Today (March 24) is Ada Lovelace Day, and in her honor, we’ve been asked to blog about women in computing who have inspired us. My list is pretty long —current and former students, family members, and some of the great faculty at U of T — but the nod has to go to Karen Reid. She was one of the first people I met when I started my post-doc here in 1994, and ever since I started running projects and teaching courses in 2002, she has been my co-conspirator, reality check, and role model. She does a great job of sharing her love of computer science with her students and colleagues, and somehow always has time to turn my ideas into something workable. I hope that my daughter grows up with as much passion, commitment, intelligence, enthusiasm, and integrity as Karen shows every day.
As Kelly Lyons said, thank you to the organizers of Ada Lovelace Day for reminding us to think about and be thankful for the incredible technical women that have inspired us in our careers and our lives.
It’s that time again: students in my CSC302 software engineering class are doing peer assessments next week, and soon after that I’ll have to assign grades to them and the UCOSP students. It’s got me thinking about what grade I deserve for my time at U of T.
- For mentoring undergrad students: A-. Not all of my students have enjoyed working with me (see Exhibit A), but I think most have learned something useful. On the other hand, none of the projects themselves ever became independently viable (something that I’ll blog about separately).
- For the Master of Science in Applied Computing: B+. I think it’s going to be an excellent program, but it took longer to get going than it should have.
- For regular classroom teaching: B-. This one isn’t a guess—my course evaluations have been OK, but not great. The longer I teach, the more respect I have for how organized, polished, and thoughtful some of my colleagues are…
- For supervising grad students: I honestly don’t know. Of the 11 who started with me, 3 are in progress, 2 switched to other supervisors, and 5 of the remaining 6 finished on time. None of them have published anything based on their theses, so by conventional measures, I haven’t done very well. C+?
- For my own research: F. NSERC turned down every grant application I ever submitted, but that’s just an excuse: I could and should have done a lot more than I actually did. The real reason I failed was that I repeatedly pushed aside big things that didn’t have fixed target dates in order to work on smaller things that did (which is ironic, considering how often and how strenuously I warn my students not to do exactly that).
Overall, I’d give myself a B-. That’s by no means a bad grade, but I’m still disappointed. I had all the information I needed to make better decisions—I just didn’t think things through. Here’s hoping I do a better job on my next project.
We are sorry to announce that Robin Milner died on Saturday 20th March, in Cambridge, just three days after the funeral of his wife, Lucy.
He will be greatly missed by his family and friends, as well as the academic community.
We are expecting there to be a symposium in due course to provide an opportunity for Robin’s many academic colleagues to celebrate him and his work.
From Chloë and Barney Milner
He was one of the nicest men I ever met…
The list of organizations taking part in this year’s Google Summer of Code has been announced. We’re holding an information session about the program 4-5 pm on Wednesday, March 24, in Room 5256 of the Bahen Centre for Information Technology (40 St. George Street) at the University of Toronto. Everyone is welcome to attend.
One of my favorite software engineering research papers is Cherubini, Venolia, DeLine, and Ko’s “Let’s go to the whiteboard: how and why software developers use drawings” (SIGCHI’07), which explored the kinds of pictures programmers draw when they’re talking to each other, what those drawings are actually used for, and why today’s drawing tools don’t meet their real needs. In a similar vein, Zuzel Vera Pacheco plans to look at how developers visualize the execution of SQL queries for her Master’s thesis. When you see a query like:
SELECT left.name, right.name FROM people AS left INNER JOIN people AS right WHERE left.name > right.name;
what do you actually see? When a query like this returns an unexpected result, what do you draw as you trace through its execution, and why? It’ll be a few weeks before Zuzel can start her study (we need to get ethics clearance first), but she’d welcome your thoughts.
Guillaume Simard and François Fournier are writing Selenium tests for Basie (our Django-based replacement for Trac). Over on the Basie blog, they explain why they’re using random data in their tests, rather than testing against predefined fixtures.
It might feel like winter is over, but a lot of people still need your help. Over on Streetknit, there’s word of another knitup called Wise Daughters, which will take place on the last Tuesday of every month. Yarn is provided if you don’t have a project on the go, but bring your own needles if possible.
YUI 3 Gallery Contest 2010
More about YUI3
The YUI 3 Gallery (http://yuilibrary.com/gallery/) provides a straightforward mechanism for you to contribute to this prominent open-source project, and now is a great time to make a contribution. If you submit a new module to the Gallery by March 22, 2010, under YUI’s BSD license, you may be eligible to win a ticket to one of the premier web engineering conferences, JSConf, along with $500 from Expedia to help you get there.
Why students should compete
Contributing to the YUI 3 Gallery is easy if you know some JS and CSS. Several dozen modules already to serve as code-structure models, and there are many reasonably-scoped ideas for new modules that could be completed within a couple of weeks. The prize is fantastic — JSConf has some of the best speakers in the industry, and this year’s lineup is filled with compelling speakers. Win or lose, contributing a visible, enduring piece of code to a well-known OSS project is a fantastic learning experience and an activity that looks great on your resume going forward.
James Bach, a testing guru, has written up some very detailed advice for lawyers who want to sue Toyota. I don’t know any software shop that could defend itself against all of these attacks, which is another way of saying, every developer in the world is consciously or unconsciously betting that when the crunch comes, their company can hire the sharpest lawyer in town, and find a friendly judge.