2006.12.13

So long HSU

23.33.30 - Mark

A bit more than 12 hours ago I finished (a rather trivial) exam in my "advanced" web graphics class. Barring bureaucratic screw-ups (I think) I graduated. (Screw-ups being close to the norm - High School University is the home of the three year two year degree) While it is good to be out of there, it was another one of these truly anticlimactic moments. I'm still debating about if I send back a piece of my mind to the administration after the (somewhat expensive) piece of paper shows up "proving" that I know how to build a website.

Don't bother asking what the fuck I'll be doing next. I don't have a clue and I won't be worrying seriously about it until January.

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2006.11.08

HSU's Funniest Class Videos

13.01.15 - Mark

Supposdely my Advanced Web Graphics class is out of Flash. Except we're not. While we have had the test, our next assignment is to create a screencast based on some of the small projects we did during the flash section.

Personally I like video, and along with audio, it has been horribly neglected in the Web Technology cirriculum. The term podcasting had already emerged when I started the degree program, and by the time we started doing serious work with multimedia, video blogging was starting to emerge in a big way. At one point I was watching vlogs before going into a class where I was learning how flash was the be all and end oll of web multimedia. I have tried mentioning how blogs, wikis, podcasts, and video is to teachers, and it has produced off the cuff lessons, but goes largely ignored in favor of our "authoritative" textbooks.

What's worse is while he has the idea thing going, it ends there. Like any good PHB, those of ous left to do it are short on details and specifications, and flooded in jargon.

If I don't try and do a 24 hour movie (and maybe if I do) this weekend I may just rig my Pismo with flash and a copy of snapz pro and go about this assignment on my own.

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2006.09.27

Another failing of critical thinking...

13.03.02 - Mark

In a school that is pushing a "critical thinking initiative" so hard you would think that a right answer would be a right answer, but you would be wrong. I'm tired of the hypocrisy of HSU, where the right answer is the one defined by the (ill-selected) book and all other variations are wrong.

All browsers and operating systems will correctly display the "216 web safe colors", even if an argument can be made that not all web capable computers support color (they don't) and furthermore, all web browsers support color (again, they don't). Nothing will appear consistanly across all internet connected devices, period.

Not even W3C standards are safe.

tags, at least here, are to be referred to as "Layers", simply because that's the way its defined in Dreamweaver.

It feels a bit Orwellian. Good thing I'm not in a math class, they'd probably be teaching me that 2 + 2 = 5...

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2006.09.18

Virtues

One day, in a little under 3 months, I will leave this foresaken place, where they adore default Windows desktop images and extol the virtues of "flash text" and image maps in web design, where they paise themselves for creating such horribly stupid animations that even ADD riddled myspace societies would reject them. They prefer an over abundance of messy code and folders filled with graphics where a few lines of code and text would work as well, if not better.

For the record, I've given up all hope of this "advanced graphics" course of actually resembling a graphics course (remedial or otherwise)

Interesting, non-school related posts should resume when computers at home are fixed...

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2006.09.11

Gotta get out of this place....

My dad and I took my younger brother to his (real) college this past weekend. Its in Savannah Georgia which is a pretty area (despite the tourism catering kitsch) Matt is probably going to do fine. His school seems like a real place, and on the surface it was a sore reminder of how there is such a thing as a good, progressive learning enviroment. I don't think I ever forgot that fact but going to HSU has certainly pushed it out of the picture. Right now I'm sitting in an advanced graphics course that may - if all goes well - actually open a graphics editing program sometime before October. In the meantime we've spent 8 of our 32 total meetings screwing around in dreamweaver for some bizare and unexplained reason, and the teacher is pushing some half baked make millions with ebay semminar the school is running.

You know, I may not know what I'll be doing in 3 months, but I'll be happy to have that uncertainty than continue to loaf around here

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2006.08.28

Class

I'm in class. Fortunatly I only have four hours of bull**** to put up with this semester. Unfortunatly my Advanced Web Graphics ITN 210 course is quickly deteriorating into "How to use Dreamweaver, *sigh* again" course, with a side of "Remedial Windows Networking for Users".

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2006.05.25

Misguided Lessons

Of all the MySpace / Xanga / Blogger / Other social network site here youth protection disaster stories that the mainstream press is digging up I would be surprised by the stupidity of the involved school systems if I weren't so jaded by the crap schools I've been in.

One of these days, hopefully sooner rather than later, the schools with figure out that easily bypassed and highly localized filters aren't going to protect the children. The ultimate solution, the one that will really protect those not so innocent youth, is going to be competent instructors, or better yet parents, giving kids a crash course in identifiable information.

Addresses, phone numbers, social security number, the number and names of people you've slept with and your plans for world domination probably shouldn't go online. Most people already know this shit, but lets make this just like that talk about smoking - except without the hypocrisy.

That said can we stop running these damned stories about schools vs students?

