15 Dec

Why, Texas Tech, Why???

Texas Tech Experts Exchange Screenshot

Texas Tech Experts Exchange Screenshot

This is a screenshot for an internal Texas Tech site labeled “Experts Guide”. The site is designed so that experts in fields can say that they are experts in the field and gain recognition and other people in Texas Tech can call upon the resources available at Texas Tech to work on projects. Okay so far, interesting idea for a site and the academia mindset leans itself towards this idea that other people will just work for you for nothing, but lets not worry about the actual site idea. But more importantly, the design of the site is just awful, especially for supposedly being an experts site why didn’t they use an expert in web design (which I know Texas Tech has).

Design Matters

Why don’t companies ever figure out that design matters. Design plays a huge part in how useful that a site is to use and thus how many people use it and if people even keep using it after the initial start up time. Very few sites, products, etc are used which just bad design (PlentyOfFish, Windows, etc), way more products that are used simply because of their design in spite of cheaper and easier products available (iPod, Facebook, etc).

Let’s look at the design of this page alone. What’s going on here? This is the part where you can edit your profile and select topics that you are an expert in, everything from computers (specializing in about 10 areas, though no web design, but JAVA and LINUX (yes that is how TTU spelled it) and no other languages, and including Compression of Medical Images (WTF how is that a necessary specialization and not databases?).

What to Change

Moving on the design of this page just bites, the page has no point. I have to do a whole page reload to see that I can’t add a topic that I’ve already added, rather than say a popup or a notification next to where I clicked saying the same thing. Oh yeah and thanks for the return to top link that has no point as the page is so short that if I need a “return to top” link I’m viewing this on something with maybe my mobile phone and probably smaller than that. Oh and does the “go back” link actually worked and took me back to the page I was last at, nope instead I go back to the front page of the list of topics. eRaider sign out is in a stupid place as us the Google Search box. eRaider sign out should instead be in a bar across the top of the page letting you know that you are signed in and always where to click out at any moment (oh and it fits with the normal Texas Tech design, just sayin). Google Search Experts, first off why do you have to label it as a Google Search Experts? Why not just label it Search and be done with it. Most people don’t care where the results are from and assume that that it will search just the site they are on, they just want to know where to search the site. Or if you are already going to wind up having a two line heading by keeping it called Google Search Experts, call it Google Search Experts Guide, makes way more sense.  Search should really be placed in the header image on the opposite end of the page from the TTU shield.

Companies Focus on Design Please!!!!

Why can’t companies just every once in awhile just take a look at their site and just try to use it and see that it bites. Maybe if you did you would have people actually use it, (a grand total of 45 people signed up in the College of Engineering) wow way to get people using your product.

I could litterally write an article a month on all the sites/apps that Texas Tech has whose design just bites beyond stupid. I’ll be happy when companies decide to learn something about design and make something that looks decent and works.

01 Mar

Object Oriented Programming Is Not an Excuse for Forgetting to Design Your System

This post is dedicated to a lecturer that I am taking a class with this semester at Texas Tech University. This person doesn’t like object-orientated programming (OOP), which I do love (I <3 Java big time). His main argument against Java and other object-orientated based programming languages is that it pushes people away from developing a mathematical model of both the problem and solution. Instead the desire is to create an object for everything in the system and develop some sort of algorithm that solves the problem, disregarding that you could possibly model the system and use a general algorithm to solve the problem.

I have a problem with the argument that OOP is the culprit for this much larger problem of programmers not modeling the system and instead going straight to code before thinking about the problem. This isn’t just a problem that occurs in OOP but rather I see all the time. It’s a problem that challenges all types of programmers disregarding their tool set or language. The real problem is a problem with both the education system and the dumbing down of the programming industry.

All right so two pretty hefty arguments, let’s tackle the first; that the current education system of training computer scientists is to blame.  This is based on what I have observed in terms of my own schooling and what I read from around the web from such readers as Joel Spolsky on the current education system. The current education of CS students tends to rather than provide life like problems that need to be solved and working the students through the process of solving these. It instead is designed to introduce the students to as many topics regarding technology and computers as is possible. This is a good thing, don’t get me wrong but invariably something has to suffer, and what does is the problems. The problems are introduced at a level that is so close to the computer solution it is ridiculous. Give a student a classic CS problem and most will have no idea where to start much less create a viable solution. This is a real problem of the students graduating from college now a days.

This goes into the second argument which is that the degree as a whole is being dumbed down. The CS degree is under a lot of attack from a lot of fronts. You have “technical schools” that will let you graduate in two years with all the experience you need to be a web programmer and make millions tomorrow. These graduates of these “schools” that compete for the same jobs that CS graduates from real colleges are competing for. This is a different problem from the earlier one of colleges not providing real life problems. However this is a problem that the majority of the career fields have solved by having a sort of professional test to determine if someone is say a professional engineer, or passing the bar exam to be qualified to practice law in a state. Computer Science has nothing like that in any fashion. I’m not entirely sure that would be the best answer to solving this problem, but it is definitely a problem that is going to need to be worked on

Blaming OOP for a problem that isn’t the tool’s fault is an even greater problem. This popped up on the blogosphere a while back that Java shouldn’t be taught anymore to students. I think this argument misses the real problem which is the general dumbing down of the industry in terms of non-qualified applicants being introduced and the education system losing it’s focus.