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

November, 2008

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Learning Snacks

    • 0 Comments

    I received the following announcement about Learning Snacks last week. Since I am out today (minor surgery) and looking for posts for this week this was a natural. :-) Plus of course I love the idea of short presentations that have potential for introducing concepts to programming classes, system management classes, network management classes and people who just want to keep up with the technology.

    Learning Snacks are short, interactive presentations about popular topics created by Microsoft Learning experts. Each Snack is delivered by using innovative Microsoft Silverlight technology and includes various media, such as animations and recorded demos. At the end of each free presentation, you can view more Snacks, learn more about the topic, or visit a related Web site.

    New Vista Learning Snacks: A Free Offer (Worldwide)

    Thinking about a Vista Certification?  Get a jump start with new Vista Learning Snacks.  These free, interactive presentations include information on desktop migration, network deployment and more.  Four new Vista snacks have been posted to the snack landing page.  Time-strapped?  You can learn something new in less than five minutes!  Try a snack today at: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/snacks

    The full list of “snacks” on the landing page is:

  • Microsoft Silverlight

  • Virtualization

  • Windows Server 2008

  • Windows Vista

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    English as a required language for programmers?

    • 4 Comments

    This is unexpected. It’s worth discussion though. Scott Hanselman wrote a post titled Using Crowdsourcing for Expanding Localization of Products which is a very interesting discussion of issues around human v. machine translation of software documentation. This is a huge issue for many international companies. In fact writing software in a way to make messages more easy to internationalize is a worthy topic of discussion in any computer science program. It influences all sorts of design decisions and understanding of different concepts and tools. So far so good. But then the comments get interesting. For example one person says:

    I absolutely agree with Erling Paulsen. If you don't know English, you're not a programmer!

    That comment and several of the comments who agree were not made by people whose first language is English. The argument in brief is that most of the documentation is in English and that English is a sort of defacto common language for programming concepts. If you search the internet using your search engine of choice you will often not be able to look up translated error messages with much success. Therefore the argument goes that for many products, especially for programmers, English should be the one language in use. Please go read Scott’s post and the comments there. There should be a lot more since I wrote this post because I wrote it in advance. :-)

    Wow! These are all things I as an English only speaker never thought about. I just assumed that people would prefer messages in their native language. I remember my wife working in the NYC office of an Italian company having to call Italy for translations of that company’s computer error messages which were all in Italian. I always assumed that others would prefer to avoid the opposite problem.

    So what do you think? What do your students think? In general what do people whose native or first language is not English think about this idea that serious programmers should (must?) learn English?

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Engineering Links for Girls

    • 0 Comments

    While some may dispute it I truly believe that we have a shortage of engineers in the US. Probably in the whole world. There are lots of reasons why this might be the case. Don Dodge wrote about some of them in his blog recently in a post called 50% of US engineering students dropout - Why?. One theory I have is that we don’t have enough of the right people starting in engineering. I do agree that we could be teaching engineering better and we need to look into that. But I think that if more people knew more about engineering and realized how cool it can be we’d have a better chance of getting more people who will stick with it in the pipeline. And to me this most certainly includes getting more girls interested in engineering fields.

    Yesterday I fund a review of a Catherine Didion Keynote by the “Wicked Teacher of the West.” It’s a good read and in it I found a couple of good websites for girls to learn about engineering. (BTW bio on Catherine Didion)

    For middle school girls there is www.engineergirl.com where apparently the most popular asset is “ask an engineer.” Some other high spots:

    For high school girls there is Engineer Your Life. I love the motto “Dream big. Love what you do.” Isn’t that what its all about? This site has some profiles of women engineers doing interesting things as well. BTW if you what to show girls some women in the computer field there is the WM_IN series of interviews with women at Microsoft.

    And a pair of women at Microsoft who inspire me (Hilary Pike and Diane Curtis)  blog at http://blogs.msdn.com/springboard/ with stuff for college level students and include a lot of career stuff on a regular basis. I think that many would find the post on Challenges and Benefits of Consulting as a Career Options that Hilary Pike did recently based on a presentation she did with Microsoft Vice President of Services Wendy Gillen to be interesting. There are some things about working in consulting as a woman that add insights you don’t read often.

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