July 23, 2004

MathForge has a feed

Just couldn't resist one more post -- the Mathforge feed is here.

On vacation

I'll be away visiting Kingston & Montreal until August 3rd.  I hope to be out of email/blog/whatever reach until then.   Reading trashy Harry Turtledove & Tom Clancy novels.

Sometimes I wonder why I actually buy stuff

Eric Weisssteins' ScienceWorld (or World of Science) is a pretty darn good general resource in math, physics, astronomy, chemistry and scientific biography. All the leaf level entries have citation in the literature, the coverage seems pretty complete, the entries are concise and to the point. Thank god we used to have a literature we could use to build tools sites like this. via The Scout Report.

The Spam Letters

Haven't read it, haven't seen it, but The Spam Letters by Jonathan Land looks to be a hoot. Not sure I could justify getting it for the library, though...  UPDATE: Of course, there's a website The Spam Letters.  It give a good feel for the kind of stuff that is no doubt in the book.

July 22, 2004

Using weblogs as educational tools

Althought mainly geared for the K-12 set, Will Richardson's presentation from the Building Learning Communities conference has a solid conceptual approach to blogs as educational tools. I like that he didn't get too bogged down in concrete examples, especially since it gave the presentation a universal feel, rather than just being tools for teens. Richardson's site is a valuable resource about using blogs in education.

July 21, 2004

JoDI: Better (scientific) communication through hypertext

The latest JoDI: Journal of Digital Information (v5i1) presents a utopian ideal of sorts for scientific (and other kinds) communication: hypertext. If everything is linked it's obviously much richer in connections and hopefully easier to understand. I'm not sure I understand (or agree with what I do understand) a lot of what's in these various papers, but they sure are stimulating -- kind of science fiction about science writing in a weird way.   It's interesting that a good number of the authors are from science or computer science departments.


July 16, 2004

Communications of the ACM: Volume 47, Issue 7

A couple of articles well worth reading in the latest CACM:

  • The field of programmers myth by Peter J. Denning is in particular worth noting. The basic premise is that the public has it all wrong: CS isn't about programming, it's about problem solving. If that misunderstanding could be corrected, a lot of the problems with recruitment and public perception could be solved, as well as the fears about off-shoring.
  • Has the Internet become indispensable? by Hoffman, Novak & Venkatesh is equally indispensable reading. Their answer is that, yes, it is indeed indispensable to a significant segment of the population.

ARL Stats for 2003

Here's the interactive stats application for 2003. York, of course, is 113 of 114 in student/librarian ratio at 588 students per librarian. The highest ranked Canadian school is UofT at 45th place, ratio of 240-1. Lots of other stats to have fun with including reference queries, presentation participants and a host of budgetary & collection-related categories.

Feed of newly published technical books

Via ResearchBuzz, San Diego Technical Books Inc. has a bunch of feeds of their newly received books. The also have feeds of announced-but-not-yet-published books. It would be interesting to know how many libraries have feeds of new acquisitions. It's certainly something we're thinking about at York as a longer term project. We spend so much money on books, yet we spend all our time promoting eresources -- shouldn't we spend some effort on books too? Maybe that's why circ stats are going down in a lot of places...if we don't think books are important, why should our patrons?

July 15, 2004

FreePint Newsletter 163 -- Usability

I've always been a big FreePint fan (although I guess some of my favourite pints aren't free: here and here). The most recent issue has a good overview article on usability: Usability -- Ignore it at your peril by Sarah Agarwal. I like her simple, plain-spoken definition: "it's basically about spending time with the intended users of a website or application to make sure it does what they need it to, in a way they find reasonably easy."

July 14, 2004

Junior new World Computer Chess Champion

An article here from the New Scientist on the latest victory for the Chessbase crew. It's interesting because it talks a little about how different chess engines end up with different "personalities."

July 13, 2004

Physics

A nice Physics Blog from the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Be nice if it had a feed.

So, what exactly is software engineering anyway?

An illuminating article from the latest IEEE Software, "How Higher-Education Systems Influence Software Engineering Degree Programs" by Dieste, Juristo and Moreno. The premise is that there are different kinds of software engineering programs that try and teach the same kinds of things: computing, science/math & engineering. The institutional culture of a particular country and reflect the way the software engineering programs end up being organized and, therefore, the mix of those three elements in a particular program.

July 12, 2004

Who knew?

Courtesy of BoingBoing, it seems that Laurie Anderson is NASA's artist-in-residence. The MSNBC story is here. I found a few bits on the NASA site here.

July 8, 2004

History of Programming Languages poster from O'Reilly

This great poster is available in pdf. It's a great chronology of programming languages. The poster is based on work done by Éric Lévénez here, including files to print his version of the poster on different size paper. Lévénez has also extensive links on his page for other resources in the history of programming languages.

Concept Inventories for engineering

The Foundation Coalition is a great source of engineering educational information. Over the last few years they have created a bunch of what they call concept inventories: mini exams to test students' knowledge of core concepts in a particular area. This site gives a list of the current inventories. Of course, the exams aren't directly available online (duh): you have to ask one of the developers to send it to you. Here's a quick list of the inventories that are available or under development: Waves, Thermodynamics, Stength of Materials, Signals and Systems, Electromagnetics, Circuits, Fluid Mechanics, Materials, Chemistry, Dynamics, Heat Transfer, Computer Engineering and Electronics. And they even include references to articles about the creation of various of the inventories. via FC Newsletter.

Astronomical image format now accessible to all

FITS format liberation is a press release from EurekaAlert about how the European Space Agency & NASA have released a Photoshop plugin that will allow anyone to make use of the FITS file format to create their own colour images. More information here.

July 7, 2004

So, what do these search engine companies do?

If you're interested in how the wizards do their work, check out Behind the Scenes at Yahoo Labs parts 1, 2 and 3. There's lots here on the Philosophy of Search (if I can call it that) as well as what's coming from Yahoo in the future. In the articles, Gary Price interviews Dr. Gary Flake who is Principal Scientist & Head of Yahoo Research Labs.

July 5, 2004

Copyleft & Creative Commons

A pretty good overview called Freeing enterprise in today's Toronto Star. It's by Raju Mudhar.