Frequently Asked Questions

(Plus specific FAQs about Pro IT homework and Mulligans, click on this link.)

***But first a note about supported, and non-supported internet browsers: Chrome is not supported by this website; it results in too many weird glitches.

The Teacher

The Lab

The Courses

The Website

The Teacher

Who are you and where do you teach?

John Rayworth. I taught at the International School of Prague, Prague, Czech Republic from 2002-2015, during which I built this website and regularly maintained it.

What is your e-mail address?


Do you have a resume available?

Yes. It may be a little out of date, but here it is.

The Lab

Is there still a color printer in the school?

Yes, it's in the library.

Can I borrow one of your i-Pod cables? I'll put it back in your desk when I'm finished.


Can I borrow a laptop charger? I forgot mine at home.

Nope. But you can leave your laptop on my side desk and charge it there.

Why Macs? Why not PC?

Well, that's a good one, with a number of very good answers.. Click here for the full story. (It's part of another Q&A kind of document on the website.)

Is it true you have Windows in the lab too?

Yep, we run Windows XP and Vista (yes, Vista; it's not so bad) via Parallels Desktop.

How do I put Windows on my laptop?

You probably know you can do it through boot camp, and that you can do it another way. The other way is to buy a program like Parallels Desktop, which runs Window "virtually". With Bootcamp you don't have to spend the $70 USD on Parallels, but you still have to own a Window license. Either way if you are running Windows on another computer at home, you'll likely be able to legally use that licence again on your Mac.

The advantage of bootcamp, then, is that it doesn't cost you extra, and also that it will run absolutely like if it was on a PC. But I'd still suggest Parallels, with its advantage that you can switch live between the two operating systems, simply with an alt-tab. And you'll hardly notice the difference in speed and operation between Windows via Bootcamp or Parallels. You can just download and pay for Parallels directly from the Internet.

How come there's a computer lab; why don't we just use our laptops?

There are two factors: the desktop computers themselves, and the "lab" nature of a computer lab. With the computers themselves, desktop computers can be more powerful, in terms of storage capacity, processing speed, and RAM memory. This is not necessarily so, depending on the desktops and laptops in question, but certainly for most of the lives of the "pimped-up" Power Macs in the ISP instructional lab, they will out-perform a typical MacBook or even MacBook Pro. The other factor that is most often the case (though not necessarily so) is that the screen real-estate of the monitors will be greater on the desktop computers. These advantages are particularly important when you are using professional applications like Logic, Maya and Flash. In the case of Logic, you're dealing with files over a Gigabyte, with Maya, it's the rendering that needs raw power, and with all three screen real-estate is at a premium for optimal usage.

Then there's the "lab" nature of a computer lab. One thing you might not immediately recognize is the implications of having the monitors visible at all times to the instructor. It's nice to be able to check Facebook occasionally in the middle of social studies class, but it could be argued that this doesn't help your uptake of social studies. Regardless, when working with sophisticated programs, it is important for your teacher (me) to keep an eye on how you are doing so that you can be helped or guided when necessary. The other advantage of a lab of computers versus student owned laptops is that expensive software can be more economically shared. In the lab we have several costly applications and suites of applications that are affordable only because we need just the 17 licenses that everyone shares. And then there are all the myriad other little applications that are found on the lab computers and not on your laptops. The downloading and updating of all these applications is also easier and more efficient in a lab environment.

Still, there are times that your laptop will be more appropriate, even in the lab. A good example of this is your websites, and iWeb. You'll want to maintain your iWeb website on your own computer so that you can update it from home, and continue to update it after you finish the ITF course. The maintenance unit is another obvious time for you to be working on your laptops instead of the lab machines, so that you can learn to optimize and maintain your own machines.

Why is the lab air conditioned, even in winter?

The computers, and the big CRT monitors give off lots of heat. So even in the dead of winter, the room would be uncomfortably warm if there was no air conditioning. On a related note, a couple of the corners of the room are quite warm, and the work stations directly under the air conditioners are a bit cool.

When is the lab open?

It's open before school (I usually get here about 7:50 or 7:55 a.m.), at breaks, lunch, and after school until 4:00 p.m. If you still need to use a computer after 4:00, the library is open until 5:00 p.m.

Is there a stapler here?

In fact there are two. The attached strings are what keeps this so. One stapler is on the central tables, and one is over by the printer.

How come I can't save to the desktop?

The desktops are all locked. The computers are in shared administrator accounts, and it gets very messy if people all save their files to the desktop. Just save any other place, for instance, the Public folder.

How come you have old fashioned monitors as big as my grandmother's T.V.?

Because they're really good - much better than any LCD monitor that was available when we purchased them, and only a fraction of the cost. And even with the maturity of LCD technology, many experts (multimedia professionals in particular) argue that you can't beat a good CRT monitor. The main reason monitor companies are are phasing out CRTs is so that they can sell their new products. It's no longer an argument worth making, since it's a fait-de-complete, but in several respects old fashioned CRT technology still beats all but the costliest flat panel technology, particularly in terms of color accuracy and what I call softness on the eye.

What block is it?

