Lectures, Scary Security, FPL, XNA and Sound Bites

Note: Cross posted from www.robmiles.com  

Today has been busy. Oh yes. It started with an unexpected lecture. We are now in week 11 of the semester, with teaching supposed to have finished at the end of week 10. But the first year students wanted more, and so I went off at 9:15 to deliver. Actually, it worked quite well, in that I was able to go through the quiz that I set last week.

Then it was back to the labs to get ready for our XNA event. Andy Sithers from Microsoft had come over to formally hand over the XBOX 360s they have given us to help with our XNA teaching in the first year. We had to set them up in the lab for the pictures, and get some stuff working. Simon Dickson and Phil Cluff from our first year came in to show of what they have been doing.

Then, after a quick lunch the presentation tool place. We all contorted ourselves into the best position for the perfect shot for the papers. Danielle Cod from Radio Humberside interviewed our head of department, Andy, Simon and Phil and finally me, in search of the perfect soundbyte. You can grab the resulting two minute piece here. Much to my dismay they seem to have left Andy and Warren on the cutting room floor.....

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This picture kind of captures the event. In the back Warren Viant, our head of department, is being recorded whilst Andy Sithers ponders the code and Simon grapples with debugging and being interviewed all at the same time....

After all this we had to dash off to an event that I had pretentiously entitled our "Software Symposium". (Did you know that symposium used to mean drinking session?). Anyhoo, the event started with a double headed presentation from Robert Hogg of software developers Black Marble and Ed Gibson who is Chief Security Advisor for Microsoft UK. The topic was safety and computers.

I'd heard bits of it before at the Black Marble event last year, but it was obviously news to the audience, who sat silently as Robert and Ed laid it on the line about just how scary things are. I managed to be both petrified about what was going on out there and relieved that Robert and Ed are going around spreading the word and engaging budding software developers with the problems posed by the wonderful connected world we live in.

The point they made forcefully and effectively is that the big problems are not down to technology, they are down to people. If we don't keep our software up to date and we allow ourselves to be bamboozled into giving passwords to cunning callers then no amount of code is going to help.

Next, and on a somewhat lighter note, the Seedlings, our Imagine Cup winning team, gave us a presentation of their entry. The First Programming Language they are working on is aimed to engage everyone with the kind of problem solving techniques that will allow them to use a computer to best advantage, whether or not they end up writing programs.

Then after a closing address from Andy Sithers of Microsoft, about the value of competition and the usefulness to students of just plain taking part, it was time to zoom off and try to find a recorder for the radio broadcast.....

Busy day.