Sunday, October 29, 2006

New course

My short course starts tomorrow. I don't feel ready. I'm *not* ready, but I'm not unready in the ways I feel. Let me explain.

I am actually unready in the sense that I have no yet made the handouts for the first day. That will happen sometime later today and I'll go in to work to print them. It won't take long - I know what I want on them and mostly it is just screenshots. I also have to set up the student accounts so they can save, unless I want to just ignore it and throw a fit when it doesn't work tomorrow. Depending on how busy I get, that'll decide my reaction! (Unfortunately, my principal noticed this morning that I haven't submitted an entire class full of grades. They were officially due Wednesday, though I had an extension, but not really this long of an extension. I haven't done the assessment that will allow me to write the grades... Today could be long.)

I feel unready in the sense of not having totally sorted out how to introduce each thing, when to do what... I will continue mulling in my head right up until the moment I walk into class. I'm pretty sure I will start with a role play, but I might dive right into getting them to tell stories. Tomorrow will be light on the computer, the other days will be much heavier.

I will also feel more comfortable when I've gone through the tutorial again in preparation for the students to do same. There's a strong chance my laptop hard drive is dying, so that's a little stressful. Fortunately I have ways to work around it, including borrowing another one.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Important Topics

I'm designing a new short course, and as I always do, I am starting with the biggest picture. (Note to self: LET IT GO.) So I'm compiling a list of the important topics that should be covered. I sent out a note to a couple of teachers and am considering forwarding it to the AP list.

The question I asked is, "what are the most important concepts in Object Oriented Programming?" I decided to limit myself to OOP instead of generally "programming" or "computer science" because I know I'll be using an OOP language. I am interested in the answer under any circumstance, though.

So... if it were up to you, what do you think the most important concepts of OOP are?

Monday, October 02, 2006

Not an expert

When I worked as a consultant in the IU computer labs, everyone agreed that it wasn't reasonable to expect a consultant to know everything about every program. The problem, of course, was that each customer wanted you to know about *their* problem. You don't need to know about all that other stuff, just know MY stuff.

I'm feeling that way again.

This week it came up with my boss that I've been dropping the ball on a part of my job. I knew this. It is a part that I like, but it has been hard for me to prioritize higher than other things which are also important and also urgent. I nevertheless made time to work on it. Where it became clear to me that without some seriously intensive graphics design software instruction, I can't do anything. I pulled in the art teacher, who teaches Photoshop, and she was at as much of a loss as I am. I suggested to my boss that I don't have time for this anyway and it was suggested back that we can't afford to pay anyone to do this work, but we could afford for me to learn how to do it. Which presumes, of course, that I have *any* interest in learning how to do graphical design. Or any talent. I don't need to know how to do everything, just this huge sub-field of computing in which I have no interest.

Today I figured out a possible way to fix the problem without a degree. I think I might have done it, but I can't connect to the server so I can test it. I asked the resident expert for help and he was pretty accomodating. After going down some wrong path involving our home nameserver and before giving up, he did some kind of mumbo-jumbo that is subtly different, possibly, from something else he did in the past, neither of which (obviously) I understand. He figured he could mention that he manually changed a line in nameserver.conf.d (or something) and that the next time it comes up, I'd remember that there's a backup copy in nameserver.conf.hq-doesn't-work-here.d (or something). Because I'm so good with remembering all the .d stuff. I guess the upside of having the Mac servers is that at least I can use spotlight to find that kind of stuff, since people have a tendancy to say "just update the supergeek.conf.d" like I have any idea where that would be.

I'm significantly more willing to become a Mac expert and a Unix expert than probably at any point in the past 10 years. But I can't get expert on everything right.this.second. I am doing the best I can. And in the middle of trying to figure out the graphics-expert stuff is not a great time to suggest a crash course in nameserving.

On the one hand, I recognize that I am a huge whiner who needs to understand every aspect of every part of technology used at my workplace. I need to be able to step in and do every job without warning and it is clear that anything less will be considered abject failure by people whose opinions I (sadly) value. On the other hand, I am actually only human and it would appear that I need to get over caring what the people I value most think of me, since I am apparently destined to suck.