Tuesday, September 2, 2008

What is the secret society called ICER?

In the last piece of information I received from Jake Stone, the covert operative, he wrote that a secret group of powerful and well-funded individuals calling themselves, ICER, have hacked into and taken over the cell phone networks. He wrote that they took control of a special device installed by Homeland Security after 911 that can reprogram any computer wirelessly from aircraft to PDAs. Well, I was curious about ICER and did Google and Ixquick searches.

Curiously, ICER stands for the International Computing and Educational Research Workshop held every year at a major university in different countries since 2005. The first workshop was held at the University of Washington in Seattle and this year’s conference will be held this weekend (Sept 6-7) at the University of Newcastle in Sydney, Australia.

Here’s the mission statement of the workshop from the 2005 ICER workshop web site:

“Computing education, as a research discipline, is the study of how people come to understand computational processes and devices, and how to improve that understanding. As computation becomes ubiquitous in our world, understanding of computing in order to design, structure, maintain, and utilize these technologies becomes increasingly important both for the technology professional, but also for the technologically literate citizen. The research study of how the understanding of computation develops, and how to improve that understanding, is critically important for the technology-dependent societies in which we live.”

I don’t think Jake Stone was referring to this ICER. First, they are not a secret society; they are an open educational organization of computer professionals, educators and developers. Besides, I don’t have any proof what Jake Stone says is true. For all I know, he could be making this stuff up from my novel, Dark End of the Spectrum.

Interestingly, Wikipedia also has a listing for ICER. It is image compression software used by NASA on the Mars rovers, “Spirit” (MER-A) and “Opportunity” (MER-B).

From Wikipedia:

“ICER is a wavelet-based image compressor that allows for a graceful trade-off between the amount of compression (expressed in terms of compressed data volume in bits/pixel) and the resulting degradation in image quality (distortion). ICER has some similarities to JPEG2000, with respect to select wavelet operations.

The development of ICER was driven by the desire to achieve high compression performance while meeting the specialized needs of deep space applications.”

I also could not find the meaning of the photo-enhancing ICER acronym, if it is an acronym.

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