FAQs



Website

Questions that relate to the (public) class website:


Can I store files on the class website?

No - We're using Schoology, and they do not provide any storage space other than for files that are submitted for grading. 

You are provided with a Google Drive account through the District. Visit https://drive.google.com, and login using the same credentials as for your school email account.

I forgot the my password / it's not working...

I am unable to tell you your password, or reset it for you. When you were given your email account information, in addition to your name, you received:

  • Your Student ID number
  • Your email address
  • Your PIN

Without your ID number and your PIN, you cannot reset your password.

If you have your ID and PIN, visit: https://mylogin.lausd.net/Student/StudentAction.aspx?go=action_Student and follow the directions on the District's website.

I can't access the class website...

Only a few times in the years that I've been running my site has my site gone down. However, there have been multiple occasions that it has not been accessible from school. The district has a large and complex network that sometimes causes access problems for various sites.

When the class site is not accessible from school, I have several techniques for collecting assignments. I will select the method that best suits the files to be collected at the time and instruct the class as needed.

Where is / who hosts the site?

Where is / who hosts the site?

This site is hosted by a commercial hosting service. I spend enough time on dealing with site maintenance, and don't have an interest in dealing with the additional problems associated with maintaining my own web server which include, but are not limited to: security issues (updating, firewall, DOS attacks, etc.), maintenance (updating, upgrades, etc.), hardware issues, and backups. Instead, for me, I would rather pay monthly for someone else to take care of these issues so I may spend time on other things I like better.

Since 1990 I have used four hosting services: The first I left to gain more flexibility. The second started having stability issues. This site is hosted on the third service I have used. The fourth is for an unrelated site, which brings us to the last point.

If you are looking for a hosting service, there are thousands of hosting companies. The plans, and services vary greatly. You need to determine what will fit you best because what works for one site, may not work well for another.


Classroom

Section on the classroom:


Missing File Extension?

When I make the comment "Missing file extension" on an assignment, it means that the portion of the file name, which is usually three or four characters and comes after the period, is missing.

Why does this matter? Computers use the extension to help determine what program is used to open the file. For example, doc and docx belong to Microsoft Word, psd is used by Adobe's Photoshop. Without these extensions, it can be impossible to know what program will open the file. When the extension is missing, I take my best guess as to what the file is, rename the file, and attempt to open it with the appropriate program. If I'm wrong, the file can be corrupted.

This brings up another point: it's best not to add any periods to a file name as this may confuse the save process and eliminate the extension.

Keep it simple, don't change any part of a file name to the right of, and including the period. Don't add any periods to the file name. 

Where can I store my skateboard or sports equipment?

Skateboards are not permitted in the classroom under school rules. If you locker is not large enough to hold your skateboard, then visit the skateboard valet before school.

The same is extended to sports equipment such as basketballs, helmets, etc. If it does not fit in your backpack, don't bring it into the classroom.

Updated: 2017 January 14

 

How much can I store on the class network?

Nothing - at least long term (more than the current day at most, and possibly just for the class period). This is because the class computer self resets each day, or everytime they restart, and delete all files saved to them. Save your files to your Google Drive account. There you will have at least 5GB of storage.

Certain cloud services are also available such as:

  • Google Drive (provided with your email account)
  • Microsoft OneDrive
  • Dropbox
  • Drop
  • and various others...
 
Just be aware that if the campus connection is interrupted, or you cannot retrieve the files for any reason whatsoever, you are still responsible for the work being uploaded on time. 

It's too cold / hot in the room.

The thermostat is set to heat to ~68 degrees, and cool to ~72 degrees, and will automatically switch between heating and cooling as needed. This is preset. With this in mind, there are some sections of the room that may feel warmer or cooler than the rest of the room. (Generally seats closer to the window will be warmer when it is warm outside, and may be cooler when it is cool outside.) Keep this in mind when selecting seating at the start of the semester. 

Where do I save the files I'm working on?

Sample files for class must be downloaded from the couse on Schoology.

While you are in class you may save files in any convenient location, but the files will be purged from the computer at least on a daily basis, so to keep any files, be sure to upload them to your Google Drive account, or you may also use your own flash drive. 

