Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Here's Some Positive Feedback

So for me it would appear that blogging (like going to the gym and coffee consumption) is governed by a positive feedback loop. I have literally like a dozen things I want to say, and hopefully I can get them all down on the page before they slip out of my mind's buffer and the starbuck's wears off (god damn it what a country I just love that shit) so here we go.

Thanks to DougL (and someone else on 2p2) for correctly stating that MOSFETs don't use negative feedback. Op-Amps can be built with MOSFETs, and Op-Amps use negative feedback, and that is what I was remembering from the class. So hopefully I have that correct.

To Drew, the MIT Junior who took the 6.046 final yesterday; I hope it went well, and I'm sorry if I scared the bejesus out of you. Dave, I enjoyed 6.046 immensely as well, but from a practical point of view it stretched my intelligence to (and past) it's breaking point. Some people just get that stuff; I cannot be counted among them. I mean sure, compared to the average person I'm probably a rock star algorithms guy, but that's sort of like pointing out that CC Sabathia would be the best hitter on your beer league softball team. Of course he would, and of course I kind of know what's going on I spent 5 years trying to figure it all out. Some people just get some things; I spoke to an old friend (shout out to nilekim here) who said he ashamedly just isn't very good at probability mind teasers. The guy is going to have a freaking Ph.D in a matter of months (or days, I'm not sure) and probability teasers give him problems. For me those things are just second nature and always have been. I never destroyed a class more completely than I did 6.041, and I'm sure my friend struggled with it. I'm also sure he's smarter than I am. Maybe I was just like him in algorithms, but I doubt it. I think that class truly found the bounds of my intelligence, and I am A-OK with that.

Captain R, I'll tell you who names their classes by numbers; we fucking do. It's the way it is, has been, and always will be. MIT freshmen will always be able to tell their friends at 77 that they have to get to 3.091 in 10-250, then 8.01 in 54-100 and the response will always be "OK, see you in W-20 for lunch".

DougL, why do you rant against me so? I won't repeat my response there even though I know there are people who read at work and can't....well, OK fine here it is:

Originally Posted by DougL View Post

To give jesse a justified hard time about this blog post, it would stand as an example for any student you know of what not to do while in college. It is also why a lot of "non traditional" students get so much out of school. Here you are at a world class institution of higher learning, and the cool bit is learning the rhythm of "how to beat an MIT class"? I'd guess, how to do the homework and cram just enough to pass the test.

[ ] MOSFET uses negative feedback
[x] Negative feedback key in control loops
[x] Positive feedback is bad for reasons described
[x] Feed forward cool, but need more advanced control systems class

Not to wham on my buddy Jesse (who I trust will rock the rest of the year at the Casino and bank $$$), but the whole reason to bother to show up to classes is to find cool things that you didn't know that you can learn. The name at the top of the piece of paper is meh -- in 5 years, no one will care. Tools in the toolbox matter a lot. Going to college should be about adding of tools. Most of us didn't know it when we were there, and we kind of picked up a socket set, a level, a plane, and a few other oddly useful tools while there. My friends who dropped out and then went back 5 years later got so much more out of college. A) real work is so much harder than college. B) they were interested in learning things.
I only won about 4 racks, so I may not be in quite the mood you'd hoped for.

First of all, I didn't say that the "cool bit" was learning how to beat an MIT class. I'm saying that was what I learned in my freshman physics class. Most courses at MIT (and most colleges, I'd imagine) have a set rhythm. The one I ran into the most was "Two tests, a final, and about 10 problem sets" and a need to attend recitations or so. The classes followed a pattern; there would be 3 problem sets, then a test on them, then four more, then a test on them, then 3 more where you'd get into some stuff that was pretty advanced for the class/level of kid that was in it that was designed to either scare off stragglers (in some cases, like 6.001) or engage the cream of the crop to continue in the discipline. The final was usually "cumulative" but it focused on the stuff from the last third of the class, and if you didn't have your **** down from the first two thirds you were usually in trouble just because that meant you had no shot at the last third.

College (and life) is a game. Sure you're there to learn and put tools in your belt. This was the mantra at MIT. But you're also there to get good grades, make friends, generate stories, grow socially, learn to deal with new situations, figure out how to manage your time, gain confidence, and avoid having a mental break down. I had a room mate who seriously considered suicide, and looking back I handled it TERRIBLY. That experience was worth more than any class I took and it's not particularly close. Meeting Danielle was, too.

I often hear this argument from people who are successful at what they do; where you went to school doesn't matter. They're not "wrong", exactly, but I certainly don't think they're right. The people who say this tend to be exceptionally talented and without fail have had careers that have worked out extremely well. Doug, I'm sure you fall into this category. But how much faster could have been that successful if you were afforded the advantages of having "BIG ****ING DEAL" written across the top of your diploma. Danielle got a couple of internships she never should have gotten because of it. Then she got a job at Oracle she wasn't close to qualified for, on paper, and how she's working at Google, all because her BIOLOGY degree says "MIT" on it. None of it would have been possible by the age of 27 with natural sciences degree from 90% of schools on the planet. My MIT degree is basically allowing me to shake my middle finger at the entire world while I waste my life playing poker for years on end. It helps, and if you don't think so you're being short sited. Does it guarantee success? Obviously not. Does it give you an unfair advantage in the first 5 years of your career, which more often than not you can leverage to be ahead of where you should be for the next 15? Definitely.

