Archive for February, 2006

What is a “Scientist”?

Saturday, February 25th, 2006

Someone started a discussion in the week 6 assignment for my Biotechnology class that sparked my curiousity. Below is the original post, but I’m curious as to what other people might consider a “Scientist”? Rather than looking it up, just state your opinion on what a Scientist is.

Original post:

On a completely unrelated note, what type of science if rocket science? I think it involves some math, but i don’t know where it falls as far as science goes? Bio, chem, physics? Anyone know?

“Rocket science is the study of rockets and rocketry.”

Better known as Spacecraft Propulsion. It involves physics and math as well as some chemistry (think rocket fuel mixture).

Science can be considered a very broad subject in my opinion and being considered a scientist can be just as broad. Technically (to some people) I’m considered a “scientist” because I have a degree in computer science. While I don’t think that just a degree in computer science makes me a scientist, I do believe that I am a scientist in the aspect that I have a passion to experiment with computer projects that are “out of the norm”…that or I’m just a hopeless computer geek with 8 computers here at home 😉

Even according to Wikipedia, the definition of a Scientist is a broad one. See also Computer Science.

I think everyone might have a different idea of what a Scientist is. I wonder what everyone’s opinion is on that subject…looks like a question for the coffeehouse.

Best Buy morons

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

So there I was walking into the local Best Buy to buy a case fan and lo and behold I see two people that I used to work with. They just recently quit to start up their own business and were looking for a computer, however, they didn’t know what they wanted. They were thinking about either one laptop or two desktops, but they were having a hard time making up their mind. Being the friendly computer geek I am, I give them some general advice such as:

Don't buy a Celeron or Duron (or whatever the hell they call them this week).
Don't buy too much software because there are several free alternatives (and most are equal or better than their proprietary, costly counterparts).
Two desktops cost just slightly more than a decent laptop.
Laptops typically have more problems and cost more to fix.
Laptops generally aren't easily upgradable and the upgradable parts cost more than desktop parts do.
Desktops can be easily upgraded fairly cheaply.

So after casually talking with them for about 15 minutes or so, up walks the Best Buy sales scumbag putting on the typical sales routine of “getting to know you so they can socially engineer you into buying something”. Grr.

The first thing he tries to pitch them on is how much a laptop will save them and how it’s portable. So he compares their cheapest laptop to two of the most expensive desktops and shows them they’re “going to save so much money by just getting a laptop”. Right. So I pointed out that if you compare the most expensive laptop with two middle-priced desktops, they’re about the same price.

Anyway, after his creative number-crunching, his next step was to talk them into Norton Anti-Virus and Microsoft Office Professional (because they had mentioned Access). To give an idea of where their business is, it’s “up north”, which means there’s a 99% chance they’ll be on dialup. However, they have cable at their home in Midland. What this meant was that they will be less of a target of viruses and the like, so why spend around $50.00 on Norton, when they can get AVG for free? AVG is well maintained, free, and works wonderfully. According to one of my networking instructors, who is also a network administrator in a local school system, they made a full switch to AVG a few years ago after using Norton for several years. During the transition, he tested it pretty heavily and found that AVG did a better job detecting nasties than Norton. Don’t get me wrong, not much better because it only detected a couple of things that Norton didn’t, but for a free product that’s pretty good! Besides, antivirus software doesn’t detect any brand new viruses right away until they create a definition for it. Don’t get me started on the whole anti-virus rant…been there, done that. Anyway, the functionality and reliability is the same so it comes down to free vs ~$50.00. You decide.

The next debate was Microsoft Office. They needed a spreadsheet, word processor, and database application. I, of course, suggested OpenOffice because it has functions that Microsoft Office has and then some…and it’s free.

His next step was to try and get on my good side by talking with me for a little while. Sorry, I don’t fall for that crap…move on. During our conversation, he tried to talk Techie with me. In doing so we started talking about shool. He enjoyed bragging about how good he is at math and how he scored so high on his COMPASS tests. I asked him what he is going to school for and apparently he is going into Chemical Engineering. He asked what I was going to school for and I told him Computer Science and Information Technology – specifically Network and Information Security. He continued to try and talk Techie with me and ended up impressing me even less as his true salesman colors came through. Seriously – I work with salesmen all day long…I know how they work, ok?

