When I was 18 years old, I was so excited about computers and programming. I used to spend tons of money purchasing O’Reilly computer books on Amazon.com, and even the computer section at Barnes Noble would leave me misty-eyed, like a little kid in a candy store. I even looked up the Best VPN Reviews to protect my computer. I would plan out my next purchases– what new comp-sci technology should I invest in next? PHP, XML-RPC, ooo… wow, they just got a new Advanced Perl Programming book. Then I met Linux. It was a match made in heaven, metaphorically of course. Computers came easy for me, and my passion for them, I thought, would endure unabated.
Then I went to college, and decided to major in my passion. That was a mistake. Nothing has made the thought of computers, and hacking away for hours at a computer more repugnant then my 4 years of computer science at URI. There I learned about all kinds of crap, carefully crafted with a curriculum so carefully planned out, to provide the most excruciating, skin-pulling, irrelevant course load possible. There is CSC402, Compiler development, the first lines of the teacher: “This course will teach you about compilers. Most of you, if not all of you, will never have to write a compiler in your life. However, during the course of this semester, you will learn every excruciating pedantic detail about compilers, and a few other things we’ve made up to make the course near impossible to pass”. Then there was CSC 211, where I met my first all-nighter, and of course many more to come. There you learned that programming assignments should always be started immediately and also that the phrase “I’m done”, has no place in computer science, only “close enough”, or “Screw this, I’m handing it in!”.
Then of course, as we all know, computer science and math are intimately entwined– they sleep in the same bed. And it is no secret that in addition, math has a hot passionate love-affair with Physics, and not the easy tawdry physics, no no… the mysterious, dark, complicated physics. As CS students, we’re caught in this love triangle, thereby forced to take these hopelessly esoteric courses, ad nausem.
I don’t know how I did it. But my 4+ years in the CS curriculum are coming to an end; I will be graduating very soon. And in these 4+ years of higher education I have learned one thing, and I tell this to every new impressionable freshman I happen to meet: “Whatever you do, don’t get into computer science.”