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Online 1st Year Students Reception 2016-17

Posted by Anya Pellegrin

Online students are strongly recommended to consult the Academic Calendar and Bullettin Board, in order not to miss any important news and notice.

A trial lesson is planned on October, 10 at 6.00 pm. First year students shouldn’t miss this opportunity to get all the information they need, ask all the questions they have, and test our learning platform and chat.

Crowd-Scratching with DirectPoll

Posted by Alessandro Bogliolo
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To celebrate Scratch Day 2016, UniUrb has developed a simple .NET application, called DirectPollMonitor, to allow the audience of a webinar to control a Scratch project in real time. DirectPollMonitor takes in input the URL of the result page of a poll made by DirectPoll. Each option of the poll is associated with a specific keypress event on the computer in which the app executes, so that every time the option is voted the corresponding keypress event is generated. By default, the keypress events associated with the first 26 options correspond to keys ‘a’ to ‘z’, while all subsequent options (if any) are associated with the ‘space’ key. DirectPoll ‘stop/reset’, ‘pause’, and ‘play’ events are mapped onto keys ‘0’, ‘1’, and ‘2’.

When the program executes, keypress events are treated as if they were generated by the local keyboard and received by the focus window.

This provides a very simple and general mechanism to grant collective control of any Scratch project to an arbitrary number of people taking part to an instant poll.

To use DirectPollMonitor:

  • 1. Download the DirectPollMonitor archive (requires .NET 4.5.2)
  • 2. Extract DirectPollMonitor into a local folder of your choice
  • 3. Open a Command Prompt on that folder
  • 4. Launch the DirectPollMonitor from command line using as a parameter the URL of the DirectPoll result page
  • 5. Start the DirectPoll and invite the audience to vote
  • 6. Change the keyboard focus to the Scratch project

DirectPollMonitor

In order to make sure that all keypress events are properly received by the Scratch project, it is recommended that the window in which the Scratch project executes keeps the keyboard focus for the entire duration of the poll. Hence, it is better to control the poll from a different computer, while leaving in background the Command Prompt Terminal in which DirectPollMonitor executes.

A standard poll has been created for testing purposes. It has only 5 options associated with keys A, B, C, D, and E. Hence, it can be used to control any Scratch project designed to react to these keypress events.

Provide this link to the audience: http://etc.ch/SAA2

Pass this URL to DirectPollMonitor: http://directpoll.com/r?XDbzPBd3ixYqg8WPz06HavXHDMrW9iAfEQDf3Tuc2U

Use this simple Scratch project reacting to keys A, B, and C to test the remote control: https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/109658618/ (the name of the project has been typed by the audience…).

DirectPollMonitor was tested for the first time on ScratchDay 2016 during a public webinar attended by many Italian School teachers with their pupils. Several Scratch projects were developed during the webinar and controlled in real time by more than 100 people. Here is the video log.

Sources files to be published on GitHub.

Two days at DroidCon Turin 2015

Posted by Lorenz Cuno Klopfenstein
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New year, new DroidCon: like last time, two heros from our lab (Lorenz e Saverio namely) traveled to Torino in order to attend the yearly italian Android conference. The 2015 edition reached new heights of attendance: last year we had great fun attending the conference, but this time the event had grown even more.

The conference was held in the imposing conference center Lingotto in Turin, nicely bathed in sun and nice weather, with more than 700 participants from over 21 different countries.

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Saverio and Lorenz after getting their badges. As you can see, badges = bliss.

Last year’s event was marked by an unmanageable epidemy of Google Glass-wearing speakers. The 2015 edition fortunately marked a switch from Google’s glasses to more discreet Android Wear based watches. A nice advantage, from a stylistic perspective at the least.

Because of that, many sessions were actually focused on Android Wear and Android Auto, the brand new platforms where our favorite green droid is expanding into. Many other talks during the two intense days of DroidCon where instead focused on the intersection between Android and the Internet of Things: for instance interesting stuff about iBeacons and (a bit discouraging) experiments on proximity monitoring by Matteo Gazzurelli.

Apart from software development, one of the most discussed topics was actually user experience (or “UX”): Lydia Selimalhigazi and Roberto Orgiu gave a nice overview on why developers and designers need to stick together and help each other in order to obtain results without (too much) conflict. The same topic was taken on, from a branding perspective, during the stimulating talk by Marie Schweiz on how the specific features of a brand influence the user experience (not only the logo, that is).

Another totally different point of view on “user experience”: Kentaro Takiguchi gave a very nice talk “Improving UX through Performance” with an in-depth overview of those little optimizations that can be applied, both on the app and on the server side, in order to improve an app’s fluidity, reliability and responsiveness. An interesting bag of tricks for scenarios where even shaving off 4 KBs from a remote request can have a great impact.

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Benjamin Augustin made clear that in fact software development can, at times, be a hellish affair. However, in order to free developers from pain, a growing number of libraries and tools are being worked on. One of those libraries is in fact RxJava, the Java port of the Reactive extensions originally created for .NET: those extensions offer a nice way to “invert” how your code work, by adopting a “reactive” coding paradigm which is very well suited to manage the interactions between user interface and an unreliable backend (like network access, for instance).

Likewise, Maciej Górski presented several ways, especially using Gradle plug-ins, to reduce the amount of “boilerplate” code developers need to write (for instance getter and setter methods for Java classes). Also very interesting: the “Holy Sync!” session by Eugenio Marletti, about cross-platform synchronization methods, using CouchBase.

“Test, test and test!” was the mantra of several other talks, in particular the one given by the always funny Ali Derbane e Wiebe Elsinga (don’t even try pronouncing his name, you’ll fail) who during their talk “The hitchhiker’s guide to functional testing” gave an overview of most functional testing suites available for Android. Stephan Linzner instead showed the glorious new tools developed at the Google mothership for its mobile developers.

