Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Computer Related Spending Spree

Well, I went on a spending spree today. Bought a decent Toshiba laptop and extra RAM for it. Don't know what I'll do with the old RAM. Bought a bunch of new and old books as well ranging from Computer Security to Science Fiction to Buddhist and Tao philosophy. I will probably never read any of them entirely with the exception of the fictional and philosophy works. There are two kinds of computer books - mechanical in the sense of how to do this or that, and academic in which they generally write a chapter as if it were a paper or they outline an idea or set of ideas that are useless to the reader unless that reader has the same program writing abilities as the authors. While computer science papers are somewhat interesting and sometimes the results are fascinating, the code that created their results or what they call "data" is often never available. In this sense, computer scientists act like members of a guild. The exception to this may be the area of artificial life since it was jump started back to life by a biologist called Tom Ray who gave away his code. (Just my impression and opinion. Apologies to those computer scientists who may know the history of the field better than I do, but it does seem that a biologist reinvigorated the artificial life field.)This is different from say biology or physics where the reader might actually be able to read, understand and use the information to start their own investigations as well as ask for the code since taxpayer funded research is public domain.

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