Blog, ECS 188, Spring 2016

Saturday, May 28, 10:05 a.m.

The reason my script e-mailed your grade to you more than once is that some people did not name their handin file using their official UCD e-mail address, as it appears on your enrollment record for this class.

To ensure that nothing goes wrong next Wednesday, please carefully review the instructions in our class blog post of Tuesday, April 26, 12:45 p.m. The only difference is that the directory you will now submit to is 188essay2.

Please submit all of your answers in a SINGLE FILE, rather than a separate file for each question.

Saturday, May 28, 9:55 a.m.

I am e-mailing your Essay 1 grades now. (Some of you will receive it twice.)

Overall, the results were good, but some people had trouble focusing on the specific questions asked. In particular, some students who have been making excellent contributions in class had this problem. Please keep this in mind in Essay 2 next week.

Thursday, May 26, 9:35 p.m.

The good news is that I have finished your grades. The bad news is that my new grading script used your e-mail "nicknames" (your directory names in handin) rather than your e-mail addresses, so I can't automatically e-mail your results yet. Feel free to send me an individual e-mail message to ask about your grade.

My official answers to the questions in the essay are here. In a number of cases, I did accept alternate answers, as long as they did address the specific question being asked.

Thursday, May 26, 2:25 p.m.

In grading your first in-class essay, one thing I'm noticing is a tendency to write very long paragraphs. Among good writers, there is of course a variety of opinion on what constitutes good style. Nevertheless, if you look at our class' assigned readings, you'll see that they tend to avoid long paragraphs, as they are difficult to read.

In both your second in-class essay next Wednesday, at the very least do not place the answer to an entire question in a single paragraph, unless it is a very short answer.

Thursday, May 26, 9:05 a.m.


Tuesday, May 24, 10:45 p.m.

Order for tomorrow's "mini-conferences": Alex Y, Anthony, Jose', Edward, Nomuna, Yulin, Ernesto, Keshav, Parnya, Trevor, Elisha, Wendy, Saravan, Monte, Alysa, Sydney, Kathy, Brian, Andre', Alex P., Kevin, Nick, Jason, Tyler, Kulwinder

Monday, May 23, 7:45 p.m.

Please let me know by tomorrow if you have some special needs for the timing of your "mini-conference" with me on Wednesday. One student has a job interview later that day.

Sunday, May 22, 10:05 p.m.

Deep apologies for not having your Essay 1 grades done yet. I have skimmed through them (and they look good), but I am using the handin backup files, and had to rewrite my grading script for that. All set to go now, and should get done tomorrow.

Thursday, May 19, 8:25 a.m.

REMINDER: Our last day of class will be Wednesday, June 1. Our second in-class essay will be done then, again using the 3-4 time slot if you need it.

You will again use your laptops. Since the WiFi reception in our classroom seems spotty, we will not use OMSI this time. You will submit your work via handin, as in the blog post of Tuesday, April 26, 12:45 p.m. The only difference is that you will now submit to the directory 188essay2, not 188essay1.

Make SURE to test this procedure BEFORE June 1, by submitting to the directory 188try.

Thursday, May 19, 8:05 a.m.

REMINDER: The rough drafts for your term papers are due next Wednesday, May 25. Here are the details:

You will each meet with me for a very brief period, something like 3-5 minutes, IN CLASS, including in our 3-4 pm time slot. (No lecture/discussion that day; you are free to leave after you meet with me.) In that meeting, you will show me your draft, either in hard copy or on your laptop, and go over the high points with me. I will likely make suggestions.

Please keep in mind that the quality of this rough draft will be part of your grade for the paper. My main criterion for grading the rough draft will be whether you are making good progress.

Wednesday, May 18, 10:40 a.m.

Please read this NACE data, and consider it part of our official course materials.

Tuesday, May 17, 9:40 p.m.

Tomorrow we will discuss "The Confidence Gap." For Friday, please read "Technology's Man Problem," and for Monday read the 3 items in which 3 countries "compete" to see who is the most sexist. :-(

Saturday, May 14, 9:00 a.m.

