Thursday, April 26, 2007

Cause and effect

Some articles in the latest round of debate over the future of the computing profession:

Which is cause and which is effect? Decreasing numbers of students interested in computing? Unpleasant working conditions, compared to other professions, many of which having less onerous coursework? Increasing immigration and outsourcing preventing salaries from increasing? Likely, this involves at least one feedback loop; I am concerned that the feedback will make matters worse, not better.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

1000 miles for Earth Day

I must admit that I started commuting to work by bicycle for health and family logistics reasons, but there's a certain symbolic significance of the fact that, due to a ride I went on with the Cascade Bicycle Club yesterday, I have clocked over a thousand miles since September -- just in time for Earth Day. Besides all of the gasoline I haven't burned, there's also the second car we haven't bought. My next goal: 2,000 miles by this September.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Women and the computing profession

The title above links to yet another article, this time from The New York Times, on the decreasing number of women entering the profession. If you've been reading articles like this, you'll likely detect the slow evolution of the message to include more assertions that demand for graduates is much higher than is perceived. All of the hard data I've seen supports the assertion that demand for computer professionals is higher now than at the peak of the dot-com boom.

One curious item, on page two, is the note that the University of Washington, Seattle "never had a programming requirement." Perhaps what was meant was for freshman admission? Because the introductory CS sequence, 142 and 143 (and the equivalent courses for transfer students) are pretty typical intro to programming classes.

Update: Here's a link the UW Seattle CSE department's "Why Choose CSE?" web site mentioned in the article.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Is Microsoft Dead?

I can remember moving to the Seattle area in 1997 and being advised that Sun, Apple, IBM, and the various Linux concerns were all dead; they just didn't know it. Microsoft had won, and that's all there was to it. Is Paul Graham's essay about Microsoft similarly accurate? I would say that you ignore Mr. Graham at your own risk. He has also written a follow-up, Cliff's Notes version in which he emphasizes that what he means is that software startups no longer need worry about Microsoft. And this in turn reminded me of software startup proposals in the early to mid '90s, in which the mere rumor that Microsoft would do something even vaguely similar was enough to eliminate any chance of financial backing. You just couldn't compete with Microsoft. These days, the issue isn't whether one can compete successfully with Microsoft, but rather that Microsoft is no longer a credible source of new ideas. The best they can do (as Mr. Graham says) is buy them. And, sometimes, even that doesn't help.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Neuroschool 2007

This looks like an interesting experience for students interested in between experiment and theory in neuroscience.