On ignorance

1.

A blog post from a HCMUT instructor suddenly force me to look back. Where am I actually? On the path to become a CS (computer scientist) or a CEN (computer engineer)? I have thought about it, but just unable to determine which. The following quote somehow cleared the blockade:

Should I pursue computer science or computer engineering?

Scientists and engineers are both interested in the nature of things, in understanding how ideas and objects in the world fit together. But in general, they seek to understand the nature of reality with different ends in mind: the scientist seeks this understanding as an end in itself, the engineer in order to build things. Thus CS is closer to the underlying theory of computation, with its roots in mathematics, and CEN is closer to the design of physical devices, with roots in physics and chemistry as well. Students with an urge to build things, to measure how things work in the laboratory, those attracted to physics and chemistry as well as mathematics, should seriously consider CEN. Students with an interest in the true nature of symbols, information and their manipulations, the forms and limits of algorithms and data structures, should consider CS. Of the three great divisions in computing, namely theory, software and hardware, to a first approximation theory go with CS, hardware with CEN, and software with both, but mainly with CS. The more general the software, the closer to CS; the more hardware-specific, the closer to CEN. Thus a student interested in creating his own new general-purpose computer language would best be served by a CS degree program, while one interested in designing a software interface for a new high speed serial device by the CEN degree program.

I don’t like to build things. I do that frequently, but because I am forced to :P. Either that is a project or that make my life easier. But a CS must have fascination with the nature of everything, and feel the elegance of a solution. Looks like I don’t. I haven’t invented any new way to solve a problem, just combine existing things together and see if it works. Furthermore, a scientist must explore lots of things and also  able to describe it so others can understand what they have in mind, which is something I’m not really good at. (Just writing a blog post like this is enough to give me a headache – I’m trying to get better nevertheless 🙂 ). And in the end, though I don’t like it, I’m best at building things, not sitting around and dissecting others’.

I think I’ll be a CEN, though CS does sound much cooler. The anti-need to build-something can always be credited to one thing: laziness.

2.

Another point for this matter: nobody told you what you’ll be before you started learning (sign up for the school, and stuff); and you don’t get to change your major in Vietnam. In contrast to other countries’ where potential students can get a grip of what they’ll learn, not by asking some counselor through magazines’ forums but by getting the info straight from where they want to apply:

http://www.pratt.duke.edu/highschool/cs_vs_ce.php

http://www.ntu.edu.sg/SCE/info-gen.asp

http://www.eng.buffalo.edu/compscie_vs_compeng.php

This may sound unimportant, but the consequences are not. Some 1st year student from my university suicide last week for getting expelled for low grades. If that kid had been informed that all students hated the general curriculum years… :/

3.

The itchy “unknowing” feeling is common. It doesn’t just come when you stop for a moment and start thinking about your life. It could come out of a sudden when you are in the middle of something else. The result for each time varies and could be hard to classify. Nevertheless, Phillip Armour tried to categorize ignorance itself and coined a term “Order of Ignorance”

  • 0(zero)th Order of Ignorance (0OI): Know something (relevant) and can use it effectively
  • 1st Order of Ignorance (1OI): Know that that you don’t know something
  • 2nd Order of Ignorance (2OI): Don’t know that you don’t know something
  • 3rd Order of Ignorance (3OI): Don’t have a process to find what you were unaware that you didn’t know
  • 4th Order of Ignorance (4OI): Not even aware of the Orders of Ignorance and their implications

Yeah! Now you’ve read this, so you are at 3OI already! You know what “order of ignorance” is :P. You (may) have successfully perceived that the unknown is vast. You can’t just “know” that and do nothing, you have to proceed up the levels of ignorance. Note that these levels apply to a specific range of problem, and you may say “I’m 0OI at X but 2OI at Y and I need your help”; most people would love to!

If all this sounds too alien to you, imagine that you read horoscopes, numerology, take personality tests. Do you believe in them without a doubt? Then you are at 3OI for psychology! If you have a slight doubt and wanted to find out why, you are at 2OI, because you know somehow they are right and somehow they are wrong, but don’t know where to clear the doubt. You are at 1OI if you want to know about the Forer effect. If you understood what that is, you are now at 0OI. You know science have space on the selves for supersition 😛

It’s like climbing stairs, the ascension is always harder to take. You may make it to the “higher” levels but as you forget what something is, you fall a level; and if you continue to forget your methodologies too, you fall down yet another level.

