362-390 Scientific Applications of Computing

Steven Dutch, Professor Emeritus, Natural and Applied Sciences,University of Wisconsin - Green Bay
Office: Laboratory Sciences 116
Phone 465-2246
E-mail dutchs@uwgb.edu

Syllabus Spring 1998

Week Lecture and Lab Topic
Jan. 20-22 Introduction, Windows Operating System
Jan. 27-29 MS-DOS, because it's still lurking out there
Feb. 3-5 Word Processing: WordPerfect, Basic W-P operations
Feb. 10-12 Word Processing Continued: Tables, Equations, Figures
Feb. 17-19 Introduction to Graphics: Windows Paintbrush; types of graphics files
Feb. 24-26 Scanning graphics and text. Cleanup
Mar. 3-5 Web Pages:Introduction to htmL; Net Searches
Mar. 10-12 Advanced Web Page Operations
Mar. 14-22 Spring Break
Mar. 24-26Basic Spreadsheet Operations
Mar. 31-Apr. 2 Lotus Spreadsheet: Graphing, Macros, Ranges
Apr. 7-9 Lotus Spreadsheet: log and trig functions, equation solving
Apr. 14-16 Data Base Creation
Apr. 28-30 Relational Data Bases: Merging Files, Queries
May 5-7 Review, Lab Final

May 19 Final Exam: 1 - 3 PM


Link to Course Notes
Link to Course Assignments


Things you will need to buy: enough disks to hold your work,plus a backup copy. A stapler.

To save the hassles of waiting for printouts, most assignments will be graded from screen output.

Label every disk with your name, both electronically and usinga paper label.

Make a backup copy of all your work.

Save your returned assignments, both hard copy (if applicable) and on disk. I do make mistakes in grading, and you may need to demonstrate thatyou did get credit for an assignment. I will not be responsiblefor problems due to lost disks, failure to back up work, orfailure to retain assignments. (Catastrophes like your houseburning down are the only exceptions)

For hard-copy assignments, print out your assignments neatly, and proofread the results. If your output is sloppy, re-format it and reprint it. Sloppy output will be penalized. Sloppy output includes (these are someof the more common problems):

Trim the tractor feed edging off any printed assignments, and do oneof the following:

Do not mix stapled and fan-folded output. Also, do not tearpages in the middle. This also falls under the heading of sloppyoutput



1. Myth: There is no longer any need to know about the internalworkings of computers, DOS, files, or programming.


Who's going to configure your new computer for you?Who's going to recover from crashes? If it's somebody else, thenwhat are you doing to earn your paycheck? When Windows crashes on your laptop while you're on the road, can you still get some work done? It happened to me.


When you buy software, you are a passive consumer,dependent on somebody else. You wait for them to decide yourproblem is worth solving, you pay their price and obey theirconditions. What you write yourself is yours.

2. Myth: It's best to memorize commands; using the manual isuncool.


What you memorize today is going to be obsolete ina few years. Learn methods, not commands. Manuals are written tobe used.

3. Myth: There's an optimum assemblage of software that willserve users for life.


Software evolves rapidly and different employersmay use radically different packages.

4. Myth: Once I get out in the work force, I'll have state-of-the-art equipment and software.


Maybe, if your employer recently bought or upgradedhis or her system. Don't expect to get upgrades every timesomething new comes out, though. It is too expensive and time-consuming to switch systems frequently.


You don't need power for many applications. Coloredscreens are more pretty than functional, unless you're displayingcomplex graphics. Buying a Pentium with Windows NT to do word processingis like buying a jet engine to clear snow off your windshield.


In about a thousand days, we will hit the year 2000, and computers all over the world will suffer glitches because they are running twenty-year-old software that uses only two digits for the year. This is testimony to how old many systems are.

These myths add up to one central myth: I can learn what keys topunch and be set for life in the workplace.



1. The General Capabilities of each type of software product

So that you have a good idea whether a particular problem issolvable or not. For example, all spreadsheets accept text,numbers or formulas, all word-processors allow text editing,copying, deletion, and so on. Most high-end software packagesfeature macro creation, many older low-end packages do not.

Once you know what each basic type of program can do, the question is no longer "can I solve the problem?" but "I know I can solve it - I just have to find out how."

2. The Basic Procedures needed to run your software package.

Given the rapid evolution of computers, it is simply a waste ofmental effort to memorize commands in great detail. German orSpanish will last the rest of your life; Lotus 1-2-3 andWordPerfect will not. On the other hand, looking up every commandin the manual is a waste of time, too. Memorize as much as youneed so you can operate smoothly.

3. The Psychology of each package.

Try to understand the mind-setof the designer so that you can guess how he or she approached anunfamiliar problem. Does the Escape key usually abort aprocedure? Does it return you to the previous menu? What sorts ofthings are likely to be on the FILE menu? If you can understandthe mind-set of the designer, you can often guess correctly whatprocedures to try without digging through the manuals.

4. How to get out.

The first thing you should know about anypackage or procedure is how to get out of it. Pay carefulattention to exit prompts and their locations in the menu. Canyou abort procedures? If so, how?

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Created 5 January 1998, Last Update 28 January 1998