Thursday, September 3, 2009

First Week: The Good and the Bad

I have made it through the first week of my first semester as a tenured proffie. It doesn't feel that different: I still share an office, I still have to do pretty much all the same things I had to before. But here's the good news/bad news round-up:

GOOD: My classes all had sufficient enrollments not to be canceled, but not so much as to be oppressive. Manageable class sizes. And the students seem enthusiastic. One even came up after class and told me that she'd been looking forward to taking the class because her best friend had told her that my classes were great.

BAD: I gave students in one class a massive first-week assignment on Tuesday, due Thursday, but somehow thought I had posted the readings when I hadn't. A combination of factors meant that I didn't get the students' frantic e-mails until 10 p.m. the night before the assignment was due. So I had to push back the assignment, and I came off looking a bit disorganized.

GOOD: I downloaded some freeware, and can now extract clips from commercial DVDs, save them to my hard drive, and embed them in powerpoint** presentations (short clips only + classroom use only = Fair Use under copyright law), so I don't have to be constantly switching media during class. Used it in class for the first time today, and it worked perfectly. I am enthused.

BAD: The faculty got a notice yesterday that next year's competition for research-related course releases will be canceled, due to budget shortfalls. My official teaching load is 4-4, but course releases get almost everybody down to a 3-3. Until now.

GOOD: I got a shiny new laptop from my employer, to replace the old one that has suffered four years of heavy use, crumbs dropping into the keyboard, and two falls off the back of my bike. Budget problems mean that for the next year or two, the computer refresh program will be severely restricted, so I got this one just in time.

BAD: I have another hole in my office window.

GOOD: I have acquired a writing buddy in the department, and we're going to be working on getting a draft of an article each this semester. He's smart, and motivated, so I think it'll be great.

I am cautiously optimistic.

**I am a mac user, and bought their office suite while in Puddletown this summer. So, I'll soon be taking Keynote out for a spin.


Another Damned Medievalist said...

ooh -- what's the software??? And I think you should be more than cautiously optimistic -- it sounds like the important things are going pretty well!

Dr. S said...

did you get VLC? I've had good luck with doing still captures from it, but I've never tried grabbing clips and embedding them anywhere.

Genevieve said...

Yes, what software? Please share!

Elaine said...

Would love to know what software as well! Would you email me at

Notorious Ph.D. said...

I used Handbrake for the Mac (there's a PC version, too, but I don't know how that works). There's a zippy new version available on their main page, but I've found that it doesn't do well with encrypted DVDs, so I use the previous version. It will let you extract a chapter at a time, but I haven't yet figured out how to edit further from there.

And yes, I only use it for classroom presentations of short clips.