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Crimson Crux

Pseudo-techblog where the Corsarius gets serious. Visit blog.corsarius.net for his alter ego.

CS One of UP's Most Popular Programs?

Thursday, June 30, 2005 at 4:38 PM

Popular in terms of applicants, that is.

According to UP President Emerlinda R. Roman's letter in The UP Forum, the top five UP System programs (in terms of the number of applicants) this academic year are:

1) BS Nursing - 14,635
2) BS Business Ad (Accountancy) - 5,369
3) BS Business Administration - 2,390
4) BS Hotel and Restaurant Ad - 2,296
5) BS Computer Science - 1,877

Of course, these numbers do not reflect the actual population of qualifiers into these programs. As an example, the BS CS program of UP Diliman takes in only 120 students per year.

While the statistics seem to portray a "the more the merrier" scene in UPD's Department of Computer Science, recent experience tells otherwise. The UP Parser's September 2004 editorial (also republished here) mentions the seeming slide of interest in the program.

Time will tell if this trend is to continue, or to reverse.

The Halalan Convention

Tuesday, June 28, 2005 at 1:40 PM

Ibahin mo ang kabataan.

Even if the government wasn't able to implement an automated voting system for the national elections, students of UP Diliman are ready to prove that they can computerize their own university elections.

Presenting...Halalan: Ograsiah!, courtesy of the UP Linux Users' Group (UnPLUG).

Anyone who's interested can drop by the Halalan Convention on Thursday. Here's the official press release of UnPLUG, freely lifted from Prem's weblog:

The University of the Philippines Linux Users’ Group (UnPLUG)

The Halalan Convention

A public consultation on the specifications of the new Halalan (codename: Ograsiah!), next year’s mobile-based voting system

this 30th of June, 2005
at the National Engineering Center Audio-Visual Room (AVR),
University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City

If you want to contribute to Halalan’s design, please come. This is a special call to all UP parties, organizations, fraternities, sororities, etc.

The University of the Philippines Linux Users’ Group (UnPLUG) is a duly recognized student organization dedicated in promoting the use of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) and in advocating its philosophy through seminars, trainings, and software development.

In line with our purpose, we will be holding a convention, entitled “The Halalan Convention”, to allow the whole UP Community to participate in the drafting of the specification of the new Halalan codenamed “Ograsiah!” and to answer different issues the UP Community might want to raise about it. Halalan is an open-source voting system designed for student elections. It aims to automate the manual processes of elections such as counting, archiving and voting. It is designed to be lightweight, portable and secure.

ACM International Membership

Saturday, June 25, 2005 at 7:23 PM

Finally! I'm no longer just a member of an Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) student chapter (UP ACM). I've become a member of ACM International itself! Several hours ago I received the membership confirmation thru email. You can now send me a message at pykimpo [at] acm [dot] org. You can also view my ACM vcard (virtual business card).

For those immersed in computing and ICT, a membership in ACM maybe just right for you. For the discounted price of $18 (the special rate for economically developing countries), you'll get the following (freely lifted from the ACM site):

Your ACM Student Portal Package Membership...

* Gives you access to over 450 FREE online IT courses, 395 FREE Online IT books and over 35 online IT publications!

* Will help you with your research, papers, discussions, thesis, and schoolwork.

* Can help you choose your career direction, succeed in school, and find the job of your dreams.

* Puts you in touch with a vast network of over 77,000 IT professionals and students.

* Will help keep you up-to-date with the latest news and information in the field.

Here I'll insert the perfunctory sales pitch: What are you waiting for? Join now!

Long Live the Alliance

Thursday, June 23, 2005 at 8:35 PM

[I don't want to turn this blog into a repository of my editorials, but I feel the need to republish one, again. This time it's The UP Parser's February 2005 centerpiece. Certain people in UP Diliman's Department of Computer Science are misunderstanding the concept of the UP CS Network, an alliance of student organizations dedicated only to the DCS' well-being, and controversies are afoot. Thus, the need for this article. By the way, please don't mind the anachronisms in this one.]

As the Computer Science Week draws near, it is only fitting that CS students, regardless of extra-curricular affiliation, unite for one common goal — the betterment of the Department.

