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Computer Science
Bethlehem PA

The Snowy Quarter Begins

Jeff Maher on Thursday, 14 December 2006. Posted in Academic Calendar, Coursework

Christmas music is playing, white stuff is on the ground, candles are everywhere, and the temperature is clearly cold. What could this all mean? "Well d'uh Jeff - the holidays are here." True, true - but I was aiming for the start of winter quarter.

Winter quarter at RIT is always a strange one. Everyone returns from a festive Thanksgiving break only to be fired into classes for 3 short weeks before shipping off for yet more festive celebrations. This in and of itself makes the quarter feel disjointed because just as you catch the flow of your courses, you're ripped out of them and are forced to acclimate again in January.

Aside from the odd feeling logistics, the quarter has already been very different for me. A good share of my friends graduated last quarter, others are off on their last round of co-ops, and the tenants of my apartment almost completely changed. Socially it's been a little quiet and I've missed the faces that I was used to seeing on a regular basis either at home or in class. Despite this, it's been an opportunity to meet new people and hang out with some different folks.

On the academic side of things, it's also a bit "un-Kosher" in that I finished the last of my CS (Computer Science) classes last quarter and for the first time, don't have any courses on my "home turf." To boot, I've always taken 4 courses a quarter, but have opted to take only 3 this time around to make room for GRE (Graduate Record Exam) studying. While things are still pretty busy, it's nice to have a little bit more room to breathe for a change.

Without the CS classes on my schedule, I'm taking 1 liberal arts class and 2 IT (Information Technology) classes. Biomedical Issues is the liberal arts class on the roster and I've absolutely loved it so far. It's taught by Dr. Blizzard who also taught the Cyborg Theory class I took last year. To this point, our discussions have encompassed confidentiality in the medical industry and whether or not organs should be sold and bought on a market. Despite the fact that the class runs for 2 hours (happening twice a week), it always feels like too short of a time and most people, I think, would opt to stay longer if they could.

My two IT classes, Web Design & Implementation and Distributed Applications Programming, have been pretty good so far and I've learned a great deal already. Nevertheless, I've never been so aware of the differences between IT and CS as I am now. While we do a lot of the same stuff, IT really doesn't focus on WHY things work whereas CS does. For example, in Distributed Application Programming we're learning how to write network-based Java applications. When we go over code, we only learn the syntax of the code and/or how it is written. When I took a similar CS class (Data Communicatons & Networking I), we'd go over code, but not only would we talk about how the code is written, but what was going on behind the code conceptually. Up until now, I always had the voice in the back of my head that wasn't positive that I chose the right computing major. However, after getting more of a taste of IT, I'm certain that I chose wisely. I simply like knowing the theory as much as the practical stuff.

So that's winter quarter thus far in a nutshell: 3 weeks, different faces, and new classes. Good times have been and will be continue to be had.

I didn't have any new pictures, so this is one I took freshman year from the 5th floor of the Gleason dorm on a weekend morning.