When you first open a sample file, regardless of the program being used, goto File > Save As and save it to your computer. This way, you have your own working copy.

On Google Drive, you may make additional folders as needed. A key point here is to keep organized: Make folders for logical purposes (i.e. Topic 1). Name the files logicaly so you know what the assignment is by looking at the file name.

Since the computers self reset at least daily, you will not be able to use the recent files listing in the program except in the current class. 

Many of the programs used in my classes do not offer an autosave feature: if something goes wrong, all the work up to that point is likely to be lost. Save early, and save often. Save often to somewhere other than the computer, because if there is a power failure, then any work saved to the class computer is gone. This does happen every year, generally from some type of power problem. I also suggest that you make multiple copies: one to Google Drive, one on to your own flash dirve.

How can I move files between school and home?

There are several methods: 

  • Save you files to a flash drive, or another portable device. Advantages: quick, simple, works when the network is bogged down. Disadvantages: you have to carry the device, possibility of loss, cost of the device. 
  • Upload files to the cloud. Advantages: fairly quick, simple, often no cost, nothing extra to carry. Disadvantages: may not work when the campus is experiencing network issues. 

There are multiple could service options available each with slightly different rules which you should be familiar with if you use the service. Most allow some amount of free storage, and have paid plans for additional storage. A few of the more common services include: 

  • Amazon Cloud Drive
  • Apple iCloud
  • Drop
  • Dropbox
  • Google Docs (provided by the District)
  • Microsoft Onedrive
Even if you don't plan on moving files in and out of the classroom, it is advisable to keep additional copies of projects currently underway as problems can and do occur. You should get in the habit of keeping multiple copies of files so that you always have access to your files. 

A web search will reveal many more. Whichever service(s) you use, be sure to read the EULA before you agree. I also suggest that you keep offline copies of the files that you store in the cloud. It is possible for even cloud services to lose files, or go out of business without warning. 

Is the lab open for additional work time?

I'm in the process of considering extended work time for the 2018-9 school year. When I reach a decision, possibly after a student survey, I will announce the time(s) in class, and modify this post.

I can't find my file...

If you can't find a file you were recently working on recently, you probably saved in in the wrong location. Try the following:

  • Open the program that you had been using:
    • Go to: File > Recent Documents
    • Some programs may automatically show a list of recent files
  • Use Search in the taskbar

If both of these fail to find the program, or the file is listed but you get an error message when you attempt to open it, chances are that you saved it in the wrong format, with the wrong extension, or in location.  Files saved to a directory named temp, temporary, or some variation, will not in fact be saved, and will likely be deleted when the file is closed. 

Save Early

Save Often

Save in the proper location

What electronics can I use in class?

School rules basically state:

  ""We see it, We hear it, We take it.""

The only electronic device that may be used in all of my classes without permission is a flash drive. Exceptions to this are:

  • Other uses may be permitted as required for a particular class. Examples include, but are not limited to:
    • Earbuds/headphones to watch a demo video. Any other usage of earbuds/headphones may be cause for confiscation of the device.
    • ECS: phone for creating a video of the robots.
    • AP CSP: To Be Determined.
    • New Media: photography, videography, audio recording.
    • Digital Imaging: photography.
    • The above and any other class, any function I deem serves a constructive purpose for the course. 
If I hear or see any other device such as: media players, cell phones, game systems, etc., I may have the device confiscated. The policy for retrieval  of the device (as of the 2018-9 year is):
 
  • First Offence: Device returned to the student at the end of the day.
  • Second Offence: Parent must pick up from an administrator, or the Dean.

This is in addition to penalties in class such as point loss on participation and/or an assignment.

Students assume responsibility for any of their own equipment that they bring to class.

Updated: 2018 July 1

Can I borrow...

Can I borrow the disks (and/or code) for ...?


NO.

Here on campus, we use only software for which we have proper license. All disks are accounted for and have various restrictions on them including but not limited to:

  • number of (back-up copies)
  • number of installations
  • number of users
  • term of use (expiration date)
  • ownership

If you are interested in a particular application, it may be purchased at retail. Often a more economic way is to purchase an academic version. These are usually the exact same program, but some may have a few differences. Academic versions can often be purchased for 20-95% off the retail price. To find academic pricing, visit the application's homepage, or do a web search for ""academic software"", and include the name of the application you want.

