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September 2006

Replacing a hard drive

Today is a staff development day and since I did 17 1/2 hours this summer, I have the day off. Of course, I always do more than the required hours (22 hours).

Anyway, I have noticed that the hard drive in my home office system has been whining and this morning I woke up to a black screen and the drive light lit. When I rebooted, I got a SMART drive error, telling me to back up my data as the drive was failing.

I did.

So I hadn't planned this, though today is full of mundane errands, I'm replacing the hard drive. It's a Maxtor and I bought a new Maxtor -- 200 gig at $49 after rebate. Not a bad deal.

The nice thing is how much easier it is these days to replace a hard drive, I was dreading it, and still am, but all I am having to do is run the MaxBlast software.

And I can wait until the whining disk is out of the system!


I made it through the entire six weeks without writing a referral.  Without sending a kid to the office.

I have not been cussed at.

Students have not torn up equipment.

They don't hit each other.

They haven't written on the hall with black marker -- and the kid that did that is even in my class.

They actually do the assignments I give them.

What a difference a year makes.

Oh, and I got to tell my principal "I told you so".  He and I were working on a project during summer school and I told him that I knew we were going to be a "Recognized" school again while he was principal.  We got some news today that indicates that I might have been right.


P.S. for those of you who haven't been paying attention ... last year I was teaching remedial math instead of CS.

10 Programming Languagues you should know

Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson : Ten Programming Languages You Should Teach - You may want to learn them first

Alfred posts about an article at,1895,2016415,00.asp which is a very good article. Oddly enough, my classroom website is written in PHP, and I do recommend it to my Java students as the next thing they need to learn.

I also teach Visual Basic, and have taught some form of basic for 14 years.

AJAX is on my list to learn, as is Ruby, but I haven't had a chance, the others I have written enough code in each one to get something working I wanted working.

I would stress also that Assembly Language is something ALL Programmers need at some point. I've taken it at the college level twice, and it really helps you to understand what is going on under the hood, and I think it makes you a better programmer.

My record is getting better

I blogged last week about how I had gone 4 weeks without sending a kid to the office.

I am now at 5 weeks.  I honestly doubt that has ever happened in any school year.

Seriously, this has been the coolest school year.  Right now, I'm sitting in my Webmastering class and every kid is on task and doing their assignment.  Okay there are only 9 kids in the class.  I had one who started to argue with me over the restroom rule a couple of weeks ago, and after the second exchange, she's since stopped even arguing.  She knows she'll get the pass when the 5 minutes is up, and she's cool with that.

We only have 3 more days and it will be six weeks, wonder if I will make it.

I may have set a record

At least my own -- I have gone 4 weeks (and a day), without sending a student to the office.  In fact, I haven't had to send many to tardy center either.

I made sure all the administrators knew that today, because they were on my case last year because I had a group of frequent flyers -- except that I saw them in the office during my planning period too -- AND on the disclipine list. 

I haven't even had an argument with a kid -- though I have pulled two out to the hall and read them the riot act for playing instead of working.

More on What is Computer Science

Alfred and I are having a conversation on what is computer science...

Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson : High School Computer Science - What's it all about?

And part of the problem, is that I do teach the office products during the first weeks of class. I take it MUCH faster than BCIS (what we call our office applications class). I did Word in a week, Excel in 3 days, etc.

I basically want my students completely comfortable with computers as tools before we start programming.

After we do the tools, and I include the internet, email, searching, etc. with that, we do basic hardware and software. That takes up about 9 weeks of the first semester and we've yet to even think about flowcharting in that time.

Displaying Student Work

My evaluator is in love with a book (I have the title and author around here somewhere), and he insists that you have to display student work.  Well,  don't see printing programs.

I also brought in a digital photo frame that I picked up at Office Depot for a $70 rebate.  Ativa 3"x5".  My husband has one I gave him for Chirstmas.

I got the bright idea that it would be really fun to display screen shots of work -- but I couldn't get them to display.

So I finally did an internet search on the picture frame and found out how to do it -- you have to open the file with paint and save it with paint.

Symantec Ghost

My next favorite tool (I also list this in order of how much I use).

Ghost is used to take an image of a hard drive.  I use it over the network.

I love it.  I keep as many as 5 working images at any one time.  When I want to do anything more than change one parameter or two on a workstation, I "thaw" it, make the changes, and then take an image.

I may tweak that computer a few times, but once I'm ready to go, then I use my image to install the software to all the other computers.  I usually do about 4 at a time, since we're sending the bits through the network.  While I am doing 4, I can tweak the 4 previous ones, as you need to reboot the workstation and make sure Windows OS sees all your hardware and change your machine name, otherwise they all end up with the same name.

Can I program?

I really do want to beat my head against a wall.  My evaluator just asked me if I can program.  I told him I wanted to beat my head against a wall.

I got asked what we do in Computer Science by a counselor the other day, too.

I'm not sure how to solve this problem.

Deep Freeze -- Next Tool

The next tool I couldn't live without is Deep Freeze.  We have the Enterprise Edition and I use it the most.

I don't have my students shutdown, so they can work bell to bell.  Instead, I use a couple of mouse clicks to shut down the computers are they are leave.

The other thing it does, is make an image of the computer -- that way the students can do whatever they want to the computer during the class period, including change the appearance of the desktop and when the computer reboots, it is back in the state I wanted it in.

I can't tell you how nice that is.  I was away to TCEA several years ago, and I ended up having to uninstall programs off of every computer, they were an absolute mess.

Also, if a computer starts acting up -- not uncommon when we're programming, we often inadvertively cause a memory leak, we just reboot and life is nice again.  Of course, we need to fix that program.

I do have to remember to turn it off when I use the next tool I'm going to write about -- Symantec Ghost.