Class, Beer Cans, and Yard Sharing

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll probably hear me complain about a lovely course I’m taking called Systems and Networks. I’m not entirely sure, but I think it’s supposed to be about how operating systems work, from hardware to drivers to UI. The fact that I’m not sure should already say loads about the course.

The fact that I’m writing this post while IN said class should say even more.

The professor is Casey. Casey is his surname, but nobody deigns to call him a “professor.” So he’s just Casey. This is technically the third semester I’ve had him as a professor, but I hardly count the first semester.

So far in this class he’s been mostly repeating the book, which I have an online version of. I’ve been half paying attention while highlighting what he says and the pictures he draws. Except now he’s moved out of the book and I’ve been forced to actually take notes (the audacity!). Here is an excerpt from my notes on yesterday’s discussion:

Alice and Bob share a yard.
Alice has a cat.
Bob has a dog.
Cat and dog do like get along.
Both pets like to run in the yard.
They should not both be in the yard at the same time.
Alice can’t see if Bob’s dog is out

Can on Bob’s window with a string around it leading back to her house.
Identical setup on Alice’s window to Bob’s house.
When Alice’s cat wants to go out, she pulls on the string and knocks the can down.
Bob notices, pulls the string and knocks over the can on Alice’s window telling her that her cat can go outside.
Must reset cans afterward

This is the interrupt mechanism on hardware and Java. Apparently.

This is nearly word-for-word. I added snark, and changed “beer cans” to simply “cans.” Yes, Casey pointedly said (and wrote) “beer cans.” BEER CANS.

Do I need to say how odd that is? He meant, of course, the typical aluminum cans. Like SODA cans. But no, soda cans simply wouldn’t do. They had to be BEER cans.

What I didn’t write was when he said “Alice and Bob would run out of beer cans.” Run out? Because knocking an aluminum can off a window by pulling a string somehow “breaks” the can so it can never be knocked down again?


Lecture didn’t stop there, as the beer can solution was clearly not good enough. Now we get to play with FLAGS!

Alice and Bob each sets up a flag pole
Alice: raises her flag
When Bob’s flag is lowered, she lets her cat out
lowers flag when the cat comes inside
Bob: raises his flag when his dog wants out
while Alice’s flag is raised, he lowers his flag, waits until Alice’s is lowered, then raises his flag
As soon as his is raised and Alice’s is down, Bob lets his dog out.
Lowers his flag when the dog comes back inside

Right. Because a phone call is too much. Certainly neither of them have Twitter, Facebook, IM, or even bloody email. Flags are clearly the better solution here. Flags and beer cans.

Assume: they can both be in yard
Consider: last time Alice and Bob raised flags and looked at other
when Alice last looked, her flag was raised.
She must not have seen Bob’s flag, or she would not have let her cat out
So Bob had completed raising his flag.
So when Bob looks for last time, after raising his flag, it was after Alice started look up.
So he must have seen Alice’s flag because she raised it first and wouldn’t have let his dog out.

I don’t even understand what that means. I understand what it’s supposed to mean, but that’s not what it says. This was word-for-word what he said in class, with one exception: Casey is fond of saying “released the cat” (or dog). You don’t RELEASE your pet, unless it’s a Hell Hound. You let it out. Am I being overly pedantic about this? I don’t think so.

And for a few more giggles:

First, if one pet wanted to enter the yard, it eventually would. (starvation-free)
Not true: Alice’s cat can exclude the dog forever (buahaha)
Waiting: Can one pet wait forever?
Yes: if Alice raises flag and gets appendicitis.
Bob’s dog will never enter the yard.

APPENDICITIS! Because clearly, that’s more relevant than anything else. Clearly, Bob wouldn’t know if his neighbor was in the hospital, and wouldn’t think to pay her a visit after her flag had been raised for a few days.

Social contact is NULL! We are computer scientists, we don’t believe in communication! RAWR!

Alice can’t walk to Bob’s house to ask if his dog is out because it “takes time” and if it was “icy and snowy” outside, walking to your neighbor’s house simply wouldn’t do. Right, because “icy and snowy” weather is perfect to let your pet out in the yard.

This is a required course.


About Squishy

Writer, dancer, gamer, and admirer of all that is beautiful.

Posted on February 10, 2011, in Education and Work and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Cat and dog do like get along.
    They should not both be in the yard at the same time.


    Seriously, though, does this Casey guy have problems grasping the English language? It seems like yes.

    • Surprisingly, English is his first language. You’d never guess from his lectures. My Russian astronomy professor and German IS professor speak far better.

  2. This is really juvenile.
    Programming is for nerds, not children. So teach them in a way nerds understand, instead of belittling their intelligence with some obscure childish garbage.

    Sheesh, its better to draw flow charts or something. So you actually see how information is interpreted by a logical process. I’m saddened such unprofessional teaching methods are allowed to continue unquestioned.

    It should definitely be raising some FLAGS.

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