Archive for October 25th, 2007

Steve Wozniak
Just back from my ole alma mater, North Carolina State, where the Computer Science department is celebrating the 40th anniversary of their (our) founding. When I entered NCSU in September 1968, the department had only been in place for one year. As I recall, there were no PhD’s in Computer Science on the faculty — yet. That would soon change.

It was a pleasure to see the current faculty explaining their research in 5 minute segments ;-> One that stood out was Dr. Robert Fornaro who tried to teach me sometime in about 1969 or 70. His dedication and appreciation of the undergraduate computer science experience is still as fresh as it was in those first classes.

Of the speakers, Al Aho the A in awk (amongst other things) posed the challenging unanswered questions in Computer Science including on from Bill Gates. The Gatesian question goes like this Moore’s Law is seen mostly from the benefits in computer power achieved, but the Law also shows a doubling of power usage and of heat produced. Given that multiprocessors have kept the growth of processing power and the production of heat growing, how will programming fully take advantage of the increased power and how will hardware solutions deal with the increased heat. (highly paraphrased).

Larry Hodges of UNC-Charlotte
took great pride in presenting the work of his students, undergrads, with Avatars, ChatBots, Virtual Humans, Virtual Characters, and Embodied Agents as he argued that avatars were the Human-computer Interface of the future.

Dr. Dorothy Strickland of do2learn.org too was interested in avatars and animation but to a different end. Her work is with special need education especially but by no means restricted to autistic children.

The main attraction was Steve Wozniak, already a holder of an NCSU CS Honorary Degree and ready to tell tales of pre-Apple glory (which are also available in his new iWoz book which was itself available for purchase outside the hall). Woz was wound up and wonderful and full of tales of his various pranks, of blue boxes, of dropping out of college and later returning as “Rocky Raccoon Clark” to graduation from Berkeley, of his shocking Steve Colbert and of as many of his early engineering innovations and pranks.

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