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This Week Really SUCKS!
This second week was hell. I thank God that this was supposed to be the most difficult and frustrating week of the semester. I was a basket case when I first tried to figure out and understand the hypertext code and notation, but I kept referring back to the reminders on how section in Dr. James' weekly comments
file. After flip-flopping between my home page and this section, I managed to collect enough notes which helped me through the tougher parts and allowed me to fool around a little bit with the formatting of my home page. As much as I felt frustrated, I was fascinated with the possibilities and potential of the Internet and Dr. James' concept of a Generational Cyberspace Virtual Learning Community which kept me from slamming my head into the monitor. I finally understand the linking process.
My progress this week was super slow and equally frustrating, but tonight I think I'm actually enjoying myself and letting myself relax a little bit. I had problems logging on last week, and more problems figuring out exactly what to do when I did manage to connect and get on to UNIX, but my biggest problem is finding time to log on at one of the labs. This being the case, I think I'll buy a modem and try to log on from my home. It will save me the effort of rushing around trying to maximize my time at the labs on campus.
How Do I Get ONLINE?
The first problem was dialing in to the U.H. system. I was trying for over an hour to connect with UHUNIX, but just could not get through. I would get connected and hear that god awful screeching, but would be presented with the NO CARRIER sign every time. Talk about frustrating. Instead of gently tapping the keyboard I was practically pounding on the poor thing. I gave up a little bit past midnight and went to bed completely frustrated. The next day, I called the computer labs at Keller Hall and a friend of mine who is a regular on the UHUNIX system and asked if there were other numbers I could call in addition to the one I tried the night before (956-9333). I came up with two other numbers to try:
A Mapping Problem
I encountered the second problem after I finally made my way onto Lynx. When I accessed my lab report file to add more to it and do some editing, I found that Emacs was not responding to the commands from my keyboard. Basically, I had the 'arrow' keys taken away from me because Emacs did not recognize them as valid commands. Everytime I tried to use one of these keys, the screen either flashed 'Unknown command' or kicked me out of Emacs, back to the 'telnet>' prompt. I was effectively cut off from doing any editing of my lab report from home because I could not scroll around within my lab report and change things where and when I wanted to. This was worse than not being able to connect with the system at all.
When I finally connected with the University system, I thought I was home free. I should've known not to expect too much too soon. I guess I set myself up for this big fall by raising my expectations of the new modem and the computer and the unix system.Affectively, I was down, way down and falling faster every second. I was soooo disappointed, frustrated, confused, and depressed that I didn't know what to do with myself. I sat in my room for about an hour and brooded. I tried to study another subject, but I just couldn't get my mind off of what had happend. I tried to unwind and take my frustrations out on the Super Nintendo, but the problem prevented me from enjoying even that.
Calling Kevin for Help
I sat back down at the terminal and tried to work through everything I did once again, to see if I had done anything wrong along the way. I'm basically ignorant when it comes to computers and their functions, so when trouble arises, my troubleshooting skills are severely deficient. I really had no idea what was going on in the inner depths of my computer, but I did know that it was not working on the UHUNIX system. Since I was logged on, I made the wise decision and sent letters to both Kevin and Dr. James which stated my problem in detail. Kevin sent a response almost immediately and said that it sounded like a mapping problem. Dr. James replied to my letter and recommended that I try Pico since Emacs was not working.
Mixed Feelings About Pico
I had some mixed feelings about switching to another editor. I figured that since I entered my entire file on Emacs, I would have to reenter it if I switched to Pico. Again, I wrote to Kevin about my concern and he responded with an explanation which cleared up my misconceptions concerning the Emacs and Pico editors. Both are just editors which respond to hypertext markup language (html). I didn't need to reenter all of the text, just learn the commands specific to the Pico editor.
Coping With the Problem
Tonight, I'm once again at school typing my lab report. Hopefully, this will only continue until I figure out exactly how to correct the miscommunication between my computer and the UHUNIX system. Although I was not able to complete any of the hypertext from my home, I was able to access Lynx and search the Internet and obtain our homework for the fourth week.
