the program to write a puzzle. Then I got tremendously carried away.

C/C++ to D

Some notes.

I’m assuming you want to use D largely, but not entirely, for competitive programming. That’s me right now.


Syntax is very similar. Function definitions, semicolon-terminated statements, variable declarations, and so on. You can declare int main() {...} or void main() {...} or something with arguments.

Basic types like bool and int and double are all there. Wonderfully, long is 64 bits. Instead of unsigned whatever, just prefix a u, e.g. uint.

Arithmetic operators and bit operators are all there too, including unsigned right shift >>>. Although ^ is still xor, D has exponentiation as ^^. Sadly, % is still same-sign remainder; there’s no true mod.

import std.stdio;

Casts look like cast(int) x;

Control Flow

if, while, for, do, and even switch all work as you’d expect, along with break and continue.

foreach is the nice addition though. Not only can you iterate over arrays and stuff, but range loops go like: