Today I read an open letter from Bill Gates to hobbyists. Before reading the open letter I’d never thought about the controversial topic, but after reading the letter I formed an opinion. Bill Gates pointed out how hard programmers and software designers worked on Altair BASIC yet barely broke even. This result was evident despite BASIC’s excellent reviews and constant updates. I think users should pay for software, but since all users will pay for software, the price should be low since there will be so many people would be buying it.  

You can access Bill Gates’s open letter here:

On the other hand, there is a GNU article that argues against Gates and paying for software. They believe that software should be free and able to be modified. I also agree with them, but only to a certain extent. Software should be able to be modified, but it should not be free for one person and all his friends who he shares it with. Everyone who uses software should pay a reasonably cheap price for it and be able to modify it.

You can see GNU’s opposing article here: 


Chaim Gingold

Today Chaim Gingold came to talk to us about an iPad app he has been working on. It was very very cool! He plans on making a new genre of apps: the interactive book. We got to see an exclusive demo of his app. I’m excited that it’s coming out soon and I can’t wait to download it. The app is called Earth Primer and discusses different types of landscapes from rock formations to bodies of water to precipitation maps and humidity maps. Because the app is interactive, the user can add things like rain or change the water level and see how it affects the environment. The book inside the app is entitled “Earth, a Primer” at least in this phase of the design. Here is a picture of the demo main screen:


We also got to play around with one of the maps. We lowered the water level and then created a mountain, as you can see here:


I’m glad that Chaim Gingold was able to visit us and tell us about his experiences and projects and I can’t wait to download Earth Primer from the App Store. 

Stanford Summer Institutes Final Project

Yesterday we went on a field trip to the Exploratorium in San Francisco where we saw many fascinating exhibits. For our final project we are supposed to come up with a design for a new exhibit the museum could offer. We will write a proposal and design document, blog about what our exhibit will look like, have a running demo, and present the exhibit. In the end we will demonstrate concepts or algorithms we learned in class. Three ideas I have for projects I may want to work on include:

1. My first idea is related to the prisoner’s dilemma. It forces the user to make a rational decisions to help him/herself and maybe his/her partner. From this experience users will learn the importance of making rational decisions to help themselves. this prototype can’t be watched, it must be experienced. The user will choose whether to help his/her user or not, knowing that it will affect the impact on his/her result also. This experience is similar to the 2-way water fountain at the Exploratorium. There both users select if they want to give the other person a squirt of water or a sip of water. If both users select “sip” then both get a sip of water. If user 1 chooses “squirt” for user 2 and user 2 chooses “sip”, or vice versa, then one will get a sip while the other gets a squirt. If both users choose “squirt” then both get nothing. You can check out the exhibit here:

I drew this example to help:

pd2. Another project I’d like to work on is related to finite state machines. I think that finite state machines are very interesting, especially since they are used in our everyday lives more than people think. From the exhibit, users will learn how useful finite state machines are in addition to how commonplace they are. Users could either interact with a program that behaves like a finite state machine or watch a video to learn where and how they are used. The Exploratorium currently has no exhibits about finite state machines, but it is a very easy concept to teach children about. It is similar to exhibits they have with a limited number of states. Here is a very basic diagram of a door: 

fsmThere are examples of finite state machines all over! Anything from a traffic light to a turnstile to a vending machine to a railroad network. 

3. Another topic I’m interested in is the empathy game. Can a game or simulation teach people to be empathetic? Can empathy be learned? From this experience people will learn how they can be effected by their surroundings. It must be interactive to get people to understand the impact of games or experiences on their emotions. My design would fit into the Exploratorium pretty well. It is similar to the colored helmet-thing that you put over your head and id supposed to make you feel different emotions for each color. 



A diagram I created:






Alan Turing

Last year I spent a weekend attending a Duke TiP course about artificial intelligence. We briefly learned about Alan Turing, the Turing test, ELIZA, and examples of artificial intelligence in our everyday lives. I thought all of those things were interesting.

Today I learned that a new movie, called The Imitation Game is coming out soon. I was thrilled to find that Benedict Cumberbatch, the main actor in a favorite series of mine, Sherlock, will be playing Alan Turing.



The imitation game is a game in which there are two rooms. In room 1 there is a human and in room 2 there is a computer. Both rooms are asked questions by people outside the rooms. Each room replies and based on their responses the people outside the rooms are supposed to guess which room a computer is in and which one a human is in. 

Alan Turing became famous due to his research related to artificial intelligence. He wrote a paper entitled “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” in which he approaches the question “can machines think?” I find this paper very interesting, you can see it for yourself here:


Stone Librande

On Friday morning Stone Librande came to talk to our class. He was very nice and knows a lot about designing, prototyping, and gaming. He really opened my mind to designing, which I wasn’t very knowledgeable about before. He also talked about his work experience and environment. I want to thank him for taking the time to talk to us and teach us about his work. He helped design games like Diablo 3, The Simpsons’ Game, and SimCity.

Data Structures

Today in class we learned about four different data structures including arrays, stacks, queues, and binary trees. In case you don’t know what these data structures are I included some diagrams to explain.