How to use price guides

Pricing collectibles is more art than science, and most guides have some errors in them, so large (or at least very vocal) numbers of people mistrust them.

I still use them, however. Knowing how they’re produced–or would be produced, in a perfect world with perfect data–helps someone to use them to maximum effect. The principles are the same for any guide, whether you’re talking trains or video games or baseball cards or any other collectible. Read more

How to maximize a Computer Science degree

Yesterday an interesting question popped up on Slashdot, asking for an alternative to a computer science degree for an aspiring web developer. He complained that what he’s learning in class doesn’t relate to what he wants to do in the field.

Assuming that by “web developer” he means someone who can code stuff in ASP and/or PHP with a database backend and do stuff in Javascript–as opposed to a designer who just does HTML and CSS–I think he’s best off staying where he is and asking better questions.
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University computer science programs need to teach security, not demonize it

I saw this on Slashdot today: A computer science student was expelled from a Canadian university for practicing what most people would call white-hat hacking.

Their reasoning: “Schools are supposed to teach best practice, which includes ethics and adherence to reasonable laws.” Read more

A reasonable analysis of the current copyright mess (updated)

Well, that was a disappointment. It was retracted nearly as quickly as it burst onto the scenes. Crud.

A reasoned, level-headed analysis of the problems that current copyright law creates rocked Slashdot yesterday. The amazing thing is, this thing came from Washington.

Here’s the highlight reel: Read more

Short takes, 5 Jun 2012

I’m positively uninspired this morning, trying to recover from a weekend of the most boring writing I’ve ever done in my life–something that, mercifully, only a small handful of tortured souls will ever have to see and read–so I’ll do some short takes.

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I’m not sure Google was the good guy, but I’m glad Oracle lost

I’m not sure that either Google or Oracle was the good guy in the Java patent/copyright case. But Google was less bad. And it’s hard for me to see how ruling in favor of Oracle could have done anything good for the industry.
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Facebook’s IPO doesn’t have to be the end of Silicon Valley

I saw a story on Slashdot this weekend writing Silicon Valley’s obituary at the hands of the Facebook IPO. The logic is that since social networking is an easier path to riches than traditional science, people will choose social networking.

In the short term, he may be right. But in the long term? The Facebook IPO looks more like Dotcom 2.0 to me. Read more

The real benefits of having a CISSP

Another question from the big box o’ Google search queries: What are the real benefits of having a CISSP?

I don’t want to be flip, but here it is in two words: job security. Read more

Dave, have you seen this classmate?

This is a companion piece to Ken Floro’s The Southside Cavaliers vs. Vanishing Tom. I’m trying my best to write in someone else’s style and not get my keyboard (among other things) handed to me. In Ken’s story, I’m Hacker Dave.

I accidentally spent my 16th birthday with Vanishing Tom. We both attended a school-sponsored seminar on a Saturday, which happened to be my birthday. The subject was something about achieving your potential. Everyone else present was a football player or basketball player or cheerleader. Tom and I were the only people there without an athletic connection.

“I need an attitude adjustment,” Tom announced when he saw me, making no effort at enthusiasm.

Ah, we were both there for the same thing. I can’t speak for Tom, but I was surprised that everyone there accepted both of us for a few hours that Saturday. But come Monday we were just Tom and Dave again, same as we ever were. I never heard anyone mention that Saturday again. Read more