Author: Paul Bass

Everyone Should Take a Computer Science Class

 

Computer Science

Now, I know what you’re thinking when you read the title. Computer science? That’s for nerds. And while I may be a nerd, computer science isn’t just for people like me. I’m here to tell you why.

Learn to Think Logically

Humans can overcome all sorts of problems. We can use brute force to solve many of them. For other problems, we can use our brains to infer the answers. But when we’re asked how we solved a problem, we might find ourselves at a loss for words. For instance, when I do Sudoku, I rarely stop and ask myself “what precise mental actions am I performing to solve this puzzle?” However, programming a computer to solve a problem requires you to develop a repeatable, logical approach to each issue. Computer science is one of the best ways to make you a better logical, step by step thinker. Incidentally, this is the same reason I recommend philosophy to people. Both subjects require you to walk through a logic problem step by step.

Effectively Communicate Your Ideas

Have you ever struggled to share a simple explanation for a complex process? I certainly have – I usually end up demonstrating the process instead. This kind of situation usually arises from not fully comprehending what you’re doing when you’re solving a given issue. With a computer, you must possess a complete understanding of the problem at hand before you can write a program to solve it for you. Then when you write the program, it rarely works unless it’s virtually error free. Because it’s very difficult to spot a coding error, lines of code must be highly organized. Studying computer science will help you systematically organize data and express it in easily digestible chunks. It becomes a breeze to explain a problem or solution to someone else.

Things Every Owner Should Know

If you own a car, you should know how the engine works at a rudimentary level.  Even more important, you should know how to perform basic maintenance, such as changing the oil, etc. Without this knowledge, minor repairs turn into major ones before we notice a problem even exists. Your computer is a machine, so why treat it any differently? Taking an intro computer science class teaches you what’s happening under your keyboard. It can help you diagnose a problem or recognize the cause when something goes wrong. It’s such a valuable skill, some people even believe kindergartners should learn computer science. Most of all, having knowledge about basic hardware and software will make you a much savvier buyer when you purchase your next computer.

So have I convinced you? Will you be signing up for a computer science class in the fall? Let me know down below!

The Best Documentaries on Netflix

If you’re anything like me, you enjoy learning new information in nice, digestible chunks. There’s nothing like a good documentary to make you feel productive while watching TV. If you feel the same, then I have great news for you! Netflix has a plethora of documentaries for you to watch and absorb passively on your couch. So sit back, relax, and grab your popcorn. We’re delving into the realm of documentaries!

American Anarchist - Documentaries

American Anarchist

It’s a story of passion, fervor, and regret. In 1971, William Powell authored one of the most controversial books ever written, The Anarchist Cookbook. The book contained instructions on how to make everything from weapons to illicit drugs. It quickly became the book of choice for social deviants, including terrorists and freedom fighters. But, after converting to Anglicanism in 1979, Powell devoted the rest of his life to making sure nobody ever reads his book again. This is his story.

cosmos - Documentaries

Cosmos

When you look up at the night sky, isn’t in wonderful? Have you ever wondered what’s up there and how it all works? Wonder no longer! Neil Degrasse Tyson is here to tell you in his classic dulcet tones. Cosmos succeeds in making its subject matter accessible with easy to understand examples and comparisons. It’s a very humbling documentary, reinforcing how small we really are in the face of the universe. We are all made of stardust, which is a pretty cool idea to ponder on.

Pumping Iron - Documentaries

Pumping Iron

If you’re at all interested in bodybuilding as a sport, this is the documentary for you. Originally released in 1977, this film follows Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno as they vie for the title of most aesthetic man alive. Pumping Iron pulls back the curtain on how the sport is fraught with body image issues and subjectivity in judging. This documentary is also a deluge of information about Schwarzenegger and Ferrigno. It’s worth a watch if the sport even remotely interests you.

Do you have any favorite documentaries? Leave them in the comments below!

The Story of Spider-Man: Homecoming

Spider-Man

I absolutely love movies with behind the scenes special features. One of my favorite things is watching what goes into making a full length film. When I learned Spider-Man was not going to be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), it set off my spidey senses. What behind the scenes tomfoolery could cause the absence of such a beloved character?

The answer is a story as convoluted and odd as you’d probably guess. It finally culminates with the return of Spider-Man to the MCU this summer in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Marvel, Bankruptcy, and Spider-Man

Way back in the 90’s, there was a massive comic book boom due to inflating comic book values. People began to realize the rarity of old comics from the 40s and 50s, especially first editions. DC and Marvel both capitalized on this, printing millions of new comics and making collector’s editions as much as possible. Characters married each other left and right, superman died, it was a crazy time. It didn’t take long for people to realize the market was saturated.

The comic book boom ended shortly after and Marvel quickly encountered trouble. They were up to their eyeballs in debt from overprinting and underselling comics. The crash eventually caused Marvel to declare bankruptcy. As a result, the company desperately sold off movie rights to a number of characters. The rights to both Spider-Man and the X-Men properties passed though a number of companies, finally settling in the hands of Sony.

Sony’s Tragic Mismanagement

Sony handed the property rights to Sam Raimi after a number of failed attempts to bring Spider-Man to the big screen. Sam Raimi reimagined the web slinger in “Spider-Man”, directing both sequels in the series. The first two movies were massive hits! The third was a flop, both critically and commercially. Regardless, Sony allowed Raimi to move forward with a fourth movie slated for a 2011 release date. Unfortunately, Sony canceled the project due to creative differences.

