WTFCC - Because community college isn't always great value



  • I originally submitted this as a WTF, but it didn't get posted.  I'm not really surprised - the thing is long, and meanders quite a bit.  I've put it here, though, complete with a couple edits for length and readability. (edit: after I finished I realized I made it slightly longer.  I am really really sorry.)

     The following story has had all names and companies changed to protect the desperately, desperately guilty.


    A couple years ago I was in community college.  It probably
    wasn't WTFU, but it could have been WTF Community College - with the exception of one web
    design professor (who once told a guy to leave the classroom for
    building his final project in Frontpage) every IT-related instructor
    was utterly worthless.


    Case in point:  I had completed Web Design I the previous year
    with Charlie, the aforementioned professor, and expectations were
    high.  Unfortunately for me, Charlie had reached mandatory retirement
    age and had been replaced by a relatively younger (still late middle-aged) fellow called Larry.


    The first 30 minutes of the three-hour-long class was spent
    listening to Larry introduce himself and (naturally) brag about his qualifications.  He was on loan to my
    community college from Shepherd, a college which he claimed was one of
    the best (but which I had never heard of.)  From there, Larry smoothly
    switched to telling us how hard the rest of the course would be.  At
    6:45, with fifteen minutes until the end of class, he opened the
    textbooks and told us to load Dreamweaver.


    Larry spoke slowly, with a southern drawl that was
    all-too-common where I lived.  I followed his instructions literally
    for a while, until I realized that he was just reading from the
    textbook.  We were doing the first chapter exercise!


    I thought it was a bit weird, but I shrugged it off.  He'd probably get to the real stuff next week;
    I was wrong.  For the next three months of class, he read directly from the
    textbook, occasionally stopping to help one of the several confused
    older people right-click with a smug expression.  I'm really astounded - he never deviated
    from the text once, not even in the bits where it re-explained what had been done two pages ago.


    Of course, I haven't explained the worst part.  As time
    passed, he became more and more unfocused.  He would open class with
    long tangents about politics, the Armed Forces, cryptography (which he
    obviously knew nothing about) and consumer technology.  The crowning
    event was one class in which we made (literally) no progress;  he began
    by explaining how our President was the Best President Ever, that the
    Republican party was the best thing that happened to our Great Country
    other than our President, that the Coast Guard were a bunch of "wimps"
    who were too scared to join the "real marines," and that the CIA was
    just about the coolest thing ever.  The indian girl (who sat in the
    back) was looking distinctly uncomfortable by this point.


    I think the madness finally took me when he bragged proudly
    about his new "Dell Dual Quad Xeon" system, which he evidently used at
    home for CAD.  I don't know what exactly a Quad Dual Xeon is (eight
    processors?) but I did check with Dell;  At that point (2004) they had
    never produced even a dual-core system.


    Fast-forward to two nights before the final exam.  I'd
    procrastinated until then to complete my course project, a rebuild of a
    commercial website which he admitted in class he was getting paid for. 
    It was actually kind of clever - He took on web design projects he
    didn't have the talent to finish, and passed them on as graded
    assignments and submitted the best one to his client.  In addition to
    this, we were to complete the final chapter of the textbook and submit
    it for review.


    I read the assignment, and my jaw hit the floor.  It involved
    basic database interaction, and creation of a simple web-based form to
    store and retrieve SQL records.  At the time it was a little beyond me,
    but I figured I could manage.


    But, I realized, something didn't make sense.  The textbook,
    said that my instructor would provide the SQL server;  I had a SQL
    server set up for my own use, but I didn't think the course could count
    on every student doing that.  Larry hadn't mentioned anything in class,
    so I set up a test DB and emailed him:


    [i]Prof. Smith -

    A database server is required for tutorial 9, I set one up for myself
    - and if anyone else needs access to it during tomorrow's class,
    they're welcome to use it as well.


    The info is:
    address:     ******.net
    database:   itd210_catalyst
    user:          itd210_catalyst
    password:  ******

    The current size limit on the DB is 10 MB, but if necessary I could
    increase it - No idea why that would be needed, though.


    -K[/i]

    He replied [i]four minutes[/i] later:

    [i]Kerin:

    If you can demonstrate this chapter for about 20 minutes and how you
    completed it by logging in and doing the PHP and MySQL I will give you extra

    credit for the course.

