Samuel A. Rebelsky

Disclaimers: Yes, I am proud that my personal Web page reflects Web formatting of the late 1990's. I also don't mind that this page is usually out of date, particularly because that amuses our alums.

Welcome to the front door (explanation) for SamR's Site, the primary Web site for Samuel A. Rebelsky. On this page and site, you can find all sorts of stuff, including ... (skip table of contents).

Here's my attempt to pretend that I keep this page up to date: In Fall 2014, I am teaching three courses,

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find your legendary primer entitled If You Ask A Prof A Question?
Are you ever likely to update that primer?
Maybe. I've set up a github repository to log some of the things to change.
I'm a Grinnell student planning to declare a computer science major. Will you be my academic advisor?
I am among the least organized people you will ever meet. You need only look into my office to figure that out. History suggests that I will lose your advisee folder as soon as I receive it, and I probably won't find it again until two years after you graduate. I am likely to forget anything we discuss, including your courses and that you are my advisee, unless my remembering inconveniences you. On the other hand, I am happy to discuss with you course selections and planning for life beyond Grinnell. I am happy to help you work through administrative issues at Grinnell (and, surprisingly, I'm good at navigating adminstrative stuff). I am also likely to care about you as a person. But I will discuss courses and life with you, help you with administrivia, and care about you whether or not you are my advisee. If you're willing to put up with the negatives, I am happy to serve as your advisor (or adviser, as the Grinnell Style guide suggests). Note also that I expect you to take the short essay seriously and show evidence that you've thought carefully about the purpose of a liberal arts education. You should make sure to read the sections of the College Handbook that discuss a liberal arts education. You should also read William Cronon's Only Connect.
I'm a current or former student. Will you write me a letter of recommendation or serve as a reference?
Certainly. I write much better letters (and serve as a better reference) for people who take the time to fill out my requested information for letters of recommendation form. I also tend to push deadlines, so please drop me an email to remind me to get those recommendations done! (In fact, until I've told you that I've submitted a recommendation, you should assume that I haven't.)
Where are the pages with memories of your parents, Freda Rebelsky and Bill Rebelsky?
Do you ever update this page?
Rarely. If you note things that seem to need updates, please let me know.
Where can I find the code for Experiments in Java?
Where are the resources for the SIGCSE2009 Media Scripting workshop?
Where can I get papers about your research projects?
Can you help me with the following homework question? ...
Not unless you're one of my students. If you plan to send me a question, you should read my policies for dealing with questions on homework. These days, my students should also consider posting their questions on Piazzza.
Can I send you an unsolicited email advertisement?
Why do you have links to a Front Door and Origin rather than a Home Page.
I'm following the lead of my colleague, John David Stone. Dr. Stone notes that Home Page is ambiguous, because it can either mean entry to my site, or place which I use to start my browsing. He suggests using Front Door for the former and Origin for the latter.
Why do you have a Skip to Body link at the top of your page?
Usability guidelines suggest that you should provide an easy way to skip any large set of links. Since I sometimes have a lot of links at the top of the page, I include that link, too.
Where can I find you?
Take a look at my schedule. During the summer, my whereabouts are unpredictable. (Okay, my whereabouts are unpredictable most of the time, but my schedule helps indicate where I am likely to be.)
I sent you a question N days ago and you haven't replied. Are you ever going to reply?
If I saw the question, I probably plan to reply or think I've replied already. If it's been a few days, it never hurts to prod me again.
How can I get added to the list of alumni interested in teaching in Life Beyond Grinnell: Learning from CS Alumni?
I hope to be sending out a survey to all of our alums in the near future. Before then, you can send me an email. But I think I have a full schedule for Fall 2013. (I do plan to teach the course every year, if at all possible.)
What software do you use to develop your Web pages?
For a number of years (well, since about 1996), I've used software that I developed called SiteWeaver. SiteWeaver has some features of Markdown (which didn't exist when I created SiteWeaver) and some features of XML/Docbook (which still strikes me as a bit high-powered for what I want to do). In particular, SiteWeaver lets me skip obvious tags, such as <p> and figures out certain tags, such as list items, just like Markdown does. At the same time, SiteWeaver lets me set variables and use logical tags, such as <programlisting>, just like Docbook does.
But after almost twenty years of using SiteWeaver, I started to transition to using Markdown for simple pages and Docbook for more complex pages and sites. (I'll probably add a bit more stuff to make both work together.) As of Fall 2013, my course webs use Markdown and Docbook and the rest of the site uses both plus SiteWeaver. But I also hack out some random scripts from time to time to work in whatever seems easiest at the moment.
Is it true that your former research and teaching assistant, Emily Jacobson, monitors your pages so that she can make fun of how little you change them?
I don't know. Let's see if she notices this change. She certainly checks the Web sites for my new courses.

Curriculum Vitae

My CV is available in HTML or PDF.


Samuel A. Rebelsky
1120 Main Street
Grinnell, Iowa 50112


Samuel A. Rebelsky
Department of Computer Science;
Grinnell College
Science 3824
1116 8th Avenue
Grinnell, Iowa 50112
641-269-4285 (fax)
Public Key:


If you're interested in more historical information, you can look at a partial list of course webs for courses I've taught at Grinnell.




Feel free to visit my origin (a list of links, term due to John Stone).

While there may be a fairly deep hierarchy at in my Grinnell pages, there are not index pages for every level. As I have time, I'll add indices. Let me know if you notice something missing.

I'm adding a link to The Grinnell Local Food Coop in the hopes that this increases their Google PageRank.

Copyright © 2014 Samuel A. Rebelsky.

Creative Commons License
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Samuel A. Rebelsky