Wednesday, July 2, 2014

College Life: Episode 7: I Don't Hate My Laptop Quite As Much

For the summer, once a week I'll be sharing a story from my college days at CSU, 1984-1988. I will leave links at the end of each post for previous episodes.


"The procrastinators' club has decided to meet another day".  That sign on the door of the meeting room is a classic joke.  When I was in college though, I was the anti-procrastinator.  If the assignment wasn't done at least a week ahead of time, I was in a panic.

There was a reason for this, though.  (I'm not completely crazy.)  I was taking a programming class (Pascal) and there was one computer lab our class was allowed to use, and it was ridiculously packed with desperate students the week before a program was due. That was SO not going to be me.

Some of you who AREN'T of the certain age I am might not know what I'm talking about, sitting there reading this on your laptop. We worked with a mainframe computer (not that we ever saw it).



at terminals




We had to enter our entire program, then print it out on a giant dot-matrix printer (which everyone in the room was using), go find our portion of the long, continuous feed and carefully tear it off, and THEN we could see if our program had worked, was nice and tidy and produced the required answer.  Or, as was the case in 9/10 of my tries, full of error messages.

That meant either stand in line for another chance at the terminal, or go stand in line for help from one of the teaching assistants.  Get help.  THEN go stand in line for a terminal and pray that you understood what Sheldon so condescendingly told you and could fix your work.  

Eventually I'd figure it out, get it done, and it waited in my binder be turned in.  Meanwhile, I got to listen to the horror stories from my classmates who'd been at the lab on the last night until 3am. Not me.  The only time I'd be up that late was for the Rocky Horror Picture Show...

I think back to that now, and how frustrating that was, (not Rocky, the programming, and of course I'm going to tell you about my Rocky adventures) and it makes me not quite as irritated with my W8.1 laptop.  After all, I don't have to share.  I can take it anywhere. My printer is only shared with three other people.  Also, I don't have to write computer programs anymore.  I'm grateful for that.

~Tina, who also had to take BASIC, Fortran, and TAUGHT two semesters of BASIC to 7th graders...that was almost as much fun as taking Pascal...

©2014 All Rights Reserved
Photo credit: main frame
Photo credit: terminal

Episode 1: Rommmates
Episode 5: A Physics Pran
Episode 6:  Marvelous Marble

18 comments:

Brian Miller said...

i was in high school when the school got its first computer...i did spend way too much time programming a commodore 64 to actually do something...lol....

Mason Canyon said...

It's funny that you mention the dot-matrix printer. Last week I ran across some things I had printed out using a computer at our local library years ago. It was on the dot-matrix printer.It was funny looking at those large sheets compared to what I can print off now in a second or two.

Rachel said...

Good morning! It's like 5 am and Wolfy had to go into work an hour ago, so what begger thing to do than catch up on my blog reading? Sleep, probably, but I can't. So I'm sorry for typos and not making sense.

I actually know the sort of computer you're talking about. When my dad was in the military and stationed over seas, I was a toddler, but they still had a video chat on base. Horrid quality. I don't remember much, except that the room was badly lit and the paper was one super long thing that had to be torn. We had screenshots printed from that, which I put on Facebook a few years ago, and my dad couldn't believe that I found them.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I remember classes like that. And those computers and programs.
I procrastinated more when I was younger, but I don't now. As soon as I know I have to do something, I get it done immediately.

Elsie Amata said...

"Let's Do The Time Warp Again!!" haha I used to love seeing that movie at the midnight showing. All the people dressed up. What fun!

I got my first degree in 1989 - talk about rudimentary. We were still required to take steno back then…us girls. haha

Elsie

angelsbark said...

oh~ Fortran: that was the dirty F word back in my day! I hated computer programming and basically cheated my way through that course. One computer class was all I needed to take, thankfully. I remember those long dot-matrix printouts on that big-ass paper plastered with nothing but ones and zeros. Oh that was one horrible class! The only part I liked about computer lab was hitting the bar afterward for 5-cent drafts!

Jeremy [Retro] said...

My first girlfriend's name was Dot Matrix... she was ahead of her time.

Happy Wednesday!

Jeremy

Tanya Miranda said...

God I WISH I took pictures of the computer room when I was in college. Rows of 13 inch tube monitors were considered high-tech.

My daughter can't believe all programs used to be installed by stacks of floppy disks, instead of just downloaded as they are today. She actually once said, "You had no internet back then?!?!" as if it was equivalent to having no electricity. LOL

A Beer For The Shower said...

Oh, I remember Pascal. And BASIC. I used to program my own games in BASIC and sell them to the other kids on floppy disk. Yeah, I was THAT kid in middle school.

JoJo said...

We had those computers and classes in my high school and I failed miserably at it. My Sheldon-like friends took to them like a duck to water and all went into computer science. To this day I'm scared to reboot my computer just in case it doesn't work right.

Brian Miller said...

district 9 is one of my fav sci fi movies...great social commentary in it

Andrew Leon said...

I remember Pascal...

cleemckenzie said...

I remember all of that. Wasn't it just last week that we had punch cards to run our programs on? Seems so.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Tina .. gosh I remember them and trying to learn programming .. nothing would have worked if I'd been left 'in charge'!! Definitely not my forte, or my FORTRANS ... and now people are still learning funny things, so we don't have to ..

I can remember the card reader days, the computer empire in the basement - huge great machines and rooms and sterile ...

I did have early use of computers and that was so helpful .. kept me up to date - but coming back to the UK from South Africa .. they were behind the times here ...

Now that I'm in charge of myself! I can get on and learn some more .. and improve my skills I hope, other than just getting by ..

Cheers Hilary

DAVID WALSTON said...

Yes I was one doing the papers till 3 in the morning. I still look fondly at my memories of taking breaks, and eating at the Waffle House. Too many breaks and the paper would truly suffer.

Nicole said...

That's a lot to go through just to complete an assignment, so I understand the need and interest in getting them done early. Being in line trying to see if the programs worked a week before they are do sounds like no fun based on the process you described. You were smart to get a head-start on those long, drawn out tasks. Computer programming has never really been my thing. I would have probably failed that class.

I never saw the Rocky Horror Picture Show, don't know who or what Pascal is....aside from the dude in Pet Sematary and have still not been introduced to the joys of Windows 8 but do share your gratitude for personal computing devices that we can use at our leisure without all the extra hassles. :)

~Nicole

TheCyborgMom said...

I took one computer science class in college (it was required as a math major) and I hated it. I'm sooo not computer techy. The best part about that class was that my husband (just a cute guy in my class at the time) was in that class with me...so I'd get to ogle him from time to time :D
~Katie

AJ Lauer said...

I've never taken a programming class.. I think I've always known that it would make me nuts and have steered clear of that one.
I admire you for surviving teaching 7th graders anything, much less programming.
I am waiting with antici.....pation to hear your Rocky adventures! Those are always good :)
<3