Tuesday, 19 August 2008

academic programming

School has started over here in Wisconsin, and so far I have had a Web development class and a Visual Basic class. So far, I'm okay with each of them, but not particularly impressed. I guess my level of skill exceeds either of these classes, but they are prerequisites for the more interesting C# classes that I'll get in the second semester.

The web development class jumped right into coding HTML, which I regard as a good thing to do. Though I think more effort could have gone into explaining the nature of HTML code, like the differences between content and markup, I was happy to learn that old ways of doing styling were no longer used, and basic CSS was taught in the class.
The teacher explained to us how she had learned that it was okay not to close your p tags, but that this was regarded as wrong these days. So far so good. I did, however, regret that she did not always use strict XHTML, and sometimes lapsed into incorrect structures like these:
<.tag1><.tag2>some content<./tag1><./tag2>
To be clear, what I'm referring to here is the incorrect order in closing tags. (sorry about the dots and everything, I'm trying to get blogger not to eat HTML tags but I'm so far unsuccessful. Entities, on the other hand, are not recognised).

The visual Basic class was a bit more disappointing. First off, we did not get into any coding whatsoever the first class. Most of the class was spent looking at different types of flowcharts and UML stuff. Second, I was quite disappointed to learn that the software development lifecycle we were taught was basically the waterfall. Then the class went of trying to explain OO design, inheritance, polymorphism... these are things that cannot be taught without knowing some coding. The result was that the subjects were being dumbed down and incorrectly explained.

On another note, our VB teacher is female (which I find surprising, though I carry no judgement) and used to work as a COBOL programmer (well, nobody's perfect). She also teaches the C# and information security classes, though my info security class is not taught by her. I'm feeling lucky that I already have programming experience, because I think I would feel very confused coming out of the VB class had I had no previous experience.

Overall, I liked the HTML class better than the VB one. I think the teacher was a lot better (should I note my WebDev teacher is also female?), and it at least adheres to current development standards, or at least makes an effort in that direction. We'll see how things progress

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

I have arrived

Welcome, everyone, to my first message from the United States.

The trip to Wisconsin was mostly smooth, without any delays or other annoying stuff. It was, of course, tiring, but such things are unavoidable. My digestive system is still a bit upset, and I'm also still tired, but I'm sure I will eventually adapt. The weather here is a nice 25 degrees, mostly sunny (though today is a bit overcast). My host family is a married couple called Betty and Ron (I won't go into last names because of privacy). They have four children who are all out of the house already, and live mostly in Arizona. Ron is a long distance truck driver, so he'll be home mostly on weekends. Betty is part-time medical transcriptionist who I believe works for a dentist.

There is a nice mountain right across from the house, with a few skyslopes and everything. I'm looking forward to winter snowboarding and everything that goes along with that.

School hasn't started yet, it will begin next monday. I met a woman from NTC (my school) at the airport, who gave me a super thick booklet which I haven't read yet, but will. I've driven around town with my host mother, and seen the college already. She seems to think of everything as small, though it is all a lot bigger than what we have in the Netherlands.

This post was written from Betty's computer, but I'll be buying my own soon for the most work I have to do. So I'll see you all soon from my own pc. I'll also be buying a camera so you can all see what my new home looks like.