Tuesday, July 24, 2007

More evidence that CS enrollment decline is ending

As I wrote in my previous post, I see CS enrollment up sharply this fall. Here's the first news article I've seen on this subject. Note that it tries to make it seem that UMBC (Univ. Of MD, Baltimore County) is bucking the national trend, but the comparison made is between fall 2007 and fall 2006. We will see more stories like this as fall approaches.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Improvements in CS enrollment coming

As the linked article shows, new enrollment in CS continued its decline last fall, but just barely. Degrees granted, of course, lags the new enrollment trend by at least four years. Anecdotally, I see enrollments trending sharply up this comming fall, which is just what would be expected from previous patterns in engineering enrollment.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Math wars

The title links to a Seattle Times article about the conflict between advocates of "reformed math" education and those of us who think our children need to develop solid computation competency (yes, I have a clear bias). Here's one teacher's summary of "reformed math":

"It makes higher math more accessible to them," said Zandria Hopper, a fifth-grade teacher at Elizabeth Blackwell Elementary School in Sammamish. "They are pressed to justify and reason from kindergarten on."
However, check the article's sidebar, which compares two fifth-grade problems -- one "reformed math" and one traditional. The reformed math problem is 14x9=? The traditional math problem is 492x98=? Which students do you think will get into top-tier universities?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Success at last?

We finally received a replacement phone for the old Sony Ericsson T637. Activation went smoothly, and supposedly everything will work out fine, billing-wise. We'll see. Meanwhile, I've learned that while our old plan didn't charge for receiving text messages, the new one does, and only the iPhone has messaging included. Oh well, that wasn't a big criterion.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Resistance is futile

Well, the new phone for my wife apparently was delayed in shipping long enough that the order was cancelled. Or something like that; the person I spoke to at AT&T didn't really understand why the order would be cancelled. Anyway, she re-placed the order. But, since that would put me well beyond the 14-day time limit for returning the iPhone, I got my iPhone activated on an individual plan, with my wife's phone retained on the old plan, and with the AT&T's representatives' assurances that the billing will all be worked out when we activate everything under the final family plan so that it won't cost any more than the plan would have cost in the first place. I'll let you know how this turns out, so others who are still under old AT&T family plans will know what their options are.

Anyway, I've now been playing with the iPhone for two days, and I have to say that it's like carrying a small work of art in your pocket. When I use it, I get the same feeling I get from looking at a Movado watch. That's not to say that there aren't some improvements that could be made to the software, of course. Meanwhile, here are some interesting web applications I've found:

  • The AccuWeather.com iPhone widget is maybe the slickest one out there. Fifteen day forecasts and animated satellite imagery in a quickly loading, nicely formatted web page.
  • There are web-based "desktop" applications, like AppMarks and MockDocks that provide web pages that look more or less like the iPhone home screen, except that you can choose which icons appear on it.
  • The whole idea of an always-on, full web connection in my pocket is changing my thoughts about small tools. One PIM tool that I've been investigating is Tasks. It has a mobile interface, and would give me access to all of my to-dos everywhere, all from a central repository on one of my web servers.
  • Gas.app is a good idea, except that it sometimes doesn't return known cheap gas stations. Still, if you're on the road and you happen to know (or know where to look up) the zip code you're in...

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Friday, July 06, 2007

A little bit slower now

My saga continues. Yesterday, I was optimistic that the new phone would ship from AT&T in a day. Well, a phone conversation later, and I've now learned that the customer care part of AT&T and the folks at AT&T who actually have the phones are two separate parts of the company. Imagine that! And, despite the fact that they'll ship it next day air, shipping itself can take 3-5 business days. Am I the only person who finds that strange? This will bring me right up to the 14-day return deadline for the iPhone.

Anyway, I was also a bit optimistic about the iPhone working without actual phone activation. Despite others' experiences, my iPhone doesn't work via wifi. I swear it did for a little while, but now it just tries to activate EDGE, fails, then gives up. I'll remain optimistic that it will eventually prefer wifi to EDGE when available and that it's just in a different state than a machine that was temporarily activated and then had its AT&T contract cancelled. Another interesting item is its clock, which apparently isn't synchronized when synced with iTunes; it must sync directly over the net. I guess this isn't surprising. In any event, it appears I am truly in limbo, with an iPhone that is really only usable as an expensive, low memory capacity iPod.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Not so fast, yet

In my last post about my iPhone activation experience, I concluded with:

So, after much fuss and bad feelings, I finally get pretty much what I expected to get in the first place...
I was a bit hasty.

It's now four days later, and still no service on my iPhone. I called AT&T on Tuesday, and found out that the new phone for my wife needed a supervisor's approval, which took two hours on either Saturday or Monday (I'm not clear about that part). Unfortunately, the order processing took only one hour. So, without a supervisor's approval in the system, the order was cancelled. I'll dispense with commenting on the obvious stupidity of that workflow. Anyway, a supervisor's approval was extracted on Tuesday and, hopefully, the new phone will ship today.

Now for the interesting point. Despite the fact that my iPhone isn't activated with AT&T yet, I was able to sync it with iTunes yesterday. That's right, all features working except the phone feature. Seems like there is a mode that others have discovered: iTunes being signaled by AT&T to enable sync is independent of AT&T service and the iPhone takes its cue strictly from iTunes. Besides the obvious abilities to have machines for software test, etc., this indicates that Apple can easily switch service providers.

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