ome of the long and twisted story of Redwood's
computer programming lab has been lost over the years. However, I am
fortunate enough to have had first-hand experience with the lab's past.
In 1992, the "279 Lab" was actually located in room 207. Back then the
lab was held together by shoestrings, gum, and a network genius we called
I hope the irony is obvious.
he lab was possessed. Luckily, we managed to
excise the demons (well, actually, we discovered that the old wiring in
the room couldn't handle all of the electricity needed, but the priest
was much more interesting). The lab consisted of aged 386's (Windows
3.1 loaded in a record time of 3 minutes), of which Ski Free was a
favorite game (though our teacher, Mrs. Farrin, hated it).
Mrs. Farrin's Llama
ime went on, people changed, and so did the
computers. Our beloved teacher, Mrs. Farrin, retired, 486's were
introduced into the lab (which moved to room 279), and Justin faced
graduation with dread. With the lab on the verge of death (no one else
knew a thing about Novell), Windows 95 and a new teacher named Goldsmith
saved the day.
oday, the lab consists of many high-speed
Pentiums all running Windows 95. The wiring is good, the air fresh
(even though the heater runs through summer), and the carpets clean.
There are even rumors that the lab might get some air conditioning
(probably just in time for winter).
n update, as of July, 1998: The
lab now contains 24 Pentium II computers running at a speed
of 300 MHz. A Linux (Unix) workstation has joined the 24
Windows 95 machines. Air conditioning has also just been installed
in the lab (as well as in Lab 281). In addition, a lot of other
gadgets have been added to the computers in the lab over the past
year or so.
nother update, as of August, 1999: Ten
of the computers are now 400 MHz Pentium II machines with 128 Megs
of RAM and Diamond Viper V550 video cards (the other 14 are still
Pentium II 300 machines with 64 Megs of RAM). They still run Windows
95. The Unix (Linux) workstation is still operational in the lab.
et another update, as of July, 2000: Twelve
of the computers are now 600 MHz Pentium III machines with 256 Megs
of RAM and Diamond Stealth III video cards. The ten Pentium II 400 MHz
machines are still there, along with just two of the Pentium II 300 MHz
computers. There are also two Celeron 466 MHz computers. All of the
computers now run Windows 98 (except the Linux workstation). The lab
now contains a color laser printer, two digital video editing stations,
and a surround sound audio/video presentation system (which contains a
receiver, DVD player, LCD projector, six speakers, and much more).
ere we are in August of 2001. Thanks to a
Digital High School grant from the state, the lab has received a lot
of new equipment. There are now 24 Pentium III 1000 MHz computers
with 512 Megs of RAM and G-Force2 video cards in the lab, each running
Windows 2000 Professional. There is also a brand new Macintosh G4
computer, as well as a Linux 7.1 workstation. Each of the 26 workstations
has an NEC 19-inch flatscreen monitor. We also have two new scanners
and 26 black leather adjustable-height swivel chairs with wheels! All
of the other equipment and accessories remain. It can't get much better
ow it's February of 2002. Thanks again to
even more Digital High School money, it can get better, as we were
able to purchase more computers and the lab now has 24 Pentium 4, 1.8 GHz
computers. They each still have 512 Megs of RAM, G-Force2 video cards, and
are running Windows 2000 Professional. We also got brand new monitors (the
same NEC 19-inch flatscreens), new Microsoft keyboards, and new mice. The
leather chairs and everything else is the same.
oving on to December of 2002. With Repair/Replace
funds we were able to once again purchase new computers for the lab. The
beige cases that we had used for years were no longer available, so we
decided to go with a black motif. The computers are Pentium 4, 2.53 GHz
machines with 512 Megs of RAM and G-Force4 video cards and are still running
Windows 2000 Professional (for various reasons we've decided to not upgrade
this lab to Windows XP). The monitors, keyboards, and mice have not changed.
However, due to a district that wanted to cram more computers into the lab, last
summer we were forced to replace the Macintosh G4 and the Linux workstation with
Windows 2000 machines. There are now 26 identical workstations in the lab.
t is April of 2003. Once again we are upgrading the
equipment in the lab, but this time it's just the monitors, keyboards, and mice.
The new equipment is all black, which completes the black motif which was started
back in December. With the black equipment and black leather chairs, Redwood's
finest computer lab now looks totally awesome!
e have arrived at July of 2005, and it is once again
time to update lab 279. Actually, for the entire past year our computer labs
have been located in temporary portable classrooms located on the opposite side
of the back parking lot of Redwood. The entire campus has been "modernized"
over the last few years, so every classroom and lab had to take turns being
stuck out in the trailer park. But now we are back in our newly renovated labs
in the main building. The rooms, for the most part, look quite good. We have
new ceilings and carpets, along with new (better) air conditioning. The
six-speaker surround sound audio/video presentation system in lab 279 has been
set up, along with a single Web-based camera that records the happenings in the
lab. The lab now has 29 workstations (up from the previous number of 26). Most
of the furniture, monitors, and accessories are the same, but we do have brand new
computers. The machines are all Dell Pentium 4, 3.4 GHz computers with 1 Gig of
RAM, ATI FireGL video cards, and Soundblaster Audigy sound cards. And, to top it
all off, we have finally upgraded to Windows XP Professional.
