We're a little crazy, about science!

Pre-class disaster

What’s the rule? If something can go wrong, it will? I’m fairly sure that applies in this case. I am just hours away from teaching my first class of four and nothing seems to be going right. So I need to step away before I throw something (okay not really, but I wish I could). It’s frustrating and part of the issue is that this was thrown together so quickly without any sort of prep beforehand. So what’s the backup plan, well that’s the topic of the day.

As with most things around here. I’m trying to figure this out as I go and sometimes writing it out seems to help me make sense of the problem. There are options to solve this, none are great and if I want to fix the problem correctly, well there isn’t enough time for that and by the time I get it resolved, the classes will have ended. And thus we’ve entered another episode of my two PI’s!

The problem goes like this, I need laptops with MATLAB to teach my MATLAB course. Easy, no problem, piece of cake. Except it isn’t. For one the laptops are ancient by laptop standards, some 10 years old. If that was the only issue I could live with it, nothing we’re doing is computationally intensive. Enter the second problem, we somehow don’t have enough charging cables for all the laptops. How we lost charging cables I will never understand, but here we are.

The solution there would be to charge the laptops and basically hope the battery lasts until the end of the class. Not ideal, but hey it could be worse. But wait that’s not all! Not all of the laptops have MATLAB installed, the ones that do require me to log into them to verify the software is legal. Now for the math.

I need between 8-10 laptops, I have 8 laptops. From those two won’t turn on or the screen isn’t working. One is apparently has a bad hard drive and has been scanning the drive for the past hour. Lastly, two have serious screen issues.

Out of eight laptops I have two that work. Just two, so now I need to come up with a way to get everyone else a computer. I brought my own and I know at least two of the 12 or so attending that have laptops with MATLAB installed so I still need to come up with a few more for everyone else.

Right now the only solution I can think of is to use the desktops for the students. It’s not ideal, but we have admin accounts so we can log everyone in and I was already planning on using zoom to share my screen so no one needs to be facing me directly. In the end it looks like that’s the only real option that will work given the time crunch.

Am I stressed? A little. At this point though, I really just feel like throwing my hands up and screaming in the void. I’ll power through and make something work as usual, it’s just not ideal and I really want things to work smoothly and professionally, none of this hack something together stuff I have to do. The one nice thing about using the desktops is that we can socially distance everyone, which I want to do anyway so in that sense it’s not all bad news.

With that it’s back to work I go getting ready. I’ve decided to share my class notes with everyone so expect to get class one and two posted this weekend and class three and four posted next weekend. Nothing fancy, but basic MATLAB stuff for those who are just starting out.

But enough about us, what about you?

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