Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas from the McCown's

Merry Christmas!

Photo by Stacy Schoen
"For unto you is born this day
in the city of David a Savior,
who is Christ the Lord." - Luke 2:11

Friday, December 17, 2010

Tron's legacy

There's probably no one in Searcy, Arkansas, who is more excited to see TRON: Legacy tonight than myself. If you question my passion for the film, take a look at what is hanging on the most prominent wall in my office:

I saw the first Tron movie when I was about 9 years old. It presented a fictional world inside of computers where programs fought for survival by hurling light discs at each other and racing motorcycle-like vehicles that left a deadly trail of light behind them.

To say that it left an impression on me is an understatement. If you were to ask any NASA scientist why they entered their field, many would point to Star Trek. If you were to ask many computer scientists of a certain age why they got into computing, many would point to Tron (and perhaps War Games).

I'm going into the movie with middle-of-the-road expectations. It's got to be tough making a film that pleases the original Tron fanatics and a younger mainstream audience at the same time. I'll report back later after seeing the film.

In the mean time, check out this Tron music video which features an "alternative ending" to Tron.

End of line.


I really enjoyed the film... 3 out of 4 stars. It had a semi-original plot, but the most interesting thing was just the inner world of Tron. The CG that produced a young Flynn was pretty good, but there is still obvious room for improvement. The 3D was pretty good and was well suited for this type of movie. I think my favorite scene was in the End of the Line Club where Daft Punk had a cameo appearance. Wish the main character, Sam, had his father's zany sense of humor... he's a bit too cool. I'm definitely going to see it again while it's on the big screen.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Android Workshop at SIGCSE 2011

I'm offering a workshop on Android application development at SIGCSE 2011 in March 2011: Audacious Android Application Programming. (The workshop name was shamelessly stolen from Michael Rogers' iPhone workshop from last year's SIGCSE.)

Here's a brief description:
As smartphones and mobile devices become ubiquitous, many CS departments are adding mobile computing electives to their curriculum. Google’s Android OS is a freely available and popular smartphone platform with applications programmed in Java. Workshop participants will be introduced to mobile app development and the Android SDK. We will write some simple Android apps with Eclipse and run them on an emulator. For those interested in teaching an upper-level Android course, reusable programming labs and projects will be distributed, and we will discuss some teaching strategies. Participants should be capable of writing Java programs in Eclipse and should bring their own laptop preloaded with Eclipse and the Android SDK.

The workshop will be held Wednesday, March 9, from 7:00 - 10:00 pm at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel in Dallas, Texas. Cost is $65. More details will be made available soon on the workshop website.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Memento wins Digital Preservation Award 2010

Congratulations to Herbert Van De Sompel and Michael Nelson for being awarded the Digital Preservation Coalition's Digital Preservation Award 2010 for the development of Memento.
"‘Memento offers an elegant and easily deployed method that reunites web archives with their home on the live web,’ explained Richard Ovenden, chair of the Digital Preservation Coalition. ‘It opens web archives to tens of millions of new users and signals a dramatic change in the way we use and perceive digital archives.’"

I've been working with Herbert and Michael on the development of the Memento Browser for Android. It's great to see these guys being recognized for their hard work.