Computer Science Teacher
Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

February, 2006

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Create your own IM BOT!

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    Nicole, from the MSN Messenger group (Windows Live Messenger?), has a blog entry about some existing Bots that you can use from MSN Messenger and some suggestions of Bots she would like to see.  You may have already heard about the Encarta® Instant Answers BOT (Encarta@conversagent.com ),  that lets you ask questions which it then looks up for you in Encarta. Nicole lists a whole bunch more. Her blog is worth reading for that alone. But it gets better.

    The idea of talking to a computer and getting answers that appear to come from a real person has long been the goal of computer programmers everywhere. It looks like now there is the chance for a lot more of us to try that sort of program out for ourselves.

    Conversagent, in partnership with Microsoft, is making a free license available to their BuddyScript Software Development Kit (SDK) for creating BOTs and what are called Activity applications so that people can create their own BOTs.

    Think about writing a BOT that answers question about your school? Or perhaps reports back on the scores of sports teams? How about a BOT that people can ask if there is a snow day? Well, that may be more useful where I live than some other places. But you get the idea.

    This may very well be a good project for a student or team of students. And if they make a very good one Conversagent may wave the normal six month limit on the license. At the very least they can try to make a BOT that gets their friends to wonder if it is a BOT or a real person they are talking to?

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    ACM Report of Globalization

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    The ACM announced last week that they were releasing a new report on globalization and the US labor market for Information Technology and Computing jobs. The report seems to put to rest the idea that there are no jobs from computing professionals. The following are a couple of interesting paragraphs from the press release.

    IT Jobs Outlook Brightens
    The study found that, despite intensifying competition, offshoring between developed and developing countries can benefit both parties. The study cited data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) which indicates that more IT jobs are available today in the U.S. than at the height of the dot com boom. This trend is evident despite a significant increase in offshoring over the past five years. In fact, U.S. IT employment in 2004 was 17% higher than in 1999, and the BLS data reveals that IT jobs are predicted to be among the fastest-growing occupations over the next decade.

    The report found that IT workers and students can improve their chances of long-term employment in IT occupations by acquiring a strong educational foundation, learning the technologies used in global software, and keeping skills up to date throughout their careers. Other steps the report deemed necessary for fostering the next generation of innovation include:

    • Sustaining or strengthening technical training and education systems
    • Sustaining or increasing investment in research and development
    • Establishing governmental policies that eliminate barriers to the free flow of talent

    Education is pretty important if the US is going to keep up with the demand for IT professionals. The full report is available here.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Data Structures Using C#

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    The MSDN web site has a series of six articles about data structures using C# that may be useful in the classroom if you are using C#. Actually even if you are using other programming languages. The reading level is a bit higher than the average high school student though which is the one drawback. However as background matterial for teachers and advanced students there is a lot of good information there.
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