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CIS 330 – The Database Experiment

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While not on the level of 6.001 at MIT (Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs) or CS 323 at Yale, my last elective course for the Computer Information Systems minor, CIS 330 (Database Management) gave me some experience with “traditional” programming, a skill I had previously lacked. Although many people do not consider XHTML and its related languages as programming, I always approached it like that as a way of problem solving. I should mention in addition to this that the usual prerequisite for the course (CIS 200 – Intro to Programming) was waived in order so that I could enroll in a section of 330, one of only two potential CIS courses offered for the Spring ’09 semester. That course’s emphasis on high level programming concepts (Taught in Visual Basic) serves to provide a basic understanding that is built upon in order to create and manipulate databases. Although I probably won’t be writing correlated subqueries for Oracle anytime soon, a “B” in the course makes me feel as though I’ve accomplished something and had the opportunity to work at almost all levels that would be involved in web production – something I look forward to continuing in the future.

For those who may not know, my comparison to 6.001 and CS 323 gives at least some indication to the challenge that this course represented for me: stepping outside of my comfort zone into an area that I was completely unfamiliar with. The relative difficulty of 6.001 and CS 323 has been described by some (Joel Spolsky in particular) as “astonishing” and they are widely recognized as some of the most difficult programming-intensive CS courses on the planet. The other major difference that comes to mind from those courses and my experience is the context in which they are taught. At MIT, the focus of CS curriculum is clearly engineering-based, Rider approaches it as a way to support business processes. Both approaches are valid, although it usually needs to clarified during job interviews to make sure that all those involved understand the type of coursework that was done.

By sheer luck, my attempts to return the textbook for 330 (The 10th edition of Kroenke’s Database Processing) were unsuccessful and it now serves as a subtle reminder of how I spent many Monday nights during my Spring ’09 semester.


Written by @chrisfinazzo

May 16, 2009 at 3:26 am

Posted in Random Stuff, Tech Stuff

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Career Couch – All Is Not Lost for the Class of 2009

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There is still hope out there for new grads, but this certainly isn’t a good sign.

Written by @chrisfinazzo

April 19, 2009 at 3:56 pm

Posted in Random Stuff

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Microsoft Discontinues Encarta

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Kind of sad to see it go, even in the age of Wikipedia.  When I was in middle school and high school, this was almost THE definitive, comprehensive resource for any report or project.

Written by @chrisfinazzo

March 31, 2009 at 7:14 pm


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ZDNet’s Chris Dawson: 

However, even iLife has its drawbacks in an educational setting. It simply hands so much to the students that they struggle with software (whether Windows, Linux, or even pro-level software on the Mac) that isn’t so brilliantly plug and play. Yes, iLife rocks in many ways, but the level of spoonfeeding it encourages actually makes me think twice about using it widely, especially at the high school level. 

For someone who works in IT for a school system, I’m surprised that Dawson could show such a complete lack of understanding of the technologies in use in his field.   He’s almost suggesting that struggling with software “builds character”.  At the high school level, iLife may start to get limiting, but the wealth of 3rd party software available for the Mac more than fills the creative void.  

(Via Daring Fireball)

Written by @chrisfinazzo

March 4, 2009 at 3:55 am

Posted in Tech Stuff

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YouTube’s other “use”

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People are now using YouTube as a reference tool.  This reminds me of when I hear people reference a Wikipedia article for a class presentation, instead of the original source material used in the article.  Even though Wikipedia’s accuracy has improved over the years and will continue to get better, YouTube’s reference capabilities will need to be refined before it gains mainstream acceptance.  At least journalism classes over the past 4 years have instilled in me one unshakable practice: following the source links in an article back to find out where the information first appeared (Read: Plagiarism is Bad).

Written by @chrisfinazzo

January 18, 2009 at 4:59 am