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

April, 2012

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Learn The Cloud. Make A Difference. @home with Windows Azure

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    How does learning about cloud computing while contributing to scientific research sound to you? Join us for @home with Windows Azure to get a solid understanding of the Windows Azure platform while giving back to a very deserving cause.

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    What is @home with Windows Azure?

    Microsoft provides a 90-day free trial of Windows Azure where you can kick the tires and run an application in the cloud 24x7, cost-free. Why not use that free compute time to give back to a deserving cause?  The @home with Windows Azure project is an online activity where you use those 90-days of free compute time (or your MSDN Subscriber benefits) to contribute to Stanford University’s Folding@home distributed computing project.

    The Folding@home project helps scientists provide insight into the causes of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Mad Cow disease, ALS, and some cancer-related syndromes, by running protein folding simulations on thousands of machines world wide.

    You will deploy Stanford’s Folding@home application to Windows Azure, where it will execute protein folding simulations in the cloud, thus contributing to the research effort. In essence, your participation is a donation of your free compute time to the Folding@home project!

    Get Started

    It’s easy to get started in 4 quick steps. The @home with Windows Azure site has a series of short, easy to follow along to, screencasts that walk you through deploying Folding@home to the cloud!

    Learn The Cloud

    Want to go deeper? Join the @home team for a live webcast or catch one of their recordings on demand to learn more about Windows Azure, including: compute & storage services, debugging in the cloud, and patterns for achieving scale.

    Make A Difference

    In addition to directly contributing CPU cycles to the Folding@home project, from the start of March 2012, Microsoft is donating $10 (up to a maximum of $5000) to Stanford’s Pande Lab for everyone that participates!

    See Your Impact

    You can see your impact by visiting the detailed World Stats page on the @home with Windows Azure site.  For example, to date, over 6,300 VMs have contributed over 3.5 million compute hours!!!

    Learn more about the project and join in at the project’s website: http://distributedcomputing.cloudapp.net



  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Have You Joined Microsoft Partners in Learning?

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    This is one of those announcements that hits my inbox that is for all teachers in K-12. Partners in Learning is a community of educators of all subjects and age groups. Something here for everyone.

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    Microsoft Partners in Learning would like to invite you to join the new ‘Partners in Learning Network’ – a worldwide community of educators and schools www.pil-network.com. Embraced by the theme ‘Your Ideas Matter’ the PiL Network is a community for you, by you, and further amplifies the great work that is being done every day by teachers and schools around the world.  With this idea in mind, we invite you to try out this global online resource and community designed to encourage collaboration and the spread of ideas for the betterment of education worldwide.

    The new Partners in Learning Network is the next generation of the global network serving educators and school leaders in over 115 countries.  To facilitate a truly global community of innovative educators, the site is now available in 36 different languages, thanks to the use of Microsoft Translator Services. The evolvement of the Partners in Learning Network has advanced by including many more new features appealing to educators and schools leaders, including:

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    Listen to what some of our members had to say about their experience with the new Partners in Learning Network:

    The Partners in Learning Network offer teachers an online community filled with product downloads, tutorials, activities and discussions. What I am excited about is the opportunity to share with teachers some ideas and resources that ALL our students could use effectively and easily in and out of the classroom.” 

    “This is not just a networking site, it is a treasure chest of resources, lesson plans, and invaluable learning content from the world’s best.”

    “As a professional development opportunity the Partners in Learning network is unparalleled. The more teachers and schools that we can get involved the more innovation and corresponding results will follow.”

    To sign up now, visit http://www.pil-network.com.

    • Create a dynamic personal and professional profile including your blogs, Facebook page, and Twitter handle
    • Access over thirty free tools, product tutorials, and videos of using technology in the classroom
    • Amplify your work by uploading learning activities, videos to a gallery, lesson plan documents
    • Participate in Community Discussions with other educators
    • Provide feedback to the Network team at Contact-PILN@microsoft.com


  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Women In Computer Science–What Happened?

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    Years ago, when I was a student at Taylor University (in what is now the Taylor Computer Science and Engineering department)  there were more women in computer science than there are today. The women did as well as the men under what I would call some challenges. Specifically they had a curfew (this was a long time ago) and the men didn’t. Many of the male students would stay up until all hours of the day and night working on projects while the women left the computer center at what would be generally considered a reasonable hour. And yet the women always had their projects in on time. Somehow that never registered with me back in the day. I was sort of oblivious to the fact that the women got more done in less time than most of the guys. Weird now that I think about it. We certainly didn’t have lower expectations for our female classmates. In fact the opposite is true.

    I remember a field trip we took to a big computer conference in Chicago. Many of the exhibits had hired what we call today “booth babes” to decorate the booths and attract visitors. I’ll never forget the confused look on a male classmates face when he explained “the women at the booths don’t know anything. They are just there for decoration!” We, naive young people from a small college with a good percentage of women in CS, honestly expected women to know as much about computers as we did. And why not! We had female classmates who knew as much as we did. Most of us had been impressed with Grace Hopper who had come to campus to speak to the students and who several of us had had lunch with one day.  She was amazing and seemed to know more than we ever could know.

    My first few jobs after graduation also saw me working with many women. The small software house I worded for in my first job had more women programmers than men. Tough smart women who worked hard, worked smart and had actual lives besides. Husbands, kids, the whole bit. Seemed pretty normal to me. It was years before I worked for a male boss. My wife also worked as a programmer in those days BTW. Her programs had this annoying habit of working the first time she ran them. It was enough to give me a complex.

    Somewhere along the road things changed and women started becoming the minority in the field. I don’t know where it started or how. I know that if it was a deliberate effort on the part of men I missed the meeting. But happen it did. From a time before my time when software was considered “women’s work” until now when the view of too many is that it is just for men things changed. Not in a good way either. Now we are playing catch up trying to restore some semblance of balance.

    This is a problem that many in academia and industry do recognize. Recently the New York Times had an article about Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College and an outstanding computer scientist in her own right, and her efforts to improve the ratio of women to men in her college. A number of universities are similarly trying to increase the number of women in their programs. A number of companies are likewise trying to fill the computer science pipeline with programs such as DigiGirlz (which I wrote about here at DigiGirlz Cambridge MA). But there are stereotypes out there that are hard to overcome these days.

    I firmly believe that we need more diversity in computer science. More women. More ethnic and racial minorities. More people who are not “pencil headed geeks with limited social skills.” BTW we don’t have as many of those as a lot of people think we do! We face a great many problems for which great software is part of the answer. But to really live up to that potential the field needs people of all types. Those of us already in the field really need to do our part to make the rest feel welcome. We need them more than they need us.

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