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Nokia Lumia: physical aspect February 14, 2012

Posted by etschneider in Blog Itself, Windows Phone.
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As I wrote last time, there would be couple of post of very light importance. Mainly because I participate in the Try&LikeIt experience, which is, let’s face it, to promote the latest Nokia”s flagship: the Lumia 800.

This phone or Smartphone (well, “smart” mainly because you use it for everything but making a call Smile) is running with the latest Microsoft’s mobile operating system (for the ones in class with me, you know that every cell phone has its own operating system), Windows Phone 7.5, also nicknamed Mango.

Anyhow, I understand why Microsoft changed the operating system name, compared to their previous line of Smartphones (it was, at the time, named Windows Mobile, up to revision 6.5, and it started with the Pocket PC – PDAs (like the iPaq from HP and/or CompaqI have to check)). Now, this new operating system is for cell phones, and, from what has been said, is a complete redesign of the operating system… But later about that as, in this post, we are only concerned by the physical appearance of the Lumia.

Without further ado, here is a poor video to show the phone:

The Nokia Lumia 800 (with a poor French voice-over)

Despite the video having a French voice-over (next time, I promise to do one in English), one can clearly see the telephone.

You have very shiny screen, but weirdly, when ON, one can read it, without nearly any problem, even in direct sunlight. The case is made out of plastic, it is simple but seems to be made to protect quite well the Lumia, and it perfectly fits it to allow easy access to most parts and/or buttons of the Windows phone, but the SIM card area… Well, you are not supposed to change the SIM card every day, aren’t you?

The three buttons below the screen are in fact touch buttons. From the left to the right you have:

  • the Back button, which allows to go one screen backward (it may also depends on the software being used)
  • the Start button (or Windows button), which brings you back to the main menu; the Start menu of Windows Phone, with the Tiles, the other feature of that button is to interrupt the current application (a little bit like the “Home” button on iOS);
  • the Search button, which allows one to search with Bing.

On the right hand side of the phone (when looking at the screen), you have the four hardware buttons. From top to bottom:

  • volume +/- (2 buttons in one in fact),
  • on/off switch,
  • camera button.

On the top of the phone, there is the jack for a mic/earphone piece, then two covers. The first one hides the micro-USB connector, while the last one is for the SIM card. To open the micro-USB cover, it is necessary to push and pull on the small knob. I find it a nice touch to protect the micro-USB connector.

The left hand side has nothing… nada… nichts… rien!

One last word about the package and its contents: it is a normal package that one can expect when on the market for a phone. Here it is:

  • small manuals and license (seriously, who does read them?),
  • USB power adapter (EU model here),
  • USB to micro-USB cable,
  • mic/earphone piece,
  • the box (in 3 compartments)
  • the phone itself with its case.

Packaging of the Lumia 800 as sold in France

The packaging of the Lumia 800, with USB-to-microUSB cable and power adapter.

That’s it. It’s not less than any other famous fruit manufacturer, but it is not more either (still no car adapter…).

Not that much more to say, except that it looks nice and resistant (but that’s a quite subjective point of view, though I have been told that it can fall from the third floor of a building without any scratch).

Next: an overview of the operating system, and some software.

Note: if you are in France and that you would like to participate to the Try&LikeIt, please contact me.

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Some little interludes February 7, 2012

Posted by etschneider in Blog Itself.
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Couple of weeks ago, I saved room between two of my posts (here), but after second thought and since the topic is quite sensitive, I will write about that topic in a normal timeline post, i.e. no need to go back to a previous topic.

On the other hand and on a lighter topic (much lighter in fact), in the next coming weeks I will make several posts about the experience I have with a Windows Phone 7.5 phone, the Nokia’s Lumia 800. Why several posts? Let’s say that I have the opportunity to try it for around 20 days, and at the end I am maybe able to win one. But I do not want to publish posts just for the sake of publishing, I would like also to try to present that phone as a day-to-day usage point of view, with bad things and hopefully good things too.

Global Game Jam (in Metz, France) January 28, 2012

Posted by etschneider in GameDev, Software Engineering.
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Since Friday, and like couple of years now, the Global Game Jam takes place all around the world, more or less at the same time (in fact Aussies start before Hawaiians Smile).

But what is the “Global Game Jam”?

