Random things of CS interest on the web

Spring term is typically the busiest for me, and this term is no exception—in fact, it’s probably the busiest term I’ve had at Carleton since my first year on the job!  This means I have about 50 blog posts that are written in my head, but 0 of them have actually made it to the blog.  Oops.

Lots of interesting stuff has popped up on the web lately, though, so in absence of any real content, I thought I’d point out some of the things that have caught my eye and my attention lately.

First, springtime at Carleton means that the sophomore class declares their majors.  This year, the CS department has 32 newly-declared majors!  (And that doesn’t even count the double-majors who have not declared CS yet.)  We are now the 7th (or 8th—looks like some of these tables have some errors) most popular major on campus.  This also means, as the linked article states, that just under half of our CS majors are in the sophomore class.  Our gender ratio has also vastly improved—we have 7 women (if memory serves) out of a class of 32 (and again, that doesn’t include double-majors).  Given that we have one woman each in our junior and senior classes, this is awesome news, and a trend we hope we can sustain.

Similarly, Harvard’s CS department seems to be doing spendidly in the gender ratio realm as well with their sophomore class. 41%!! Way to go, Harvard!

This is good news too, since NCWIT recently pointed out that the number of computer-related jobs will increase by 22% (projected) between 2008 and 2018.  Gender (and racial, and ethnic) diversity just makes good economic sense!

I love this inspiring story of a young recipient of the Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship.  Natasha Nesiba, a freshman at New Mexico State University, started mentoring middle and high school girls while still in high school, and continues to do so.  When she also received a university scholarship to attend NMSU, she decided to endow a scholarship for the CS department with the Anita Borg Scholarship funds, so that the department could support talented Hispanic women in CS.  Congrats, Natasha, and way to go!

Female Computer Scientist recently posted some advice for young female computer scientists—or, really, for any of us, on self-esteem and taking the long-term view:

If you place your self-worth in the hands of another, then every time you are rejected (which will happen frequently over the course of your career), it will feel like being punched in the gut. It’s very tempting to be over-the-top excited when Dr. Famous lavishes praise on you, and Dr. Awesome invites you to serve on a program committee, and Dr. Woot cites your paper. These are all good things to be happy about, but on the other hand you don’t want to be devastated when Dr. Famous rejects your paper, Dr. Awesome gives you a scathing review, and Dr. Woot rips you to shreds in front of 2000 of your closest colleagues.  Be like a tree and all of that. Roll with the good and the bad. If you take this view, the outcome of a single event matters much less.

Right on, FCS!

Finally, ever wonder how people get their start in programming?  What inspires them to learn?  A new project is soliciting stories about just that topic.  Visit the site, read the stories (a random one is generated every time you refresh or revisit the page) and/or contribute your own.  I am so posting this in my Intro CS Moodle page!

Happy reading!