GeekNights Newsletter #9

TinyLetter Go!

This won't make much difference to most of you, but you might notice the newsletter looks a little different this time. I changed from using MailChimp to using TinyLetter. It's run by the same people, it's just a lot simpler for me to use because it doesn't have all these crazy features that are not necessary for this humble email. Don't be alarmed!

Holiday Times

It is getting cold, but actually not unbearably cold just yet. It still means the holiday season is fast approaching. That means there may be some lapses in production from us. It's been seven years now, you should know what to expect. And you know what? If you are spending your holiday time listening to our podcast instead of celebrating, something is very wrong. 

MAGFest 11

What better way to celebrate the New Year than with four days of non-stop games and game music! January 3-6 in the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center near Washington D.C. will be MAGFest XI. Oh shit, it is on! If you want to get an idea for what MAGFest is like, check out our MAGFest X Highlights.

Ask Rym/Scott

I was worried there wasn't going to be a question for this newsletter, but listener Tiago from Brazil sent one in at the last second. 
I want to ask for an advice, but i think it would be a good newsletter question.

I'm an electric engineer and work on a medical equipment developer mostly as programmer. I do know a lot about hardware and circuits yet what i really like is coding. I do some microprocessor programming, network programming, Linux embedding and other, mostly code related, work. Yet I don have a technical education on high level programming stuff: multi-threading, time-sharing or concepts behind mutexes, events, signaling etc. I really want to do a Masters  on that stuff so a I can really learn them.

Should I go computer engineering or try a computer science master?
Well, Tiago this is actually a question we get all the time. Lots of people going to college are not sure what to major in. This happens mostly with people who know they want to do something computer related because there are multiple majors, and it is extremely non-obvious what the difference is. We went to RIT where computer science, information technology, software engineering, computer engineering, electronic engineering, and microelectronic engineering are all available options.

The real answer is that every college and university is different. You have to talk to the admissions office and maybe even the professors at the university to get the real answer. You may also have to get lists of what classes are required for graduation in each major, and then look at the synopses of those classes to see what material will be covered. What one university calls computer science, another one might call software engineering. The real key is to first figure out exactly what you want to do, and then ask which major is the one that teaches that.

You say you want to learn high level programming, and at least at RIT, that is computer science. However, you should be aware that since you are already quite advanced in programming you may be required to take some classes that are beneath you before you take the classes that actually teach what you want. If your goal is really just to learn these advanced programming concepts, and you don't actually need the degree, it may be wise to just learn it from books or online courses. I personally plan to learn some Objective C and iOS programming from open courseware.

I know there are maybe about a hundred people who read this email. If you want to ask a question, send it to

Book Club

Rym decided our next book club selection will be The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This is a pretty famous and important book. If you haven't read it, you probably should. I haven't started yet, because I'm reading other things. This episode probably won't happen until sometime in January of 2013.

New Podcasts

Adam Becker - The Freelance Astrophysicist

One of our friends contacted us to let us know that a very smart person was coming to town, and we should get them on our podcast. Somehow that wasn't just all talk, and it actually happened. Usually I tell people not to listen to our podcast, but this episode is probably the only one that is not a waste of your time.


Seasons is a relatively hot new board game, so I decided to check it out. It takes a lot of game mechanics we are already familiar with, and combines them in new and interesting ways. But how does it actually play? 

Conrad Kreyling

One of our most popular episodes was when we discussed the state of consumer mobile phones with our friend Conrad. Well, Conrad stopped by again, so we brought back our old series "profile in geek." If you are interested in our entertaining and energetic friend, then download this mp3 and press play.

New Videos

Looks like we actually have two regular videos shows now. The new season of MLP:FiM has reinvigorated Radio Free Equestria. At the same time, we have started our in-depth Utena analysis in earnest. 

Forum Weather Report

The weather is clear, but watch out for earthquakes! There is great siesmic and geographic upheaval going on as multiple threads are debating the pros and cons of living in different countries and cities. Check out Which US City is the Best? and Which Country is the Best Country?

Thing of the Newsletter

Voltron page in the 1985 Sears catalog. I never new that castle toy existed.

Fan Art

Nobody sent in anything this time, so you get nothing this time! That'll teach you.


Everything is awesome.