In what promises to be greatest CS story for this academic year, the CS Network has been established, bringing together eight CS-related organizations under one “mother org”. This groundbreaking alliance serves to foster camaraderie and cooperation among the eight organizations which, although related to CS one way or another, still maintain different mindsets, different agendas.

But these differences are what the CS Network aims to harness. Rather than being sources of dispute and competition, the divergent strengths of each organization shall meld into one, potent entity. One can already see the beginnings of an alliance envied all throughout the College of Engineering; the vast, diverse talents of UP CURSOR and UP CompSoc merging with the determined, academic thrusts of UP ACM and UnPLUG, enhanced by the volunteering heart of the CRS Team, Engineering Webteam, and DCS Student Assistants, and furthered by the journalistic spirit of The UP Parser.

But as the saying goes, the chain is only as strong as its weakest link. It is imperative that every organization within the CS Network fulfill the duties assigned to them. And, in the same way that everyone should whole-heartedly engage in alliance activities, no one should be left out. No one should dominate, and neither should one be a subordinate. This is because the CS Network is a gathering of equals, with equal rights and equal responsibilities.

These same responsibilities also extend to Department Faculty and the CS Representatives. Such a bold venture as the CS Network would miserably fail without the support of CS teachers and administration; it mustn’t be forgotten that the growth of the Department lies in a healthy, bilateral relationship between the learned and the learners.

And without the guidance and leadership provided by the CS Reps, the alliance would be a knight-less horse, full of sinew but lacking bravura. The four representatives who envisioned the CS Network and turned it into a stunning reality now face the task of guiding the “umbrella org” in its infancy stages, as well as ensure a smooth hand-over to the next batch of CS Reps. The alliance will be their legacy — regardless of whether it succeeds or fails.

As we celebrate the 24th anniversary of the Department of Computer Science, let us likewise celebrate the birth of the CS Network and rally around its cause. For this alliance — another first in College history — is ready to prove that organizations don’t have to be bitter rivals, but rather allies in forging the future.

Long live the CS Network!

Shift Ka Na Ba?

Sunday, June 19, 2005 at 12:40 PM

[With UP DIliman ushering in a new academic year, this September 2004 editorial of The UP Parser is due for a reprint. I believe the topic is still relevant; I just edited the few anachronisms in the original article.]

Is the university's Computer Science program still in?

There was a time when only a select few would be admitted to CS, a program which may be truly called a 'quota course'. Then came the IT boom of the 90s, a period which found our department opening wide its doors to the flood of students intent on making it into the rich and promising IT world. This resulted in the Department of Computer Science (DCS) expanding the freshmen quota to 120, a number which still stands today.

But recently, there seems to be a slide in CS interest. While the number of freshmen enrollees has remained steady, more and more scholars are shifting out to other courses, some in their first year of stay. This may be attributed to the difficult subjects in the BS CS program, with students not finding the course comfortable or endurable at all. But the one reason which the department itself suggests is that incoming scholars regard CS as just a means of entering into UP Diliman. This may sound unbelievable for all the CS students who bit nail and toe praying for entrance into the CS program.

But as Dr. Ronald Tuñgol, former department chair*, puts it, the increasing number of shiftees has its benefits. This unwanted 'pruning' leaves behind the cream of the crop, the students who truly have the desire and fervor to learn CS, the scholars whose minds are adept and capable of handling the duress of rigorous training. Also, a lesser number of students means an enhanced quality of education: student-to-computer ratio improves, instructor handling of classes gets better, and so on. In short, the resources needed for education, both tangible and intangible, are concentrated on a more manageable student population.

And these advantages may very well be the edge that a UP CS graduate needs in the tough IT world. Here in the country, the UP grad, frequently nitpicked for his or hers shortcomings in communication skills, faces gritty competition from Ateneo and De La Salle alumni, and even from the 'Microsoft babies', the AMA-CU students. Outside of the Philippines, Pinoy IT professionals face even more daunting contenders in IT-wise nationals such as the English-proficient, low-cost-labor Indians, already major players in the outsourcing market (read: call centers, software development).

