He aces the computer class

My sixteen week computer programming course at Irvine Valley College is finished. As promised, I want to give a final report on this interesting experience.

For those not familiar with computer programming, it is the written statements that a person composes that get translated into instructions that the computer uses to bring the screen to life. The Microsoft Windows operating system, for instance, is composed of tens of millions of these statements written by hundreds of programmers. And the programmers writing Windows had to start with the syntax and rules that we were learning.

Seth Hochwald, Professor of Computer Information Systems, did a fine job of successfully getting us through this long and detailed course. I did learn a few extracurricular things from Seth. It is better to use an old towel to erase the white boards than the normal eraser. His towel, once blue, has turned black with use but still does an excellent job of erasing writings on the board. It also makes sense to bring in a large water cup to sip on during long lectures. For us teachers, these are good things to remember.

The course itself was interesting. Computer programming can be a very dry subject. It is like learning a new language. It has syntax and rules and does not tolerate mistakes. Insert a comma instead of a period (dot) and get an error.

I did make a mistake in my original column. My fellow students were not all teenagers. A number of them were in their twenties and one or two were in their thirties. Never-the-less, my gray hair did stand out. Seth has premature gray hair but he was the teacher so that doesn’t count.

My emotions are mixed about us older students taking regular academic college courses. My motivation was for the fun of taking a new course and stretching my mind (neurons and synapses). The other students were taking the course as part of a curriculum leading to degrees. I felt their reasons for being there were much more cogent than mine. While I had questions in my mind about the “whys,” “where’s this going,” and “how is this used,” I didn’t feel that I should distract Seth from his objective of helping the regular students learn the material.

In spite of this reservation, I recommend looking at the course offerings at the many colleges in the area. Like this course, they can keep the neurons happy and the synapses snapping.

I must share a funny story about one of the students however. I asked him what he was going to do next. He said he was thinking of going on to a computer science curriculum at a four year college but didn’t know that at his age, 28, his mind was still capable of learning the material. He thought his mind was slowing down appreciably! At over twice his age, I had to laugh.

Now that this course is over, I am going to miss Seth and his friend Nick who came to visit at the end of each class. They made these 16 weeks very interesting and entertaining. Surprisingly, I am going to miss the homework. Even though it took hours, the required discipline and attention to detail was, to me, the most mind stretching of the entire experience.

So, don’t be intimidated by these college courses. Take one or more and have fun. Incidentally, I did receive an “A” in the course.

If you would like to hear more about these courses or other computer topics, visit “Coffee and Computers” at the Tustin Area Senior Center, 200 S. ‘C’ Street, any Friday morning starting at 9 a.m. Bring your questions or just come in and visit.

In the mean time, keep the neurons happy, synapses snapping and enjoy computing.


Dr. Art Holub is a long time resident of Tustin and teaches computer and Internet courses at the Tustin Area Senior Center and the Tustin Adult School. Visit his web site at: This column is written to address the computer adventures and concerns of older adults. If you have comments, questions or suggestions for future columns, Email HIM at:

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