Banazîr the Jedi Hobbit (banazir) wrote,
Banazîr the Jedi Hobbit

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Fortnightly computer wibble

Time flies when you're rushing to finish stuff!

Thanks to all who have helped with previous ones, which I posted on:

Here's my fortnightly update:

  • 1. Memory as a Christmas present: USB drives seem the best value for the money right now, through I may get myself some SD memory too.

  • 2. Cleaning up commercial annoyware: A reinstallation of Windows seems best (in life), but I may wait until I have a bigger HD for the Dell Inspiron 6000.

  • 3. OpenOffice: Hrm, I'm torn. I saw tmehlinger get WYSIAWYG (What You See Is Almost What You Get) results with OO today. Actually, he got WYSINQWYG (Not Quite). Anybody have any idea why PowerPoint should save differently from OO? We were displaying it with Office XP (not Office 2003), if that makes any difference.

Now for the new questions:

K-State Online: worst interface ever or just really horrendously bad?

OK, somebody who's used the KSOL instructor interface, please tell me. The whole thing seems shoddily cobbled together, poorly thought out, brute forced, brittle and falling apart. To wit:

  • There is no shell interface. This is my main gripe with the design. How hard can it be? The answer seems to be that it isn't hard at all, but that "only a few instructors need such access".

  • Mis-uploaded lectures (incorrectly named ones, for example) cannot be moved save by e-mailing the Division of Continuing Education (DCE). That's rather preposterous.

  • The last time I looked at the chat room and mailing list features, they were deficient and typical cases of DCEIS trying to reinvent the wheel. This was back in 2001, though, and DCEIS seems to have been reorganized, so can someone tell me whether I should give it another chance? (Yes, software developers have to earn another chance! Welcome to the real world, boysengirls.)

  • The Tegrity interface is horrifically bad. Now, this is not all DCE's fault; in fact, it's mostly Tegrity's fault, though I do accord a share of blame to DCE for continuing to use Tegrity. I reserve judgement for the time being, though, as we actually haven't found a better alternative yet. More on Tegrity's design flaws and errors later. (And no, they are not features, and they are not "bugs"; someone screwed up, assiduously and with apparently great passion.)

  • When I was shown the KSOL Electronic Gradebook c. 2001, it looked very home grown and I was reluctant to use it in favor of gr or Excel I've been reluctant to use it as a result. Since then, however, I've had less and less graduate TA support, so I might switch over.

In case you were wondering, I am a "dichotomous adopter" or an "early adopter wannabe" if you like. If you show me cool or useful software, I'll give it a try, but if it is crappy, I'll run away and not come back unless and until everyone and her sister is using it, which is usually some years later. I don't care if it is alpha, beta, digamma, or Public Preview Release Candidate 3; if you put it out there, I evaluate it as published. At the University of Illinois Department of CS, Beckman Institute, and NCSA, we tended to adopt early if software looked stable and very late if at all if it looked premature. One of the few exceptions to this was the antiquated library infosystem, and as you may have heard from me, I started a small revolt over it in 1996.

If you haven't used the KSOL instructor interface, but have used the student, I'd like to hear your review too, but remember: don't judge a man until you've walked 5.2155242 × 10-14 parsecs in his shoes.

Installing Gentoo and Ubuntu, Take 2

I'm ready to give the installation of Orome, deferred for about 11 months, another try. (I actually printed a Gentoo Installation Guide in May, but got so swamped that it never happened.)

Apropos of the above: has anything happened to Gentoo installer automation or documentation in the last 10 months to make it less of a 1337 ha><0r activity? (I'm all for 1337 ha><0rdom in its place, but I just need a nice, smooth Linux I can use instead of a Gateway piece of dung that just sits on the ground. Sorry, that's redundant.)

In a similar vein, my Ubuntu Linux installation on telperion still doesn't work. This one's on COMPAQ Presario crap of a crap (sorry, redundancy again).

IP tunneling redux

Nope, it still doesn't work. I remember nikolasco giving me some good advice over the summer about how to get this done, but I really need X Windows working on Ubuntu before I'm comfortable trying out all the tips I got. Reason: I want to tunnel in from my notebook and do my config from upstairs, where it is not slightly nippy in the Finnish sense of "slightly nippy". (Actually, I love cold weather, but every time any other humans come into my basement office, they go "OMGWTFCOLD!1!!!!" and ask how I can survive there.)

Thanks very much in advance!

In other news:

  • I finally went to a meeting for the Sensor Networks Targeted Excellence project, after missing two of the Friday ones.

  • I haven't forgotten about massforge! Things have been a tad bit busy, but I'll get the group updated with meeting minutes this coming week. tmehlinger, thekuffs: I need that site up ASAP. Also, we will have a rotating scribe next semester.

  • CIS 730 (Introduction to Artificial Intelligence) projects went pretty well. The ones from the EECE grads were especially good.

  • Classes are over! I've got tons of grading left, and I'll probably have only part of a TA in the spring, too, but for CIS 560 (Database Systems) in the spring, I expect to have a full TA.

  • I'm off to dinner at the house of some family friends. One hopes there will be much wibble about new research, as there usually is when I see my friends who are faculty members in other departments, though we'll probably end up debating about Dr. Mirecki.

I'm a tad bit behind on updating.

Tags: courses, meetings, teaching

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