E Prime: When Learning Isn’t Fun

E Prime With its Many Confusing Symbols, http://www.pstnet.com/images/gallerytabs/EP_01.jpg

I’m a TWAMP- knowledge is totally my thing. But everyone’s come across a concept where they ask themselves, “Why hasn’t anyone found an easier way to do this?” For me it typically happens in math, but this time it happened when working on a program called E Prime. E Prime is a program used to create and run experiments like mine. Unfortunately, it’s cluttered with nonsensical icons, some block against using typical keyboard shortcuts, and what’s worst- it refuses to run the experiment if it detects a problem anywhere in the script but instead  greets the user with an error message such as “Line 1175, Error 11026.” What is error 11026? Beats me, and I don’t have any sort of user manual (if they even made one) that will tell me.

So, after I plowed through programming my 250 pictures and figured out how to make them appear in an only semi-randomized order (for which I was feeling really good about myself), I pressed the “run” button (a picture of a miniature blue man who I assume was meant to be running but actually looks more like he’s using the restroom) and was greeted with this error message. According to others in my lab, error messages aren’t uncommon. The problem is typically a typo, they said, so I went back and re-entered all the typed information for the series of slides that appeared (according to the cryptic programming script) to be the problem. Didn’t work. I checked all the settings to make sure they were normal. Didn’t work. I went to ask my advisor. She was gone. I gave up, at least for the day.

The next morning I was ready to tackle E Prime, unfortunately, due to car trouble and an hour long bus ride (the details of which I won’t go in to here), I arrived at work 3 hours late and only an hour before a study was scheduled to run in the only room where E Prime works. I was not a happy camper and no longer mentally prepared to tackle E Prime. Professor Dickter wasn’t in her office which meant I had to go at it alone. About 10 minutes in, the solution struck me. There was an image left in the program that wasn’t meant to be there. It had gotten replaced by another image but never deleted.   I frantically deleted it and hit the “Run” button- my enemy of late. IT WORKED. No error message, but instead a welcome screen appeared. I screamed. Literally. The grad student in the office next to me closed her door. My guilt was slight compared to the elation of both creating a running experiment and finally having something good happen that day.

Hopefully all that’s left now is a few final tweaks and by Monday I will be a supercalifragilistic participant-running pro.