I always tell my students not to "over-think" what they do, especially when it comes to exams. Well, sometimes it is not easy to take your own advice. When the students return assignments I get them zipped from Catalyst's "Collect It" with each student's paper in a separate directory named after their UW NetID (which most of the times seems to have little or no relation to their actual name). The problem is that I need to print out all those papers. The "easy" way if of course to open each file individually in OpenOffice and then print (all my computers run Ubuntu, so no MS products here). With almost 40 students that can take a while even if done via the command line. It does not make it any easier that some of them submit pdf files, so I need to open Evince for those (I actually prefer these but that is another story).
Always wanting to be efficient I have been looking for a way to automate the printing process. After a fair bit of searching it seemed like my only option was to write a shell script and get around the problem that way. Now, I do not mind doing that (I am a geek, what can I say), but those things take time to put together, especially since what I was contemplating was writing something that searched through each sub-directory for the relevant file. Well, it turns out that the answer to my question was two very simple lines:
$ oowriter -p */*.doc
$ lp */*.pdf
Doh!! That took me about an hour to figure out, but at least I will get the printing done in 2 minutes in the future instead of the more than 30 minutes I used to spend on it ;-).
Now, if I could only find a program that would also grade the papers that would be cool...