Saturday, January 30, 2016
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
When we are as connected as we are, (and when you are a media pig like I am) you are going to get constant notices of people passing. Glenn Frey and David Bowie as recent examples. I felt a little more nostalgic with Glenn Frey. When it is someone like Alan Rickman I feel sad because of the age that he passed and knowing his personal contributions are no longer available, though his achievements will have lasting effects. Leonard Nimoy was sad to me on a very nostalgic level. I also recognize he had a long and fulfilling life.
I met him once in my life and heard him speak twice. At one point as a youngster in the late 80's I was deeply fascinated with his work on artificial intelligence. He was a character. When AI fell into a bit of a slump, (and in order to be taken seriously you had to call the next steps Expert Systems), I am sure he was as prickly as could be. But at the same time I would have loved to hear his views on Deep Blue and Watson. I suppose I will have to look those up.
Here is a snippet from an article today in Scientific America:
""Why are you asking me this question?" Minsky growled. The concern that scientists will run out of things to do is "pitiful," he said. "There's plenty to do." We humans may well be approaching our limits as scientists, but we will soon create machines much smarter than us that can continue doing science.
But that would be machine science, not human science, I said.
"You're a racist, in other words," Minsky said, his great domed forehead purpling. I scanned his face for signs of irony, but found none. "I think the important thing for us is to grow," Minsky continued, "not to remain in our own present stupid state." We humans, he added, are just "dressed up chimpanzees." Our task is not to preserve present conditions but to evolve, and create beings smarter than us."
Posted by Andrew Fry at 9:51 AM
Saturday, January 23, 2016
|Some of the research being conducted for "The Last Escape"|
So I am working on that. Finding a venue, creating a proforma, developing marketing materials, organizing and recruiting a team, procuring funding and performing recursive reality checks are all the plates spinning right now in my off time from my day job. I am really enjoying myself.
Additionally, there is the creative element. The whole point of this was to produce something fun with theatrical elements. The balance here is going to be the practical flow of the puzzles that will be challenging, exciting and fun to do as a team, the story that needs to be told over the course of an hour that will have several endings based on how far the teams progress toward the escape, the characters who will inhabit the room from the gamemaster to the limited role playing that can be infused into the customers and how much historical accuracy can be integrated into what is a fictional situation.
I am working on that. This requires a bit of research and experimentation.
The good news is that I have the complete skeletal structure of the puzzle elements as they lead to locked boxes, strange riddles, brain teasers, hidden rooms and required tasks. When I write stories I often have it worked out completely in my head. Once I put it on paper I realize where I have holes to fill and characters to develop. It is never complete until the third or fourth rewrite (for me).
In this case I have the story down. However instead of rewriting it I need to run it. I need to know the realistic time it might take ten people working together to finish each challenge. It can't be too hard or to easy.
There are also several pieces that will need to be fabricated or procured. Then there is a set to build.
My next post will talk about the people who are helping me get this done.
Posted by Andrew Fry at 11:49 AM
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
"Know him, Hear him, See him, Free him" - Assisting Houdini in His Last Escape
Posted by Andrew Fry at 10:48 AM
Monday, November 2, 2015
About 12 years ago I was thinking of how to create an assignment that was both an examination of search tools and hopefully a lot of fun. I also wanted to open their eyes to how much personal information was available on the web. So for my class Living and Working in a Virtual World I put together a virtual scavenger hunt. Back in 2007 I wrote about it here on this blog.
I have been conducting the hunt once or twice every year since, depending on when I am scheduled to teach the course. Each year, as search technologies and specialized sites such as RedFin, LinkedIn, Twitter, Expedia, Amazon and Facebook further dominate our lives, the items on the list have gotten easier to find and retrieve.
It may be a bit generational, but most people don't seem to care how much personal information they give out online. I myself gave up on the concept of privacy a long time ago. Erik Hanberg recently quoted me, probably quoting someone else, probably quoting Erik with this little gem. "The privacy you have today is the most privacy you will ever have".
