EppsNet Archive: Computers

This is Where Your PDF Resume Will Take You

Received the following advice today: When applying for jobs, never send your resume in .docx format. Fonts don’t always get embedded and hiring managers cannot always open these files. Use PDF. Do we really want to work for managers who can’t open a Word doc? Imagine the world-class mentoring and career development you’re going to get from such a person. I mean, my wife can open Word docs no problem and she can’t even figure out how to turn on the TV. Thus spoke The Programmer. Read more →

Teaching Computer Science: The Phones Aren’t Helping You

I’m volunteering a couple mornings a week at a local high school, helping out with computer science classes. The way the classes are taught, via an online curriculum, provides a great temptation to kids to get off-task, which they do, usually by entertaining themselves with their phones. They get off-task in other ways too — web surfing, doing homework for other classes — but the main distractor is the phones . . .   “As I mentioned before, I worked with another CS class a couple years ago. No phones allowed in the classroom. “I remember one day the assistant principal was in class observing . . . a student had a phone out, looking at it . . . he was holding it under the table so no one could see it, but this guy, the assistant principal, he did see it. “Oh man, did he hit the roof!… Read more →

Two Reasons For the Low Number of Women in Computer Jobs

I saw this chart on LinkedIn with the heading “Chart: Women in tech continue to face uphill battle” and the hashtag #STEMSexism. The first reason for the low number of women in computer jobs is that we rarely hear about women in computing except in the context of pay gaps, harassment, discrimination, “uphill battles” and #STEMSexism. It’s self-perpetuating. “Computing is a terrible profession for women in so many ways.” Followed by “Why aren’t there more women in computing?” You’ve answered your own question. If you think computing is a hostile profession (I do not, btw), why do you want more women to go into it?   The second reason for the low number of women in computer jobs — sometimes the simplest explanations are the best — is that women prefer to do other things. Men and women are different and make different choices about their lives, as a result… Read more →

Teaching Computer Science: Asking for Help

I’m volunteering a couple mornings a week at a local high school, helping out with computer science classes. This morning, in AP Computer Science Principles, the teacher went through an explanation of the hexadecimal number system, then gave an in-class assignment for students to convert their cell phone number to hexadecimal. Not in two parts, 3 digits and 4 digits, but as a 7-digit number. It seemed pretty obvious from the interaction and the body language and the looks on their faces that a lot of students didn’t get it, but in a class of 25 students, only one student asked for help. Until the teacher finished with that student and asked “Does anyone else need help?” and eight more students immediately raised their hand. I asked the teacher, “Can I address the class for a minute?”   “First off, doing a 7-digit hex conversion is not easy. I know… Read more →

Is A.I. a Threat to Humankind?

Not with a bang but a whimper, as T.S. Eliot used to say. In some countries, the people are kept in a state of submission by violence and/or threats of violence, but here in America, the same effect is achieved via mindless entertainments and gadgetry. Read more →

More Words and Phrases I’m Sick Unto Death Of

Although I can’t claim never to have said these things myself, if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone say either a) “It was working fine 10 minutes ago,” or b) “It works okay on my machine,” I would be comfortably retired by now. Thus spoke The Programmer. Read more →

What Does a Programmer Do?

I was asked to give a talk last week to a high school computer science class on “What Does a Programmer Do?” (I’m indebted to Jim McCarthy for the “lords and ladies of logic” section.)   Programming is problem solving. At the highest level, the problem that programmers solve is that people want to be able to do things with computers that they can’t do. And by computers, I don’t mean just the kind of computers you have on the desks here, I mean phones, watches, cars . . . more and more different kinds of devices are running software. So one good thing about being a programmer is that pretty much every field of endeavor now uses software and data. You can work at a tech company like Microsoft or Google or Twitter or Facebook, but you can also work in healthcare, finance, education, sports . . . you… Read more →

What Would We Do Without Consultants?

