Examen (Saturday, 2010 July 31)

August 3, 2010

Today was the "final" language exam. If you haven’t yet achieved your language proficiency level, well, better hunker down, asshole. I feel pretty comfortable in French, so I’d like to be able to stop going to French classes, and maybe learn something else.

Additionally, we have to start preparing our own exams for administration this Friday. 3e is pretty straightforward; there’s a lot of binary/hex stuff and some basic Excel usage stuff. 5e will require a little bit more work. Naturally I’m not working on either. Instead I’m rearranging files on my computer and hanging out.

One thing that is useful to know in case the trainers come to you looking for help with their virus-addled USB drives. A fairly common thing these viruses do is mark the directories as hidden and then create files with identical names. It wouldn’t be a big deal except the computers that are locked down administratively aren’t allowed to show hidden files, so you have to use your own laptop. Naturally Linux completely ignores the "hidden" attribute on files, but you can use mtools to change the attributes, even on a USB drive, by creating a mtoolsrc file like this or, I think, directly using mattrib -i /dev/sdb1 or whatever. To remove system and hidden on everything, which is probably what you want to do: mattrib -S -H -/ S:/. [Edit: you can also use mattrib -i /dev/sdb1 -S -H -/ ::/, but you’ll still need the mtools_skip_check thing.]

Another thing that I am currently thinking about: why do I have 67 different dotfiles/directories here? Some highlights: .slocdata, which is basically a glorified temp directory; .ido.last, which by rights ought to go in .emacs.d; .recently-used and .recently-used.xbel, which, just, why do we need two of them? Why aren’t they in .config? Do the letters XDG mean nothing to you?? Grr.

I gave the quizzes back in 5e and 3e. 3e listened very attentively that lecture. I think they got the memo, that they’ll really need to get their act in gear by next Friday. 5e I’m not sure about.

Karen joked that she really liked giving exams. "It’s extra work for me so it’s annoying," she said, "But it’s just so satisfying, plus the things they write are really funny."

Whereas our language exams are a bit more irregular. We chat for a while, then we are presented with a role-play session and we do the best we can. I was utterly conscious that I needed to use the future tense, but wasn’t able to because I just kept constructing sentences like "Well, I could change, things could be different". G.I. Jake, who is a real American hero, told me he thinks he’ll need to pull it together over the next couple weeks, but every other stagiaire I’ve been talking to has been of the school of "Gosh, I hope I made my level." And with a bit of luck, we will.

I am thinking right now of a person who, when I was younger, gave me shit for studying French. She was studying Spanish, and there are no shortage of opportunities to use Spanish in NYC, but to use French you have to go to Montreal or France. "When are you ever gonna use that?" she asked. Well, guess who’s laughing now?

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