Another alternative is to look for a free application with the same features. Places to look include:

Some free and open source applications are available for loan through the library. See me for details.

 

Some free software may ask for a donation, but htis is not a requirement to download the software. If they ask for payment, then you are probably not at the right site or have downloaded the wrong software (and its possibly infected). Trial versions are often free to try, but may have some limitations such as: limited usage time, file size restrictions, inserted watermarks, etc.

Remember that any download, but especially cracked versions of commercial applications, may include viruses, trojans, and other malware which may damage your files, including the operating system on your computer.

I can't save the file I'm working on...

There are several different situations that may prevent you from saving a file:

  1. Sample files located on your computer are write protected. 
    This means that you can read (open) the file, but are prohibited from saving to that location. 
    When you first open a sample file, regardless of the program being used, go to File > Save As and save it to your own folder. This way, you have your own working copy. 
    You may make additional folders as needed. A key point here is to keep organized: Make folders for logical purposes. Name the files logically so you know what the assignment is by looking at the file name. If this is a file that you created from scratch, make sure you're saving to your own folder.
  2. If you downloaded the file, it might be in the temp or cache folder of the computer. Generally, files is this section cannot be modified, and hence an attempted save will fail. Do a Save As to a known location such as your document folder. In the event that you are able to save in these locations, the file will be deleted when you either close the application, log out, or shut down the computer. 
  3. If you opened the file directly from a compressed folder without unzipping the folder, then a save will probably also fail. Like the situations above, try doing a Save As to a different, known location. In practice, you should decompress the folder before opening the files for actual usage. The ability to open a compressed file is meant for examination of the file, not to work with the contents. 

Make sure you know the location where you're attempting to save the file. I have seen students save the file to a temporary folder: these folders are wiped clean by the system when you shut down, log out, or perhaps even just closing a particular program.

SAVE EARLY - SAVE OFTEN.

If you continue to have a problem, ask me.


Procedures

Section on class procedures:


Can I Redo an Assignment?

Almost any regular homework, or class assignment may be redone for a better grade if the original score of the assignment is below 80%. There are a few things to be aware of:

  • You must complete the redo within the time limit for late work, which is generally two weeks from the original due date. You get only one chance to redo an assignment.
  • The redo is subject to a late penalty the same as a regular late work. (This means the highest available score for that assignment will be 90%.)
  • Some assignments cannot be turned in late. They will be marked as such in the description of the assignment. 
  • Toward the end of the semester, there is a final cut-off date which may cause an assignment to have less than the normal two weeks for late submission.

What if I don't do the Final?

Want to know your grade if you don’t do (get a zero) on the final? Since we’re close to the end of the semester, the math is fairly simple: look up the percentage of your overall grade that the final accounts for, subtract that from 100%, and multiply the remainder by your current grade. Look over the example below:

Final = 15%, Current grade = 89.2%

 100% - 15% = 85%

 89.2 * 85% = 75.82% Final grade

You can see by this example that it is important that you at least make an attempt on completing the final. Even a fail on the final that equals only 37% brings the grade back to a “B”, and a low “A” on the final (about 91%) equates to a semester grade of “A”.


What is the grading scale used in class?

I use two different scales, depending upon the reporting period:

Letter Grade Percentage range
Weeks 1 - 15
Percentage Range
Final Semester Report Card
A 90.0% or higher 89.5% or higher
B 80.0 to 89.99% 79.5% to 89.49%
C 70.0 to 79.99% 69.5% to 79.49%
D 60.0 to 69.99% 59.5% to 69.49%
Fail Below 60.0% Below 59.5%

 

The brackets for the final report are somewhat lower to allow for various factors and are the only adjustments that I make on the grading scale.

On a point of history, in the past I have used other grading scales:
  • AP Econ used 8% brackets rathen than the 10% brackets shown above.
  • Computer repair used 80%=A, 70%=B, 62%=C, 55%=D. (This course was based on an industry standard exam that was a pass/fail test with 70% as passing.

