Why I Won't Be Walking Into Spiderwebs
The professor for that class posted the syllabus and book material after the semester started, took a hands-off approach to teaching the course, and looked over my code when I was having problems, declared it good-but didn't offer any suggestions of what to do to get it to work on my machine.
Basically, I needed someone who could tell me why good code wasn't working. When I dropped the class, I consoled myself with the belief that this course is better suited to a 15 week semester with a professor there to answer my questions in real time.
Tonight, I had my first class of the same course and I was more than a little worried about it. I'd wondered if this was going to be an exercise in futility-as well as a minor worry that he'd tell me I was crazy for taking both of these courses in the same semester. At least I had people I know listed in the roster, and the professor's Tuesday night class put me at ease that I could ask a question and he'd answer it thoroughly. One of the classmates was a group mate in the spring semester and we have a knack for cracking each other up when things get stressful (case in point-she emailed me during class to ask when and why the professor pierced his ear.)
The professor introduced his Teaching Assistant, the first time that one has been present in my classes (besides proctoring exams). In his introduction, Dr. S stated that he'd been a programmer, but that was 11 years ago, and while the codes are the same, the environment they're used in has changed dramatically. Enter the TA, who is a brand new doctoral candidate with 17 years programming experience. Cue my anxiety level dropping somewhat.
Then, they outlined the class structure: the first half is lecture, the second half a lab, so that we can identify issues right there and hopefully get them worked out with one or the other by our sides. I saw the announcement in the syllabus, but each repeated several times that bringing a laptop to class is essential to succeeding in the course. Yes, you could use one of the school's provided machines in the classroom, but coding on your own machine is important to ensure that it works when you are alone.
I can't argue the logic in that requirement and it got driven home minutes later.
We were asked to do some basic code that the TA had posted on the board. I coded it in the Text Editor, it was very simple stuff that I'd done last semester (and the semester before in my Internet in Education class). Mine didnt work. I looked at it several times and couldn't see any errors.
The TA came over and said my code was good, but the product I was using didn't parse it in the way I needed. This touched off a conversation that made me feel SO much better. The professor and 1/3 of my classmates were sitting at Mac laptops and we were given a little info about how Text Editor on the Mac is different from Notepad in that we can't save as .txt files. We were directed to code in Eclipse, which we'd downloaded a few minutes earlier.
My code worked.
Better still, at that point, I was several embellishments behind my peers. I looked and saw "Oh, they bolded that text," "oh, that text is green" and "ahhh, a hyperlink" and coded them without the step by step directions of the professor.