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Pleas for help from clueless students?

Discussion in 'Embedded' started by Grant Edwards, Jun 26, 2006.

  1. You'll find them *everywhere*.

    I fellow student of mine who I befriended late in the course had
    absolutely *zero* interest in engineering. He spent the winter weekends
    down at the snow fields and was usually bleary-eyed in class. He did
    *none* of the tutorial work - he usually sat in the lecture copying my
    homework which was due at the end of the class (worth only a few %
    overall). He freely admitted he couldn't care less about learning anything.

    He was working as a 'network salesman' or something, basically selling
    and occasionally installing (IIRC) Cisco boxes. He loved the fact that
    most of his time was spent talking to customers, traveling around and
    having lunches. No doubt he's managing a group of salesmen doing exactly
    that these days.

    Why he bothered putting himself through an engineering degree I'll never

    Now for the flip side:

    Another student I befriended early on was a technician in the Navy. He'd
    done some sort of certificate before gaining admission into uni. He was
    never going to win the university medal, but studied diligently and
    showed *some* interest in what he was learning. Then, just over half-way
    through the course, he announced that it was his last semester.
    Apparently he was only required to finish certain subjects in order to
    be promoted in his job (still as a technician). And without completing
    the degree, he could never be an engineer.

    A few of us tried to convince him to continue, but he wouldn't hear it.
    He liked his job as a technician and was happy with what he'd achieved.
    What a waste!

    Even sadder is the fact that he'd done 'the hard yards' - all the heavy
    maths and physics and low-level electronics that make up the first half
    of the course. To some extent, the remainder of the course was a little
    more "wishy washy" - aside from the fact you could choose your own
    strand a lot of the subjects were lighter on theory and certainly less
    cerebrally challenging.

    Why he put himself through that and *didn't* finish, I'll never know?!?

    Mark McDougall, Jun 27, 2006
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  2. Grant Edwards

    Chris Hills Guest

    I think that is what we are complaining about. They don't do enough them
    sites? What about books. anyone can publish ANYTHING on the Internet. At
    least books get to be reviewed during production. However it often
    appears that the the students have not even spent time searching for
    I think I and a great many others would disagree here. YEs you need
    experience as in all jobs, this you get after qualification. Embedded
    systems can be taught. However your email indicates that I should avoid
    anyone from:-

    I.G. National Open University
    Jaipur (India)
    Chris Hills, Jun 27, 2006
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  3. Grant Edwards

    Tom Lucas Guest

    Forums such as this rely on the kindness of people answering questions.
    I don't think it's right to do someone's homework for them but it
    doesn't hurt to push them in the right direction rather than lambast
    them for asking. I was very nervous when I first posted here because a
    lot of newbies had been given short shrift and there appeared to be a
    lot of intellectual elitism going on. I lurked for many weeks before
    posting until felt I was able to ask a question but it was still

    The embedded field is so wide and complex that when you start out it's
    difficult to know whether you are asking a stupid question or not.
    Legitimate questions can also look like homework assignments if not
    carefully worded and if English is not your first langauge it is even

    However, this only applies to usenet and e-mail requests are different
    because I consider them to be treading in consultancy territory.
    I don't usually believe in kill files unless it is Bank of Nigeria or
    penis extension type spam. Some other groups I look at are plagued by
    bitter fighting and flame wars and I've been tempted to kill the
    participants but had I done so I would have missed an occasional nugget
    of useful information. I think c.a.e has a very high signal to noise
    ratio compared to many groups and it's a long time since there was
    anyone on here who made me think about plonking them.
    Sometimes it's fun for the dummies. Plus everyone else can learn
    something from the solution - except the person whose had their homework
    done, admittedly :p
    I think usenet's role is pretty much misunderstood these days anyway.
    Google don't help the situation and destroys the community feel usenet
    should have but I think they've done good things too and have brought
    people here who would never have found it otherwise (for better or for
    Tom Lucas, Jun 27, 2006
  4. Don't even bother. And believe me nobody from here is going to come to
    seek your
    advice!! Take my words for it.
    Himanshu Chauhan, Jun 27, 2006
  5. Grant Edwards

    Chris Hills Guest

    Chris Hills, Jun 27, 2006
  6. Grant Edwards

    Chris Hills Guest

    It depends how they ask which is the point being made. A lot of it is a
    blunt 2 line demand for information on something where the OP seems not
    even to have bothered googleing.
    I have not seen that. The newbies given short shift are those who do
    not appear to have even done the basic research themselves. they want
    all the answers given to them without any effort on their part.