Finally, at 12 o’clock of the first day, pushed by hunger more than anything else, our Lorenz gave his talk “The love child of Android and .NET: using Xamarin for app development” about all our recent experiences using the Xamarin platform for Android development during the last year. Slides can be downloaded as PPTX as well.

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Gave us the necessary energy between sessions: the Cola from Turin!

After two very intense days we left Turin exhausted, but encouraged and inspired by many new things to check out, technologies to use in our projects and details to keep in mind while developing on Android (and not only)! Looking forward for next year!

University credits for code.org certificates

Posted by Alessandro Bogliolo
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MOOC-CFUuniurb

 

The University of Urbino awards 1 credit to students who enrol to Applied Computer Science for Academic Year 2015/2016 having already obtained Code.org certificates signed by their School teachers. This initiative is aimed at contributing to the early development of computational thinking skills, by encouraging secondary schools to adopt Code.org instruments as proposed by Ministry of Education and Consorzio CINI with the “Programma il Futuro” initiative.

The University of Urbino has always worked together with schools to provide early learning opportunities based on playful and intuitive methods: It has took part since the first editions to Computer Science Education Week and Europe Code Week, it has launched the Code’s Cool learning community, it led the Italian participation to Europe Code Week 2014 with CodeWeek ambassador Alessandro Bogliolo, and it’s now offering a MOOC to support school teachers who want to adopt Code.org instruments.

This initiative gives to Italian schools the opportunity to take their students to conquest their first university credit!

The introductory course of Code.org offers approximately 20 hours of playful interactive activities which introduce the main coding principles, contributing to the development of computational thinking and problem solving skills. The MOOC completes the course by showing how to put the concepts into practice to develop original mobile applications. School teachers can directly manage a virtual classroom, which gives them the online instruments to monitor and certify the progress of their pupils. The certificate of completion will be recognized by the University of Urbino in case of enrollment.

The credit that will be recognized is deserved – says Alessandro Bogliolo, coordinator of the School of Information Science and Technology of the University of Urbino – Students who enrol to a University degree program having already developed basic computational thinking skills are predisposed to learning computer science, are fully aware of the meaning and power of coding, and they are familiar with visual programming tools and teaching methods that are complementary and preparatory to academic study.

People who is no longer at school can take advantage of the MOOC individually by registering to the virtual class directly managed by Alessandro Bogliolo, who will certify the completion. Certification will be recognized in case of enrollment to the Laurea degree program in Applied Computer Science, delivered both on campus and at the distance.

Additional information can be requested at cdl.informatica@uniurb.it

 

ISEP international exchange program 2015-16 – Scholarships for the USA

Posted by Sara Goderecci
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The University of Urbino, as ISEP International member University, offers students the opportunity to apply for no. 3 international semester scholarships for study at one of the over 140 member universities in the United States.

Students are eligible to apply for ISEP Exchange programs at the U.S. institutions listed here.

To find out what benefits are included in the scholarship and for the procedure application, please see the Notice of Selection (in IT only).

The application deadline is May 29, 2015. 

Presentation of the e-learning platform for A.A. 2014-2015

Posted by Alessandro Bogliolo
Tag: / /

The distance-learning methodology and the e-learning platform adopted for A.A. 2014-2015 by the Laurea degree program in Applied Computer Scienze of the University of Urbino have been presented yesterday during an online meeting. The video log of the meeting (in Italian) is now available online. For further information please refer to cdl.informatica@uniurb.it

EU Commission against Hungary’s Internet tax

Posted by Alessandro Bogliolo

The Hungarian draft tax bill contains a provision for Internet providers to pay a tax of about €0.48 per gigabyte of data traffic. Although it would be possible for Internet providers to offset corporate income tax against the new levy, this measure would represent a major step backward in the digital agenda for Hungray, which is already under the EU average in all digital indicators.

Thousands for protesters gathered in front of the Economic Ministry on Sunday, in a rally launched by a Facebook group. At the end of a long day of protest, my friend Mizsei said that the Government seemed open to a change, but nothing has happened since then. That’s why yestarday there was a second turn of protest and EC vice-president for Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, took a strong position against the Hungarian tax bill, saying that  it “is a terrible idea” that “curbs freedom and won’t work”.

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EU spokesperson Ryan Heath said that the new tax “is part of a troubling pattern of behaviour and laws from the Hungarian governments, and more than that it is bad news for the internet which is a global common resource.” Any unilateral action taken by a member state without coordination increases the gap among EU countries and ultimately weaken the position of Europe in the digital world in terms of freedom, human rights, and competitiveness.

In addition, EC considers the Internet tax to be a wrong measure also from a practical and economic point of view. In fact, Internet traffic grows globally at a rate which is out of the control of any single country, so that the effects of a levy applied to data traffic would be very hard to predict even in the short term and the tax rate would require continuous adjustments in order not to become unaffordable. At the moment the Hungarian government has proposed a cap on the tax, a monthly amount of 2 €/enduser/month and 20 €/coorporate user/month, with an expected yearly revenue of about €100 million. Interestingly, with this measure Hungary goes against its own digital strategy, which prohibits any kind of taxation of internet traffic.

It is unclear if there were acts of violence during protests, but the overwhelming crowd has implemented a peaceful and striking protest showing the bright screens of their smartphones.

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Protests are still going on in Hungary and in many other countries in solidarity, while a new rally has been launched in Hungary for Sunday Nov 02. Hungarian Parliament has reacted to EC position saying, according to Hungarian online daily, that if the European Union wants to dictate to Hungary, then the country should consider slowly backing out of the Union.