[ProgSoc] TFM: Time For Modification

Tomislav Bozic tomchristmas at progsoc.org
Mon Jun 15 10:37:23 EST 2009

It's official: TFM 2003/4 has now been consigned to history!

Now that we have run out of print copies (we ran out some months ago), I
decided that it was best to post the complete text online [1] and
designate it as 'deprecated'.

Disclaimer: while I've done my level best during the text's conversion
from the original LaTeX to HTML to ensure that none of the text was lost
(I had the print copy in front of me during conversion just to double
check), there are bound to be omissions and errors here and there. Also,
the text was written/updated some six years ago, so its usefulness is
questionable (and a lot of the links don't work anymore); I've posted the
text primarily for 'historical reasons'. So please don't hold myself or
this club liable for any misfortunes that might befall you as a
consequence of following/misinterpreting the online form of the text.

The big question now is: do we work on and publish a new edition?

We could retire the text and leave it at that. The original TFMs were
written at a time when decent, well-written documentation on technical
subjects were either scarce or hard-to-find, so perhaps TFM has fallen
into obsolescence.

Or, we could press on. This, of course, would lead to a whole heap of
other questions, including but not limited to:

* What are we going to write about? What do we add? What do we take away?
There was some discussion at the AGM about this [2]. I tend to agree with
the view that the focus of TFM should be shifted more towards
UTS/ProgSoc-specific stuff and that it avoid IT course content (perhaps it
could help fill the gaps that course content tend to leave). Some other

- Chapters about the club should be updated to reflect the current state
of the club (and our registration system should be fixed so that we can
boast about our registration system in the new TFM).

- Likewise, chapters about UTS.

- Perhaps condense the chapters on e-mail. Update.

- Ambivalent about retaining chapters on HTML and CSS. Useful as it may be
to know it, hardly anyone makes their own personal home page anymore (it's
mostly blogs and social networking nowadays - no knowledge of HTML
required). Also, we don't want course content overlap.

- Keep Usenet. Still reasonably popular.

- Scrap IRC and MUD. Both still have their fervent fans, but in relative
terms, not as popular as it used to be. Read about it in an earlier TFM.

- Condense desktop environment chapters into one. Talk about KDE as well.

- Update the Linux chapter. Good chance for me to shamelessly plug John
Elliot's and my LFS project [3] :P

- Who uses the C shell?

- Perhaps someone studying law at the moment could give the copyright
chapter a look-over.

- Restore the chapter on Haskell. Update it. Do they teach functional
programming at the undergrad level at UTS? We should be writing more about
programming in general. Isn't this what this club is (ostensibly) about?

- It has been suggested that we have chapters on basic computer science
and discrete mathematics/probability.

* How will we be going about writing it? Do we do it the old-fashioned way
and write LaTeX-formatted text contained within a revision control
repository or do we just edit a wiki? Either way, a centralised, managed
approach is best as far as collaborative works are concerned.

* When do we intend on publishing it? I'd like to see a new edition out
early next year, but that would probably be wishful thinking...

* In what formats shall it be published? Print? Online? Both?

It would be great if we put our combined efforts into this project. It
would bring us together and give our club a(nother) purpose (if only for a
while). At the very least, we should do it for posterity, so that we can
have another 'technology time capsule' to present to them.


[1] http://www.progsoc.org/tfm/tfm03/toc2003.html

[2] http://www.progsoc.org/wiki/index.php/AGM_20090326#Future_of_TFM

[3] http://wiki.progsoc.org/doku.php?id=awesomo-lfs

To judiciously use split infinitives is fine by me...

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