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July 2009
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September 2009

August 2009

Laptop / Tablet Repair -- I am so frustrated

So back in June, I dropped my Lenovo X61 while it was in its case.

After much frustration, and having dealt with the tablet part not really working now that the latch was broken, I decided to take advantage of the insurance I had paid two premium's on, and it's now with Micromedics, Inc.

They received it on 8/6.

They finally got approval to work on it on 8/20.

They ordered parts, and got them in on 8/24.  However, they got the wrong parts.  Worse yet, on Friday I was told they were in final test.

The site just got updated with no notes.  I called -- guess what, they got in the wrong parts.

ARGH!!!!!!!!  I may never see my tablet again.

First Week with kids

Last week was the first week with kids.

Love my class sizes, love my CS classes.  The math/science kids are interesting.  The morning group is the best, and it progressive gets worse.  I have three sections.  Right now, instilling disclipine in them is tough.

The hardest part is that the PTB weren't completely ready for school.  My students haven't been put on the Novell server yet, and they aren't on Moodle yet.

Not sure what the hold up is.

I've also had a lot of pressure getting the people in my building up and running on the new attendance system.  We've got some down because of system issues, but most are down because they can't remember their logins.

Gee, had that problem with the same people when it came to fingerprinting, last year.

Math/Science Study Skills - A breakthrough

Had a bit of a breakthrough -- one of my math/study kids handed me his homework assignment after I asked if anyone had some.

Scanned it into the computer, showed it on the white board and we worked on solving it.

Did the same with the second class -- kid asked if I would help with geometry too, but they don't have homework yet -- we'll get it tomorrow.

They fought a bit on word, but most of them went through the first tutorial.

First day

It was good.  I like my classes sizes == my first period class is full!

None of my other classes is over 15.  This will change.

My AP Student has started his work -- he already had a login from last year.

My coworkers have calmed down -- we still have a group of people who can't take attendance on the new system but we're getting there.

Long day -- got there at about 7:20 and left at 4:30.  But I shut the door at the beginning of 5th period and had lunch.

Alice and Math/Science Classes

My CS Enrollment is down -- which is crazy as it is one of the few professions not only hiring students out of college, but their starting salary is up!  Of course, the low enrollment helps.

Anyway, I'm teaching three sections of math/science study skills.  They are all doubly described, and I suspect if I look up my students on My Data portal they haven't been successful on the TAKS tests in the past.

My job - to change that.

One of my first missions, is to make these students comfortable with computers.  One thing the research shows on this type of students is that they are on the wrong side of the digital divide, so the first thing we're going to go to is to become "computer literate".  Word, Excel and Powerpoint are my goals.  I'm going to use the Baycom tutorials at, they work with my other students.

Next I'm going to teach them Alice. 

I want to use Alice to illustrate their math problems, and have the computer do the math.  I've found once a kid writes a computer program to do something, they don't forget how to do that something again.

I'll let everyone know how it goes.

The Week from Hell

I am the campus technologist for my building.  I went into this year thinking it could be nearly as bad as last year when I had to get everyone in the building fingerprinted.  WRONG!

This year, everyone has to take attendance online. 

I've got people who can power up the computers in my room without being told how.  And the new computers are exactly like mine.

I honestly believe I have been abused by about half of the people in the building.

Okay, the principal didn't want me to have my netbook or my phone on.  Sorry, but I don't use paper and pen and like to take notes.

One of the custodians stole money from my room.  At least the campus police officer believes it wasn't my fault as he knows I don't leave my room unsecured.

It has not been a good week.

And I almost forgot, my Dean called on Satuday at 4:40 looking for passwords for the registrar.


About two week ago, I got an email from TXU (our utility company) about a program called iThermostat.  For $75.00 they install a thermostat that is controlled through a web portal (or the buttons on the unit itself).  They also do an energy assessment when they come out.  There is a catch, now TXU can turn off the unit at peak load times.

I bit and they came out yesterday (Friday). They were late to the appointment but were VERY nice.  Two men came from a local HVAC company, installed the thermostat -- loved the fact we had Uverse and loved the fact that I knew what I was doing.  They even offered me a job.

Told me that yes we could do zoned A/C -- a question I've had since we bought the houe and didn't know the answer, and that we needed to add a 2 ton unit to the attic.  That's now on the list.

Any, I love it.  I was away from house all day, set the thermostate before I left to 85 and set it to 70 before I left for the house, with the handy dandy Acer notebook.

When I got home, we were at 76, and the house very pleasant, so I changed the thermostat to 76.

We spent $2 on electricity today as opposed to $7.00 yesterday (but i know that will be higher, we still have some hours to go).

And the house was comfortable when I got here.

Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson : Beware Boring The Smart Kids


Of course in some high school computer science programs this gets taken to a bit of an extreme with several levels of computer science courses being taught in the same room by the same teacher at the same time. I’m constantly amazed at how well so many teachers handle this sort of thing.

Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson : Beware Boring The Smart Kids

I resemble the above remark. 

There are several reasons why I do it.  If I didn’t offer AP Computer Science at the same time as I teach other classes, I wouldn’t have any students.  I do draw a line on this – they have to be in a CS class, not a planning period or a tech period.

I also am very strict about the prerequisite, so when the AP student walks into the room, they know what to expect. 

It’s funny but I was laughing at myself, I have a Georgia Tech robot, and I’m planning on taking it to school and getting my AP Kid (yes, there year I think I only have one), to write programs to make it work.  I’m also planning on using Media Computation.

And yes, I point them in the right direction and get out of the way (it’s probably a direct quote from something I said a workshop.

In fact, I said to someone today that I was going to throw a bunch of really interesting stuff at him and if his head didn’t explode he’d probably get a 5 on the test.  Unfortunately I think his head will explode.

But here’s the deal – when I teach AP CS on it’s own I get incredibly bored myself.  I had 10 max students and they stay busy working.  My enrollment is lower these days and I would lose students if my schedule wasn’t flexible. 

The good news, the kids that heads don’t explode make a 5 on the exam and usually go on to major in CS.  It must work.

I also teach regular CS (Visual Basic) and PreAP (Java) at the same time.  I use some “tricks” to do this.  First, I record my instructions.  I find that students prefer to listen to recorded instructions they can stop.  At the same time, we still do discussions, especially on the fly when someone has a problem. 

However,  I believe in teaching a project based course, and 80% of my time is spent waiting on them giving me something to grade.

Oscar – Our morning visitor

It’s the last free day of summer, so I’ve scheduled several workers, including our lawn people to check the sprinklers – good thing because a Zone has been down.

As we were wandering the lawn, a pit bull comes wandering up.  The lawn ladies were a bit freaked, but he walked right up to me and wagged his tail – I took it as a “good morning, I’m lost, can you find my people” and he did have tags.  Grabbed a leash, grabbed my phone and started calling.  He had a tag for 24hour lost pets, and they were able to connect me with his people.

10 minutes later and he was back with his people.

Though I wouldn’t let him met the beagle girls.

It also pays to have good tags on your dogs!