Monday, May 05, 2008

UMBC 2013

I’m envious of you kids starting out now. Back in 2009 when I started at UMBC I got my new quad core MacBook running Leopard. Of course Lynx and Cougar have come out since then, and they run fine on my machine. A little slow running iLife ’12 but that is to be expected with the haptics they are running through the new iPods

Of course it doesn’t really matter how fast iLife is, I still get along fine online. That is where everything is these days. I opted for a 500GB drive when I got my machine, but it is barely full, four years later. Everything is online. I use Google Documents for the few text docs I need to exchange with some backwater friends and keep everything else in my personal cloud out in Rwanda. Lack of natural resources, a growing population and increased prices from India and China, drove outsourcing to new locations. Technically, my data isn’t in Rwanda, it is all over the world. Natural disasters aren’t a thing of the past, but it is maintained by les Rwandais. It works fine as any in Bangladesh or Peru that my friends use. Enough about my extracurricular activities and me.

After Blackboard lost their patent suit while I was in high school, a swarm of open source systems sprang up to devour the previously off limits IP. UMBC switched over to one of them a year or so ago and it has been great. Built on the Mozilla Facebook platform, it has enabled collaborative wet dreams that professors trying to prep us for the real world could have only dreamed of when I was in junior high. Hell, Facebook barely existed back then. They had millions of users, sure but the interface was so simple. I looked you guys up before the tour and good job, you’ve learned how to use the fine grained access control, you’ll appreciate that in four years. Social graphing and reputation markets were just topics of research, but you use them everyday.

You may have heard of professors turning off the Internet back in 2008, that doesn’t happen at UMBC, it is used throughout the disciplines. Now that the semantic web is more reality than pipe dream, the web is more useful than ever. That required system they are quoting down at OIT and the bookstore is just a minimum, you might want to get something a little more powerful depending on your major. Right, you’ll want something more powerful whatever you are doing. Granted, much your system will exist online, but much of the rendering is done locally, so get an Intelvidia or AMD-ATI card in whatever you get. School is what you learn, but it is also who you network with, now more than ever in this connected world.

The world may be a little hotter, and gas a lot more expensive, but it sure seems like web technologies have helped make it a better place. Whatever you do here, you will be connected to everyone else on campus and around the world. No longer hindered by travel requirements, you may get a guest lecture from a Swedish designer on an all night design treatise or an explanation of biochemistry from Vietnam. They don’t call it an Honors University for nothing.

Thank you for visiting UMBC today. I know being outside in the big blue box on an August day in 2013 isn’t exactly your idea of fun, but it is good once in a while. For those using the iRobot telepresence units, please send them back to the Commons before you logout or you will be charged extra. School is a place you learn, not a place you are, but you might want to get on campus once in a while. You have such opportunity ahead of you and I think you have made a good decision choosing to go to UMBC. Class of 2018, my caps lock off for you! Sorry, that was a very very lame joke that I know only two of you understood.

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