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I hate computers December 9, 2013

Posted by mareserinitatis in computers, grad school.
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I hate it when things don’t work the way they should….like when your software license that’s supposed to last for one year suddenly stops working after 8 months.

Sadly, that was pretty much the highlight of the day.

Wordless Wednesday: To find your P-value September 17, 2013

Posted by mareserinitatis in computers, math, photography.
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Always mistaken for a student December 7, 2012

Posted by mareserinitatis in education, work.
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A week or two ago, I commented that I get mistaken for a student a lot.  There’s another way this happens, and it has nothing to do with my appearance.  It has to do with the fact that my work email ends with .edu.

I work for a university, hence the appendage on my email.  Many vendors, but particularly those who sell software, give educational discounts on their software.  The problem is that I work in a center that does a lot of work with commercial interests, thus requiring we have commercial licenses on our software and any other equipment we need to buy.

This is not a big deal except when it comes to getting support or information from the vendors.  That little appendage on my email means certain doom.  The assumption is that, because I am at a university, I must be a student and don’t have the right to get support from the vendor.  There are also those vendors who won’t call back to give prices, likely for a similar reason: I’m probably a student who doesn’t have any money to spend.

While I really like where I work, this is one of the more frustrating aspects of the job.  I would like to say it’s a fluke, but it happens to my colleagues and myself on such a regular basis that I know it’s not someone just having a bad day.  I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for an actual student.

Stupid computer tricks March 29, 2012

Posted by mareserinitatis in computers, research.
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I swear I’d be a help-desk person’s worst nightmare.

I’ve been struggling to get an application up and running, and when I requested some help, I was sent a bashrc file that was supposed to fix some path problems.  I installed this on Tuesday night, but things still didn’t seem to be working right.  I asked my husband for help (given he’s a lot more Unix literate than I am), and he couldn’t figure out what was going on, either.  Even after logging out and back in and then running the initialization again, it still couldn’t find the application I was trying to use.  It was like I’d never installed the file.  After spending well over an hour on this, we gave up.

Then next day, I was trying to show the problems to the person who sent me the file.  Except that when I showed hir, everything worked just as it was supposed to.

I’m glad it works now, but I sure wish the timing wasn’t perfect to make me look like an idiot.

A kick in the pants March 25, 2012

Posted by mareserinitatis in computers.
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Why is it whenever I need to do something of any significance that involves my computer, I have to upgrade about 10 things, one of which is always the OS?  I know I’m a slow adapter, but this is getting ridiculous.  I think the developers are out to get me…or at least, my paycheck.

My many hats February 9, 2012

Posted by mareserinitatis in computers, engineering, gifted, homeschooling, math, teaching, work, younger son.
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A couple weeks ago, my blog was promoted by a couple of sites and the hits started flowing in.  I commented to someone (most likely Gears) how it’s nice to be recognized for my blogging about engineering but frustrating for the lack of recognition for my actual engineering work.  Guess I should’ve waited a couple weeks.

Normal work has also been crazy. I’ve been given full control of the Minion and have thrown him in on a new project where he’s learning everything from scratch.  It’s similar to projects that I’ve done, but even more complicated and using a different program.  So our next couple weeks are going to be real fun as we’re going to be trying to make our way through using this new program and occasionally resorting to the old program for reality checks.

The other serious challenge I’ve been dealing with this week is long division.  It’s pretty scary stuff, especially when you have a seven-year-old who is fighting some rather strong perfectionistic tendencies.  He’s been getting to the long division portions in his computer math, and he starts to shut down.  I’ve been getting more and more frustrated with it, so I decided to put an end to it tonight.  I went back and printed out some of the older homeworks so that we could take a couple steps back.  I think the problem is that he really thinks he can do everything in his head.  I have to admit that his ability to do mental math far outweighs mine: I simply have to write everything down.  However, he’s starting to hit the limit of this particular ability, and so he freaks out whenever he has to do a problem where he can’t do it all in his head.

I told him that tonight’s homework was going to be doing some work sheets.  With the problems written out on paper, he didn’t seem to have this idea that he had to do everything in his head.  The first couple were challenges, but then he started getting the hang of things and was able to execute the last few problems very quickly.  By the time we had finished, he was doing 3-digit numbers divided by 2-digit numbers with no problem.  We’re going to do some more difficult problems tomorrow and then try heading back to the computer.

We tried a similar approach when he started to get stuck on multiplication a couple months ago.  I guess there are some things that really have to be written out to be understood.  I just hope he starts to make regular use of his notebook from here on out.

Buggy March 12, 2011

Posted by mareserinitatis in computers, engineering, work.
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I’ve been having problems at work of a technical nature.  Things have been generally difficult the past two weeks because I’ve found two problems with the software I usually work with.

I have to admit that when I’m using commercial software, my expectations are pretty high.  If I were using my own software, I would expect bugs.  Part of programming is debugging, sadly.  But if you’re paying for the software, that gives a different perspective.

The first problem was really strange.  I spent over a week trying to fix things myself by changing my models.  Nothing I did seemed to work, so I finally gave up and contacted the developers.  Yep, definitely a bug.

The second problem was more of an annoyance, and I was able to find a workaround myself.

The problem with this is that I spend a lot of time not knowing if these problems creep up because of my own incompetence with the program or if there really is something wrong with the program.  I therefore spend a significant amount of time trying to check myself and talking with the other engineers who are familiar with the software.

But it’s really a relief to get that email saying, “It’s not you!” It’s nice to know that sometimes it’s not my brain that’s buggy.


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