CSC 170
Introduction to Computers and their Applications

Spring 2012

syllabus calendar homework Piazza daily survey
Syllabus Calendar Textbook Homework Moodle Piazza Daily Survey

Getting Help

My office hours (in Post Hall 203; if I'm not there, look in the department computer lab, Post 102) are MWF 11:00-12:00 and T 10:00-4:00.


This class will use one textbook:

We'll go through most of the first 7 chapters of the Parsons & Oja book and use a lot of on-line resources. Note that the Parsons & Oja book comes out in a new edition every year, so it won't have much resale value; you might consider a ``digital rental'' rather than buying the book. Or you might get a good deal on a year-or-two-old copy. Last year's edition is also on reserve at Swirbul Library, and several older editions are on the shelves.

Who should take this course?

Ten years ago, this course taught people how to use computers for word processing, e-mail, Web browsing, presentations, etc. Nowadays, most students coming to Adelphi already know this stuff, either from home or from high school. So we'll discuss some applications you may not already know, e.g. spreadsheets and databases. We'll talk about how the Internet works: how computers pass information from one to another, and keep track of where to send things. We'll talk about firewalls, security, botnets, encryption, viruses, distributed denial-of-service attacks, etc. We'll learn how to build and publish Web pages, including looking "under the hood" at HTML code and different kinds of graphics files. We'll talk about how Web search engines actually work, and how to make best use of their results. And we'll talk quite a bit about the impact of computers and telecommunications on human society: gender and economic issues, freedom of speech vs. government surveillance, intellectual property, censorship, voting machines, 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.

Some Suggested Reading

On privacy, intellectual property, ethics, and politics, as affected by computers and telecommunications

On the history of the computer industry

Technical stuff

Some Web sites to critique (for presentation, bias, factuality, transparency, etc.) I've listed them in alphabetical order:

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