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Everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer...

Everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer...   ...because it teaches you how to think.   -Steve Jobs     Knowing how to program is an incredibly important skill that is becoming more and more valuable as technology is becoming extremely important in our everyday lives.   And even if you don't plan to be a tech-savvy computer geek who is shaping the future, programming can still greatly help you reach your goals.   I have met many mathematicians, biologists, chemists, statisticians, and accountants who used their programming knowledge to make programs that help them reach their goals.   Many scientists who conduct research program their own applications that help them conduct research or properly store/interpret data.   I have met accountants who used programming to make Excel application tools and other database tools.   If for no other reason, one... read more

Computer Programming: The need for Design training

I have an MS in Computer Science and over 40 years of experience.  I now tutor students in this area. I think that it is critical to be sure students are imbued with the importance of Design in doing Computer Programming. Who builds a skyscraper without blueprints?   Indeed, the importance extends to the entire development methodology: Requirements, Design, Build, Testing, and Deployment. Each area requires training to be a truly proficient Computer Scientist and Programmer.  I think we as tutors need to be sure students understand this. Programming is only a small part of the actual work.      

How to Teach Computer Programming

There is very little emphasis these days on teaching programming, in spite of the fact that technology is becoming more and more a dominant aspect of our lives. Perhaps this is because many programmers are self-taught, used to working alone on projects, and therefore the assumption is that students will learn programming "as they go" or "on their own". This is unfortunate because I think that this aversion to traditional instruction and the preference for "self-taught" programmers leaves some people who want to learn in the dust.   I have lately become interested in rectifying this problem. A few of my clients have discussed the option of learning programming through tutoring sessions with me. I think that if I had been able to avail myself of such an option when I was first learning to program, I might have had a much easier time in learning how to properly use computers as the powerful tools that they are. I believe, however,... read more

Free college classes!

Greetings, scholars! One of my dad's favorite sayings is, "If something seems too good to be true, it probably is." The website Coursera is an example of why that saying needs the word "probably". The idea of taking real college courses from top-notch instructors at prestigious schools for free sounds impossible, yet students around the world are doing just that. When I first heard of Coursera, I was skeptical. To try it out, I enrolled in some basic undergraduate courses so that I could see how they stacked up against the classes I took at KU and Emporia State University. I am currently taking precalculus at UC Irvine, organic chemistry at Illinois, and calculus at The Ohio State University. All three classes are superlative. The video lectures give me new insights into familiar concepts, and the online quizzes motivate me to practice my skills and keep them sharp and up-to-date. Best of all, they haven't cost me a dime, and I can attend class... read more

Power Problems Cause Failures

During an unexpected one-day storm, years ago, several electronic items were destroyed in my house - causing a few thousand dollars worth of damage: * Air compressor in my air conditioning unit * Dishwasher * Crock Pot * Clothes washer * Stereo system amplifier * TiVo motherboard There may have been other items damaged in the storm, but these are what were noticed as having worked before the storm, and did not work immediately after the storm. The sad thing is, this damage could have very easily been prevented. Notice the distinct lack of computer-related devices in the list above? There are two defenses against power spikes (too much power at the electrical plug): * Surge protector * Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) Only the UPS option gives you a defense against dips (lower than expected power at the electrical plug), brownouts and even blackouts. A UPS is what you want for your sensitive computer equipment. Each of my computer-related... read more

Everything fails eventually.

You would be shocked at how many friends, relatives and customers come to me with the same complaint: "My hard drive died, did I lose everything?" I've seen the entire range of emotions, and working through grief is a good thing. The sad thing is, these problems are completely preventable. * Here's the first lesson, even if you don't read any further: hard drives fail. I could expand that to say that everything fails eventually: your car won't drive for 100 years without a complete overhaul of most functional parts - making it virtually a completely different automobile; your home appliances will need to be replaced after a certain period of time; and each of your computer components will fail given enough time. The term mean time between failures (MTBF) refers to a guess (a prediction) of how long a specific component will run until it is likely to fail. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mean_time_between_failures Your computer has many working/functional... read more

Memory vs. Storage, UPS and Backup

I help a lot of people with their computers: laptops, desktops, servers, you name it! With the diverse range of computer and life experience of my end users, I've noticed one topic keeps coming up: memory versus storage. It generally starts out with seemingly simple questions: "If I need more memory, shouldn't I just clean up some of my documents or photos?" or "I'm running out of space to store my music, do I need more memory?" Sometimes computer terms can be confusing, ambiguous or just plain gibberish. The nice thing about the memory versus storage confusion is that it can be resolved pretty easily. First, there are two types of memory: volatile and non-volatile. Volatile means that when you remove power from the device the information that is stored in that memory is forgotten, generally immediately. Non-volatile means that when the power is removed, the information stored there is remembered. When talking about memory, you are generally talking... read more

