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

August, 2010

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Bytes by MSDN and TechNet


    Microsoft has just started a new series of blogs that will highlight various developers and IT professionals from around the US and beyond. This is a chance to see and hear interviews with a lot of people who are in the business and can speak to what new technologies mean to them and their businesses. Looks like it is going to be interesting.

    Bytes by MSDN (

    Listen or watch 18 influential community and Microsoft developers interviewed at Tech·Ed 2010 talk about mobile, the cloud, the client, and a variety of additional topics that they are passionate about.  Check back weekly for the next installment in the series or subscribe and take it on the go.

    BYTES by TechNet  (

    IT Professional Evangelists Keith Combs, Chris Henley, Matt Hester and Harold Wong interviewed 19 influential IT Professionals from Community and Microsoft at TechEd NA 2010 about Windows 7, Windows Server, Windows Azure, SQL Azure, BPOS, SharePoint 2010, Office 2010, Exchange Server 2010 and SQL Server 2008 and a variety of additional topics that they are passionate about.

    Listen or watch interviews and check back weekly for the new installment in the series or subscribe to the RSS feed and take it on the go.



  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Accessibility and Computer Science


    My first real knowledge of differently abled people using computers came about 35 years ago when I was in college. There was a recent graduate of the college who was seriously physically limited. He lived most of his life in an Iron Lung. he could not walk and his hand and arm strength was very limited. He did have an amazingly powerful mind though. We loved it when his mother rolled him into the computer lab on his travelling bed with attached  respirator. Why? The man could look at a listing of your code and find problems no one else could. He had a problem using a keyboard though. Most keyboards back in the day would automatically repeat a letter if you help down the key too long. He could not move his hands fast enough. Eventually they found someone to make him a custom keyboard and he was able to work from home as a programmer. The right technology enabled him in ways that would not otherwise be possible.

    More recently I learned about David Hayden and his note taker project. David is legally blind. This makes taking notes in math classes pretty difficult. He can scan the board using an assistive vision tool (monocular for example) but the time it takes to move from looking through a tool like that to putting his face close enough to a notebook to draw diagrams means he was missing a lot. It just didn’t work. David is a double major and his second major is computer science. (First is math) So he decided to turn to technology to help.

    David combines a custom designed and build camera with a high quality zoom and a Tablet PC for note taking. The tablet’s split screen shows the board and the professor’s work on one panel and his notes on the second.  He can control the camera from the Tablet PC while he takes his notes. The time from viewing the board to viewing his notes pretty much goes away. at least it is not worse than fully sighted students. Does it work? Well it looks like he will be going on for a PhD which I think is a positive note.

    David winning the top prize for Tablet PC applications at this year’s Imagine Cup.

    david IC

    Want to read more about David?

    Cameron Evans (Microsoft CTO for Education) put up a post on his blog about David Hayden and Note-Taker (Visually-Impaired Student Solves Accessibility Challenge, Becomes an Entrepreneur ).  

    The ASU Web site (David is a student at Arizona State University) also has a great article on David and this project -

    For more general information about computer accessibility see the Microsoft Accessibility web site


  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Interesting Links 9 August 2010


    What a week. My son was married a week ago. I picked him and his bride up from their honeymoon last night. In between I took a trip to Texas for a Microsoft conference and celebrated my birthday while away. At least my bride was with me and I was able to meet up with my brother and sister in law who live in Texas. But a crazy week. I still managed to collect a few good links though. And if you didn’t see it I listed my 10 Most Popular Posts June and July 2010.

    This (Visually-Impaired Student Solves Accessibility Challenge, Becomes an Entrepreneur ) is a great post by Cameron Evans (Microsoft CTO for Education) about David Hayden and Team Note-Taker who won the Tablet part of the Imagine Cup this year. Great story about someone taking charge of their own problems. Speaking of accessability, the Microsoft Accessibility web site has been rebuilt and reopened.  They want everyone to know that accessible design can be beautiful. This is the first stop you should make if you have differently able students you want to help or if you want to teach students about accessible design.

    From Jean-Luc David (@jldavid) and others I found links to Bill Gates - In 5 Years The Best Education Will Come From The Web. I’m skeptical. There are too many people problems to work out. Plus I think that a lot of the best learning comes from people actually being together.

    Speaking of differently able people, @iRobotSPARK, lead me to this article called Robot Speaks the Language of Kids. Robots are being built and programmed to work with autistics students. Yet another example of computer science and engineering making a difference in the world.

    From @MSTechStudent (follow them on Facebook at  If you need assistance in creating amazing games, here’s a XNA Game Studio 4.0 CTP & Education Roadmap.

    Cy Khormaee recently blogged about high school computer science teacher Pat Yongpradit being selected to participate in the 2010 Microsoft Worldwide Innovative Education Forum in South Africa!

    Related to that my new manager, Bob Familiar (@bobfamiliar) wrote about the Innovative Education program in the US at a post titled Exceptional Teachers Recognized at the Microsoft 2010 U.S. Innovative Education Forum

    If you are interested in conferences at all, I made some random conference observations in a recent blog post on another blog.

    Oh and Tara Walker from the US Academic team has started blogging again. Drop by Tara’s blog and see what she is sharing.

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