My office hours (in Alumnae Hall 113A; if I'm not there, look around the corner in 114) are
This class will use two textbooks:
Ten years ago, this course taught people how to use computers for word processing, e-mail, Web browsing, presentations, etc. Nowadays, most students coming to Adelphi already know this stuff, either from home or from high school. So we'll discuss some applications you may not already know, e.g. spreadsheets and databases. We'll talk about how the Internet works: how computers pass information from one to another, and keep track of where to send things. We'll talk about firewalls, security, botnets, encryption, viruses, distributed denial-of-service attacks, etc. We'll learn how to build and publish Web pages, including looking "under the hood" at HTML code and different kinds of graphics files. We'll talk about how Web search engines actually work, and how to make best use of their results. And we'll talk quite a bit about the impact of computers and telecommunications on human society: gender and economic issues, freedom of speech vs. government surveillance, intellectual property, censorship, voting machines, etc.
If you are (or are considering being) a math or computer science major, you'll need to take one or more programming courses like CSC 160 or CSC 171 (ask me for advice on which). If you are a Computer and Management Information Systems major, you need both this course and some programming courses. For General Education requirements, this course counts as a Second Competency but not as a Math/Science Distribution course.
On privacy, intellectual property, ethics, and politics, as affected by computers and telecommunications
On-line newspapers, particularly the "technology" sections and those that concentrate on technology issues. Here's a list of some good ones.
My web page on privacy, computers, and telecommunications (includes summaries of a lot of different issues, with links to other organizations)
The ImpactCS project's links on the social and ethical impact of computing
An article from the Chronicle of Higher Education on college students being overwhelmed with information from Web searches.
Frank Abagnale's book Stealing Your Life: the Ultimate Identity Theft Prevention Plan. Frank Abagnale, you may recall, is the real person on whom the movie "Catch Me If You Can" was based; this is his book for the general public on identity theft.
Steven Levy's book Crypto: How the Code Rebels Beat the Government (Saving Privacy in the Digital Age), which discusses the history of computer cryptography and its implications for privacy and policy. Makes the claim that strong cryptography is here to stay, and nothing governments or corporations can do will stop it, so we'd better get used to a world in which anything can be secret. (If you like Levy's writing style, you might enjoy his earlier book Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution.)
David Brin's book The Transparent Society, which also discusses privacy and and policy issues. Makes the claim that surveillance and spying technology are here to stay, and nothing cryptographers can do will stop it, so we'd better get used to a world in which nothing can be secret, and the best we can hope for is to give ordinary citizens the same ability to spy on corporations and governments that corporations and governments already have to spy on ordinary citizens.
On the history of the computer industry
"Triumph of the Nerds", an engaging 3-hour public-TV documentary (on videotape in Swirbul Library) about the development of the microcomputer industry from 1975-1995.
The Charles Babbage Institute, dedicated not only to Charles Babbage himself but to the history of information technology in general.
The Personal Computer Show, Wednesday evenings from 8:00-9:00 on WBAI 99.5 FM, discusses a lot of "how-to" issues, including backup, firewalls, virus and spyware protection, etc (mostly for Windows users). In particular, their page of links and downloads points to a lot of useful stuff: firewalls, ISP's, computer recycling, anti-viral and anti-spyware software, etc.
Safer Networking, which offers a software package for removing spyware from Windows machines. It's a free download, although they won't mind if you choose to donate a few bucks.
Mozilla, the home of free Web browsers and mail programs that are smaller and faster than Internet Explorer, and allow you to easily control pop-up ads, cookies, spam, and other privacy annoyances. (Mozilla itself is closely related to Netscape, and can share preferences and bookmarks with it.) In particular, you may want to download SeaMonkey, which acts as both a browser and a Web composer (among other things).
HTML Tidy, a utility that allows you to check your HTML pages for common mistakes and automatically fix many of them. Also automatically indents your HTML code so you can easily see which tags nest within which.
HTML Validator, another utility that checks your HTML pages. This one has more of an emphasis on "is it legal HTML?" rather than "is it good HTML style?". If your page passes both tests with flying colors, it's probably pretty good.
Microsoft Office on-line training courses showing how to do various important tasks with applications such as Excel and Access.
Some Web sites to critique
A well-done Web site on the dangers of a chemical called di-hydrogen monoxide. It just goes to show you, almost anything looks credible if backed up with a good Web site.
Another example: a web site on Martin Luther King. Note: the site is actually owned by Stormfront, the U.S. Nazi party, so it has a "different" slant on Martin Luther King.
... and a parody thereof that might momentarily be mistaken for the official White House web site, whitehouse.org.
Save the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus, a site devoted to saving an endangered species which, as far as I can tell, has never existed in the first place. It's fun, and it includes links to Web sites about other obscure animals -- some of which are real; can you tell which are which?