Archive for April, 2007

New Grill

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FINALLY, after 4 years, I’ve got a grill again. The last time I had a grill, it was charcoal and at Brook Meadow. This time we’re going with basically a potbelly gas grill- small enough to be portable, big enough to grill 2 steaks.

Somewhere around here I have my old bbq grill utensils. Gotta find those then I’ll be having steak and pork for dinner.

Playing with Cacti

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So I’m looking to play with some monitoring software to figure out why, every once in a while, I get laggy spots when connecting to my server from work.

The latest toy I’m playing with is Cacti.

Here’s what I’m planning on monitoring (partially because it’s useful, partially because it’s fun):

link (Linksys router running dd-wrt)
* bandwidth on external IP
* bandwidth on each port
* wireless bandwidth used
* memory used
* processor used
* uptime

Unicron (server)
* bandwidth used
* memory used
* processor used
* load avg
* spam stats
* apache trafic
* IRC users
* ssh users
* bind traffic
* uptime

Draccus (server)
* bandwidth used
* memory used
* load avg
* processor used
* ssh users
* uptime

Any other suggestions on what to monitor, or which templates to use?

Say AAAAAAAAAAHHHHH

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Migration Complete!

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So Unicron has now taken over the last of the webservices- smtp and imap. There’s still some tinkering to do, but I felt confident enough about it to move Unicron onto the UPS and p-nut off.

Over the next week I’ll be making sure everything is backed up, but I think it’s now permanent.

Hurray!

switchover to unicron

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I migrated the websites from p-nut to unicron- this was one of the big projects in this migration.
if you get a chance, check the following sites out and look for bad links/images.
* morgajel.com
* www.morgajel.com

* morgajel.net
* www.morgajel.net

* ianhawthorn.com
* www.ianhawthorn.com

* myjaxon.com
* www.myjaxon.com
* blog.myjaxon.com

Blast from the Past: Letter about a professor.

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This letter was written in 2002-2003 to an interim head of the CS department about a class I had just taken. To protect the guilty parties, I’ve removed their name and replaced it with a Tomato. it’s somehow fitting.
———————
After talking to Chris S., I found out that you were interested in what “really” happened in Professor Tomato’s compiler class. I feel that I should share my story with you. I should start off by saying that I was really looking forward to this class and actually worked my schedule to accommodate it.

The first surprise was that we wouldn’t be writing or working on a compiler. We were only documenting Professor Tomatoes. We never spoke of other compilers, only his- which was not only written in java, but also produced SPIM code (if I recall correctly). There didn’t seem to be much practical use to his compiler.

This wouldn’t have been so bad if it wasn’t for the fact that his compiler seldom worked. Even when it did work, it was flaky at best, and only produced a few lines of color coded text. All of his code was hard-coded to only work in a windows environment, meaning that if we wanted to test the code in the EOS lab, we had to search through his entire file structure to find where he had hard-coded “c:\\my documents\\” and change it so it would run in the labs.
We confronted him about this problem, and he shrugged it off, basically telling us that he would fix it(he never did).

The class was broken into 3 groups, each with subteams. I was on the documentation subteam. My impression was that I was to document his code and explain to the rest of my team what it did. It became obvious that this wouldn’t be possible. Professor Tomato began introducing new version of his code on a weekly(and sometimes nightly) basis. It became impossible for me to remember to change hard-coded windows file paths AND transfer my documentation into each new release of his code. It should be mentioned that most releases were not properly numbered, so it became impossible to tell which version of his code was the most recent. He also like to release his code on the R: drive in the windows lab, which meant someone had to walk over to the Manitou lab, wait for an open computer, download/email the file to someone in the EOS lab then walk back. It was very frustrating that he couldn’t use blackboard or his home drive on the Linux machines. After the third release, I decided that it wasn’t worth the effort anymore.

It was not uncommon for over half of the students to skip his 8am class. I admit I was not there on several occasions. It became very difficult to get motivated in the morning when you knew you were going to a class where you would learn nothing. I think most of us felt this way.