Anyway, to sum up my Best Buy employee experience – if you don’t work off of commission like you say, then don’t strongarm and bullshit people into buying stuff they don’t need.

Slashdot submission

Tuesday, February 21st, 2006

Originally thought to have a quick workaround in Safari, has a writeup that the flaw remains “serious” that affects Mac OS X. FTA: “When this script was stored in a ZIP archive, Mac OS X will add a binary metadata to the archive. This file determines what will be used to open the main file in the archive, regardless of the extension or symbol displayed in the Finder.”

Work joke

Tuesday, February 21st, 2006

I had to post this because it hits the nail on the head…

An Indian walks into a cafe with a shotgun in one hand pulling a male
buffalo with the other.

He says to the waiter, “Want coffee.”

The waiter says, “Sure chief, coming right up.”

He gets the Indian a tall mug of coffee. The Indian drinks the coffee down
in one gulp, turns and blasts the buffalo with the shotgun, causing parts
of the animal to splatter every where, then just walks out.

The next morning the Indian returns. He has his shotgun in one hand
pulling another male buffalo with the other.

He walks up to the counter and says to the waiter, “Want coffee.”

The waiter says, “Whoa, Tonto! We’re still cleaning up your mess from
yesterday. What was all that about, anyway?”

The Indian smiles and proudly says, “Training for upper management
position: Come in, drink coffee, shoot the bull, leave mess for others to
clean up, disappear for rest of day.”

Quote of the week: February 20th

Monday, February 20th, 2006

“Windows is like my toilet – it doesn’t take much shit to clog it up and make it so it doesn’t work right.” – Me

Biotechnology – Cloning with Advanced Cell Technology

Sunday, February 19th, 2006

Posted in my Biotechnology class:

Posted by Chad Thu Jan 19 12:03:55 2006.

Message: Quite honestly, I’m not really sure how to take cloning just yet. I can see so much potential for abuse, which really scares me. My concern is that movies like “The Island” will become somewhat of a reality. For those that haven’t seen it, it’s a pretty fantastic movie about “commercial human cloning”.

I know, I know…I’ve watched one too many movies 🙂

Posted by XxXxXxX (Biotech Professor) Sun Jan 22 10:31:27 2006.

Message: Cool, thanks for sending us to the trailers for the movie. Way out there as far as reality goes but these type of science fiction flicks bring up the extremes of issues that would need to be addressed if we ever walk down this path. Too bad much of the uninformed public gains their “knowledge” and fear of science from such fabricated stories.

Posted by Chad Sun Jan 22 23:51:19 2006.

Message: Way out there as far as reality goes

Without a doubt. I don’t see something that extreme happening, but it’s a good discussion starter. I’m the kind of person that you might have to convince that cloning is a good thing. I’d really like to know the true benefits of cloning other than scientific curiousity. Yes, I’m not very informed on cloning, so I’m thinking I could be one of those people who need to be told more about it to understand it better.

but these type of science fiction flicks bring up the extremes of issues that would need to be addressed if we ever walk down this path.

I understand how movies (and sometimes the media) can skew people’s thoughts on subjects. Especially when there isn’t a lot known about them by the general public to begin with. What better place to learn about the facts than in a classroom setting 🙂

Too bad much of the uninformed public gains their “knowledge” and fear of science from such fabricated stories

I agree. Unfortunately some people have the habit of listening to stuff like that and decide that’s what they’re going to believe. Movies are movies, newspapers are newspapers. While some can bring up some interesting points, they don’t always reflect the truth. Like I said in my original post – the movies make it scary, now I need to learn exactly how far-fetched the movie is.

In a sense, movies like this aren’t always bad. If someone can come out of it asking questions rather than assuming that it’s the way things will be, it’s a good thing. Debate sparks and the truth could be sought.

Posted by XxXxXxX (Biotech Professor) Mon Jan 23 11:30:23 2006.

Message: I agree wholeheartedly. Now, how do we help more of the general public separate psuedoscience and sensationalism from reality? Debate and awareness are healthy. Science is built on challenging current paradigms and debating new discoveries. We all need to get more involved in dispelling myths (especially those who take a decent science course or two). Especially since I know that most American’s, especially those who need it the most, will not take a college level science course and do not question what they see on TV, movies and read in newspapers. Hmmm…when “inquiring minds want to know” is replaced by “blind faith” we are in trouble as a nation.

