Monday, January 04, 2010

Y2K10 Bugs

There appear to have been several software errors become apparent with the handling of dates in the year 2010. These include ATMs, Smart Phones and anti-spam software. Given that it is ten years since the Y2K bug was supposed to hit and there have been several retrospective stores saying how it was a non event, this is somewhat ironic.

SMS messages from smart phones running some versions of Microsoft Windows Mobile operating system are reported to be displaying 2010 dates as 2016 (being called the Y2K10, Y2K16, Y2010, Y2016 or Y2016K bug). The likely cause seems to be a decimal number being interpreted as hexadecimal. SMS dates are recorded as only the last two digits of the year (thus "10" for "2010") but that is not the cause of the problem.

It has been reported that Bank of Queensland’s Eftpos terminals were treating 2010 as 2016. This may be due to the same bug as for the smart phones, as the Microsoft Windows CE Operating System is used on devices such as EFTpos machines. machines and shares some code with Windows Mobile.

The Apache SpamAssassin Project reported a Y2K10 Rule Bug, which would will trigger on most mail dated 2010, or later.

Bug fixes are likely to be quickly available for all these problems. But in the case of embedded code in smart phones and EFTpos machines, this may require manual installation.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

SPICE Learning Management System

Greeting from the ANU Software Engineering Showcase. Teams of third and fourth year students are showing off their projects. One of these is the SPICE Learning Management System. This uses Moodle and LAMS to provide a system to assist volunteer teachers in Canberra. The most interesting part of this is that normally the students write software. In this case they decided the original idea of custom software on a bootable flash drive was not a good one and configured an Internet connected web based learning manageemnt system instead. This was a good decision. I have been invvled in sevceral court cases as an expert witness where a system development team did not stop, question what they were doing and choose another path.

One aspect the students do not appear to have realised is that they can still provide paper based materials from the Moodle system.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Software Engineering Showcase

The School of Computer Science, ANU, will hold a
Software Engineering Showcase, 26 October 2009
12.00 - 2.00pm. This will display some solutions to software engineering problems.

Software Engineering Showcase
Monday 26 October 2009
12.00 - 2.00pm
The Australian National University
Ian Ross Building 31, North Road Map Ref
Seminar Room (R214)
Includes refreshments from 1.00pm

You and your colleagues are invited to attend the Software Engineering Students Showcase hosted by the School of Computer Science, ANU.

Our students collaborated with several Canberra businesses to find creative solutions to some of the software engineering problems that the public and private sectors encounter.

The event is an excellent opportunity to meet our students and staff, and for you and your colleagues to find out more about our software engineering degree, and how the theory students learn is being put into practice in the real world.

Refreshments will be served.
RSVPs are essential:
by Friday 23 October 2009.



12.15pm Welcome

12.20-1.00pm Student Presentations

1.00pm Refreshments and tour of projects

1.45pm Close

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Whole System Design: An Integrated Approach to Sustainable Engineering

After is seminar on "Advances in Climate Change Mitigation", Michael Smith handed me a copy of his new book "Whole System Design: An Integrated Approach to Sustainable Engineering" (Earthscan, 2009) to review. This is intended as a textbook for a course on how engineers can approach creating more sustainable systems by taking a broader approach. There is accompanying online material. However, this broad approach has its problems when narrow specialities are involved. I only felt qualified to look at one chapter of the book on "Electronics and Computer Systems". This is a good worked example of how to optimise energy savings in a system. However, the rest of the book will not be of much interest to ICT people. Of more use to specialists than the book are the online versions of the material.

The book may be of value to those undertaking cross disciplinary studies, such as in Au course "Unravelling Complexity" UGRD3001.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Australian Robot Software Wins Award

ANU Buzz Linux RobotA team of students Australian National University have won the AIIA 2009 iAward in the Tertiary Student Category for their Linux Robotics Framework. This can be used to develop low cost robots for everything from vacuum cleaners to bomb disposal.

The team's demonstration robot is called Buzz , controlled by a NGW100 network gateway low-powered development board with a Atmel AVR32 processor. This could allow for the development of disposable military robots. Currently each military robot used by the US DoD and the Australian Department of Defence costs more than $100,000.

