Randy Pausch's "Last Lecture" Video, Alice, Rocky's Boots, and growing up


I'm incredibly moved by Randy Pausch's "Last Lecture" video a touching survey of his career, being alive, learning, and technology. This lecture becomes more poignant with his passing. Dr. Pausch was a heavy wieght in VR and had a particularly charming manner. His goals were holistic and joyful.

He's most recent project legacy is Alice; learning software to teach programming through building virtual worlds. I love this! I spent so many hours playing Rocky's Boots [2] on the Commodore64. Rocky's Boots, a 2D "virtual reality" program, allowed you to run around a "dungeon room" environment. Each room had circuits and a written lesson on the circuit.

The trick with Rocky's Boots was to drag all the generators and circuits into the final room so that you could build really complicated machines. We would NOT reboot the computer so that we could keep the room's state. You can play it on an emulator still :)

I like engineering learning software. I cultivate fantasies of creating kinesthetic software for choreagraphers and first person shooter games for learning taxonomies (biology, chemistry, history...). This software was important to me where it was available; Rocky's Boots, Math Invaders, Letter Invaders. 2nd life is making its way into universities fast (including ours). I believe much of my learning all through school could have been massively accelerated. Quoting Dr. Pauschs's Lecture, "[...] particularly with middle school girls, if you present it as a story telling exercise, they are perfectly willing to learn how to write computer software." Being a boy, commanding "robots" around with the boot, was gratifying. But maybe stories and relationships are better for girls. It's about finding the right context; statistically for a group and individually for a person

Dr. Pausch was inspiring; dreams, life, learning, and engineering. He did it all and, I believe, left an indelible mark at the beginning of a great journey.