Biotechnology – Down Syndrome

Friday, February 17th, 2006

Posted in my Biotechnology class:

I found it amazing that Down Syndrome is so common that it affects one in 800 to 1000 births. Putting it into perspective, Midland has approximately 70,000 residents so that would equate to anywhere from 70 to 88 people having Down Syndrome in this city alone. Saginaw has approximately 120,000 residents so that would equate to anywhere from to 120 to 150 people having Down Syndrome in Saginaw. It would be a wonderful thing to find a cure, however, as Charles stated, it sounds like once the gene is there, it’s there. I’ll be curious to see how scientists plan to prevent this extra chromosome from occuring to begin with.

I have heard the hype and arguments surrounding stem cell research and the fear of being able to create “designer babies”, but think of how much better the life of a person suffering from Down Syndrome could be if it could have been prevented in the first place. If a couple plan to have children and there is a history of Down Syndrome or another life-altering disease, how much “evil” could come out of preventing these issues via altering their genetic code? If we could ever prevent Down Syndrome in the future, imagine being able to prevent heart disease or cancer (assuming this is able to be done through altering genetic code).

If this was to ever come about, I think it would be pretty easy to set up strict guidelines as to what can be altered and what can’t. Sorry, you’re stuck with your eye color and hair color, but if you have a history of heart disease, then there is a possibility of doing some gene alteration (again, only if this ever becomes possible).

19 people charged with “piracy”

Monday, February 13th, 2006

Article here.

Here are some thoughts on DRM and piracy in general in society today. It looks like nowadays you cannot know anything unless you pay for it first and without a money back guarantee. You cannot listen to music, see theater, or learn unless you pay – all without a money back guarantee. If I buy a lemon, and it’s core is rotten and infested, I can return it. If I buy a music CD and the music is complete crap complete with DRM so that I can’t actually play it, not only do I not get my money back but I don’t even own the said piece of crap. It’s a rental.

Is this how humanity evolved? Is this how we will be able to retain knowledge in the future? What the fuck are libraries but mass piracy collectives?

Here is the truth of it, and it will piss off pretty much everyone in this non-manufacturing based economy: You either know something or you do not. It is either secret or it is not. And in the end, all things are known.

You cannot own knowledge. It was never yours to begin with. The language I am speaking now was giving to me by thousands of years of other English speakers. It is not mine to own. The word “assnuggety” that I just made up does not belong to me. It is a contruct of what I’ve learned from others. It is knowledge.

When this understanding is realized, say after a catastrophic event, then Linux will no longer need the GPL along with all other proprietary software/entertainment data. And the data that will be able to survive at that point will be open data, as Linux is today. It will save our asses – mark my words. Windows and all those shit programs that those people copied won’t be worth a drop of piss. Nobody will be able to modify it. It will be useless.

And so here is what I think of arresting very smart people in high end technical positions. Maybe they know something that you don’t? Maybe they aren’t paid by people that get their money from PAC funded politicians. Maybe they are archiving data educating more people than your broken government ever could. Maybe we should all think about what this means.

I have to tell you that the moment Intellect and Knowledge became legal property is the moment that you have no “lawful” rights to your own thoughts. That does not serve anyone and never has.

Quote of the week – February 13th

Monday, February 13th, 2006

So, is there a profile of a Mac virus writer???

Judging by the amount of viruses out for Mac OS X he’s one lazy fucker.

Needed key on the keyboard

Sunday, February 12th, 2006

What they really need to add to keyboards is a “WTF?!” key and the BS over IP protocol. Together, these two things could make my work environment so much easier. The “WTF?!” key could be depressed which would then inform a firm hand to Bitch Slap the person at the other end of the IM conversation/email.

You could also set up a sniffer to listen for BullShit packets over the BS protocol to automatically Bitch Slap the person who is sending the BullShit.

It’s a work in progress…I’m waiting for IEEE approval…and still trying to figure out a way to implement this much needed system. Any venture capitalists out there with a ton of cash? 😉