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2006.05.14

Talentless Hacks

I just saw my grades from my latest semester at High School University and I'm outraged. I recieved C's in three of my classes and only one of them was justified. One was the infamous projects class, where I worked my ass off compensating for the other student who in no way was prepared for that class.

I developed three perfectly functional web applications and documented them as best I possibly could in the time and conditions I was allowed. Everything I did in that class was in no way "average" - I worked above and beyond the requirements of the class and what has been covered in the cirriculum. The last weekend alone I pulled in something close to 20 hours of work so the class wouldn't be a misserable failure and my reward is a fucking C.

I spent hours writting debugging, and testing code outside of class while the other guy barely broke a sweat entering a dozen pages of pre-existing copy into a commercial template he had purchased shortly after entering the class. One the last project alone he was incapable of developing a single PHP script where I wrote dozens of them while trying to teach him the basics of a language he should have already known.

The other class (the same teacher coincidently) the testing policy was a joke - grading us on an unannounced and unrelated criteria when all he did was sit in the back learnin the material like any other student. His only significant contribution to the class was the selection of a $60 dictionary of e-commerce terms that was horribly out of date for a book that was published with a copyright in the future (printed in early 2005, copyright 2006).

This isn't a joke its a fucking insult - and I'm outraged that there's nothing that I can do about these grades now - except remove my code from their server - which I'm in the process of doing.

I despise the fact that I'll likely need to spend another semested within the school's horrid halls.

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2006.05.08

Junkers

I'm done, very happily done. I'm beaten to hell and I kind of feel like a slimy used car salesman. The site I delivered this morning in my internet projects class was finished about 5 minutes after the "client" walked in. It works, but there are plenty of bugs and broken features that are just under the surface - bugs I made a point of not going near to. It should be a little more stable that bailing wire and bubble gum, but I don't know by how much. I suppose I'll see if I ever get an email asking how in the hell to fix it - there's about as much documentation on that code as there is on academic circles within migrating schools of fish.

I non-junk news I decided to go for the CX300 headphones that I mentioned the other day. I picked up some cash on one of the websites I manage so I could afford them, I would have picked them up anyways - I went back to the white ear buds for a day and after I get my package on Wednesday, the apple earbuds are getting tossed. I'd rather not listen to music than use them again. (and for the record, I'm not an audiophile by any strech of the imagination)

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Five down, One to go

Almost done with this place for the summer. About 3 hours to go...

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2006.05.03

Once again iPod

Hopefully this won't be my track record for getting a new laptop, but after 4 and a half months of living without my regular iPod I've finally fixed it. All it took was about 5 minutes, a junk mail credit card, and an $80 hard drive off of eBay. Its not an obvious task, but there are plenty of places that have write ups, videos, and photos on how to open XYZ iPods. Considering how cheap it was I'm almost kicking myself for not doing it sooner.

Reloading it with my DRMed music from my non-function Mac will be another matter but I'll figure that out over the next few days (then I'll be reclaiming my rights to use my music where ever the hell I want to).

First I need to pull a miricle out of my ass for a PHB like teacher who is oblivious to the Pick Two Trilemma of Working, Documented, On Time

Considering how funky IIS is with PHP code, he might just be getting one on Monday.

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2006.05.02

Final Push

Slowly but surely I'm coming up on the end of the semester. Tomorrow is the last day of classes and I'll have exams until Monday. The only problem is I can't make heads or tails of my work load. Most of my "exams" have been replaced by final presentations or have been declaired glorified end of the chapter tests but there's a small pile of code fragments I need to wrap up before my final final on Monday.

Then I can see about what I'll be doing this summer.

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2006.04.18

Wasted Money

One of the annoying things that I'm finding in my college text books is the ridiculious language they use to motivate students to work. I'm not sure where to place it but it feels like the bastard offspring of magnetic poetry, ad libs, business memos, a touch of fiction and a decent helping of propaganda all wrapped up in a reality distortion field.

The standard format is something like:

(Fictional boss or company) wants you to help with (project related to subject being studied). He/she/they know that the concepts in this chapter/book will be essential in completing (end goal of class) To ensure that you understand these concepts (described as such) he/she/they would like you to complete these exercises. [list of "real world" tasks here]


I'll admit I don't have that much experiance in the work place, but I have some, and nearly every non-fictional employer I've had has known nothing about the skills I need for the job they want done. The few that do don't pitter patter around with tests of basic concepts, we both want to cut to the chase and get the job done. They pay less money and I put up with less crap, its a win win situation. Now if a non-fictional boss wants to pay me to jump though the silly hoops fine, I probably won't even complain that much, but I haven't seen it.

I'm not ranting about this busy work and the near eternity it takes to get to a functional level in these classes. As much as I hate the system I relize that they need to be able to track progress so they can get paid and the schools can get grants, but come on. Cut the bull and drop the dead weight. Students are going to get a lot more out of a class once we all stop pertending to do "real" work and get our noses to the grind stone with real real work. You still have your metrics and we aren't typing with our foreheads.

