composition.al

Call for talk proposals: !!Con West 2020!

!!Con (pronounced “bang bang con”) West is a radically eclectic, radically affordable conference of ten-minute talks about the joy, excitement, and surprise of computing. If you’ve heard of !!Con, it’s the west-coast version of that! If you haven’t heard of !!Con, that’s okay!

I’m very excited to be part of the team bringing !!Con West to UC Santa Cruz for the second year in a row. !!Con West 2020 will be held February 29-March 1, 2020 (the Leap Day weekend!), and our call for talk proposals is open until December 8. We’re looking for talk proposals on any computing-related topic that excites you. We like weird things — if it brings you joy but it’s too weird or too niche for other conferences, it just might be perfect for !!Con West. The only requirement is that there must be at least one exclamation point in the title of your talk!

Why you should come to UC Santa Cruz to do LSD research

It’s Ph.D. application season! A few months back, Paulette Koronkevich wrote a guide to applying to programming languages grad school that included the sentence, “PL labs usually have a nice website which lists everyone who is participating in PL-related research, which is very helpful.” We don’t yet have such a website here at UCSC, despite a growing group of faculty and students who are participating in PL-related research — so here’s a blog post as a stop-gap measure.

Apply to PLMW

The Programming Languages Mentoring Workshop, or PLMW, is a one-day event that’s held on the day before the main conference program starts at the four major SIGPLAN conferences (POPL, PLDI, SPLASH, and ICFP). It has a scholarship program that funds students to travel to and attend the entire conference, and it is specifically designed to welcome new and aspiring researchers to the conference and help inspire them to pursue (or continue to pursue) careers in programming languages research.

My first year as a professor

On July 1, I celebrated my first anniversary of employment as an assistant professor at UC Santa Cruz! As my second year gets under way, now seems like a good time to recap how my first year went, quarter by quarter, and consider how I want things to go this year.1

My students made zines, and so can you(rs)!

This spring, I taught our undergrad distributed systems course here at UC Santa Cruz for the first time! It was a blast, and one of the most fun things about it was reading the zines about distributed systems that my students made.

I’d been thinking about incorporating a zine-making assignment into a course like this for years, ever since getting a glimpse of the zines that Cynthia Taylor’s students made for her operating systems courses back in 2015. When I saw the beautiful sketchnotes that Romeo Jung made for my colleague Peter Alvaro’s version of this course last fall, I was even more excited to give students an outlet for creative expression through zines. So I jumped at the chance to do it once I was teaching the course myself.

The zine assignment went well enough that I’m writing this post about it in the hope that it might be useful for other folks teaching CS who want to try something similar in their own courses, and maybe inspire more people to try making their own zines on CS topics.