Spider-Man underwent a reboot from Sony with the movie “The Amazing Spider-Man”. It became a cinematic hit and the studio decided to produce a sequel. However, this was the 5th Spider-Man movie in 10 years. Audiences became tired of the superhero, and having two reboots in 5 years is a tad confusing for the general public. The series ultimately ended before producing “The Amazing Spider-Man 3”.

The Return to Marvel

Possibly the only good thing to come out of the 2014 Sony email leaks was news about Spider-Man was returning to Marvel. Disney and Sony reached an agreement to allow the wall crawler to return to the big screen under the Marvel umbrella. However, the odds are stacked against Spider-Man Homecoming. As the third reboot in 15 years, audiences could have Spider-Man fatigue. For fans of the superhero, here’s to hoping that Spider-Man: Homecoming rises above the tangled web of past disputes and turns out to be a great film!

Balancing a Part Time Job on Campus

We all like making a little money on the side, but balancing a part time job and schoolwork is tough. Even for the best students, scheduling around classes and work shifts is a challenge. When academics get rough, oftentimes a job becomes a nightmare. But never fear! I’m here to give you some advice on how to manage your academics and your part time job at the same time.

Scheduling Your Time

Schedule everything! Make sure to use Google calendar as much as possible, scheduling everything from your workouts to your study times. By scheduling when you study, work out, and take breaks, you can prevent wasting time. Budgeting lets you know where your money is going. Scheduling lets you know where your time is going. By scheduling your time, you will stop having those days where it feels like you’re scrambling to get everything done. Below is an example of my Google calendar for a day earlier this year.

Balancing a Part Time Job

An example of my weekly calendar

Talking With Your Boss

Your boss is a person too, and they probably also had to juggle a million and one things in college. They get it, I promise. If you’re having an especially bad week, talk with your boss and ask if she can cut some of your shifts. If she can, she probably will. Employers know an unhappy employee is often a bad employee. If you feel uncomfortable about speaking to your manager, consider brushing up on your workplace communication skills starting with this article from Forbes. Should talking to your boss fail, you may be able to swap shifts with a fellow employee. Worst case scenario, they say no. Why not ask them before resigning yourself to a week of torture?

Balancing a Part Time Job

Treat Your Part Time Job Like a Class

Treat your job like any other class, in every possible sense. Don’t skip your job. Try to schedule your shifts the same way you would a class. Ask your manager if you can work at a consistent time every week. If possible, try to block it in with all your other classes. For instance, most of my shifts as a tour guide were right after my classes. I could get all my structured responsibilities out of the way early, and then have the afternoon to work out or do homework. By treating your job like a class, you’ll develop better professional habits and use your time more efficiently.

Do you have any tips on how to manage a job during the school year? Feel free to leave them in the comments below!

Keeping in Touch Over the Summer

It’s summer break! The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and you’re ready to make the most of it with your friends when it hits you… They’re all scattered across the four corners of the earth. Going to school with diverse people from different locations is great until it’s time for everyone to go back to their hometown. Missing the company of your friends is a struggle we all face over summer break. But never fear! Here are a few tips for keeping in touch over the summer:

Texting

For all the think-pieces written about how texting is killing our generation, overall it’s a positive thing. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should be texting your friends from school on your phone all the time. That’s a recipe for missing out on life. But some people anxiously feel they need to have a purpose for texting their friends before they can push send. However, receiving a text from your mates is almost always a welcomed surprise. If something reminds you of someone, shoot them a text! See a billboard for their favorite band? See that one food they love? See a friend from home you know they’d get along with? Shoot them a text! It’s easy to keep in touch by texting, But even better than a text is…

Snapchat

Snapchat, in my opinion, is the pinnacle of staying in touch over the summer. Snapchat will let you share what’s happening in your life, live and directly to your friends. They’ll be able to see your face, the world around you, your friends from home, and anything else you can find! The app includes great filters for making any occasion into a fun episode featuring your life. The platform is perfect for random, unpolished moments as well. When it comes to quick ways to show someone you’re thinking of them, you can’t go wrong with sending a snap!

Skype

We all know skype has some drawbacks, but even the most ardent critic of the program has to admit – it’s a wonderful free tool for keeping in touch with people. Skype is great for limiting data  usage when you’re connecting with a friend during their international vacation. Unlike Snapchat, there isn’t a limit on the length of video you share. Instead, you can actively video conference your friends anywhere in the world. Schedule a time each week (or more/less often, depending) and video conference with your friends for a bit. Texting is great, but actually seeing a person’s face and hearing them talk does wonders for strengthening a friendship.

Doing the same stuff

During the school year you have plenty to talk about with your friends. Unfortunately things change over the summer and once you’ve told each other how your week’s been, conversations can get a bit slow. The best solution to this is planning to do shared or similar activities, individually. You both might read the same book, watch the same TV show, or see the same movie! It gives a quick and easy topic to jump back to when the conversation gets a bit slow. In addition to discussing your experiences, you’ll have an opportunity to talk about and plan which activities you’d both be willing to try. Who knows, they may suggest something you’ve never thought of before!

Not having your friends around during summer break can leave you feeling lonely. Of course, nothing can really beat seeing someone in person, but hopefully these tips encourage you to use the technology you know and love to stay connected. On the upside, August is only a short three months away!