    Professor Smith[/i]

    That was
    it - No mention of the other students.  I wrote back and said I'd do
    it, and I made some notes and a powerpoint to assist my delivery.

    I
    got to class right on time, and one by one the students filed in until
    ten past - No sign of Larry.  Figuring that I'd get a head-start, I
    gave my demonstration.  I was thorough, explaining everything I'd done
    and how I'd figured out the bits I didn't understand.  I ended up
    running long - at least 30 minutes.  Toward the end, Larry entered,
    saying nothing.  He watched the rest of my demonstration, mouth
    slightly open.  I finished, and he congratulated me on a job well done
    and passed us our paper-printed tests.  I took mine, fudging more than
    I'd have liked to.  I think I scored a 73 - despite knowing what I was
    doing far better than my teacher, I've always been a horrible student. 
    The extra credit, however, somehow bumped me to a 95 - one point lower
    than the highest score, a kid I got along with okay who hung on Larry's
    every word and thought the man was god.  As I was leaving, the
    professor grabbed me.


    "Do you have the Initech website project completely finished, too?"

    I explain that I do.  I'd demonstrated it for him earlier, although I hadn't given him the source.

    "Can I have that now?"


    I explain that I'm running late and I've already stowed my
    flash drive, and that I'll email him.  I return home, and the next day
    find my grades on the university network - perfect.

    Over the
    next few weeks, I received increasingly desperate emails from the man
    pleading for the site code.  Apparently his client was impatient. 
    Unfortunately, I completely and accidentally forgot to send them to
    him;  it's very lucky for me that he had already submitted my grade.


    The corporate website has since gone down;  in addition to
    their horrible choice of contractor, they didn't have anything that
    anyone wanted to buy.  C'est la vie, I suppose.

     

    That's the bulk of my story, but there are a few tidbits that I'm putting in footnote form in case I'm running too long:


    Larry always bragged that when he needed to prove a point to a
    client, he'd buy them stuff.  His most memorable example involved a
    client who was continually unhappy with the color scheme; it turned out
    his monitor was somehow brown and purple instead of properly-hued. 
    Larry supposedly bought him a new computer, because (in his words)
    "$1000 is nothing to land a $7000 contract."


    He also continually bragged about how many famous politicians
    he knew.  Evidently he's on a first-name basis with most of the
    congressmen and Dick Cheney.

    Apparently, he also has an
    extensive network of contacts.  He used this network to "accelerate
    [Dave's] career" (his words, not mine - Dave was another guy in the
    class) by helping him skip the crap entry-level jobs and start higher
    up in the IT chain-of-command.  Dave's new job was data entry and
    taking dictation.

     



  • That should be on the front page.



  • @Lastchance said:

    That should be on the front page.

    Seconded. 



  • Agreed. That's definitely a perversion. Better front page material than a malformed dialog, for certain.



  • @Kerin said:

    Fast-forward to two nights before the final exam.  I'd procrastinated until then to complete my course project, a rebuild of a commercial website which he admitted in class he was getting paid for.  It was actually kind of clever - He took on web design projects he didn't have the talent to finish, and passed them on as graded assignments and submitted the best one to his client.


    Can't you get him fired for that? You should have.



  • Love the story, thanks for sharing :-)



  • Excellent article.  Idiot in charge, the hero shows him up, covers his own ass, and ends with a satisfying "screw you".  I don't think it would even need that much editing.  Alex, why didn't this make the front page?



  • @Pap said:

    @Kerin said:
    Fast-forward to two nights before the final exam. I'd procrastinated until then to complete my course project, a rebuild of a commercial website which he admitted in class he was getting paid for. It was actually kind of clever - He took on web design projects he didn't have the talent to finish, and passed them on as graded assignments and submitted the best one to his client.


    Can't you get him fired for that? You should have.

     

    I actually kept a notebook of every WTF-esque thing he said or did, with the full intention of giving it to someone in charge.  I guess I don't know why I didn't - it was just that, by the time the class was over, I didn't want to think about it any more.  I was pretty lazy at that point in my life (case in point:  i spent most of that class playing Black & White and various SNES RPGs on my laptop, which is more or less why I would have gotten a C without my last-minute save.)

     Although for your particular example, I assumed that if he hadn't been fired for the homework contracting thing, it was likely okay with the higher-ups.

     
    Edit:

     @RevEng said:

    Idiot in charge, the hero
    shows him up

     
    Aw, shucks.
     