Reading assignment for Monday: "Physics Departments" (carry-over from friday), "Why Emphasizing," "The Confidence Gap."

Tuesday, May 10, 1:35 p.m. p> Some people have asked me about ECS 145, Scripting Languages, which I was scheduled to teach next Fall. I will be on sabbatical in Fall, so 145 has been moved to Winter. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Monday, May 8, 3:10 p.m.

Reading assignments:

Sunday, May 8, 10:45 p.m.

Please note that you are responsible for all the assigned readings, even if we don't cover them in class. ("Assigned" refers to statements here in the blog or in class, to read specific items in our readings list.)

Thursday, May 5, 11:40 p.m.

Reading for Monday: Wrap up the H-1B issue (I've removed a couple of items), and then start the GENDER AND RACE unit by reading "Subtle Ways..."

Wednesday, May 4, 11:40 p.m.

I've placed the specs for your term project on our Web page. Please read them IMMEDIATELY, noting especially the due dates (note plural) and the rather open-ended nature of the project. This is not something that can be done simply by random musings.

Wednesday, May 4, 9:30 p.m.

Readings for Friday/Monday: WSJ on job creation claims; Gates op-ed; Salzman claim of lack of a tech labor shortage; law firm video; 3 videos.

Tuesday, May 3, 11:40 p.m.

Exactly a year ago today, Giovanni Peri hosted a mini-conference on campus regarding H-1B and related issues. One of the highlights was a presentation by Doran et al, authors of one of our readings. I attended the conference, and reported on it in my blog. You may wish to read that blog post. It is optional, but I think you will find it interesting and sometimes amusing, and it will give you further insight into the issues.

Tuesday, May 3, 11:25 p.m.

The URL for the Doran paper is

Friday, April 29, 4:15 p.m.

Readings for Monday (probably will spill into Wednesday): "Closing Windows..." through "Wall Street Journal analysis..."

Wednesday, April 27, 4:45 p.m.

Readings for Friday: "Adverse Impact..." (NM), "Corporate Perspective..."; all of the first bullet in the H-1B section (Wedel (2), Prasher). Optionally, read an item that came out today.

Wednesday, April 27, 4:25 p.m.

Thanks for your patience, everyone. The team of students on this project, which includes Monte from our class, has been working on this all year -- there are a lot of bells and whistles you didn't use here, so it's more complicated than it looks -- and they were anxious to try it out.

For the most part, it went well, but there were definitely problems. The more common ones were apparently:

I briefly glancely through your answers, and they looked good in that glance. I will certainly take the technical problems into account in the grading.

Tuesday, April 26, 4:45 p.m.

Good news! Our online exam administration tool is ready. It has a lot of rough edges, but is definitely usable.

Please read the usage instructions. I (and Monte) would like as many students as possible to use it in tomorrow's in-class essay, and I will record Extra Credit for those who do, if they try it TODAY, or tomorrow morning at the latest. I have a server running at, port 5000.

Tuesday, April 26, 3:10 p.m.

Please make sure to have ALL the reading materials on your laptop. You ARE allowed to access the Web during the exam, but don't count on Internet access being up during the exam.

During the exam, you are not allowed to consult with any person. The Davis honor code (UCD Student Judicial Affairs Code of Academic Conduct) applies.

Tuesday, April 26, 12:45 p.m.

Monte and the rest of the team building the exam app are still tying up some loose ends. Hopefully I will have more news later today.

For now, though, here is the official procedure:

Friday, April 22, 9:35 a.m.

Remember, no class today. See you Monday.

Thursday, April 21, 1:55 p.m.

For Wednesday's in-class essay, please make sure you have Python and ssh on your laptop. If you have a Unix-family system (Mac or Linux), these should already be installed.

Wednesday, April 20, 9:55 p.m.

Some people have expressed concern about next week's in-class essay. Again, I urge you to look at the two in-class essays I assigned last year. Your in-class participation has been excellent, so on the written essay, just write what you would have said.

Please note that the Wadhwa column in the assigned readings list is definitely considered part of the essay coverage, even though I messed up in terms of the timing.

