Armen Chakmakjian


In Random on October 27, 2012 at 2:32 am

So I’m sitting there reading Chapter 7 of Colin Ware’s Information Visualization which has to do with depth perception and whatnot.  Doing homework.  My third paper for my Human Factors class will be about mental models and affordances with respect to my livescribe pen and pad.  Thought it would be interesting.

This isn’t about my homework.  It is that my son had a problem with his homework.  His 12th grade physics class uses some online homework site for doing the work. Very good. But there was a problem.  Over the week some of the kids complained that they couldn’t finish the assignment because stuff that was supposed to be on the screen would disappear just as they were supposed to manipulate them.  Basically some vectors were drawn on a grid (using flash) and then they had to do some math and enter the answers.  So the teacher contacted the software vendor and said there was a problem, and their support told him that  Firefox and Chrome were incompatible, and that the students should only use IE and Safari and make sure they upgraded Java and Flash.  So my son dutifully attempted this solution as instructed.  No dice.

So he asked me what to do.  Since he’s on a PC and IE wasn’t working (well that goes without saying), I told him to download Safari and see what happens.  He did and still, no dice.  As soon as he’d scroll a grid into the view of the browser, the vectors would briefly appear and then disappear.  We attempted an 19th century solution first, put your fingers on the screen and then take a guess.  That didn’t work.

Then we moved over to my Macbook.  I figured it’d work natively, if the support said Safari.  So my son logs in and darn…same thing.  As he scrolled to the problem, the vectors would briefly appear then disappear.  So I said that maybe my version of flash was out of date, so I upgraded it.  now mind you earlier in the evening I ran into the problem with a java plug-in because of the new way that Mountain Lion forces you to reload Java off of the Oracle site.  So between that upgrade earlier, and this flash update, I figured we had solved the problem.  I wasn’t getting my reading done, but at least he’d get his homework done.

However, foiled again.  Still had the same behavior.  scroll, see vectors and they fade away.  I scratched me head for a second and said, 20th century solution…timed screen capture.  Using grab we tried to time the scrolling to the point where grab would do a screen shot.  after a single attempt and getting a 27 in image of my desktop I concluded that this wasn’t the solution.

So he says, “What should we do?”.   I said told him to let me drive for a minute.  I scratched my head, refreshed the screen and touched the grid.  Flash was working since I could draw a vector, but the problem vectors were gone.  Then I moused over the answer area, and saw prompts below the form boxes telling me to answer.  so I went up to the Develop menu item in Safari and turned off javascript and Voi La! vectors reappeared.

So my son starts moving the vectors around and typing in his answers and then…no SUBMIT button on the mouse over.  Crap.  So then I had him turn javascript back on.  This refreshed the browser, so now his answers were gone (and the vectors disappeared again).  Crap.

He then, the resourceful youth, resorted to 20th century technology.  He asked me for a ball-point pen and scrap paper.  So he turned off javascript again, refreshed the screen and manipulated the vectors.  I sat down at this point with my scotch and my kindle to read Ware’s book while he did what he did.  He then asked, “ok now what do I have to do again?”

I got up and said, “under develop, re-enable javascript….now refresh the screen”  He then scrolled down to the questions with the grids, and of course the vectors attempted to taunt again for a second time, and disappeared.  But now the hover submit was available, so he typed in all his answers and submitted them.

He then went back to his computer and started typing a note to the teacher explaining our solution to the dilemma.  He ended his note saying, “My father said ‘that’s a bug'” and tell those schmucks to fix it”

Ok he only said “My father said ‘That’s a bug'”  But the rest of that was what I said.

Anyway, without doing his homework for him, I proved useful in some small way as a father.

Now back to my homework.


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