Potentially useful internet resources

Those computers really are useful

by Matthew M. Lug - Class of '99

First of all, I would like to dedicate this article to the memory of the part of my last article that didn't make it into print. For those of you who actually read the article and noticed that one sentence didn't quite seem right, I am including a copy of the missing piece below. Hopefully it will get printed this time.

The Missing Piece
you want to put something up quickly. It is also rather useful on annoying people who won't leave your room, but you shouldn't do that, and you're on your own if you do. Papers, posters, bubble wrap, clothing, and some foods are examples of things that can be stapled to a wall, the key is to be creative. A drill is handy for those larger items that can't be stapled. Simply drilling a hole for a screw, a set of screws, or a hook, is all that is needed to attach items like clocks, thermometers, outlet strips, phones, small speakers, small appliances, and many

And now, a moment of silence.

Ok, that's enough of that. Here at WPI, you've probably noticed that there are a lot of computers around. There are computer labs in every academic building, and a large percentage of students have computers on campus (there were 750 residential computers on the network the last time I checked, and there are probably many other computers that aren't on the network). If there were as many cars on campus as there are computers, then the parking situation would probably only be a little bit worse, but it's still a good thing that those thousands of dollars were spent on stuff that usually gets put inside a room (cars can be put in rooms sometimes too, but that usually isn't desirable). With all these computers, you're probably wondering what you can do with them other than play games and write papers (speaking of writing papers, visit the Writing Center, SL134, if you need help with a paper, or even if you don't, we get lonely in there sometimes).

There's one semi-useful thing you can do with many of the computers on campus, and that would be, surprisingly enough, accessing the internet. If you've never heard of the internet, you can just smile and nod, and pretend you have. If you were wondering what you can do with a computer before, then you're probably wondering what you can do with the internet now. The internet was once known as the "Information Superhighway" (and not the "Pornographic Expressway" or "That Thing They Talked About on C-Span That Those Politicians Didn't Understand" as it is known today), so that would seem to imply that there is information in there somewhere, scattered among nude pictures of celebrities and copies of "The Anarchist's Cookbook." If you're one of those annoying people who keep asking questions all the time without waiting for answers, then you're probably wondering what kind of information is out there, where it is, and if there are any nude pictures of your favorite celebrity. There is a lot of information out there, but I'm only going to discuss stuff you can find that is related to WPI in some way.

First is The Social Web, http://social.wpi.edu, which is further proof that Troy Thompson is either a superhuman entity, or insane. The Social Web was created by Troy, and runs on one of his own computers (a PowerMac 8500/120 if my sources are correct). You need to be a member to access the available features, but it is free and easy to join. Once you join, you can find information on events taking place around here, community service opportunities, and also people at Worcester colleges. The Matchmaker feature is a kind of computer dating system, which compares information you supply to information that others have entered. However, not many people are signed up for Matchmaker, and only a small percentage of those people are female.

Next on my list of kind of useful internet-related things is Theo Van Dinter's loccpu program, which can be accessed from http://www.kluge.net/~felicity/loccpu.html. This program allows you to search a database of over 3000 computers on the WPI network by hostname, location, owner, type of computer, operating system, or any combination of these and other options. The type of computer and operating system are not shown for residential computers unless the owner of the computer updates the information through the web page. Since this information must be updated manually, it may not always be correct. Most of the faculty and staff computers have the type of computer and operating system in the database, so you can find out what kind of computers your professors use.

Another resource that most people are familiar with is the whitepages command on the UNIX network. Whitepages was at one time used for finding the room and phone number of someone, but the system has been changed so that you must manually enter this information through web registration at http://registrar.wpi.edu/ if you want it to show up correctly. You will need your PIN for this, and if you don't know it you can use the pin-retrieve command at your UNIX prompt to get it. If you have not entered this information yet, whitepages will show either your WPI box number, or your room number from last year (if you lived on campus), where the current room number used to go. Whitepages still contains major, class, advisor, e-mail, and home address information for students, and department, title, e-mail, phone number, and office information for faculty and staff.

Finally, possibly the most useful resource is the newsgroup wpi.flame. This newsgroup is for rational and irrational discussion or complaints concerning any topic. Some serious recent topics include housing problems, parking problems, and abuse of the CS1005 mailing list. Occasionally even people like Pres. Parrish and Prof. Phillies post to this newsgroup. It's not always serious though, so try not to get upset if someone says something that offends you. If wpi.flame isn't for you, then try wpi.test. I won't explain what goes on there (other than testing), you can find that out on your own...

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