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Tiny updates from Macedonia September 4, 2013

Posted by etschneider in Uncategorized.
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It seems that things happen after a while, though, still not on the Justice side.

I wrote in July the following:

  • The expenses of our moving, as of the 29th of July 2013, have still NOT been paid, but “it’s on its way

Well, this is not anymore valid: thanks to the help of the accountant and the one of the new rector, Ninoslav Marina, the expenses of our moving have been paid in August. That is a kind of relief.

imageNow, the first batch of graduating students is out of the university “Saint Paul, the Apostle of Ohrid”. I would like to congratulate the ones, who deserve to be now holders of a Bachelor. Some of them are certainly looking actively for a job now, while few others decided to continue to a MSc abroad.

For the ones, who decided to get a job as a programmer, please do practice, practice and practice: you cannot pretend to a programmer (or software engineer) job if you are not at ease with at least one programming language!

Program whatever you want, use a good process, think about the full procedures, develop apps or software, but something that you can be proud of, and do as much as you can!

Textbooks: paper or e-books September 21, 2012

Posted by etschneider in Uncategorized.

A long time ago, I wrote about habits of some publishing companies. From what I read on OWNI.fr website, it seems that one of these companies continues to innovate: buy the (expensive) paper textbook and you do not have the complete book. If you want to have the full book, you will need to buy the e-book version, which is “augmented” with (exclusive) content, like the final seven chapters in the example they referenced!

I here quote Owni quoting Pearson representative:

Il existe en effet une version numérique en ligne d’Introduction à la microbiologie de Tortora. C’est un format e-text qui regroupe tous les chapitres de l’ouvrage, et pas seulement les sept derniers. Vous pouvez y prendre des notes, les partager, consulter le glossaire…

Nous fournissons des codes d’accès démo d’1 mois aux enseignants ; nous pouvons également vous en fournir si vous souhaitez le tester. L’e-text est disponible à la vente aux institutions, sous la forme d’un code d’accès par individu. Plusieurs individus ne peuvent se connecter au même e-text avec le même code d’accès. C’est pourquoi ce format n’est pas spécialement développé pour les bibliothèques.

So, in the big lines, the representative said that the e-book (by the way which format?) version has ALL the chapters of the book included, i.e. the paper version is not complete. Moreover, for a stone-and-mortar library, each reader could buy his/her personal access and a library access is not possible, i.e. an institution cannot “give around” its access code. Sad smile. Lecturers could have (free?) access for one month only to the [example] e-book.

Yes I do agree that, depending on the book, some chapters are just “extras” but, I think, that the author wrote them as a full set, not as something like: ok that will be for the paper version, that for the e-book. I do not dare to imagine how an author should think: usually, especially for textbooks, one can have reading order advice, like: first read the first five chapters, than depending one what you want, then read chapters 6, 8 and 10 if you want X. Or if you want Y, read 7, 9 and then 6 and 8… That kind of things! Smile

As much as I like e-books, I am not sure there is a best solution:

  • it is still very difficult to annotate, comment, highlight and so on, an e-book,
  • you have tons of formats for e-books, and not all devices/software are able to open them (while you have the e-pub standard),
  • you have the *****ing Digital Right Management locks on most of the e-books you can purchase, i.e. one need to “crack” them to be able to read them wherever you want, or even to be able to annotate/highlight them,
  • the textbooks are made out of papers, and can be pretty heavy, moreover, the bigger the book is, the less easy it is to annotate/comment/highlight them.

It is theoretically possible to annotate/highlight/comment/etc. e-books but the hardware is not really here and neither the software is: to comment/highlight/etc. directly an e-book, you need a stylus and certainly a tablet(PC), most of the hardware one can see is the iPad from Apple, yes, one can use the finger(s) to comment, etc. but it is still lacking the stylus and its ease of use, and moreover the total freedom that one can have with a paper book.

In fact, the more you think about, and if you read the article from Owni, the more you can think that with the e-books, we have less freedom and possibilities to do “what we want” with the content of the book. On platforms like Amazon and Apple Bookstore, depending on DRMs, one may not be able to comment, or even highlight part of the book! Yes, they will argue that it is depending on the book publisher decisions. As an academic, I do not encourage one to use textbooks on these two platforms. Moreover, from one day or the other, they can, remotely, remove the book from your electronic library!

I might refine/update this post later on. I was mainly motivated by the fact that, depending on the publishers, books are not complete if you buy either the electronic version or the paper version. Fortunately, publishers like O’Reilly seem to understand the concept of e-books, no usage of DRMs, durability over time (and platforms).