The Linux Robotics Framework ... can be used to develop robotic systems of varying levels of professionalism. It streamlines the development process for hobbyists and commercial developers alike. The LRF allows for the development of robotics applications on small low-cost system architectures with specific focus on support for the Atmel AVR32 microprocessor. It does this by providing a collection of component modules comprising a reusable and extensible robotics framework. The framework includes interface definitions and the implementation of specific drivers and libraries. The framework is extensible, providing a mechanism for adding new hardware and software drivers.

From: Linux Robotics Framework, ANU Linux Robotics Framework Team, 2009
As noted in Bomb Squad Diary (Glenn Zorpette, IEEE Spectrum, October 2008), the threat from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) is changing rapidly and equipment needs to be constantly modified to adapt to the changes in the tatitics and techniques of the bomb makers. Being able to rapidly modify the software and the hardware of the robots would be an advantage.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Engineers for the Future

The Australian Council of Engineering Deans released a report "Engineers for the Future - Addressing the Supply and Quality of Engineering Graduates for the new Century" in March 2008. The report provides an analysis of problems with engineering education in Australia and recommendations for improvement.

Unfortunately the publishers did such a poor job of engineering the electronic version of the document that almost no one seems to have noticed it existed. Apart from rendering nugatory the fine work by many people preparing the report, this does not indicate that the universities involved understand the e-literacy techniques which will be needed to educate engineers.

The document was put online with a creative commons licence, so it could be freely distributed. But as it is in a poorly formatted PDF document, it is difficult for anyone to find or read. Even after I was alerted to the existence of the document it took me several minutes to find a copy of it. Instead what I found were numerous media releases from Universities about their staff attending the launch of the document. None of these bothered to provide a link to the actual document. It appears that the priority for these universities is to pander to the egos of their senior administrators, rather than to promote engineering.

The Recommendations for Action in the report were grouped as:
  1. the public perception of engineering
  2. the engineering occupational levels and graduate outcome standards
  3. implementing best-practice engineering education
  4. resources for engineering education
  5. engagement with industry
  6. address shortages by increasing diversity in engineering workplaces supported by engineering education programs
Unfortunately due to the poor formatting of the report I was not able to extract an easy to understand of the recommendations. However, here is the executive summary:
Engineers conceive, create and maintain physical and information-based products, processes, systems and assets that satisfy human and economic needs, and have minimal environmental and negative human impacts. Engineering is critical to Australia’s economy, security, health and environment, is increasingly complex and multidisciplinary, and is practised diversely, in business, government and educational
enterprises. Engineering is a key component of the nation’s innovation system.

Australia’s higher education sector provides entry-level education to professional engineers, engineering technologists and engineering officers, as well as advanced level education and engineering research. The engineering education system, involving educators, professional bodies and employers, enjoys good international standing. The system has continuously responded to changes in engineering practice
brought about by new scientific and technological knowledge, and to changing economic and regulatory forces.

This report examines the current state of the higher education component of the Australian engineering education system, with respect to its ability to address future needs, contextualised by assessing the implementation of outcomes of the 1996 Review of Engineering, Changing the Culture. Recommended changes to the engineering program accreditation process are judged to have been successful in driving greater emphasis on generic graduate attributes in first-degree engineering programs. The Review also stimulated improvements in curriculum design and delivery, including project, problem, and workplace-based learning, and increased emphasis on sustainability. The present study has also identified substantial and
emerging strengths of many of Australia’s engineering schools in the areas of research, international education, and in addressing industry-specific skills shortages though both undergraduate and postgraduate programs.

Undertaken at this time of high demand for engineers, this scoping project identifies critical issues such as the continuing reduction in the size of the pool of Australian school students who are studying the requisite high levels of mathematics and science, and the low participation of women in university engineering programs. The study reports concerns about the educational capacity and robustness of the engineering education system with respect to its ability to graduate increased numbers of engineers
with the qualities that are required. The six recommendations aim to ensure that the system can meet society’s future needs for engineers, through actions that will:
  • increase the public understanding of engineering and the work of engineers, particularly in schools;
  • clarify educational outcomes and standards required for practice at all internationally recognised levels of engineering;
  • develop best-practice engineering education to ensure the required outcomes and reduce attrition;
  • attract a higher proportion of women and other under-represented groups;
  • increase staffing and material resources for delivery of high quality engineering education; and
  • promote stronger collaborative links with industry.
Action leaders, stakeholders, and performance measures and indicators are identified to ensure effective implementation of each recommendation.

