Archive for category Teaching

New WebRTC Certification and Training!

WebRTCIf you are involved in the real-time communications industry, there’s no doubt you’ve been hearing about, and investigating WebRTC – Web Real-Time Communications.  WebRTC is about adding a complete audio and video stack to browsers, and exposing these capabilities to web developers through JavaScript APIs.  WebRTC is going to make huge changes in our industry.

The WebRTC Book

I’ve been fortunate to be involved in WebRTC right from the beginning in the standards, and  with my friend Dan Burnett wrote the first book on WebRTC.   Perhaps you have read it?   Although it has been less than a year since we first published it, we recently published the second edition to track the increasing pace of development and innovation in WebRTC.

Now, we are pleased to announce online and in-person training and certification for WebRTC, in partnership with the WebRTC School.   We have put together two training classes:

CWICertified WebRTC Integrator – this is a course for architects, system integrators, and VoIP and telephony developers who want to integrate WebRTC communications from browsers into their existing VoIP and video conferencing infrastructure.  It details all the protocols needed and the principles behind architecting and designing gateways. This course is online right now at the WebRTC School!

CWDCertified WebRTC Developer – this course is for web developers, web architects, and web integrators who want to learn how to use the WebRTC JavaScript APIs to create WebRTC sites and applications.  It details all the W3C APIs and all the components needed to get WebRTC up and running, including signaling, servers, and security.  This course includes actual WebRTC code which runs on browsers today.  This course will available  online at the WebRTC School later this month.

We are very excited to be launching these training classes.  But what is the certification part?  Following its highly successful SIP School Certified Associate  (SSCA) program, WebRTC School is offering certification via online testing for Certified WebRTC Integrator (CWI) and Certified WebRTC Developer (CWD) programs.

I hope these classes will help spread the word on WebRTC!  If you take either of these classes, I’d love to hear from you what you think and what you have learned.

 

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Ready for the Return of Robotics?

Are you ready for the kickoff of the 2012 US FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC)? I am! In about 12 hours I’ll be in the middle of an excited group of high school kids at the St Louis Planetarium watching a video broadcast from Southern New Hampshire University – Manchester Campus via NASA broadcast where this years competition will be announced!

Last year was my first season of mentoring the Roborebels Team 1329. It was an amazing experience. I can’t wait to hear this year’s challenge. Will the robot be required to drive, climb, grab, jump, or even swim? Or some combination of these? We will find out soon! We will spend the weekend brainstorming designs and poring over the design specs. At the end of the 7 week build season the robots will be put to the test is friendly co-optition as founder Dean Kamen likes to describe it.

I was amazed by what the students designed and built last year. I’m sure this year will be the same.

From an educational side, it is such an inspiring sight to see so many young men and women getting excited about science and engineering. After all, it will be up to them in a few years to take the lead in our economy and solve the next generation of technical challenges.

In the mean time, I need to put on my safety glasses and roll up my sleeves to help the students.

Best of luck to everyone involved!

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Cyber Cold War?

Next month, I’m excited to be giving a public lecture sponsored by The Tuesday Women’s Association (TWA) and the American Association of University Women (AAUW).  It is part of their 2012 International Relations Lecture Series and is entitled Cyberspace: A New Cold War Front. It will be held on January 10, 2012 at 10:45am at the Ethical Society building on 9001 Clayton Rd., St. Louis, MO 63117.

I’m really looking forward to it. I’m used to lecturing at Washington University, and giving industry tutorials, and making business and standards body presentations, but a public lecture like this is is something different!

And this is a really interesting topic, too. I’ll be talking about Stuxnet, and other industrial cyber espionage. I’ll get to talk about the attacks on Google originating from China. I’ll talk about hacking as a weapon in various conflicts between Russia and former Soviet republics.

Of course, I’ll try to educate about computer and Internet security, drawing some examples from my techno thriller cyber crime mystery Counting from Zero.  While it is mainly about cyber crime for profit, the techniques and attacks are similar.

If you are in St Louis, it would be great to see you there. If not, maybe I’ll post a recording or at least my slides on this blog.

