What made you want to become a comp.
What did you like best about college?
/ Did you enjoy Wake Forest?
- I’ve always love computers. Well, to be more specific, I’ve
always loved anything that lights up and has buttons. (I’m easily
amused...) I enjoy nearly every facet of technology. Couple
that with coming from a family of teachers (my mother’s a teacher, my
sister is a teacher, my wife is an elementary school librarian, my
father-in-law is a professor, my uncle was a professor... etc.) and you
can see the inevitable outcome.
Do you like Wake or Virginia better? I
transferred from Wake.
- I lived on the same hall for three years at Wake with a great
group of guys. Just hanging out with those guys, learning from
them in discussions that ranged from politics to religion to
technology, and being part of several fantastic campus organizations
really had an impact on me.
I can't think of any now.
- HA. Actually, the two schools are much more similar than I
ever imagined, which is great. Virginia has the close-knit
feeling that Wake does, but with more resources for CS and
Engineering. It’s a great combination. As for which is
better... give me four years here before I have to make that call...
What was your doctorate thesis?
- That’s fine. You can ask later. I’ll be here all
As a fellow Wii gamer (and since we'll
all have wiimotes), we should probably take a class or two to have a
WiiSports or Super Smash Bros. tournament... (just kidding)
- Why you would want to subject yourself to this... The title
is “Analyzing Software Development Artifacts Through Singular Value
Decomposition to Guide Development Decisions.” Basically, I take
software change records and defect records, do some matrix math, then
tell you where your system is likely to explode. Something like
Did you always intend to teach
Do you prefer Call of Duty 4 or Halo
- Believe it or not, yes. Well, there was a brief moment I
thought about law school. But I got over that fast. Law
school is harder than getting a PhD. Trust me.
Do you think the glass is half empty
or half full?
Since you are not planning on giving
out stickers, can you give out candy instead?
- Half full. Unless it’s something like three day old
coffee. Then it’s thankfully half empty.
Have any kids?
- As my bathroom scale will tell you, I am not adverse to candy in
any way, shape, form, or fashion.
What is your favorite video game that
you have ever played?
- Not yet... I just got my PhD in August. There’s only
so much a man can handle at once.
Where are you from?
- Aargh. I hate this question. If I only had to choose
one, probably it’s Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. If I might
add to the list: SMB3, Link to the Past, Super Metroid, Rock Band
Would you be able to connect me to an
IT friend that is working for a company?
- Originally from Salisbury, NC. Lived there for 11 years,
then moved to Rock Hill, SC, moved back to Salisbury, then
Winston-Salem (Wake), then Raleigh / Morrisville (NC State), and now
What do you think is the one most
interesting aspect of computer science?
- Perhaps... but first do well in my class :-)
What's your favorite computer program?
- One? That in the field of CS, you can have several people
in the room who say they are computer scientists and they won’t have
any clue what the other people are talking about. CS ranges from
operating systems, binary logic, and architecture, to all the crazy
stuff I do, like software engineering and software reliability.
It really is a diverse field. (I’m sure other fields are too -
it’s just what I like about CS as well.)
Have you ever heard of the man named
Sean Kennedy? He has an internet show basically. Talks somewhat about
computers among other things. Ive watched many of his shows and you
both have the same way of saying things...its not a bad thing he has
lots of great ideas. If your interested in looking at some of his stuff
http://patrolling.rantmedia.ca/ there is the link. i think you will see
what i mean.
- Avoiding answering the gaming question again, I’ll say
Firefox. A dedicated team of people around the globe creating a
piece of software to challenge a goliath with the purpose of making the
web safer for everyone. You have to respect that.
What exaclty would we use a wii mote
- Actually, no. And I’m a huge fan of internet-distributed
media (like podcasts/netcasts and IPTV), so I’ll have to check him
out. I invite everyone to check out the TWIT.tv network of
netcasts for great tech news.
Why should I take this course?
Convince me here!
- Depends on what your group is interested in. Music making,
painting, dance/movement... we will explore this more later.
Why do you use PHP and that other
language to introduce people to programming in this course? (I wasn't
sure if you were saying "Hascal" or Pascal for the second language.)
- Technology reason: computers are becoming more and more pervasive
in society. The rate that computers have been adopted (basically
the past 20 years) is markedly faster than, say, the car was
adopted. Granted we all don’t know how a car works or could build
one (like me, for example), but having a working knowledge about
computing is important and will be more important as time passes.
Liberal arts reason: there’s a lot of cool stuff out there in music and
language and art. Learning how all this relates
could/should/hopefully will give you a better insight into your own
field. Selfish reason: I’m a nice guy. And we’ll have some
I remember you saying that you play
"Call of Duty." Do you always play video games?
- PHP and Haskell. Why those two languages? Well, PHP
is one of the most used languages on the web today. Giving you an
insight as to how the Internet works and how computers communicate is a
big goal in this class. Haskell is important because you need to
know that, just like spoken languages, there’s more than one way to get
a message across. Some programming solutions are more elegant in
a different language, and talking about algorithms and complexity will
be another focus in the class.
Do you prefer UVA or NC State??
- “Do I always?” No. I could never get away with
that. I have too much work. My “pile of shame” is
gigantic. “Have I always played games?” Oh, yes. From
Intellivision and Atari through the NES and SNES to my current setup of
Wii, 360, PS2, and DS, I have always played games.