From: "Engineers for the Future - Addressing the Supply and Quality of Engineering Graduates for the new Century", Australian Council of Engineering Deans, March 2008

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Putting Humanity Back into Software Engineering

Dr. Elisa BaniassadDr. Elisa Baniassad, from Chinese University of Hong Kong, gave a seminar today on "The Human Side of Artefacts" at the Department of Computer Science, Australian National University, in Canberra. She discussed research on how software developers actually use Object Orientated tools in practice, and how this differed from expectations. She then discussed new paradigms from outside the western reductionist approach usually used by software developers.

This discussion reminded me of "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values" which was written by a some time software document writer. In this book Robert M. Pirsig discusses the different ways disciplines approach problems and the origins of this in Western philosophy.

Dr. Baniassad's approach of looking at the human aspects of software development and not just treating code as something for a machine to consume is a useful one. Looking at what real programmers actually do, rather than what experts clam is very useful.

However, I suggest that the analysis could usefully be expanded beyond the point of view of the particularly narrow point of view of Object Orientated Programming. Other areas of the ICT discipline have looked at other ways to develop systems and other disciplines have before computer science existed.

Some years ago I enrolled in a foundation unit for graphic designers and architects. I found that my computing and scientific training meant that I was unable to communicate with the staff and students in design. While we used many of the same words, we seemed to use them differently.

Software Engineers need to keep in mind that all the world's problems can't be solved by software engineering (or by engineering more generally). As an example, engineers do not architect buildings, architects do. The design of a building is a collaboration between many different disciplines, using different tools and different points of view. The process is not a smooth one, with frequent conflicts. In the same way those designing software should not assume that one techniques from one discipline can be used for doing everything and that they need to collaborate and learn from others.

ps: Dr. Baniassad co-authored "Aspect-Oriented Analysis and Design: The Theme Approach" with Siobhán Clarke.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Simplified Robotics Framework for Bomb Disposal

ANU Buzz Linux RobotA team of students at the ANU have developed a Linux Robotics Framework to simplify development of robotics applications. This should be particularly useful for bomb disposal robots, where the requirement change rapidly due to changes in the threat.

As noted in Bomb Squad Diary (Glenn Zorpette, IEEE Spectrum, October 2008), the threat from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) is changing rapidly and equipment needs to be constantly modified to adapt to the changes in the tatitics and techniques of the bomb makers. Being able to rapidly modify the software and the hardware of the robots would be an advantage.

The team's demonstration robot is called Buzz , controlled by a NGW100 network gateway low-powered development board with a Atmel AVR32 processor. This could allow for the development of disposable military robots. Currently each military robot used by the US DoD and the Australian Department of Defence costs more than $100,000.

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Thinking Systems Thinking

Dr Shayne FlintShayne Flint will give a free seminar on "Rethinking Systems Thinking", at the ANU in Canberra, 9 October 2008:

Rethinking Systems Thinking
Shayne Flint (DCS, ANU)

DATE: 2008-10-09
TIME: 16:00:00 - 17:00:00
LOCATION: CSIT Seminar Room, N101, Computer Science and Information Technology Building, Australian National University

Systems Thinking refers to a set of approaches that can be used to learn about and make decisions regarding improvements to dynamically complex systems. They are distinguished from other approaches by their focus on the whole and the study of interactions among the parts of a system, rather than the parts themselves. While focusing on interactions helps us understand complex systems and identify appropriate improvements, it is necessary to use detailed knowledge of the parts and other aspects of a system to implement any improvements.

This paper addresses this issue by introducing a novel Systems Thinking approach which uses detailed knowledge of the parts to both understand the whole, and to build the systems required to implement necessary improvements.

Shayne Flint is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Computer Science, Australian National University, and is an active member of the department's Software-Intensive Systems Engineering group. Dr. Flint has broad industry experience and is the originator of Aspect-Oriented Thinking, a systematic approach to developing, managing and integrating the multi-disciplinary knowledge and expertise required to understand and improve complex systems.

