Monday, September 14, 2015

Joseph Heller May Have Spent Some Time In Academia

Apparently the campaign against leaving computer equipment on -- because it will overheat in the cabinets which are necessary because the equipment gets stolen if it's left out, but locked with a $2 Home Despot latch you could probably pick with a paper clip, if anyone but me and action heroes still used paper clips, and apparently putting holes in the cabinets is expensive which is why all the cords go through just one hole, in a mass slightly smaller than an old trans-Atlantic cable -- is working, because the computer is hardly ever on when I need it for class. (I powerpoint some, but also need to throw administrative stuff up regularly)

Which wouldn't be a problem if... the start-up process didn't take as long as the transition time between classes. I don't like to rush the room, so I don't dash in at 10 til the hour; that's only fair. By the time the computer boots up, I log in (because without the log in we wouldn't have access to our cloud drives, because some people apparently can't remember to carry thumb drives on a regular basis), Windows puts some useful icons on the screen, the browser loads the university home page, and I log in to the LMS -- pausing to start the projector, whose bulbs apparently cost more than my car is still worth -- well, at this point we're minutes into a class where I have to cover 3 years per minute, on average, to keep up. What's a decade or two?

OK, I timed it: From power on to LMS useability, if I'm doing nothing else but sitting at the computer, is 4 minutes 30 seconds. Technically, I'm wrong: it is possible. It still seems unnecessarily absurd.


  1. Joesph Heller did spend some time in academia. Outside the physics building (I don't know why) at Penn State is a sign commemorating his stay.

  2. "(I powerpoint some, but also need to throw administrative stuff up regularly)"

    Yes, I throw administrative stuff up regularly, too.

  3. That reminds me: Why do all the hotels now stuff the mini-fridge into a poorly ventilated cabinet, such that it must run all night (to remove from its interior the heat that seeps in because it is sitting in a hot cabinet, which is hot both from the extracted heat and from the motor that must run to cool the fridge interior, which would not get hot so quickly if the motor didn't run but has to because the cabinet is hot from the heat that the motor puts out and ...)?

    At my joint, they solved the "hot computer" problem by removing the computers from the kiosks in the classrooms and amphitheaters, and putting them in locked closets between the rooms. At least the computers are left on 27/7, but of course they sometimes "freeze", and since the computer also controls the video switcher, you can't just put up your hardcopy on the document camera, so you have to "call someone" because faculty are not to be trusted with keys to the AV closet, and...

    Aw fuck. It's the perfect analogy to administration.

  4. Just finishing "Graeber's The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy" now, and it has much to say about admin (not surprisingly, perhaps).

    And quite Helleresque at points.

    I will never forget my first read of "Something Happened". Terrifyingly close to academia in places.

  5. Our SLAC is now eliminating the computers in the classrooms since most people have a laptop or ipad/iphone that they now hook up to the system. This inevitably means the wrong adapter or the wrong hook-up is available, or the projector won't connect to or recognize the ipad/laptop. either way, chalk and a board remain my most reliable visual aid.