How do I get onto the class network and class website?

The classroom network is separate from the class/course website: The classroom is an "open lab": there are no assigned logins on these computers. This has several implications to be aware of:

  • The systems are wiped clean of all work everytime they are restarted. If you save your work only to the class computer, it will not be there the next day, or possibly later the same day. Save your work to your Google Drive account.
  • Any work that you do not delete from the computer when you are done, could be accessed by someone in the following class. I would suggest deleting any files that you place on the computer before leaving class.

The account for the course website, you will be assigned during the first week of class, or shortly after your enrolment.

  • When you are assigned the account, you will be given your Student ID and PIN. Keep this information since you will need it to reset your password on a regular basis. (Your password will expire at least twice a year, requiring you to change it.)

If you forget your password, visit https://mylogin.lausd.net/Student/StudentAction.aspx?go=action_Student to change your password. 

Why did I get the comment "In danger of Failing"?

I use this mark for the five and ten week reporting periods for students that are in the "D" or "F" grade range. For the 15-week report card, I expand this comment to include students who have a "C".

I started doing this a number of years ago when a group of students decided to take it easy the last several weeks. By using this comment, it serves as a reminder that there is still a possibility of failure.

To repeat, this does not mean that a student will fail the course, but that a possibility does exist. Please keep completing your work. 

What do I name an assignment file?

Use a long file name which includes your first initial-last initial-assignment-extension. Normally, the program your using will supply the extension.

EXAMPLES:

John Smith working on lesson 1 (a word document) would turn in the file named: JS-lesson1.docx

Harry Potter working on Current Event #3 (a word document) would turn in the file named: HP-current event3.docx (or even HP-CE3.docx)

Eddard Barratharion having completed the Thrones assignment in Photoshop would turn in the file named: EB-thrones.psd

 

NOTES:

  • The program normally assigns the extension (the part of the name after the "."), if you change the extension, the file might become unreadable. This is a user error and extended time will not be given.
  • Although is is legal to use periods in file names, it is advisable to NOT use them since some programs may assign any part after a period as an extension, possibly making the file unreadable. Once this has occurred, the contents of the file might not be recoverable.
  • Do not manually type the extension portion of a file name unless specifically instructed in my classes: doing so my damage the file. 

How do I download images from my phone?

Downloading your photos from your phone is basically the same as downloading a file from any other storage media. Just follow the steps below after you have logged into your account.

Turn on, and if needed, unlock you phone. 

If you turn on, wake, and/or unlock the phone after plugging in the cable, you may cause the computer to lock requiring a hard boot of the system. 

Insert the large end of the USB cable into a port on the computer.

Make sure the screen on the phone is still active and unlocked, then plug the cable into the phone.

Sometimes an iPhone will ask if the computer should be trusted: confirm that it should be trusted.

On newer versions of Android, go to the setting menu and allow the computer access to the phone.

You should get an on screen notice, click on "Ask what to do", and select "Open folder"
You should see a folder with a name similar to 100 DCIM. If you need all the images you have shot, you can copy and paste this entire folder to your computer. Otherwise open this folder and copy out only the images you need. Each of these folders generally hold 100 images. When a folder has reached 100, a new folder with the next highest number is created. Thus, the newest images are in the highest numbered folder. 
  After you have donwloaded the image(s), eject your phone by right clicking on its icon in the launcher, and choosing Eject before disconnecting the cable. 

Edit only on locally stored images, not those on your phone. If your phone should go into sleep mode while a file on it is being edited, the computer stands a good chance of locking up. If this happens, disconnect your phone and restart the computer. Any work that was in progress is likely lost and will have to be redone. 

What browser do you use?

Images used for these FAQs were done on Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 10 and Ubuntu systems, running:

  • Firefox
  • Internet Edge
  • safari
  • Chrome

The images were captured over a period of several years, covering several versions of each browser, as well as several versions of the class site. This accounts for some of the minor variations you see from the supplied examples, and what is actually in your browser. These differences are cosmetic, and do not make any difference in the instructions for a particular task.