So while the perceived dip in interest in UP Diliman's CS program may seem disappointing, it may go a long way in helping students who are serious and diligent in their attempts to become the new players in the IT world. Who knows, maybe everyone's vision of UP's BS CS being the unquestioned finest Computer Science program in the country will cease to be a mere castle in the sky.

*Dr. Cedric Festin is the new Department Chair effective this semester. Dr. Tuñgol is on leave for AY 2005-06.

Updates on UP ACM's Stunning Triumph

Friday, June 17, 2005 at 10:55 PM

I first broke the news on my main blog, Slip of the Pen. More than a week after, people are still reacting to this impressive victory which proved that Filipino students are of world-class caliber.

Firstly, UP ACM's triumph has been announced on the esteemed INQ7.net website. The same article was also published in the news service's Global Nation section. (UPDATE 06/23/05: UP ACM is in the news.up.edu.ph website.)

As an officer of UP ACM, I'd like to thank the people and organizations who helped spread the word:

1) Buchicoy Unleashed
2) Drakulita
3) Percolation
4) Prem Rara
5) The Parser Blog
6) The UP ACM Blog (but of course)
7) Tsoisi
8) WuzzU.P.

(If you posted an entry on the said topic and I failed to mention you here, kindly inform me at pykimpo [at] gmail [dot] com, and I'll update the list.)

Below is the 'official' press release of UP ACM on the victory.

UP Student Org Beats First World Universities
By Phillip Kimpo II (http://kimpo.uplug.org)

Yes, the Filipino can.

A student organization based in UP Diliman’s Department of Computer Science (DCS) bested 750 chapters worldwide -- many of them from the US -- by winning the recently concluded Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) 2004-2005 Student Chapter Excellence Awards.

The Association for Computing Machinery - University of the Philippines Student Chapter (UP ACM), the first and only Filipino ACM chapter, bagged two out of the five categories, Best Community Service and Best Recruitment Program. UP ACM won 500 US dollars for each award.

Founded in 1947, ACM is world’s oldest and largest educational and scientific computing society. ACM’s student chapters are spread worldwide over 500 colleges and universities.

The Chapter Excellence Awards are given yearly to the chapters with outstanding Activities, Website, Recruitment Program, Community Service, and School Service.

Last year’s batch of winners were five North American chapters. This year saw the Philippines barging into the prestigious circle, winning not only the usual single category, but two.

The other three winners were from the University of Kansas (Activities), University of Texas at Austin (Website), and Dalhousie University (School Service).

UP ACM, founded in 2003 with DCS instructor JP Petines as its chairman, joined the Chapter Excellence contest for only the first time. It boasts of over 90 members, with DCS Professor Rommel Feria as the chapter sponsor and Ardee Aram as its present chair.

Community Service That Matters

While UP ACM was able to bag the Best Recruitment Program award through the phenomenal increase in its member population (jumping from roughly a dozen to 90 in just one semester), winning the Best Community Service award was entirely another matter.

It did not lie with quantity; it was the quality of service rendered which ultimately won the distinction.

With last year’s Best Community Service award won by a US chapter donating a batch of computers to a middle school, UP ACM decided to go on another track. It believed in the power of imparting knowledge, not material objects.

In its winning essay submitted to ACM, the Filipino chapter stated:

It has oft been said that when you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but when you teach him how to fish, you feed him for life. This axiom is especially pertinent for a Third World country such as the Philippines, where some of the more expensive physical resources, i.e., computers, are luxuries. These tangible assets must give way to an intangible one --knowledge. In our country, knowledge is of the utmost value -- it has no price tag, but it is priceless. It does not crash, it does not break down, and it will serve you for life. Practicality dictates that in lieu of supplying people with computers, we must educate them about these machines. And who better to educate than youth, on whom hopes of the nation are pinned?

Thus UP ACM held a computer literacy outreach program for the children of Barangay UP Diliman last April 2005 in one of the DCS’ computer laboratories. Sixty children from underprivileged families attended the two-day event.

Related Links:

ACM Student Chapter Homepage
ACM Int’l Home
UP ACM Official Website
UP ACM Summer Computer Literacy Outreach Program
UP Diliman Department of Computer Science