RE: J: Competition & Bitterness & Randomness

From:	mas
Subj:	J: Competition & Bitterness & Randomness

I don’t like competing, partially because I am a sore loser.

I identified with alot of what you said. I am a technologist as well who is good in his field. I’m actually a little worse because I have not branched out as much from my own department which as you have probably noticed is not the best place to find decent challenges.

There is a definite arrogance in how I see my department. I really do think it is justified. I have a new Hadlock story. =) I sent him this neat algorithm about how representing a tree in a relational database using a preorder traversal instead of an adjacency matrix could greatly reduce the computation time for several queries finding branches, leaves and paths to root. (Essentially reducing it from order n to order 1 allowing it to be done in a single query.) The whole e-mail was of the form “An adjacency matrix requires this operation to be done in this way… This new representation though allows a query like…” The response that I got 3 weeks later? He sent me a word document with an adjacency matrix in it and asked, “How is what you are doing better than this?” There are only three possibilities. One, he doesn’t know what an adjacency matrix is. Two, he didn’t read my message. Three, he just doesn’t give a shit.

My bet is #1. Yesterday he told my databases class that he “didn’t really know sql.” He “just copies it out of access.” For those uninitiated, Structured Query Language is literally “the” language for querying relational databases. Not the language as in the most popular, but the as in the only.

Sorry, I just get so frustrated because regardless of how little he knows he is still the teacher and I will still get my grade from him. There is nothing that I can do about it.

There is something to be said for people who make really good programmers. I don’t know many honestly. M and I are all that come to mind. It takes being intelligent. Being able to do sensing and intuition both well (software design being extremely intuitive and computers in general being the most linear things around.) It certainly doesn’t take these things to be able to program. In much the same way it doesn’t take very much to be able to paint, but to be able to do it well is a real art.

I was talking some to S and I think there is more of an ability disparity in computers some of the time because there aren’t people flocking into journalism for the money. The people who are there are there because they enjoy the subject and likely have some skill at it. The people who are really good are all people who really love doing it.

But anyway, I went to the IEEE SouthEastern Convention last weekend in South Carolina and entered the programming competition. We came in 4th place which is somewhat respectable but no plaque or anything…

That’s cool. I wish someone had told me long ago that I could be in IEEE. Getting involved in the school of engineering I bet will be one of the best ways to find real challenges.

I’ve been thinking more and more about getting involved in some programming projects; now my task is to find some.

If you are interested I have some stuff I would really like to see done.

There is a concert this Thursday. Oscar’s Downfall, Dimple’s Malone, Fatmandrool, Djychge. Pretty much all the local bands. It is on the main quad at 6. Have you heard about it? I haven’t other than from being on the habitat for humanity mailing list. It certainly hasn’t show up in my mailbox. There have been several campus events that have been good ideas for good causes that died for lack of proper publicity.

One of the projects I would really like to is a calendar with distributed maintenance. I pick what classes of events or organizations I am interested in and if events that meet my criteria are added I get notified. Also, individuals have the ability to manage events for a specific organization rather than everything having to go through one office. A neat twist that I have been wanting to play with is webs of trust where the believability of a message can be raised by the people who sign off on it and how trusted those people are. If the president of the university sends it then it is great. If bob the anonymous sender posts it then it is more questionable. The amount of trust a person has comes from what other people trust them and how much they are trusted. I could say I want to hear about any musical entertainment events from moderately trusted sources.

I think that would be both a challenging and useful project that could see some widespread usage. I have sort of been laying the groundwork for it in my playing with the photo gallery.

M wants to have a hackathon sometime over the summer two or three days of straight coding. I told him he could use my house. If you would like to come play I think you would be a good addition. Also, I don’t know if I mentioned it to you or not, but there is a graph theory conference at etsu over the summer may 20-24, ( and if you want to go to that and crash at my house you can. I live about 15-20 minutes away from etsu.

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