The End is Near

We got the dates for the two remaining exams. The oral exam for the Certified Tester module will be on Thursday in the first week of July, exactly three weeks from today. The written exam for IT security will take place on the same day in the following week. The compulsory choice module lecture and practicum will meet only once more; IT security, three times. After that, no more courses ever, in this study program. It’ll be over. You can measure what remains–the tangible stuff, that is, actually being here as part of the curriculum, learning new things–in hours rather than days now.

What a strange feeling. I am beginning to think of things like using up the money stored on the electronic student card for coffees in the cafeteria, lest I’ll no longer need it. My UAS email account will be gone. Scan its archives for stuff I want to save? Clone all code I’ve written in the past years from the CS department’s Gitlab server to which I’ll no longer have access? Likewise, I’ve become totally used to synchronizing my files using the department’s OwnCloud. Having everything automatically available on every computer I use. Not being able to do that will be hard to adjust to.

I’ll no longer be a student. Have no connection to a university, at all, for the first time since 1991.

Two exams in two weeks, in any case, will be quite relaxed. In one week you can usefully prepare even for a written exam with no crib allowed. (And not having to write one is a relief in itself. For one thing, I won’t have to argue over whether we should be allowed to type it.) Besides, the contents of the IT security lecture are quite limited. And there are plenty of Altklausuren available, and as usual with the technical CS professors they’ve been similarly structured for many years, so we know quite what to expect.

Certified Tester is not nearly as predictable. The official lecture slides are 800 pages of wall of text, packed with definitions that all sound very much alike (Testentwurfsspezifikation, Testfallspezifikation, Testablaufspezifikation, Testausführungsplan …). Overly pedantic and bureaucratic–very German, to be honest. True, the oral exam will not cover all that content, though the bulk of it will be relevant. And judging from the available Altklausuren–even though our own exam will be oral rather than written, it’s still the same professor–the questions could be quite nasty. Finding anomalies in a confusing piece of C-style source code. Or worse, spontaneously coming up with one of your one that contains a given anomaly.

And a couple of weeks later we’ll have the chance to take the official Certified Tester examination at UAS. When indeed the entire content of the slides will be relevant. So we’ll have to know it by heart anyway. Sooner later. I guess I’m opting for sooner.

In fact, as I usually do, I’ve been studying my flashcards (packed with those redundant definitions) for months now. On the short trip to Dresden we took a month ago (beautiful city, sunny summer weather) I spent four hours on the train, both directions, trying to cram that verbal spam into my brain.

Well, we’ll manage. Honestly, this will be one of the most relaxed exam periods ever.

Making great headway writing the thesis, meanwhile. In a few days I’ve completed a brief chapter on technologies and written one half of a major chapter on the architecture and implementation of the project. Mind you, I’m not at all happy with it, because as I said I have very little to really write about, except the countless iterations of trial and error until I had halfway useful design which then I didn’t do a lot with because I was out of time. It’s an eery feeling, writing 80 pages about not a lot at all. Although it should feel familiar to an academic!

But I guess it will serve. I have thought about things long and good, I have programmed quite a while, and I am writing a first-class text packed with citations. It should be good enough. Compared with what other people have gotten A’s for.

And since the exams will now have to take priority, writing the thesis will certainly continue well into July, and probably into August. So a tenuous link to UAS will remain for a while even after this final term is over. Maybe I’ll even see one or two of my co-students around?

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