Shortcuts

I'm a big fan of shortcut keys. Years ago, when I first started supporting Macintosh computers professionally, I started working with a team of graphic artists. Now, I'm a relatively fast typist, and am decent with a mouse or trackpad, but these graphic designers were fast - really fast. I couldn't figure out how they could perform relatively complex tasks in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator on-screen so quickly that it almost seemed like a blur of activity. Mesmerized by the activity on the screen, I initially failed to look down at not only the mouse, but the keyboard. For the average computer user, the right-hand is primarily dedicated to using the mouse, switching back and forth when typing is required. Of course, the left-hand is used for typing as well, but what chores can you give this hand while the right-hand is busy with the mouse? Shortcut keys! I rarely use exclamation marks in posts, but I wanted to emphasize their usefulness. First and foremost, most... read more

Tutoring trends...

For the past few years, I've spent most of my time teaching and tutoring on physics, but I also tutor students in programming languages such as C, C++ and Java. These languages are three of the most difficult to learn due in large part to their comprehensiveness. These and languages very similar to them are the programming languages used to implement most of the highest performing and functionally complicated applications in the world, including operating systems, office suites, high performing websites and smartphone apps. Prior to becoming a teacher, I put myself through graduate school teaching classes and tutoring mostly college students on programming. I then worked for about 20 years for software companies developing software, leading development and consulting into business on the development of custom, high performance software. I welcome inquiries on tutoring of computer science topics, such as software engineering, software architecture, programming... read more

Additional Professional Recommendations Received by Abnel

Welcome to my WyzAnt Blog! In this post I am sharing additional feedback received by professionals with whom I worked in the past. “Working with Mr. Rodriguez was quite enjoyable. He was professional at all times and his work with the students was unmatched at the time by anyone else here. His knowledge was reflected in how the students embraced him. He was here every day even when the students were not. I highly recommend Mr. Rodriguez because he embodies what an Instructor should be.” -- February 18, 2011 Christopher J., Help Desk Supervisor, Remington College “Abnel is a talented teacher who is willing to give his time and expertise freely to his Students and fellow Instructors. When I started at Remington, Abnel graciously showed me how to take full advantage of the teaching tools available at the college. He saved me many hours of potentially frustrating work. He is very enthusiastic, energetic, and organized in everything he does. I miss his passion around... read more

Speed in The Web

In the old days, speed was a top issue on the creations of web pages. Nowadays, you probably heard someone saying, speed is not an issue anymore. The reason is because computers are more powerful and most people have access to high speed Internet. But the reality is that speed is still a major issue on delivering your web pages. Application are also bigger, multimedia is the new standard, and bandwidth is limited. Besides, many web applications make use of frameworks, libraries, and APIs which makes the whole process slower. Most applications nowadays make use of cashing and use client programming. Client programing means that a great deal of the execution of the program are going to be executed from the client or the user. In this case, the user computer is the one processing the programs. Sure, not all the programming is client side, but rather a combination of both client and server. The maximum size for a web image used to be 14k, and the highest width for pixel was... read more

General Thoughts

Being my first WyzAnt post, I figured I'd just ponder on a fallacious belief new programmers generally have. But before that, allow me to introduce myself! My name is Jaffer, I am a student at APSU, a senior with a major in Computer Science and a minor in Mathematics. I chose to become a CS major because, well, I love video games and I've always wanted to make them. That is why I really got into C# and XNA, as it makes the life of a game programmer significantly easier. I've used C, C++, Java, C#, Ruby, Fortran, Erlang, F#, VB, HTML, PHP, SQL and who really knows what else, and this is over the course of just 2 years really. So, onto the biggest fallacy a new programmer probably believes: Fallacy: Learning my first language was hard and took a long time (it usually does!). I don't want to learn another language because it will take forever. Truth: Learning a programming language is not about memorizing syntax or semantics, nor is it a test of if you can place... read more

Great place to find free software!

There was a list that came out a few years ago called "Gizmo's Top 46 Freeware Utilities". Over the years, the list has multiplied and the site is updated regularly with the newest recommendations. If you are looking for free solutions for anit-virus, spyware removal, firewalls, etc, then check out the following link: http://www.techsupportalert.com/ There is no subscription, no registration, no gimmicks, just free software.

