Three of my grad students—Aran Donohue, Jason Montojo, and Rory Tulk—are wrapping up their MSc’s this month. Coincidentally (OK, not really, the academic calendar being what it is), my other two students are converging on research topics. Mike Conley has got the code review bug in a big way, and wants to look at how we can teach students to review code, and whether doing that will have an impact on how (and how well) they program. Zuzel Vera Pacheco is going to look at ways of annotating or animating visual representations of databases, such as entity-relationship diagrams, in order to help developers understand system architecture, debug things, and gauge the likely impact of changes. If you’re interested in either topic, I’m sure they’d enjoy hearing from you.
I’m reading yet another proposal for a specialized markup language (this one for scientific results, so that they can be shared and searched semantically), and it occurred to me that markup is actually a very old idea. Look at the markup I’ve already used in this blog post: two apostrophes, to show shortcuts (“I’m” and “I’ve”), parentheses to delimit more detailed explanations, and the ‘.’ character normally used to separate fields in IP addresses to show the ends of sentences.
The markup language for Standard English has evolved much more slowly than the language’s vocabulary and grammar, but there’s hope. While we’ll probably never see the irony mark on a regular computer keyboard, emoticons have become part of everyday life. They go back at least as far as the PLATO project (my thanks to Jon Udell for the pointer), and are now part of everyday life. I may not be able to put them in my code yet, but surely that can’t be far off. Smiley-face as an HTML 6 tag? Vote now!
Bloglines apparently doesn’t like this feed:
Bloglines has encountered an error trying to fetch the latest version of this feed. Bloglines handles errors automatically, no action is required by you. The error was:
The feed does not appear to exist. This can be caused by the feed URL being incorrect, or it can be caused by a configuration issue with the server hosting the feed. If this error continues, you should check the feed URL and, if it is wrong, subscribe to the correct URL.
Google Reader and Safari’s built-in reader are happy with it—any suggestions?
This happens all the time, and irks me more with each passing year: PostRank has several categorized lists of “best blogs“, as judged by popularity, influence, and what-not. Problem is, their categorization doesn’t include “computer science” as a science: there’s agriculture, anthropology, and so on down to urban planning, but not computer science. CS doesn’t show up under “Technology”, either: that covers things from “Agile” through “Photoshop” to “UX”, but not the theoretical or research aspects of computing. Undergrad enrolment in CS looks like it’s finally starting to climb again, after six or seven years in the basement, but if we ever want to break the boom-and-bust cycle, we need people (particularly high school students and teachers) to understand that computer is science.
Will the next Barbie be an architect, a computer engineer, an environmentalist, a news anchor, or a surgeon? Your vote could make the difference (and yeah, it really could).
On a not-completely-unrelated note, I’m very pleased to see O’Reilly working toward improving diversity at its conferences. Step by step, in small ways, the world gets better…