Sunday, April 16, 2006

What CS Really Is

I hope you all had a nice, refreshing Easter weekend! I enjoyed myself, though I wish I had slept a little more, but I'm going to try and hit the sack right after I finish this post and do a quick NSC thing for tomorrow. In fact, that's why I won't post my pictures from the weekend until tomorrow night, of which I have many (and many that like a lot). Unfortunately, I left my battery charger in Houston so I'll be taking pictures sparingly for the next four weeks unless my room mate heads home one weekend. Moving along though, I found a little article online written by a CS student about what one can expect from CS, and I would consider this a must-read if you don't know what the field of Computer Science is really about (it'll dazzle your CS friends) or if you want to pass on some information to a friend considering majoring in it (or if you are, for that matter). I'll cede that I came to UT with knowledge already of the field from people trying to intimidate me, but I still had a lot to learn even then about what it's about. I like to describe it to people as four years of training your mind how to think like a someone called a computer scientist should. I was actually asked today about how hard it must be when you graduate because all your knowledge is obsolete since things change so fast, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. We actually take a class about the basics of different programming language concepts and we learn about compilers and assemblers and such so that we can pretty much pick up a new language in a weekend. When it's all said and done. As for all the theory we learn, it gets improved, but usually never proven as horribly incorrect. Similarly with architecture: it just gets better and better, and it's always important to know roots of ideas to understand their progression. I've strayed a bit from what I wanted to say though: CS really isn't about programming all that much. One professor even told me that a computer is really the least useful thing in CS (though I disagree). I think what we come out with is much richer than a language because by understanding how computers function and how to think widely, we can do so much better for the world. It can get tough sometimes, but it's not an especially hard major if you enjoy this stuff (like I obviously do) so don't be scared of it. Alright, let me get down from my soapbox and move on with my post.

I do have another issue to get on my soapbox and preach about though: stupid ISPs who shape traffic to stifle bandwidth usage for torrenting by just targeting large chunks of data being exchanged. Of course, the software is getting smarter by encrypting packets, but what I'm really more concerned about is that ISPs are more inclined to cheap-out and penalize their users rather than improve their technology. How long have cable and DSL been around without any major improvements? It's not that I don't feel for their bandwidth getting manhandled, but I have hiccups quite often simple because Time Warner is cheap, and I think ISPs need to stop being such cheap punks. If you've ever been curious about Python but are still in the dark, then you should definitely read this article comparing it to Java (which you're likely to be more familiar with if you even care about programming). It seems biased to Python, but you should note that Java definitely has its uses (embedded systems, teaching OOP to beginners at just a semi-simplistic level). Not sure how many readers I have that work, but if you do (or are interning/co-oping soon) then you've got to read this blog post with sound advice for upping your productivity. If you're interested on whether browsers like Firefox and Camino will ever have their day, you should read this great interview with a real expert. Things don't look good from an analytical standpoint, but I think anything is possible if enough people get annoying with IE. Lastly, I know I've mentioned many freeware lists, but this may be the best one I've seen listing over 300 common problems that can be solved by freeware.

I guess I really shouldn't be surprised that Scary Movie 4 reigned supreme this weekend (with over $40 million, at that), but I guess I'm just disappointed in America for supporting a movie that looked so bad and is part of a series that has progressively gotten worse. Ice Age 2 took in less than half that much at #2 (don't worry, it's already made a ridiculous amount of that green stuff), and The Wild (the other "big" opener) bombed with only $9 million (no surprise there). Click to enlarge Le ChiffreOn the right here, you're looking at a picture of the villain from Casino Royale, Le Chiffre, that popped up in a newspaper in Denmark. He does a pretty good job of looking creepy. There may be a delay of this Tuesday's HD-DVD launch with retailers not getting initial shipments as of Friday, which just makes it look really bad since it had already been delayed and they should've just overshot the date rather than undershoot in that delay. Yahoo! Movies has some neat interview clips with Tom Cruise and J.J. Abrams for MI:3 that are worth watching if you're a Tom Cruise fan in the least. Lastly, if you liked The Incredibles but don't own the DVD, you can always settle for the ASCII version (there are more here).

Now for some Unconscious Mutterings:

I say ... and you think ... ?

  1. Ambition::Dreams

  2. Meatloaf::Bread

  3. Celebrity::Jeopardy

  4. Coach::Carter

  5. Slacker::Bad college movie

  6. Reflection::Eternal (Talib Kweli)

  7. Original::Soundtrack

  8. Risk::Board games

  9. Saved::Mandy Moore

  10. June::Bug


Kristina said...

lol at #9 ave no idea how you got that

Connie said...

creepy villain reminds me of Macaulay Culkin. hahahah ;)