(Yet) Another day of hacks and tomfoolery

Authors: Tanay B. & Franklin W.

Stop. Turn time back to Monday, July 5, 2021…

The Backstory:

Legend has it that the staff at the Summer Science Program have been protecting a special set of powers. These powers have remained dormant for nearly 60 years and have only awakened in 2020. Little was known about this mystery…….the mystery of the co-host powers—until today. We knew that with this great power must come great responsibility. Left unchecked, this power could destroy the interwebs that we have come to know and love. Therefore, we knew we must tread with caution and not abuse our newfound powers—should we manage to access them.

We understood the dangers of this elusive power: the co-host role. As curious scientists, however, we were eager to learn more—to explore what this new world had to offer us. But first, we had to gain access. This first step proved to be the most challenging…

The Setup:

We set out with just one goal. One goal only: To gain co-host privileges. After the Tanay-cloning fiasco from the previous week, we had dissidents who refused to change their names to “Tanay B”. If only we could force them to convert. The renaming schemes sparked ideas—and a heightened desire to become co-host. However, the few many attempts (mostly by Katrina) to gain such lucrative powers were quickly rendered futile. As Dr. R put it, “you can be a co-host when you become a TA.” But if SSP has taught us one thing, it is that we can do anything we put our minds to—even becoming a co-host. So we did. So we spent several days formulating a master plan:

The Plan:

  1. Impersonate a TA
    1. The target: Tristan W (see Exhibit A)
    2. The method:
      1. Record a video of an unsuspecting TA (see Exhibit B)
      2. Get them to read the following text by claiming it’s for “the talent show”: 
        1. Could someone make me a coconut drink
        2. Toast most host post
      3. Rearrange the audio to create:
        1. “Could someone make me a co-host”
      4. Use the power of M a c h i n e  L e a r n i n g to sync the audio with the video (see Exhibit C)
    3. The accomplice(s): Franklin, Tanay, Chinmay
      1. SSP is about collaboration, after all =D
  2. Gain co-host powers
  3. Profit.

Exhibit A: An unsuspecting target

Exhibit B: The recording

Exhibit C: The impersonation

The creation of the impersonation went somewhat smoothly. Tristan came into our breakout room to help us with our code, and right before he left I asked him to read the seemingly innocent lines. After a couple of attempts at synthesizing the video, we got an impersonation we deemed to be good enough. Even though there were some pretty obvious giveaways, we hoped the Zoom compression would allow it to pass as real. (Tristan, we hope your trust in us restores quickly.)

The Execution

Aaaaannnnd we’re back to today: Tuesday,  July 13, 2021.

In order to gain access to the heavily guarded co-host role, one must proceed with a great deal of caution. We had only one shot. One opportunity. One wrong step, and we could blow our cover. We spent 20 long minutes strategizing while pretending to be innocently working on Taylor series Python code. Time of attack? Planned down to the second. Location of the attack? Planned down to the arcsecond.

Enter breakout room 20 just as the last person leaves. Casually ask some questions about the talent show. Send the OK signal. Strike.

The master plan initially went smoothly—minus Chinmay’s and Tanay’s uncontrollable laughter in the breakout room…

But then, disaster struck. Mrs. M had an issue assigning us co-host and said we needed to head back to the main room for her to assign us co-host. We only generated the video for the sentence “Could someone make me a co-host?” and couldn’t form a reply. But we compensated, claiming that our “audio is a bit messed up” in the chat. Then, as we arrived in the main room, it happened. The magical text. The fruits of our labor. The reward at the end of our quest.

We quickly made our escape from the main room to our breakout room. No one suspected a thing.

The totally real Tristan W escaping from the main room back to Room 10

The Aftermath

Fortunately, no one decided to pop open the chat person list

In the beginning, we kept a low profile. No one in our breakout room suspected a thing. We just kept going at our PSETs. But what would be the point of all this work if we didn’t have a little fun? 

Sending our favorite beats to all the Zoom breakout rooms

Some curious shenanigans. All hail Tanay.

We eventually leaked our co-host status to those in our breakout room, but the TAs were oblivious to the power we had gained. That was, until the four TAs burst into our breakout room, ready to withdraw our co-host powers. Ok, not really. They were actually there to celebrate Tanay’s birthday!! The TAs, having exquisite musical tastes, played an amazing happy birthday video.

Phew. Our cover wasn’t blown—or was it? We soon got a message from Abby. Luckily, she didn’t reveal us to the other TAs, and we were free to resume wielding our co-host powers.

As Abby had alluded to, Katrina had spent weeks trying to find a way to get co-host powers, but was unsuccessful. So we transferred her into our breakout room using our co-host powers. Confusion soon struck since we were all named “Tanay B” and it was unclear who was the real co-host. Katrina demanded that we make her co-host, and we would have if we could. But unfortunately only Hosts can make others co-host and we only had one impersonated video in our arsenal. 

To prevent her from finding out who the real co-host was, we moved her back to her breakout room. Chinmay later recounted to us how we caused chaos in their breakout room as Katrina explained her experience. Soon, she realized who the co-host was, and came back with the following message along with a genius pun (as usual).

Finally, she left with an ominous message:

The After-Aftermath

Unfortunately, it seems that this approach to getting co-host access cannot be repeated now that our methods have been exposed. 

Will we regain the power of the co-host some other way? Will Katrina ever become a co-host and exact her revenge? Find out in a future blog post!

Hey! I’m Franklin, and I’m a rising senior from the Bay Area. I love programming, teaching, playing the oboe, playing badminton (poorly), and listening to experimental music (which my friends adamantly believe is not music).

Hi! I’m Tanay, and I’m also a rising senior from the Bay Area. I’m into programming, teaching programming, mathematics, and speedcubing, but I’m also interested in learning languages, playing soccer and table tennis, and listening to a variety of music ranging from Bollywood to C-Pop and K-Pop.