Semester Done, School-year Done

Semester Done, School-year Done

recommender0The fall semester is in the books.  I am now about two-thirds thru the required credits for a master’s degree in computer science.  With chipping away at the degree in a part-time manner, when complete, it will have taken me around four and a half years to finish an otherwise two-year degree.

This year, the courses I took involved HCI – Human Computer Interaction.  For those who did not click on that Wikipedia link, HCI is an area of computer science that looks at (observes) how people use computers and associated technologies, as well as the creation (design) of technologies that let people computers in interesting ways.

For the spring semester, the course I took was titled, Collaborative & Social Computing.  It explored, from a fairly high-level, the many aspects of HCI.  We looked at Wikipedia, Zooniverse, Mechanical Turk, a host of dating sites, as well as Chris McKinlay’s gaming of OkCupid (there’s also a book on this, too).  The class ended with a two person project – my partner and I implemented a very crude Wikipedia-of-CompSci-course-work.  Think of this as a free and open platform to obtain questions and their answers for computer science coursework.  This was to be an instructor-centric platform where instructors could share with other instructors their courses’ questions.  We called it AssignmentHub.

This course was a bit of a gateway-drug for HCI.  Little samples – gets you hooked, gets you interested – convinces you that the next level, HCI & UI Technology, should be a great course.

The name, HCI & UI Technology, is a bit of a catch-all and does not clearly state what my fall semester’s primary course was about: research methods within the context of human-computer interaction.  What’s that I just said?  The gist of the course was look at a research paper from the HCI-world and look at the methods of research used.  Grounded theory method, surveying of individuals, was there a statistical process applied, and so on.  We read a lot.  Thirty-eight papers or chapters, likely many hundreds of pages.

Many of the papers and chapters have blended together in my mind.  Which ones were on Facebook?  Which ones used mturk?  Which ones were about designing technologies and which ones were about evaluating perceptions of technologies?

There is one paper that stands out a bit in my mind.  It is likely that it stands out because I had to co-present it to class.  The paper was Project Ernestine: Validating GOMS for predicting and explaining real-world task performance.  

It’s a 74-page paper, published in 1993, that chronicles the scientific effort to compare work-times of telephone operators using two different workstations at NYNEX.  Those with a keen mind for remembering late 1960s television might realize that Ernestine was the name of one of Lily Tomlin’s characters on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.  Ernestine was a sarcastic telephone operator.

The paper also draws on work from Frank and Lillian Gilbreth and their efforts to measure worker performance and study motion in a more scientific manner.

After all the readings, the term was rounded out with co-authoring a research paper.  The paper was modeled after Understanding User Beliefs About Algorithmic Curation in the Facebook Newsfeed. Instead of Facebook, we looked at Reddit and people’s perceptions of Reddit’s Best algorithm.

And, that’s it.  Lots of reading, three research projects (including the research paper).  Social and Collaborative Computing was certainly gateway-drug to the more hardcore HCI & UI Technology (HCI Research Methods in disguise).  It was interesting to learn more about the inner-workings of a sub-area of computer science, but I have definitely had my fill for a while.

Below is a table of nearly all that we read this term.  Enjoy.

Paper or Chapter NameAuthor(s)
Curiosity, Creativity, and Surprise as Analytic Tools: Grounded Theory MethodMichael Muller
An older version of the Wikipedia talk page for Edina,
Excerpts from Old Edina, MN Wikipedia Talk
Is it really about me?: message content in social awareness streams.Naaman, Mor, Jeffrey Boase, and Chih-Hui Lai.
Hustling online: understanding consolidated facebook use in an informal settlement in Nairobi.Susan P. Wyche, Andrea Forte, and Sarita Yardi Schoenebeck
Understanding User Beliefs About Algorithmic Curation in the Facebook News Feed.Rader, Emilee, and Rebecca Gray
Mediated parent-child contact in work-separated families.Yarosh, Svetlana, and Gregory D. Abowd
Experimental Research in HCIGergle and Tan
Understanding User Behavior Through Log Data and AnalysisSusan Dumais, Robin Jeffries, Daniel M. Russell, Diane Tang, Jaime Teevan
Research Ethics and HCIAmy Bruckman
Effectiveness of shared leadership in online communities.Zhu, Haiyi, Robert Kraut, and Aniket Kittur
To stay or leave?: the relationship of emotional and informational support to commitment in online health support groupsYi-Chia Wang, Robert Kraut, and John M. Levine
Practical Statistics for Human-Computer InteractionJacob O. Wobbrock
Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks.Kramer, Adam DI, Jamie E. Guillory, and Jeffrey T. Hancock
Predicting tie strength with social mediaEric Gilbert and Karrie Karahalios
Survey Research in HCIMuller et al.
Concepts, Values, and Methods for Technical Human-Computer Interaction ResearchHudson and Mankoff
Research Through Design in HCIZimmerman and Forlizzi
Skinput: appropriating the body as an input surfaceChris Harrison, Desney Tan, and Dan Morris
The bubble cursor: enhancing target acquisition by dynamic resizing of the cursor’s activation areaTovi Grossman and Ravin Balakrishnan
Field trial of Tiramisu: crowd-sourcing bus arrival times to spur co-designJohn Zimmerman, Anthony Tomasic, Charles Garrod, Daisy Yoo, Chaya Hiruncharoenvate, Rafae Aziz, Nikhil Ravi Thiruvengadam, Yun Huang, and Aaron Steinfeld
Performance and User Experience of Touchscreen and Gesture Keyboards in a Lab Setting and in the WildShyam Reyal, Shumin Zhai, and Per Ola Kristensson
The drift table: designing for ludic engagementWilliam W. Gaver, John Bowers, Andrew Boucher, Hans Gellerson, Sarah Pennington, Albrecht Schmidt, Anthony Steed, Nicholas Villars, and Brendan Walker
Predicting human interruptibility with sensors: a Wizard of Oz feasibility studyScott Hudson, James Fogarty, Christopher Atkeson, Daniel Avrahami, Jodi Forlizzi, Sara Kiesler, Johnny Lee, and Jie Yang
Zensors: Adaptive, Rapidly Deployable, Human-Intelligent Sensor Feeds.Laput, Gierad, et al.
Beyond the Belmont Principles: Ethical challenges, practices, and beliefs in the online data research communityVitak, J., Shilton, K., & Ashktorab
Unequal Representation and Gender Stereotypes in Image Search Results for OccupationsKay, Matthew, Cynthia Matuszek, and Sean A. Munson
y do tngrs luv 2 txt msg?Grinter, Rebecca E., and Margery A. Eldridge
Becoming Wikipedian: transformation of participation in a collaborative online encyclopedia.Bryant, Susan L., Andrea Forte, and Amy Bruckman
Wikipedians are born, not made: a study of power editors on Wikipedia.Panciera, Katherine, Aaron Halfaker, and Loren Terveen
Agent-based Modeling to Inform the Design of Multi-User SystemsRen and Kraut
Project Ernestine: Validating a GOMS analysis for predicting and explaining real-world task performance.Gray, Wayne D., Bonnie E. John, and Michael E. Atwood
Cooperative inquiry: developing new technologies for children with children.Druin, Allison
Sabbath day home automation: it’s like mixing technology and religion.Woodruff, Allison, Sally Augustin, and Brooke Foucault
SpeechSkimmer: interactively skimming recorded speech.Arons, Barry
Sensing techniques for mobile interaction.Hinckley, Ken, et al.
A touring machine: Prototyping 3D mobile augmented reality systems for exploring the urban environment.Feiner, Steven, et al.
"I regretted the minute I pressed share":
A Qualitative Study of Regrets on Facebook
Wang, Yang, et al.
Winter Forest & Almost-Solstice Bonfire

