Welcome, especially to freshmen and new graduate students! Ask SIPB is a column published regularly by the Student Information Processing Board, the volunteer student group concerned with computing at MIT, to help students like you learn more about the computing resources MIT provides and how to make effective use of them.
Welcome to MIT, prefrosh! We're the Student Information Processing Board ("SIPB", pronounced sip-bee), MIT's student computing interest group. Our office is on the fifth floor of the Student Center, just outside the Athena cluster. You're welcome to stop by and ask us for help, or just use our computers, or even talk with us.
CPW is finally upon us. I had trouble admitting it at first, but as a senior, I can barely muster the energy to care. I did the whole CPW/Orientation thing with full gusto when I was younger, but I just can't keep up with the '09s and '10s. My roommate applied for us both to host pre-frosh, but as my former pre-frosh can attest, I'm an awful host, and am probably single-handedly responsible for mine and my roommate's rejections. Maybe I just have trouble relating to someone who was four when Shaggy's "It Wasn't Me" first came out.
So, now we're in Mongolia. It's late August 2005. After a few days in Ulaanbaatar, the capital and, well, the only real city in that country, I meet Will, a fellow traveler looking to buy a horse and head out into the vast Mongolian steppe, in search of adventure of some sort. Will was about twice my age and a hardened traveler. Some time ago, he had been a graduate student working on a PhD in history, until one day he realized he wasn't doing what he wanted in life. He discontinued his studies, broke up with his girlfriend and took what money he had to travel the world. When that ran out he found work as a chef on a sight-seeing vessel that operated off the British Columbian and Alaskan coasts; hardly work at all by the sound of it, until he had enough money to do it all over again. He's been living like that ever since.
I left off last time having just spent the night in the streets of Moscow, and upon awaking, found a dead body a few benches down from mine. It looked as though the man had drunk himself to death in the night. Nothing really came of this though; I couldn’t do anything to help the situation and the park was coming alive with people collecting the recyclables strewn about everywhere — he’d be found again soon enough.
Sometimes, in life, you are faced with a great crisis. The forefathers of our country had to figure out on the fly how to invent a country, and they performed admirably. The greatest generation is famed for their resolve in the face of adversity and Nazis. Of course, these are pretty huge crises that we can’t really compare our own lives to (at least, I certainly hope not), but there are, still, certain events that try our patience and reveal to the world just what we’re made of. This past weekend was one such time for me, as I struggled to adapt to something all of us must endure: Daylight Saving Time.
On another freezing night in front of 84 Mass Ave, a crowd of exhausted students await the SafeRides, those hypothetical saviors from the long walk home in the extreme cold. Among these peoples, we are interested in the unlucky few waiting for the legendary Cambridge West, the one fated to be the latest, and by far, the most ‘lawful’ of all.
I have the great fortune of being able to begin this week’s column in the same way as I began last week’s column, as once again I found myself cold and alone in the streets of Moscow, only this time it was in the middle of the night. My companion Oscar, who happened to have the only key to the apartment complex in which we were staying, had failed to meet me as planned, and so I found myself wandering the large section of city between the bar where we were supposed to meet, and our apartment complex.
Since we are so deep in the midst of term, I consider it my duty to help inform some of my less-fortunate (ie, course VI) friends about what’s been happening in the world lately. I mean, when you’ve been coding and debugging for eighteen hours straight, looking for that one parenthesis you missed, or whatever the heck you do, the larger things that go on in the world just might not seem that interesting.
How many of you recall your very first semester at MIT? I’m sure you can’t forget it; you know, that one time long ago when you put minimal effort into your classes and ended up passing with that obscure letter P. Man, wasn’t pass/no record great? My young self thought naively at the time, “This place isn’t all that bad. MIT is a pretty darn fun place. People shouldn’t be complaining so much. All this complaining just coalesces into a negative stereotype of this place.” That is, to outsiders all we do is work and work. Yeah right … I laughed, and laughed some more when thinking about the truth. Then that fateful day came: second semester started.