For the ones who did not visit the link above, let’s say that it is a world wide GameDev competition, which last forty-eight hours, and forty-eight hours only (yes, 48hrs or two full days).

I know that for some people GameDev or Game Development is not a real job (like so many other jobs that people do not do for real Smile ). Anyhow it is an industry benefiting from the advances made in computer science and in a lot of other fields… And vice-versa!

From what I understand, the “Global Game Jam” is a challenge or competition for GameDev teams (or aspiring GameDev teams) to develop a full game (or at least a working prototype) in 48hours. It could be easy if the teams think about the theme long before the official start, though, the theme is not given beforehand. For the Central European Time slot, it was not supposed to be given before Friday, the 27th of January at 19:00 and no one was supposed to published it online before the 28th at 12:00 more or less.

But thanks, or because of some people, the theme leaked around the world after the CET… Anyhow…

The theme was given in Metz after a presentation of keynotes made by famous game developers (John “Doom and Daikatana” Romero and Will “Sim City” Wright among others).

And the theme is:

Ouroboros.globalgamejam

Ouroboros, official theme of the GlobalGameJam’12, picture from Wikimedia.

Yes, that’s it. Nothing else. The competitor have to do a game in two days, with a theme based on the Ouroboros. No more information was to be given, no link, nothing. The various teams have to manage themselves the theme and how they want to use it.

If you had a look at the Wikipedia link, you will see that one can interpret the figure in many different ways and on different levels. I should admit that I am very curious to see what the results will be.

pres_ggjestfrance

Introductory talk for the Global Game Jam Est France

I went to help a little at the session held in Metz, at the “Global Game Jam Est France” the only one in the North-East of France (and close to my place since I came back). We got 6 teams, and each of them has between 1 to 7 members. Each team is nicknamed after a famous game-character. And among the members, you have students, IT people, GameDev people, etc. A quite mixed group of individuals.

ggjef_cards

The tags waiting for the participants.

There are still more than 24 hours to go before the end of the Global Game Jam, but from what I see, and especially for GameDev and Software Engineering points of view, it is very interesting, and it deserves a full post about that.

The session in Metz was kindly sponsored/helped by several companies and societies (without special order):

For the ones interested in working in the GameDev industry, please note that 3WG and PixOwl are looking for hiring people. On the other hand, Open Group is hiring people related to IT.

ggjmf_oneteam

One of the teams in action.

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.

Exams and a Way to Reduce Cheating June 28, 2011

Posted by etschneider in Students, Teaching.
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I am teaching for several years now. Every year and every semester I am trying to learn something during my past experience.

Most students are honest and understand that cheating will not help them, either for their life or for their career. Though, you will always find some, who will be inclined to go the easy way. And thus for various reasons.

Last semester, my exam was in a decent-sized amphitheatre (more or less 120 seats). I had 41 students. And that allowed me to have enough “safe” space between students. Moreover, you have a middle alley of 1.5m. So it should be OK and prevent cheating… Or so I thought.

During the exam I went up and down the alleys, looking right and left, answering student questions and still trying to be sure that no one would be able to cheat. Moreover an assistant was… uh… assisting me to watch the exam.

Then came the time of marking, and I have a weird memorizing process, which is 100% involuntary! I have tendency to remember what I read, maybe because I am focusing on correcting. Anyhow to make things short, I corrected two scripts, not necessarily one after the other, but I was surprised to see the exact same answers (wrong answers by the way) in the scripts. I did remember the seating of the students and I was amazed to realize that they did cheat.

The seating was like that, and the red crosses symbolize where the two students were:

Seating in the amphitheatre

The problem is of course that I have no proof that they were cheating: they were sitting, relatively, far away, and they were NOT caught on the spot.

What should I have done? Well, I did confront them and of course, they were innocent as angels and they did not know how that could have happened. Yes even, if they got the same semi-colon at the same place, and yes, even if they forgot to close the parenthesis… Err… Yes, it was a programming exam…

Students are not cheaters

You see, I should not doubt the students, how can I imagine that they cheated? Tss… Tss… Tss… Anyhow, at the end I was not happy to be sure that I had cheaters but no way to prove it. So I decided to use another approach for the next exams: oral exam…

And of course, if we say oral exam, this means it will be lengthy, students can still speak together when they are done and so on: I don’t see myself keeping 40 individuals in the amphitheatre, while one is defending. Moreover during at least 13 hours, if their time slot is 20 minutes!

