This summer, while interning at IBM, I thought it would be a really capital idea to take a class online from Virginia Tech. I was mostly wrong. First, the material that usually fills a semester of ECE 2004 and 2074 (Electric Circuit Analysis lecture and lab, respectively) was crammed into only a couple of months. Second, I was also working 40 hours per week, and otherwise living a pretty full life.
The lecture component sucked: Every week there would appear a new video lecture, with slides and audio, in a proprietary format that could not be sped up. It would be about an hour and a half long. There would then be a homework assignment based on this lecture. Exams, though, were the worst. I needed to have one of my superiors at work proctor my exam during work hours. Anyway, I ended up doing quite poorly in this section. At the time, the C+ I received was the worst grade I had ever received in any class. I simply didn’t have time to devote to it.
This post, however, is actually about the lab component. This bit was much more enjoyable than the lecture, but I didn’t perform any better. It was equally time consuming, despite being worth only a third of the credit. Our work was validated via skype, and there was a very strict format for each of the lab reports, which I wasn’t very good at following.
Worse, though, we were not allowed to choose our own tools. We were required to use PSPICE (ridiculously buggy and user-unfriendly circuit design and analysis software), which is windows-only, and the Velleman PCSGU250 PC oscilloscope. This oscilloscope, as with many such PC ‘scopes, has drivers and software for only Windows. I needed to use Linux for work, so I had to run PSPICE and the oscilloscope software in a virtual machine. Long story told in short, I swore vengeance on the ‘scope.
I never really got the time to exact this vengeance, though. Until today, that is…
[Continued in the next post]