Additional profile information on Alfred Thompson at Google+
I found a great article about Princeton Engineering School Dean Maria Klawe talking about the issue of women in computer science. Computer Science has been seeing a decrease in women for a number of years now. CS is the only engineering related area that has been seeing a decrease. Dean Klawe believes that part of the problem is the way computer science is taught. I tend to agree. I also believe that we are losing a lot of boys for the same reason.
Pairs programming, which is one of the things Dean Klawe suggests, looks like it may have some real potential in several ways. One is that it involved a collaborative approach which is often more comfortable for female students. I've seen it helpful for some boys as well. This has the second advantage of teaching a development style which also seems to be very productive in industry.
Other suggestions include using more media (sound and graphics for example) in programming assignments and doing a better job of emphasizing what computer science is good for. While programming is fun for me and for many others that is just not enough for most people. They what to know what interesting problems they can solve and how they can change the world. We need to do a better job of explaining that sort of thing.
Jim Gray is a pretty amazing guy. An amazing list of awards including the Turning Award (think Nobel Prize for Computer Science) and database expert. Jim has worked for some impressive companies in the computer industry including IBM, Digital Equipment and now Microsoft where he is part of the Escience group that looks at using computers and large databases to solve important science problems.
Jim has been active in building online databases like http://terraService.Net and http://skyserver.sdss.org.
Channel 9 has an interview with Jim Gray as part of the Behind the Code series.
Last month I wrote about some software for developing Bots for use with MSN Messenger. Now I find out (Thanks Dan!) that AOL is releasing the Open AIM Instant Messenger SDK on their developer site, developer.aim.com. There is a bunch of information at Greg's Blog. It looks like a lot of interesting custom AOL IM code could be written in a number of porgamming languages now.
They have sample code in C++ and C# but apparently you can write code using Visual Basic .NET as well. I would think that J# and other .NET languages would also work.