March 30, 2011

Why I Am Screaming In Rage

The story behind my current educational crisis starts a long time ago, back when I was in High School and was entirely focused on going to college. I had long ago learned how to extract what teachers wanted and feed it back to them using the absolute minimal amount of effort, allowing me to concentrate on my independent research. During my senior year, I turned this up to eleven and painstakingly did everything that was required of me, allowing my personal research to lag seriously behind.

The UW rejected me.

So then I wrote them a letter in protest, explaining how my contributions to 3D graphics and CSE at the UW would be invaluable to them, and that they were making a huge mistake by not letting me, an extremely valuable student, in to the college, which is arguably a pretty arrogant thing to do.

They let me in.

Once into the UW, after pulling off a stunt like that, I immediately began to follow the rules, attending all my classes, doing my homework, examining all the classes that the major wanted me to take before they'd let me in and trying to do well in all of them. I screwed up, and my 4.0 in English got me a 2.8 in my third math class, which killed my chances of getting into the major a first time. I knew full well this was my fault, and I was determined to correct it. So, the next quarter, I got a 3.9 in Math 308, which the advisor told me "very few students are able to do." I did everything she said that I should do, including avoiding the Phys 123 class because I would not be able to do well in it and it would hurt my chances of getting in.

They rejected me a second time. This time there were two reasons - One, they wanted me to take a programming oriented course at the UW before they let me in, and two, they wanted me to have more "consistent" grades.

These reasons are highly disturbing for a number of reasons. First of all, I hadn't taken any CSE courses at the UW because there are only 2 introductory courses that I can take, and because I scored so crazy-high on the AP exam (a 5 on the hardest version of the test), I was exempt from both of them and I was told by the advisor to not take them again if I didn't need to. This is concerning for a number of reasons, the least of all wondering just how well informed the advisors are in the first place.

The second reason is simply insulting. They are telling me that they want me to get good grades in everything despite saying in their admissions guidelines that they take into account the course difficulty and relevance to the major in question. Not to mention that judging my ability to perform well in a CSE course depending on how I did in an art class is kind of insane. Again, either this is misinformation or they're just making up excuses to not let me into the major.

I grit my teeth, but I think, ok, I can still work with this, I'll just petition for a majors only course, like the advisor recommended based on the committee's comments, and then I can get into an advanced programming course and prove to them just how much I know and why not letting me into this major is such a tremendous mistake. As long as I get good grades, they'll have no excuse to not let me into the major's only course. I got good grades (3.4 GPA).

They rejected the petition.

If I continue to follow their rules, I will be stuck in an introductory course whose most advanced topic is basic binary trees. This course is a weed-out course, and as such if you want a 4.0 you have to get at least 99%. This wouldn't be so much of a problem, except they also have a strong emphasis on proper code formatting. That means that, if there was someone else in the class who know everything like I did, whether or not I get a grade good enough to get into the major with will be entirely dependent on how pretty my code looks. And I will have only that single grade to try and somehow get me into that major.

It is at this point, I'd like to return to how I got into the UW in the first place. I stopped following the rules. I did something crazy and stupid, and then I got in. So its time for some crazy and stupid things, because I only get ONE LAST SHOT at this before I run out of time and have to declare another major or stay at college for 5 or 6 years. So if playing nice hasn't done me any good, I guess I'll have to do things the hard way.

March 28, 2011

The Bullying Never Stops

I believe that at a young age, I was physically harassed a couple of times, but I have long since forgotten. What I haven't forgotten is the intellectual bullying I was subjected to during 7th grade. There is not a day that goes by that my actions are not subtly influenced by when I misprounced "subtle" as "sub"-"tle" and was made a laughingstock in front of my honors class, several of whom told me that I was a hopeless idiot who couldn't do anything right. This was reinforced about three years later after my inept social skills earned me an enormous tirade from someone whom I held in high regard who then told me I was a useless pile of shit whose attempts at being helpful had only slowed things down, and that after 14 months I had contributed absolutely nothing to the project that was actually going to be used.

Years later, memories of these moments would begin to haunt me in high school, where the bullying had largely stopped, or so I had thought. It wasn't long before programmers started telling me how I should do things and what was the right thing to do. They told me that performance didn't matter, that I should never learn C++, that interpreted languages are the future. I disagreed with them. I gave reasons for my disagreement, and I was ridiculed and laughed at. At one point I somehow ended up in a game development IRC channel and mentioned that I preferred C++ over .net, and when pressed for justification I explained how I had to sort 10000 images 60 times a second, which requires delicate memory management that is difficult to do in C#.

Naturally, they told me I should have just used Array.Sort(), because the time required to render the images was far greater then the sorting time. The utter stupidity of this answer astonished me; I was in a game development channel and they were obtusely disregarding the fact that games do things other then draw pictures on the screen, not to mention having to fill up an array with images every frame due to culling. I mentioned this to a friend of mine, who then admitted that he had been in the same channel a few months back, and they had instead ridiculed him for using C# instead of C++.

This is when I realized that the bullying never stopped - it just changed. Now the bullies are programmers who ridicule other programmers no matter what they do. They are patent trolls who sue everyone just because they can. They are huge companies that squash smaller ones just because they don't like them, wiggle out of taxes and then get away with it because they're the teacher's pet. Except now, the teacher is the U.S. Government, and she's accepting bribes.

The bullies never went away, they just changed. I know from 7th grade that bullies aren't just brainless jocks, they're stuck-up intellectual assholes who take advantage of other people just because they can. Now those assholes are in charge of $40 billion companies, have friends in the teacher's lounge, and your parents aren't there to help you anymore.

Some people argue that everyone is an adult now, and much more mature then a 7th grader. Yeah, right. We have people in Texas who decided to remove Thomas Jefferson from their history curriculum. We have the RIAA demanding $75 trillion from Limewire, which more then the total GDP of the entire world. We have Facebook suing someone because they didn't get written permission to crawl publically accessible data. Anyone who thinks we're more mature then a bunch of screaming toddlers who keep throwing a fit when someone steals a block from their block tower has apparently never dealt with the business world. Subtlety is only difference between adults and toddlers. At least the toddlers have someone to tell them how silly they're being.

Now the bullies are running rampant and the teachers don't care. High school never ends; the bullying never stops. If you don't do what people expect you to do (like an entrepreneur), then you'd better be ready to deal with endless attacks from all sides from everyone who will hate you for absolutely no reason at all. You're at war with ideas, and you are the battlefield. Are you ready?

March 1, 2011

Name Search

For the purposes of documentation, today (March 1, 2011), I went through and ensured that there were no competing products with the name "Black Sphere Studios". The closest match that was registered in the US trademark office was "BLACKBAUD SPHERE", which deals in non-profit management software. This company's name is sufficiently different from "Black Sphere Studios" such that there is no possible confusion between the two companies. A Google search for "Black Sphere Studios" turned up nothing but references to my own company, and a further search for simply "Black Sphere" turned up primarily metaphorical references and some domain squatting. There are no companies that could cause confusion.