mamamusings: June 10, 2003

elizabeth lane lawley's thoughts on technology, academia, family, and tangential topics

Tuesday, 10 June 2003

server problems

Apologies to anyone who tried to post comments or send trackbacks yesterday. Our department moved the web server to a new machine, and all my cgi scripts stopped working. Every one of them began spitting out “Premature end of script headers” errors. Just my scripts, mind you, not anyone else’s. And without any changes on my part. Don’t you just love those kinds of maddening situations?

At any rate, our sysadmin made the extra effort to track down the problem last night, and things started working again around 8:30pm. What was it? Well, apparently with the redhat/apache combo we’re now running, if your UID is lower than 500 no scripts will run.

On the plus side, this is the kind of thing that means our students will have job security for the foreseeable future.

Posted at 7:34 AM | Permalink | TrackBack (0)
more like this: technology

summer blogs blooming

Remember how it felt to be a kid at the end of the school year, free of constraints, summer stretching out in front of you like an endless open road? That feeling, my friends, is one of the reasons that so many of us put up with the vagaries and frustrations of the academy.

You can almost hear the chant beginning in the minds of the professoriate as we emerge, robed and grinning, from the commencement ceremonies. No more classes, no more books, no more students’ dirty looks! (What, you thought we were more grownup than that? Ha! Ha HA!)

But once we’ve plowed through a few novels, taken in some movies, soaked up a little trash TV, and caught up on 9 months’ worth of lost sleep, many of us start looking around for A Project. Something fun, but with tangible ROI. Something relaxing, but still challenging.

What better time to take up blogging? Apparently some of my colleagues agree. To wit, two of my best friends at RIT, Elouise Oyzon and Cathy Irving, have launched new blogs in recent weeks. With luck, they’ll take root quickly and bloom during the summer months! Why not stop by, and extend an encouraging comment or two? Think of yourself as a blog gardener, pouring much needed water (or, depending on how you view your contributions, fertilizer…) on newly planted perennials.

Posted at 7:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (1)
more like this: friends

help wanted: graduate research assistant

Looks like we’ll be receiving our notice of award from NSF in the next week or two, which means it’s time to find the third member of our team—the graduate assistant. It’s a two-year full-ride assistantship—full tuition for two years, and a $16,000 yearly stipend, in exchange for 20 hours/week of work on the project. It does not include summers, although summer money may also become available. (Keep in mind, too, that this is Rochester, NY, where the cost of living is very low compared to major metro areas.)

This is a two-year grant to study the experiences of women in undergraduate IT programs. Here’s how we described it in the proposal abstract:

The proposed research will study the experiences of undergraduate women in departments of Information Technology (IT). Most research to date into womenĚs experiences in undergraduate computing programs has focused on Computer Science departments. IT programs have cast themselves as qualitatively different from traditional CS. It is unclear, however, whether womenĚs experiences in these programs are more positive than in CS, where retention of female students has been consistently problematic. This study will be done in two parts. The first will be a qualitative study of women entering the IT department at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) as freshmen. These women will be interviewed upon entrance into the program, at the end of their first quarter, and at the end of the academic year. Based on the information gained in that study, key factors related to womenĚs persistence or attrition will be identified. The second part of the study will be the development of a questionnaires for faculty and students intended to identify the presence and influence of those factors in academic departments. The questionnaire will then be administered at departments of IT across the US, in order to determine whether the factors identified at RIT are generalizable across institutions.

The qualitative methodology we’ll be using in the first portion of the study is Brenda Dervin’s Sense-Making, which is what I used in my dissertation research (on attrition in LIS doctoral programs).

What we’re looking for in our “ideal” graduate assistant is someone who has a background in social science research, strong writing skills, and good interpersonal skills (to help with interviewing subjects). They’ll also need to meet the admissions requirements for the MS IT program—which are not terribly stringent. (3.0 GPA, and basic programming and web skills, essentially.)

In addition to the opportunity to work with two very fun researchers (myself and Tona Henderson) on an interesting NSF grant (and associated publications), you’ll get a top-notch technical education. The next two years will be exciting ones in our program as we begin to expand the range of course offerings and focus on targeted areas like game development and social software, and XML.

If you’re interested, or know somebody who is, please contact me directly, at ell at mail dot rit dot edu.

Posted at 8:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (1)
more like this: research
Liz sipping melange at Cafe Central in Vienna