Debbie Cook

Apr 2017

This is by far the worst course I have taken here. I am specializing in security so I have other security CS classes, and can compare. It's just really bad. The content overlapped with other classes too much. I have learned more from single assignments in other classes than I did from this entire class. Debbie seems to mean well but is unfortunately a terrible teacher. Her lectures are boring and honestly I could barely even hear her. She stares at her own slides and doesn't see you when you raise your hand to ask a question. Her notes are poorly organized and written in sentence fragments that leave out crucial context. She has basically no office hours. In the first lecture, I thought it was weird how she placed such strong emphasis on how important it was to come to class on certain days; it quickly became clear that this was because everyone was about to realize how useless it was to go to her class. I skipped about half of them and did better than almost anyone on the midterm. The written homeworks were boring and felt like busywork. I answered them 100% correctly, and the TA even admitted as much, but regretted that he had to take off points by following the specific wording of Debbie's answers. The programming was better but was rare. In 4119 we implemented a toy cut-down version of TCP; how about implementing a toy cut-down version of a TLS handshake? That's what I thought this class was about, not reading news articles about Android malware. The group project was a huge waste of time. I could have done the entire thing myself in two days but wasted a huge amount of time trying to coordinate with my randomly selected group. The program itself was pretty lame, too, and had all kinds of arbitrary/ambiguous requirements that were more annoying than useful.

May 2008

Avoid this like the plague. Three-hour lectures are spent reading man pages (in roughly the tone of voice that you'd expect a man page to be read). Long, unguided homework assignments are spent mostly figuring out the details of Java libraries rather than doing actual work. Then they're graded seemingly at random... a friend got 25 points off for a non-preferred commenting style! A giant waste of time, and damn hard to sit through.