Monday, April 14, 2008

Buzzing with the Comp. Sci.

I remember for one birthday a friend gave me a custom-made chocolate from Thomas Sweet (for those of you not in the know, Thomas Sweet is a Princeton-based (it has 2 stores in Princeton, 1 in New Brunswick, and 1 in Washington, DC (as a kid I thought it was a giant conglomerate, and I admit that biased me somewhat, but I've come to recognize its moderate size and in a more objective analysis say awesome, P-town-style awesome (very objective, non?) Ice Cream/Chocolate store that pretty much rocks (ROCKS THE HOUSE (As in Rock the House by Gorillaz (GORILAZZZ!!!))

Back to my anecdote, anyways a friend gave me a birthday a custom-made chocolate (actually 2 but essentially one in its united concept and singular gift-y-ness), which was shaped as a computer and a mouse. She felt it fit my character and likely it was one of the pre-made custom-made options (yeah that's an oxymoron but you get the point). In actuality, people have been assuming for a looong time that I'm super-good with computers. Now this is often done by my friends and is based on my occasional computer-jargon mentions, my sometimes-serious membership in the computer club, my number of computer classes, my moderate computer-news knowledge, and now in college my computer-minor-ness. It is also done by near strangers and while I emphasize the slightness of this and the unconsciousness of this and the speculativeness of this, but there might be a little bit of stereotype-ness (I'd hesitate to say racism because of the unavoidable strength of that charge and also because Indian as a race is a kind of iffy concept (especially when you group North (Indo-European Languages and in NW often white/Iranian looking) and South (Dravidian Languages (although C. India has mostly Indo-Eur. lang. and is a mixed and/or separate cultural zone) and dark skin (although some of the NE, like Bengal and Bangladesh has dark skin) Indians) there since I'm an Indian of decent intelligence (of course the common assumption that I'm smart also might have a little bit of stereotype-ness to it).

But now let me deal with the truth. Let me first establish in terms of nowadays I have a wide-range of moderate computer skills (such as HTML, Java, C++, and some XML and PHP) (if this seems a bit odd to mention, I'm a little aware that a persistently background-searching potential employer might stumble here and I just want to set the record straight (I'd like to point out that my awareness of this doesn't mean I'm not being honest here)), but here with this truth I'm dealing with the overview of my life. Again, let's deal with the truth of the situation. And the truth is while skilled with computers, I'm really not the mad-programmer-master that people occasionally assume I am (again, little bit of stereotyping there).

I can pretty confidently say I was exposed to computers relatively early in my life (relative that is to people in my cohort (ie people of my birth-year)). See (I'm always nervous about using see at the beginning of a sentence, but it does have an attractive activeness and energy, even if it does sound a bit underly-formal) around the beginning of the age of home computers (mid-1980's-ish), my father was given a computer to work with, and being only semi-capable with it and also wanting to expose his kids to new knowledge, he got my oldest brother to help out with his comput-inating. This started my oldest brother's love affair with the computer which made him an absolute computer master by the time I was capable of wielding a mouse. Thusly me and my siblings have had since earliest youth a decent competence of technology, however this wasn't the same as becoming as competent as my oldest brother.

In fact, because of my oldest brother's competence, computer-wise I was always in his shadow. From time-to-time I've made a sudden burst of interest into computers, partly assisted by my brother, but on the other hand whenever there was a need for important computer-ness, my brother was there, so I didn't really need to develop that and my personal interest didn't expand enough to overcome the lack of need. There were avenues which could have led me to becoming computer interested, my mild youthful interest in gaming (although not online games (although yes for free/shareware games)), my mild interest in electronic presentation and media tech, my desire to maximize my computer's performance, etc. But none of those really took off and were usually interrupted by new interests or new stuff on TV.

But one thing that did intrigue me was the possibilities given by programming, to a degree job-wise, but more importantly the possibilities of creation in programming. The powers of programming can in theory create anything, and even if the possibilities are limited by current knowledge and tech, that never stopped me from pondering (for example, despite the insane ambition of it I attempted to create a self-sufficient artificial intelligence in high school). Yet even this avenue of computer-ness was slowed by my distaste for memorization and the foreignness of the computer world and strangeness-to-foreignness of that world (this is in part the fault of computer-savy people who often fall into the category of techno-bigots (people who belittle those without tech knowledge and rank themselves based on tech knowledge) (although I admit sometimes I even act the techno-bigot every now and then). It was in college that the job-wise possibilities of programming really appealed to me, and I started Rutgers with the vision of being a computer science-major, however this failed under the stress of pretending I was more tech-savy then I actually was.

And then a funny thing happened, under the influence of new job-worries, I took on a comp. sci. minor, which was more my speed computer knowledge wise. But the occasional, more paradigm oriented computer classes + my logic-based math classes (where math and comp-sci. start to mix) + my desire for increasing my computer's performance (a different computer but one which slowed and weirded with time) + once more, the possibilities of the computer world tricked me into believing. And suddenly, having studied the basics of computer science for a good while, and having lost my fear of it, the more intermediate comp. sci. concepts no longer seemed so difficult. And now...

Well, I can't say I'm a mega-expert, but I'm pretty knowledgeable, and more over I'm enjoying computer science again. Every concept carries new possibilities, new cross-uses, new abilities for my grand ambitions, and now, comp. sci. carries a little bit of a buzz for me. Maybe I'll never get into that mega-expert slot, but I now have some good hope for learning how to do interesting and highly useful stuff with computer science and never stopping in that learning. Maybe my war with computer science is finally over, and the dividends of peace are starting to come in. Perhaps... but only God knows what the future holds...

(Quick possible news flash: Because of my growing interest in computer science, I just might start a comp. sci. blog (under my legitimate name), similar to my history blog and math blog. It's still only a possibility and contingent on me not getting buried in work, but stay tuned.)

Anywho, take it to your head, take it to your heart and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

And God Bless.

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