Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

From our little dragon to yours...

Friday, October 26, 2007

E-voting at Harding

Today is the first time students at Harding have ever been able to vote online in a student election. Although most schools have been doing this for a while, we haven't gotten with the program until recently. Kudos to Kevin Stewart (the Student Association's faculty sponsor) who got the ball rolling. The e-voting system was developed by three of our CS students under the direction of Gabriel Foust (a CS faculty member).


My pick of the week's top 5 items of interest:
  1. According to the Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology (CPST), Enrollment in bachelor's programs in computer science have dropped 40% from 2001 to 2006, with many students avoiding the field because of "increased risk of job loss due to offshoring and other issues." Unfortunately, we educators are not doing enough to recruit CS students, and many falsehoods continue to be circulated about job risk. In fact, now is one of the best times to be a CS major. The job market is very strong, and many predict that it will continue. Money Magazine recently ranked the top 10 professions, and 4 of the 10 can be fulfilled by CS majors!

  2. This is pretty cool: You can now use the Sitemap Protocol to tell Google about source code housed on your website. This allows Google to improve the accuracy of its Google Code Search.

  3. Congrats to Microsoft who beat out Google and Yahoo in a partnership deal with Facebook. It's tough to beat Google at anything these days.

  4. Neil L. Waters writes an interesting piece in CACM entitled Why you can't cite Wikipedia in my class. This is something every student should read. You may not have the proper permissions to view the article, so I have temporarily placed it here.

  5. My Colorado Rockies are down 0-2 in the World Series against the Red Sox. Here's hoping a return to Denver will bring back the magic.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pledge Week and Insults

We're more than half way through Pledge Week here at Harding. This is the week when a majority of freshmen engage in a number of silly and time-consuming activities in order to become members of a social club (Harding's equivalent of sororities and fraternities). Most of the faculty dread this week because it means a significant number of our students will be missing class and not doing their homework. I moved a test back a week just because it landed on this week.

Before I left Harding to get my Ph.D., I was a sponsor for Knights, a club I was once a member of when I was a Harding student (here's a really old Knights website I used to maintain). Although I'm no longer a sponsor, I'm still glad to see the club going strong.

Today is the Knights joust, an event where the pledges try to smear shaving cream on each other using a long plastic pole. It sounds pretty ridiculous, but it's a lot of fun. I still remember what a blast it was 15 years ago (yes, I'm old) when I trotted out there in my aluminum foil-covered armor.

In the spirit of Pledge Week, when pledges are routinely subjected to insults, here are a few classics:
  1. "Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go."
    Oscar Wilde

  2. "His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork."
    Mae West

  3. "He loves nature in spite of what it did to him."
    Forrest Tucker

  4. "They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge."
    Thomas Brackett Reed

  5. "He is a self-made man and worships his creator."
    John Bright

  6. "He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends."
    Oscar Wilde

  7. "A modest little person, with much to be modest about."
    Winston Churchill

Update on 10/26/2007:

It's good to see some of my colleague's kids have joined Knights. I'm hoping Ethan will one day do the same although his mother, a former TNT queen, is trying to indoctrinate him into preferring blue over green.

Oh, if you are trying to access my old Knights website from inside the Harding firewall, you're out of luck. The Internet Archive is being blocked since its an "anonymizing utility". Blah.

Friday, October 19, 2007

One dissertation defense... check!

My defense this morning went really well, and I'm now a doctor (not the MD kind, so please don't bother me when you are having a heart attack). All I need to do now is make some minor corrections, and I'll be walking in December. I really appreciate all those who have sent me encouraging notes and called the past few days... your prayers have meant a lot to me.

I'm also really thankful to my mom who drove down from St. Louis in the rain to help out my wife while I was gone. Ethan can be a lot of work, especially when your back is shot and you're fighting a cold.