From: Rethinking Systems Thinking, CECS Seminar List, ANU, 2008 (hypertext links added)

Australian Digital Theses Program

Title: Aspect-Oriented Thinking - An approach to bridging the disciplinary divides

Author: Flint, Shayne
Institution: The Australian National University

Date: 2006


Engineering is often described as the application of scientific and technical knowledge to solve problems. In this thesis, I support a more general view that engineering should be treated as a continuous process of learning and action that aims to make well understood improvements within dynamically complex environments of co-evolving social, man-made and natural systems. I argue that this can only be achieved by adopting an approach that systematically develops, manages and integrates the knowledge and expertise of many disciplines to conceive, develop, modify, operate and retire systems. A novel implementation of such an approach, called Aspect-Oriented Thinking, is presented.

Aspect-Oriented Thinking begins with the development and verification of a set of domain Models. Each Domain Model represents knowledge about a separate, autonomous and possibly discipline specific concern or view within a given context. Domain models are developed by engineers, scientists, sociologists, psychologists, lawyers, philosophers, economists and others, using languages and techniques with which they are familiar. Knowledge captured in a set of Domain Models is then woven together, in accordance with a set of separately developed patterns and rules, to construct, modify, operate and retire systems, including models, hardware, software, processes and simulations. This is a continuous process which, in the first instance, involves those systems used to learn about a given context and to make decisions regarding required changes. Later, the process involves those systems used to implement and evaluate the impact of these decisions.

The significance of Aspect-Oriented Thinking lies in its broad applicability to any situation in which the expertise and knowledge of diverse disciplines is required to understand and make improvements within complex multifaceted environments such as those that involve sustainable development and national security.

A proof-of-concept within the context of software engineering is provided to demonstrate the mechanics and viability of Aspect-Oriented Thinking. The results of this demonstration are used to support an argument for future experimentation aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of Aspect-Oriented Thinking in a more general interdisciplinary environment.

01front.pdf 171.0 Kb
02whole.pdf 1686.6 Kb

From: Aspect-Oriented Thinking - An approach to bridging the disciplinary divides, Australian Digital Theses Program, ANU

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Free Stanford University Engineering Courses Online

Stanford University has followed the example of MIT, by providing some course materials freely available online under the banner "Stanford Engineering Everywhere". Stanford are using a Creative Commons license, allowing reuse and modification of the material. This material could be of use to those preparing courses elsewhere or wanting to self study. However, like MIT's material, these are not e-learning courses and assessment is not included. The materials are essentially the lecture notes and videos of lectures from the on campus course. Those who have seem properly designed distance education and e-learning materials will be very disappointed in the poor quality of the Stanford material. But it need to be kept in mind that Stanford is not attempting e-learning.

For the first time in its history, Stanford is offering some of its most popular engineering classes free of charge to students and educators around the world. Stanford Engineering Everywhere (SEE) expands the Stanford experience to students and educators online. A computer and an Internet connection is all you need. View lecture videos, access reading lists and other course handouts, take quizzes and tests, and communicate with other SEE students, all at your convenience.

This fall, SEE launches its programming by offering one of Stanford’s most popular sequences: the three-course Introduction to Computer Science taken by the majority of Stanford’s undergraduates and seven more advanced courses in artificial intelligence and electrical engineering.

Stanford Engineering Everywhere offers:

  • Anytime and anywhere access to complete lecture videos via streaming or downloaded media.
  • Full course materials including syllabi, handouts, homework, and exams.
  • Online social networking with fellow SEE students.
  • Support for PCs, Macs and mobile computing devices.

From: Stanford Engineering Everywhere, Stanford University, 2008

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Friday, September 05, 2008

Example of design documentation for a computer game

ABC TV's Good Game show is running a competition for the development of a computer game. This provides insights into how such a computer based system is designed and developed. The TV show has featured interviews with staff and some footage of their office and meetings. The full Design Overview document for the game "Office Wars" has been provided. This could be very useful for ICT researchers in software engineering and information systems. The detailed 46 page document provides a real example of how software development is now done. The overview includes details of the game as well as the business case for it. It could be a useful case study for ICT students, with unusual system functions, such as "Kill the Boss".