Where once the hunt would take an entire class period, with only one third of the items found by much the participating teams, it now takes only about one hour for several of the teams to find them all.
UPDATE: This year one team found all 19 items in less than one half hour.
And I have tried to make them more difficult. Some are items from the first hunt, which by virtue of being dated have become more difficult to find. But there is one in particular that I want to mention.
Item number 19 on this years hunt reads. "What is the married name of my middle sister?"
Think about that. These students only know me as their professor, with only my name and affiliation with the university as a starting point. They need to be able to find out about my family, the order in which they were born and who they married. All in about 5 minutes, as it is the last item on the list.
Remember when "What is your mothers maiden name?" was a common password check? "The name of the best man at your wedding?". "The name of your first pet?" These are all common prompts today for password retrieval. Any of them are easy to find online.
This year of the nine teams participating, I expect several will get the correct answer.
You may not be shocked, you may be concerned, but for the most part, in the present day you should at least be aware.
(much of the text for this post is from an earlier hunt)
Posted by Andrew Fry at 10:02 AM
Wednesday, October 7, 2015
I think back to when the Institute of Technology was just an idea with the starting point of 30 to 60 students enrolled in a computer science major that had the terrible name of Computer Software and Systems.
Let's give the credit where it is due. The Washington Technology Industry Association, Ed Lazowska and true leaders of Tacoma like Herb Simon and others pushed for more high demand degree programs and the UWT was the place to make it happen.
I was happy to have served on the education committee for the WTIA (at that time the WSA) when the workforce report came out.
The founding director of the Institute, Dr. Larry Crum, had a vision for a polytechnic with a large student body and I was lucky that he envisioned a position that would recruit someone out of industry with a strong tech business background. It was a very different type of position that required a title change and that would allow me to not only teach but to stay involved with young companies as well.
Governor Gary Locke signed the legislation that funded the Institute and I was pleased he announced the initiative and made the official declaration in my Managing Technical Teams class. At that time a single engine train used to come through the middle of campus twice a week. It felt like a single A baseball team that needs to take an outfield wall down to let the local train cross through the field.
The second director, Dr. Orlando Baiocchi, and Associate Director Dr. Larry Wear founded the Computer Engineering program, the second high tech high demand degree program that cemented the idea that the Institute wasn't just about computer science.
Dr. Sam Chung and Dr. Ankur Teredesai founded the IT program. Sam and Barbara Endicott Popovsky created the Cybersecurity Center and Ankur presides over the Center for Data Science.
The third Director Rob Friedman championed our growth at 20 to 25 percent over the last several years. The current director Dr. Raj Katti will no doubt see an EE program take shape by 2016 or so.
I feel like Woody Allen's great character Zelig, always appearing somewhere in the background.
Posted by Andrew Fry at 8:56 AM
Friday, June 5, 2015
SiteCrafting Expands into New Quarters in the (slightly tongue in check) Emerging Dome Tech District
Congratulations are in order to Brian Forth and all the folks at SiteCrafting. The company has been a Tacoma fixture for 17 years and they just moved into some very cool digs near Lemay and the Tacoma Dome.
First, the exterior is polished and professional. No messing around when it comes to knowing you have arrived at the offices. The companies logo, familiar from so many views on the web, looks great as the mantle about the door to the building.
Even more impressive is the open concept interior. The view from the loft, office at the top of the stairs gives an idea of how things are laid out.
TOP TIER FACILITYS-Vidia is moving in to office not far from theirs and another cybersecurity company is housed next door. With four companies with technology grounding as part of their product services I am now going to casually throw around the phrase "T-Dome tech-district" whenever I talk about SiteCraftings new location.
GearLab is equipped with the latest technology for testing across all platforms and screen sizes, including an eye tracking system that records the movements of a subject's saccades. The Lab is separated into two spaces - the lab itself and an observation room, creating flexibility to fit the testing that makes sense for your project.
Posted by Andrew Fry at 11:42 AM