Interesting Links 16 August 2010

I was on vacation last week. I could not seem to stay away from the Internet and from blogging though. So there were blog posts and I was on Twitter a good bit. I also scanned my email regularly (otherwise catching up after vacation is HARD) and so I have some links to share today. I’m also relisting (in case you missed it and are just starting back at school) my top ten posts from July and June.

I get asked about getting into the game development business quite a bit. Mostly from students who are thinking about what they need to study. The Microsoft Job Blog covered this a bit recently (How to "break in" to gaming & entertainment) and you may want to pass the link along to students you know.

    A journalist from Australia attended the 2010 Imagine Cup finals in Poland this summer. He wrote a great wrap up piece on it titled Imagine a world changed by software (PDF). It’s an inspiring article I think. I hope it will inspire more students to not only enter the Imagine Cup but look to software as a way to make a positive difference in the world.

    The entry deadline is fast  approaching for the UIST 2010 Student Innovation Contest. By fast I mean you have to sign up by August 17th, 2010 though you do have more time to get started on your plans and real entry. I just found out about it myself or I’d have passed this along earlier.

    The goal of the contest is to develop new interactions on unique hardware that you cannot get anywhere else. We supply you with the special hardware and you show us how innovative you can be with it. This year, Microsoft Applied Sciences is loaning out a set of "adaptive keyboards", which can detect touch as well as change their visual appearance.

    An interesting story about Brown University which has 9 women in their computer science junior class -- all of them were Microsoft interns this summer. (All Nine Women in Brown University Computer Science Class Intern at Microsoft) One key point you should notice. The previous summer one of these students was an intern and it was the way she created a positive impression that inspired Microsoft to recruit more students from the same program. As a teacher and as an industry person I am always very careful with my recommendations. The first person you refer to a company really sets a tone for your credibility and for the future chances for people you recommend later. Of course it also says some good things about the quality of Brown’s computer science programs.

      On the humor front, Rob Miles linked to How a programmer reads your resume . It’s a sort of comic that compares how a human relations department looks at a resume to how a programmer  looks at it. It’s funny because there is a real kernel of truth in it.

      Lynn Langit recorded three more of her Small  Basic recipes - 

      Interested in buying Microsoft software for your school? Check out this MS software academics buyer's guide from ZDnet. But don’t forget that information from Microsoft is also available at under the How To Buy menu option.

      Over on Channel 9, Andrew Coats uses a cartoon video to explain The Cloud Platform Story

      Now my top 10 from June and July.

      1. Visual Programming Languages – Kodu, Scratch, Alice, App Inventor and more. Are they helpful? Can we make them more general purpose?
      2. Over-Educated, Yet Under-Qualified? – Is education and qualification as closely tied as we’d all like to think they are? Can students get jobs and do them well right out of school? Some good comments here as well.
      3. Critical Thinking – It’s important and we all agree on that. I think anyway. But are we teaching it and teaching it well? Join in the discussion.
      4. How many types of Programmers are there? – Are there only a couple of fairly narrow goals for programmers or are things more complex? The post talks about three types and asks “are there more?”
      5. Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) Certifications – Learn about these new entry level certification exams and materials and decide if they fit the goals of your school. If you are at a career/technical school it is highly likely that they do.
      6. Advice for an Imagine Cup team – Pat Yongpradit is an award winning computer science teacher (Pat Yongpradit Selected to participate in the 2010 Microsoft Worldwide Innovative Education Forum in South Africa!) who mentored a high school team that made it to the US finals of the game division of the Imagine Cup. In this guest post he gives some useful advice for teachers mentoring groups of students who would like to compete this year.
      7. A Show About Computer Programming – Some interesting comments on this post already. It asks the question “what would a TV show about computer programmers look like?”
      8. Multiple Paths into Computer Science – Start in high school or college? Skip college and learn on your own? Four year college or community college? What are the paths into computer science careers today?
      9. Microsoft Research Illuminates Mars in 3-D With WorldWide Telescope – Lots of interest in the World Wide Telescope Mars data set. A great way for students and adults to learn about the Red Planet and for teachers to help build interest in the skies.
      10. A Rose is a Rose – How important is selecting the right names in a program? Does it make a difference in understanding, debugging, or later review of code? There are some code examples to discuss and some discussion in the comments already. Join in.
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