    Besides you should lurk for a while and look at the archive. People get
    fed up with answering the same question every time the lecturer sets the
    new clas the same assignment as last year.
    True. So ask and explain WHY you are asking, what you are trying to
    achieve etc .
    However a lot of questions patently are homework.
    It has never been a problem in the past... I have been on the Internet
    in NG's for over 16 years. It is only very recently that the phenomena
    Grant describes has appeared. Usually it is waves of similar
    questions... they all seem to set assignments at around the same time
    The problem is that often the solution is one that the student could not
    have done themselves. I have seen some very good solutions with
    carefully inserted flaws or things so advanced that it will be obvious
    it is not the students work.
    I have to agree there. A lot of people using it don't know it exists.
    they think they are on Google.
    I don't see that.
    SO how did people find it before? Google has done a dis-service. Before
    people had to d a little work to find it and thus valued it.
    Chris Hills, Jun 27, 2006
  7. Grant Edwards

    Tom Lucas Guest

    I'll agree with that - basic manners are required. Perhaps posters
    should be clearer to point out that they have tried searching first.
    Some people seem to have real problems finding anything on google for
    some reason. Perhaps they are being lazy and lying?
    I've definitely felt an air of elitism - the very title of this thread
    is patronising if you happen to be easily offended. However, I must
    qualify this in that it very rarely raises its head and the vast
    majority of posters are very respectful. Mind you I could cite the
    "Books/Articles on Embedded SW Architecture" thread as one where someone
    who clearly an accomplished engineer in his field got a good grilling
    (correctly challenging his preconceptions) but at some points in that
    thread there was a bit of sneering going on. There was another example
    of this somewhere that I can't put my finger on at the minute.

    As I say, it's not there often and once you know the group better you
    understand why people respond as they do - but I maintain that this is
    intimidating for newbies.
    Perhaps a FAQ would be a good idea for this group. At the very least it
    could explain how to look through the archives.
    That's all part of the uncertainty - it's not always easy to see what
    you might hope to achieve. I've only just found out that there was a
    tool that could knock out headers for my MCU but, not knowing that such
    a thing might exist, I didn't ask where I could find it and consequently
    have missed out.
    Well yes, that's fair enough. A FAQ might help that but some people will
    ride roughshod over netiquette whatever you do. I have no problem with
    people attacking those.
    Well this is all stems for the google revolution I think.
    Well that's just child abuse ;-) Seriously though, a partial solution is
    one of the most useful teaching tools. At leasts it beats the "where do
    I start" problem which is really what a lot of people are looking for.
    The google debate is always tricky. On one hand a great many people who
    might never have heard of usenet can now offer their opinions and
    knowledge, on the other hand a great many people who should never have
    heard of usenet can now offer their opinions and knowledge.

    While the googlers are still considered to be invaders then there will
    always be friction. Google groups has revolutionised usenet and lots of
    people are now having to progress along the denial-resistance-acceptance
    change cycle and lots are stuck on resistance. It will eventually come
    right but it's going to be a bumpy road.
    There's two sides to that coin as well and it touches on my point about
    the elitism earlier. Previously usenet was an exclusive little club that
    had very few members in relation to the user base of the internet and
    part of the entrance exam was being able to find it. Now google has
    removed that barrier all the existing members are disdainful to the new
    ones because they didn't have to "prove" themselves like they did.

    Personally I loathe the google interface and prefer the style in
    outlook. I haven't tried other readers but there must be a lot of bad
    ones in use. The fury about top-posting and attributions is pointless to
    me because I can follow a thread easily with outlook and am actually
    irritated to have to scroll through the quoted text everytime someone
    adds a point. But that is an argument for another day.