Why can't I open the file I recently closed?

Most likely, you accidentally changed the file extension for the file. Almost every file has an extension, 1 - 4 characters after the period in the file name that tells the computer what program opens that file. If those characters are missing, changed, or incorrect, the file probably won't open.

You might be able to rename the file with the correct extension, but it might not work, and the work will be lost. To determine the extension, look at the properties of another file that is similar to the one you're trying to correct. For example, Photoshop generally uses the extension PSD for the files it creates (but it can also save files in other formats, which have different extensions). Generally, capitalization is irrelevant in file names stored on a PC (It's often a different matter when dealing with servers).

Do not change the extension. Extended time on an assignment will not be given.

What file formats do you accept?

The file format to be uploaded/turned in may vary depending upon the assignment and/or class. Check the particular assignment for details.

A file name is made up of two parts:

The name of the file which is located to the left of a period and in many cases may be up to 140 characters in length, and the extension on the right of the period, usually three or four characters in length which denotes the type of file. Do NOT change the file's extension or the file will probably become unreadable.

Use a long file name which includes your first initial-last name-assignment-extension. Normally, the program your using will supply the extension. For Example:

  • i.e. J-smith-lesson-1a.txt
  • j-smith-video-essay.txt
  • j-smith-home-photo.jpg

Acceptable File Formats:

  • Text Documents - RTF, DOC, DOCX, ODT, TXT. 
  • Slide Shows - PPS, PPSX, ODS (unless otherwise stated in the assignment)
  • Image Files:
    • GIMP - XCF (unless otherwise stated in the assignment)
    • Photoshop - PSD (unless otherwise stated in the assignment)
    • Illustrator - AI (unless otherwise stated in the assignment)
    • Inkscape - SVG -  (unless otherwise stated in the assignment)
  • Programming:
    • C++ (cmd line) - CPP
    • Visual C++ - Compressed folder
    • Java - Compressed folder
  • Compressed files/folders - ZIP, TAR, 7Z, GZIP, CAB

NOTE: Any file that I cannot open is subject to a grade of zero.

Notice for Google Docs:

When you download a file from Google Docs, by default it is converted into a format for Microsoft Office. This format is perfectly acceptable for upload to my site. You may also use any of the other acceptable formats listed above.

Notice to Apple users:

Pay attention to the file format for the assignment. Generally, any format is acceptable accept for Notes. Any file that I cannot open is subject to a grade of zero. You can save in another fromat by using either the "Save As" or "Export As" functions from the menu.

How do I compress a file?

In the programming classes, programming assignments will be placed in a 'zipped' folder prior to upload. The process of zipping will compress the files, and combine multiple files into a single folder that is uploaded as a single file. This will make the process of turning in work simpler since each java or visual C++ project creates multiple files, and leaving one behind can cause the project to fail.

Other classes may also have a need to create a compressed folder of several files, or an entire folder. 

On each new assignment, create a new folder for that project, and I suggest that you use the name of the project so that as the semester progresses, it will be simpler to locate the project you want.

Below is a basic set of instructions for zipping the projects:

 

First, navigate  to the folder that contains the project and select the files. If you're compressing an entire folder, select the folder

Select Files or folders

 Right click on a selected file/folder, and choose 7-Zip > Add to Archive...

Select Add to Archive

 

On the next window, give the compressed folder a name (see the naming convention elsewhere in the FAQs).

Normally, the Archive format should be zip. Be sure to save it to a known location.

 

 This will create a new, compressed file at the location you specified. This may now be uploaded like any standard file subject to the same size limitations.

 

You should then save this file to your Google account in addition to uploading it to the assignment.

 

When are grades posted?

I attempt to grade all work on the day it is due: However, due to commitments outside of school, I will probably not grade any assignments on nights when I have a meeting to attend.

Grades will appear in three separate locations:

  • On your assignment page - This will show the grade for that particular assignment along with any comments.
  • On your grade page of the class website - This will show all of your grades for my class, along with the aggregate to date.
    • If it was a written assignment using Turn-It-In, comments will be on the submission page, and will not appear on the grade summary.

