This page is an introduction to the various tools that are useful for Computer Science research and coursework. Many links references more detailed pages, which are also linked into my lecture pages.
I got my start with computers back in the very-early 1980's working with both an Apple IIe and an IBM mainframe at my school, at that time BASIC was the "thing". Additionally, there was a mysterious language called Pascal, soon to be part of my future and the stuff of legends quickly there after.
During this checkered career, I have used a wide variety of machines and learned many languages (BASIC, Pascal, C/C++, Fortran, COBOL, Perl, Java, ......) During this time, I came to realize that a computer without development tools is more than a little annoying.
In my opinion, after having learned to program living in a digital ghetto is unacceptable. This lead me to working in Linux (Slackware) during the majority of my graduate studies and is still a primary workhorse for research and teaching. With the release of OS X I returned to Apple where I do my primary development using GNU related tools and a couple of pay-for-play programs. Both Linux and Apple have many advantages, most importantly, they mesh very well and work to the other's strength. Currently, the only time I really use Windows is for electronic/robotics hobby tools I find useful for my research. Recently, I have maintained a dual-booted (Linux/XP) netbook using Wubi for lectures to show students what is available without compromising their comfort zone.
The Approach -- Really Nothing New...The basic rules are to have a tool-set that is:
Based on these rules, the only thing that comes close is Open Source and Free/Shareware tools (in that order.) This does not enforce exclusive Linux functionality (as these rules can be mostly met with OS X and Cygwin. ) What it does mean is tools like MS Office are very problematic. For example, I do use Apples Keynote, which violates the availability rules, but the ability to beautifully render any image is worth the trade-off. As a counter example, Power Point is a tool I refuse to use, because not only is it not consistently available, the ability for it to work with images is severely lacking. If you disbelieve my claim, put Keynote side-by-side with Power Point, then load a PDF image in both. Keynote will allow you to manipulate and see the image, while Power Point refuses.
Links into the tool pages
© Jeffrey O. Pfaffmann (Home Page)
Last modified: 2/8/2011 17:22