You're asking the wrong person. I have a harder time to keep track than you do. There are days when I just teach whoever come in the door, whenever they do. :-)

Can I borrow some scissors and tape, please? I'll bring them right back.

Tape, yes; I've got all kinds. What's your pleasure: wide masking tape, narrow masking tape, scotch tape, black duct tape (you can build cities with the stuff), or my personal favourite, hockey tape? And for scissors, you're welcome to reach into the top drawer of my desk and use the ones there. But they are attached to a string. (In case of an emergency, I'm sure you'll figure out what to do.)

How come you have Mac Pros, and Shack has iMacs?

We have Mac Pros because Mac Pros rock. Though, it's interesting that at the time of writing (early 2010) it's one of those times where the top-of-the-line Apple product is almost being overtaken by the processing power of the i-Mac; but this normally isn't the case. The one thing that is always going to put "tower" computers in an advantageous position over an "all-in-one" computers is its capacity for expansion and upgrade. Where it is very easy to replace and add hard drives to Mac Pros, not to mention expansion cards, and memory to a lesser extent, it's not easy with an iMac.

Who knows where the circa 2008 Mac Pro vs. 2008 iMac story will go, but an instructive example is to look at the the 2003 "G4" tower versus the e-macs of that year. Five years into their lives, the G4s were still rocking and rolling with some pretty amazing and memory intensive applications which were only dreams five years earlier, whereas the e-macs were not able to keep up with those kinds of applications.

Still, the present price of Mac Pros makes them out of the reach just about everybody, not least, most schools. For whatever reason, when we in the market to replace our "power" lab, we were made an offer we couldn't refuse, with the Mac Pros only slightly more expensive than iMacs of equivalent specs. And the other factor to consider, was that we already had good monitors in great shape.

What if I have a problem with a computer at break and you're down having your doughnut?

Well, there will usually be someone in the lab that has computer geek tendencies, and who would be more than willing to help you. If not, just use another computer. And if you really get stuck and are in a hurry, check next door to see if Shack is there.

Why aren't the computers locked down or in user accounts, rather than administrator accounts?

For one, using and managing accounts bit of a pain. And on a technical note, the permissions associated with accounts in Mac OSX are still prone to problems, so keeping things simple with one account seems to keep things running smoothly. And in terms of everyone having access to the wonderful climate of our school comes into play: people are entirely respectful of each other's work, and so sharing does not pose a problem. The other thing you might not think of is that it makes it much easier for the maintenance and upgrading of the lab, since there is never a need to switch to an administrator account. Another "by-the-way" is that there are several crucial things that are "locked down" through this-or-that utility or technique. And then there's that how-did-we-live-without-it wonder TimeMachine.

If you are an I.T. teacher, then why do you have all those yellow stickiest on your desk?

I figure that the brain is a single-processing unit (aside from the ROM-esque lower-brain stem functions like breathing), and for me thoughts and ideas all end up being boiled down to a single statement. I find it convenient to record these as they come to me on yellow stickies. And there is a "mind map" aspect to this as well, if you're familiar with mind maps. By scribbling down things with a pencil in a unique way, I tend to remember and assimilate things better than if they were all written down in Times New Roman normal, size 12. And eventually, my stickies do make it into an organized digital form. This FAQ is a typical example.

How come you have posters of Ethiopia on your walls?

Well, I used to live there, and still love this incredibly interesting country. And also, on a facetious note, I've been so busy since leaving there ('90s) that I haven't gotten around to buying new posters. :-/

My laptop doesn't work. (Not a question, but the response is here.)

I can certainly take a look at it. But if I can't figure out quickly what it is, you could try the boys downstairs in the I.T. office (around the corner from the theatre, before you go up the stairs to the upper school). But ultimately, if it's a laptop bought through the agreement we have with Apple.cz, you should take it back to them to have a look at it; that's part of the deal we have with them.

Did you make that origami?

Nope. Tamiko, class of 2009 did. Pretty cool, huh?

The Course

Is there homework?

Yes. Though for ITF courses, the homework doesn't start until about three weeks in. But then it continues for every class. That way you'll know that you do have homework each time. The good new is that it's almost always able to be done in 15 to 20 minutes, and a lot of the times it's fun, and most often you're bound to find it interesting. For ITF, refer to the homework section of the course guide for more details.

What if computers don't like me?

Pugh-lease. That's all just a figment of your imagination. Never-the-less, one of the purposes of our I.T. courses here at I.S.P. is to make sure everyone is relaxed and comfortable with computers, as well as being efficient and informed with regard to I.T..

When is stuff due?

You don't have to worry about this one. There will be lots of time to finish all major assignments. In terms of homework, that's different; each homework assignment is due uploaded to the website at 11:00 p.m. the night before the next class. Refer to the next point about mulligans and S.O.A.s for when homework does not get uploaded by this time.

What are mulligans and S.O.A.s?

For more details, refer to one of the course guides, but basically, here's the deal. A "mulligan" comes from the world of golf, where when a group goes off for a round, and they agree that everyone can use a mulligan, meaning a replay of a bad shot. You get four mulligans a semester for missed homework. Do note that you still have to do the questions, but you can upload them at any time, for full credit.

