Monthly Archives: August 2015

Tech!

Things have changed a lot since I went to college some *mumblety-mumble* years ago. Back then, I took a desktop IBM PC with an amber monochrome monitor, 2 of the 5.25″ floppy drives (no hard drive), a dot matrix printer, and no modem with me. It took a handcart to move it all. Now, it’s all laptops and tablets, lightweight and easy to carry.

Email from the program ahead of time said that we’d definitely need a laptop for classes, and that while either a PC or a Mac was ok, one of the required programs for Biostats was not compatible with Macs. I sort of made faces at that, as I’ve gone completely Apple in the past couple of years, but I pulled out an older PC laptop and got it all upgraded and ready for the first day of class…

Only to find out that the stats program does work on Macs. It’s just a little trickier to install, but once installed, it runs just fine. So I have everything running on both a PC and a Mac.

Come the first day of class, and everyone is linked in from home, listening to our Biostats prof go on. He starts showing us how to use the program R. Half of the class panics in the chat box because they couldn’t get it installed and working at all! He offered a few tips but said that he needed to continue the class (it’s recorded, so people could watch it again later) to at least get all of the info presented.

6 or 7 of us managed to set up a meeting time for yesterday to see if we couldn’t get R working on their computers. It ended up with me bouncing from chair to chair around a table, installing R on about 6 computers there (and then one more over the phone, because one of the campuses is downstate). We ended up with all but one of the computers working! And now everyone thinks I have some sort of magic computer-fu…

Categories: School | Tags: , | 1 Comment

First Day of School!

Ok, so sort of not really… But it was the first day of real content delivery.

The program that I’m in is for a Masters of Public Health. It is designed for working adults, for the most part, to allow them to obtain the degree while having a full-time job. The core courses (2 each semester for 3 semesters) are on Saturdays, and there is no expectation that we will all complete the degree at the same time. In fact, our class designation is by the start date, not the graduation date, so I’m part of “Class of 2015”.

The core courses, while being taught to all 30 of us together, are still very much mainly self-taught. The majority of the Saturdays are designated as “online”, meaning that the lectures are prerecorded and that I can listen to them at any point during the week. One class has a quiz (2-3 essay questions) due every Friday; the other has either homework or a quiz due once a week. Most everything is open book, but in order to get things done in the time constraints for the online quizzes and homework, you do have to have read the assignments. Self-motivation is going to be a big factor.

Electives will be different, as they’ll be regular grad school courses. My first one of those starts next week. It’s a regular classroom course, though I think a lot of my electives will end up being online courses, too. Easier to take courses at some of the further campuses when they’re online so I don’t end up driving hours and hours each semester.

Today’s class was one of the few “live” lectures, in that we logged in to a videoconference with the biostats prof. He had wanted everyone to have downloaded and installed a stats program so that he could spend half of the class teaching us how to use it, but about half of the class either didn’t have it downloaded or couldn’t get it installed. (Part of the problem is that it doesn’t play well with Macs, but there are work-arounds.) Several of us were typing in the chatbox with tips about how to get it working when one of the girls sent out a plea for “anyone who got this working on a mac, would you please be willing to sit down and show me how?”

Somehow, this ended up with me agreeing to meet with 6 or 7 classmates tomorrow afternoon to help them get their computers set up and squared away. Oh, well…best way to learn something is to teach it, right?

Categories: School | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Knock… Knock…

Wow… I still have a blog! Dunno if anyone’s still listening or not, but hi!

School has started. Finally. I’ve got to quit all of the running around and visiting friends and having fun blowing off responsibilities that I was doing all summer long (hey, why not? one last summer free of responsibility!) and buckle down now.

I’m taking 3 classes to start. Two of them are the “required” core courses that I’ll be taking in concert with everyone in my class; the other is an elective. Public health in general seems to be rather oriented towards social justice and the ideals espoused by the left. It’s going to be interesting to see how I fit in (or rather, how many ripples I stir in the pond).

On the first day, the program director wanted each of us to give an interesting fact about ourselves as we were introducing ourselves to the room. I chose to share that my hobby is long-range target shooting. I figured I might as well put that on the table, right up front. I’m pleased that no one shrieked or fainted. And when the girl next to me said that she has a 3rd degree black belt in judo, the program director said that she wasn’t going to be afraid with the two of us around. I’m thinking this maybe won’t be so bad after all.

Of course, then I open my biostats textbook, and right there in the introduction, the author starts using statistics about deaths from firearms in his very first example. *sighs* It’s going to be an interesting couple of years.

Categories: Humor, Long-term Goals, School | Tags: , | 4 Comments

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