Unix Tools
unix tutorials, unix security, unix help


Why a Computer Science College?

I didn't set out to go to a computer science college. I was a biology major. If you'd asked my what my interests were or what I wanted to do, that's what I would have told you. Computers were just outside of my area of interest.

One of the things about Biology, of course, is that unless you specialize in the more technical areas your job prospects aren't so hot. You'll probably start out cleaning the lab. But ya know, I was optimistic and young and didn't have a clue.

I learned about computing when my parents picked up an atari computer with a BASIC cartridge. I spent the whole summer learning something about programming. I was never good at it, but I learned the basics (pun intended.) By the way, this was back before floppy drives were generally available. Programs had to be saved on cassette tapes. Clunky, awkward, and unreliable. Our first floppy drive for that thing cost something like $300!

So when I went back to school I took a programming course, in Pascal, and had a blast. Pascal was internded to be a teaching language and was never meant to actually be used. So how do you teach programming when students can't use the language you're teaching???  Naturally some enterprising programmers took care of that little issue.

Oh yeah, one more thing...  those were the days when one wrote programs with a specialized typewriter that punched holes in special cards. You then ran the stack of cards through a machine that read the stack, processed the data, and printed out whatever it was supposed to print. Certain issues like the cards not feeding in properly, or a missed semicolon, which would crash the program, just made it more ... interesting. Real monitors and keyboards were installed the following year.

I found that the available computer science college courses weren't really so difficult, but the did require a certain line of thinking. I had never really worked with such purely formal logic before. Constructing creative solutions to problems out of code was a fascinating process for me, one that made all the work worth it, even with the bad feeds and missed semicolons. I began to reconsider my original plans for going into biology, but it didn't happen.

I knew that people who graduate from computer science colleges made good money and it seemed like it would be more fun than cleaning labs. But life moves us of into interesting directions and I never went back to any computer college, though I did take some computer courses online. Actually, they were more web design oriented, than programming. Still fun, though.

The more that I think about it the more I think it would have been a good idea to just dump the biology and leap into the computer science. While biotech is advancing at a rapid rate the world is reaching a point where everything is run by, or linked to, computers. Keep your training up and it seems like serious job security.

Nowadays, of course, you can get your computer science colleges online and do all your studies from your own computer, sometimes at your own pace. The quality of intruction can be just as good as face to face, but it demands more self-discipline than regularly scheduled classes that you physically attend.

Of course, if you are able to attend one, in person, you get to practice on their hardware, which might just be better than yours. Something to consider.