Posts Tagged Computer Science
A firsthand account from the UCOSP Code sprint in Totonto on XX. by POSIT project team members :
UCOSP (Undergraduate Capstone Open Source Projects) gives students all across Canada the opportunity to work together and collaborate on joint open source projects. One of the great projects of UCOSP is POSIT, an android application from the Humanitarian FOSS project.
Since many of the students in UCOSP are from different regions of Canada, the wonderful steering committee of UCOSP organized a 3-day code sprint, held in Toronto, for students to meet face to face and familiarize themselves with the projects together. Members of the POSIT project, Gordon, Stanley, Ryan, Kalin, and Eric were all extremely excited to attend the code sprint; some even traveled from Vancouver and Edmonton to Toronto.
On the first day of code sprint, we devised a tentative plan for the next three days, based on our supervisor Professor Ralph Morelli’s agenda. Since working on POSIT was our first time working in an Android development environment, we decided to set up the Java Android environment and work through Google’s online tutorials to really understand the structure and workflow of an Android application. We have found that the Notepad Tutorial (http://developer.android.com/resources/tutorials/notepad/index.html) was particularly helpful because not only did it show us the standard Android framework, it also introduced the Java SQL database, which was essential in understanding the inner-working of the POSIT application.
One of the biggest challenges of working with team members all around Canada is effective team communication and efficient project coordination. We were thus grateful that, during the second day of the code sprint, our supervisor Ralph showed us many tools that we could utilize to easily collaborate and share with the team online. Such tools include online POSIT wiki and ticketing system where we can report and resolve issues encountered in using POSIT; and Mercurial for managing POSIT’s online code repository. With the help of Ralph, we also successfully deployed the demo POSIT application on our phone to test out its basic features.
Ralph also mentioned that he and POSIT’s past development team decided to overhaul POSIT’s overall framework to make it a more agile and configurable application. He introduced us the concept of “plug-in”, with one “plug-in” being its own separate application that has different user interface and supports one or more data types (texts, images, videos, etc). He also shared with us his vision on how users could simply configure the “plug-in” online and our code base would auto-magically generate a brand new version of POSIT with the specifications defined in “plug-in”.
We were all very excited with the idea of configurable application, but in order to get there, we needed to first understand the structure of the existing POSIT code base. On the last day of code sprint, Ralph pointed us to some fundamental POSIT framework and we each read through a part of the POSIT code base. Before we all left for our lovely home city, we had set up the date for our weekly Skype meeting so that we could update each other on our progress and coordinate project features.
Throughout the three days of code sprint, we all felt like we had accomplished a lot. We were so glad to meet each other face to face and were given the opportunity to work on such a great project. We really look forward to collaborating with each other and we cannot wait to see what our final POSIT application will be like.
Came across this post,”UK students outsources IT coursework to India” on Cnet News (UK), which discusses recent findings showing that UK students at the high school and university level were contracting out some of their programming assignments. Is this simply the globalization of cheating, or a more sinister trend. According to the article even final dissertations are being outsourced with milestones being met by the off site developers. Be it at a shockingly low rate of around $200 (100 UK pounds). One would think a college final dissertation/project would be worth more than that.
This would be a disturbing trend if left unchecked. Aren’t these individuals robbing themselves of the joy of actively engaging in trying to solve the problem, or what about those long hours spent hunting for that illusive bug. Some might argue that going out and hiring a programmer in India or Romania, is solving the problem. It is a practical solution to some extent, and depending on the type of work you do after graduation, it’s probably what you will end up doing anyway.
It might be a small fraction of individuals who stoop to such lengths to weasel out of an assingment, however wouldn’t this behaviour have a knock on effect of negatively impacting both the overall value and perception of a Computing education.
On Tuesday June 17, 2008 Richard Stallman, the founder of GNU and the “father” of the Free Software Movement presented a talk on Free Software in front of a audience of about 100 at Trinity College. Mr. Stallman used personal information, humor, factual evidence, hair twirling, and pill popping to engage the audience in his opinion on free software, proprietary software, and the purpose of the Free Software Movement. He discussed the four freedoms of software all while differentiating the use of proprietary software and free software based on the different freedoms.
In the attempt to inform the audience of what proprietary software is all about Mr. Stallman introduced some properties that Windows contain that decrease the actual privacy and or freedom of the actual user. He stressed that the Window’s operating system is not the the only system (i.e MacOS) that consists of features that invade the user’s privacy and freedom. Overall, Mr. Stallman’s opinion is that the user should have the freedom to view the source of the software he or she is using. If the user does not have this freedom, the software being used is not considered “free”.
He ended the talk by donning his Saint iGNUsius garb of the Church of Emacs and blessing the entire audience after explaining that HFOSS (Humanitarian Free Open Source Software) should be renamed to FLOSS(Free/Libre Open Source Software). Here he is with his halo that he states is not a computer disk:
You can see more photos of the lecture @ http://summer.hfoss.org.
The humanitarian FOSS Project is a subject of a brief article on Linux.com called “Humanitarian projects and open source: Working together to revitalize computer sciences” article by author Tina Gasperson on March 26.
But turnaround possible as new enrollments show signs of leveling off
“March 5, 2008 (Computerworld) Enrollments in computer science programs, which plunged after the dot-com bust, may have leveled off, according to new data from the Computing Research Association (CRA). The group follows year-over-year enrollment and graduate trends at 170 Ph.D.-granting institutions.”
Have we hit the bottom of the curve this year and can we start seeing improvements in CS department enrollments? Will the current economic situation in the US have a positive or negative impact on Computer Science enrollments. Most trends that get cited on a regular basis indicate the IT job market to have positive growth, indicating new job opportunities should open up for recent graduates in the field.
Source: Computer World