Some references:

Academics and Ethics January 28, 2012

Posted by etschneider in Uncategorized.
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I save some space here to speak later on about, to my opinion, the relationship between Academics (or faculty members), ethics, and the rush/run for always more publications.

Seminar and presentation on Software Engineering and Agility April 13, 2011

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If you are in the Balkans area, and more specially in Republic of tim_smMacedonia and in Ohrid (nearby the Ohrid Lake), please don’t hesitate to attend a set of two presentations/seminars, which will take place at the University for Information Science and Technology, “Saint Paul” the Apostle ( 41° 6’46.79"N and  20°48’7.76"E) on the 14th and 15th of April, in the morning.

They are of special interest if you are interested in Software Engineering and in Agility. Mr. Timothée Bourguignon (Dipl.-Ing.), from Siemens Healthcare (German), will kindly speak about his job as a technical lead by Siemens and he will share his experience about implementing SCRUM and agility in Software Engineering among a small team.

Here is the release:

On the 14th and 15th of April, at UIST “St. Paul the Apostle”, there will be seminars about Software Engineering and Agility.

Tim Bourguignon is a 27 year old French software engineer. He graduated from the EPF engineering school in Paris and currently lives in Germany. Tim assumes a position of Technical Lead with Siemens Healthcare in the Oncology sector. He works on the control software for Siemens Radiotherapy Linear Accelerators. Passionate person about software, learning methods and development methodologies he actively participates in the Agile transition of the projects he works on. Tim previously wrote code for Siemens Industry & Automation as a contractor and has been directly or indirectly working with and for Siemens for the past 4 years.

Mr. Bourguignon will come at the University for Information Science and Technology of Ohrid on the 14th and 15th of April for the course of Software Engineering to present to the students a professional and more practical point of view on Software Engineering.

The topic of Thursday’s seminar, from 9:00 – 11:00 will be about the organizational point of view of Software Engineering and Agility.

On the 15th of April, from 10:00 – 12:00 it would be about development practices and software craftsmanship based on his experience.

The lecture and seminar are mainly for UIST students but anyone interested can attend.

You can have a look on the website of the university.

Here is the latest blog post from Mr. Bourguignon about SCRUM:

And several links about Software Engineering and Agility:

Evaluation book? Deal first! November 5, 2010

Posted by etschneider in Uncategorized.
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Yesterday, while discussing with my colleague, I fell aback.

We were discussing about books evaluation and publishing companies. In the last couple of years, well, in fact since I started working as a Senior Lecturer, I got contact with various publishers and their representatives.

Normal things. It was in Malaysia, so you have different ways of doing things: either in person when the representative is visiting your institution or through e-mail and telephone. The obvious advantage of the latter is that it can happen all along the year, while the contact in person is usually at the end of term and, usually, not planned.

But for both cases, you ask the representative if it is possible to get textbooks for evaluation. It’s not book that we sell or whatever, simply books that we may use or NOT as a textbook for the students. In Malaysia, thanks to Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Singapore’s Wiley’s office, the process was always smooth and fair, without any engagement nor condition. You take the book, fine, you don’t take it? Fine too. In both case, the instructor keeps the book, and preferably gives feedback for improvement.

No gift from the publishers or whatever. A fair evaluation free from any engagement as you can expect about science and higher-education.

So, yesterday my colleague told me that he contacted a local (so in Macedonia) representative for Cengage (previously known as Thomson Course) because he was interested into evaluating a book for his Computer Graphics and Vision Course. The representative of Cengage emailed back to my colleague that there will be no problem…

But with one condition: our university has to engage itself to buy a defined numbers of books, and then later he will be able to receive the book for evaluation.

I am maybe naive, but that shouldn’t be the way to proceed. If we want to evaluate books, we would like to do that without any pressure. It has to be a fair selection.

Computer Science books are often very pricey, we could not advice students to buy books without evaluating them first.

One can argue that by getting free textbooks we may already be biased. It may happen yes, we may be inclined to favour publishers, who send us books for evaluation. But usually we make the competition enter into action: by contacting various publishers for various books.

But forcing us to “buy” xx books before even getting the chance to evaluate the book, that’s another situation.

I am glad again that I didn’t face this problem myself, Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Wiley were fair to me in Malaysia, and the representative of Wiley in “Eastern” Europe is very professional.

I am only wondering if it is a common problem or just an isolated one. I do hope for the latter, though.