That’s another problem: can we test, orally, a student’s knowledge in 20 minutes? Knowledge, which is supposed to cover the whole semester. Of course, with smaller class it could be longer: a colleague of mines had 10 students, and I think he allotted them 40 to 60 minutes to each of them, so more or less one full day for 10 persons.

So, I tried and cut the problem in two: I would prepare around 10 to 20 questions, each of them should be answered in around 10 to 15 minutes, and each of them would cover one, or several points of the programme. The students could not choose a question, but have to draw a number, this number would be assigned to one question, randomly.

It’s not the perfect solution as for reducing cheating: as I mentioned earlier, students can still talk and tell what subject they got, though, it’s one out of 20, and the number is picked by them, randomly (no computer or electronic involved, around 20 to 40 paper notes folded in four, put in a brown envelope, on the paper notes, you have numbers (I even put binary numbers Smile ) and that’s it).

Of course, some students complained and even tried to make me drop the idea because of “fairness”… Yeah, understand, it’s not possible for them to look around for answers… sorry… inspiration.

What were my questions/subjects? Well, some of them were very much lecture oriented (e.g. what is SCRUM? what is waterfall? etc.) some were more like use case scenario (e.g. you work in BLAHBLAH company, and you have to design the software for XXX, etc.). I may post the subjects here… One day.

How did it turn out? Well, personally (I don’t know for the students and the ones who got 0 are certainly not happy), I think it was an interesting experience, and I plan to continue such a thing next year, at least. Though I am not sure such exam can be applied to any subject. Marks range from 0 (sorry people but even by asking questions to try to help, there was nothing) up to 9. Yes I don’t give a 10 (out of 10), because for a 10, the defence really has to be perfect and impressive… Maybe one day.

Note: if you got 9 out of 10, it is really excellent, and don’t worry for the missing 1 mark!

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution By license.

First Presentation of Mr Bourguignon at the University for Information Science and Technology, Ohrid May 4, 2011

Posted by etschneider in programming, Software Engineering, Students.
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Here we are: Mr Bourguignon (@timothep on twitter) was kind enough to give two presentations at the University for Information Science and Technology of Ohrid (Republic of Macedonia).

As I wrote in my previous post, the presentations were open to anyone, and more specifically to the university’s students.

The first presentation was about how agility and SCRUM are being used at Siemens Healthcare (where Mr Bourguignon is working) to help the team developing the system related to radio oncology.

Please note that the sound on the first video is not that great because I did not think to use another microphone than the camera’s one. The sound of the second video should be better, as I used a recording device “on” Mr Bourguignon Smile.

The second presentation will be posted later, after uploading.

Please don’t hesitate to comment and/or give feedback. Thank you.

Ah yes, before I forgot:

Disclaimer:

Any views or opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Siemens nor the ones of the University for Information Science and Technology of Ohrid (Macedonia)

Timothée Bourguignon Presentation I – Part I Writing Code for a Living from Etienne Schneider on Vimeo.

Timothée Bourguignon Presentation I – Part II Writing Code for a Living from Etienne Schneider on Vimeo.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution By license.

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

Posted by etschneider in Uncategorized.
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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.

Database, an introductory lecture March 18, 2010

Posted by etschneider in database.
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The following is only to give a general overview and idea about the databases. It does not pretend to be THE lecture about databases. It is more a case study than a theoretical lecture per se.

Database, data, information

A database is a place in which are stored data1 or information2. It is possible to differentiate data and information, but on a general point of view, they are the same.

Moreover, the database is a organized set or collection of information on a computerized system. This being said, let’s start.

Hierarchy

How are the data organized in a database? As you know, the smaller bit of information on a computer is a bit, which has a value of 0 or 1. Human beings cannot read, or even use, bits like that. Thus, to represent something the computer takes group of 8 bits to make one character3 ([A..Z]-[a..z]-[0..1] and symbols).