As human’s memory is currently so limited (except for exceptional cases). You will eventually forget things, but in order to keep yourself from falling further, you have to keep the methodologies of life; some call then principles. Don’t worry; most of us are able to keep them, and can come up and down the stairs.

Unfortunately, some don’t, and as climbing the stairs is hard even for themselves, you are always at 2OI to make them climb with you or if that even possible, and if you don’t even want them to climb with you, you are back at 3OI =)).

I have something that I must do, with which I have 3OI. Oh, well…

Change has come to America

Possibly largest inauguration festival ever in America. It’s not just about the well-planned celebrations, it’s a about the new attitude. It’d be hard for Bush to stand between an open crowd like that (neither in a small crowd). One could say it’s courageous, the highest target for those who don’t like America stand between a sea of people. But the ceremony went through smoothly. Well, looks like the terrorists like the democrats 😛

I haven’t seen any change for the ongoing conflicts just yet, but I’ve seen changes on the white house’s web site. Really diligent webmaster. Last time I checked (around 11 am EST), it’s still Bush’s. I was expecting only a name change, but the new design surprised me. I like the new color and layout, the feeds and the jqueries. The professional online presence from the presidental campaign was carried over. If this were a Vietnamese site, it’d took one or two month to make the same change :))

The political Google bomb from 2004 was also taken care of. I tried to access the old target and got redirected to the new biography, while search engines are redirected to Bush’s. Well done! I like the new administration already!

Also, from the new biography more goodies is now accessible. (Say, you want to know about the first pets?)

A glance on domain names

Source: literate.co.uk

My university organized many conferences, submitted quite a lot of papers, and I wonder if it is considered an academic institute, which translates to an .ac domain

http://www.hcmus.ac.vn

No it’s not 🙁

For those you don’t know the difference between .ac and .edu: .dot edu is an abbreviation for “education”, which means any entity with educational purpose could use this domain, including elementary schools, high schools, vocational colleges and I haven’t seen this but it’s a possibility: kindergartens. Dot ac, on the other hand, stands for “academic”, which means higher education institutes and research is their main function.

So… my university is in the same domain with naughty kids and hysterical teenagers :”( while entities that I never heard about has the “noble” .ac ~_~. It’s like .ac has a really high standard that even a university couldn’t meet!

Side note: in the United Kingdom and Japan it seems like nobody uses .edu, only .ac; perhaps they want to tell everyone in the world that they don’t allow idiots to enter any educational facilites! For the U.S, it’s always .edu and no .ac (they got the 1st level domains already :P)

No, It’s not!

Source: The Google search above, now they are hiring poets for an IT research instute? 😛

Try www.ac.vn

I couldn’t get what VNNIC was thinking allowing the allocation of that. Higher learning institutes got a 3rd level domain while a SMS service bastard get the 2nd level national domain!? What kind of planning is that? Or in Vietnam cell phones are used (more relevant to people) than brains? Sadly nothing could be done, ’cause if you ask them, they I’ll be like “Canadians did that too”.

Doubting that this “www” would be allocated like that somewhere else too, I tred www.edu.vn, name.vn, gov.vn, info.vn, biz.vn etc. Luckily, they are all pointed at dot.vn; so looks like the .ac is an “isolated case” and no one would be held responsible when those reporters find out 😛

Who’s the most advanced

Yesterday I was searching for Russia’s prime minister’s duty and terms, I came across this article and wondered if Vietnam’s prime minister has a page. Sure, I added it to the article. Now some would say Vietnam is no less technology advanced than Thailand or Singapore ;), the parliament (or “national assembly” as it is translated) has a site too.

Well, you can’t get cocky yet, because the party’s general secretary doesn’t seem to know how to open an email account or write a blog, not even letting someone write the biography.

To compare with:

Simplified Vietnamese

If you are thinking about some other language that have “simplified” before its name then no, Vietnam is not going to use that language as it official language, at least not in this year.