Fighting Pessimism & Depression
The best way I've found to fight pessimism and depression is to just keep everything in perspective. Everything I am learning in this class is something completely different, something I've never been exposed to, so I shouldn't expect myself to pick this up immediately. This is not always easy for me because I do expect to understand and absorb this new material instantly. "It's not supposed to take this long to figure out," is something I've been muttering to myself since day one of this course. After all of the in-class discussions, e-mail communications, and reading the lab reports from last semester, I realized that everyone else was struggling with the material. It was a very comforting realization, and one that allows me to keep calm when I run into an obstacle. Staying level-headed and remembering that the computer is just that, a computer, are two very important things. Sometimes, when the computer is not cooperating, I tend to think that the computer is trying to sabotage me. I forget that the computer has no feelings or motives. When you find yourself blaming the computer for your problems, take a step back and relax. Try to look at things objectively, and don't get too emotional. Most importantly, DON'T GIVE UP!
What Did She Learn?
Evidently, she learned a great deal about the Internet and about computers in general. She learned to control the frustration and anger which always comes with learning something new. This is not to say that she never had any problems, but she learned to persist through the frustration which allowed her to overcome these barriers to her progress. I think I am beginning to learn this skill, but I have not perfected it yet.
How Did it Help?
Renee Nakamoto's paper was an aid to me because she expressed some of her frustrations in her writing, and the experiences she had were nearly identical to my own which made it very easy to relate to. One specific lab report concerning the installation and use of a modem on her home computer was helpful. I encountered some difficulty with the use of my modem (still have those problems today) but the lab report allowed me to look at it constructively and somewhat objectively and helped to minimize my anger and frustration. Following her lead, I searched for possible solutions, and even wrote Dr. James and Kevin asking for help. To this day, my problem has yet to be solved, but I've come to accept this particular glitch and have adapted to it.
Pay attention to the words of the elders for we speak from experience. The words in these files are accurate expressions of our feelings, and any advice we may impart to you, the next generation, is meant to help you and ease your pain. As a member of the first generation of Psy 409 students, I think we are laying the foundation for something BIG and hopefully you, the reader, will learn from what we have accomplished, just as we learned from previous generations.
What? No Cars?
The second document I found was titled Critical Mass. This document was actually a pretty interesting read. It was written in England and discusses the possiblity of living in a car-free society. Instead of cars, bicycles would be the main mode of transportation. Apparently, this initiative known as Critical Mass is being carried out in various cities around the globe. People working together to decrease, and ultimately eliminate the use of cars in the city. The car is woven into the fabric of American culture, so rest assured, your car won't be impounded by the "CarPolice" anytime soon. Lots of people rely on their cars for their income and extensively use their cars as the tools of their trade. What would happen to the travelling salesman? How about the carjacker, how is he supposed to make a living? How in the world are you supposed to pull off a drive-by shooting on a bicycle? Anyway, while searching for these documents, I only thought of TRAFFIC as being related to cars. Only later did link traffic with the online traffice we encounter on a daily basis on the Internet. Luckily, the WebCrawler indexes any document with the word traffic mentioned somewhere inside of it, which led me to some pretty interesting and fun links.
Interested in Music?
The WebCrawler automatically brings up only 35 of the titles that it finds in the database. I switched this default setting to 1000 and that allowed me to browse through a loooooong list of documents which the WebCrawler indexed with my 'traffic' search string. I found something called Funkopolis which you can access through my bookmark file. If any of you are interested in music, this might be the place for you. In Funkopolis, there is a link to the Ultimate Band List where you can find the home pages and addresses of some of your favorite stars. I didn't stay very long, but some of the names I ran across were Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Public Enemy, The Cure, Smashing Pumpkins, The Black Crowes, and The Beastie Boys. I didn't take the time to go through carefully to see exactly how much can be done, but it may be worth checking out. It looks like Rayson Noguchi also found a music-related document. This one is much more streamlined, though and focuses its attention on the acceptance of jazz into the mainstream culture. All you jazz heads might want to check it out.
I Found Some Other Interesting Links...
Another link I found in Funkopolis which I think might be fun is Steve Grimm's Hotlist which contains some links to some neat places. Other places of potential interest which I stumbled across are the California Hemp Initiative which might make for some interesting reading if you've got the spare time, and for all of you single male readers with nothing better to do with your time, I just so happend to find the home pages of your two favorite adult magazines, Playboy and Penthouse. I didn't include the links to these pages because it might be considered by some to be in bad taste, so if you want to go there, you've got to find it yourself. Don't even bother checking my bookmark file because its not there. Remember, you'll need Netscape or Mosaic to see the graphics, and you MUST BE AT LEAST 18 YEARS OF AGE.