nce again, it's time for an update. It is now August of
2006, and lab 279 has a completely new set of computers. They are still Dell
Pentium 4, 3.4 GHz machines with 1 Gig of RAM, ATI FireGL video cards, and Soundblaster
Audigy sound cards. The main difference is that the cases are much more user-friendly,
with the USB ports being more accessible. In addition to the new computers, the
entire lab has been replaced with brand new swivel, rocking, adjustable-height
black leather chairs with arm rests and wheels. The old chairs served us well,
having lasted for five full years, but it was finally time to buy an entirely
new set. With luck these new chairs will last just as long. Keep your fingers
ust a quick update. It's December of 2007, and all of
the computers in lab 279 (except the front workstation) now have 19-inch flatpanel
(as opposed to flatscreen) monitors. Everything else is the same. Even the
(relatively) new chairs seem to be holding up fairly well.
ere we are two-and-a-half years later, in July of 2010, and
the computer lab has just been given a good cleaning. In addition, all 29 computers
have been replaced with brand new Dell Intel Core 2 Duo, 3.16 GHz machines. I got
rid of the three older HP scanners, leaving the lab with two scanners (more than
enough). The rest of the equipment in the lab remains the same, although I did get
rid of the two couches that were very old and falling apart, but I replaced them
with one new (well, used, but in good shape) couch.
ell, here we are just two years later, in July of 2012, and
the computer lab has NOT been given a good cleaning. Due to the installation of air
conditioners in the upstairs classrooms, the upstairs has been closed off for the
summer, so very little cleaning took place. Of course, the computer labs already had
air conditioning, but they were still inaccessible to the custodians. However, the
good news is that the lab has once again received all new computers. With some of the
latest programming and graphics software that has come out, it became necessary to get
even more powerful machines in the lab. Not only are the computers new, but after seven
years of running Windows XP, we have upgraded to Windows 7. The lab now contains 28
Dell Core i5-2400, 3.1 GHz machines and one i7-2600, 3.4 GHz machine. For right now,
everything else remains the same.
ow! It has been almost four years since the last update.
It is now May of 2016 and the lab has just received 28 brand new chairs. The previous
ones were starting to show their age. The new chairs are a somewhat different style,
but still comfortable, with good back support. They contain lots of "controls" and
can also be adjusted in many ways to fit each individual student's needs.
It's probably worth mentioning that I have just finished my third year of teaching
Geometry in the lab. Ever since the district killed the technology requirement, which
caused the Introduction to Computers class to disappear, the number of students taking
computer-related classes has dropped. Fortunately, the number of computer programming
students has remained constant, so I still (knock on wood) have three coding classes
each year (two beginning-level classes and an advanced programming class). But that
means I have two Geometry classes every year. To accommodate math students in my lab
I chose to get rid of the couch and replace the front-center area of my lab with
tables. While it was sad to see the couch go, this arrangement allows me to teach
math in the lab, which is preferrable to teaching my math classes in some other
Other than the above changes, the computers and accessories remain pretty much the
same. At the start of the school year, to accommodate a special needs student, we
did outfit one of the lab computers with dual monitors. The student is no longer
taking coding classes, but the dual-monitor setup remains, which is nice for the
student who happens to get that computer during each class period.
Oh, one more addition. A couple of months ago I purchased a "sit/stand" computer
station for my computer at the front of the lab. For the times when I go back and
forth between the computer and the whiteboard, if I have the station in the
"standing" position, I no longer have to keep sitting down to type on the computer
(just to stand up again to go back to the whiteboard). It's very cool, especially
for my Geometry classes.
ump to the fall of 2017. Lab 279 has just received a major
upgrade. For starters, we have 29 brand new computers in the lab. Each one is a
Dell Optiplex 3050 with a 3.2 GHz i5-6500 CPU and 8 GB of RAM. Each has a 500 GB
hard drive and is running Windows 7. In addition to the new machines, the lab also
has a complete set of new monitors (Dell P2017H, 19.5", LED-Lit) which, for the first
time, are widescreen. And, for the first time, these monitors not only tilt, but
also move up/down, turn left/right, and can even be rotated vertically. We also have
a complete set of new keyboards. The mice and headphones remain the same.
Also, I have removed the battery backups (uninterruptable power supplies) from most
of the computers in the lab. The front (my) workstation still has a large battery
backups, along with a few other pieces of equipment. Removing the backups made it
easier to accomodate the new computers, and I was tired of hearing the battery backups
beeping all the time (which they did whenever their batteries needed to be replaced).
At Redwood, the power rarely goes out, so this really shouldn't be a big deal.
ime for another update! It is now August of 2019, and the
computers in the lab have been upgraded to Windows 10 (Microsoft support for Windows
7 is ending soon). In addition, while the computers in the lab are the same, each
machine has been outfitted with a 250 GB solid state drive. Hopefully (and a lot of
hope is needed) these new drives will make the computers a bit faster. However,
since much of the slowless occurs when the computers are first turned on, and is
also a result of network communication, I'm somewhat skeptical. Time will tell.
t's now November of 2020, and guess what? I'll be retiring
from Redwood and the TUHSD next June. This is my 28th and last school year with the
district. To be honest, it's a little disappointing to end this way, given that due
to the Coronavirus, we've been in a distance/remote learning situation since last March.
Students have not even been in my computer lab at Redwood for seven months. Very sad.
Therefore, nothing has changed in the lab since the last update.
For the most part, it's been a good 28 years. I've always said that as long as I was
having fun (at least most of the time), I'd keep teaching at Redwood. But I think it's
now time for me to move on to other locations and adventures. At this point I don't
know who will be hired (if anyone) to replace me as Redwood's coding teacher. I can
only hope that the district will continue to offer beginning-level and advanced Computer
Programming classes to students.