Wednesday, April 20, 5:05 p.m.

Following up on today's discussion, especially putting a human face on issues, I've added three items to the H-1B section of our readings: 2 involving the Wedels, and one on Douglas Prasher.

Tuesday, April 19, 12:55 p.m.

Update on reading assignment: Tomorrow we will mainly discuss the Thibodeau and Nat. Academies readings. Even with the 2 hours we will have tomorrow, I don't think we would be able to get to the Carnevale study.

So, we will postpone discussion of Carnevale until Monday. For that day, also read the CLELR article (mine), and the Intel item. (Again, note that we will not hold class on Friday.)

Monday, April 18, 10:40 p.m.

Oops! I asked about the Wadhwa article today, when I fact I had assigned it for Wednesday. Sorry for the confusion.

So, here is the revised assignment for Wednesday: Thibodeau; Carnevale (see blog entry, April 15, 8:45 pm); National Academies (full chapter, not just graphs).

Note again, we will meet from 2 to 4 this Wednesday, or at least until 3:30, and will not meet on Friday.

Monday, April 18, 3:40 p.m.

If you are curious, the article I mentioned in class today is here.

Monday, April 18, 3:40 p.m.

I will not be able to make our ECS 188 class on Friday (nor my office hour), so we will use our extra hour on Wednesday.

Saturday, April 16, 10:20 a.m.

Update: In class the other day, I mentuoned that Goldman Sachs will pay up to $5 billion as a settlement in a case in which the government determined that the firm had cheated investors. I asked whether GS would consider that a lot of money, based on the Bill Blunden article in our readings. Students answered no, due to the article's claim that JPMorgan laughed off a $13 billion settlement it agreed to in 2013. I had viewed it differently, as the article said that firms started paying attention at the level of $100,000. Turns out that I was off by a few 0s; the actual value Bill claimed was $100 million. :-) Still, that figure is a lot less than $5 billion. So, maybe GS considered that latter figure "real money" (a common Wall Street term) after all.

Friday, April 15, 8:45 p.m.

I've been asked if I really want you to read all 35 pages of the Carnevale report on STEM careers. Actually, a close inspection of all the charts and tables in those pages would be fine, with occasional reading of the accompanying text if something is unclear.

Friday, April 15, 5:00 p.m.

Well, I was going to suggest you watch the video on Elizabeth Warren here, but then I saw the notice, "Our Terms and Privacy Policy Have Changed." :-(

Thursday, April 14, 9:10 p.m.

Reading assignments for next week:

Thursday, April 14, 12:20 a.m.


Tuesday, April 12, 12:30 p.m.

Further reading (not required):

Update to case involving Yahoo! and Chinese dissidents.

Sunday, April 9, 8:30 p.m.

For Wednesday, be ready to discuss the Yahoo! and Sergey Brin articles.

Thursday, April 7, 11:35 p.m.

I've added another article on the Volkswagen scandal, "What Was Volkswagen Thinking?" Please read this for Monday's class. Actually, I had originally intended to include this article, but overlooked it when I compiled the list.

Thursday, April 7, 9:55 a.m.

Regarding Unix-family OSes, i.e. Linux and Mac OS: The vast majority of CS grads from UC-level schools (as opposed to, say, the CSUs) who get software development jobs do so at firms that are either exclusively or partly Unix-oriented. Windows is a great OS that has proven itself as a good vehicle for billions of nontechies around the world, but CS students are supposed to be power users, who for instance write their own scripts to automate tasks.

Some years ago, Intel recruiters complained that UCD grads don't know Unix well, whereas for example UCB grads use Unix on a second-nature basis. What is wrong with Davis?

There is an interesting book by a journalist who worked at Google in marketing during the early days of the firm. He was using Windows, of course, and on his first day at work he needed some help on a technical matter. He was amazed that none of the engineers he sought help from knew Windows.

Expertise in Unix comes from using it for your daily tasks, NOT from coursework. I urge you to become expert in it. Just installing Linux is an education in itself; I urge you to try it out.

Wednesday, April 6, 8:20 a.m.