That's all I have to say on that, although I'm sure the discussion will continue. It occurs to me just now that Doug and I could be in a state of violent agreement. I think his argument is "god damn it these MIT kids don't know any more than anybody else" and my argument is "you're god damned right but watch how much easier life is for them the first few years of their careers." Anyway Doug let me know if I have that correct(ish). And for the record to quote Captain R I was a white chip collegiate winner, minimum.

See the buffer has leaked some and my coffee is running out...ah yes the small matter of "the cat". Today for probably the 5th time this month I cleaned up cat poop from our laundry room. You see, we have trained our cat to pee in her box and to poop...on the floor directly in front of it. Now it's not clear to me why or how we managed to achieve this, but we have. That's the state we're in, so once every other day or so one of us have to pick up 3 to 4 cat turds (that is if we can get to them before Clint eats them) and wipe down the floor and it's just fucking absurd. Really it is. As I was performing this task today I started thinking about the holidays and how they are sort of just like picking up cat shit is for me at this point. The whole process is just ridiculous. If you were an alien and saw either situation you'd just write off the entire society as hopeless and either go about your merry way exploring the galaxy or just well you know. But the thing is I've been doing it for so long (picking up cat shit and going through the circus that is the holidays) that it feels...normal. I get home and no longer think "my god what is that smell?!" Nope, I think "time to pick up the cat shit." The holiday season, in a lot of ways, is just like that.

We have reached the time in our program where I rant about football (I'm well overdue on this one so bear with me). First of all I have reached the championship game of Danielle's Short Bus Fantasy Football League and let me tell you I am 100% sure I will not win. Do you know how I know that? I have never won a fantasy league (except for the cumulative points one with her and our two fathers like 4 years ago which definitely does not count), and I don't see any reason that trend should end now. Our team is Dave's league absolutely fell apart (McFadden. Vick. Hightower. Bradshaw) and we predictably are 5-10. Honestly, We don't deserve to be much higher. But in Danielle's league....here we come.

Moving on to the real NFL, holy shit what a piss poor failed abortion excuse for a football game the Steelers played last night. First of all they did everything they could to lose the game on their own. They missed a field goal outright and mismanaged to clock so badly at the end of the second half that I wanted to jump into my TV and slap Tomlin upside his extremely stylish head. OK, fine. Second of all, what a horribly officiated game. There were at least 3 completely phantom calls (two favored the niners, one the steelers) and several other very questionable ones. Leaping? Fucking leaping? R U Serious? But whatever, in spite of all that the Steelers deserved to lose because they just played rather poorly. They ran the ball 18 times and threw it like 157 (I could be off on one of those numbers by a bit). What the fuck is this shit? And then there is Ben....Now I'm not saying I agree with him playing that game, but I understand. Every rational person I've spoken with has said "Why didn't they get him out of there?" at the end of the game, and they have a good point. To be completely honest, maybe he shouldn't have even played the game at all. But there are just a few things you need to know about Ben to understand what happened here. First of all, he's a professional athlete, and due to actually being borderline invincible and survivor-ship bias he feels like he's invincible. Broken ribs? I'm fine. High ankle sprain? Not a problem. It's just the way he is, and the way you have to be to survive in the NFL. Second of all, he's retarded. I'm pretty sure that's not really even debatable at this point. And finally, he's likely burned all the currency he will ever have with his teammates (and if he hasn't he doesn't want to see how much he has left). He's fucked up like stupid bad several times, and everyone on the team, especially the lineman, has forgiven him and is ready to go to war with him. What's he gonna do, sit out the game because his ankle hurts? No fucking chance. So nice hand San Francisco, you won the game, I commend you, and will laugh heartily as you lose to New Orleans in the second round of the playoffs (as the Steelers are losing to New England in Foxboro).

The buffer is empty....so go back to pretending to be productive in this most unproductive of weeks of the year.


jesse8888 said...

Just for completeness I will admit that for about 90 minutes today I was truly in the holiday spirit. It's gone now, but it was fun while it lasted.

AdamStover01 said...

You think we lose to Brady when we basically gave everyone the blueprint to beat him?

Especially with how much they have choked in the playoffs recently.

And we will play Baltimore the second round if we are the 5th seed, assuming the Jets/Bungles beat the Texans.

And I have made many bets with people here that will involve me wearing a Ravens do-rag if we lose.

And I am scared.

Steve said...

I spent 4 years at MIT and all I got was this lousy diploma.

Also, your friend is wrong - real life is much, much easier than MIT.

Your friend might be right to some degree about the school not mattering after some time, for example if someone went to CMU or Penn State, all that matters after 5 years is what you've established. It is different with the select "BFD" names though, like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT, Oxford, Cambridge, etc. Those open the door at the start and keep doors open for a while. Also when you have more opportunities early, the lead to more accomplishments and therefore even more opportunities later.