Ubuntu Unity is pretty much unusable in 2 GB RAM.


California-sponsered open textbooks

Via Creative Commons: California passes groundbreaking open textbook legislation.

Hopefully we’ll get at least one solid CS textbook out of this. There are open texts for CS0, CS1, and data structures, but the air gets pretty thin once you get into higher altitudes.

I’ll be following this as it develops, since it might be a way to move forward on the open, accessible algorithm textbook idea I’ve been kicking around on the backburner.

Also, I’m happy to see they went with CC-BY, a well-established and permissive license, rather than introducing Yet Another Watered-Down Open License.

Visual Studio, foot, gun

For some reason, if you’re debugging in Visual Studio and step past the end of main(), the debugger keeps on trucking, and lets you step through all sorts of weird low-level system code related to shutting down managed VMs, or something equally arcane.

And, for some reason those low-level system source code files are all user-editable and writeable.

So, you’re one typo-and-save away from ruining your whole Visual Studio installation.

Today a student did that. And, woefully he changed a header file to include itself. So he kept getting an error message about the preprocessor exceeding a recursion depth limit, and not anything remotely helpful.

I’m usually an advocate of teaching programming with real-world tools, but that approach is not without its flaws.

(And I can’t resist pointing out that Linux/Unix file permissions would have nipped this in the bud with an apropos write access failure. One of the hundreds of little reasons why Unix is a friendlier development environment.)

“Computer science is a liberal art”

So says Eugene Wallingford. I can’t say I disagree with his thesis. A similar argument is made in the preface of How to Design Programs (a classic!).

(Hat tip to Daniel Lemire.)