Lessons from Comp 4
I recently finished up teaching Comp 4, the computer literacy course here at UNC, during a compressed summer session. Comp 4 is an introductory class that assumes NO knowledge of computers among its students, and believe me when I say that this was often the case. The class was great fun to teach, and one of the facets that made it interesting (day-in and day-out) was the wealth of new knowledge that the students imparted to me on tests and examinations. I thought that I'd share some of these nuggets with you. My comments are in the standard C delimiters (/* and */). *Your* comments are encouraged. Here goes:
Bacchus invented FORTRAN. /* I knew FORTRAN was old, and that it may have been designed under the influence of alcohol, but... */
There are three kinds of program statements: sequence, repetition, and seduction.
There are two types of graphics: vector and rascal. /* Otay... */
Programming languages have specifictions. /* Obviously this student has dealt with a few standards. */
Macs are compatible with each other. /* Imagine the alternative: "What's your Mac's serial number? We'll go back to the warehouse and get your software."
Doctors use computers to create a three demential picture of a person's brain. /* Is this classic, or what? */
One kind of a hostile computer program is a Trojan.
C is a logical programming language. /* */
Heuristics (from the French heure, "hour") limit the amount of time spent executing something. [When using heuristics] it shouldn't take longer than an hour to do something. /* An absolutely terrific "false cognate". */
Having the computer automatically fill in images for animation is called "spleening". /* Derivation: most likely "splines" + "tweening". */
One method of computer security is a phone line. /* She qualified it later by adding, "You have to know the number."
Video games are examples of fault-tolerant systems.
On one test, I gave the students some abbreviations and asked them to tell me what they stood for. You won't believe the creativity of a student in a test situation. For example, one of the abbreviations was "fax", which *really* stands for "facsimile". However, various Comp 4'ers said it stood for: Fiber-optic Aided Xeroxing Frequency Automatic X-rays
/* and my favorite... */
Fast A** Xeroxing
The students also had to hand in term papers, and these were rife with interesting tidbits. I've clipped a few, quoted verbatim:
"The worst thing the Mac has to offer, is that cooperative multitasking is not available to be used."
"... footnotes present an interesting problem, which may be solvable by Hypercad."
/* I assume the last term is the newest rage -- a free-form database for designers. */
"...Linda, a blind girl, was able to attend public school due to the aid of a speaking computer that taught her the basic fundmamentals [sic] of grammar and spelling."
/* Linda may want to lend her computer out... */
"The program is manufactured by Quantel, a Silicon Valley company located in Clearwater, Florida."
/* A *long* valley, as my roommate put it. */
"At the beginning of each season [Edwin] Moses teats himself on computerized weight machines..."
/* Ouch! */