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An Open-Book And Closed Case

, , , , , , | Learning | November 2, 2017

(Students have just gotten their first tests back from me in one of my computer programming classes. If I had to place the difficulty of my tests on a 10-scale, compared to tests I took myself when I was in school, I’d rate them about a 7 or 8 in difficulty. The grades on this test are decent and I’m pleased with them, but I see a few discouraged looks. I acknowledge one student:)

Student #1: “This test seemed a bit hard.”

Me: “Yes, I agree; it covered a lot. But remember, I do grade on a curve and I don’t think anyone did worse than a C.”

Student #2: “Why is it open-book? Could there be another format?”

(I can tell that [Student #2] is wishing for memorize-and-regurgitate tests, which are arguably easy for people with good memories.)

Me: “I consider this a practical course, not a theoretical one. I think it’s more important that you grasp the concepts involved than memorize the minutia.” *I pause to think* “I suppose I could give a take-home test.”

(The whole class pauses to take this in. After a moment there is a lot of head-shaking from the class.)

Student #2: *in a slight panic* “No, no! That’s okay. Open book is fine.”

(He was probably wise. I’m thinking now what I’d put on a take-home test for programming. Definitely would have rated a 10.)

All Professionalism Has Gone With The Wind

, , , , , , | Learning | November 1, 2017

(I am developing some educational software. Besides me, there is the project manager, as well as his two daughters, both of whom are teachers and in charge of content, though all four of us write material. One segment involves a mouse being fed cheese. The manager is reading his preliminary script:)

Manager: “’…and then you need to cut the cheese. Then gi–’ What?”

Daughter #1: “NO!”

(The other daughter and I are face-palming and stifling laughs.)

Manager: “What? What’s wrong?”

Daughter #1: “Just… no! Not with kids. Look; I’ll handle it, okay?”

(Considering that he was about my age, I wasn’t sure how he managed to miss that bit of slang.)

Put A Lid On Your Totally Reasonable Demands!

, , , , , , | Working | October 18, 2017

(I stop at a frozen custard shop to pick up some treats to take home for my family. The shop takes orders and then calls out items as they’re ready. I order three items “to go.” Soon, the employee is at the window calling out one of the items I’ve ordered, but without a lid, so I figure it isn’t mine. Eventually, though, I go to the window.)

Me: “Is that the [item] I ordered?”

Employee: “Did you order [item]?”

Me: “Yes.”

Employee: *tries to hand me the item*

Me: “To go…”

Employee: *looks at me blankly*

Me: “…which means it needs a lid.”

(The employee grabbed a lid, put it on the item, and handed it to me. She then tried to hand me the next two items I’d ordered without lids, too; I had to tell her they also needed them.)

Not Speaking The Same Programming Language

, , , , | Working | October 13, 2017

(It is the mid 80s, and I have a coworker come to me with two full pages of computer programming source code.)

Coworker: “Hey, can you help me with this? This function is not working right.”

Me: “Sure. What’s it do?”

Coworker: “Well, on the first line I copy…” *drones on for a few seconds about stuff I can clearly read*

Me: “Wait! Let me interrupt for a moment. I can read the code. In 20 words or less, what does this do?

Coworker: *long pause that tells me he’s having trouble seeing the forest for the trees* “It, um, converts a date that’s a string to three integers: month, day, and year.”

Me: “Ah! Excellent. And by the time you get the string, has it been sanitized? You know, guaranteed to be pairs of digits with a slash in-between, not blanks or words or other garbage?”

Coworker: “Oh, yeah, all the user input is cleaned up.”

Me: “Okay, good.”

(I scribble “sscanf(text, “%02d/%02d/%02d”, &month, &day, &year);” in a blank spot on the page.)

Me: “Throw out everything and replace it with that.”

Coworker: “You’re kidding.”

Me: “Not at all. Use that. It’ll work. Trust me.”

Coworker: *not sure* “Well, okay.”

(Half an hour later he’s back and looking a bit sheepish.)

Coworker: “That worked. Thanks.”

Me: “No problem.”

(It’s been 30 years. Unfortunately, the new generation of programmers is in the same spot.)

Their Relationship Is About To Get A Shake-down

, , , , | Right | October 7, 2017

(I get a phone call from a customer.)

Caller: “I just got my shake, and it isn’t a shake; it’s just milk!”

(As I start to request details, I realize that her shake was made almost 40 minutes ago. It was a fairly unique shake, so, to be sure that she has called the right location, and I am dealing with the right order, I ask:)

Me: “Is this the order from a half hour ago… with the [Soda], too?”

Caller: “No! We were just there!”

(The woman on the phone then starts yelling at someone in the background.)

Caller: “What else was on the order?!”

(I start to feel uneasy, because when we handed the order out, there was a man and a woman in the vehicle, but I get the impression that this caller is not that woman. I hear the man in the background.)

Man In Background: “I just got your food, baby; I just left there. Wait, hand me the phone. Let me talk to them. They pulled me up and parked me; that’s why the shake melted!”

(The caller screams at me that we parked him.)

Me: “We may have, but I’m still trying to figure out which order yours was, and the last car we parked was 30 minutes ago. What else was on the order? Was this the guy who had the [Shake that she is claiming that is milk], the two kids’ meals, and the [Soda]?”

(There was silence on the phone. Then, I heard what sounded like a demon unleashing their wrath upon someone. Then, the phone hung up. I wish I didn’t have to deal with people trying to involve my job in their breakup or infidelity.)


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