Thursday, 31 January 2013

Reality time

Holidays are over. After our week in Otago Heather started back at work, while I took another week and goofed around home doing odds and ends; hanging out the washing, watering the garden, painting the shed, and even went to town to watch the buskers.

Now I'm back at work, gearing up for the start of the academic year. I'm amazed at the way teaching staff leave things to the last minute; they multiply their stress, and ours, many times by asking for major changes in minimum time frames. We do what we can, but then we just have to hope that things work - with no time to test things, or for us to train the teachers properly, they're taking big risks.

We have a meeting tomorrow with e-learning staff from CPIT and Lincoln University, hopefully to organise some sharing of resources and expertise. We all have reduced budgets because of lower student enrolments, but online teaching is becoming more popular - that means we hear that favourite phrase of senior managers, "Doing more with less". The government seems to want us to share and combine, so this is a good start.

I'm wondering if this is a good thing in National Party land though. Whatever happened to "Spend heaps on advertising to steal students from the others, and let the market decide"? Have the Nats lost their belief in Market Forces?

A little bit of earthquake humour to finish with - this notice in our lift has attracted some graffiti.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Been around clockwise

We've been to Dunedin, Wanaka, and Franz Josef; now we're home, with a load of washing.We sneaked over Arthurs Pass before the front really arrived, just a light drizzle in the Otira Gorge. Lunch at Arthurs Pass (free wifi!) then home in ever increasing sunshine. Photos soon.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Welcome back

I came back to work on Thursday and Friday last week, and I started a full week today. That will be a shock to the system, but as I'm off for two weeks after Friday I'll just put my head down and try to get through my long list of course resets.

The reset process for 1000+ courses is a bi-annual chore, to clear out the data stored after last semester's teaching; quiz attempts, forum posts, etc. This involves a lot of database queries as the system chases each course's quizzes and other data. Moodle 1.9's database locks entire tables while it does queries, so I think anyone else trying to work on the system will find it a bit slow. In fact, I think I'll put a note on the home screen apologising for slowness, so the users don't pester Helpdesk too badly.

In the meantime, I kick off a batch of 5 courses, then watch the database processes, while popping in and out of Facebook and other web pages to pass the time. This reset job is tedious enough, but the slowness is making life hard for both me and the users.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Summer's here

Christchurch has had a pretty good run of warm weather, with days in the high 20s. Today's another warm northwester, with a possibility of thunderstorms as the next southerly arrives later this afternoon. At present (11.45 am) it's reached the predicted 26oC, with only 34% humidity so it's quite pleasant, not at all sticky and uncomfortable.

Yesterday we went and had a dip (a brief one) at Waimairi Beach, but it wasn't pleasant swimming conditions; there was a confused surf with a strong N-S flow along the beach, and big holes and ridges in the sand. Still, it was good to cool off, and nice to be in the sea.