August 2011 Newsletter

Welcome to the August edition of the IEEE-TCMC (Technical Committee on Multimedia Computing) monthly mailing.

TCMC membership is officially determined by signing up with the IEEE Computer Society either with your membership or later through:

TCMC home:

This month's topics include:

New formation of five TCMC Special Interest Groups; conference news and articles about work from the upcoming VL/HCC 2011 conference posted in the Computer society's website.


New formation of five TCMC Special Interest Groups!

You are welcome to contact SIG Chairs if you are interested in participating their activities and become members.

SIGMUSP (SIG on Multimedia Security and Privacy)
Dr. James Joshi
Associate professor
School of Information Sciences
University of Pittsburgh

SIGMDM (SIG on Multimedia Data Mining)

Dr. Mei-Ling Shyu
Associate Professor 
University of Miami
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Data Mining, Database & Multimedia Research Group

Dr. Mohan S. Kankanhalli
Associate Provost (Graduate Education)
National University of Singapore
Professor, Department of Computer Science
School of Computing

SIGSMM (SIG on Semantic Multimedia Management) Co-Chairs

Dr. William I. Grosky
University of Michigan - Dearborn
Department of Computer and Information Sciences

Dr. Richard Chbeir
Associate Professor
University of Bourgogne in Dijon, France
Department of Computer Science

SIGASP (SIG on Audio and Speech Processing for Multimedia)

Dr. Gerald Friedland
International Computer Science Institute 
1947 Center Street, Suite 600
CA-94704 Berkeley, USA

Dr. Xavier Anguera Miró
Telefonica Research
Torre Telefónica Diagonal 00
Plaza de Ernest Lluch i Martín, 5
08019 – Barcelona

SIGMTEL (SIG on Multimedia Technologies for E-Learning)

D r. Robert Mertens
International Computer Science Institute
1947 Center Street, Suite 600
CA-94704 Berkeley, USA

Dr. Lars Knipping
Berlin Institute of Technology, Germany


Conference news and articles about work from the upcoming VL/HCC 2011 conference posted in Computer society website:


News #1: news%5D-software-developers-on-security-errors:-it%E2%80%99s- not-my-problem

Software Developers on Security Errors: It's Not My Problem August 24, 2011 7:01 AM

Many software security vulnerabilities originate in errors committed by software developers. Interactive development tools can assist in developing more secure software, but they must reflect an in-depth understanding of how and why developers produce security bugs.

US researchers at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte conducted semi-structured interviews of 15 professional software developers to discover their perceptions and behaviors related to software security. The results revealed a disconnect between the developers' conceptual understanding of security and their attitudes regarding their personal responsibility and security practices.

"Many common software security vulnerabilities can be prevented with relatively simple code practices," said Jing Xie, coauthor with Heather Lipford and Bill Chu of a paper reporting the results. "Yet, if developers rely on other people, processes, or technology to handle software security, they may inadvertently introduce errors that cost the organization time and effort to later find and fix."

The paper, "Why Do Programmers Make Security Errors?" has been accepted for presentation at the IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing (VLHCC 11), to be held 18–22 September in Pittsburgh. The website for the conference is


News #2: news%5D-robots-teach-programming-skills

Robots Teach Programming Skills
August 23, 2011 7:57 AM

In a scheme envisioned by a trio of New Zealand researchers, robots use a sophisticated, intuitive visual language to more fully involve computer science students in solving programming challenges. James Diprose, Bruce MacDonald, and John Hosking of the University of Auckland will describe their creation, Ruru, at the 2011 IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing, which takes place this September in Pittsburgh.

Robots are useful tools for teaching novices programming as real outcomes of programming decisions can be seen immediately. However, robot software development has unique problems that make aspects of programming more difficult than general software development. These problems include the inherently unstable robot platform itself, the robot's environment and its interactions in three-dimensional space, and the fact that physical events occur in real time. Ruru, a novel visual language that addresses these difficulties through a principled approach to its design, also visualizes robot inputs intuitively in real time and allows users to amend parameters at will. The New Zealand scientists envision the usefulness and user-friendliness of Ruru as key to engaging novices in learning and practicing programming skills.

Learn more about papers to be presented at VLHCC 2011 at


News #3: news%5D-end-user-assessments-are-valuable-%E2%80%93-to-a-certain-point

End-User Assessments are Valuable – to a Certain Point
August 17, 2011 6:47 AM

Intelligent assistants are on the rise in today's high-tech society. From smart home security systems that serve a family in its home, to research "coding" assistants helping a group of project researchers, intelligent assistants customize their work around an end-user's needs; they learn, among other things, how to recognize everything from junk email to photos of friends.

Unfortunately, intelligent systems sometimes handle tasks so important or large that they cannot be trusted implicitly. Systematic assessment of an intelligent assistant's end users can establish certain levels of trust, but such assessments can be costly.

A group of researchers from Oregon State University and City University London investigated recently whether bringing a small crowd of end users ("mini-crowds") to assess an intelligent assistant is useful from a cost/benefit perspective. The results? A mini-crowd of testers supplied many more benefits than the obvious decrease in cost and workload, but as the size of the mini-crowds increased, there was a point of diminishing returns where the cost-benefit ratio became less attractive.

In a paper titled "Mini-Crowdsourcing End-User Assessment of Intelligent Assistants: A Cost-Benefit Study", to be presented at the IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing (VLHCC 11), 18-22 September in Pittsburgh, Penn., three different-sized mini-crowds assessed the performance of an intelligent assistant that classified textual messages. Findings showed that bigger was not always better. For example, the mini-crowd of six introduced fewer false negatives than the mini-crowd of 11. Even in tests where larger mini-crowds outperformed smaller crowds, the benefit of increasing the crowd size quickly dropped, while costs scaled linearly.

The researchers envision a future in which shared testing is paired with shared debugging to support small ecosystems of end users to quickly and effectively assess intelligent assistants that support important aspects of their work and lives.

To learn more about papers to be presented at VLHCC 2011, visit the conference website at