Readings for Friday: In the (new) PROFBUS section, Volkswagen, FBI (2), Yahoo!, Brin

Tuesday, April 5, 8:40 p.m.

In our readings list, I've expanded the PHIL section to PROFBUS, "Formal ethical codes, professional and business culture/responsiblity."

As noted at the top of the readings list, I may make changes to the list as we go.

Monday, April 4, 11:40 p.m.

As noted the other day here in the blog, and at the top of the readings list, some of the articles are free only if you access them from a UCD address. That is the case for the Sandberg article. Do NOT purchase any article for our course!

Sunday, April 3, 3:25 p.m.

You are required to read only my statistical summary of the UT Austin report, NOT read the link The latter takes forever to download, which is why I summarized its data.

Someone asked me about this after class on Wednesday, but her description was vague, and I didn't understand. So I asked her to send me e-mail with specifics. Unfortunately, she never did, but another student did so today. I now realize she was asking me about the UT Austin item. If you have any question about anything, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Sunday, April 3, 9:55 a.m.

Reading for Wednesday: First 3 items in the PHIL category (Applied Ethics, Fiduciary Duty, Volkswagen).

Note: As mentioned at the top of the readings file, I will occasionally add itmes to the list. The Volkswagen article is an example, though I had originally intended to include it but forgot to do so.

Sunday, April 3, 9:00 a.m.

For tomorrow:

If you are interested, there is more on the Asiana Airlines crash here.

Saturday, April 2, 12:35 p.m.

Some miscellaneous items:

Friday, April 1, 9:50 p.m.

In response to a query from a student, I've placed the prompts for the two in-class essays on our Web page, here and here.

Don't worry if you don't know how to answer the questions. We haven't covered that material yet, and in any event, the discussions in that class will likely be different from ours. Most of the essays were very good, and in some cases really superb. Note that the essays are open-notes, open-class materials.

As I said at the start of class, my aim is to raise ethical issues that you may face as technologists -- engineers and/or technology managers/entrepreneurs. While it certainly would be interesting to discuss whether one should eat beef or go to war :-) this is not my approach. I hope that as the course progresses, you think about your own

Friday, April 1, 1:50 p.m.

I will not be able to hold my office hour on April 4.

Wednesday, March 30, 4:55 p.m.

I mentioned today the African (from Uganda, I believe) DC cab driver (and fervent Sanders supporter) who was so critical of Hillary Clinton's honesty on my ride to the airport. I also mention an opinion piece that takes a much more charitable point of view; you can read it here. Interestingly, though the author's final paragraph is more in line with the cab driver's view. Not required reading, just there if you are interested.

Wednesday, March 30, 12:45 p.m.

Apparently the Khera article is free only when downloaded from UC addresses. I'll keep the temporary file up for the rest of today, but will remove it this evening.

Wednesday, March 30, 12:35 p.m.

I've gotten some reports that the site with the Khera article is trying to charge you for it. Do NOT pay for this article or any other for our class. I'll look into the matter, but will temporarily place a copy here.

Tuesday, March 29, 11:35 p.m.

When you e-mail me, please place "[ecs 188]" in the Subject line. I get tons of mail from numerous sources, and this help ensure that I see your message in a timely manner.

Tuesday, March 29, 4:10 p.m.


Our reading list for the quarter is now ready. I have already assigned the Khera article for tomorrow. For Friday, be prepared to discuss the articles "Recruiting...", "Historical..." and then by Monday, be ready for the remaining articles in the CULT section.

Tuesday, March 29, 2:20 p.m.

According to my department, the W 3-4 discussion section is there as a reserve, for exams, extra lecture time and so on. We will typically not use that time, but will occasionally use it for discussing extra material, and will definitely use it for our two in-class essays. (The essays will be designed to be completed in one hour, but anyone who wants to continue during the discussion section will be welcome to do so.) Also, if we are in the midst of a big conversation on some topic, we will spill into the discussion section time for at least a few minutes.

Tuesday, March 29, 8:20 a.m.

My office hours will be MF 3:15-4, and by appointment.