Archive for November, 2007

A Reveiw of Professional Software Development

Friday, November 16th, 2007

A while back, I read the book Code Complete, by Scott McConnell. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Code Complete is full tips to make one a better programmer. It is written in a similar fashion as books such as The Pragmatic Programmer, Programming Pearls, or The Practice of Programming. Because I enjoyed reading Code Complete, I decided to tryout another McConnell book, and I purchased the book Professional Software Development from Amazon. I think I may have passed on this book if I browsed it first.

I feel that maybe half of the material in the book carries any relivance and it doesn’t really address any new topics. The basis of the book is that programmers make bad code, and standardized software engineering techniques should be used to improve software. For instance, McConnell talks about the drawback of the “Code and Fix Development” style. Where developers rush into the coding process without any planning. I wouldn’t say the book was a total waste to read, but I expected it to be better based on Code Complete.

The majority of the book is about how software engineers should be licensed in a similar manner as doctors, lawyers, and accountants are today. I tend to disagree with this opinion. I think that voluntary certification would be a better way to go then to have Government issued licenses for software engineers. I don’t see what good would come out of forcing software engineers to be licensed.

Overall, there is some good information in this book, so it is not a total waste of time to read. I would recommend getting a copy from a library rather than purchasing this book.

Professional Software Development

End of Binrev

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

All good things come to an end at sometime or another. This happens to be the case with BinRev Radio. On this week’s episode, show number 200, StankDawg announced that the show has officially come to an end. I am very sad to hear that the show is ending. I found this show towards the end of 2003 beginning of 2004, and it became one of my favorite podcasts. For a number of years, I looked forward each weeks new episode. Once I started listening to Binrev, I never missed an episode.

I really appreciate the work that StankdDawg and his guests put into the show. Each week he had an interesting topic and was always passionate about teaching. I never contributed to BinRev, as StankDawg always pushed for people to become more involved, but I appreciate all of the hard work that was put into the show. Before listening to BinRev, I had the same misconceptions that most people have about the hacker community. This show ended up teaching me a lot and introducing me to some subjects that I knew little about. The show had a great four year run, and if someone has never heard it before I would recommend listening to the archieves of the show.

One Laptop Per Child Persentation at the MUG Meeting

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

At first I was skeptical about attending a presentation about the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project at the /Michigan!/usr/group (MUG). So initially, I wasn’t going to go to this months MUG meeting. I figured the meeting wouldn’t be very technical and would only be about the benefit of the program. At the last minute, I decided to go, and I’m glad I went to the meeting. Ivan Krstić from the OLPC project put on a excellent presentation.

One thing I found interesting is the OLPC motivation for the project. Krstić explained that before children reach school they are inquisitive and want to know how everything works. It very similar to the hacker mindset. But once children reach school, their education becomes authoritarian based. It is no longer acceptable to question how and why things work the way they do. I had never thought about the education system in the United States this way. This is probably one of the reasons that I disliked school. I didn’t like school until college where I was able to take the basic knowledge I gained and further explore it and research the topics I found interesting. So from what I was able to gain from the presentation, the main reason the OLPC project was started was to empower the youth in developing countries and give them the tools to conduct their own research.

After giving the motivation for the project, Krstić explained the technical details of the laptops. I had no idea of the innovations involved in making this project a reality. To begin, the laptops had to be extremely cheap to manufacture. Next, the power consumption of the laptop had to be much lower than the average laptop. These constraints seemed very similar to those that exist in the field of sensor networks. One thing I found impressive is almost all of the programs on the laptop were ported to Python. So for the curious students, they can modify the source code of their application to see the effect of their changes. The laptop also had a show source button. This button would display the source code in an IDE for the application that is currently running on the laptop. Krstić also went on to explain his part of the project, which is creating a security model for years olds. This problems is more difficult than it appears at first because it can’t be assumed that a five year old can read.

After seeing the presentation, I was very impressed with the direction of the OLPC project. If I had a small child, I would try to get them one of these laptops through the “Give One Get One” program.