Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Beware of the Raptor

The Raptor F-22 that is. Raptors were the hit nemesis of the Jurassic Park movies (warning Flash splash page), but evidently Raptors can be dangerous to pilots too! According to reports, when the new Lockheed F-22 Raptor crossed the International date line communication, fuel and navigation subsystems were rendered useless despite repeated reboots! Business Week adds an additional report.

It may be quite possible that you heard this but I wanted to record this for future classes and track the post mortem afterwards. If you found other sources or additional information, please add them to the comments, thanks. Later!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Simple isn't simple

This post is about John Maeda's book, The Laws of Simplicity. I just finished reading it and was simply impressed. If you read the reviews on amazon, they are mixed. I have a simpler take, read it and judge for yourself. It is a bit over $10 and 100 pages. At most it will take you the equivalent of 3 episodes of 24 to read and you will learn so much more.

I liked it a lot, will require it in many of my courses (HCI and Software Architecture and Design) and willl have several future posts on it. I have espoused simplicity and know simple isn't simple, but Maeda helps us in its pursuit. Software folks and engineers need more grounding (fore and back) in design concepts and this is a simple, gentle introduction. It is well written.

It seems appropriate to make this first post simple. For more information, Maeda has a web site. Later!

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Gift Suggestions for Valentine's Day and Beyond

Although this is written a few days before Valentine's Day, this post can be referred to for any gift -giving event to provide gift suggestions for significant others or family or perhaps even yourself!  Of course I think the best expression that someone cares about you is not chocolates of Vermont Teddy Bears or flowers but rather books!  In particular books on computer science, human computer interaction, science fiction or history.  So here, in no particular order of preference, are gift suggestions.

My new favorite for software architecture in fact, besides Shaw and Garlan, the only one I would recommend is Rozanski, N. & Woods, E., Software Systems Architecture, Addison-Wesley, 2005, 0-321-11229-6.  I like it so much that it will be the first architecture book used in my software architecture and design class next time around.  Thanks Larry Bernstein for handing me a copy!

For those of you who like code and love C (very related), this book will have you appreciating it even more.  It stresses the joy of reading code for fun and education.  Spinellis, D. Code Reading, Addison Wesley, 2003, 0-201-79940-5.

(By the way the links are not necessarily the best price for these books, I just spread them around the various on line booksellers.)

These is never enough testing and sometimes the bureaucracy of the testing organizations defy common sense.   A book from Whittaker, encourages all of us to place more thought in testing and appreciate superb testers.  Whittaker, J.A. How to Break Software, Addison-Wesley, 2003, 0-201-79619-8.

As most of you who have recently taken my HCI course know, I am stressing distributed cognition and activity theory as the basis for HCI.  A great HCI primer on applying this theory to practical HCI, that just released a second edition is Sharp, H., Rogers, Y. & Preece, J. Interaction Design:  Beyond Human Computer Interaction, 2nd Edition, Wiley, 2006, 978-0-470-01866-8.

There are some books I run across that I just have to fit into a course.  This book, originated at MIT for a course on software engineering and internet applications, is a gem and it WILL be in some course I teach next year.  Andersson, E., Greenspun, P. & Grumet, A.  Software Engineering for Internet Application, MIT Press, 2006, 0-262-51191-6.

Finally for the science fiction fans in the audience three can't miss books from three superb authors.  In fact any book from these three are a superb read and I have read all of Gibson's books and most of Mieville and Stross (and intend to read the rest).  The first is from William Gibson, Neuromancer, the novel that started (or at least popularized it, there were precursors such as Philip K. Dick) the cyberpunk genre of science fiction and a superb read.  The second is from China Mieville, Perdido Street Station, a mix of science fiction and fantasy (this says a lot because I typically detest fantasy).   For really modern hard science fiction Charles Stross  and his novel Accelerando stands out in the pack. It is a mind opening (might I say from my generation, mind blowing read).   What makes them very special in the science fiction ranks is that they are all superb writers.

I hope this provides you with a great list that you can hand others or use yourself for gift giving to you on any special ordinary occassion.  I hopefully will be back soon with some  student blogs. Later!