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+Russell McOrmond these students being told they need to know specific software, are these computer science students? Or others?

You might recall we in SCCS were told to buy our copy of Digitalk Smalltalk (rather than the much better, but more expensive ParcPlace Smalltalk). I later learnt that the university had a site license for both, and it covered use by students at home. That this software was unavailable to use was entirely due collusion of th CS department support staff (the holders of they keys). The unversity also had Unix source code license as well, yet we had to fight hard to get anything *ix install on the 386s, or even get accounts.

I assume that at least some the students are not CS students, but I curious who?
CS students do need to learn certain software, but the unversities mostly still refuse to teach make! My experience as a hiring manager after 20 years in the field is that the universities are more and more out to lunch.

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Make? Visual studio doesn't require any knowledge of that.
Visual Studio is what professors think employers want. My experience was that all the programming was tied to a specific IDE. Java -> eclipse (at UNB we just used javac and emacs) C++ -> Visual studio. My introduction to C was on linux machines(virtual) though.

I had heard there are actual linux machines somewhere on campus, but I never found them. All I saw was windows machines that could access a VM located somewhere on the network.

In all fairness though, all the 'required' software is free of charge. Everything from the windows operating system to visual studio. (ironically though you need to use a windows program to download the windows iso)

From what I hear from my friend in his last year of computer science at UNB - most of their work is done in linux (I don't think he has done any programming in windows actually)

+Russell McOrmond Steam has certainly made a major impact on video game piracy. They price their games fairly, a couple times a week they have some game on special, and a few times a year have a massive sale. Essentially steam has made it more convenient to buy a game legally than to pirate it(in some cases I have bought games I already owned since it was less work than finding the discs). They also have a increasingly large library of free to play games. Steam has also done smart things like if you buy a game on PC and a mac version exists (or gets ported after - as I found with a game I had bought a while back), you can play it both on PC and mac. From what I understand when portal 2 was released, if you bought it on ps3, you got a code so you could download it on PC too.

Music software is the only tricky area. I don't know a solution. There are no real viable free/opensource alternatives(with the exception of audacity vs something like sound forge). Most professional level music software start at $500. The cheaper versions/trials typically are missing so many features that it's pointless to even bother. On top of your DAW you have the cost of VSTI plugins, samples, hardware controllers, etc.

This is quite different compared to physical musical instruments where you can buy something cheap or used, figure out if you enjoy it, learn to play then later get a better instrument(and sell your old instrument).
+Justin Hornosty there is a place for university graduates who can only use VisualStudio. If they are personable, they get to ask if you want fries with that. If not, they wind up on the dole. You know that we can't hire someone that can't use a command line. And the government isn't hiring.
Are they training to become computer scientists/developers or computer operators?
+paul beard I don't think they really know which is the problem. By trying to do both they aren't able to do either well.

I think there needs to be some major changes in general to how they are teaching computer science in schools. I think there should be yearly (or even for the first two years, by term) projects, and time should be allocated in the form of a mandatory course with regular meetings with a supervisor / TA to discuss progress, difficulties etc.

It would allow students to figure out what interests them, learn some new skills(learning how to learn) and build up a portfolio of sorts.
That sounds like a good approach. My limited time programming tells me that an immersive approach, where you truly live with the problem and learn your tools, is a good exercise. We are at a point (have been for some time) where making a computer work — install software, print, surf the web, etc. — means you're a computer expert. Wrangling drivers and patches is useful and might indicate some problem solving skills and perseverance but coding up the driver is a whole 'nother skill set.

I'm not sure instructors want to teach bare metal programming in C anymore, especially not for a small projects, as the intro/learning curve can be fierce. A large project might be the way to go. Otherwise we have Java or the various scripting languages which syntactically have their roots in C or at least afford benefits to those who understand the Old Testament. A certificate course I took in C was pretty rewarding, if frustrating at times: we actually made a working spreadsheet. They spotted us the X libraries and presentation, we just had to manage the cells and operations within, but it was still pretty challenging. It made it obvious to me that while I might understand some of how it worked, I was never going to be very proficient.
+Ali Arya was the coordinator of the evening, and knows many of the students. I believe many were students from the School of Information Technology, given this is where Mr. Arya teaches

Is this an engineering vs computer science question? No idea.

