Monday, November 28, 2011

The Nerd Drug

Massively multiplayer online role-playing games or MMORPGs are destroying the lives of users all around the world. While they seem harmless (and even can be when handled with caution) they have caused gaming addictions that take over many gamers' lives. The typical gamer is a geeky guy who doesn't do well socially and often feels like the underdog in real life. When he is at his computer with his guild, he is on equal footing with everyone else 1. The virtual life becomes more attractive than reality so the gamer spends more and more time online developing his virtual self and becoming more and more addicted. Video game addictions (particularly addictions to MMORPGS) have led to divorces, college dropouts, lost jobs, and even suicides. It is unlikely that the government will be able to regulate video game addictions without violating our rights, so it is up to each individual to maintain a defense against this new drug.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Group Catalyst

 The world has many people, therefore there are many groups of people as well. Each person has so many characteristics that it is impossible to not share some of them with other people. The natural tendency humans have to associate themselves with people who have common characteristics used to be barred by the difficulty of finding such people. For example there may be a duct tape enthusiast in California and one in South Africa, but up until recently there was no way for them to collaborate and share ideas. With the social media revolution, it is now easy for anyone with access to the internet to join groups of people with the same interests. With the duct tape enthusiast example (which was randomly selected without any prior knowledge to any duct tape groups) any tape artisan can simple google "duct tape forum" and find a place to discuss their craftsmanship. With the cost of forming groups lowered nearly to zero, people can communicate and associate with unprecedented ease.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


The United States Constitution permits Congress to pass patent and copyright laws to encourage the development of ideas. The idea is that the inventor will be more willing to invent things because he or she will make exclusive profit on the invention for a small amount of time. The current laws have digressed to the point that even the inventors hate them. Musicians would make more money if they owned their music, but they are forced to sell their ownership to record companies. The majority of software designers are fans of open source projects. The current patent laws actually impede invention through people who exploit them. "Patent trolls" are companies that don't actually invent anything, but just buy patents in order to sue people who happen to invent the same thing. In other words, instead of curing cancer, they buy an idea that may lead to curing cancer, wait for someone to cure cancer, and then sue them. Due to the fact that patents can be as vague as "an online backup system" and as bizarre as "thermally refreshed bread" (aka toast), just about anything an inventor can make is already patented.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Women and Wizards

Last Friday an old friend asked me if computer science was hard. My answer was simple, "It's easy, you just have to be friends with the wizards." People who don't understand computers think that they are magical. To them, little wizards live inside your laptop and summon the powers of the internet gremlins to process data. Both men and women are capable of eradicating this fallacy, but men are more likely to believe they can. Computer science is largely dominated by men due to the fact that women are more likely to lack self-confidence. As a computer science TA, I have seen that women tend to do as well (and often better) than men in CS classes. Even the brilliant female computer gurus, however, often do not feel confident with their abilities. If more women could see their capability in the computer industry, more women would exercise their capability in the computer industry.