!!Con 2021 starts today!

!!Con (pronounced “bang bang con”) is a radically eclectic, radically affordable conference of ten-minute talks about the joy, excitement, and surprise of computing. I co-founded it with a group of friends back in 2014, and we’ve been running it every May since then; in 2019 we started a second event, !!Con West. !!Con features ten-minute talks about any computing topic imaginable, as long as there’s at least one exclamation point in the title of the talk!

Until this year, every !!Con and !!Con West conference has been packed into a single weekend: a focused, intense barrage of thirty or so talks in two days. It’s a lot of fun, and when we went online for the first time last May, we stuck with that format. But this year, we’re trying something new: spreading our event out over a whole week, with a few talks per day — starting today! Our live stream launches in less than an hour (!), with our opening remarks and our first keynote talk going live at noon Pacific time. Anyone can tune in to the live stream; you don’t need to have a ticket! Check out this year’s amazing speaker lineup.

CSE138 returns to Twitch today!

TL;DR: Starting today, March 30, 2021, I’m live-streaming my undergraduate distributed systems course on Twitch every Tuesday and Thursday for the next ten weeks, starting at 3:20pm Pacific!

A year ago, covid-19 had taken hold in the US, and I was teaching my undergrad distributed systems course, CSE138, remotely for the first time. I decided that as long as I had to teach the course remotely, I might as well try to make it widely available. Live-streaming my lectures on Twitch sounded like a lot of fun, so I did! I posted all the resulting videos on YouTube, where they ended up being quite popular, especially right before the midterm and final exams.

How not to email prospective grad school advisors

It’s grad school application season1, which means that prospective students have been emailing potential faculty advisors. In my field, computer science, this isn’t something that you necessarily have to do in order to find an advisor, but it can really help if you do it right. Unfortunately, it can also hurt if you do it wrong. I get my share of these emails — some better than others — and I want to give some advice on what makes an effective email from a prospective student.

Course retrospective: SMT Solving and Solver-Aided Systems

Last fall, at the start of my second year at UC Santa Cruz, I taught a graduate seminar on SMT solving and solver-aided systems!

I was lucky I had the chance to offer this course at all. I had originally been scheduled to teach something more typical and boring, but in spring 2019, as my first year at UCSC was ending, my department chair asked me if I wanted to instead teach a special topics grad seminar in the fall, on anything I wanted. Hell yeah! Sign me up! I couldn’t believe my good fortune, since I’d already gotten to teach one such course in my first year. The topic I’d chosen that first time, Languages and Abstractions for Distributed Programming, had been really fun, but pretty squarely in my comfort zone as a researcher. For this one, I decided I would venture outside of my comfort zone and learn something new.

Yet another post telling you to apply to PLMW

Along with Nate Foster and Talia Ringer, I’m organizing the Programming Languages Mentoring Workshop, or PLMW, in conjunction with the International Conference on Functional Programming (ICFP) next month. PLMW is a series of workshops designed to encourage people to pursue careers in programming languages (PL) research. This edition of PLMW will be held on August 23, the day before the main ICFP conference, and we have a wonderful lineup of talks that will inform, enlighten, entertain, and inspire:

There are no duds in this lineup. The entire thing is going to be, as the kids say, 🔥.

PLMW is free, but you need to apply and be accepted in order to participate fully. Fortunately, applying is easy. The deadline to apply is August 8; here’s the application form. You may already be convinced to apply, but if you’re not yet convinced, keep reading!

Twitch plays CSE138

For obvious reasons, this quarter I’m teaching my undergrad distributed systems course, CSE138, to over 100 students remotely instead of in person.

As long as I have to teach remotely, I’d like to make the course more widely available, and as long as we’re all stuck inside for some indefinite period of time, I might as well try to make it fun. So, I’m live-streaming the class on Twitch! Starting tomorrow, April 1, I’m going to be live-streaming my distributed systems lectures at every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 9:20am Pacific.