The Anna University, under the new regime of the complete idiot Vishwanathan, wrapped up all the exams for the even semester within a short span of two weeks. As an indirect consequence, a lot of people lost many hours of sleep as they had to stay awake till late into the night watching the men in blue snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The fact that cricket matches are played is in itself a direct consequence of looming exams. Every exam was held every alternate day, which was a blessing in disguise, as the possibility of a candidate (read Sundar) forgetting the date and over-sleeping is greatly reduced. Usually exams are held once every three days. The study holidays before the exams, three days of holidays between each exam and the next, and the stretch of holidays after the exams usually have the combined effect of making one feel he’s writing exams in-between a long stretch of holidays. This time round, however, things were different and the exams were all over before one could say Jack Robbins, or whatever one wished to say, because anyway people weren’t paying attention to what one said because they were too busy studying. I am not making much sense am I?
The first exam was something called Computer Architecture. This is a very interesting subject, as I discovered seven hours before the start of the exam. People said it was tough, but I thought it was challenging. Maybe I will have to swallow my words if I flunk it. A day later, we had to write something called Operating Systems, which dealt with how an operating system would go about its task of producing the blue screen of death. This too turned out to be very interesting, but the paper was a terrible bore as there was no work for the brain, whereas my hand worked itself to death. One more day later we had to write a paper called Probability and Queuing Theory where a student’s aptitude is judged based on his ability to memorize totally useless and abstract theorems and the variety of symbols he uses. I mean, who has ever heard of a barber who calculates the number of customers in his shop assuming a Poisson distribution of arrivals where the service rate is assumed to be exponentially distributed? He would be better off doing a head count. With that, the first phase of the exams got over.
The next phase began with Visual Programming. This happens to be the most counter-intuitive programming language ever invented, and no prizes for guessing who invented it – Microsoft. Even though the exam was more than three days away, I started studying as soon as I came home –But that was not to be. There I was trying to make sense out of what Charles Petzold means when he makes tongue-in-cheek remarks like “Creating a window is as easy as calling the createwindow() function –Well, not really”, when some of my friends called me to the nearby ground to play, and that’s what I ended up doing. I read the preface thoroughly in both the books (the only comprehensible parts), and had a few doubts as to whether Kruglinski really died in a paragliding ‘accident’. What I mean is that one of his students could easily have done him in -A knot tied the wrong way would have done the trick. And he would not be without motive. At the end of the exam, I swore that if ever I could get my hands on that Petzold guy I would hack his right arm right off. If time permitted, I would make sure I cut his arm above the windows tattoo that he supposedly wears on his right bicep. Next came a paper called Analog and Digital Communications. Incidentally, we had the most un-communicative lecturer for this subject. Forty-five hours of slogging through phase locked loop circuits, Crosby direct transmitters, digitally encoded binary shift keying theorems and three hours of staring at blank sheets of paper later, we came out feeling absolutely rotten. The next exam was the Electrical Engineering and Control Systems paper. This subject, contrary to popular perception, happens to be a core subject for computer engineers. Once again people spent a day and a half trying to figure out the working of the three phase induction motor that could start itself due to the presence of a rotating magnetic flux (whatever that means) and the Nyquist criterion to find the stability of an independent second order system (you just said it was an independent system –why bother with it? Leave it alone!). The paper setters here pulled off a stunt that has no precedent in the lamentable history of Anna University. Normally they ask problems based on the theories students study. This time however, they, under the impression that they were going to set a challenging paper, set questions that asked students to write long-winded essays on how to solve the problem, rather than asking them to solve the problem itself. So, that was that, and with a month of holidays ahead, there’s nothing to stop me from achieving my wildest ambition ever (sleeping thirteen hours a day).
Why did I name this post the Jean Sequence? Wait and find out.