Computer Science Teacher
Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

May, 2007

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    CSU Fullerton Game Camp (California)

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    One of my friends who is an adjunct profession in Game Development at California State Fullerton is having a game camp event later this month. Teachers and students in that part of the country may find this announcement interesting.

    California State University, Fullerton would like to invite you and especially your students to attend a special day on May 26, 2007 (Saturday) between 9:30 AM and 12:30 PM.  Sign up at:

    Registration site: http://www.clicktoattend.com/?id=118410
    Event Code: 118410

    The purpose of this special event is to show the high school students the game design program at California State University, Fullerton, and is held with the support of Microsoft, Corporation. 

     Your student would learn how to:

    • Create a 3-D model using industry accepted Maya 3-D studio as well as a parallel example using the freely available Blender modeling tool.
    • Use the 3-D model in a Vista/XP based computer inside of a game that uses geometry, trig and other math tools.  Your student will find out more about the California State University, Fullerton Game Track and what they will learn.  Students from the game track have signed up to do this talk!
    • Select students will then use the model, and the game generated previously and loads it into an XBOX 360 console game, see how to test their software and play their simple game on the XBOX 360.
    • A brief demonstration of the use of Math in Robotics will also be shown.

    We do ask that students understand that they can invite their parents, friends and relatives to this event!   Due to the logistics of the event, food will not be served as the classrooms that will be used do not permit food in them.

    For more information contact Professor Stokes, who is a full time employee of Microsoft and adjunct professor in game design at California State University, Fullerton at 949 6375736 (his cell) or email him at samuelstokes@fullerton.edu

    Not a bad way to spend part of a Saturday if you are interested in computer game design.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Workshop on the Impact of Pen-based Technology on Education

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    WIPTE (Workshop on the Impact of Pen-based Technology in Education) is coming up next month and it looks like a great conference. It will be June 11th and 12th at Purdue University in Indiana.

    WIPTE is open to anyone with an interest in instructional technology. A wide variety of disciplines are embracing Tablet PC's and similar pen-based devices as tools for the radical enhancement of teaching and learning. This conference is intended to leverage this shared passion and to identify best practices in the educational use of pen-based computing so that all educators may benefit from this next generation of technology.

    There are sessions on using pen-based computers in courses as diverse as physics and writing, and there is a complete track focused on "Special uses and K-12 Uses of Pen-Based Technologies." It's very reasonably priced as well. So this is clearly not just for the higher education people!

    This is a great opportunity for educators at all levels to learn about how teachers and professors are using these new pen-based computers and input devices to improve the quality of teaching and learning. I've seen some of the tools that will be talked about and they have me seriously excited.

    I recommend this workshop for administrators, curriculum specialists, technology integration specialists and others who evaluate learning and teaching technology for schools.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Is anyone teaching security in school?

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    Operating system security is a mystery to me in some regards. While there was a time when I thought I knew a good deal about security that was a long time ago. I was once the maintainer of the login and logout software for an operating system for example. I was also deeply involved in security discussions and implementation in the print and batch (batch is like shell scripts running in the background) for that same operating system. But things were simpler then.

    Today there is a lot of talk about security and who is more secure. I read the following today.

    From your research on both platforms, is there a winner between Mac OS X 10.4 and Vista on security? I have found the code quality, at least in terms of security, to be much better overall in Vista than Mac OS X 10.4. It is obvious from observing affected components in security patches that Microsoft's Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) has resulted in fewer vulnerabilities in newly-written code. I hope that more software vendors follow their lead in developing proactive software security development methodologies.

    I highlight that not because it says that Vista is better (although that is a plus) but because it makes the point about needing "proactive software security development methodologies." I don't think we, where "we" means both the software industry and the academic world, spend enough time training people to think about security.

    Oh to be sure there are special courses on the topic but in general they seem to be optional electives. We don't integrate security thinking in courses and pretty much ignore the issue in the early courses. I'm not sure where self-taught developers ever learn it if not on the job. On the job I have no idea what goes on these days.

    Back when I was programming OS stuff and long before than when I was doing applications development we talked security all the time. How would you break in to this system? How would you by-pass the checks? What sort of things might someone try to do to "game" the system to get access at things they should not have access to? What we call threat modeling today was lunch room discussion 20 years ago. I don't know if it happened everywhere though.

    For a long time people, or at least some people, in the industry and academia just assumed everyone was good and honest. People thought about preventing accidents like pushing the wrong button or pressing Enter too many times. But a lot of people just didn't seem to worry about security unless they were doing applications in a paranoid environment. I think I was lucky to work in paranoid environments (accounting and banking) early in my career.

    Now a first (or second) course in programming may be too early to spend a lot of time on security - there is after all a lot to cover as it is - but I think it is at least worth discussing early. If we can only get students to realize that one day they may be writing code that someone may deliberately try to break it will start them thinking in the right directions.

    I know I have blogged about this before but somehow it seems to me I should bring it up again from time to time in different contexts because I think it is pretty important.

     

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