What kind of programming have you done
in the past? / What types of computer programs have you written for
entertainment and research?
- UVa vs. State is slightly easier than vs. Wake. The College
of engineering at NC State is effectively in a business park away from
campus. You don’t feel like you’re at school. I got to
missing things like... other people... and grass. I miss a lot of
people from State, but UVa is much nicer.
Why does my computer (runs Vista) run
at the same speed as my old laptop (runs XP) even though my new desktop
has an Intel Dual Core? (I realize this question is not really about
- I love web development. I've done websites for non-profits,
computing conferences, fan sites, and a bunch of others. I'm
still learning good visual design (computer scientists are not
automatically graphic designers...), but it's still fun. I've
also done programs that measure software reliability for my research,
along with a tool that can monitor changes to code when done in
response to bug fixes. I did do some development in industry - I
interned at IBM, Wachovia, and a medical software company.
What did you think of the book for
this class? Interesting?
- Speed with computers is always a fluid thing. Without any
more information, the next thing I would check is the amount of
RAM. XP did fine with 512MB, but 1GB was much better. Vista
really needs 2GB to run decently.
Do students have a name for you other
than Mr. Sherriff (unless you prefer to go by Mark)?
- The book was recommended to me by Dave Evans, and yes, I do find
it interesting and a whole lot better than "a standard textbook."
We'll also use some web resources in this course that I like.
Tuh-MAYTO or Tuh-MAHTO?
- Mark is fine. Mr. Sherriff is fine. Prof. Sherriff is
fine. Dr. Sherriff sounds weird. Thankfully, I've been told
that that's not "in" around here.
Have you always worked in academia?
- Tuh-MAYTO. Unfortunately, for the longest time I pronounced
novice as NO-VICE. I'm serious.
Why did you decide to teach at UVA?
- As far as official "jobs," yes. This is actually my first
"job." Everything else was an internship, co-op, or when I was a
adjunct lecturer at NC State.
Will this class be difficult for
someone that is not very familiar with comuter programing?
- When I came to interview at UVa, I already had some job offers
from other schools. But the bottom line is that nowhere made me
feel more at home than UVa. The CS faculty here is
fantastic. Here I get to be at a top-tier university and still
concentrate on what I love - teaching.
Will it be hard to get an A or B+ in
- I will teach this class with the expectation that no one knows
how to program. That's what the course description is, and that's
what I'll do. Now, early programmers often have a learning curve
they have to get over. Learning about computational thinking and
how to translate your ideas into a proramming language does take
practice and patience. But, I'm confident that everyone in here
can do it.
Do you feel as comfortable with the
arts as you do with computer science? In other words, would you say
that you've been adequately trained, and are now well-versed, in the
areas of the humanities which you're planning on tying in with CS?
- If you do the work, come to class, and put some effort into
learning the material for the exams, then no, I don't think it will be
hard. Sorry for the trite answer, but really, that's what it
boils down to. Is it a hard class? Hard and unfair, no.
What class of Wake Forest did you come
- A very interesting question. Here are my creditials for
this particular class: I graduated from a traditionally liberal arts
school, where I did take courses in a wide variety of arts and
literature classes. I have been involved in community theater for
seven years, having roles in several plays and musicals (my favorite
was singing in The Who's "Tommy"). I have been the director of
two church handbell choirs and the Wake Forest University Handbell
Choir (7 years directing) and have been ringing for 16 years. I
have sung in several church choirs and have taken courses in digital
audio maniuplation. I also played the viola (believe it or
not). I probably know more about children's literature than any
other CS professor. I certainly don't claim to be an expert in
anything other than CS, and I'm sure I'll learn as much in this class
as all of you.
My high school History teacher is a WF
alumnus and he is still gung-ho with WF school spirit. Is this common
among WF alumni?
Can we have a pizza party some day?
(I'm kidding a little bit.)
- I'll put it this way: for the Orange Bowl, 3 out of 4 living
alumni went to the game.
I hurd you like mudkips?!
Do you take cream or sugar in your
Sorry about that.
- I actually don't like coffee that much... so, yes.
- You'll find I'll tell certainly my fair share of groaners over
the course of the semester.
What music do you like?
And what is Cheerwine? I saw you
drinking it and I was wondering if
that was legal during class.
- I actually listen to more talk radio and podcasts, but if you
check my current iPod playlist: Linkin Park, Stone Temple Pilots, Red
Hot Chili Peppers, and The Black Mages.
Do you have a specialty within the
category of "computer science" and
what is it?
- HA! Cheerwine is a soft drink made in Salisbury, NC (where
I'm from). It's kinda like a cherry Dr. Pepper.
Kinda. No, it's not a wine, but I do enjoy when I catch people
with that question.
Does your last name imply you came
a line of sheriffs? Just kidding!
- I do - my speciality is software engineering, and within that,
software reliability, agile development, testing, and software
Would you rather do a backflip or a
front flip in a car? You're going
to land it and you will not get hurt (neither will the car).
- Actually, probably so. "Sherriff" comes from the "reif" of
a "shire," or officer of an old British county.
Since Ive never taken a computer
science class before and I am really
not that great with technology, how approachable are you? And if I
become annoying will you tell me?
- I like to think I am very approachable. Read my course
evals from previous years for other opinions about me. Well,
don't read the very last comment on last semester's 201 eval.
Apparently that person doesn't think I am... :-(