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SIP and the Browser: RTCWEB and HTML5

There’s a lot of discussion these days about an effort known as RTCWEB – Real-Time Communications in Web browsers.  It is part of the HTML5 effort to build base voice and video communication capabilities directly into web browsers.  What does this mean?  HTML allows a web site or developer to easily display an image or stream a video, simply by including a standard HTML tag in their web code.  The RTCWEB extensions will similarly allow Skype-like voice and video communication, simply by adding a few HTML5 tags and some Javascript or Java code.  There are websites offering this today, but you first have to download a browser plugin before you can use it.  The developer has to write plugins for each platform and browser they want to support.  As a result, few offer this today – GoogleTalk and Google+ Hangouts are an exception to this.  For this effort to be successful, there must be standards, and two Internet standards bodies are working together closely:  the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) and the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium).  I have been active in the IETF’s RTCWEB Working Group, and colleagues of mine have also been involved in the W3C WEBRTC Working Group.

So how does this fit with SIP, which I’ve spent much of the last 10+ years working on?  SIP or Session Initiation Protocol is the IETF protocol for establishing voice and video sessions over the Internet.  SIP is used all over the Internet today, and in private networks.  It is used by service providers for VoIP (Voice over IP) networks, and it is used by enterprises for their internal PBX (Private Branch Exchange) networks.  It is also in a number of applications and services including Skype In and Out and even Apple’s Facetime (kind of).

Does this mean SIP in the browser?  This is an open question today being debated.  Although I have written drafts on the topic, I am no longer so sure this the right approach.  The alternative approach, that says that we don’t need to standardize the protocol between the browser and the web server – just use some downloaded Javascript or Java.  But this doesn’t mean SIP will go away – rather, SIP will continue to be used to connect networks and elements, and this will include new RTCWEB websites that communicate with each other and service providers.

This topic will continue to be discussed in the standards bodies, and also in next month’s ITEXP Internet Telephony Expo.  I’m excited to be giving an all-day SIP Tutorial with Henry Sinnreich in which we will introduce and teach SIP and also the principles behind the RTCWEB effort and how SIP and RTCWEB relate.  You can find out more about the tutorial and register using this link.

One of the other hot topics of RTCWEB is security, and I have written and spoken out about the need for privacy – protection against eavesdropping on voice and video communication.  A media security protocol such as ZRTP would be an excellent choice, but there are other options.  Unfortunately, there is a contingent that wants to permit unencrypted voice and video media from the browser.  But that is a topic for another day…

Hope to see some of you in Austin, Texas at the SIP Tutorial on September 15. 2011!

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The Lecturing Life

Since I love teaching and lecturing, I think it is fitting that the first review of my novel Counting from Zero should come from the Science Editor at Washington University where I teach. My favorite part of the review is this quote:

Counting from Zero brings Dashiell Hammet and Raymond Chandler into the computer age.”

My first experience of teaching was as a grad student at Lehigh University. I was a teaching assistant or TA throughout the four years I worked on my PhD. I didn’t actually teach classes, but I ran tutorials and labs. I enjoyed it a lot and found I was kind of good at it. I used to enjoy the student reviews at the end of each semester. My favorite comment from one student was: “Alan is a chill guy.”

Later in my career, I got involved with Voice over IP or VoIP and Session Initiation Protocol or SIP. As this was a new technology, I needed to help train other engineers at my company. I started running sessions for 25, 50, and even 100 engineers at a time, teaching SIP. My books on SIP came out of this experience.

About this same time, I contacted Washington University in St. Louis and asked if they wanted to hear the latest about SIP and VoIP. I met Professor Paul Min who was in charge of running seminars for the Electrical Engineering Department. Soon, I gave the seminar and started meeting the staff. I did some teaching for other professors when they were out of town. Next thing I knew, they asked if I wanted to teach an evening class the next fall. I said yes!

That was 10 years ago. I have taught a variety of classes but found my home in the Joint Engineering Program with UMSL, the University of Missouri St. Louis. I particularly enjoy teaching in this program because most students have jobs and practical experience. One highlight was developing and teaching a class in Internet Communications. My text book: one of my SIP books!

My teaching style is fairly traditional – I like writing on the blackboard. I’ve also experimented with newer technologies such as Google Wave. My least favorite part is marking HW and assigning grades.

I’m currently not teaching this semester due to my travel load but I can’t wait to be back in the Fall. I miss the energy and enthusiasm of students.

So thank you to Washington University and UMSL, my colleagues and students.  Perhaps one day I can teach an Internet security class and use Counting from Zero as the textbook – that would be fun!

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