Here's a photo of Ethan with his Warrick t-shirt which I used on my final slide this morning. (Warrick is the name of my website reconstructor, part of my dissertation, and the t-shirt was a gift from Joan, my office-mate at ODU.) Can't wait to see my family again tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Leaving for Norfolk

I'm headed to Norfolk in a few hours to defend my dissertation. Becky and Ethan are staying behind this time, but we're all making the trip in December for graduation.

Some people really hate to fly, but I'm actually looking forward to it. There's no better opportunity to either nap or read. I'm bringing along some really good reading material, and Ethan's multiple wakings last night has guaranteed I'll sleep well on the plane. Here's a sample of what I'll be reading on the plane:
It just occurred to me that I'm going to have to change the subtitle on my blog since this dissertation is almost at a close. Any suggestions?

Friday, October 12, 2007


My pick of the week's top 5 3 items of interest (it's a slow week, and I'm ready to go home):
  1. The first Internet census since 1982 was just completed.

  2. Researchers at Southampton University have developed a new search engine for images which relies on the content of the image rather than words appearing near it on a web page.

  3. Today's my birthday. Yes, Kirk Cameron, Pavarotti and me were all born on Oct 12. If you're looking for a good gift to send me, I suggest one of these $100 laptops (that actually cost $200). Even better would be Halo 3. wink I'm actually playing Halo 3 for the first time Monday night with some students... should be a lot of fun.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Crawling behavior of Google, MSN, and Yahoo

Thanks, Marko, for sending me a link to this study analyzing the crawling behavior of the big three search engines. The experiment involved setting up a synthetic collection of web pages arranged as a binary search tree. They monitored the crawl log and performed search engine queries for a period of one year (2005-4-13 to 2006-4-13).

The photo below is a visualization of Yahoo's crawling behavior (Yahoo was the most active of the three crawlers). You can see an animation of the tree growing each day here.

We performed a similar experiment at ODU back in 2005 except we removed web pages every day from our collections to see how long they would stay cached by the search engines. And Joan, a fellow Ph.D. student at ODU who worked on the previous experiment, has been performing another experiment over the last several months with a very deep and wide collection of pages. (You can find links to the pages at the bottom-right corner of this page labeled Joan1-4).

What I found really interesting about this experiment was the methodology used to created the web pages. They altered the pages by appending the crawl log of the pages and allowing anyone (including spam bots) to make comments that appeared on the pages. This kept the page contents unique and changing to entice more crawls.

I really hope the authors of the study will submit their findings for publication in a peer-reviewed conference or journal.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Harding football on ESPN

In case you missed it, Harding was recently featured on ESPN's top 10 plays of the day. The footage, which ranked number 2 3, shows a Harding receiver catching a TD pass which deflected off of a defender and a fellow receiver. Good stuff.

Friday, October 05, 2007

One dissertation... check!

Yee-ha! I just completed my dissertation (at least temporarily) and emailed it off to my committee. I'll be defending Lazy Preservation: Reconstructing Websites from the Web Infrastructure two weeks from today at ODU. Of course there will likely be many minor revisions to make after the defense, but the hard part is finished. Praise God! smile

By the way, if any of you are having problems sleeping at night, I'll be happy to email you a copy of my dissertation.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Lectureship concludes today

The Harding University Lectureships concluded today. I haven't been able to attend much of it until today.

This morning, Mike Myers from the Littleton Church of Christ spoke in chapel and gave a keynote address before lunch. Mike was my youth minister growing up at Littleton, and he later became the pulpit minister. I haven't seen Mike in years, so it was really good to hear him speak. It brought back a lot of memories.

Mike talked about those times when we feel God isn't there. This was a very relevant topic for Mike: his mother had been suffering for several years from Alzheimer's and passed away just last week. It's at those dark times that God offers us a gleam of hope... we can be confident in knowing that He loves us, that He sent His son to die for us and knows what suffering is and that we have a chance to be with Him someday in the future.

Mike mentioned how the Colorado Rockies have been playing so well recently, even when everyone wrote them off at the beginning on the season. He even went so far to say they would win the World Series. When Howard Norton reminded Mike that he was in Cardinals country, Mike replied, "we all have sins we need to repent of. " wink