Computer Science @ Marlboro  

Multimedia, Computers, and the Internet

Assignments | Lecture Notes | Resources | Info | Roster

  1. for Tues Jan 27
    1. Send me ( an email telling me you're registering for this class.
    2. Review and/or read the FAQ and tutorials at
    3. Read (if you haven't before) Neal Stephenson's article In the Beginning was the Command Line.
    4. Create a small plain text (.txt) file on your computer or a lab computer. Move that file to your html directory on akbar. (Create the directory if you need to, or ask for help.) View that file with a web browser.
    5. If you did all that on a PC, can you do it on a Mac? Or, if you did it on a Mac, can you do it on a PC? How about a linux box (if you can find a friend with one)? How much of it can you do from the command line?

  2. for Tues Feb 3
    1. Find online and browse through at least one tutorial that relates to making a webpage, HTTPD, or HTML. Report on your results. (Google search "HTML tutorial" or "webpage tutorial" or similar.) Anything interesting on
    2. Add a page to the wiki at on a topic of your choosing.
    3. Create several web pages which link to each other, and upload them to your akbar account, using either (1) a word processor like Word "Save as HTML", (2) a web page creation routine (such as Composer in Mozilla), or just a text editor like Notepad (you'll need to type HTML if you do that.) Send me an email describing your experience.
    4. As usual, if you know one way, try another.

  3. for Tues Feb 10
    1. Find an online picture of Bugs Bunny that is copyrighted. Can you find one that isn't? Are you legally allowed to link to either with an IMG tag? Are you legally allowed to copy either to your own site? Can you find a picture of Homer Simpson that you can copy without violating someone's copyright?
    2. Use Google's "Image Search" engine to find a picture of something that interests you. Discuss any copyright issues, and decide if you're allowed to use that image, and how. Find Google's discussion of the copywright of its displayed images, and read what it says.
    3. Browse a recent article from Wired magazine. (You can read issues online from older issues.) For example, "The Love Machine".
    4. Use an image processing program to change the size of a picture, and save it in a different format. Make sure you understand the differences between a few of the common file formats (jpg, png, gif, tiff, ...). The simplest way to get access to an image application is to install the Gimp on your computer. (I'm working on getting it on the public computers. See the link(s) in the Resources, below.)

  4. for Tues Feb 17
    1. Do some sort of image manipulation with the Gimp or Photoshop, something like the "Jolly Green Giant Accordian Player" that I described in class. Explain what you did, how you did it, and what problems you ran across.
    2. Set up your accumulated homework on a website with links so that I can find it all. (You do have something for each of these assignments, eh?)

  5. for Tues Feb 25
    1. Read about crypto and security with the links below.
    2. Get GnuPG or similar encryption software. Generate a public/private key for yourself, and use it to send me a secret message. Put your public key on your website somewhere obvious.
    3. Finish up playing around with the Gimp - do one more colorization or other image project of your choice. For extra brownie points, carve up an image into multiple parts and use them together with webpage TABLE links to make a mixture of images, color blocks, and text links.

  6. for Tues March 2
    1. Fri 5th : first paper/project, any image and/or HTML related work. Show evidence of research and investigation beyond what was presented in class, on a topic of your choice. Besides presenting a doctored image or website, explain how you created it and where the materials came from. Please do tell me by next Tues what you intend to do for this. Using work submitted for homeworks is OK, but it needs to be explained and presented clearly.
    2. Read about sound, acoustics, audio formats, etc. (Explore the Wikipedia and other resource links at the bottom of this page.)
    3. Install Audacity or Amadeus. Start browsing the manual and playing around with it. Check out this tutorial and the FAQ on their website. (Type "Audacity" into Google.) Explore "VST Plug-ins"
    4. Write up how all this worked out - what did get it to do? What worked? What didn't? What was confusing? What was cool?

  7. for Fri March 12
    1. Last assignment before spring break.
    2. As we did with the image manipulation and the Gimp before, use an audio editing program like Audacity to cut, combine, and manipulate some sound files. You can find the sound clips online as discussed in class, record them yourself, or whatever. (Be legal, though, eh?) Don't make this too long a sound - it should fit on your akbar account.

      Describe what you did, including where you got the sounds and what you did to them.

      Put up a webpage with a tag to play to the sound and perhaps an appropriate image.

      An example might be to find a celebrity speech, cut up some individual parts of that, overlay some appropriate music and/or sound effects, and save as an mp3 with a nearby web page that points to it.

  8. for Tues April 6
    1. Start reading about video and animation. There are many places on the web to explore these topics; here are a few starting places.
    2. Make some time to try out Flash in the media lab.
    3. Make at least two animated gifs using the Gimp or any other tool of your choice, with some different effects and frame rates. Possibilities include
      1. Text that becomes successively blurrier.
      2. Moving or rotating objects or text.
      3. Special effects like the SpinningGlobe in the Gimp.

