Regular Records leads to Project
Description and Interim
Reading good material is a way to
improve one's writing. It can be good technical reports, inspirational
sayings, well-written novels, items from a national daily
newspaper, magazine articles, even web-based items. You can find things
of interest to you by using a search engine on the world wide web (web),
browsing in a library, or following your interests.
Reading one reference about style, Strunk and White,
is a very helpful way to improve one's
writing. It is a classic available in book form and in paperback for years.
The original version is on the web at Strunk. See Paragraphs, Topic Sentences.
Regular documentation of what one has done has legal force if the
items are witnessed. Recording in writing a description of your
innovations and ideas is essential to protect your
intellectual property. The mechanism is simple: pick a notebook, write
in it regularly. Keep the items in it numbered in sequence by date. Have a
witness sign and date some of the pages. Have observation of your work
by an outsider done at least weekly and the record kept with it.
Many useful listservers deliver information at regular intervals. Two are
particularly helpful. The first, Edupage, is a source on technical developments.
You can subscribe by sending mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the
message: "subscribe edupage your_name" . The second,
A Word A Day, (AWAD), has
subscription obtainable by email to email@example.com.
General interest books (e.g., three referred to in
Precise Terms), newspaper items (e.g., many of those in Articles, or that in
Programming Career), and a document prepared for government committee
Technical Work all offer good places to start. To pin down the benefit of
doing this see Exercises 10 and 11 below.
One typical fault in technical writing is use of the
That form hides responsibility, makes what actually occurred a bit fuzzy. Good
writing uses simple direct language: verbs there make actions stand out.
Here's how the list server put it:
Verbs are special words. They describe action. Nothing would ever get
done if it were not for the verbs. Look at a sentence on your screen or
on the paper -- it just lies there listless, mere collection of random
words until a verb comes to infuse life into it. ...
Exercise 1. Which of these two-word phrases
(came from1, were taken2, is used3, are
are active? Do any use passive verb? Can you change some passive to an
equivalent but stronger active form?
Read something found from
until you find a passive voice sentence. Rewrite that item to replace it
with an active form. (This exercise forces you to work on style so
writing becomes stronger and hence more effective.)
Exercise 2. Select a saying from
Write a paragraph about how it applies to your CS 190 project, or work
interaction with others. If nothing else comes to mind, substitute
something from your experience as a UCLA student in computing or
Exercise 3. Read a newspaper or magazine article on a computing-related topic, such as those on the web and reachable from Articles. Write a page
about your reaction to the article or create a short summary.
Exercise 4. Search the web
for an article on a technical term of interest to you. [Nanostructures
could lead you to Small Devices,
for example.] After reading the article
write a page describing your thoughts (reaction) or create a short summary.
The following page is organized by brief terms. Each is used to describe
in general terms a list of sayings (some are collected by other authors
and are catch-all; others attempt to characterize related
things). Please follow the Internet-link/pointer:
Inspired and then to other
places reachable from that page. When done, return and see 5. and 6.
Exercise 5. Select a heading/saying pair you find awkward. Either propose a new
category for the saying or a reason to delete it entirely. Alternatively (or in
addition), which single saying item found from the above pointer best
describes your belief about work?
Exercise 6. Some of the lists that follow the pointer in Exercise 5
are significantly shorter or longer than the others.
For achieving balance between the lists
some sayings should be moved or deleted. Select at least two. Discuss
why these should be relocated or dropped.
Exercise 7. Choose a theme to follow for a month or more and select a
book to read to support you in that. (Your theme can involve computer
systems, programming, design, speaking, writing, copyrights, creating a
business, or any topic that would motivate your project.)
Exercise 8. Review the Agenda. Visit two lists
How can either be used to improve the cooperative design
process? [For starters, you could consider this:
Many books begin each chapter with a quotation, saying or proverb as an
introduction to the theme or main point. The Internet-link/pointer
lists such items. A possibility involves tieing some design objectives to
themes in the inspirational word lists. (Some sayings were in
email distributed by a daily list server about definitions. If
interested located use the following:
To subscribe or unsubscribe, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org
with "Subject:" line as "subscribe " or "unsubscribe". ...
Archives, FAQ, words and more at the WWW site: http://www.wordsmith.org/awad/
Exercise 9. Choose an emotionally-loaded topic as a basic theme. Find a source
on that theme, read it, record some key points, and write not more than two
pages to indicate a neutral, balanced, assessment of this reading and related
issues. (Possible sources are listed in the last paragraph under Reading.)
Exercise 10. Continued work in the computer field is the theme of
Programming Career and
Technical Work. Read both items. Use library or web search to gather
statistics on the issues they raise. Prepare a table, graph or other
visual figure to display the information you locate.