Thursday, April 9, 2009

One Expensive Flea Market

To all those out there providing services for high usage websites or companies: please stop trying to rip us off.

With all the insane haggling you have to go through when running website, you'd think you're in a flea market somewhere in the developing world. Here are some contrasting examples:

Buying a Domain Name from a Squatter:
Luis: How much do you want?
Squatter: $50,000
Luis: How about $250?
Final Sale Price: $600

My Aunt's Kidnapping in Guatemala:
Kidnapper: We want X
Final Ransom: X/20

Buying DNS Service:
Unnamed Company's Initial Offer: $X/month
Final Offer: $(X/10)/month

My Mom Buying Fruit in a Town Market:
Seller: Bananas for $1
Mom: I'll give you 10 cents
Seller: That's INSANE!
Mom: How about 12 cents?
Seller: FINE

I'm tempted to hire a fruit seller from a Guatemalan market to become my chief negotiator.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Is This Science?

One of the most common questions computer science professors used to ask about my research went something like this: "What you're doing is very clever, and I see how it's useful, but how is it science?" At first, I tried coming up with convoluted explanations for why my research was actually scientific and even went and published a paper in the journal named Science. But I've been told that the best defense is a good offense, so at some point I switched to answering with something like "It's not. How is your research science?"

Fortunately, this type of questioning has stopped. Perhaps the word got around that I myself didn't consider my research science so people just stopped asking. But the one thing that always struck me was how most computer science professors could not answer this question adequately about their own research. Which made wonder: is computer science really a science? It has a lot of math, but math is not science. It also has a lot of engineering -- I'm not 100% sure what the difference is between engineering and science, but I'm told there is one.

I do find it funny that you can get a PhD in computer "science" without ever having taken a class in experimental design, in research methods or in statistics. I also find it funny that we need to put the word "science" in the name of our field: political science, actuarial science, computer science.

I'm not sure whether cs is actually a science, but the real question is "who cares?" I don't.