Friday, August 31, 2012

Computer Controversies For Fun and Discussion

I love a good discussion. Pros and cons and honest and hopefully friendly discussion of issue with different opinions make for good learning experiences. One of the things I would like to do should I ever get a full-time advanced computer science course is to ask students to study some controversial topics in computer science and write up their own researched opinions. Important issues need to be thought about and discusses seriously and not just have answers blindly accepted. And of course we all know how much emphasis there is lately in bringing writing and related literacy skills into more of the curriculum. This seems like a natural fit.

I came across two lists of “controversial programming opinions” with one post named “20 controversial programming opinions”. It has some 76 comments as I write this post. A second post called “Hopefully More Controversial Programming Opinions” adds to the mix. Personally I didn’t find a lot to disagree with in the first post. The second one I found several things to disagree with. The big thing I disagree with in the second is:

Computer science should only be offered as a minor. You can major in biology, minor in computer science. Major in art, minor in computer science. But you can't get a degree in CS.

I think that is too narrow a few. I can see requiring a minor in an “unrelated area.” I can even see, in some cases, requiring a second major. Although admittedly fitting a second major in with a CS major is just about impossible in four years of university.

Besides the controversies listed in these posts there are some that a particular to computer science education. The ever popular What Programming Language to Teach First? comes to mind. And the objects first, object late, or object never discussion (see Objects When? If Ever?) never seems to get old.

Assembly language is an additional source of controversy. Does anyone really need it anymore? Should it be reserved to people with special careers or paths of study in mind or should one have some experience in order the call themselves a serious programmer or computer scientist? personally I believe that understanding Assembly language gives one important insights into how computers work and how to more deeply understand software concepts. Some disagree completely while still others suggest Assembly language should be the first programming language people learn! Great topic for discussion.

Do you discuss controversial issues on your classroom or work space? Does full agreement ever come out of these discussions? Love to hear about it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Useful Download Links for Windows 8 and Windows Phone Development

Part of my job is to help people find valuable resources. I especially like it when they are free. Free is good. These links are for students, faculty and professional (or non professional) developer.  Please check these links out, visit the websites, find what looks interesting and download the tools.

Windows Phone 7 Development for Absolute Beginners A great series from Channel 9. Speaking of which don’t miss out on the Coding 4 Fun Windows Phone Tool Kit.

visual_studio_logoVS Express 2012 RC for Windows 8 Download on VS Site Microsoft Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows 8 provides the core tools that are required to build compelling, innovative Windows Store apps. And its free.

VS Express 2012 RC for Windows 8 & Windows 8 Release Preview Downloads on Dev Center This link brings you to the Windows 8 Development Center with a large collections of links for tools, software development kits and a link to the Windows 8 Development Center where you can get a limited time evaluation copy of Windows 8.

How to Develop a Windows 8 App in 30 Daysgenerationapp_logo

  • Insider tips and tricks on Windows 8 application development.
  • Personal on-the-phone access to a Windows 8 architect*.
  • An exclusive one-on-one Windows Store design consultation*.
  • An opportunity to get expert help from a Microsoft Services Engineer at an App Excellence Lab.

Phone SDK Download 

The Windows Phone Software Development Kit (SDK) 7.1 and 7.1.1 Update provides you with all of the tools that you need to develop apps and games for both Windows Phone 7.0 and Windows Phone 7.5 devices.

The Windows Phone SDK 7.1.1 Update provides additional functionality to the existing Windows Phone SDK 7.1. Using this update, you can more easily develop apps and games that are optimized to run on 256-MB devices.

How to Develop a Windows Phone App in 30 Days

Now that you have taken on the 30-day challenge to build a Windows Phone app, let's get down to the brass tacks. How to start? What happens next? Where to get a device to test your app? How to make money on your app? Help is at hand at each step of the way. The schedule below highlights themes and how you can make the most of each week with training, resources and support. Your journey begins here.

Generation App – Where Ideas Meet Code

If you have an app idea that's ready to build, you can find the expertise you need to make your app a reality at The world's leading platform for online employment, Elance connects entrepreneurs with qualified online professionals and provides the tools needed to hire, view in-progress work, and pay for the end results on an hourly or by-project basis.

Azure 90-day Free Trial Azure is Microsoft’s big cloud offering. This site lets you sign up for a 90 day free trial so that you can try Azure out and learn more about cloud computing. Visit the Azure 90-day Free Trial website for the details and fine print.

Your free Azure trial contains
  • compute -750 small compute hours per month
  • web sites - 10 Shared Web Sites***
  • relational database - 1 Database Unit of Web Edition and Business Edition SQL Database****
  • storage - 35GB with 50,000,000 storage transactions
  • bandwidth - Unlimited inbound / 20GB Outbound

Friday, August 24, 2012

NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing 2012


One of the ways that one can help young women with an interest in computing and related fields is to provide recognition for the world they have already been doing. One of the great programs in this regard is the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing. Along with the NCWIT awards listed below, a number of universities offer scholarships to winners and runners up of the Award for Aspirations in Computing. Applications open officially next month but you will want to look into the awards and application process now so you can encourage young women to apply.

The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing honors young women at the high-school level for their computing-related achievements and interests. Awardees are selected for their computing and IT aptitude, leadership ability, academic history, and plans for post-secondary education. The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing offers both a national and local "affiliate" competitions to generate support and visibility for women's participation in communities nationwide.

Applications are accepted from September 15-October 31.  Award recipients are notified in early December and award events take place around the country December through May. To apply, girls must register online.  Click here to begin registration. You can register anytime and will be notified when applications open.

The Award for Aspirations in Computing is open to all high school girls residing in the US and you may re-apply each year.  You may only receive the National award once.

National Award-winners receive:

  • $500 in cash
  • a laptop computer, provided by Bank of America
  • a trip to attend the Bank of America Technology Showcase and Awards Ceremony in Charlotte, North Carolina
  • an engraved crystal award for both the student and the student's school