October 31, 2010
October 26, 2010
Overnight, I made some changes to the blog – I tried to keep the overall look and feel the same, but had to fix a few things that had really been irking me. Here are just some of the things that I’ve altered: Read more
October 20, 2010
Over the past few years at Michigan State, I’ve noticed two main types of majors. On one hand there are the knowledge-centric majors, where most of the emphasis in the curriculum is placed on knowledge. Most liberal arts and natural science majors fall under this category – I’m not even going to try and assert that computer science has as much necessary knowledge as these do (especially natural science majors). Many of these knowledge-centric majors turn into skill-centric professions (law and medicine, as examples). To be honest, this type of studying sends chills down my spine – I’m just not that great at it. On the other hand, I’m certainly glad that a whole, self-loathing segment of the population is good at it. Read more
October 18, 2010
Happy tiny blog post day!
October 17, 2010
I’ve heard a lot of complaints about computers in my life, and most of them are honestly hogwash – anyone who thinks that they are truly saving time by refusing to use technology is setting themselves up for a thwap on the head by an enemy called reality. With that being said though, I’ve heard a few complaints that I believe have some merit:
- Computers give people new ways to waste their lives. To tell you the truth, I’m not sure what to say about this one – you can give the world some fabulous new technology (the trend started long before computers) and within a week you’ll discover hot lingerie hot lingerie that the earliest adopters were people trying to use it for… well, less than noble causes. (See the fact that the Japanese porn industry was one of the driving causes behind the adoption of Blu-Ray discs over HD-DVD’s – and calm down people, it’s just a link to PC World) I think that this phenomenon isn’t unique enough to the computer industry to justify any sort of complaint.
- Technology creates a new barrier that causes the world to be less personal. In all honesty, I believe this one can be very true. Now, before you leap out of your seat and throw your computer into your neighbor’s kiddy-pool in protest of what I said, let me explain: computers are good at doing what they’re told very, very quickly. As a result, given the right instructions, they’re capable of creating an environment where the computer is unbelievably responsive, where for every pixel your mouse moves, zillions of tiny pixels light up across the screen (Google ball logo, anyone?). The human brain loves this type of thing for the same reason that it loves knocking down living rooms full of dominoes – we love to see maximum manipulation of our environment for minimum effort. This is great if the programmer is incentivizing a positive act – let’s say, watching a puppy jump around his screen after volunteering at a local puppy shelter. However, it seems that, just as often, things are incentivized that just aren’t that important.
October 14, 2010
There’s a certain type of person that just drives me nuts. “You’re a liar!” you say, if you know me well enough, because there are actually a lot of types of people that drive me nuts. But there’s one type of person that drives me really nuts – I call them the “greedy realists”. Read more
October 5, 2010
Last Friday night, I went with my family to see the movie The Social Network. It’s a truly interesting movie, regardless of whether you like Facebook, programming, or even the internet (Aaron Sorkin, the movie’s writer, can be quoted as saying “I’m not a fan”, which is alright because I still love him regardless). One thing that struck me, though, was how the conditions under which Facebook was created were depicted in the movie. According to the movie, it appears that the code behind Facebook mystically took form through some mixture of tequila, sex, and loud music – a combination of things that I’m fairly sure that any programmer can describe as, well, less than ideal working conditions.
October 4, 2010
So, it all starts with an idea.
Some day you happen upon an idea and you say to yourself: “The world would really be a better place if it had <insert your idea here>. I wonder if anyone’s thought of this before? You know what – I could make this!” Let’s say that you really really think that a teflon Slip-and-Slide is going to make everyone in the world happier – how could anyone NOT like it? It’s like a zipline combined with a pool and then put on steroids! And that’s how most ideas start.
September 15, 2010
Every half-decent MySQL programmer knows that, when making queries, it’s important to minimize both the total number of queries made and the number of fields selected in each query. The importance in minimizing the number of queries made stems from the fact that executing a query is a rather expensive operation. The importance in minimizing the number of fields selected, however, comes from logic; the more information that the query must return, the more expensive the query will be.
Many times, these two optimizations are at odds with each other, especially when attempting to implement code in an abstract and extensible way. So the question is posed – which of these affects the overall speed more?