We’re sorry to inform you

Once upon a time there was a little-known patent clerk in Bern who received a disappointing annual performance review in ’05

Did you guess who is meant?

If you did, you should read the full article! It features five of the most important papers of computer science and why they should be rejected from publishing.

Published in: on October 20, 2007 at 3:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Don’t learn Rails!

You’re currently a computer science student and you think web engineering is a nice career choice? Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, Digg. Isn’t a web startup a good idea to get rich quickly? Think again!

In the year 2000 the mentality was similiar.

A year ago, Yahoo invested in Right Media, a New York company developing an online advertising network. Yahoo’s investment valued the company at $200 million. Six months later, when Yahoo acquired Right Media outright, the purchase price had swelled to $850 million.

What changed? According to Right Media’s co-founder Brian O’Kelley, very little, except for the fact that Yahoo’s rivals Microsoft and Google were writing billion-dollar checks to buy online advertising networks, and Yahoo felt that it needed to pay any price to keep up.

“I have to say I giggled,” O’Kelley, 30, said of Yahoo’s acquisition, which earned him $25 million. “There is no way we quadrupled the value of the company in six months.”

This excerpt is from Dot-com fever stirs sense of déjà vu. A more famous example than Right Media would be Skype.

EBay acknowledged this month that it had overpaid for Skype by about $1.43 billion

Assuming a cyclical up- and downswings we’re currently near the top of an upswing, like we were seven years ago. This means we will experience a downswing in the next few years. The “bubble will burst again”.

If you think about learning Rails (or any other web framework), because you think about a startup after graduation, think again!

The situation will be different then. It may be harder to find investors who throw money at you. It may be close to impossible to find someone to buy your small company that is rapidly running out of money.

Don’t misunderstand me! There is nothing wrong with learning Rails, if you want to create an interactive website and from what i know Ruby is pretty handy programming language. A web startup may still be a good idea. Just don’t expect to get rich quickly with this.

In short: Don’t bet your career on web engineering just because Facebook is so cool!

Published in: on October 17, 2007 at 10:43 am  Comments (14)  
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How to get going as a blogger

This blog now has somewhere around 100 daily readers, so i consider it a good start. Here is my biggest tip for aspiring bloggers: Marketing

In the computer science world the attitude often is against marketing and commerce. The assumption is “marketing” means “selling shit to stupid people”. This assumption is false.

Marketing means to find out “what people want and how to satisfy them”.

In the case of blogging you probably already know what people want i.e. you know what you want to write about. The second part is to satisfy.

  1. They need to know you exist. Get your blog public. My biggest success comes from submitting my posts to programming.reddit, but every single link is important. Comments on other blogs are very good too.
  2. They need to understand how to get your articles. Subscribing via feed is the obvious way, but you probably can do better than you do now. It helps to get a big orange button or to encourage to subscribe after every article. Some people prefer email, cater them!
  3. They need to enjoy it. Make your blog beautiful und useable. Some pictures are nice, too.

There is plenty of blogging advice available. For example ProBlogger. Read and follow! This post is motivated by his Birthday Bash action.

Get blogging! Especially if you write about computer science. I’d like to have some colleagues.

Published in: on October 3, 2007 at 7:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Who is this Alan Turing guy?

dead Snow WhiteAn half-eaten apple and a dead body in the bed. A scene from Snow White and how Alan Turing died over fifty years ago. The coroner concluded suicide by cyanide. Today the Alan Turing award is the highest academic prize in the computing world – the Nobel prize of computer science.

The scourge of his last days was his conviction as a homosexual. He was excluded from governmental cryptographic work for “security reasons” and focused on quantum physics in the last years.

In school the young Alan had a hard time, because he only the hard sciences appealed to him. He flourished, when he finally reached university and was particularly fascinated by the Principia Mathematica and how Gödel shattered that approach. Then he learned about the Entscheidungsproblem stated by Hilbert some years ago as one of the ten big problems in mathematics. This ultimatly lead to his invention of the Turing machine. Though Church also solved the halting problem with his lambda calculus, the Turing machine proof is easier to understand for most people.

When Britain joined the second world war, Turing joined the cryptoanalysis headquarter Bletchley Park and helped to break the german Enigma code. He was a lead developer of the “Bombe” a electronical device to decipher german naval communications.

His experience with electronic devices and his idea of the Universal Turing Machine made him one of the first to dream of “building a brain”. Shortly after the war he tried to build this machine, but got too frustrated with politics. He shifted to neurology and physiology and was an injury away from the Olympic marathon team.

Instead of building computers he focused on using them. He made some important contributions in what he called “the mathematical theory of morphogenesis: the theory of growth and form in biology”.

Alan Turing memorial Unfortunatelly now follows the sad end, you read in the beginning.

You can find a memorial of Alan Turing in Sackville Park, between the University of Manchester building on Whitworth Street and the Canal Street ‘gay village’.

Published in: on October 2, 2007 at 9:09 am  Comments (5)  
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