Meandering Thoughts

Where fun goes to die? Setting up the Intratubes

No establishment I have ever studied or worked at has smoothed this kink. You arrive, freshly shaven (or not in my case), dressed smart (casual) and trying to emit all the reasons why you were admitted or hired. Unfortunately they do not keep up appearances, without fail, you will not be able to access your internal account, and so hence the intranet nor internet and so your work and life grinds to a halt.

When I first moved away from my parents’ warm and familiar nest, I moved to a wonderful and archaic college in the United Kingdom. It had caught up a bit to the modern day and age by featuring blisteringly fast ethernet (but no wireless internet), not to be used by me however: to access the internet you had to submit your MAC-address. As I had arrived on a weekend, it would not be processed for a few days. Brilliant. To obtain your passwords for the internal accounts (yep, plural) a number was needed that you had been given at the beginning of the admissions process and had not needed since. So obviously, no-one had this ready.

A sensible policy would have been to (e)mail these passwords out before arrival to the home (email)addresses they had already corresponded to, and allow us to submit MAC-addresses ahead of time. Nowadays, the problem of access to internet at universities has been solved due to the omnipresence of eduroam. As long as you have credentials from a participating institute or can borrow one of someone, you can get internet across the globe at universities. How about the initial account setup?

Arriving in the States a few weeks back, eduroam did work; setting up the initial accounts proved a pain. Setting up the central account was easy enough, unlike at my previous institute this gave me no access at my department. I had been told beforehand there was this magical “cluster room”, and I had to go there on my first day to immigration documents that I needed the next day. Access to the physicality of the cluster room was easy, however I could not log on with my central account. It turned out that these systems were completely separate, and so the math sys admin had to set up an account for me. The sys admin usually skips half the day, and so I was out of luck.

The next day, the sys admin set the account up for me by a few minutes of hard-core interaction with a command line, which seems like something that could be streamlined. I thought this story would end there, of course, it did not. This did give me access to the computers in the cluster room (named qwe1, qwe2, …) however not to the one in my office. Back to the sys admin! After clearing up the confusion on whether it was asdf3 or asdf6 in my office, I finally had access. All is well that ends well, let’s start up Google Drive. Denied, all the installed browsers are too old to run it… IT, the gift that keeps on giving grief.

By Henk-Jaap Wagenaar.

Last generated: 2022-05-16 15:33