  9. for Tues April 13
    1. Start thinking about what you want to do for a final project. More details coming, but it should incorporate some kind of video or animation, including some special effects and/or alterations, some audio, saved in at least two formats, and a paper describing what you did and what you ended up with - bit rates, software used, playback choices, and so on.
    2. I've added a number of links in the Resources section at the bottom of this page. Read the articles on Cinelerra, On2's Video Compression, and's "Why do I need open source?"
    3. Either (a) create some kind of web animation with Flash, (b) download and do something with Blender, or (c) shoot some digital video and edit it in the library lab. (I'd like you to try all three over the next few weeks.) On your website, describe what your experience.

  10. for Tues April 20 - end of term
    As discussed in class, I'd like you to do these assignments for these weeks after the break
    1. Put down in writing on your web site a proposal for your final project (see below).
    2. Explore (including a write-up) of an application that you aren't using for your final project, either of Blender, Shockwave, or FinalCutPro, or analogous products from other vendors. (If you've completed the previous assingment, that's enough.)
    3. Answer the following bandwidth review questions.
      (Here are the answers.)
    4. Hand in a final project.

  11. for Tues May 4
    1. Final Project presentations in class.
      • Written part to be handed in no later than Friday May 7.
      • Either
        • a short (few minutes) video piece with some special effects and audio, or
        • a blender project - perhaps working through some tutorials
      • Your work to be saved (online or on a CD or DVD) and handed in two formats (mpeg4, animated gif, quicktime, or other)
      • A written piece describing what you did, how you did it, what worked and/or didn't work, etc.
      • The whole effort should be comparable to a 10 page paper.

Lecture Notes
  • Fri Jan 23rd : computer and 'net basics
  • Tues Jan 27th : uploading, HTML, wiki
  • Fri Jan 30th : URL syntax, Links, Anchors, Image tags
  • Tues Feb 3rd : Copyright; start talking about images and the Gimp
  • Tues Feb 17th : Gimp lab work (text manipulations, layers, selections, ...)
  • Fri Feb 20th : Steganography
  • Tues Feb 24 - intro acoustics: time vs freq, pitch, loudness, and all that. Amadeus walk-thru. Sound formats: .wav, .mid, .mp3, ...
  • Fri Feb 27 - in class lab playing around with Audacity.
  • Fri March 5 - music : midi, ABC, csound, ...
  • Tues March 30 - review images/sound; start video
  • ... several lab days looking at Blender and Final Cut Pro
  • Tues April 20 - digital video
  • Tues April 27 - streaming


WhenTues/Fri 1:30 - 2:50
WhereSci 217
FacultyJim Mahoney (
Credits 3 ( i.e. 9 hours/week including class )
Level Introductory
Prereq Some familiarity with computers

A survey of how webpages, images, music, and video are created, edited, and presented with the use of computers. Topics will range from basic skills (creating a web page of digital photographs) to emerging cool tricks ( streaming video over the internet, CG animation) depending on student interests and what tools we can make available.
Grading will be based on
  • Weekly assignments (one grade for how many done)
  • Several projects; I'm not sure exactly how many yet.
I'm not quite sure what topics at what levels we'll be covering; in part that'll depend on who takes the course and what I can pull together for software and tools.

Since many of the details of these topics change rapidly with the available technology, I expect to emphasize the underlying ideas and explore several ways to approach things, including different operating systems, open source vs commercial tools, and so on.

There isn't a good textbook that covers this material well. We'll be reading from a variety of online sources and reserve books. I'll have a list of optional books which cover various aspects of these topics, but I'm not planning on requiring any of them.
Topics covered will look something like

  1. general computer skills
    types of files, directories, editing, moving stuff between various folders on various computers, command line vs GUI
  2. web pages and the 'net
    creating, editing, strenghts / limitations, a little HTML, bandwidth issues for html, pictures, music, animation, video, ...
  3. copyright, trademark, patent, plagiarism, and all that
  4. images
    digital cameras, photoshop / gimp, file types and compressions, watermarks, steganography, connections with the web, printing, what's available on campus, ...
  5. sounds
    file types and compression, electronic music, how they work on the web, various technologies for recording storing and playing, streaming, what's available on campus, ...
  6. video
    shooting digital video, editing in our media lab, strengths and limitations, possible other directions include cell animation, 3D rendering tools, shockwave - we'll see.
I expect that some of our class time will be open labs, with small groups of students working on assigned projects while I offer helpful suggestions. (No, no, don't click on *that* button!)

This webpage will continue to change throughout the semester as assignments and resources are added.

Student work

Jim Mahoney (
Last modified <% scalar localtime($m->current_comp->load_time) %>