Digital technology? You mean, like — computers? Read more →

Proofread Your Own Work

FYI, if you meant to type “invest in education” but actually typed “incest in education,” which you might do because the ‘c’ and ‘v’ keys are right next to each other, a spell checker will not catch that as a mistake . . . Read more →

You’re Now the Local Computer Expert

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Teaching Computer Science

Tomorrow is my first day as an AP Computer Science teacher at Corona del Mar High School. It’s a volunteer gig through the TEALS organization. Only about 10 percent of U.S. high schools offer computer science classes and at most of those schools, it counts as an elective, like Home Ec or Wood Shop, not as a class that can be applied toward graduation like math or science. The most popular AP exam in 2013 was US History — 439,552 students took the AP US History exam. Only 31,117 students took the AP Computer Science exam. That’s about the same number as the AP Art History exam. I don’t want to denigrate the study of art history, but given the ubiquity of computers and software and programming in daily life, the study of computer science seems more likely to enable a person to be self-supporting and to contribute to the… Read more →

People Who Don’t Want Me to Know Things

What I want to know is why there are so many people who don’t want me to know things . . . What the 1% Don’t Want Us to Know Natural Cures “They” Don’t Want You to Know About 20 Terrifying Facts Food Companies Don’t Want You to Know 11 things the Koch brothers don’t want you to know What hospitals don’t want you to know about C-sections 5 Things Hackers Don’t Want You to Know The Sad Secret Successful People Don’t Want You To Know 7 Rip-Offs Corporations and the Wealthy Don’t Want You to Know About Something Most Christians Don’t Want You to Know 11 Secrets Supermarkets Don’t Want You to Know Conspiracies: Five things they don’t want you to know The 25 Shadiest Things Drug Companies Don’t Want You To Know 11 Secrets Pilots Don’t Want You To Know Bottled Water: 10 Shockers “They” Don’t Want You… Read more →

Raising Our Kids

Let's just hope these tablets are better at raising our kids than cable. — Paul Danke (@pauldanke) June 24, 2014 Read more →

The Cure for Missing Attachments

I wrote an email in Outlook 2013, concluded by saying “Details are in the attached doc,” then clicked Send without attaching the aforesaid document. I must not be the only person who does this, because when I clicked Send, this dialog box appeared: Obviously, Outlook is looking for words like “attached” or “attachment” in emails that don’t contain an actual attachment. It turns out that this behavior can be turned on or off in the Outlook Mail options:   I have to admit that I don’t remember if “warn me” is the default option, or if I turned it on at some point in the past and forgot about it. Read more →

It Would Be Important to Get There and There is Probably a Way

I often say, “Well, it’s just over on the other side of that canyon. So all we have to do is go.” It is always surprising to me that other people would expect me to tell them how we’re going to get there directly. That it is not enough to say, “Well, it would be important to get there and there is probably a way. Let’s go.” — Doug Engelbart Read more →

Pictures of Food

Years ago, if you wanted to show your friends a picture of your food, you’d have to break out the palette and the easel and paint one. Time-consuming! Nowadays, with the likes of Facebook and Instagram, it’s just point and click! Another way life gets better and better thanks to computers . . . Read more →

Do You Want to Take the Human Race to the Next Plateau?

In 1986, Steve Jobs famously challenged John Sculley, asking him if he wanted to keep on making sugar water or help Apple change the world. While that did not quite work out the way either of them intended, the challenge itself still holds. Do you want to spend your next decade developing more digital distractions to amuse people while they stand in line at Starbuck’s, or do you want to take the human race to the next plateau? — Geoffrey Moore Read more →

From Science Fiction to Everyday Life in Just a Few Years

This is the world we live in now. It’s one where computers improve so quickly that their capabilities pass from the realm of science fiction into the everyday world not over the course of a human lifetime, or even within the span of a professional’s career, but instead in just a few years. — Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, Race Against The Machine Read more →

Intelligence in the Cloud

IBM Watson, the Jeopardy champion, runs on 90 IBM Power 750 servers, with eight 3.5 GHz cores per server. Currently on Amazon EC2, eight extra large compute instances will cost you $2.40/hour. If you want to run 90 of them, you’re looking at a shade over $200/hour. This brings up a couple of questions: For what tasks could artificial intelligence be as good or better as a highly trained person at $200/hour? What would this mean for society? Thanks to David Patterson at UC Berkeley for bringing this to my attention. Read more →

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