Introduction to Computers and their Applications
My office hours
(in Alumnae Hall 113A; if I'm not there, look around the corner in 112)
are Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:00-6:00, and Wednesdays 9:00-12:00. You
can also get help from the tutors at the Learning Center
(in Earle Hall). For example, Andrew Frisch holds regular office
hours: MW 10:00-12:00 in Earle, T 3:00-5:00 in Alumnae 114,
F 11:00-12:00 and 1:00-2:00 in Alumnae 114.
This class will use three textbooks:
We'll go through most of the Parsons & Oja book in the first half
of the semester, examine half a dozen of the projects in the Office XP
book, then switch to the Web design book after Spring Break.
All three books were in the bookstore as of Jan. 22; note that the first
two come together in shrink-wrap.
- Computer Concepts, by Parsons & Oja
- Microsoft Office XP: Introductory Concepts and
Techniques, by Shelly, Cashman, and Vermaat
- Learning Web Design, by Jennifer Niederst
Who should take this course?
This course is for people who want to learn how to use computers for
word processing, number processing (spreadsheets), databases, e-mail, Web
browsing, etc. If you are (or are considering being) a math or computer
science major, you'll need to take one or more programming courses like
CSC 160 or CSC 171 (ask me for advice on which). If you are a Computer
and Management Information Systems major,
you need both this course and some programming courses.
For General Education requirements, this course counts as a Second
Competency but not as a Math/Science Distribution course.
On privacy, intellectual property, ethics, and politics, as
affected by computers and telecommunications
- My web page on
privacy, computers, and telecommunications (includes summaries of a
lot of different issues, with links to other organizations)
- The ImpactCS project's
the social and ethical impact of computing
article from the Chronicle of Higher Education on college students
being overwhelmed with information from Web searches.
- Brad Templeton's Copyright Myths
- the National Science Foundation report
on Logging and Monitoring Privacy at Universities
- Steven Levy's book Crypto: How the Code Rebels Beat the
Government (Saving Privacy in the Digital Age), which discusses
the history of computer cryptography and its implications for privacy
and policy. Makes the claim that strong cryptography is here to stay,
and nothing governments or corporations can do will stop it, so we'd
better get used to a world in which anything can be secret.
(If you like Levy's writing style, you might enjoy his earlier book
Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution.)
- David Brin's book The Transparent Society, which also
discusses privacy and and policy issues. Makes the claim that surveillance
and spying technology are here to stay, and nothing cryptographers can
do will stop it, so we'd better get used to a world in which nothing
can be secret, and the best we can hope for is to
give ordinary citizens the same ability to spy on corporations
and governments that corporations and governments already have to
spy on ordinary citizens.
On the history of the computer industry
- "Triumph of the Nerds", a 3-hour public-TV documentary
(on videotape in Swirbul Library) about the development of the
microcomputer industry from 1975-1995.
- The Charles Babbage
Institute, dedicated not only to Charles Babbage himself but to the
history of information technology in general.
- The Personal Computer
Show, Wednesday evenings on WBAI 99.5 FM, discusses a lot of
"how-to" issues, including backup, firewalls, virus and spyware
protection, etc (mostly for Windows users). In particular, their
page of links and downloads points to a lot of useful stuff.
- A Guide to
Home Computer Security written by CERT/CC, a part of Carnegie Mellon
University's Software Engineering Institute
- A list of anti-virus, anti-spam,
anti-popup, anti-spyware, etc. software, most of which you can download
for free. (I haven't actually tried most of these myself.)
Networking, which offers a software package for removing spyware from
Windows machines. It's a free download, although they won't mind if
you choose to donate a few bucks.
article on cleaning up and avoiding malicious self-installing
- Mozilla, the
home of free Web browsers and mail programs that are smaller and faster
than Internet Explorer, and allow you to easily control pop-up ads, cookies,
spam, and other privacy annoyances. (Mozilla itself is closely related
to Netscape, and can share preferences and bookmarks with it.)
- My collection of links on Web
Some Web sites to critique
- A well-done Web site on the dangers of a chemical called di-hydrogen monoxide. It just goes to
show you, almost anything looks credible if backed up with a good Web
- Another example: a web site on
Martin Luther King.
Note: the site is actually owned by Stormfront, the U.S. Nazi party, so
it has a "different" slant on Martin Luther King.
- And another: the Democratic Candidates
for President -- at least, eight of the best-known. Each has his
own Web site; read these with a critical eye, just as you should read
anything you find on the Web.
- In a similar vein, the
official White House web site at whitehouse.gov...
- ... and a parody thereof that might easily be mistaken for the
official White House web site, whitehouse.org.
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Stephen Bloch / email@example.com