For all of you video game junkies, I found the download sites for the games everyone is playing now Doom, Doom II and Heretic. These games are only available for the IBMPC and compatibles, but I just discovered that a version of Doom for the Mac, called MacDoom will be released as downloadable shareware sometime in April.
My Quest for The Really Big Button
((Diane, please make a link from your report to this anchor. Thanks.)) After reading Diane Beauchemin's report, I tried to get to The Really Big Button, but couldn't reach it through her link. I tried and tried, but I just couldn't get there. After reading all the wonderful things she said about The Really Big Button, I was dying to see it. Finally, after wandering around on the Internet for days, I found The Really Big Button That Doesn't Do Anything. I found the button but I was scared to push it. Will I be disappointed? Will I be overwhelmed? These are the thoughts that ran through my head as I stared at the shiny, red button. Finally, I pushed the button. Let me tell you, it was all that and a bag of chips. It turned out to be everything I had dreamed of and more. All of you, please seek out the shiny red button and press it. It will change your lives. It changed mine. Thank you, Diane Beauchemin for showing me the path to The Really Big Button.
More words from the wise...
In all seriousness, this is a difficult class, but this is not to say that it is a BAD class. On the contrary, this is one of the best and most stimulating classes I've taken while at the university. But, your success in this class is conditional on many things, only some of which are under your control. For instance, there are ways to control and fight the pessimism, depression, anger, and frustration that WILL, undoubtedly, rear its ugly head. ((Cheryl, please make a link from your report to this anchor. Thanks.)) This is something that will come up again and again, and Cheryl Remata possesses some very valuable insight into this problem. Check out Rayson Noguchi's and Diane Beauchemin's report for more sound advice. However, certain problems are beyond our control, and it is these which are the hardest to accept and deal with.
Reading Dr. James' Report
((Dr. James, please make a link from your file to this anchor. Thanks.))
Mental and Emotional Therapy
I liked what Dr. James said about the atmosphere of the class and how this carries with it a therapeutic effect for the students. This really is very true. For each of us, problems arise and sometimes, most of the time, we don't know how to deal with them. Having someone to bounce your opinions, problems, and feelings off of, and knowing that they can empathize with you makes the class much more tolerable and greatly reduces the stress level involved. Another great thing about the prevailing atmosphere in the class is that we not only bring our problems to class, but also our new discoveries and our enthusiasm. I think it adds a lot to the class when someone can convey their feelings in a positive way. It helps to raise the energy level of the class and increase the overall morale of the students.
Do You Want More?
((Dr. James, please make a link from your file to this anchor. Thanks.)) Persistence and a hard-head goes a long way on the Internet. Giving in to the information shock, heavy traffic, and sometimes unexplainable computer glitches is tough to avoid. The pressure that builds up inside of you is so great because of all the tension and frustration that keeps getting bottled up. A lot of that internal pressure is also from all of that pride you've swallowed after all of the beatings the computer's given you. Trying to learn ALL of this information and gain some sort of mastery over it can be a very humbling experience. Believe me, there's been a countless number of times when I wanted to kick that computer into the next century...and then I realize exactly how much that would cost me, so I'm forced to bury my primal instinct to destroy and get back to the task at hand. Seriously though, being persistent and trying to complete whatever it is you've started is a big key. Accomplishing a task can be a big reinforcer and can change your Internet experience from something dreadful to something wonderful and fun. Advice: before you log on, set a goal for yourself and try to achieve that goal in the time that you have available. Start with something simple, then as your knowledge and confidence increases, increase the difficulty of the tasks for yourself. Try to challenge yourself and push yourself to do more than you did the last time. Don't get stuck in a comfort zone and be content with that. Try to find or do something new. That's progress. Cheryl Remata made a great observation when she mentioned a security blanket. See it here.
Topical Index is an Improvement
Part of this week's assignment was to look through Dr. James' weekly comments file and make some comments regarding a couple of sections within the file. For starters, I like the fact that he added a Topical Index to the file. Being able to browse by specific topic is much easier than guessing where the subject might be by reading link names and descriptions.