From the Table of Contents:

1.0 Overview
1.1 Platforms
1.2 Timeframe
1.3 Scope
1.4 Goals

2.0 Game Synopsis
2.1 Setting Synopsis

3.0 UI Synopsis
3.1 Main Home Screen
3.2 Gameplay View
3.3 Beginning of an Office/Level
3.4 Between Office/Level Screens

4.0 Player Avatar
4.1 Player Skills
4.2 Gaining Levels
4.3 Skills & Tasks
4.4 Level Titles ...

From: Design Overview, Steve Fawkner, Infinite Interactive Pty. Ltd., August 6th 2008

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Digital Apollo

Digital Apollo: Human and Machine in Spaceflight Digital Apollo: Human and Machine in Spaceflight by David A. Mindell (2008) is a new book covering the technical history of the development of the computer software for the first manned lunar landing. This book would be of value to students of software engineering.

Mindell concentrates on the development of the interface between the computer and the crew, pointing out that there were few precedents for the design. It was not clear if the astronauts should be simply passengers in an automated and remote controlled system, or if they should, or could, pilot the spacecraft like an aeroplane. Previous books have covered the politics of this issue, and Mindell perhaps dwells to much on how this conflicted with the "Right Stuff" macho image of test pilots.
ut Mindell provides new technical details of how contemporary systems then worked and how Apollo's approach was developed.

The Apollo systems were developed from ones designed for missiles and designed to be fully automated. This was modified to allow the crew the option to control part of the flight, but via the computer, making an early "fly by wire" system. The techniques and some of the hardware and software, was later adopted for military and then civilian aircraft. The DSKY interface of Apollo will look familiar to operators of civilian airliners and military computers, with a panel of indicator lights, small alphanumeric display and a keypad underneath. The Apollo side stick controllers, with multiple operating modes are the predecessors of military aircraft and Airbus airliner controls.

The early plans for Apollo did not take into account the difficulty of developing software and it was seen as just an adjunct to the hardware development. The software process became a bottleneck in the program, partly due to the success of the digital computer in replacing analogue hardware and so becoming central to the success of the project. This is a lesson military projects routinely fail to learn, with software development being seen as just something you do after the important part of building the hardware. The Australian Seasprite is one recent example of such a failure and the problem is increasing in government and corporate systems.

One of the useful lessons in the book for software engineers is how you end up doing some of the overall project planning for your clients. In the case of Apollo, there were no clear plans as to how the mission was to be structured. The software developers had to make up a structure for their work and this was adopted for the mission overall.

Mindell argues that many of the techniques for the systematic development and testing of software were either developed for, or refined with Apollo. One aspect not touched on was that how with the later Space Shuttle program the software engineering techniques had reached a point where they were superior to those for the hardware. In his comments on the Rogers Commission into the Challenger disaster, Richard Feynman praised the systematic development of the shuttle's software and criticised the processes for hardware.

It will be a startling less for modern students to see photos of little old ladies literally weaving the binary programs into magnetic core memories for Apollo. ;-)

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sustainable Design

Sustainable Design book coverSustainable Design: The Science of Sustainability and Green Engineering by Daniel A. Vallero and Chris Brasier looks like a useful text. However, it is a very general introduction and mostly for chemical and physical engineering. Software Engineers will find it of less use.

1-10 of 13 pages with references to computer:

