Learning Programming Part 3: C/C++ superiority

Previously, Part 1 and Part 2.

The other day, Marie pointed me to an interesting article where Jolie O’Dell decides to go back to school to get a computer science degree. She asked me what my thoughts were on some comments concerning the necessity of learning C/C++. I’ll paraphrase in order to avoid singling anyone out.

“Scripting languages create holes in proper programming. All a language, like PHP, will do is make you a PHP programmer, while a language like C or C++ will give you a fundamental understanding that can be applied to all languages and make you a better programmer no matter what the language. This is because these languages expose you to the way the computer really works (instead of abstraction): for instance, how a string is really created, or an array, or dynamic memory allocation. If you learn PHP, you will never bother to learn the low-level reality.”

The above is a munge of many commenters’ discussions.

What do you think of the above statement?
Continue reading my reply after the jump.

Quants

The Wired cover article this month is worth a read but brings me on a big rant. The article covers how people trained in theoretical physicists migrated into Wall Street over the last 30 years and created the math that lead the financial bubble bursting.

I was trained as a condensed matter theoretical physicist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. My advisor created the company that built software similar to the ones that powered this disaster when I was there (mid 90’s). Half of my advisor’s students ended up “quants” on Wall Street.

You’re. In. My. House.

And I have only one anecdote to relate.

Continue reading about Non-equilibrium physics after the jump

Our real selves

Twitter has all of the sleaziness of stalking with none of the messy work of having to actually leave my desk. But I found a dark underside to it: it makes stalking way too easy. Sometimes I get caught in my laziness:

Out in the real world, a girl comes up to me. “Hey!”

Me: “Hi. I’m Terry Chay.” Hello, very pretty asian girl I don’t recognize.

“I know that! 😀 It’s me.”

Me: “I’m sorry, we met at a Lunch 2.0?” Oh shit! I must know her. Good thing I’m a banana—I can drop the “All of us yellow people look alike” joke if things get bad.

“It’s me, C—.”

Me: “Oh! You’ve got a new haircut. It looks nice on you, by the way.” Shit, how could I forget you—I totally twitter stalk you! Hope this dodge works.

“I had the same haircut at CNET.”

Me: “Oh, I was so busy there, you know how it is.” Please ignore the fact that I do nothing at Lunch 2.0 other than eat people’s lunch and claim credit for their work.

“Yeah, I do.”

Whew! That was close.

Now somewhere in the conversation, she mentioned that she would have never thought me a physicst until I mentioned it in my blog. On one hand, I’m thinking Whoo hoo! nine readers! On the other hand, I’m now thinking After she reads the above, I’ll be back down to eight.

But the thing is, I could never really picture myself not majoring in physics. Every choice I’ve made, even the f—d up one as majoring in physics, is part of who I am.

Cal wrote:

In other cases, blogs like my friend, Terry Chay, support the character that he is building up around himself. In both cases, with wildly different styles, the same results are achieved, a deeper understanding of the blogger.

But really, is this blog a character I’m building up, or is it my real self?

[A little bit strange after the jump.]Continue reading

Really bad thoughts

The other day at Lunch 2.0, I made the mistake of calling ValleyWag the National Enquirer of Silicon Valley in front of a Vallewag reporter. I was promptly corrected that it was the US Weekly. I guess that embarrassment was penalty for not paying attention to the mastheads when I’m at the supermarket.

Valleywag stops by for a quickie

Valleywag stops by for a quickie
Lunch 2.0 @ Ning, Palo Alto, California

Nikon D200, Tokina AT-X PRO 16-50mm f/2.8 DX
1/40sec @ f/2.8, iso800, 26mm (39mm)

Megan McCarthy of Valleywag. Don’t mess with these peeps—their keyboard is mightier than your coding skills.

Had I been thinking more along my sort of reading, I’d have called Valleywag the “Talk of the Town” of the Valley, but nobody actually reads that. If I said it was the “Page Six of the Valley”, you’d understand.

This is all a really bad segue into the fact that a friend of mine appeared in Valleywag recently in which they made a passing reference to a certain trait of hers I never noticed. And this reminded me of something that occurred in high school and why I have a natural defense mechanism to be oblivious to these things.

[Having really bad thoughts, after the jump]Continue reading