Write Good Code or … that day I thought Grady Booch was a grad student

The year was … 1998. I was a student in the computer science program at Arizona State. We were invited to CS Night. Back then, they had very few people attend. It was somewhat informal. My friend, Sindhu and I were hanging out and decided to go. Free food is always a good thing when you are a student!

So, we are sitting down and we see this hippy looking guy walk in. I hadn’t seen him before so I figured him for a grad student. We invited him to sit with us. He starts talking with us and then when they are about to start, he apologizes that he has to sit up front because he’s the speaker. I go, “Oh, I thought you were a grad student!” He says, “not for a while”. It was Grady Booch. That day, he gave an analogy of Dorothy and the red shoes and coding. “Write Good Code” was his message.

I’ll never forget the emphasis on writing good code and the Booch method. 2 years later, the CS program had a more Formal CS Night.  The speaker was the guy who created UML. He was telling us how he had a fat million dollar deal and check in hand when his chair called him about finishing his dissertation. He was also a great speaker. However, at that time at Arizona State, the program switched from UNIX to Windows and eliminated the X terminals in the computing commons for Windows machines. These were sad times for a free software advocate.

The truth of the matter was that the support team could not support the x terminals (Sun Solaris boxes) and the college wanted to get rid of the terminals. The IT staff was surveying the usage – in a most unfair manner – by setting times they knew there would be little to no usage, intentionally! They admitted the reason. This was quite upsetting.

Fortunately, around the same time, Arizona State East campus had implemented a lab full of Red Hat dual boot machines. This was somewhat fortunate, but not exactly the same thing. It was something…

My personal opinion on the Operating System course switching from UNIX to Windows fell upon deaf ears. Money is king, right?

Another interesting thing was that Intel and Motorola pushed for the curriculum to include serious math, which is fine. However, the math amounted to a minor in math with only 3 more courses required to complete a double major in Computer Science and Mathematics.  The adviser in the computer science department was someone I helped to get the job in 1998 and in 2000, she had completely changed. There were walk in times with no appointment available. My friend who is African American and a female was turned away from advisement twice, even though she was enrolled in the program! When I complained, the department chair’s solution was not to help a student but to eliminate walk ins. Wow. The program got worse and worse. Ultimately, I decided to forgo a degree in computer science for a few reasons:

1. The adviser miscalculated  my GPA – then told me “I” needed more math! LMFAO

2. The department was targeting women enrolled and claiming they were not doing their work and were monitoring emails to try and find proof but could not.

3. There were some women who were NOT doing work. I met one girl who when asked by another student to explain push and…. push and… she said PULL… not pop. I said, Oh, are you a freshman? She said, “I’m a senior! I’m graduating this semester!” At that point I was like, omfg.

I went to a mentor/professor who proceeded to defend her. I was like, 4th year and you don’t understand Stacks and she gets the degree. This is a WORTHLESS degree program!

So, I was going to go into law. However, ran out of funds before I could get to law school. Too bad, I could have defended hackers. That’s my only regret.

Somehow, though, after leaving the program, I made my way to the FSF and EFF. So, despite not having a BS in comp sci (only an AAS), I was able to have amazing experiences!

Some of my hacker friends say I’m good at social engineering. I do tend to get free passes to cons that cost 1000s…
This past year I attended Cactus con even though there were no available spots and I hadn’t registered. It was free… I didn’t think I had to register!

Then, less than an hour later, I saw some people who turned from free to proprietary for money. Hey, that’s life – right. She was there at the Auth con with a police man and another Linux User group president. So, as she saw me she said to them, “Oh, I guess they let just anyone in.”

I thought, yeah… I guess they will.

Later, I caught her in the hallway alone. I said, “I’m surprised to see you here”. She told me she goes every year. Yeah, I’m not surprised at that… I mean, anyone can get in, even people who work with Canonical. LOL.