November 30, 2004

Shrieks of Triumph

... for getting my MOSS script to work on the new computer system, after four hours of prodding it. A fabulous service, is MOSS.

Student plagiarists, beware! Ve haf tools to help detect your copied verk!

November 25, 2004

Things that students manage to do that delight me (No. 2)

Tell me that they thought it was a really good lecture, and the concepts were presented really clearly.

November 24, 2004

Things that students manage to do that delight me (No. 1)

Sound enthusiastic about the idea of doing some programming.

Things that students manage to do that irritate me (No. 2)


"Ah, there you are! Could I ask you something about..."

Lecturer (carrying heavy bags and needing to go to the loo)

"No, I am not available right now."

Thinks: Not again! Hasn't that student had enough help yet?


"But I just wanna...."

Lecturer (disappearing off in the direction of the toilets)

"No. No 'just wanna'."

Wanted to say: "I am so tired, and I will end up working into the small hours yet again tonight, preparing a lecture that you'll be attending tomorrow. Every minute of time I spend talking to you is time I will lose off my sleep tonight, which I desperately need in order to be semi-coherent for tomorrow's lecture. Why can't you and all the other students FUCKING TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER?"

Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks things like this.

November 22, 2004

Things that students manage to do that irritate me (No. 1)

Do not apologise for looking something up in a book!

Do not apologise for being keen and wanting to know something extra and actually asking me about it!

November 19, 2004

Submitting work (or not)

Lossy's Law (No. 1)
The size of the student's excuse is directly proportional to the size of the submitted work to be handed in.

Why? Why should that be? For example, for programming assignments we get excuses like "I had flu", "Oh I thought the hand-in time was 9pm, not 9am" (really?), "I thought it was due in on Wednesday". On the other hand, for an assignment for five times as much credit, we get pleas to hand in the work later because of reasons like a broken leg, divorce, homelessness and bereavement.

I don't get it. How does the flu virus manage to miss all the students who have a really big assignment submission?

November 16, 2004

Extra-Curricular Learning

One thing I like about Universities is that you can learn about and experience things that are not just those related to your field of study. I've seen a lot of wildlife in and near to University grounds: rabbits, ducks, squirrels, deer, and a wide assortment of birds. Some of those sightings were things I've never managed to see before:

There are occasional advantages to working into the small hours of the morning preparing lectures - badgers are nocturnal.
Green Woodpecker
As large and shy as the RSPB website says it is
Red Kite
The sun kindly uplit this bird as it was hovering, so I could see its classic colouring
Yes it really does have a red wing. Sort of more a red armpit, as far as I could see.

I also heard some very strange noises coming from the darkness outside the lecture theatre yesterday, whilst I was trying to talk about the web, but that was just the local student wildlife.

November 10, 2004

Programming (2)

My students have an assignment which involves programming due soon, so my inbox is busily collecting pleas for help fixing errors in programs. These are all variations on the short theme of "it doesn't work" (see article referred to in a previous post).

Hopefully my students will one day know How to Be a Programmer, but until then I'm going to have to keep sending replies along the lines of:

Your faith in my divination is touching, but I'm afraid you are actually going to have to let me see the code before I can help you in any way whatsoever.

November 03, 2004


All this US election tenterhooks that we woke up to this morning has done absolutely nothing for my progress with writing lectures, preparing worksheets, and the program I need to finish. Still, perhaps getting on with my work will take my mind off my disappointment, and that interactive map was rather a nice use of multimedia in the election report on the BBC's website. I must remember that next time I give a lecture on multimedia.

November 01, 2004


Somebody forwarded me an interesting link on How NOT to go about a programming assignment, which manages to provoke both amusement and weary recognition. Students really do do this sort of thing, a lot. I was going to say that the only one of these circumstances I haven't come across was the SMS messaging style of text, but a few days ago, I got an email message that even someone as ignorant of texting as I am couldn't fail to recognise as Symbol-ridden Meaningless Sayings.