With a group of several characters, one obtains a word (e.g. a day of a date of birth can be considered as a word). A word or several words can constitute information or data, so they could be put into a field (e.g. the date of birth itself or a first name). Several organized fields are a record (e.g. a lot of forms can be viewed as record, a passport, with some extent, is a kind of record). When one has several records, they could be put into a file(e.g. all the membership applications for the basketball team members for the year 2008). Then one could regroup the files together into a file cabinet or into a database (e.g. the files for the applications of 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, etc. are put into a file cabinet named: Application 2000-2010).

To summarize:

 database < files < records < fields < words < characters 

Practical case: Database ID

One of the easiest example to understand is the one of the ID database. First, one will think about the information to put into the database. Here is a certainly-not-exhaustive list of fields:


  • name
  • date of birth

  • address
  • phone number
  • parents name

To be more precise, some of these fields can be divided into others:


  • name:

    • first name or given name
    • last name or family name

  • date of birth:

    • day
    • month
    • year
  • address:
    • street name
    • house number
    • extra
    • postal code or zip code
    • town
    • state/region/province
    • country
  • phone number:
    • land line
    • cell phone
  • parents name
    • mother’s name
      • first name or given name
      • last name or family name
    • father’s name
      • first name or given name
      • last name or family name

Stay tuned. This will continue later.


1 For a precise definition please see http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/data
2 For a precise definition please see http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/information
3 Of course, we can argue about the definition of character, especially if we consider foreign alphabets. Generally speaking, and except otherwise stated, when using the word character, one should read character while using the ASCII coding.

Why can’t we use CIN or IOSTREAM.H? March 18, 2010

Posted by etschneider in programming.
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We noticed while trying to type very (but very) simple examples of C++ programs with Visual Studio 2008/2005 (and here by Wikipedia), we obtained several error messages depending how far we managed to lead our investigations.

The first one was:

fatal error C1083: Cannot open include file: 'iostream.h': No such file or directory

Yes, indeed it is a kind of insult: iostream.h does not exist! Hum. The first possible cause would be a bad installation, but that would be weird, since all the labs’PC would be concerned… Well, with a ghost that could be possible… Still more investigation and common sense were necessary…

Next step would be to change the <iostream.h> into <iostream>.

Well the result was different:

error C2065: 'cout' : undeclared identifier

OK, now cout is not recognized. Weird (2nd). Argh! (usually the lecturer is falling at that time, because he was used to other, more permissive compiler and didn’t know what to do).

So, there is no need to give up, we will continue the investigation further. Later on, with the help of L.U.C.K and Google, I started to have some first hints. Especially one leading to the Microsoft website. A little bit more time later, and using the internal search of the MSDN website I found this:

Hie,

I’m a new Visual C++ programmer and I’m learning the coding by myself. The book which I’m refering to is based on Microsoft Visual C++ 2005 and the version which I’m using is Microsoft Visual C++ 2008.
Well I’m currently having problems with my coding. Well this is the sample which I’m working on
 

#include <iostream.h>

void main()
{
   double radius, area;
   cout << "\nEnter radius: " ;
   cin >> radius ;
   area = 3.14159 * radius * radius ;
   cout << "Area = "<< area ;
}
 

As far as I’m concerned I don’t think anything is wrong with the coding. First i tried
 

#include <iostream>
3 errors were found

1>.\wadever.cpp(8) : error C2065: 'cout' : undeclared identifier
1>.\wadever.cpp(9) : error C2065: 'cin' : undeclared identifier
1>.\wadever.cpp(11) : error C2065: 'cout' : undeclared identifier
 

When i changed it to the coding as written on the above, this came out.
 

1>.\wadever.cpp(1) : fatal error C1083: Cannot open include file: 'iostream.h': No such file or directory
 

Thanks for reading, have a nice day.

For further reading have a look at the original post on the MSDN website.

So the answer lies in one word: standard (the ISO standard in fact for C++ which is supported by VS C++ 2005/2008(Express Edition)). One of the answer was:

(3) Change your code to this:
 

   std::cout << "\nEnter radius: " ;
   std::cin >> radius ;
   area = 3.14159 * radius * radius ;
   std::cout << "Area = "<< area ;

I put the changes in bold characters. In fact, from the C++ standard, we should indicate the namespace for some of the functions we use, in this case we are speaking about “STandarD”. If I don’t forget, I’ll come back on that subject later on. Until then, the problem is considered as solved (well, it was not really a problem).