And an S.O.A. stands for "Sick Or Away". You can upload a homework asssignment as S.O.A. whenever you are either sick or away. You do not have to upload the homework assignment by the 11:00 p.m deadline, and you may choose to make it up for full credit, or just have it not count.

How come there's a course in I.T.? Don't you just use I.T.?

Sure, and you just use math and English too. (That's the cute answer.)

There are two ways you can really learn something, as far as I'm concerned: you can use it, or you can teach it to someone else. "You learn to play soccer by playing soccer", it's true. And it's true that integration of computers into other subjects is the best way to learn to appropriately use a computer. But in soccer you still do drills and "chalk talk", and there is also a time and a place for I.T. instruction. It is best done in conjunction with the application of that skill or concept. For example, it would be best to learn about Excel functions in the same class that you apply them, for example, during a math or science project. Your core subject teachers, in conjunction with the I.T. integration specialist (Shack in the Upper School, and it will be Mr. Green starting school year 2010-11) can take a limited amount of time for this. But there are certain things that are nice to do in a dedicated I.T. class too, and to a deeper depth.

The way things are structured now at ISP, we are counting on you picking up most of the common I.T. productivity skills and concepts via integration. And through both the middle school and upper school laptop programs, that should work out fine. Still, in an ideal world, you'd have a bit more dedicated I.T. instruction of productivity apps. Meantime, the ITF course, focuses on applications beyond those used by the general public; one if it's main roles is to focus on applications used by I.T. professionals.

According to O.E.C.D. around 9% of professional jobs in the developed world are I.T. jobs. That means that almost ten percent of each ISP graduating class will be heading off to a career in I.T. And that percent holds about right. So the ITF course aims to introduce all students to this part of the work world by exposing you to the kinds of things that I.T. professionals do; it's all pretty fun and interesting. An imprtant side effect of this is to increase your overall computer application skills and general knowledge of I.T.

What other I.T. courses can I take after ITF?

The name of it changes just about every semester, but there's always a course that fits nicely between ITF and IB computer science. Presently it focuses on game production using Flash and it's associated scripting language, Actionscript. It's great in that it introduces programming without being too much for a typical student. Also in this course, if taken for a second semester, is 3D modeling and animation using a suite of applications from the company Autodesk, primarily May and Motion builder, the two main application used in the production of Avatar and most other top animated movies.

Shack offers two other electives, that, though officially residing in the Fine Arts department, are I.T. based. Multimedia is a course in graphical design using, primarily, Photoshop. And Audio Editing takes the Logic that was introduced to you in ITF and takes it to a more professional level.

And the pinnacle of the I.T. course structure here at ISP is IB Computer Science. Anyone interested in I.T. or engineering as a future profession should strongly consider taking this course, as computer science is the foundation of all technology now-a-days.

The Website

Why .info; why not .com, .edu, .cz, or .net?

It's cheaper. And the registration of the domain name is the only thing I can't do myself.

Why don't you use Stroodle?

Though I like playing hockey and biking to school, I still have computer geek tendencies. I enjoy the challenge of running my own version of what is properly called Moodle. Furthermore, it gives me full control of what I can offer via my website. Stroole is fine for basic uploading, and has many fine features, but I have several kinds of assessment forms which are beyond the capabilities of Stroodle. There are also a lot of "teacher-side" grade-keeping etc. features that are both customized and customizable by me on my website. It also helps me practice the programming that I teach in upper level courses.

What's up with the 0s and 1s?

Well, you probably figured out how to use the 0s and 1s of the sign-up page to confirm your user account. And you might recall that this is my way of assuring real humans are signing up to my website. Otherwise a robot computer could launch a "denial-of-services" attack on my website by trying to register millions of accounts all at once. I use 0s and 1s because computer instructions at their most basic form are "0"s and "1"s (though they are actually magnetic and more strongly magnetic regions on a hard drive, or switches on or off on microprocessing chips.... more on that later).

What if I have a problem uploading my homework?

First of all, don't worry too much about it. It's happened before, and will happen again. Sometimes I just make a mistake readying the homework, and other times there might be an error in my behind-the-scenes coding. What I would ask, is that you e-mail me and let me know as soon as it happens. That way if I'm checking my e-mail at that time, I'll be able to go into the website and address the problem before it affects other students.

How do you "host" your own website? And, actually, what does "host" mean in the first place?

I've got a couple of fairly inexpensive applications installed on my computer that allow me to host this and all the other students websites. To host simply means to keep all the files that make up a website on a server that can be accessed via the internet. So this file, and all others on both your and my website, are simply files located in a certain folder on the computer beside my desk in the lab. If you want to see more details of how to host, you can watch this video.

How come your sign-in page is fancy, but the rest is boring, like this page, for example?

What do you mean boring?? Well, Ok, there are more exciting pages on the web. One of my "Rule Number One"s for my programmers is "make it work before you make it fancy." And I'm still making it work. But I also know that a good first impression is important, so the sign-in and home pages are made with Flash. One day the rest website may be fancy too, even this page.