CitySpace Obituary: Neal Sumner

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Here are Neal’s CitySpace memories:

CitySpace obituary

9.59 on January 5th 2004 and the clocks are ticking loudly in the 4 Drysdale computer labs where 250 silent students are sitting expectantly at their terminals waiting for their Informatics examination to begin. As the second hand moves towards the vertical, hundreds of pairs of eyes are staring at the screens waiting for the multiple choice quiz to appear. Tick… Tick… Tick…. 10.00, sixty seconds drip by… 10.01 comes and goes

Invigilators and students are getting fidgety, where is the quiz????

All had been set up back in December when, with customary thoroughness, my friend and colleague Steve Gallagher (who returned to New Zealand for the Christmas holiday) had collated the questions, set up the quiz, tested the processes to destruction and had me sign in blood that I would be there to provide the technology support on the day and that nothing could possibly go wrong in this, the first high stakes assessment using CitySpace for the department of Computing.

10.03 and still the screens are blank. What can possibly be wrong? We had looked at every eventuality but why wasn’t the quiz appearing?? Many more minutes of this and we would have to abandon the exam and faith in the CitySpace system would evaporate with it. The tension was tangible.

Of course in the end the resolution was blindingly obvious but it took three minutes of brain racing synapse stretching panic to finally identify the problem and, with a few clicks all became clear and the students started their exam at 10.05.

It was that marvellous selective release tool we all loved so much in CitySpace…. it had been set up for the right time, the right day of the month but hey, what’s this? It was set to be released in 2003!

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