  • Front page.  This.  Now.  /poke Alex

    If it were me, I probably would have called up Initech (the company that he was supposed to design the web site for) and let them know what he was up to.  It would've been more rewarding to see him get his contract terminated by the company, but your way was good too.  The series of panicked e-mails from him must have made your day for weeks on end.  Some people like that just deserve what they get.



  • @Saladin said:

    The series of panicked e-mails from him must have made your day for weeks on end.

    Nearly to the point of orgasm, actually.
     



  • I don't know what exactly a Quad Dual Xeon is (eight
    processors?) but I did check with Dell;  At that point (2004) they had
    never produced even a dual-core system.

    I'm sure they were selling multi-processor workstation class machines at that point though.  Those were popular from '96 - '04 at least.  My best guess would be that he meant that the system had two P4 Xeons.
     



  • @merreborn said:

    I don't know what exactly a Quad Dual Xeon is (eight
    processors?) but I did check with Dell;  At that point (2004) they had
    never produced even a dual-core system.

    I'm sure they were selling multi-processor workstation class machines at that point though.  Those were popular from '96 - '04 at least.  My best guess would be that he meant that the system had two P4 Xeons.
     

     

    If they did, Dell's site had nothing to say about them.  I checked everywhere - I was very thorough. 

     Edit:  Assuming I'm wrong, he's still retarded for not knowing the difference (and an obvious liar, as a college technology professor has no excuse not knowing what his computer is.)  I'm 99% sure I was right, though. 

       Edit Edit: http://news.com.com/Intels+dual-core+Xeon+makes+Dell+debut/2100-1010_3-5879468.html  I was right all along.  A relief!
     



  • @Kerin said:

    @Pap said:

    @Kerin said:
    Fast-forward to two nights before the final exam. I'd procrastinated until then to complete my course project, a rebuild of a commercial website which he admitted in class he was getting paid for. It was actually kind of clever - He took on web design projects he didn't have the talent to finish, and passed them on as graded assignments and submitted the best one to his client.


    Can't you get him fired for that? You should have.

     

    I actually kept a notebook of every WTF-esque thing he said or did, with the full intention of giving it to someone in charge.  I guess I don't know why I didn't - it was just that, by the time the class was over, I didn't want to think about it any more.  I was pretty lazy at that point in my life (case in point:  i spent most of that class playing Black & White and various SNES RPGs on my laptop, which is more or less why I would have gotten a C without my last-minute save.)

     Although for your particular example, I assumed that if he hadn't been fired for the homework contracting thing, it was likely okay with the higher-ups.


    Edit:

     @RevEng said:

    Idiot in charge, the hero shows him up


    Aw, shucks.
     

    Oh, I had a professor try to do that to us. When most of the classmates went to the direct superior, they were not really heard, even congratulated for getting a "real-life" project. Didn't even hear about "he's going to earn big money for it".

    So I went for the big fish. I went straight up to the Engineering Dept. principal.

    That's like, one step below the whole campus principal.

    I really don't know to this day if it was how I managed the topic (as I took a different approach than my classmates): I didn't outright mention "that seems unethical" but based more my argument on time constraints, then added "and he's getting paid for it". Thing is, the "project" was cancelled.



  • @Lastchance said:

    That should be on the front page.

     
    Keep in mind Alex does a bunch of submissions (WTF's gone from 1 post to up to 3 posts a day!) so it may take him sometime to get to some of them.

    That having been said, this is definitely worth being on the front page.
     



  • If anyone's interested, I might be able to resurrect my WTF-log from the period.  I'm certainly going to get into some of my other technology courses at WTFCC at some point - Database Design I was also pretty questionable, although nowhere near as amusing as Larry's class.



  • @Jojosh_the_Pi said:

    @Lastchance said:

    That should be on the front page.


    Keep in mind Alex does a bunch of submissions (WTF's gone from 1 post to up to 3 posts a day!) so it may take him sometime to get to some of them.

    That having been said, this is definitely worth being on the front page.
     

    Just to clarify, it does indeed take quite a while. My current process involves taking a weekend to read through a month's worth of submission and schedule which ones will get published in the upcoming month.

    Please be patient with your stories -- I do read each and every single one. In the event that it's a long story (like this one) and it doesn't make the cut, I'll email and advise to share it on the sidebar.


Log in to reply
 

Looks like your connection to What the Daily WTF? was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.