So, if you are writing one of those emails that you have to get right, and you plan to check and proof and think about, then don't start by typing the To:. As long as you don't type the To: you can't accidentally send it out before you finish writing it. Once you write the To:, and accidental or careless send will possibly cause collateral damage if you're not done word smithing your message.
Unfortunately students can be quite focused on their grades, and as a result I end up paying more attention to grading than I would like. By the way let me point out that 'grading' is more than assigning a grade to a bit of homework. Without going into detail, you have to decide and communicate:
- What all the gradable items of work are (e.g. a programming assignment, a reading assignment, a test, a presentation, a mockup or prototype, etc. etc.)
- Your logical scheme for assigning a grade to a work item. That is, what is an "A" for a programming assignment? For a particular presentation, etc.)
- What the relative weighting is of each grade is
- What formula you use to convert all the individual work item grades to a final grade
And then when you are teaching you have to stick to what you decided and communicated because you can be sure someone will ask for an explanation.
I just had a converation about this today with some students. So in this mindset I was amused / intereste to read this article:
“The median grade in Harvard College is indeed an A-,” the school’s dean of education said today, according to the student newspaper. Even more stunning: “The most frequently awarded grade in Harvard College is actually a straight A.”
Now. Harvard will probably say, and maybe reasonably, that it's so hard to get into Harvard that all the students deserve the grades they get because that's just how good they are!
From an email I sent, just because:
I bet you won’t print this one! But maybe you can respond to me personally.
CU itself is a bad actor when it comes to magazine subscription renewals.
I get misleading requests that my subscription is about to run out when it actually has months, as many as six months to go! And if I am not on my toes I could easily be fooled into a premature renewal and extension of my subscription.
This is a very misleading practice.
You say everyone does it, which is true. You say that it’s part of your business model and it really works to maximize renewals, which is also true.
But it still very misleading bordering on deceitful and I bet you would call out another company for something similar or even less evil - for example, a simple typo in an advertisement which is a clearly sloppiness but not purposely deceitful.
What say you?
Pito Salas, longtime subscriber."
This article is a bit harsh/one-sided, but I still thought it was interesting to see an attempt at comparing programming as practiced in two very different contexts.
Programming in school and programming in the real world are so inherently different to the point where there's actually very little overlap. CS will prepare you for "real world" software development like athletics training would prepare an army for battle.
In a vaguely related article, think about this: In the modern economy/society, is learning to 'code' a fundamental piece of a good education? This article makes a good case that it is not:
"So it’s no surprise that we have so many people from Barack Obama (it “makes sense” for coding to be written into high school curricula) to NBA superstar Chris Bosh (it’s “simply about understanding how the world functions”) arguing everyone should learn to code — and that coding ought to be a required part of a complete education. Starting really young, “because it is code, not Mandarin, that will be the true lingua franca of the future"
Scott Adams is the guy behind the famous Dilbert comics. I've not worked in a big corporation for a while and I've not been reading Dilbert for quite a while too. But Scott Adams remains a brilliant humourist. This post however, is not meant as humour:
I don't want anyone to misconstrue this post as satire or exaggeration. So I'll reiterate. If you have acted, or plan to act, in a way that keeps doctor-assisted suicide illegal, I see you as an accomplice in torturing my father, and perhaps me as well someday. I want you to die a painful death, and soon. And I'd be happy to tell you the same thing to your face.
Postscript: His Dad passed away a few hours after he wrote this
A fascinating although quite long article by Michael Lewis in Vanity Fair. Michael Lewis is an amazing non-fiction writer, best known to me for Moneyball (about baseball) and Liars Poker (about Wall Street.)
A month after ace programmer Sergey Aleynikov left Goldman Sachs, he was arrested. Exactly what he’d done neither the F.B.I., which interrogated him, nor the jury, which convicted him a year later, seemed to understand. But Goldman had accused him of stealing computer code, and the 41-year-old father of three was sentenced to eight years in federal prison. Investigating Aleynikov’s case, Michael Lewis holds a second trial.
I came across this video by Armando Fox with his views of what went wrong with the Obamacare website, from a deep technical perspective. It's part of a University of California at Berkley course on SAAS Software Engineering. It's very very good!
Nowadays, when I am done talking to telephone suport of any company, they seem to be trained to go through a long ceremony before letting me go:
me: "Thanks, I am all set"
They: "Did I solve all your problems"?
me: "Yes, thanks"
They: "Ok then thanks for calling XXXX"
me: "You're welcome"
They: "Thanks and have a good day"
Question: is it impolite for me to hang up before this whole ceremony is complete? Say "Yes, Thanks" and then hang up? Or am I being a rude, impatient, always in a hurry northeasterner?
I feel really bad for President Obama and I am still a big fan. But. As we all know now, this is a total disaster, on a lot of levels. For first hand experience, I tried to create an account on Healthcare.gov about the middle of October. After several tries I managed to do it. Yesterday I tried to log into the site to see how things were going, and after several tries and I managed to log in. But I didn't get too far before I got a 404 error.
Those of us who have worked on, or seen close up how a complex "web site" is built have a feeling of how complicated this is. And coupled with other factors and complications (like politics and buareaucratic ineptitude) we can't say this is not a movie we've seen before. But that doesn't begin to explain nor excuse it. Here's a good behind the scenes article:
“They were running the biggest start-up in the world, and they didn’t have anyone who had run a start-up, or even run a business,” said David Cutler, a Harvard professor and health adviser to Obama’s 2008 campaign, who was not the individual who provided the memo to The Washington Post but confirmed he was the author. “It’s very hard to think of a situation where the people best at getting legislation passed are best at implementing it. They are a different set of skills.”