Posts about software

Google Summer of Code Projects

Over the last three years Google Summer of Code has provided 1500 students from 90 countries the chance to work on open source projects. Each participant will receive $4,500 as a stipend. Student applications will be accepted from March 24th to March 31st.

Details on the software projects are available now. Given the short time that the application is actually open getting a start looking for projects that interest you might be wise. offers listings of science internships and engineering internships.

Related: Preparing Computer Science Students for JobsOpen Source for LEGO Mindstorms Open Source: The Scientific Model Applied to Programmingposts on fellowships and scholarships

Easy File Sync Over the Internet

Dropbox aims to simplifying file backup, sync, and sharing for the world. Like other Y Combinator startups it is small and focused – 3 MIT computer science alums. Watch a web presentation that shows a very useful looking service. It is in private beta now – you can register to be notified when it is open for public launch.

Y Combinator: “We care more about how smart you are than how old you are, and more about the quality of your ideas than whether you have a formal business plan.” You have until April 2nd to apply for funding for the current cycle.

Related: Google and Paul Graham’s Latest EssaySix Principles for Making New Things by Paul Graham

Google Summer of Code 2008

Over the last three years Google Summer of Code has provided 1500 students from 90 countries the chance to work on open source projects. It also has provide some great software and software enhancements to the open source community. Google has increased their funding by another $1 million. Each participant will receive $4,500 as a stipend.

I don’t understand why they have such a short window of opportunity to apply – but this is how they do it every year. They are accepting applications from open source projects, to act as mentoring organizations, through March 13th. Student applications will be accepted from March 24th to March 31st. See Google’s announcement. offers listings of science internships and engineering internships.

Related: Preparing Computer Science Students for JobsIT Employment Hits New High AgainA Career in Computer ProgrammingHoward Hughes Medical Institute Summer Research JobsThe Joy of Workposts on fellowships and scholarships

Phun Physics

Coolest science toy ever

Phun is without question the greatest computer toy in the history of the universe, if this had been around when I was a kid I would be a frickin genius by now. You don’t need things any more. It’s extremely easy to use. As a starter tip, turn gravity off when you’re attaching stuff to the background (right click after selecting “affix” tool).

Very cool. Get your Phun (2D physics software) for free. Phun is a Master of Science Theises by Computing Science student Emil Ernerfeldt.

Some other very cool stuff: Cool Mechanical Simulation SystemScratch from MITWhat Kids can LearnLego Autopilot First FlightAwesome Cat Cam

Programming with Pictures

Programming with Pictures

Carnegie Mellon University’s Randy Pausch…argues, many computer science departments are a quarter century behind on adapting their instructional methods for the purpose of attracting and retaining students, continuing to teach the gateway course to the field — introductory programming — just as they did 25 years ago.

About 10 percent of the nation’s colleges now use Alice, an open-source, graphical software program available free online that allows users to learn the very basics of programming — concepts like iteration, if statements and methods — while making 3-D animations. Alice’s growth within college computer science departments has been impressive: Most colleges only began incorporating Alice in their introductory CS0 or CS1 courses within the past 18 months, since the release of an accompanying textbook.

But the software, currently readable to users in plain old English (a major drawback for many faculty who of course teach programming in standard computer languages like Java and C++), is potentially poised to penetrate far more colleges in 2008, when Alice 3.0 comes out in Java — featuring, this time around, sophisticated graphics, made available free by Electronic Arts Inc., from “The Sims,” the best-selling PC video game of all time. (And significantly, Pausch adds, one of the few games more popular with girls than boys. Computer science, he notes drily, has the unfortunate distinction of being the only discipline in the sciences to actually face declining female enrollments percentage-wise in the last 25 years).

Interesting. Related: Computer Science EducationA Career in Computer ProgrammingMicrosoft Wants More Engineering StudentsSo You want to be a Computer Game Programmer?software development posts on our management blog

Update: The Last Lecture Book by Randy Pausch

Software Patents – Bad Idea

MIT League for Programming Freedom on Software Patents, including: Why Patents Are Bad for Software, No Patents on Ideas by Thomas Jefferson and letter from Donald E. Knuth to the U.S. Patent Office

In the period 1945-1980, it was generally believed that patent law did not pertain to software. However, it now appears that some people have received patents for algorithms of practical importance–e.g., Lempel-Ziv compression and RSA public key encryption–and are now legally preventing other programmers from using these algorithms.

This is a serious change from the previous policy under which the computer revolution became possible, and I fear this change will be harmful for society. It certainly would have had a profoundly negative effect on my own work: For example, I developed software called TeX that is now used to produce more than 90% of all books and journals in mathematics and physics and to produce hundreds of thousands of technical reports in all scientific disciplines. If software patents had been commonplace in 1980, I would not have been able to create such a system, nor would I probably have ever thought of doing it, nor can I imagine anyone else doing so.

Related: Are Software Patents Evil?The Patent System Needs to be Significantly ImprovedPatenting Life is a Bad IdeaIntellectual Property Rights and InnovationPatent LawThe Differences Between Culture and CodeGoogle Patent Search Fun

Cool Mechanical Simulation System

Cool device from MIT: A Shrewd Sketch Interpretation and Simulation Tool.

We aim to create a tool that allows the engineer to sketch a mechanical system as she would on paper, and then allows her to interact with the design as a mechanical system, for example by seeing a simulation of her drawing. We have built an early incarnation of such a tool, called ASSIST, which allows a user to sketch simple mechanical systems and see simulations of her drawings in a two-dimensional kinematic simulator.

via: Back to the Drawing Board