Return to book

1. on Page 8:
"... with a dramatic shift away from further synthesis and innovation. Computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), although a relatively new technology, has resulted in dramatic improvements in efficiency but has remained anchored ..."
2. on Page 25:
"... steely fibers woven spider-style, shatterproof ceramics drawn from mother- of-pearl, cancer cures complements of chimpanzees, perennial grains inspired by tallgrass, computers that signal like cells, and a closed-loop economy that takes its lessons from redwoods, coral reefs, and oak-hickory forests. ,14 ..."
3. on Page 28:
"... both architect and engineer to conceive and deliver design solutions in a more integrated manner. Building information modeling (BIM) uses computer technology to create a virtual multidimensional models of a build- ing as an integrated part of the design process, ..."
4. on Page 29:
"... resentation to create three-dimensional space models as found in other recent Figure 1.9 Building information modeling uses computer ..."
5. on Page 46:
"... traditional stepwise design process and the integrated green design process? How may the criteria be applied using computer models (e.g. BIM)? 2. ..."
6. on Page 49:
"... Also devices such as computers and medical implants must dissipate heat without harming the patient. At the planetary scale, the greenhouse effect involves conversion of ..."
7. on Page 55:
"... First Principles 55 and personal computers. Harmon argues that biomimicry is a "Gestalt shift of humanity." Gestalt does not translate well from German, but reflects that ..."
8. on Page 158:
"... Bayer, "Perspectives on lifecycle process modeling," in Foundations of Computer-Aided Process Design, M. F. Malone, J. A. Trainham, and B. Carnahan, Eds., AIChE Symposium Series 323, Vol. 96, 2000, pp. ..."
9. on Page 304:
"... 304 Sustainable Design facility, providing a solar power station rated at 162 watts, providing a low power 40 watt computer cluster composed of 2 Linux computers, furnishing the cluster with a digital library of 1500 books focused on appropriate technology, ..."
10. on Page 309:
"... BIM uses computer technology to create a virtual model of the design and is intended not only as a tool for documentation but ..."

11. on Page 318:
"... com/images/esd- turgo-cutaway.gif. Sidebar: Water Consumption sing The Internet is a good source for calculating water demand. For exam- ple, the Computer Support Group, Inc. (CSG) and the CSGNetwork. ..."
12. on Page 325:
"... g., white paper bins in dorms and computer labs adjacent to printers) was also recommended. Other aspects of the program's design included: • Letter to incoming freshman with ..."
13. from Index:
"... see Superfund) Computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), 8 Consequentialism, 177-178 Couple, definition of, 60 Cousteau, Jacques, 221 Cradle to Cradle, 2 Cradle to ..."

See also other Sustainable design books:
  1. Accounting & Finance
  2. Architecture
  3. Business Management
  4. Education
  5. Engineering
  6. Law
  7. Computers & Internet

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Embedding Ethics as Deliberative Acts in Software Development

The afternoon session of the 2008 conference on the ethical governance of ICT, in Canberra got down to the details of teaching ethics to ICT people. Associate Professor Craig McDonald, talked about how ethics is included in ICT courses at the University of Canberra by embedding ethics as deliberative acts in software development. I wondered if this was just using software engineering terms to make ICT people feel more comfortable with ethics.

I had to look up
"deliberative", to see the meaning; the best I could find was: "A discourse in which a question is discussed, or weighed and examined". An example of its use is in Deliberative democracy. Craig then went on to discuss "Governance", using the example of the "governor" on a steam engine. He then contrasted the CPA's model of governance, which said it was something done at upper levels of the organization and argued that it is done at all levels.

Craig argued that organizations should be designed so that people can exercise appropriate governance at all level in the organization. This worried me as it would provide an excuse for an ICT professional to say that they were not responsible for their actions because their organization did not give them that decision making ability.

However, since the
Nuremberg Trials in 1945, it has been established that professionals, such as doctors, are not absolved for criminal actions simply because they were following orders. An extreme case of this, which I have used in teaching ethics to ICT students is Tsunami warning systems. The failure of "Life-critical systems" which could result in millions of deaths may result and could result in the ICT professionals at fault being charged with crimes against humanity.

Next is Ms Marghanita da Cruz, Principal Consultant Ramin Communications Pty Ltd
( on "No duty of Care: the Governance of ICT". This discussed the Austrlaian Standrad AS8015 "ICT Governance", which
Marghanita described as being about "telling non-ICT people what to do" and "taking IT into a business context". She suggested that such standards should encourage ICT people to say what can be done, rather than what can't be done.

Professor Shirley Gregor, Director National Centre for Information Systems Research at ANU discussed Ethics education of ICT professionals. Shirley is also responsible for the ACS's Body of Knowledge (BOK), which sets down what should be in university courses in ICT. She pointed out that ethics is one of the few parts of the BOK which is mandatory for all universities to include in their courses. We then went around the room discussing the practicalities of how to instill value sets, make it credible, practical, without imposing personal value systems.