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2006.04.04

Attending Hell University

I didn't think it could possibly get any worse, god I was wrong. I was so very, very wrong. I've very quickly losing any and all tolerance I had for the bullshit that goes on at the school I'm attending. It's a fucking insane asylum, or at least it would be if call it that wouldn't be an insult to insane asylums.

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2006.03.22

Take Note.

There's a student/teacher debate over laptops at University of Memphis that's getting some national coverage. The interesting thing about it isn't that there are teacher who want to ban laptops in favor of pen and paper. I don't think that's quite as interesting as what laptops are demonstraiting a bit better than "traditional" methods of note taking, and that is students don't know how to take notes.

The offending teacher claims that laptop users are more concerned with transcribing than note taking. I'd say that's a legitimant concern (as is eye contact and other distractions associated with computers) However the problem isn't solved by demanding pen and paper notes, because most students will continue to make attempts at transcriptions.

Different classes require different learning styles. Some classes almost require word for word image for image notes which require pen and paper (Math comes to mind) others benifit from outliner notes and occassional google searches. Others still shouldn't have any notes of any shape or form.

There's some decent discussion on the topic over at slashdot

Too bad there's a breakdown in communication between most students and teachers. That's part of the reason I really like the unconfrence model for classrooms. Everyone gets to do their own thing

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2006.03.03

Spring Break

I don't know that I'd call low 50s in the first week of March spring, but I'm now on break from school. I don't know that I'll be doing that much, other than code, but I know that I'm more than ready for a week off from school.

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2006.02.17

Quasi Zombie States of Being

I'm slowly returning to the land of the living from the near death state I've been in since Monday. I'm not 100%, I'm probably not 66%, but I managed to drag my non corpse-ified body into class today. Didn't accomplish much. Didn't accomplish anything other than keeping some of my attendance numbers up. While I don't skip classes, its something schools mange to force you to worry about. I've been out since Tuesday (and should have stayed home Monday) but I've been telling myself I "need" to go to class since Wednesday for one reason or another. I "need" to take the test, or I "need" to make that lecture. It's really a sad comment on schools, and society as a whole.

You might be sick, you could give the entire class/office the flu, we might even manage to make you sicker, but take your pills and show up so we know you're not having fun.

I can't help but wonder how much that mentality contributes to the health and well-being problems around the world.

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2006.02.10

Capstone, try headstone

I've spent 4.5 semesters at HSU, taking classes in an internet technology curriculum, studying things like XHTML standards, CSS, design, PHP and Javascript, even sever configuration and network security. And the capstone for this work, the zenith of my studies.

Reduced to using some shitty predesigned commercial templates and non-compliant html files exported from Microsoft Publisher to be hosted on a flaky Windows server.

Staring blankly at a ceiling fan feels more productive.

I'm glad its Friday. I won't have anything fresh to complain about for at least 2 days. Maybe more if we get the snow thats being forecast for this weekend.

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2006.02.08

Lousy good for nothing server

Last summer my PHP/MySQL class used a cruddy student server to host our scripts. Except it didn't work, and I ended up using a sandbox site on my server to test everything, then loaded it on to the always malfunctioning school server (because I wasn't allowed to use my iBook in there, something about it being an "unfair advange")

Anyways in this project class I'm being told to use the same flaky server. I'm objecting of course. I'm to the point where I consider the school network hostile, but despite that I'm making a bunch of points against its use, and am being told in effect, "You fix it".

That's infuriating in so many different ways. 1) I'm paying for this "education". I am not wrong in expecting that the tools the school provides are in working order (thats not true anywhere else on campus, but I'm not wrong in expecting it) 2) I charge for server work. I'll do some free work, but not for organiztions that have caused me as much grief as this place. Besides this school is broke, and more than likely bleeding money at an unacceptable rate. 3) They have techies, allegedly at least one competent one, and they have student techies who are working for a grade. I am not one of them. 4) I really don't have an interest in the school's server. I'm just being told to use it. 5) Last time I started pointing out problems with the school and offering solutions I got an unexpected and unwanted visitor.

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2006.02.06

Inane Unsanity

I am in what I hope will be my last semester at High School Univesity (name changed to protect the guilty) and one of my classes to finish this 2 bit internet tech degree is a projects class.

The main project is to create a website for a student organization on campus, and make it easy for non-technical students to edit. To me that means "no more complicated than email". Not "no more complicated than raw xhtml in a text editor".

Supposedly we are allowed to use everything that has been covered in past classes which in terms of page creation include XHTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL, scraps of Perl, and an almost useless ammount of Javascript.

Except we're not. I'm now being told that using PHP and MySQL would make the site incompatible with the (school) server that the site is to be hosted on.

I could go in a number of directions here, but the vast majority of sites out there (70%) uses a Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP/Perl/Python configuration. That 70% also includes majority of the major sites out there, like Amazon and Google.

The minority use the Windows, IIS, ??? setup the school uses.

If they didn't want me using it, they shouldn't be teaching it. Then again, they haven't been teaching it that effectivly, so maybe I'm missing some subtle hints...

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