As to the Smalltalk stuff -- I wasn't subjected to any of that. I did have a few assignments where Smalltalk was used, but used facilities on campus and never even considered buying any Smalltalk related software. I wasn't interested in going to work for Dave Thomas, the Carleton professor who after creating the Smalltalk dependency went to found OTI. Already at that point it appeared OTI was the only "jobs" directly tied into the use of Smalltalk, and I would be better to spend my time elsewhere if that was a concern for me. I was also never comfortable with that apparent conflict of interest.

+paul beard - There seems to be no understanding that this industry moves quickly, and training people on a specific piece of software will only be useful (if at all) for an extremely short amount of time. Giving people real-world experience in participating in large internationally driven projects would be far more fruitful. I guess I fundamentally believe that a proprietary software driven education is a lesser education than a FLOSS driven one. Even if you later work only for proprietary software companies, the FLOSS experience will have benefit you more for that career.
+Russell McOrmond I think there may be an acknowledgment of the pace of change but it manifests as frustration ;-) The young people get exposed to what they think is Real Computer Knowledge™ earlier and earlier but it doesn't prepare them for how things really work.

Part of this stems from the fact that few programmers will actually start a project vs maintain or upgrade an existing one. If corporate programming work is all in Java, they are likely to look at coursework in C as an impediment to their education, not a useful addition or even a foundation to it. Given that, you could draw the line at computer scientist vs tradesman, as you might draw it between architect and carpenter/mason. One develops tools and works with new technologies and the other leverages that work to make products.
+Justin Hornosty - your discussion of music editing software reminded me of one of the conferenced I attended in 2006, the Cinéfest Sudbury International Film Festival. First was a panel of people from the music industry saying DRM was mandatory and they wanted the penalties for non-commercial fan infringement to be increased (from already excessive statutory damages to criminal if possible). Some of the same musicians then had a second panel where they spoke about the process of creating their music, including what software they used and just how much of this was infringing software. (I'm a starving artist -- whine whine -- I can't afford this stuff -- sniffle sniffle). This has become the norm of the hypocrisy in this debate that the people who scream "theft is theft" when someone might be infringing their rights are often the first to be indiscriminately infringing someone elses rights.

The is true of the current copyright debate where those in the entertainment and software industry screaming the loudest about copyright infringement are increasingly building businesses on top of infringing other people's rights

I realize existing FLOSS may not meet everyones needs, and non-FLOSS is a valid personal choice to make. I consider educational institutions and other government created or funded entities to be entirely different. We give these educational institutions exception to copyright and other exclusive rights based on the theory that they are doing some sort of "public good", and then allow them to exclude others from their publicly paid for works (Educational institutions shouldn't be allowed copyright or patents), and be marketing arms of monopoly-rent seeking corporations (the promotion of vendor dependency in the classroom). In a just society I believe that publicly funded creativity should be publicly licensed.
And there is the other aspect of it, where toolmakers will issue a student version to lock them in, to create demand in the work place through the graduation/recruitment process.
+paul beard Given this is part of their marketing, proprietary software companies should be paying students to use their software : not the other way around. At a bare minimum universities should be excluding from curriculum any software which charges students royalties.
+Russell McOrmond Agreed. We, for any inclusive values of that, need to reassess the ideas of proprietary software, licenses, lockin, with an eye to keeping barriers to entry low. I think, too often, profs or departments have arrangements with toolmakers. They might get paid without realizing that they are selling out their students and to some degree their industry/profession. 
+Russell McOrmond Well in a sense the software companies are paying the students to use their software, except the students (and also to some extent the professors) have no choice in the matter. The school receives huge incentives in the form of free hardware, software, job offers, etc. to use certain products. This then ends up in a full circle when they end up needing new hardware/software.

The issue is that you have MS reps coming to the university and offering stuff that costs a lot of money for free(or very cheaply), and along with that offer, a hint that there are a bunch of co-op and post grad jobs just waiting for students with the 'correct' skill sets.
Microsoft, Adobe, Apple, etc... Yup, all the oh-so-respectable members of the BSA :-) Most of their lobbying efforts against competitors, and that is in #C11 as well as what they are doing in education, internationally (See mess they made with One Laptop Per Child, etc).... 
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