Why I fear Computer Science courses

Just because you can’t read it, doesn’t mean it won’t kill you.

This fall, I am doing something f***ing crazy. It’s on my senior bucket list, but it’s not the Naked Donut Run (been there, done that), and no, it’s not the SciLi challenge. What I am doing is way more hard-core than that.

I am enrolled in CSCI0150: Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming, otherwise known as CS15.

While not everyone will be doing coordinated stretch breaks with Andy van Dam this semester, a lot of you have probably toyed around with the idea of taking a computer science course before. Banner stats currently put the registration numbers for CS15 and CS17 (another introductory course) at 394 and 214, respectively.

That being said, a lot of you have also wimped out. No shame, we totally get it–computer science is scary! The cold, gripping fear of sitting down in the Sun Lab (or more recently, your own computer), and having no clue how to go about your assignment–it’s enough for anyone to drop.

All of the concentrators will tell you that’s silly talk. Sure, it will be a lot of work, but you’ll be capable of it! Essentially, the fear of CS is irrational. I am here to tell you about my own fear of computer science, which is irrational, but for very different reasons. These are all the things I’m afraid will happen if I take CS:

  • I will undoubtedly awaken an internet demon that will manipulate me into freeing it from its digital prison, and wreak havoc on campus a la Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It will name me as its co-conspirator on Reddit, and everyone will hate me.
  • The complete lack of sunlight will cause my appearance to shift into something like this:

    Deep sea Angler fish

    Smile for your graduation picture!

  • The tech bubble will burst upon my graduation, and I will still end up jobless and alone.

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Start tuning in to HBO’s Silicon Valley

Silicon-Valley-poster-HBO

HBO is  known for originating content that represents everyone from millennials in Brooklyn, to gay men in San Francisco, to fantasy royalty in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. It was only a matter of time before they focused on a group of programmers in Silicon Valley.

Created by King of the Hill creator Mike Judge, Silicon Valley takes a look at youthful minds in a culture that begs for constant innovation. Where Owen Wilson’s and Vince Vaughn’s The Internship put two unlikely faces in the middle of this fast paced world of technology, Silicon Valley introduces us to the people who are comfortable creating our apps and smart phones.

The series’ protagonist, Richard Hendrix, is working alongside four other programmers in  an “incubator,” someone’s house where they all work on their individual programs. The other programmers are familiar comedic faces like Kumil Nanjiani (Portlandia), Josh Brener (The Internship), and T. J. Miller (Cloverfield). 

Richard is played by uncomfortable-yet-adorable Thomas Middleditch (who stars in a hilarious the Above Average webseries “The Morning After“). While coming up with a seemingly useless app to detect copyright infringement in music, he actually creates “a compression algorithm.” I put that in quotes because that means nothing to me, but it seems like it means everything to the team. Apparently, this fictional algorithm would make compressing files extremely quick without losing file quality. I take this to mean that I could watch this show on my iPhone without there being a stupid lag. When the company that Richard works for hears about his personal project, they begin a bidding war with innovative investor Peter Gregory, played by the late Christopher Evan Welch. In the heat of going from being a nobody to someone of enormous monetary value, Richard frantically weighs his options. Does he want to sell his idea, or turn it into his own business that he can build from the ground up?

While I didn’t find this show “laugh out loud” funny,  I’m pretty sure that was due to the technical jokes about programming and coding that they threw around. I’m sure it reflected  niche nuances of app-developing culture. Still, the show has a solid foundation to fully round out these characters, and I’m excited to see how the story about Richard’s business plays out over the course of this first season. With a clever  and unique environment, a varied ensemble of seasoned comedians, Silicon Valley is sure to be a hit.

“It’s just a garden variety panic attack,” a doctor says to Richard after he pukes out of stress during the bidding war. “Welcome to Silicon Valley. We see people like you all the time,” he replies.

Image, via.

 


Art School(ed): President John Maeda to leave RISD

maeda at risd

Today, President John Maeda announced that he will be leaving RISD at the end of this semester (read: in two weeks). Maeda will conclude his six-year term, and move on to be the first Design Partner at the Silicon Valley firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in January 2014. He will also chair the eBay Design Advisory Board. When RISD students return to the steeper sections of College Hill on January 6th, 2014 for Wintersession, John Maeda will have departed… so get your selfies in with Maeda now, before it’s too late! Here is the video Maeda e-mailed to the RISD community this afternoon, along with his official announcement:

Maeda concluded his campus-wide e-mail with heartwarming last words: Continue Reading