    In summary, I think google brings more people and thus more knowledge
    experience and opinion than ever before on usenet. Unfortunately it also
    brings kooks, morons and spammers too.
    Tom Lucas, Jun 27, 2006
  8. I agree. Quality or may be method of teaching?

    Himanshu Chauhan
    MCA (Final Year)
    I.G. National Open University
    Jaipur (India)

    Web: http://members.lycos.co.uk/hschauhan

    "Education is what remains after one
    has forgotten everything he learned
    in school." -- A. Einstein.
    Himanshu Chauhan, Jun 27, 2006
  9. Grant Edwards

    Chris Hills Guest

    However the basics need to be taught. Much of it is learnt by doing it
    your self. As you point out this takes time *YOUR* time. These students
    seem to expect all the answers from experienced people without putting
    the effort in themselves.

    Experience is gained by *YOUR* hard work. Both during your academic
    career and then in industry. Not by simply asking others to do it for

    As the FAQ says for students wanting help (though not ever seem to read

    Have a go your self first
    Have a go your self again

    Then explain it is for homework (and BE POLITE)

    Show what you have done and ask for hints and pointers (?:)

    NOT ask bluntly ask for a full solution instantly because you have not
    put any effort in your self.

    Students who make the effort get helped.
    Chris Hills, Jun 27, 2006
  10. Grant Edwards

    Chris Hills Guest

    That's the complaint
    There is one I thought.... google for it :)
    That is always going to be the case. Try talking to your suppliers.
    (Paul D has it)
    I think that is what Grant was aiming at.
    Google? the Search engine?

    That is the problem the students are not using it.

    :) We know. serves them right.
    SO if they posted a partial solution they would be helped. A lot of
    them ask for a complete solution having posted nothing and made no

    Why do people use google rather than a real new reader?

    It was the same when AOL dumped its members on the net.
    No. It hasn't done anything to usenet. Just a pretty front end I am
    Actually Google has had to modify the way it works due to pressure from
    non-google usenet users. Long may it continue.
    Completely untrue. MOST Internet users used usenet until recently. It
    was only with the very recent explosion on *non-technical* users on web
    based mail systems that the percentage of usenet users has fallen.
    Fair enough. However 995 of those of use in "computing" and electronics
    could find it.
    Not exactly. It is a case of the gate crashers have not bothered with
    the rules of the society they are joining.
    I haven't got as far as using outlook for news yet.
    No.... a lot of readers that conform to the prefered method of using
    Yes. Another day. (you have to have a convention that the majority like)
    Not at all. When AOL dumped it's user on the net most said the average
    IO on the net halved... the same might be said here.
    That is the complaint from Grant.
    Chris Hills, Jun 27, 2006
  11. Grant Edwards

    Chris Hills Guest

    Both, but not always at the same time/place.
    It also depends on the students.
    Chris Hills, Jun 27, 2006
  12. I agree. Probably what you said:

    "Google has done a dis-service. Before people had to do a little work to
    find it and thus valued it"

    is true. Its always better to spend some time reading the group and see
    the nature. Even better to search through the archives. But most of
    these posts are coming through the google's web interface and people
    probably don't even know that they are posting to the usenet.

    I agree with you after reading the "keil compiler" and the "code banking
    in keil" thread". I don't have anything else to say!

    Himanshu Chauhan
    MCA (Final Year)
    I.G. National Open University

    Web: http://members.lycos.co.uk/hschauhan

    "Education is what remains after one
    has forgotten everything he learned
    in school." -- A. Einstein.
    Himanshu Chauhan, Jun 27, 2006
  13. Grant Edwards

    msg Guest

    Regarding Google, I would encourage an effort to mount a protest
    to the (relatively recent) inclusion of useless hits from referring
    pages for included search terms; it makes technical searches very
    frustrating to have 900 useless hits when only three of them
    include all of the terms even when qualified by 'allintext' and
    plus signs.


    msg, Jun 27, 2006
  14. Grant Edwards

    Chris Hills Guest

    Then we agree.
    Which is why they get told. However having to do it several hundred
    times does annoy people
    Just to knock the final nail in the argument. Below is pasted, as
    posted, a complete post to a C language NG that fully illistrates the
    point Grant is complaining about. NOTE C language NOT Java, Oracle, C++,
    HTML or Web design.

