Everyday CS?

I expect that a lot of people who spend time reading this or other programming-related blogs are technical minded, tend to have a background in computer programming or computer science. I am curious though: In how far do you apply you CS knowledge to your personal life? Bonus question: What, if no computer is available?

Given an academic and/or professional background in this area, there is really no reason to only consciously use the acquired and cultivated skills stricly for those tasks that you are paid or told to implement, is there? No, I am not talking about solving a problem and then secretly or openly hoping to build a business around that. I am not even necessarily talking about solving a problem that you might not even have, if you did not have a computer.

Here are some ideas that come to mind:

  • Mapping out the shortest path in a grocery store to reach all items on your list
  • Given a list of tasks and available time slots, algorithmically schedule the best way to get everything done
  • Determine the shortest route from your desk to the vending machine
  • Arrange items around your rooms such to facilitate optimal usage and access
  • Map out the best locations to get gasoline around town

I realize, these items are not very original.

Vacation can be a good test for this. What if you go on vacation and you decide to disconnect during that time? No Internet connection, maybe not even a laptop. Maybe you're visiting a region where computer technology is not emphasized or people who are not interested in it.

Do you end up feeling slightly at a loss and wonder what you would be able to contribute in that sort of environment, if you weren't just on vacation or would this transition be an easy one? I obviously have more questions than answers in this post, but I really am curious about the issue. Given that it is often popular to deemphasize the necessity of computers and focus on the importance of algorithms and good theory - how do people like to apply the knowledge, when the power is off or they do not strictly have to?

Any thoughts appreciated.