about this blog icon

Welcome to my blog!

I feel great to have finally launched this blog. I got catonmat.net two years ago but didn't have time to launch it. Finally got to it. How do you like the name? Cat-on-mat. Hackers love cats, don't they?

So why did I start this blog and what am I going to write here?

First of all let me introduce myself a little (more information about me on about page).

My name is Peter Krumins. I am 22 years and I am finishing my Physics degree the next year. There is a good reason why I did not choose Computer science as my major. By the time I finished high school I already had great work experience as a programmer, linux sysadmin and a white hat (computer security). After I get a bsc in physics I am going for a masters degree in Computer Science, hopefully at MIT. I find masters cs degree much more challenging than undergrad and consider it worth spending my time on. I'm applying to MIT this autumn. MIT has been my dream for a few years now ever since I found MIT's OCW video lectures and saw how cool they are. I loved these video lectures so much that I started a free video lecture blog and free science video clip website which have become pretty popular and are making me thousands of dollars through adsense and affiliate sales. (Edit: MIT rejected me.)

I have a really good understanding of programming and I've found two great approaches to software development. These approaches seem to be pretty well known and someone might say that they are wrong but I am going to show that they are not wrong and are effective.

One of them I call "the hacker's approach" which basically means you just create cool stuff quickly that works by using anything you have available. And if something doesn't work you just get it working asap without getting into much details why it didn't work. Might sound pretty lame but I am going to demonstrate in some of my posts that you can quickly create cool tools and software with little effort. Once tools get popularity you can get back to improving code quality. Speed is everything.

The other approach is what the title of this blog says "good coders code, great coders reuse". This approach is similar to "the hacker's approach" but it does not require that you create your software quickly and dirty. It just means you reuse existing libraries and spend little effort writing stuff that has already been written. Software reuse. There are so many libraries and code available on sourceforge, google code, freshmeat and many other sites that most of all the solutions to problems like hash tables, linked lists, converting images, audio processing are there.

By using these two approaches I will create some great free software and will try to monetize it so I can make enough money for MIT :)

I have been researching Internet Marketing for the last year so I will definitely do a few software project from A-Z to learn more about software marketing and to teach you how it can be done. I will create open source software and document each step on this blog - what I learned, how I did it, how it worked and how I marketed it.

Also I have this list of 50 or so cool software ideas I have thought of during the last 3 years while studying physics which I have not coded myself but will theorize on how to implement and actually implement some of them, and write about what alternatives we have for them at the moment.

For example, sometimes I struggle to getting spelling right. When in doubt, I usually query Google with words in question to find which words retur more hits. The one with the most hits probably has a higher change of being correct. So I have an idea of writing a tool that does Google queries, modifies words and returns Google hits count and suggests which one is most likely result.

Or another example, there is this viemu software which emulates vi key bindings in Visual Studio. How hard would it be write a competing software to embed vim in Visual Studio? I don't think it's that hard, probably just a few days of hacking to understand Visual Studio SDK and you get vim in Visual Studio.

You get the idea.

Some of my posts will be about how to do things with the wrong tools. A topic that I really love myself. This could be considered a hacker's approach because a real hacker would need to figure something how to accomplish the job even if he did not have the right tools. The usual scenario for doing something with a wrong tool is choosing some tool and setting a goal to do something with it.

For example, I was recently learning AWK programming language for fun and after a few hours of hacking I decided to watch YouTube videos. I love watching YouTube videos. Sometimes I want to download them so that I can watch them later. I thought, wouldn't it be great if I could download the videos with AWK? A quick Google search for awk + networking brings up results for GNU implementation of AWK - GAWK. This implementation has networking support. After ten minutes I found a way to download my favorite YouTube videos with AWK. Pretty neat, isn't it? (Edit: I just implemented this tool and wrote a post about it - downloading youtube videos with gawk)

On my about page I also mentioned I had worked as a whitehat. That's a really cool job to hack and to get paid for it. As I was hacking, I found that many boxes were secured through obscurity. For example, having an internal web server setup on port like 31234. Surely, this is no security. A quick port scan would find it. As a result I came up with this opposite idea of hacking through obscurity. I'll write more about it. It's similar to the idea of doing things with the wrong tools. Here is an example, suppose you hacked a box and wanted to make sure your rootkit never got deleted. One way would be to put the scripts that install the rootkit in the rc scripts but that's easily detectable because it's the first place to look for things like that. What about putting the script in a lesser known places such as bash shell variable PROMPT_COMMAND. The contents contents of this variable get eval'ed before each command. I call this hacking through obscurity. This is, of course, also easily detectable by inspecting .bash_profile or /etc/profile but you'd have to know PROMPT_COMMAND executes after every shell command to find it. It's very obscure. This is what I call hacking through obscurity.