    Yes.... it is a google user.

    I am learning datastructure using c in my syllabus and i want to learn
    about datastructure, c++, java, oracle, web design, html,c#.





    It is worth reading some of the replies :)

    PS can some one please explain the meaning of life, God, the origin of
    the universe and why it happened in 5,000 words by Friday morning as I
    hope to take over as God on Friday afternoon. Please email me direct as
    I can't be bothered to read replies on Google
    Chris Hills, Jun 27, 2006
  15. On Tue, 27 Jun 2006, Kelly Hall wrote:


    Not only do I get email filled with trivial questions, but due to the nature of
    Yahoo groups, and my employer's fad for wanting employees available via various
    IM programs means that I get IM-ed from students during working hours.
    Sometimes a quick break to help a newbie is refreshing. More often, though,
    it's yet another thought-derailing interruption that strains my fragile

    How come these kids can IM me day or night, but can't seem to form a useful
    google search that would answer their problem?"

    Perhaps your employer should not use such a public instant messaging
    medium. An alternative might be IRC (Internet Relay Chat) (some gratis
    clients are available from WWW.SavIRC.com ) hosted by a server belonging
    to your employer. I read that someone uses IRC at work for logging
    discussions. However, as an instant messaging medium to be used
    spontaneously at any unappointed time, it may not be ideal: disconnections
    due to ping timeouts etc. are amazingly common.
    Colin Paul Gloster, Jun 27, 2006
  16. Grant Edwards

    msg Guest

    How do you figure? In the late '80s everyone I knew wanted an
    Internet feed for Usenet and then secondly for email; well into
    the '90s we ran a UUCP node strictly for Usenet access in the
    comp hierarchy. When ISPs arose, the folks I knew were ecstatic
    that Usenet was available over a SLIP link. HTTP was a novelty
    with little use when there were much better gopher resources
    (and the gopher archives in certain areas remained much more
    useful until quite recently).

    DejaNews was a godsend and when they permitted posting it
    was a no-cost alternative to subscription with NNTP providers
    and very helpful. Google has destroyed all of those gains with
    their mangling of the interface.

    I would encourage more NNTP providers to provide a no-cost
    web-based interface to counter Google; even for those folks
    whose ISP provides a no-cost NNTP feed, it is a pain to need
    to subscribe to a new group just to read and post an occasional
    message if you can't handle the bandwidth of that group's traffic.
    Google is convenient in that way and may account for some of
    the posts to technical newsgroups.


    Michael Grigoni
    Cybertheque Museum
    msg, Jun 27, 2006
  17. The main reason is, as I said, using google for posting hides that fact
    that students are actually posting to usenet.

    Atleast, I couldnot find any news server located in India and paying
    foreign servers is too much of a hassle. Moreover, students don't take
    pain in searching for alternative as I did for searching public servers
    as AIOE. The problem here is essentially the same, finding the "shortcut".

    Students don't know about usenet probably and if they do know, why take
    pain in locating news servers and using reader, if google is providing
    the interface for free?

    Himanshu Chauhan
    MCA (Final Year)
    I.G. National Open University

    Web: http://members.lycos.co.uk/hschauhan

    "Education is what remains after one
    has forgotten everything he learned
    in school." -- A. Einstein.
    Himanshu Chauhan, Jun 27, 2006
  18. Grant Edwards

    Tom Lucas Guest

    I agree. I think in the pursuit of balanced debate I've begun arguing
    with myself .

