teaching machines

ITiCSE 2012

Last week I went to Haifa, Israel, to attend the Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education (ITiCSE) 2012 conference. I presented my work on SpecCheck and ate a lot of pita bread. Here’s what I saw on my visit:

The view from my hotel room. A lot of people live in apartments.

The city at night.

I never figured out why the bedspread in my hotel room was like this.

This is a mezuzah on my hotel room door. See Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

A regular part of ITiCSE are (personally funded) excursions. I went to the Sea of Galilee.

Lunch on our excursion. Our tour guide reminded us to tip generously.

The Jordan River is much smaller than I thought. The Old Testament account of Naaman's healing comes to mind.

Signs and bulletin boards were covered in Hebrew, Arabic, and Russian. I accidentally called an Israeli number when trying to phone home, but no one answered.

They tell it like it is in Israel.

Desert at our banquet. They called it a chocolate hedgehog.

The hedgehog and my working group leader.

My second favorite part of the banquet was the cube displays suspended from the ceiling.

Some highlights of my trip included:

  • Coming to terms with the fact that the greatest value of conferences is the chance to talk with people. This conference, I talked more than read books, and it was excellent.
  • The mobile working group I was part of. Arguing is more productive when you’re stuck in a room with the same people for two days.
  • Learning about Sphero, a robotic and programmable ball, which I’ll use in my mobile development class this fall.
  • A neato problem solving tutor.
  • The pleasant woman at the post office who exchanged my money at a decent rate and with no commission. She even looked up on her phone who the figures on the bills were when I asked.
  • Figuring out how to use Gmail’s talk feature. It’s cheap. I was able to call my family almost daily.
  • Getting asked by two American women that I had never met before if I was Chris Johnson. They’d been given the task of finding me after I’d left my passport at the airport’s money exchange station.
  • Successfully bringing back a bag of ultra-soft and ultra-delicious pitas into the United States.

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