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Educating Verity

A breeze is riffling academia's pubic hair

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Stob It's my own fault. If you've told me once, you've told me a hundred times to ignore them. You know the sort of thing:

Bacheelor, MasteerMBA, and Doctoraate diplomas available in the field of your choice that's right, you can even become a Doctor and receive all the benefits that comes with it!

Last year, I fell victim to a hankering for a MasteerMSC in Software Development and receiving all the benefits that comes with it. I clicked the link and authorised a payment for the wrong end of a £thou from my Visa card.

But I should admit I have kidded you a little. The advertisement was not worded quite as I have indicated. For the website where I found it was none other than El Reg itself, and the organisation pushing the qualifications was the Open University. 

(Pause for a Proustian moment while everybody of my generation plays this trumpet involuntary on their mental televisions.)

M885 Analysis and design of enterprise systems: an object oriented approach arrives as a plastic, self-assembly box file, a three volume set of A4 books containing the course itself, an infuriating and dispiriting tome called The Good Study Guide full of timekeeping and studying advice that is meant to encourage but actually would put off all but the most hardened swot, and a vast amount of miscellaneous paperwork containing many assorted further instructions and prohibitions. 

Especially homework. One might expect a week or two's grace at the start of a course since, not yet having learned anything, one has nothing to regurgitate. However, at M885 they subscribe to the principle, familiar from schooldays, that if the hockey pitch is waterlogged, you can always send the kids on a run. Out of the frying pan and into the mud.

Week two's question required us to read a paper, originally published in the prestigious, peer-reviewed journal IEEE Software, called 'Open Source Reuse in Commercial Firms' by T. R. Madanmohan and Rahul De', associate professors at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. When we were done reading it, we had to answer questions. (You may wonder what open source use has to do with object-oriented analysis and design. That would be both of us, then.)

Now I am going to have to ask you to be very brave, because if anything of what I have to say is to make sense then you, too, are going to taste a little of this paper. Calm down. By its own account, it's mostly just a survey asking people how they use open source software - how hard to read can that be? The following is one of the passages we were instructed to discuss in our homework. It purports to explain how companies choose open source software.

Open source projects that are too platform-specific aren't good either. For example, many open source content management system developers have based their spawning, multiple (often competing), and derivative projects on a single platform. To develop them into useful applications requires excessive, code-based customization. While extensibility is important, customers expect to see the inclusion of core features, together with the ability to configure key settings. Open source components with low code volatility, high platform heterogeneity, and high configuration and optimization space are the best choices. Robust test cases and user credibility are other dimensions developers must consider to identify the right components.

I assure you that context improves the sense of the above not one pica-jot. If you don't believe me, click here and you can read the whole thing for yourself… for $29.

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