    But why google when someone here will answer me ;-)
    Actually there isn't a FAQ for this group only for 8051 microcontrollers
    and vxWorks. Perhaps I'll start one one day when I know the answer to a
    It's a shame Sharp buried it in the website because it would have been
    useful :-(
    Partially. In yesteryear then searches might pull up usenet articles but
    it was always a bit cryptic to suss what they were about and where they
    came from. If you weren't aware of the usenet entity then it made it
    even harder. Now the groups interface makes is almost tolerable.
    Part of the problem is that they are but are not aware of the whole
    sub-culture with which they are interacting.

    Therein lies the Catch-22. If someone gave them a starting point then
    they could focus their effort. However, I agree that in reality they
    just haven't pulled their finger out and the end of term is looming.
    Free and easy. Teranews and other free servers are a bit shakey. When
    the company changed providers then we lost our news-server. Now I give a
    tenner a year to Claranet who do a spiffing job but lots of people would
    be very unwilling to pay for usenet access when google lets them have an
    approximation for free.
    That was a torment but it didn't take long for them to either integrate
    or go to chatrooms to stand in line to say "me too". They rarely bother
    anyone now unless you go looking for them. They also send each other
    viruses which keeps them out of normal people's way as well.
    Ah, this would be the denial phase then. Usenet is still what it was
    before but it now has a user-friendly interface that lets any Johnny
    no-stars find his way in. This has very major implications (most of them
    bad) and will radically change the face of usenet. Once people had to
    hear about a newsgroup and then find a newsserver and set up a reader
    and then read the FAQ and then lurk for a bit and then possibly think
    about posting. Now anyone can do a brief search for embedded computers,
    spot this group and then pop in with their "How do I make a nuclear
    reactor using only my palm pilot" questions. They don't know that this
    has a community and personalities because it just looks like a regular
    support forum such as Sharp's or Logic PD's.

    I'm not defending or attacking google here but I do think Google groups
    is one of the most significant events in usenet history. Pretty front
    ends have been tried before but none have been palatable to the masses
    until now.
    This is the evolution process which will integrate the two cultures over
    time. Existing usenet can't just stick it's fingers in it's ears either
    and hope that google will change to suit it. CBFalconer's crusade is
    noble but is ultimately doomed. The quality of posts will inevitably
    decline but the quantity will go up. Whether that means the average
    usefulness goes down remains to be seen.
    I completely disagree. Usenet is popular with some technical users but
    very few I've ever met have heard of it, far less use it. In a field
    like the embedded world then there are a lot more users than others but
    it is still pretty exclusive. I would say that most internet users have
    never heard of it and the percentage of technical to non-technical users
    is low and getting lower. I myself hadn't heard of it until about 5
    years ago and I classed my self as a fairly savvy person on-line,
    certainly compared to most users.

    Your statement may have been true 10-15 years ago when the internet was
    still fairly exclusive and quite technical to get access to for most
    people. However, the simplification of it and the explosion of
    non-technical users I believe has been good for the web and there's much
    more information, and useful information, than when I first went on-line
    in '93. Some here may scoff at this late start (I was only 14 at the
    time though) but back then almost no one had web access although I'm
    sure those that used it as a technical tool did have and they would be
    the ones interested in usenet. With that being the case I would agree
    that then most internet users were on usenet but I would say the
    opposite is true now.

    The google effect on usenet will be very much like the AOL slurry bomb
    had on the web. Everything will eventually sort itself out and the
    technical cogniscienti will find another undisturbed haven to hang out
    until that too is made accessible by the masses.
    Yes, but that's a pretty low percentage of total web users these days.
    Same with the AOL problem. Time heals all.
    The apparent IQ dropped but there were and are still nuggets to be
    Tom Lucas, Jun 27, 2006
  19. Grant Edwards

    Tom Lucas Guest

    In the late 80's and early 90's everything on-line was an exclusive
    I agree that I hate the interface too - it's a pity a little more
    thought wasn't put into it. However, the popularity would suggest that
    the great unwashed seem to like the interface - perhaps it's good if
    you've never had better?
    Convenience is the key really.
    Tom Lucas, Jun 27, 2006
  20. Grant Edwards

    Tom Lucas Guest

    Just tried www.DejaNews.com. Nasty suprise :-(
    Tom Lucas, Jun 27, 2006
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