Open Source

Why do we spend so much money on software? Is it because there is no other option? No! The truth is that just about every personal computer need can be fulfilled via open-source software! What is open-source software? Normally, when we purchase software, we are purchasing a compiled program that allows us to run it; if we have an idea for improving the application, we can only sit back and say "wouldn't it be nice..." Open-source software is freely distributed (although you may see it included in commercial packages such as Red Hat Linux) and includes source code. There is nothing prohibiting us from altering the application to our liking; in fact, it is standard practice to make changes or additions to the source code and redistribute it. Even those who are not so tech-savvy can recognize the obvious benefit of free software. Here are some of the most popular open-source packages: Firefox - A fully functioning web browser with consistent updates... read more

Search Engine Optimization aka SEO

Search Engine Optimization ( SEO ) on your business web site in today's highly competitive market is VITAL to success! In other words, SEO is important for ranking high in search engine results. If you come up at the top of a search query, you are more likely to get clicks to your site from those search engines. There are MANY ways you can get higher in search engines rather than pay these search engines a hefty price to be listed in the advertisement sections. I will go over a couple of these methods in short detail below. If you would like a more in-depth private lesson, please do not hesitate to contact me. HTML TAG - You will want to distinguish your keywords and keyword phrases ( words or phrases you think people will type in to the search engines ) in the TITLE tag by using |'s rather than ,'s . Example: David Gunther | Expert Web Design rather than David Gunther, Expert Web Design. Each page of your site should have it's own unique title. HTML META Description... read more

The Great Bugaboo: File Resolution

Often people have the mistaken belief that images that look great on their web site should also work well when they grab them from their site and provide them to printing service providers. Web images display very well at 72 pixels per inch (often referred to as ppi) on a computer screen but printed images on paper or other substrates work best at 240 ppi and above for various forms of inkjet printers, and 300 ppi and above for offset printing purposes. (There is a little bit of wiggle room in these suggested image resolutions, however scaling an image with correct resolution upwards beyond an approximate 10 per cent variation may potentially lead to creating degraded final output). This resolution issue is heightened when the images need to be printed larger than they appear on the web site (which is often the case as web images are usually small in width times height appearance, as well as consisting of low resolution within the file) because enlarging images doesn't increase... read more

What do you look for in a tutor? Feedback welcome!!

Although I am not a contestant on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire", let me nevertheless ask the audience on this one... I want to know what makes a tutor more appealing (besides the profile picture). Is it affordability? Is it flexibility in hours? Is it number of years experience in tutoring a particular subject? Is it the ratings given to the tutor by students? Is it age? Please give me an idea of what I can do for you. Although I am new to this tutoring site, I really want to build more relationships with students who seek assistance in math and other subjects. Your feedback will not only help me cater to these responses, but it may also assist other tutors. Personally, I have noticed a variety of experience from other tutors, various rates, and a spectrum of ages. Some tutors seem quite qualified, yet they could be "selling themselves short" by only charging $25/hr for their services (and with their patience and charisma seem to be "worth"... read more

Bad Test Takers Cheat Sheet

Many students claim to be just bad test takers. No matter how much they study or how well they understand the information, when it comes to taking the test, they can’t perform. Well, rest-assure that the problem probably isn’t that the student is a “bad” test taker, but that they let stress get the better of them. In 9 out of 10 students, inability to perform on tests is caused by stress and tension. Luckily, there are some test taking tips that will help any student conquer test apprehension. SECRET WEAPONS All students should have a few of these secret ways to improve not only their test-taking abilities, but also their confidence and self-assurance on the day of the test. The following tips can make a big difference right before a test. Students should try them all to see which ones work best for them. Special Advice to Students: 1. Use multi-sensory studying and memorization practices. When we study, we tend to focus on the visual, but actually, other senses... read more

Buying that new computer

Let's keep this simple. I consider what am I going to do with this new computer. For me, it is a combination of hobby computing, business needs, and personal computing. I am seriously considering an Apple this time. The Apple will fit my business needs with both software and the Microsoft offering I can be compatible with the office. The main reason I am considering an Apple is money and security. I am willing to spend the money to get the hardware and software to pursue my hobbies. My hobbies being music, photography, and computing. I like the way media looks and feels on the Apple. And to be honest, I am tired of the pc. The Apple works. Security. Security is the key. With identity theft the expense is justified. While working security in the United States Air Force I realized that security is a key component in computing. Therefore, I will spend the money now. Identity theft is serious. Enough said. Now build the computer. This sounds easy... read more

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