Work that is turned in late may not be graded until two weeks after the submission. Any work that is turned in after a grading cut-off may not be graded in time for inclusion on that particular grading period, but will be posted for the next grading period. The exception to this is the final semester cut-off: late work will not be accepted, nor graded after the semester cut-off.

Do you accept late work?

Yes.

It is considered late if:

  • it is turned in on paper after the posted due date and time. You are responsible for keeping check.
  • it is uploaded after the posted date/time listed in the assignment. (As determined by the server's time stamp. Note that the server's time, may be slightly different from that of the system you are using.)

If the assignment is late due to an excused absence, additional time will be given. See me on a case-by-case basis, but in general:

  • The absence must be cleared within three days of your return to school.
  • When turning in your assignment, make a comment at the top of the paper that the absence has been cleared.
  • If uploading the assignment, add a comment (located on the upload window of the assignment page) that the absence has been cleared.
  • If it's due to an absence, and the absence is not cleared within three days of your return, or is an unexcused absence (i.e. truancy), there is a 10% penalty per school day.
  • Work turned in after the due date/time may not be graded immediately and will probably not be graded until the late submission period expires. If a late assignment is submitted just after a grading period cut-off, it will likely not be included on that report card.
  • Most uploaded assignments will self-lock after the late period expires.

Late Penalty:

10% of the assignment's value, in addition to any deductions for errors/quality of the work

Resubmissions:

After I have completed the grading, you may resubmit an assignmet if you have scored below 80%. Resubmissions must be done within two weeks of the original due date. Additional notes:
  • Certain assignments will not be accepted late. These are noted in the assignment description.
  • Once an assignment has been redone, no further attempts are permitted.
  • Remember that all late work (other than excused), and resubmissions are subject to a 10% late penalty.

Final Cut-Off:

Toward the end of the semester there will be a final cut-off date after which no late work will be accepted. This will cause certain assignments to have less than the time periods listed above. 
 
* For APCS, the late penalty is 15%. All other conditions are the same.

 

 

How are weighted grades calculated?

Different categories of work may be worth different values. A 30 point homework assignment may not be worth as much as a 30 point class assignment in calculating the grade. The table below helps illustrate this:

Category

Percentage Grade in Category

 

Weight of Category

Contribution

Homework

81

 

10%

8.10

Class work

92

 

75%

69.00

Final

95

 

15%

14.25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Grade:

91.35%

In this example Homework is worth 10% of the overall grade, class work 75% and the final 15%. The score from each section is multiplied by that category’s weight, and then they are all added together to determine the final score. (Within each category, the percentage grade is determined simply by adding the total points earned, and dividing by the total points possible.)

Here is another example with different scores:

Category

Percentage Grade in Category

 

Weight of Category

Contribution

Homework

62

 

10%

6.20

Class work

75

 

75%

56.25

Final

75

 

15%

11.25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Grade:

73.70%

 

One item to note in the above examples is that all sections have scores. During the majority of the year, the Final does not have a score posted. In this case the calculation is slightly changed as this category is not included in the calculation:

Category

Percentage Grade in Category

 

Weight of Category

Contribution

Homework

81

 

10%

8.10

Class work

92

 

75%

69.00

Final

 

 

15%

0.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Grade:

90.71%

In this example, the total earned adds up to 77.1%, but because the final is has not been added in yet, the actual score is calculated as 90.71% (77.1 / .85 = 90.71) When the final is added in at the end of the semester, then we have:

Category

Percentage Grade in Category

 

Weight of Category

Contribution

Homework

81

 

10%

8.10

Class work

92

 

75%

69.00

Final

95

 

15%

14.25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Grade:

91.35%

 

This occurs for any category that has not had points assigned, not just the Final.

When extra credit points are given, it is possible for one category to total over 100% resulting in an overall increased grade:

Category

Percentage Grade in Category

 

Weight of Category

Contribution

Homework

102

 

10%

10.20

Class work

92

 

75%

69.00

Final

95

 

15%

14.25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Grade:

93.45%

 

All of these examples use the same weighting, which may or may not match a particular class. See the syllabus of your class to see what the actual weighting of categories is for your particular section.