Alumni anecdotes

Kurt M. Vander Bogart, '76

I can remember waiting 2 to five hours to receive a printout from punched cards for about 25 lines of code. Every student computer project at Oswego was batch - punch a card - insert it in the deck and wait. If you made a mistake you would punch another card insert it in the deck and wait. Today the Net is somewhat faster!

The horror stories came from the people who had 200-300 cards that were not sequenced (numbered) and dropped them. What fun! People carried boxes of IBM cards around with them. Compare that with a 3 1/5 inch diskette, or better yet, having your file on a Net server that you can easily FTP.

Apple was not around and it would be 6 more years before this thing called an IBM PC took off.

John Feeney, '87

I was working on a FORTRAN simulation in the computer lab in the basement of Snygg Hall. There was some sort of tour of prospective students and their parents. They stopped by my terminal and asked what I was working on.

Professor Tymann had assigned a simulation of drunk students walking home from a bar at one corner of the grid and the campus at the opposite corner. Depending on how drunk the student was determined if he/she knew the direction they from which they arrived at a grid corner. Less drunk students usually arrived at campus sooner since they never repeated the last segment they just walked.

The faces on the student and parents was amazing! The guide was quick to shuffle the group off. I don't know if we gained any students but I did my best.

Richard C.S. "Doc" Kinne, '87

I convinced Doug that I'd deleted my whole compiler project halfway through the class and there was no backup. There is also the time I composed a song (now lost to the ages) at 4am to the tune of "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean" while working on a B-trees assignment for Guillermo Serna. I was so punchy the next day (no sleep) that I actually sang it to him and the entire class!

Oswego was the best four years of my life. Its teachers are not only knowledgeable and tough about teaching their craft but also fair and very human. They were not afraid to take a joke.

One of the best people in the Computer Science Department is Professor Doug Lea. I have many, many stories about Doug. From a professional point of view he is dedicated to a fault. It was he who usually let me into Snygg Hall on Sunday morning.

On a human level Doug also knew how to take a joke. For example, there was the time I convinced the entire Algorithm Analysis class that we didn't have to take the final exam.

The exam was scheduled for 2:00PM and a few of us had gathered in Snygg Hall to study for it beforehand. I needed a break and so I got up and strolled down the hall to Doug's office. As usual he was there, feet up on the desk, busily typing at the keyboard nestled in his lap. "Doug," I said as I approached the door, "you grade on a complete curve, right?"

He looked up at me. "Yes," he said, "you know that."

A gleam came into my eye. "OK, that means that if everybody got the same grade on the final then everyone would have the same grade coming out of the final as they had going in. Right?"

"Uh huh," Doug agreed.

"That means that if everyone got a zero on the final we'd all have the same grade final grade coming out of the final as we had coming in."

Doug was beginning to see where I was going with this. "Yes," he said a bit more cautiously.

"That means if everyone - EVERYONE - agrees to take a zero on the final we'll all have the same grade coming out of the final as we had going in."

Doug smiled. "I don't think you'll get everyone to agree to that."

"But if I could?" I asked.


"Great!" I smiled at him and went back down the hall to the rest of the study group. "Do you want to take this final?" I asked them as I approached. They looked at me as if I'd lost my mind. I related the conversation I'd just had with Doug Lea. A couple who didn't believe me went and confirmed what I'd told them.

As classmates wandered in to get ready for the final we pounced on them and related our story. Readily they agreed to the plan. As final time approached we had gotten everyone except two people to agree. Dejected the class walked into the exam room...and found the two people we hadn't been able to talk to sitting in the room waiting for the exam! The class pounced!

Now this was a joke to me, I never expected it to come off. I went back down the hall to get my customary danish and Coke. When I came back down the hall the entire class was clustered around the outside of Doug's office door. As I started moving through the crowd I heard Doug talking...

"Now it's true," he was saying, "that I grade on a complete curve and under such circumstances it's also true that if everyone got a zero on the final that would mathematically mean that you'd all get the same final grade coming out of the final as you did going in." I moved through the crowd, getting closer and closer to the front. Doug continued. "However, as the teacher, I would consider everyone getting a zero on the final..." I was almost at the front of the crowd... " be a very good indication that you should all..." I was at the front. I looked up at Doug. "...FAIL!"

I looked up at Doug. "See what I did?"

He looked down at me. "I'm going to kill you," he smiled.

A week later I stopped by Doug's office. "You know," he said, "you got a better final grade because you took the final than if your little scheme had worked out." I just smiled.

David Scrano, '93

About the only thing that I could say to an incoming freshman is good luck with your studies, keep your grades up and don't take 4 programming classes at the same time or you will blow your mind like I did and go crazy from over work and lack of sleep. And sleeping in the computer lab will not improve your grades...... or your looks.

Favorite class -- System Simulation with Mohammadi
Second favorite -- Operating Systems with Tymann

Rebecca Jones, '94

I remember late night programs that forced you to raid the vending machines of any edible food possible. (My favorite was the cinnamon rolls).

Or the Saturday morning when CSC365 *convinced* Prof. Mohammadi to come in to help us with part of a program that the class could not figure out. (The way we convinced him was with Dunkin Donuts).

Dan McMillen, '94

I can distinctly remember a few events, the rest are very vague...

The too numerous flooding of the computer room one summer! No one told me the duties of a Senior Operator included water removal. I only hope for Paul Taylor's sake they have replaced the air conditioner.

The time the HALON system was activated in the computer room! Ed Beadel, the assistant director, broke several land speed records and miraculously de-activated the system before we replayed Terminator II - and all oxygen was sucked out of the room.

Receiving a very good grade after turning in my final project in Professor Graci's class on BLUE paper. It can never hurt to try!

Many, many, many wonderful and enlightening days in numerous Computer Science classes. It was an experience I will never forget.