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

August, 2007

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Wait Until 30 To Get Your First Real Job


    One of my favorite features on Channel 9 (Microsoft's video network for developers) is called Behind The Code. For these features they interview a senior technical person at Microsoft. Previous interviewees have included Jim Gray and Anders Hejlsberg.  Recently they sat down for an interview with Microsoft Technical Fellow Peter Spiro.

    Peter received a masters degree in computer science but only after spending time in Africa making charcoal, some years as a farmer and getting two degrees in forestry. He then went to work for Digital Equipment in their database development group. From there he moved to Microsoft and most recently worked on WinFS.

    IN this interview he talks about life, designing database systems and leadership. I like how he really differentiates between managing and leading. Take a look, share it with students and other who may be interested in the personalities Behind The Code.


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  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Nifty Assignments


    Since the school year is starting soon (actually I think it may have started in some places) I know that a lot of people are looking for fun and interesting programming assignments. While most of us have our favorites that we tend to use year after year there are times when one wants to change things up a bit. perhaps the old assignments are just getting old. Or we've seen the same solutions to the same problems one too many times. or perhaps there are new topics to cover or maybe the results from this year's AP CS exam suggest that some topic needs better coverage.

    What ever your reason for looking for new projects the Nifty Assignments page is a great place to start. Nifty Assignments is one of the most popular sessions at the SIGCSE conference every year and has been a staple of the conference for years. The web site lists the assignments and links to supporting documentation and code samples going back to 1999. With several assignments presented every year there are a good number of projects there.

    The projects are designed by college/university faculty for use in their own courses and some may be a bit much for some high school courses. But since most of them are designed for CS1 and CS2 courses which are in most ways similar in scope and difficulty to an AP CS course a lot of them are quite usable for AP CS, a post AP CS course or any number of other courses that attract good students.

    Check them out. You may find something to help you spice up your teaching.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    How Software Is Built - Open Source and Closed Source


    How is software built in the real world? How are open source and closed source development projects different? How are they the same? How do companies leverage different development styles and ecosystems?

    Chances are these are questions that come up in a lot of classrooms. I know they come up in professional development shops all the time. So where does one look for answers? Well one possible place is a new blog called How Software Is Built.

    The blog is sponsored by Microsoft but includes interviews with people from a wide range of development organizations and companies. Open source, closed source and organizations that use a mix are included. There are a bunch of interviews from both sides of the open source/closed source side of the world posted already including:

    • Ryan Waite, Group Program Manager for High-Performance Computing at Microsoft.
    • Mark Gross,  Engineer Open Source Technology center Intel Corporation
    • Shawn Burke, Director, Microsoft’s .NET Developer Platform group
    • Stormy Peters, Director Community and Partner Programs OpenLogic
    • Michael Howard, Senior Security Program manager at Microsoft
    • Phil Costa, Director of Product Management for Flex and ColdFusion at Adobe
    • Marc Miller, Open Source Software Evangelist in the AMD Developer Outreach Organization
    • Patrick Hogan, NASA World Wind
    • Jay Pipes, North American Community Relations Manager at MySQL
    • John McCreesh - Marketing Program Lead – OpenOffice
    • James Reinders - Chief Evangelist - Software Products Division - Intel

    This is one to bookmark or subscribe to as it promises to be an interesting source of real information to fuel debate, discussion and mutual learning and understanding.

    BTW here are a few more links regarding Microsoft's ongoing dialoge with the open source community:

    • Port 25 – Open Source Software Lab at Microsoft (with blog posts by members of Microsoft's Open Source lab)
    • Codeplex – Microsoft’s open source project hosting site (I linked to one of the education related projects there last week.)
    • Shared Source – Microsoft’s set of programs for sharing source code with customers, partners, governments, researchers, etc.
    • John Lam’s Blog – John is a Microsoft blogger who blogs on IronRuby, Dynamic Language Runtime, Silverlight, and related projects. (IronRuby was released recently)
    • Microsoft Open Source ISV Forum –  Microsoft Partner Program through with offers for OSS ISVs
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