Monday, March 24, 2008

The Second Best Reason to Not Attend SIGCSE 2008

OK, it's been some time since the Symposium came to a close, and my family and I returned to the East Coast -- but there is still many miles before I sleep. Still, I sleep the sleep of the just, since SIGCSE 2008 was just great. Too many people to thank here.

Instead, I turn to the second best reason I heard from a SIGCSE colleague who did not attend SIGCSE 2008 -- if you have been paying attention, you'll recall the story of me as Brian Cashman, Yankee Stadium, and a marriage proposal (if not, click here). As you can now see from the beautiful photo right, Jen and Jeff did get married, but not in Portland; instead, they chose Easter Island.

We'll look to sharing stories of receptions, meetings, dancing and other events at SIGCSE 2009 in Chattanooga next spring!

* BTW, Click here for the best reason I heard to miss SIGCSE 2008

Friday, March 7, 2008

A Big Brick Wall ...

Well, today it became official, after some speculation after the recent "Games Cruise in CS Education" sponsored by Microsoft ... many who have read here before know the story of Randy Pausch and his "encounter" with a brick wall called cancer (visit here to get Randy's thoughts about this encounter) -- after many weeks of decent news, the brick wall made its presence known; Randy will not be able to deliver his keynote (and SIGCSE Award speech) next Thursday in Portland as we all hoped. I will not even try to guess what it must be like, but suggest you check Randy's Last Lecture for some clues.

However, I would like to think about the brick wall that has been now discovered for SIGCSE 2008 (Note: this is by no means a comparison to the situation for Randy and his family, but I do think Randy would be OK with me viewing this as a wall). Some great people are handling this dynamic situation directly and indirectly, and I feel strongly that this will just be another time for the SIGCSE community to shine.

I have very little experience with brick walls in the direct sense, but even the little experience I do have has demonstrated to me the opportunity for a group to come together, to galvanize bonds and forge news ones. I once heard that adversity does not promote character as much as expose it. I suppose we'll see.

Also, below is the message sent out to the SIGCSE list today, with the news and other information that may be useful to SIGCSE 2008 attendees. Further bulletins will also be posted here and the SIGCSE 2008 Symposium web site, so stay tuned.

Here are just a few last minute updates and reminders for SIGCSE 2008 in Portland, Oregon next week. Up to the minute news will be added to the website and blog.

1) Our Keynote Speaker Randy Pausch is unable to travel cross-country to Portland, due to health issues. Dennis Cosgrove, Project Scientist, and Wanda Dann, Director of the Alice Project, will give a Keynote address on Thursday morning highlighting Randy's contributions to Computer Science Education, including rare footage videos of Randy's work.

2) Getting between the Hilton and other downtown hotels and the Oregon Convention Center.

From the Hilton, walk two blocks to Pioneer Square and take the MAX Rail RED or BLUE eastbound to the Convention Center. MAX drops you off right in front of the convention center.

3) Online registration is closed. You can still register onsite. Registration is at the Oregon Convention Center. Hours are:
  • Wed. Mar 12 3pm-9:30pm
  • Thu. Mar 13 7:30am-4pm
  • Fri. Mar 14 7:30am-5pm
  • Sat. Mar 15 8am-3:30pm
4) The program is available online here:

There are many extra events listed on our web page that are not part of the program:

5) CD Proceedings are included with your registration. There will be a few paper proceedings available at on-site registration for $35 each if you have not prepaid for one.

6) You can still sign up on-site for one of the 35 workshops being offered.

7) There will be free wireless at the convention center Wednesday-Saturday during the conference and extra conference events. Information on how to access the wireless will be in your registration packet. **

We look forward to greeting you in sunny* Portland, Oregon next week.

Susan Rodger and J.D. Dougherty
SIGCSE 2008 Symposium Chairs,

* We did put in an order for sunny weather, but I think ACM forgot to pay that bill... maybe they will still pay it in time....

** JD Note: wireless in the OCC is included in your registration fee; Portland does have wireless through most of the city, I have had decent experience with it downtown (near Hilton), weather permitting.

YAEA: Yet Another Extra Activity ...

In keeping with the theme of the Symposium, we are happy to provide a venue for people interested in accessible computing for developing countries (like OLPC, see below) to a FRI meeting at lunchtime -- again, hopefully diversity is one of the results of these projects (there are other, see ClassmatePC) -- JD


We invite folks curious about the XO computer and the One Laptop Per Child initiative to join several of us next week at SIGCSE. This is an opportunity for SIGCSE Technical Symposium attendees with projects currently underway on the XO platform to make connections and share stories.

XO/OLPC Shared Experiences
Friday, March 14
Room B111

The One Laptop Per Child initiative ( has created an exciting buzz following its introduction in 2007. In this special event, folks will share experiences with the XO computer thus far. We expect to have at least one XO computer on hand. Among the folks who plan to participate:
  • Suzanne Buchele, a Fullbright Scholar and Lecturer at Ashesi University in Ghana, who can share first-hand accounts of OLPC on the ground in that country. Suzanne is on both the implementation team and advisory team for OLPC Ghana.
  • Jill Dimond, a PhD student at Georgia Tech, who is using the XO as the context (i.e., target platform and audience) for Girl Scouts at summer camp to build IM clients. The work is being done using Revolution ( to create an authoring tool for the Girl Scouts; Revolution can produce OLPC executables.
  • Joe Bergin of Pace University has been porting Karel (python version) to the OLPC and has a running, although not very successful, version.
  • Vicki Almstrum of The University of Texas at Austin is supervising a distributed team of senior capstone students (5 in Austin, 5 at Amrita University in India) who are creating two projects that target the OLPC. She is also advising GirlStart, a non-profit organization
  • in Austin, TX, in their IT Girls project, where high school girls are using python to develop educational games for the XO platform.

Monday, March 3, 2008

CS4HS Events at SIGCSE 2008

Thanks in advance to Tom Cortina (photo right) for organizing the Birds-of-a-Feather sessions at SIGCSE 2008, especially coordinating the transit from the OCC to the Hilton Thursday evening (surely one of the largest CS Unplugged Activities to demonstrate issues in concurrent, asynchronous and distributed processing with autonomous agents :-) -- as a small token of thanks, I am happy to post this announcement about CS4HS, one of Tom's (and CMU's) outreach projects for K-12 computing education (and one of our "extra activities") -- JD

If you're going to be at SIGCSE 2008 in Portland, and you're interested in developing a summer workshop for high school teachers that focuses on the broader areas of computer science beyond computer programming skills, there are several events planned at SIGCSE involving CS4HS, an initiative to give high school teachers (and K-8 computing teachers) material that they can use in their classes to expose their students to the world of computer science beyond Java programming and computer applications. Meet with faculty and staff that have implemented CS4HS workshops and think about starting a workshop at your university or college.

Friday, March 14
Special Session: The Expansion of CS4HS: An Outreach Program for High School Teachers
4:00-5:15PM, B113-114
Hear about planning, implementation and lessons learned from the three CS4HS 2007 workshop leaders at Carnegie Mellon, University of Washington, and UCLA, and discuss how to start your own workshop.

Saturday, March 15
CS4HS Open Meeting
2:45-3:45PM, B119
Planning is underway for 2008. Join us to learn what you need to do to start your own workshop for 2008 or 2009.

CS4HS workshops in 2006 and 2007 have been funded in part by a generous donation from Google. CS4HS workshops also have the support of the Computer Science Teachers Association.

For more information about CS4HS, visit:

-Tom Cortina, Carnegie Mellon University