I am going to post programming cheat sheets. I love cheat sheets. I have at least 30 on my desk right now. I've made at least 15 of these myself. Stuff like Perl's predefined variables, C and C++ operator precedence and associativity tables and many others. (Edit: Here's the first post about cheat sheets - awk cheat sheet.)

Finally,

I LOVE GOOGLE. I LOVE GOOGLE. I LOVE GOOGLE. I LOVE GOOGLE.

Haha, yes, I love Google! Google is everything for me. I love how smart they are, I love their products, I love their technology, I love that I can make money from them, I love that I can advertise with them, I love their tech-talk videos, I love their geek jokes, I love that they are the best company to work for, and I love absolutely everything about them!

Thanks for reading the first post and don't forget to make the first comment! :)

Comments

August 11, 2007, 16:00

I love everything you wrote about yourself, the ideas and google. I love google too. Keep rocking.

I am quite good with Perl, WWW::Mechanize and related CPAN modules. But I did not know that you can save a youtube video like that. You are pretty cool :).

August 22, 2007, 14:13

Your first post is good.i like it.You will surely win.Congratulations.cheers,indy.

alex Permalink
September 01, 2007, 16:57

i love everything about you esspessially your hacking techniqes i really would like to get some of your skills please adives meon what ishould concetrete on andwhich sites may be of help am willig to give up most of my time could you peharps teach me from scrach and areas i to need concetrate much its really cool to be paid to hack and how to make good software please teach me

ZESHAN ALI Permalink
November 30, 2007, 02:18

Peter Krumins

you write every thing but you not tell about family and your location were you from.

Dear Really you do a good work . i emprase you dear

Daniel Permalink
January 07, 2008, 12:13

dude... you have a cool life.. i am trying hard so that i can achieve you.... but now.. i am still 16 yrs old and still learning.. thanks for this cool website.. i really want to learn fro you.. ^_^

April 25, 2008, 07:50

An advanced welcome to the field of computer science, I hope it doesn't crush your ideas.

You will probably have a course on privacy issues in IT systems, where you will gain a more nuanced view opposing your unconditional Google-lovin' :-)

All the best,
Soren

July 03, 2008, 07:19

Congratulations on your BSc degree in Physics.

I came across your site a few times. And I have not been able to figure out what "catonmat" means. Even google wasn't able to help me.

I was only able to figure out what it is not. It is not an English word. And it is not part of your name. Perhaps it is a word in another language. Or perhaps it is a totally made up word?

Perhaps you can let us know the origins of your website name. Of course, if you want to keep it a mystery, that is fine too.

Just curious.

July 10, 2008, 22:00

thanks alots thats so useful

July 10, 2008, 22:18

thanks man your work is so nice

Name Permalink
July 15, 2008, 01:12

Sorry to break to you, but google is not as good as you think it is. Believe, I worked for them for about a year and quit in disgust and disappointment.

July 18, 2008, 20:55

Peter,

I have long been fascinated by the field of steganography. If you would search on that word in both google and amazon you will see resources which may be of interest to you.

I would be happy to help you bring some of your ideas and concepts into reality. Contact me if you wish. Best wishes for your continued success.

September 11, 2008, 14:41

I have sent you an email @ peter@catonmat.net .. please check it and reply if possible

Ravi Balgi Permalink
October 26, 2008, 09:51

Hey Peter....
You write about things which enchant me too..
All the best.. hope we can meet some day....
..ravi...

November 25, 2008, 10:57

All the best peter. I reached your web site through delicious.com. You are doing a great job by writing about what you like. Mostly people don't reveal any details if they fail in such big interview, but you have been so positive to write about it. This is called attitude and I hope you carry it throught your career.

cheers!!

