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Monday, April 27, 2009

It took too damn long to make it

On Thursday the Macro class got together (during the break, cos there was no other time) for a tutorial in how to use MATLAB. It was run by Prof B Macro, the dynamic adjunct, and it went wrong in a number of ways.

First, the Prof didn't log into the teaching computer to show us the techniques live on the projector. He mentioned something about the university having taken away his computer, but I don't know if that extended to their taking away his login. Regardless of the reason, the result was that we had to follow everything he said very closely, and it was easy to miss stuff. The lights over the whiteboard kept on timing out, which added to the difficulty of following what was being written thereon.

Next, we found the files we needed hadn't been put on Blackboard by Prof A Macro (apparently only he has access to the class Blackboard site), so we had to pass around Prof B's flashdisk to get the files. A number of the lab computers refused to eject it ("this operation has been disabled for security reasons"), so their users had to rip it out. Miraculously, it went round the entire class without getting bad sectors.

After that we discovered a necessary code file was missing from the flashdisk, so we had to re-form it from the text of the lecture notes. Fortunately Prof B had reproduced it in full in the lecture notes, so this was easy.

Next we all started MATLAB. It took around 10-15 minutes to load up its startup files. I did some work on my Micro assignment (two computers good).

At the end of the 15 minutes, nine members of the class were faced with the message "The number of licenses has been exceeded". This was something of a surprise. We knew MATLAB licenses were expensive, but to justify having only five teaching licenses for the entire university, they must be heinously expensive. (No prices listed on their website - that kind of confirms it.)

The nine of us left our computers and gathered around the first five to have started MATLAB, and the rest of the lab progressed fairly smoothly. It's even possible that working in groups actually helped us learn more, so that was all good. Prof B took us through the MATLAB assignment question in sufficient detail that we were able to effectively finish that whole question on the spot. But I, personally, had not yet finished with things going wrong for the day...

... I copied the graphs required for the assignment onto my flashdisk, but I copied them as MATLAB *.fig files, and of course now I can't open them. So at some stage this week I will have to arrive in the Honours room at 7am (to ensure the five licenses aren't already in use) and spend 15 minutes waiting for MATLAB to start up, just so I can open the *.figs, take screenshots, and stick them back on my flashdisk to use in the assignment.

Why didn't I think of doing this on Thursday? Because I'm an idiot, that's why.

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