to professor couch

August 19, 2008
Continuing my recent habit of taking something I wrote somewhere else, failing to get much of a response, and reposting it here... Alva Couch was this amazing Professor of Computer Science I had at Tufts. Realizing I needed to poo or get off the pot when it comes to deciding about graduate studies, I wrote him for advice... unfortunately his mail autoresponder told me he's on the road for a few weeks at least, and then is on sabbatical for a year, so I don't know when I'd hear back. But I welcome feedback and advice from anyone here as well...

Hi Prof. Couch!

I hope you are well.

I'm writing you as an early step in some academic planning I'm thinking of... I've always valued your opinion and I loved your classes as an undergraduate, though I'm also open to your suggestions for other people to talk to.

I am - in a not particularly well-fleshed-out manner, at least as of yet - thinking about pursuing some graduate education, probably in an after-hours kind of way.

One possible school for this would be Northeastern; my take it doesn't have quite the academic reputation as some other places, but it is almost directly between my current job at Nokia and my apartment in Roxbury Crossing. In particular I was considering their MPS in Digital Media program.

My goals would be twofold, and I'm trying to figure out if that kind of program is the best bet for either of them: one is to do interesting things, possibly "indy game movement" related. (You can see a small portfolio-ish page at -- mostly in Media Lab's "processing" language, geared at artists.) The second would be to open up teaching as a possibility down the road, maybe on a Jr College-ish level.

I recognize there might be a conflict here, in terms of it might not be the right degree for teaching. I think to be honest, I don't love computer science for its own sake, the more math-ish side of what's computable, and how long is it going to take, and how we can do that better or prove that we can't. I do deeply like Human/Computer Interaction and UI, as well as having an affinity for information and data display. And so I'm wondering if those would be a better balance between fun/cool and academic than "Digital Media".

Other schools I've been thinking about (but done even less research on) are Harvard Extension, and of course Tufts.

If it matters, I graduated summa in '96 with a double major in English and Computer Science, with a 4.0 in comp sci (a little less in some of the math). Since then I've mostly been drifting as a Java and Perl coder, with some touches of architecting and team leading.

Thanks for any advice, or any suggestions on other good people to talk with!


I don't have any smiles
comedic great Danny Kaye to my mom
(after acquiescing to a post-speaking photo but declining to smile...)
Odd having rating a lunch interviewee under the Nokia values "Engaging You", "Very Human", "Achieving Together","Passion for Innovation"
Mailing cd-rom, anticipating "anything dangerous?" question from USPS- gee, I guess in prison someone could make it a shiv, does that count?
Orbit Sangria Fresca gum (along w/ their Mojito flavor): When you'd like to get drunk at work but all you can do is chew gum. Tasty, tho
You have good taste, except sometimes you choose the stuff that's a downer