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

May, 2007

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Programming Proverbs 17: Never assume the computer assumes anything


    The computer doesn't know what you mean, it only knows what you tell it. How often do we tell people that? Pretty often if I am any indication. And yet people do assume all the time. They assume that variables will be cleared out by the system before being used. In some languages they are and in some they are not. Should you really take the chance? I think not.

    does the computer assume you want an expression evaluated in one direction? It's going to do it in one direction but you can't assume that it assumes you want this one done differently. That is what parentheses are for.

    The computer is not going to assume that just because you declare and array of objects that you want an object instantiated for each element. If you want and element you need to say so.

    I used to describe the computer as an annoying little sibling that takes everything you say literally and will go out of its way to ignore assumptions and translate any ambiguity incorrectly. It may not be strictly true but it is a safer attitude to have then assuming it knows what you want and wants to help.

    This is the seventeenth of a series of posts based on the book Programming Proverbs by Henry Ledgard. The index for the series is an earlier post and discussion of the list as a whole is taking place in the comments there. Comments on this "proverb" are of course very welcome here.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing 2007


    Over at Diane Curtis' blog I read about the upcoming Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference. Specifically Diane points out that there are scholarships available  for women who are undergraduate or graduate students to attend the conference. What is the conference? 

    The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing 2007 is the seventh in a series of conferences designed to bring the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront. Presenters are leaders in their respective fields, representing industrial, academic and government communities. Leading researchers present their current work, while special sessions focus on the role of women in today's technology fields, including computer science, information technology, research and engineering.

    Past Grace Hopper Celebrations have resulted in collaborative proposals, networking, mentoring, and increased visibility for the contributions of women in computing. This year's theme is "I Invent the Future".

    This is probably the biggest and best opportunity of the year for women in computer science to network and to support each other. So if you know a college women in computer science let them know about the scholarship availability. Do it quickly though as the application deadline is June 11th.


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  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Lost in Translation in the move to Office 2007


    Personally I love Office 2007 and have had enough time to make the transition to the new user interface. But that is not the case for everyone. I suspect that a lot of my regular readers are starting to see Office 2007 if  not on their own computers than on the computers students are using. Students hardly ever read the documentation but they are often not shy about asking others, even teachers, how to do things. Administrators are often worse about reading the documentation (can I say that since I was once an administrator?) but the expect the "computer teacher" to know it all.

     Recently I found these helpful interactive reference guides that show you how to access all the options you were familiar with in Office 2003 in the latest versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint

    Take a look. Share them with co-workers, students, friends and by all means with administrators. Why is it that administrators get the good stuff first? But I digress. :-) Another tool you are going to want to get is the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats. Long name but basically it lets you open, edit and save files in the new Office 2007 formats using older versions of Office products. This update also updates the various viewers.

    From the Savvy Technologist I learned about Zamzar which is a site that lets one upload files in a number of document, graphics and video formats and then emails a file converted to a different format. It looks useful in a lot of cases. I wonder about uploading my documents to unknown websites but thier privacy policy seems reasonable.

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