Discourses

I’m helping organize a panel of faculty at my school who have been using a range of different technologies to support student interaction in and out of class. With so many options out there, we want to focus on what has worked for us, what hasn’t worked, and start some conversations around how to make the jump from looking at your course, with its content, outcomes, and pedagogy, and draw on others experience with these tools on the ground with our systems and our students to have some idea what options might be appropriate. Independently of this, I’ve got a … Continue reading Discourses

Sometimes you can blame the compiler. Sort of.

I don’t know if this weblog entry about bug hunting in large scale game development is more appropriate for my spring games course or my spring project management course. The stories are great for both directions. Team members with poorly defined roles! Frantic timelines leading to bugs! The reality of entire days lost to a bug that won’t be found, let alone fixed! Bugs explained in simple code a novice student can understand! I particularly enjoyed the explanation of why the live server compiler ran without debug capabilities, violating the ideal that the dev and live servers are identically configured, … Continue reading Sometimes you can blame the compiler. Sort of.

Risks in user content

My security class is talking about the types of commonly seen mistakes that can crop up when writing programs that lead to security flaws, and while I usually introduce the ideas using “normal” programming examples because it is the common background I can assume my students have, I’m trying to help the students map these ideas to what they’ve seen of database or web development as well. So I finally went back in my saved links and read through a Google blog post from a month ago about security issues in hosting user content, specifically web content. After a brief … Continue reading Risks in user content

What are you getting credit for?

A colleague sent me an article about a U.S. university accepting transfer credit for a Udacity course – something described in the headline and the first few paragraphs as being a breakthrough in a school accepting a free, online course for full transfer credit. The article gets interested when you dig into it though. The course in question is a intro level “Introduction to Computer Science” course. And, in order to get the transfer credit, students have to not only get a certificate of completion from Udacity showing that they completed the course, but also pass an exam administered at … Continue reading What are you getting credit for?

Robots run amok

Interesting story of the life webcast of the Hugo Awards being blocked by copyright enforcement bots. Short version: the live webcast included clips of the television episodes up for best script (as award ceremonies do) and UStream’s bots for detecting copyrighted work spotted it and blocked the entire rest of the broadcast. The article points out that not only is that fair use but, the clips were provided by the copyright holders who were happy the content was being promoted as award winning. The whole thing is reminiscent of NASA’s footage of the Curiosity landing being removed from NASA’s YouTube … Continue reading Robots run amok

Let’s read some books!

An article on how reading is important for leadership feels appropriate for the start of the semester, particularly with it’s mention in the second paragraph of the difference between literacy and the ability for deep reading. A fun exercise is applying a bit of that “deep reading” to this article. You’ll probably notice that there’s lots of fine anecdotal accounts of great leaders also being great readers. When the evidence starts coming out, things get shakier. The supporting link for the claim that reading offers the best stress-reduction is to a newspaper article about the study that doesn’t make clear … Continue reading Let’s read some books!

Brick-and-mortar college

For some reason, this article about Best Buy as a showroom (from earlier this year but I only just read it) made me think about the conversation going on about MOOCs. I had to ask myself if my willingness to turn to online stores for a deal rather than spending more for a more robust experience (being able to try out products, get advice, have it immediately) revealed my feeling that small, in-person classes are still worth the money hypocritical or, at least, motivated by self-interest. So I thought about what I do buy in-person, rather than online. Clothes, obviously … Continue reading Brick-and-mortar college

Rethinking courses

I recommend both this article about plagiarism in Coursera’s courses but also the comment thread, which makes a few interesting connections between the specific issue of plagiarism happening in these courses, and the broader discussion about MOOCs and their role in the higher education universe. The obvious question, posed but not answered in any of this, is why would students plagiarize in a free, non-credit course that they are taking entirely voluntarily? If you want to just watch the lectures, or just do the reading, there’s absolutely nothing in the structure of these courses to prevent it. And, completing the … Continue reading Rethinking courses

This entry readable in lynx 2.8.3 or higher.

This security critique of the Tesco website is a hoot. It walks through an increasingly deep, and increasing damning, look at what is wrong with their setup, and how you can tell. The critique is well peppered with links to additional content about the problems being described, so it’s not a bad starting place to learn something about web security. It is also an accessible illustration of the type of exploration and deduction that can be used to profile a system and its vulnerability. Finally, to me, it reads as a nice lesson in why you can’t just “throw some … Continue reading This entry readable in lynx 2.8.3 or higher.

Readability versus Realism

I’ve been reading a lot about games and game design over the past few months, and this recent blog post about when visual detail in games becomes overwhelming rung true for me. It’s responding to the difficulty that can emerge when trying to actually play the stunning, complex, 3D games that are coming out, when compared to less graphically “sophisticated” games. The idea of readability, and what makes a game readable, is nicely discussed. I liked the idea, hinted at, that if your game is only playable because you have added meta-labels that appear when you’ve successfully found or targeted … Continue reading Readability versus Realism