Friday, March 9, 2012

Computer Everything

What is it about the computer science major? None of the other majors get this. You don't know what I'm talking about yet. Here are some anecdotes to clarify:

Broski: Bro. I got the greatest idea for an ap on phones. You tag all these chill places on a world map with unknown shit you know. Like say you're on a mountain, and you discover this sick path no one has even discovered. You tag it so everyone else can experience it. Same with skate parks, beaches, whatever. You program it and we split the profits 50-50.
Me: Where do we get maps of the world? Not copyrighted?
Broski: Well, that's your department too.

Female: My computer is broken can you fix it?
Me: I mean, maybe. What's wrong with it?
Female: It won't turn on.
Me: What do you want me to do?
Female: Don't you know stuff about computers?

Mom: The dishwasher is broken. Can you fix it? The computer on it doesn't work anymore.

Here is a sample of some of the courses I actually took in my computer science undergrad curriculum:

Artificial Intelligence
Graph Theory
Number Theory

If none of those words mean anything to you let me sum them all up in a single one: math. That's that subject where you do things with numbers. Most of my courses did not even involve a computer.

Here are a list of courses that you think I must have taken but are not part of any computer science program anywhere in the world:

The internet - how to make the prettiest websites, photoshop, and of course the secret to getting a website to be the first google result whenever someone searches for any noun.
Troubleshooting - that class where you learn to fix everyone's computer and are forced to memorize every windows error message and what to do. Lesson one of this class informs you to never use google, and when friends ask you about an error never tell them "google it." These errors need the immediate attention of a computer science major.
Software of the world - that class where everyday you are handed a CD. You install the application and use it for 24 hours straight on every operating system known to that point. This way whenever anyone asks "Have you ever opened a [blank] file with [blank] in a [blank] environment?" you can tell them "Of course I have. I'm a motherfucking computer science major bitch!"
Smartphones - that class where you learn about cell phone providers, cell phone hardware, cell phone programming, and are given a secret booklet from Obama himself about what new cell phone technologies are coming out in the next three years.
Networking - that class where they tell you how to configure everyone's Best Buy routers and how to "program the internet" in case RCN or Comcast is having trouble with "programming the internet" for your friends and roommates.
Computer-esque - that class where they teach you how to build from scratch and repair watches, alarms, car keys, cable boxes, noise cancelling headphones, etc.

Here are a list of request I have had the common decency not to make to the people in my life or to strangers:

Oh, you're a mechanical engineer?
Can you take a look under my hood? My car is making funny noises.

Oh, you're a bio major?
Here's a petri dish with some of my pee. Can you run it through that mass spec like thing and tell me what's in my body that makes my tongue tingle when I eat celery?
Oh, you're an economics major?
Can you research global markets, make some models, do some nash equilibriums and tell me how this abnormally warm winter is going to effect commodity prices in the coming fall? You can keep half the billion we rake in from the markets.

Oh, you're a marketing major?    
Can you make me famous? Then when I'm rich you can have 10% of my earnings for being my PR person.

Oh, you're an english major?
I have a great idea for a novel. Can you write it and we'll split the royalties down the middle? What do you mean? Didn't they teach you how to write sentences like the ones in the bookstores and what not? You know, that type of sentence.

Oh, you're a psych major?
I had a dream with a green pig in it. What does that say about my future?

But no one makes those requests, not just me, because for some reason everyone understands the limits of knowledge in every field of study but one. So I know what you're thinking. What can I ask a computer science major? The answer just might be nothing, actually. In that I mean nothing you actually want to hear about.

I can tell you how to place nine queens on a chess board so none of them are in any other queen's attack range. I can tell you how your computer would try to solve a Sudoku. I can teach you how to embarrass elementary school kids at the tower of Hanoi puzzle. But unless you want to be at a playground screaming "I just beasted that shit in 2^n-1 moves and you're all fumbling around in factorial time!" then I can't really be much service to you.

What I can do for you is not dole out tech talk unless you're genuinely curious. I won't come up to you at a party and fill your ear with babble about a new cryptography algorithm. What you can do in return is when you come up with some swell video game idea that would compete with World of can put a pee stick in your noise hole about it around me.


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Nice post. Thanks. I can see this type of blog being useful for everyday users. Plus, I loved the bit of humor at the beginning!

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