One interesting point is that Professor Gregor pointed out that IT people, and males in particular, may have a different view of ethics to the rest of the population. She posited that Kohlberg's stages of moral development were developed based on research exclusively with males. Perhaps ICT should recruit more females to have a more ethical profession. ;-)

Professor Gregor asked how students are taught ethics in practice. It turns out that I teach some of her students ethics, in ANU computer science courses:
With these ethics are incorporated in computer courses, use ACS and other professional bodies codes as examples, and use the results of ACS/ARC/CAPPE ethics research.

David Lindley, Academic Principal, ACS Education, Australian
Computer Society discussed Educating for Professionalism. The ACS is looking to use the
Skills Framework for the Information Age ( SOFIA ).

The last presentation was by
Mr. Neville Holmes, University of Tasmania on An Ethical Imperative for the Computing Profession. Neville writes entertainingly provocative and thought provoking columns in IEEE Computer magazine. In his presentation he emphasized the human and multidisciplinary aspects of the computing profession. He argued that he preferred reading Jane Austin, the book, rather than the BBC TV adaption (I preferred Joe Wright's adaption of Pride and Prejudice). Mores seriously I was not convinced of this argument, as a book is just a form of information technology which is so old it seems natural, but it is not, it places machinery between the author and the reader. In the extreme case it is now not possible to distinguish between human written text and that generated by computers.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Re-imagining Software Engineering

After a long lunchtime discussion of how to get ICT professionals to use more systematic techniques for developing systems, I got to thinking about how you would describe the process. More importantly than correctly describing the process is to use words which are topical and likely to get attention.

So here is a Tag Cloud created from the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) list of announcements:



I the live version doesn't show on your screen, here is as it was when first created:


Thursday, November 02, 2006

E-government Service Architectures, 24 November, Canberra

NICTA Breakfast Seminars
Performance Assessment for Service Architectures
Dr. Jenny Liu, NICTA Empirical Software Engineering (ESE) program
Canberra, Friday November 24, 2006

Dr Liu’s team has developed a capacity planning method and prediction model (e-PASA) to evaluate performance and scalability of e-government service architectures. Working collaboratively with an Australian Government agency, they have been able to test and validate their e-PASA work on a new Australian Government e-service. We will present the results of this collaborative research project and discuss opportunities for further collaborative research in the area of e-government.

This seminar is suited to management and senior technical staff in all government and industry organisations.

From: NICTA Breakfast Seminars, NICTA, 2006
Having been taken to lunch by the NICTA's Empirical Software Engineering Research team, I can recommend any event where they are providing catering. ;-)

For those interested in the topic, some books:
ps: e-Government seems to be in vogue at the moment. After the release of the Australian National Audit Office report on management of electronic records in government agencies. I have been asked to prepare a training course for senior government executives. This can use the very good guidelines produced by the government, which I use for ANU undergraduate and postgraduate students. So it really is a case of the consultant borrowing your watch to tell you the time. ;-)

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Monday, September 26, 2005

Software Engineering, Locomotives and Cafes in Sydney

Tank engine craneOn Friday I visited Steven Bleistein and the Empirical Software Engineering Research Program team at National ICT Australia (NICTA).

NICTA is a Federal, State Government and university project with a lot of money (in Australian terms) for research, education and commercialization. NICTA is based at the Australian Technology Park in Sydney, the site of the historic Eveleigh Railway Workshops. In the past I have written how this is the ideal environment for promoting Australian technology.

It is the 150'th anniversary of railways in NSW this is where many of the locomotives where made. I walked into the ATP past a Crane Tank Locomotive through the foundry, which is now a working museum used for metal sculpture. Further on were IT exhibits and events, where I bumped into the local member of parliament, Kristina Keneally."Empirical Software Engineering" seems a tautology, but a quick search of CiteSeer shows the sort of thing Steven and his colleagues do. They are working out how to build IT systems which will be useful to business.

NICTA Researchers and Tom Worthington at CafeThe ATP is on the edge of the gentrification of inner Sydney, with old warehouses being turned into apartments and cafes. The NICTA people confirmed the Creative Class theory that "build a cafe and the technologists will arrive", by taking me to lunch at Cafe Sopra located above the Fratelli Fresh.

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