Sunday, September 23, 2007

Software Development is not Computer Science

This post by Chris Chapman is a wonderful piece of interesting research.  He is basically pointing out that Ontario Universities are not teaching newer software development practices in their computer science programs.  He apparently plans to follow up with all Canadian Universities.

What Chris doesn't seem to understand is that computer science is not the study of software development.  Computer science is theoretical, not applied science.  If you want to build a bridge, do you do a degree in civil engineering, or in physics?

Check out Wikipedia on this common mistake:

"In fact, the renowned computer scientist Edsger Dijkstra is often quoted as saying, "Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes." The design and deployment of computers and computer systems is generally considered the province of disciplines other than computer science. For example, the study of computer hardware is usually considered part of computer engineering, while the study of commercial computer systems and their deployment is often called information technology or information systems."

In a field that's still relatively new, there's still much confusion over what each of the related fields should be named.  But there's no reason to believe that agile development or design patterns are computer science concepts. 

That said, I can't explain why so many computer science departments are interested in talking about big design up front or waterfalls. 

I think Chris has opened up an interesting dialogue.  Where do people go to learn these practices?  Do employers believe that computer science grads should know these things?  If so, someone needs to clarify for the employers.

Someone also ought to clarify for the students!  I personally have a Bachelor of Computer Science degree.  When I started, I thought I was going to learn to be a better programmer.  But that was not the point of the program, and I was disappointed.  

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Microsoft's Vista Search Concessions

By now, Microsoft's giving in to Google's desktop search demands are old news.  But I personally hadn't seen any technical details on how all this works - until now.

This knowledge base article spells it out for us.  They're just changing all the entry points (like the search box on the start menu) to use a new "search:" protocol instead of the current "search-ms:" protocol.  Then they will let you choose which program is associated with the "search:" protocol.

Since Microsoft's search works just fine, I can't imagine an end user wanting to do this.  But you can bet Google will make deals with companies like Dell so that some people will end up buying machines with this set up already.  My fearless prediction?  This will create support headaches and pointless confusion, and everyone will blame Microsoft.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Vista Issues

I was trying to license UltraEdit.  I have an older version - 7.20a.  I don't use it as much as I used to, but it's still a great way to quickly look at large text files.  In particular, it has a very helpful 'column mode' which comes in handy when you are using fixed-width data files.

It allows you to install a demo for X number of days, then when the demo expires, you need to enter your license info.

This works fine up until you try it on Vista.  You enter your info, then it tells you you have to close UltraEdit and start it again.  When you do that, nothing has changed.  It says the demo has expired.

The solution is relatively straightforward - you need to run UltraEdit as administrator while you type the license info.  But it took me a while to figure this out.

I mention this because it's been my first real gotcha with Vista.  I've been running 32 bit at work and 64 bit at home, with no problems. 

I suspect this has been corrected in newer versions of UltraEdit.  I definitely recommend UltraEdit if you're looking for something better than notepad!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Phil Factor's Phrenetic Phoughts : Wonko the Sane and Gubble-Gubble. A software opportunity?

This is too good not to share: 

Phil Factor's Phrenetic Phoughts : Wonko the Sane and Gubble-Gubble. A software opportunity?