Thursday, September 04, 2008

Course web pages, LaTeX, and Mercurial — Oh, my!

I have been assigned to TA yet another different course for the Autumn 2008 quarter. That was a bummer for me because I have been taking instruction way too seriously, and it has been taking up way too much of my time. However, I've been pretty happy with the results. I've been getting flattering praise and very helpful feedback. More importantly for this post, I've been producing lots of revision-controlled content that can be used for reference or as examples.

The four course web pages that I've produced so far...I've tried to generate lots of reference material all with LaTeX, and I've tried to put the sites together so that everything can be build via standard Makefiles. I've put all of the source code (minus the exams/quizzes) at my public Mercurial repository home:In my latest adventure, ECE 209, I'm going to give my students extra credit if they use TeX for any assignments they hand in. So I've put getting-started information at those web pages, and they can use the Mercurial repositories for more working examples.

I'm really a lot more proud of this work than I thought I'd be. I'm actually looking forward to the new ECE 209 class. It's the youngest group of college students I've taught since a long time ago, and I think it will be interesting. Yesterday I went through and got the lab in order. I put up instructive signs about how to use oscilloscope probes and pin-outs of commonly-used ICs. I numbered all of the tables. I added notes to the function generators telling them how to set them for high impedance output termination. Earlier I went through and repaired all of the phase-shifter circuits (out of 16 circuits, only about 4 were working, but the other 12 could be easily repaired with a little solder and/or a new op-amp IC) and added a little instructive page on how they work. Now all that's left is the actual experience that will make me even more jaded and realize that all of that work was for nothing. :)

Meanwhile though... Lots of free LaTeX examples and circuit references. Yay!

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