Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Yet Another List Post

  1. I daydream about having a skilled handyman on retainer. One who would answer my calls and deal with the large number of small problems that I have with my house. There is no good solution to this problem. Unless you would like to deal with the badly designed section of guttering, build a new side stoop, build new back steps, fix the broken window and door from the break-in, firm up the other basement windows to be unbreakinable, and figure out what the hell to do about the impending trouble with the kitchen floor. I am willing to pay cash money to have these problems solved with as little input from me as possible.

  2. Too bad these problems can not be solved by moving. Unfortunately, most home-buyers are too broke to fix problems with a house, so if I tried to sell the house, I would still have to fix these things. If I could get someone to call me back about fixing things, then I would have things fixed.

  3. I'm spending the summer learning just enough about technical stuff so that I can teach them. If I stay in my current job then I can adapt and recycle these repeatedly.

  4. Today I learned how to use a particular piece of software to teach online. Since I'd never used the software before, I scheduled Session #0 to be "Test your connection." This means that I got to figure out what the hell I was doing without also having to teach content.

  5. I've given up my fight with the University about my freezing cold office. They insist that keeping my office at 68 degrees saves energy when it is over 90 degrees outside. How can I argue with that logic? The solution: Unlike real estate, one can move out of a crappy office and not have to worry about fixing the problems. Today I learned that this fall I am moving to an office in The New Building. Until then the University can save energy by keeping my vacant office at 68 degrees 24/7 all summer while every day I drive 45 minutes each way to my other office. Go green! Just think how much energy I'll save once my new car arrives; it has a much more powerful engine than the 4-cylinder subcompact I drive now. (See how I solved the mystery problem with my car? I bought a new car for over $30,000. Cash money. Secret message to handymen: Please call me back so I can pay you cash money to solve my house problems.)

  6. What if the climate in the new building sucks? Can I move again? Somewhere with a window that opens?

  7. Still can't figure out what to do about my intern. Intern has been mopey lately. I really want intern to be successful, but there is only so much that I can do. Especially since I channeled my inner teacher and wrote up a numbered, sequential task list much like I would write up the steps for an in-depth assignment. Intern ignores my list. These steps are small and concrete objectives. They're not like "Write the foo function." They're like "Go to [web address] and find the documentation for bar(). What is the function prototype of bar()? Do you think that the same prototype would be a good choice for foo()? Why or why not?"

  8. The intern project is a really nice projects for an undergrad. It's a bit more ill-posed than a well-structured homework assignment but very much at the lower division undergraduate level. The complication is not in the programming, it's in being able to deal with having to make decisions about the design. Command-line flags? Or a configuration file? You decide. We were spoiled last year. Last year's intern was given a particular task and instead of working on it told us that the problem was part of a more general category of problems and then decided to write software to approach the larger problem instead of the particular case we assigned.

  9. Is it too late for me to learn from this how to be a better manager? With my old summer job, the structure was so different that it's hard to take much of what I learned there and apply it to managing my intern. I really don't want to have to micro-manage my intern; I think it's important for her to learn how to work independently. Good jobs tend to have open-ended components to them. I think that my lacking-key-skills former minion got his job when the reference-checker called me and asked what his greatest technical strength was, and I said, "He figures out what problems need to be solved and then solves them without bothering me." The reference-checker was much more excited about former-minion after hearing that.

  10. Or should I bring back my inner teacher (outer teacher) entirely? I'll be back in the classroom this fall teaching freshmen. I lurve teaching honors freshmen. Should I go back to teaching? And managing teaching? At the moment I am doubting my management skills more than I am doubting my computer skills. Yesterday someone sent me an email in computer jargon (cat /dev/originalmessage | sed 's/tomorrow/Thursday/g'), and I had to do a fair amount of googling to figure out what the hell the email was saying. People think I know more than I do.