Muhammad Permalink
January 05, 2009, 11:11

Hi Peter..i cant explain actually how much i like your work..Good job man keep it up and good luck in Google :)...
i have sent you a mail asking about small things please can you help me with it??...it is very important to me and very urgnt.Thanks To your Efforts anyway.. C ya in another Post

Muhammad Permalink
January 05, 2009, 11:12

Hi Peter..i cant explain actually how much i like your work..Good job man keep it up and good luck in Google :)...
i have sent you a mail asking about small things please can you help me with it??...it is very important to me and very urgent.Thanks To your Efforts anyway.. C ya in another Post

Muhammad Permalink
January 05, 2009, 12:59

Hi Peter, i just sent you another mail...please check it

January 20, 2009, 09:13

Seriously , I am really inspired by your dedication for actually taking time to write blogs.

February 18, 2009, 07:07

when u`ll persue Msc in computer science u `ii stop this ethical issue of hacking.ok

April 03, 2009, 23:45

мда +1 ..

April 16, 2009, 15:25

Interesting blog, Peter. Keep it going!

One point of curiosity: Is the derivation of your domain name catonmat.net as simple as it looks to the English-speaking eye (that's a deliberate malapropism), to wit, from the phrase "cat on mat"? Or is some more subtle principle at work here? :-)

April 16, 2009, 21:17

Hi Galen, the domain name 'catonmat.net' stands for the 'cat on mat'. a cat on the mat :) there is nothing more subtle about it.

alex Permalink
June 03, 2009, 17:26

I found your website today. I read your message, really inspiring. I read BSc. Mathematics in the university. I wish to go int software development and also learn the art of hacking. Can you give me some advice on which languages i should start learning and what approach to take to quicken my learning process?
Thanks

June 04, 2009, 23:09

alex, there is no definite answer for you question. art of hacking requires years and many languages, and if you are starting now, you may as well start with any language!

YJH Permalink
November 24, 2009, 17:39

Dude, there is no such thing as a M.Sc. in computer science at MIT. You have to enroll in a PhD program and they'll give you a masters degree after completing two years of your PhD. I know that Stanford, Harvard, and Brown have masters programs in CS.

November 24, 2009, 17:56

I was refering to the "Master of Science" degree on this page http://www.eecs.mit.edu/grad/index.html

Chuck Permalink
December 22, 2009, 09:02

Hey guy, I just wanted to let you know that your method of hacking has inspired me to not only hack often, effectively (through code reuse), and quickly but also to log my journey as I do it.

I am a bit unfamiliar with Wordpress but my project's aim is to build a lightweight extension of Wordpress for wannabe hackers like myself to register and log their adventures as hackers much like you have over the past three years. I already registered the domain 'catsonmats.net' and probably won't implement it right away but I just wanted to let you know in advance to see what you think.

:D
Chuck

December 31, 2009, 09:14

Hi

I become fan of you. I am a sysadmin and little scripting knowledge.

I liked your approach “the hacker’s approach” and “good coders code, great reuse“

I would like to request you become my mentor.

Hoping for your email aravind.gv@gmail.com

Louie Permalink
January 19, 2010, 22:30

Peter,
Congratulations on hitting the 10K subscriber mark. What's the next world to conquer? 20K? 25K?

I love reading your posts. Even if it's covering something that's familiar to me I still learn a new trick or two. The Perl posts have been exceptionally good.

-L

January 20, 2010, 08:22

Thanks Louie!

The next goal is 10,000 unique visitors per day! I currently have around 3,000 - 5,000 uniques per day. I'll do this with writing even greater posts and creating more projects. As I gain experience I have more and more interesting things to write about.

Diana Permalink
January 21, 2010, 21:37

Awesome. I like your aspirations and dreams. Also I find interesting the decisions you have made so far such as majoring in physics.

Have you ever thought of joining a start up in the US? They probably love your skills ;)

-D

January 16, 2017, 23:11

The information and the detail were just perfect. I think that your perspective is deep, it’s just well thought out and really fantastic to see someone who knows how to put these thoughts down so well.

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