Monday, September 28, 2009

Mobile Computing offered in Spring 2010

This spring I will be co-teaching with Gabriel Foust a new course called Mobile Computing (COMP 475) for 3 credit hours. The course will cover programming the iPhone and Google Android operating systems and development of mobile web applications. The course will meet from 3 to 4:15 pm on Mon and Wed. The prerequisite for this course is Data Structures (COMP 245).

Foust and I are excited to be offering this course for the first time. I hope it will become a course we offer on a regular basis in the future.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Google: We're sorry...

I tried to access my school email account this morning, and I got this error screen:

It says:
"We're sorry... but your computer or network may be sending automated queries. To protect our users, we can't process your request right now."
Google is sorry again that their automated query detector has been tripped. At least they aren't accusing me of having a virus this time.

Anyone else seeing this? Apparently yes.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Archive your Facebook account with ArchiveFacebook

It's finally here... a tool to archive your Facebook account. I've talked about the development of this tool in previous posts. It's a Firefox add-on called ArchiveFacebook which allows you to create a complete off-line, browseable archive of your Facebook account. ArchiveFacebook will archive your Wall, photos, messages... your entire life which has been recorded in Facebook.

You may not believe this, but Facebook will not always be around. Your Facebook account will not always be accessible. It's up to you to archive your data before it lands in the big bit-bucket in the sky.

Thanks to Carlton Northern who worked on this project for the past 6 months and to Michael Nelson who helped direct the development work.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Facebook - content is currently unavailable

Someone tagged me in a photo on Facebook yesterday, but when I click on the link I received in my email, I get the very "helpful" error message:
This content is currently unavailable

The page you requested cannot be displayed right now. It may be temporarily unavailable, the link you clicked on may have expired, or you may not have permission to view this page.

If the page is temporarily unavailable, I should try again and again and again to access it. But if the link has expired, I am wasting my time trying to access it again and again. And if I don't have permissions, how do I get it? There's no helpful tip given as to how to get permission to view the image.

Surely Facebook could tell me which of these is the true problem and suggest what I do next.

I would qualify this as a variation of GUI blooper #28.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Summer reading

Here's a list of the books I finished reading this summer. I'm looking for some titles to read next, so feel free to leave me a recommendation.

The Seven Faith Tribes by George Barna. This book is subtitled, "Who They Are, What They Believe, and Why They Matter," but I think a more accurate description of the book would be "Who They Are and How They Better Get Along Before All Hope Is Lost". Barna uses his massive amounts of survey data to identify seven faith tribes of America: Casual Christians (making up 2/3 of all Americans), Captive Christians (16%), Jews (2%), Mormons (1.5%), Pantheists (1.5%), Muslims (.5%), and Skeptics (11%). Barna outlines 20 shared values between the tribes (e.g., represent the truth well, develop inner peace and purity, seek peace with others, etc.) and calls all tribes to band together and push these values into the media, government, and families, to advance our common national interests. While I admire Barna's call to us all to unite and help our country, the lack of implementation specifics left me somewhat skeptical.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. This book is an informative and entertaining weaving together of various studies and anecdotes that shed light on the (often overlooked) significant factors that lead to success. There's an excellent chapter (Ch 2) that talks about Bill Joy and other computing luminaries which is worth reading, even if you don't want to read the whole book.

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. I enjoyed Outliers so much that I was inspired to read Blink. It focuses on the abilities and distractions caused by our unconscious minds. Gladwell focuses on "thin-slicing", the ability to determine what is important from just a very small amount of information, and how it can be influenced by prejudice and stereotypes. I enjoyed Blink, but not as much as I did Outliers. Tipping Point is next on my list.

The Bravehearted Gospel by Eric Ludy. Christianity has gone soft over the years, and Ludy calls for us to reclaim the Truth of the Bible. I really enjoyed the rallying cry, but I'm still digesting this one.

Surprised by Hope by N. T. Wright. OK, I've been reading this for more than a year and still have about 50 pages to go. It's tough reading but, Wright makes a good case that a Christian's hope should be based on the future resurrection, not "going to heaven." If you enjoy thinking deeply about eschatology, this book is for you.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Did You Know? 2009

This video by Jeff Brenman, karl Finch and Scott McLeod illustrates just how much today's world is changing, especially in regards to technology. Some facts from the video that should really hit home with my computer science students:
"It is estimated that 4 exabytes (4.0x10^19) of unique information will be generated this year.That is more than the previous 5,000 years. The amount of new technical information is doubling every 2 years. For students starting a 4 year technical degree this means that half of what they learn their first year of study will be outdated by their third year of study."
Interesting facts, but I can't say I totally agree with the conclusion (in bold). New information doesn't necessarily replace old information. Technologies do change, but the underlying ideas change at a much slower pace.