Phil's Blog

Last semester in review

by on Nov.27, 2010, under SFU

I probably should get around to doing this.  Without further ado:

CMPT 300

This one has lots of material.  I really like the person who was teaching it as a person…not necessarily as a teacher.  The assignments were long and tedious (which is to be expected), but these particular assignments were particularly unclear (a trademark of that teacher, from my observations.), requiring extra office time to figure it out properly.

That being said, I did learn a lot.  Mainly, like Greg likes to say:  ‘The lesson of 300 is that concurrency is hard and you’re probably not smart enough to do it correctly’ (or something to that effect).  Indeed.  It’s a mandatory course, so just take it.

CMPT 354

I thought I would learn lots about SQL and how to use it properly.  I was sadly mistaken. This is only due to the fact that the teacher who was teaching it is, by far, the worse teacher I’ve had at SFU yet.  He added ridiculous stuff like OLAP/Multi-dimensional databases, and spent several lectures on something as ridiculous as XML and XPath.  He was clearly a Mickey$oft junkie, unless it came time to actually demonstrate something with their software, at which point he was useless.

The actual SQL/interesting part had to basically be Google for assignments, and the exams were so unclear, one was often left wondering a) what the question was and b) if he came close to answering it.

(I realize I didn’t name names for the two above.  I won’t put negative stuff like that and blindside them.)

CMPT 383

A drop of Pepto-Bismol in an ocean of diarrhoea.  A great course, most likely due to one Greg Baker (I will name him, so you know where this is going).  Greg took the time to put together an informative and entertaining course for his first offering of 383.  He actually did stuff like do his own assignments to make sure they were clear and possible, provided us with the tedious parts that were outside the scope of the course, and gave us one of the first CS assignments I truly, truly enjoyed (Rainbow Tables.  Look them up.)

Also, the use of weekly (or so) labs that counted for almost nothing but served to make sure the material from the week was learned and retained were invaluable when it came time for assignments and exams.  This should be incorporated into every CS course that has a practical component.  Greg has now revamped his 470 class with these as well, and I look forward to taking that next semester.


Two bad courses made the semester hellish.  Pretty sure I am officially burnt out at this point from that one semester.  Taking 379, 405, and 454 this semester doesn’t help (but at least two of those courses are really interesting.  If it’s not ridiculously obvious, I’ll reveal all after this semester!)



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