Friday, May 18, 2007

Unlearning Habits

Depending on all manner of things that I can't predict, I will probably be using workstations in computer labs at MIT for at least some of my computer-usage this summer. (I will be bringing my laptop with me to Cambridge, but I'm not expecting to drag it around with me everywhere I go.) Additionally, I'm hoping that a certain mobile phone is released some time before I leave, and all reports so far say that said phone's virtual keyboard will be QWERTY. As will be the keyboards on the workstations. Switching my mind over from OS X to Unix is not my problem: it's switching my fingers from Dvorak to QWERTY. I'm hoping that keymap -dvorak will work for me. Otherwise I'm going to have to relearn how to type ;s kjak G ial roshfid odahanpd kdbk xfgivpte

OK, yes, so the typing thing is my own damn fault because when I was 16 I thought that it would be cool to learn how to type Dvorak. I was actually taught how to type with the standard layout (when I was 14), and I didn't make the shift completely until I was about 21 years old. I must have been better at swtching back and forth when I was in grad school because I wrote my dissertation in computer labs (didn't have TeX on my PowerBook). But I've been using Dvorak exclusively for the past five years, and switching back is hard.

What is NOT my fault is the product rule.

I'm having a fit of mindless productivity lately. Not getting done anything of value, like work on my computer program, but instead I'm making Keynote slides for my calculus lectures for the fall. And this is Calculus Lite, taught to students who are not particularly well-prepared for calculus. With this type of student, it's important to be consistent with the way that things are done in the textbook. Any slight variation will confuse them.

The book does: derivative of the first times the second plus the first times the derivative of the second (f'g + fg').

I learned: first times derivative of the second plus the second times the derivative of the first (fg' + gf').

For the life of me, I can not remember which order the textbook does it in. When I try to do it the book's way, I start to make mistakes. Fortunately, at the moment I'm making a bunch of multiple choice questions, so my botched attempts at taking the derivative end up becoming the distractors.