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August 28 2013

Infographic : Why girls don't pursue computer science - WITsend

Infographic : Why girls don’t pursue computer science - WITsend

Infographie sur comment les femmes s’éloignent elles-même des carrières et études dans l’#informatique(Permalink)

#femme #computerscience #education

April 13 2011

Developer Week in Review

A milestone is set to occur this week in the Turner household: After more than half a year of dedicated effort, we will complete a full viewing of the entire Buffyverse. We're just four episodes of "Angel" away from the end of the tunnel, and then our 256-episode, 169-hour journey will be complete. And people say geeks don't have lives ...

Elsewhere, the wacky world of software continued to churn out stories, of course.

Show me the money!

The conventional wisdom is that the days of high-paying software jobs for newly minted computer science undergrads are over, as work flees overseas. But, if you take the numbers in this recent blog posting seriously, there's still good money to be made if you can attract the interest of big players like Google, Microsoft or Amazon.

Software is still a great job, evidently, with starting salaries around $100K. To put this in perspective, a newly minted PhD can expect to earn around $50K as a postdoc at a university. Perhaps it's not surprising, therefore, that students declaring a CS major are up 10% over last year.

Anyone got JavaDoc for org.apache.judicial.proceedings.JudgeBriefing?

As frequently documented in this space, collisions between the law and software development are occurring more and more frequently. For jurists required to oversee such cases, understanding the nature of the beast is becoming a necessity, so it should have been expected that the judge trying the Oracle v. Google Java suit would need some background on the language. That's just what happened this week, as William Alsup of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco was given the lowdown on the details of virtual machines and class libraries.

The influence of this new knowledge on the legal community is already being felt. Last week, a circuit judge in Texas informed the lawyers in a case that he was wrapping the testimony in a try/catch block to handle IllegalArgument exceptions, and another in New Jersey will no longer accept written motions with a CCN > 20.

Next: Twyla Tharp hired as Google's chief architect

One of the trickiest challenges that developers face is explaining how software works to non-programmers. Thus, it was refreshing to see a totally new approach to documenting algorithms this week. Here, for your viewing pleasure, are a number of sorting approaches, represented in dance.

While I usually find the comments on Slashdot somewhat inane or even nasty, someone had my all-time favorite comment on this: "See, that's what you get with interpretive dance. A compiled dance would be much more efficient."

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March 02 2011

Developer Week in Review

Coming to you from 24 hours in the future, it's this week's Developer Week in Review.

All your news cycles are belong to us

We're using the O'Reilly Tempro-Spatial Distorter to send you back news of Today's's iPad 2 launch before it's even happened. Who could have predicted that the iPad 2 would have both a 3D Retina display and Smell-o-vision? But the real shocker had to be the announcement that the iTunes store was finally going to have the long-missing catalog of Up With People available for sale.

Ok, so we don't have a time machine, and deadlines dictate that this will be going to edit before the Big Announcement today. I'm sure one or two other news outlets will be covering the event, so you can probably find out what happened sometime later this week. For those keeping score, this is something like the 3rd or 4th Big Announcement so far this year, and we're only through February. It must be truly depressing to be anyone else in the industry, and have to compete with Apple's PR machine.

Unnoticed in all of this is that Google has replaced their Gingerbread Man with a more insectile sculpture, as Android Honeycomb begins to appear in the wild. Remember folks, Honeycomb's got a Big Big Byte.

New patents pending?

Once upon a time, I did an article on patent reform, and as part of it I interviewed a staffer in Sen. Patrick Leahy's (D-Vt.) office, since Leahy sits on the Judiciary Committee. Ever since then, I get at least one press release a week from the Senator's office about the never-ending progress of patent reform legislation (and with no opt out link ...). I ignore the stuff most of the time, but this week I got notice that some very interesting provisions have been added.

The first is an item entitled "Create a pilot program to review the validity of business method patents." It goes on to explain:

Many business method patents are of dubious validity because they are not truly inventive. This provision will create a temporary, limited proceeding at the USPTO to challenge business method patents.

So it looks like Bilski lives on, and maybe some of the truly junky software patents may finally get a second look.

The other item that caught my eye is: "End fee diversion at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; establish a revolving fund to ensure that funds collected by the USPTO can be used at the USPTO." This is a long-standing sore point, in that the USPTO is regularly raided for cash, leaving them underfunded to hire examiners. This, in turn, leads to the junky patents mentioned above.

Of course, as the press release baldly states:

Congressional efforts to reform the nation's patent system first began in 2005. The Senate Judiciary Committee has reported patent reform legislation to the full Senate in each of the last three Congresses.

In other words, don't hold your breath.