Technophobia Laugh and Cry (lotsa laughs)
Some of the funniest stuff I've read on the Internet is on this file. The World According to Student Bloopers is good for more than a few laughs. Reading this file all of a sudden makes me feel like a computer genius. If anything, it makes me realize how difficult our task is as students in this class. Speaking of laughs, if any of you are interested, I've received several joke files on e-mail. Some of them are pretty funny. For instance, I have the same 50 Things to do in an Elevator file as Diane Beauchemin. None of the jokes are in REALLY poor taste, except maybe one: a running list of "snaps", more commonly known as momma jokes. This is a loooong list, based on the ages-old tradition of cutting down your friend's mother, containing several different categories: "Yo momma so fat...," "Yo momma so stupid...," "Yo momma so skinny...," etc. The list goes on and on, containing some of your favorites and some you've never heard before. I'd go ahead and forward this to everyone, but the list ranges from downright hilarious to downright nasty. It's probably not for everybody, so I've got to practice some discretion. But, if you are interested in getting a few good laughs, have a healthy sense of humor, and aren't easily offended, I'll be glad to send this to you via e-mail. Just drop me a line. The address is on the home page. Thoughts from Psychology 459...
((Nicole, please make a link from your file to this anchor. Thanks.))
Do the Elderly Represent a Threat on the Road?
I just finished reading Nicole Yoshimitsu's comment on the driving of the elderly. I like her reference to the fact that it is not people's minds that deteriorate with age, but rather their reflexes and reactions. The stereotype seems to be that all senior citizens are doddering, old fools who can't remember their own addresses, let alone drive a car. When we get pinned behind an elderly person driving about 15 m.p.h., our first reaction is that they're losing their minds and are not conscious of the problems they are causing. Nicole's comment really helps to put everything concerned with age and the aging process into perspective, and hopefully will help some of us find a new respect for senior citizens and the challenges that they do face.
Save the Environment!
((Kendall, please make a link from your file to this anchor. Thanks.)) I think the whole debate surrounding alternative fuel sources as a way to help preserve the environment is very interesting. Kendall Matsuyoshi's labreport contained a brief discussion on the pros and cons of developing alternative fuel sources. He makes a couple of good points: 1) the cost of researching and developing these fuels would be extremely high, and 2) the long-term benefits of such research are worth it. One point I would like to add is that the oil companies are so damn powerful that they would never allow something like this to happen. The development of alternative fuel sources threatens their very existence and they won't go down without a fight.
After receiving an e-mail request from Trudy Moore for a linkup to her file, I began to read her file and was informed that we've been neglecting Linda Wong's report. Linda, I apologize for not linking to your report. You're right about how the position of your name on the class list affects the reading of your report. I honestly haven't ventured down to that end of the class list very many times, but after Trudy's wake up call, I'll make an effort to read your report, as well as the reports of the others on the bottom of the list more often. For now, here's my first link to your file.
Dr. James' article...
The section on affective education is one of the more interesting portions of the paper. The eventual formation of a community on the PLATO bulletin board is a very interesting topic. The students became a community because they exchanged feelings and ideas, not in person but over the computer system. This was the precursor to our Psychology 409 class where we created our own learning community on the Internet. Our class is very similar to these classes which used the PLATO system for interaction, but is different in one major way: this is the first generation of classes to be fully on-line and hooked up. The syllabus is on-line and assignments are posted on-line for everyone to read. Our thoughts and feelings are stored in our own files, and all of our files are linked together to form what Dr. James calls a "superdocument." The formation of a community occured in the same way: it was the constant exchange of thoughts and feelings through on-line interactions which allowed us to bond and feel a sense of comraderie as the first generation of the Generational Cyberspace Virtual Learning Community. The persona section is also very interesting and deals with some of my thoughts regarding student anonymity in the previous section.
How to Use Netscape From Home
Just a little advice on how to use Netscape from your home computer. It is a lot more difficult than using the Netscape programs at the labs. First, you must set up a PPP or SLIP account with the school. This can be done by notifying the computer department using electronic mail. Just send them a letter with your full name, user name, and a valid reason for requesting a PPP/SLIP account. It'll take only a day or two for the account to be setup. After getting the account, you'll need to find the appropriate communications software to patch into it. Here's where it starts to get a little hairy. I'm originally a Mac user, but I began using a PC this semester and just purchased one about a month ago. I still haven't figured out the proper software and configurations to use on the PC, but I figured the Mac configurations out. First, you'll need MacTCP, then MacPPP, and then the browser (Netscape, NCSA Mosaic) or other application of your choice (TurboGopher, Archie, Fetch.) The PPP/SLIP account allows you to patch directly into the Internet without having to log into UHUNIX. It's just you on the Internet. Basic help files on setting up and configuring PPP/SLIP accounts can be accessed here.