It’s been a busy week over at Software Carpentry:
Our current schedule calls for us to have the database, spreadsheet, and version control lectures online by the end of next week. It’s ambitious (particularly given my continuing predilection for procrastination), but I think we have a good chance. If anyone wants to do some freelance graphic design, please let me know…
I got email yesterday from Sylvain Thénault, one of the PyLint developers:
I would like to thank you and the team for your contribution to the pylint project! Your students have actually contributed some useful stuff which have been included in pylint. I can’t tell that from all students I had working on my projects… If you have another students team next year, I’ll be happy to work with them
I’m glad we could help; I know the students who worked on the project learned a lot about code analysis and open source development practices.
Mark Guzdial recently posted a short, thought-provoking look at women in CS in Qatar. As he says, it’s complicated…
As a follow-up to the previous post, we’d like to evaluate the usability of our screencasts systematically. We know we’re not the first (or ten-thousandth) people to want to do this, so I went looking for procedures we could borrow. The University of Maryland’s Questionnaire for User Interface Satisfaction (QUIS) looks like just what we need:
(QUIS) is a tool developed by a multi-disciplinary team of researchers in the Human-Computer Interaction Lab (HCIL) at the University of Maryland at College Park. [It] was designed to assess users’ subjective satisfaction with specific aspects of the human-computer interface. The QUIS team successfully addressed the reliability and validity problems found in other satisfaction measures, creating a measure that is highly reliable across many types of interfaces.
Excellent! Until you click on the Licensing link, and discover that the questionnaire is $750 for commercial users and $200 for academics. *sigh*
Over on the Software Carpentry blog, I’ve posted links to three trial screencasts. We’d be grateful for your comments: do you like the format? Is the video quality good enough? Are the transcript and/or notes useful? Other than adding exercises (which we’re going to try tomorrow and Wednesday), what could we do to make them better?
And while we’re on the subject, what are you favorite technical/training videos? Do you like the PowerPoint slides with inset talking heads of Google Tech Talks? Or do you prefer screen recordings with voiceover, like this? How about Common Craft‘s mix of cartoons and stop-motion film?
The full announcement is up at StreetKnit: on Worldwide Knit in Public Day (Saturday, June 12), Toronto-area knitters are going to try to set a new world record. Please come out and help if you can!
In a discussion with Karen Reid yesterday about what should be in U of T’s second-year CS hardware course, I learned something about my own beliefs that I hadn’t realized before: I believe that in order to be a computer scientist, a person must know (or must once have known) how logic gates, cleverly combined, can do things like add numbers. I don’t know if it’s a holdover from my degree in engineering, or whether it’s a ghostly memory of the epiphany I had in Prof. Michael Levison’s CS210 class at Queen’s in 1981-82 when I suddenly understood how deterministic collections of circuits could make choices (i.e., execute ‘if’ statements). I doubt we’ll ever agree on a definition of what computer science is, but this, the idea that programs are data, trees & recursion, and how garbage-collected object-oriented languages actually work are all marked “must know” in my mind. What’s in that category in yours?
“Want to know if your ‘HTML application’ is part of the web? Link me into it. Not just link me to it; link me into it. Not just to the black-box frontpage. Link me to a piece of content. Show me that it can be crawled, show me that we can draw strands of silk between the resources presented in your app. That is the web: the beautiful interconnection of navigable content…”
— Ben Ward (via various)
What kind of documentation do you use when you’re programming? How useful do you find it? If have three minutes to fill in a very short survey on the topic (it’s literally half a dozen questions), we’d be very grateful for your feedback.
Mike Conley, another of my current grad students, has got ethics approval for his research study as well. From his blog post:
Want to win a $100 Best Buy gift card? Are you an undergraduate computer science student who knows Python? If so, I need you!
Subjects are needed to take part in a study concerning peer evaluation and grading. Participants will be asked to complete small, fun programming exercises, and peer grade other submissions. Time needed for the study is approximately 1.5hrs and takes place in person in the Bahen Center at the University of Toronto.
Subjects should be undergraduate computer science students with programming experience in Python.
Participants will be entered into a draw for a $100 Best Buy gift card.
For more information please contact:
Please help him out if you can—I think we’ll all learn some cool stuff from his study.