Tuesday, March 6, 2012

First impressions of 6.002x interface

Impressions of the 6.002x interface in the beginning:
  • Wanted to see "Homework" and "Labs" on the top menu bar. Took some time to see that the assignments were embedded within the Coursework tab with due dates in hard-to-see gray. This was well discussed in the intro materials though. (I had jumped into the simulator without listening to any video lectures on its use. Shame on me!)
  • Circuit simulator interface:
    • Pros:
      • Looks really great -- attractive and friendly. The graph paper backdrop and snap-to-grid are great ideas.
    • Cons, or suggestions:
      • Where's the save button that you are talking about?
      • There should be an option to have the circuit simulator as a pop-up. (Like pop-up for emails in the Gmail interface.) Necessitates scrolling up and down on a small monitor like the one I am using on my laptop.
      • Can't figure out how to delete some unnecessary node markers (black dots). Annoying to me since I like my diagrams to be very clean... Oh, figured it out after a few minutes.
I wonder how frightening the circuit simulator is for students who have no prior experience with electronics... I recall that my first discussion of resistors and circuit schematics as a freshman at MIT was very intimidating (I ended up dropping the seminar electronics class then, only to return as a junior in the EECS program).

I personally like it though. It feels like a (simplified) UI for SPICE (e.g. "dc", "ac", "trans") and has similarities to the EAGLE schematic editor. Both could be useful as 6.002x students transition into more advanced modeling and fabrication in the future.

Really fascinating stories on the 6.002x `Discussion' page where people are introducing themselves. Participants range from high school students in China to professionals who have done ASIC design for years, and others who just want to see "if their brain still works." Also noticing that people are "partnering up" for the class based on location. Really great.

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