Category Archives: Uncategorized

High School: CSI

Computer Science Ignored

Saturday July 20th, 2013 was going great. I got up with my son and we watched cartoons. I went golfing with some friends in a tournament, and we won. I had a wonderful supper with my family and my parents. I then went with my wife to a social (dance). We danced and talked with friends. It had been a great day.

During a conversation with a friend, who is a teacher, I was figuratively punched in the gut. I found out the local high school had its computer science class cut. This was a shock to Haley and I. The class had just started being taught the previous year. It had been about ten years since it was last taught. We went to the class and gave a small presentation and answered any questions the class (including the teacher) had. That was a fun day. However, it’s all over.

There was a lot of excitement for the upcoming year. Haley had been working with the teacher on a course outline to help improve the curriculum. We were more than happy to help out with anything they needed. We were really excited to be involved. I am currently heartbroken.

I’m left asking a lot of questions.
– Was it lack of student interest? I don’t think so. There were eleven students in the class last year, boys and girls. There were already ten new students signed up for next year. This is a school from kindergarten to grade 12 with around 470 students.

– Why is computer science still considered a sub-standard or ignorable topic in high schools? My thoughts are computer science is viewed less as a science, but more of a skilled trade. Maybe the school boards don’t understand that computer science or programming is all about problem solving, experimentation, and analysis.

– Do all physics majors become physicists? How about chemistry majors? I’m not asking this to bash the other sciences, I just don’t know the answer. I really liked physics, and the degree I was originally going for in university was chemistry. I have one friend who has a degree in chemistry and he runs his own company building houses.

– Why is it, the only way to learn programming at an early age is to do it on your own? This does seem to perpetuate the stereotype that computer geeks are anti-social. Maybe the kids just don’t have an opportunity to explore computers outside their own basement? While golfing earlier that day, one guy was talking about his wife getting frustrated with their son for watching youtube videos of minecraft instead of cartoons or playing outside. That seems like a child who would possibly be interested in a computer science course. There are a lot of video games that are good at enhancing problem solving skills.

I am going to followup and try to get the reasons for the cancellation. That way I don’t have to speculate ‘why?’.

As of writing this, the school has a forensics class. That is cool!

Windows 8 Start Screen Displays Wrong Tile Icons

My wife’s laptop had an interesting issue. The start screen in Windows 8 was showing the wrong icon for a lot of the other applications. This would appear in the start screen as well as in the taskbar when the applications were running. This made it difficult to quickly differentiate the applications when a lot of the icons showed as Photoshop.

I searched the web for an answer. The most common answer was to delete the ‘IconCache.db’ and restart the computer. This did not solve my particular problem.

After a while, I noticed it was only the applications where the icon was an external file. Any of the applications whose icons were embedded in the executable were unaffected.

I checked the file associations for extension ‘.ico’ (Control Panel -> Default Programs). It turns out Photoshop had been assigned as the default application for opening ‘.ico’ files. I changed the ‘.ico’ to be opened with ‘Windows Photo Viewer’ (the default is Paint). This didn’t fix the problem immediately, I also had to recreate the start screen tiles for those applications affected.

The problem was finally resolved.

Local High School Visit

Friday May 17, 2013, Haley and I went to the local high school to speak with the computer science class. We did a small presentation followed by any questions the students had. We presented some myths in the industry, best practices, things we like and don’t like, and some tools we use.

I was very nervous at the beginning of the presentation. It had been over four years since I gave a presentation. My voice was a little shaky until I got through the first joke. Once everyone started laughing, I settled in and did the presentation well (at least that’s what everyone told me). Haley answered questions and added comments to the presentation.

The students asked a wide variety of excellent questions. Things like “where do you find clients?”, “what programming language do you mainly use?”, and “why are we typing (null,null) here?”. One question that was an unexpected surprise was when we mentioned we create windows phone apps. One student asked if we create apps for Windows Phone 7 or Windows Phone 8. I thought that was awesome! I had just assumed all the students had iPhones or Androids.

It was a very fun day for Haley and me to go and speak with the students. We look forward to doing it again.