I recently read this article (For a side note: This site copies most of its content from blogs, and doesn’t ask for the author’s permission of course). I simply couldn’t get whatever it’s trying to tell me =)), so as a reflex I asked Google and found this. In short, the “program” and the “new language”, as they identified themselves, are going to change Vietnamese completely, so Vietnamese can be typed faster. They are first planned to be used in the Vietnamese computing society.

Completely impractical.

Vietnamese is a mixed language; it contained elements from both European and Asian roots. This “research” referred only one or two papers and end up creating a “better” language? Apparently its author has neither previous experience nor care to get some about constructed language. The idea of creating the “perfect” language, easier to write, easier to understand isn’t new. Some have tried and fail silently. If you live in Vietnam have you ever heard of “quốc tế ngữ”? Probably not. I’m not even sure which language that noun is referring to: Interlingua or Esperanto? Constructing a language and put it into wide use isn’t an easy problem. The two languages above have multiple contributors, even have their own lingual institute to research and introduce new principles into the language and still, they aren’t as success as they wanted.

What make that guy think one man is going to change history that easy, arrogance or ignorance?

Furthermore, Vietnamese is completely unorganized. There is no formal organization to regulate the use of new words yet (which have been hindering access to newest technologies for most Vietnamese, what would you call a blog or a shell in Vietnamese? =)). Vocabulary differentiates between regions to – North, South and the Central; even the pronunciation is different! (The “simplified” language claims it is based on pronunciation – which will make it easier to learn) Which region’s pronunciation is it using to simplify?

Well, to say how impractical it is, it may as well get 1st prize for that competition. I’m not a judge for that matter.

Faster Vietnamese

Searching for the above, there seemed to be a similar effort before, but it doesn’t dream as big, its main purpose is to allow you to type unpunctuated Vietnamese faster  

Qui ước gõ tt

Ví d

f  = ph

 Gõ fai  bung ra
(→)  phai

j  = gi

       ju jn jay j giu gin giay gi

 B bt h  : – gh

                    – ngh

      gi gn ghi gn         ge  ghe          

      ngi      nghi              nge nghe

c  = k *

       đ  k  = kh

      cim kim                    ce ke             

      ki ko kan    khi kho khan

Hmm, what a pity the author didn’t publish how this method was born, what’s its advantage, estimation of benefits etc. Otherwise more people would have been convinced to use and contribute to it. :/

Reading further into its rule:

Trăm năm trong cõi người ta            

Gõ phím:
       Tram nam trog coi nguj ta               

Bung ra       Tram nam trong coi nguoi ta

 

Ch tài ch mnh khéo là ghét nhau          

Gõ phím:        Chu tai chu meh keo la get nhau
         

Bung ra       Chu tai chu menh kheo la ghet nhau

 

Tri qua mt cuc b dâu                        

Gõ phím:        Trai qa mot cus be dau                       

Bung ra      Trai qua mot cuoc be dau

 

Nhng điu trông thy mà đau đn lòng     

Gõ phím:        Nhug diw trog thay ma dau don log      

Bung ra       Nhung dieu trong thay ma dau don long

 

Even though this method doesn’t seem to have wide usage, I can’t help notice similarities between this and the so-called “9x language”. Is there any chance those kids have seen their parent using this method but failed to learn properly and thus a new language is born? :))

Mikrypto

Splash screen

Is the name of my latest school project in cryptography; possibly the fastest project ever: only 10 hours from concept to realization with all the functionality in place. It would be great if I were in the mood to document it. But unfortunately that is not the case right now. Other than some problem with XML Serialization (specifically serialization order control and serialize to stream), the project went smoothly. The version below is a little more polished than the version I turned in.

So what does this do? In short: It let you encrypt files and send to friends who also used this application. Upon account creation, you are given a key pair (which you can access using the export function); you are free to give your key to others and vice versa. If you want to send a file to someone, just encrypt the files choosing that one as the recipient, send the file to (s) he, the receiver logins to his/her account, hit decrypt and BOOM! Files appear!

Though the process is simple, way too simple that you don’t even have to enter a password to encrypt files, it is still not cryptographically feasible for anyone to decrypt the encrypted file. Even you, the one who encoded that file(s) to send wouldn’t be able to decode it without knowing the recipient’s account detail.

If that sounds interesting, give it a try

(If you are confused, read the Vietnamese usage instruction in the PDF file)