P <> NP, at least for now

The world held its breath recently as word came that there may have been a breakthrough in the long quest for P = NP. The world started breathing again this week, as word came that the promising line of attack wasn't so promising after all.

P = NP is one of the most vexing problems left in theoretical computer science, and also the one most likely to make a lay listener's eyes glaze over. As assistance to anyone trying to explain P = NP to their mother (for whatever reason), may we suggest the following one sentence description, courtesy of Wikipedia?

Suppose that solutions to a problem can be verified quickly. Then, can the solutions themselves also be computed quickly?

This will almost certainly leave her just as confused as before, but will lead her to believe the $50,000 she spent on your CS degree was worth the money.

Got news?

We're cranking up the power on the Time Portal, so next week we'll be bringing you news of the 2011 WWDC and the results of the 2012 presidential elections. If you want to get us news the old fashioned way, please send tips or leads here.

January 05 2010

Four short links: 5 January 2010

  1. Introduction to Computational Advertising -- slides to a Stanford class on a new "scientific discipline" whose central challenge is to find the best ad to present to a user engaged in a given context, such as querying a search engine ("sponsored search"), reading a web page ("content match"), watching a movie, and IM-ing. "Scientific discipline" makes me gag. You could devise algorithms, measure performance, and write papers about the best way to put carrots up your bottom or the best way to pick pockets, but those still aren't complex enough activities to be trumpeted as "new scientific disciplines". (Although I do look forward to reading Stanford's CBUM126, "Introduction to Carrot Stuffing" lecture notes online). (via Greg Linden)
  2. Timing Attack in Google KeyCzar Library -- if you compare strings in the naive way, attackers can figure out whether the first bytes they gave you are correct based on the time the comparison takes. When they get the first bytes correct, then they can work on the next, and so on. This is a common mode of information leakage, and reminds me of my revelation when I began to edit security books: "this stuff is hard". New programmers are not taught to think like attackers, and the only trope of secure programming that they're taught is "avoid buffer overflows". (via Simon Willison)
  3. Climate Wizard -- explore historical temperature data as well as the various climate models and see what their predictions look like across the United States. (via Sciblogs)
  4. Contextual Clothing for Naked Transparency (Jon Udell) -- notable for this: The Net can be an engine for context assembly, a wonderful phrase I picked up years ago from Jack Ozzie. We used to think that the challenge of social software was to amass as many users as quickly as possible, but the far harder problem to solve is how to help those people contribute to something positive. YouTube comments shows that simply having a lot of users doesn't make something virtuous.

December 30 2009

Four short links: 30 December 2009

  1. How to Run a Meeting Like Google (BusinessWeek) -- the temptation is to mock things like "even five minute meetings must have an agenda", but my sympathy with Marissa Mayer is high. The more I try to cram into a work day, the more I have to be able to justify every part of it. If you can't tell me why you want to see me for five minutes, then I probably have better things to be doing. There may be false culls (missing something important because the "process' is too high) but I bet these are far outweighed by the missed opportunities if time isn't so structured.
  2. Computer Science Education Week -- December 5-11, 2010, recognizes that computing: Touches everyone's daily lives and plays a critical role in society; Drives innovation and economic growth; Provides rewarding job opportunities; Prepares students with the knowledge and skills they need for the 21st century." Worthy, but there's no mention of the fact that it's FUN. The brilliant people in this field love what they do. They're not brilliant 9-5, then heading home to scan the Jobs Wanted to see whether they could earn more as dumptruck drivers in Uranium mines in Australia. CS isn't for everyone, but it won't be for anyone unless we help them find the bits they find fun.
  3. Installing EtherPad -- step-by-step instructions for installing EtherPad, the open-source real-time text editor recently acquired by Google.
  4. Victorian Infographics -- animals, time, and space from the Victorians. It's beautiful, it's meaningful, it must be infoengravings.

November 27 2009

Four short links: 27 November 2009

  1. ProFORMA -- software which builds a 3D model as you rotate an object in front of your webcam. Check out the video below. (via Wired)
  2. BiwaScheme -- a Scheme interpreter written in Javascript. (via Hacker News)
  3. YMacs -- in-browser EMACS written in Javascript. Emacs, for those of you who were left in any doubt, is the only editor ever created by software engineers worth a damn (where "worth a damn" == "has possibly already achieved sentience") with the possible exception of teco.
  4. Historic Documents in Computer Science -- my eye was caught by John Backus's first FORTRAN manual, Niklaus Wirth's original Pascal paper, the BCPL reference manual (the C programming language got its name from the C in BCPL), and Eckert and Mauchly's ENIAC patent. (via Hacker News)

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