Winter Forest & Almost-Solstice Bonfire

My parents generally do not travel out from their house after dark.  On the Iron Range, where they live, in late December, it gets dark rather early.  This means it is rare for them to leave their house after 4:30pm.

A few weeks ago, Melissa and I traveled up to Hibbing; my sister was in from North Carolina.  I can’t remember the exact reason, but after dinner and after sundown, we all ventured thirty-minutes north to the familial land.  Overcast, but not too cold, it was grand to be in the taiga at night.  We stomped around a bit, and then headed back to town.

After that bit of post-sunset pioneering, and several days later, my mother got the idea that she wanted a bonfire, at night, on or very near the winter solstice.  She dropped the idea of me coming there for a solstice fire via email…many times.

I ended up taking the twenty-first off from work; hound-Henry and I drove up on the twentieth.  The fire was not exactly on solstice – we had it after dark, on the twentieth – but it was close-enough for my mother.  The morning of the twenty-first, we returned to the woods to survey the remains of the fire and to pickup a memory card from a trail camera.

Gram’s Anise Cookies

Gram’s Anise Cookies

Gram’s Anise Cookies
Print Recipe
These are the cookies that Gram would always make for Christmas and give us a tin of them. They have the texture of a shortbread type cookie.
Cook Time
7-8 minutes
Cook Time
7-8 minutes
Gram’s Anise Cookies
Print Recipe
These are the cookies that Gram would always make for Christmas and give us a tin of them. They have the texture of a shortbread type cookie.
Cook Time
7-8 minutes
Cook Time
7-8 minutes
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cream butter.
  3. Add sugar gradually.
  4. Stir in the yolks and vanilla until smooth.
  5. Add flour, baking powder, salt and anise seeds. Beat until mixed.
  6. Roll into balls.
  7. Dip in poppy seeds or sesame seeds if desired.
  8. Bake 7-8 minutes.
  9. Cool cookies.
  1. Mix powdered sugar, milk and anise extract to make a glaze.
  2. Mixture should be somewhat thick, microwave for 10 seconds to thin.
  3. Dip cooled cookies into glaze, let some drip and turn over to place on cooling rack.
  4. Immediately add sprinkles if desired.
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Duluth Harbor and the Cason J. Callaway (Photos)

Duluth Harbor and the Cason J. Callaway (Photos)

On our way back from the Northwoods, we stopped in Duluth at the harbor.  We almost did not swing thru Duluth; driving south as we approached a split in the road (south to highway 33 and Cloquet), we waffled on whether to bypass Duluth and get home a little earlier.  I decided I wanted to at least get a glimpse of the lake.  We remembered that there is free parking in the winter in the harbor area – it was set, we would take a stroll in Canal Park.  Unbeknownst to us, the Cason J. Callaway was heading out of port to pickup a load of taconite in Two Harbors.

Northwoods (Photos)

Northwoods (Photos)

For part of our last day up North, this weekend, we stomped around in the forest.  Down to the river, over to Superior National Forest lands, and places in between, we stomped.  The weather was strange.  Back in Hibbing, it was gloomy with heavy fog; north of the Laurentian divide, it was sunny-blue-skies with wispy ribbons of clouds here and there.