teaching machines

Rejection from CCUMC

I submitted a proposal to the CCUMC for developing tools to record text movies. They only funded one project, and it was not mine. Their rejection was very Goldilocksian. Not too damaging. Not too placating. Dear Chris Johnson, On behalf of CCUMC and the CCUMC Research Committee, I want to thank you for all the […]

Rejection from Google Research Awards

Here’s another rejection I received a couple of years ago. This one’s from Google, for a proposal to build a software development lab for inexperienced programmers. I’m glad this didn’t get funded; it sounded like a lot of work. It certainly helped that Google put such a professional touch on their rejection: Dear Chris: We […]

Rejection from the ESA

This is the first post in a series of the various failures and rejections I encounter throughout my career. This one, by the Entertainment Software Association, was very well stated. If I ever have money to give away, I’m going to push all applicants through to a semi-finals round so that I can send such […]

Goldenrod crab spider

I think I’d read in the book Made By Hand by Mark Frauenfelder about a gentleman who said the minute you drive off your farm, the rest of the day is shot. I agree. We’ve been trying to stick around the acreage on Saturday mornings and enjoying the land that we have. We don’t want to […]

American Pelecinid wasp

Shortly after we moved in to our home, we had a long-tailed flying insect land on our screen door. I thought to myself, “We just moved to this place. Let’s get to know our neighbors.” So, I snapped its picture and went looking to see what it was: It turns out our neighbor is an […]

Gathering hardware

Our Raspberry Pi boards don’t do anything yet. We need some accessories. This afternoon, Peter taught me everything he knows about hardware, and we ordered these things to build our bramble: CyberPower CP-H720P High-speed Hub. We wanted something like this to provide a central power source that can plug into a standard outlet. Seven boards […]

A logarithmic data usage graph?

Getting a new phone last week meant getting a capped data plan. That made me a Paranoid Android user. Luckily, I saw that there was data usage graph available under Settings: Unluckily, someone thought a logarithmic scale would be effective here. To match, I think I’ll have to make my data usage exponential as the […]

Flipping my classroom with Ruby

I’m trying something funny in my mobile software development class. I scheduled it in the computer lab, not a lecture hall, and students are going to have to teach each other some things they prepared before we meet. Here’s what I’m telling them: You will do some preparation before each class, by watching a video […]

Bad moon rising

In reading picture books to my young son, I have come across several pictures like these: In looking at these “moon shadows,” you should get a feeling that they are not right. Why? Because at any time other than a lunar eclipse, only half the the moon’s surface has a direct path to the sun. […]

Recurring recursion

Recursion is a concept that fascinates people, even non-computer scientists. All the same, I’ve decided to stop teaching it in my introductory programming course. I’d rather wait until I can motivate it with self-similar data structures. Nevertheless, recursion is pervasive. Who can’t help but wonder at the following phenomena? Isle Royale The largest lake in […]