About midway through the semester, the 8am class decided they had had enough and got into a debate with him about explaining his code.
We wanted him to tell us how a compiler worked, and he refused, telling us we would learn a piece at a time until he was ready to bring it all together. One student in particular led the revolt- David S. David is a brilliant guy, but not the most friendly person. After spending 35 minutes talking Professor Tomato in a circle, David became disgusted and never returned. I don’t know if he just never came back, or if he dropped the class. I doubt it would have had much effect on his grade.
I heard that the other section of his class were not as friendly.

A bit later, after the confrontation, Professor Tomato seemed a little different. Apparently he had rethought how he was teaching the class, and had talked to a friend of his (a professor at the University of Madison, Lacrosse, which he referenced at least once a class). He decided that we had the mental capacity of cabbage and proceeded to simplify how he was simplifying things. In order to do this, he spent about two weeks talking about his childhood experiences on a farm and drawing parallels between farming equipment and compiler terms that we still didn’t understand. It should be noted that most of the students in that class grew up in cities and towns, and never really worked on a farm, so the farming parallels were lost on us.
Included in this farming lecture was an entire day devoted to how his father built a barn, and how clever his father was because of the way he built it. I’m actually shaking in disgust as I recall this. There are times for stories (like your “thanks, Santa” story about the bank), but this just made no sense.

Some people suggested that Professor Tomato had a nervous breakdown after both of his classes confronted him. I tend to agree with this theory.

Grading
Grading was as much of a disgrace as his lectures- if you showed up to class on days when he took attendance, he would give you 5 points. When he assigned homework, it was given a due date, and due “when ever you felt like finishing it.” On his midterm, I received a 21.6/30, which was an A-, as did most of the class.

I’m not really sure how to describe the final. It was in two parts: a 77 question, take-home final that we could work together in groups on, and another opinion-based review of the class that was guaranteed full credit.
After examining the 77 question section of the final, it was BLINDING OBVIOUS that none of us had learned anything in the class. Professor Tomato was confronted. I don’t know what happened when he was confronted, but those who did were apparently outraged. The next class period he had announced that he had posted the answers on blackboard, and that he had color coated the answers one color, and wanted us to turn it in in the same format, except the answers had to be another color. It was a joke. finally, the last day of class before finals, he announced that we didn’t even have to turn in part A of the test, only the opinion based part. He also informed us that everyone would get a passing grade and that no one would get lower than what they got on the midterm.
Like a fool, I spoke my mind in the most constructive way I could. I did not use profanity, I did not call him names. I explained to him exactly what I felt about the class, and how he could improve it.

When grades were posted on blackboard, I saw that my honest, constructive criticism was met with a 16/25 grade for the final.

Several of us talked about it, and we began to notice that the people who gave him a pat on the back did MUCH better on Section B that those who spoke our minds. Several people have confronted him on the situation, and he happily offered to help remedy the problem. He then ignored their subsequent emails. Professor L. [the head of the department] was also contacted by students from what I recall was basically responded with a “what do you want me to do?” At this point no one expected much from the class.

This is pretty much all I remember of the class. I can tell you that I feel cheated. I feel cheated because I paid good money for that class. I received nothing. I also received a poor grade for speaking out. There is very little grand valley can do to repay me for this lost time. Had I known this class was a waste, and had it been optional, I could have taken Calculus 2 that semester and graduated in April. As it stands now, I must take Calc 2 over the summer. I’m not bitter that I have to take calculus, I’m bitter because I could have gotten that class out of the way, but instead spent money on a class where I learned nothing.

I apologize for being blunt, but I feel that you may actually be able to do something about this. Talk to other professors, ask them what they heard. There are some classes that feel so comfortable with their professors that they talk about their other classes. I believe Professor W. and Professor P. have heard stories about this class. I’m sure others will as well.

If nothing else, I’m sure they’ve heard Professor Tomato’s saying that will haunt all of his students- “if you look at automaton closely….you see…a ‘tomato’.”

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