Friday, August 22, 2008

Stranded at the Library

I'm officially stranded at the library. It's 12:48 now, and I've been here since roughly 8:10. I was going to try and get a ride with someone after they got out of their class (which would be right about now) but unfortunately I wasn't able to ask them before they left for class and I have no idea where said class is so I can't exactly get up and go ask. That just means that I'll be here until somewhere between 3-5. And for some reason, who knows why, when I was packing my bag this morning I figured "Eh, I'm not going to need the thinkpad" unfortunately I don't know /why/ I didn't think I'd need the thinkpad, but here I am, thinkpadless, in the library on a really nice Dell Optiplex 755. I was using the touch for a while, browsing the webbernets, but it occurred to me that not only is that sort of uncomfortable, it kills the battery in case I want to listen to music some time later on.

Several things I'm noticing about these setups are- the LCDs are really nice (of course) dell 1907s. At least three people are on stations that have the LCD tilted (they're made to be able to tilt 90deg for portrait work) by about 4-5 degrees. I don't know if they're aware of that fact, but it looks like it would be incredibly uncomfortable. Or at least really hard to use. Also, I absolutely adore these keyboards. They're compact, very tactile, fancily stiled, and very sturdy feeling. I could easily get one of these (* Prepares to open ebay...) to work alongside the Model M, or I could get two and replace the keyboard on the optiplex and athlon. The mouse on the other hand is absolutely horrible. It's a weird hourglass shape, way way way too narrow, and the scrollwheel is too small. Now that I think about it I've actually never really been a fan of dell mice. The PS/2 trackball one I have has the widest steps imaginable. Think if you were writing something, and wanted to move the mouse to a specific area in the text to highlight a section for re-placement or deletion or whatever. When you panned over the text instead of nicely sliding along, the steps are literally an entire letter wide!

All of my classes are going along really nicely, my English 112 class with Dr Davis is really nice, it's pretty much the same as ENG111 except it's much more thorough, and I like that. Right now we're writing a paper that's pretty basic, it's just a simple analysis of ourselves for him so he can examine our current writing capacity. The topic is of course argument, and arguing weather or not the writer (me/other students) agree that "grades you get in hichschool are an accurate reflection of your strengths and weaknesses in college." An easy enough topic. The hard thing for me is that I was never technically in "real highschool," I left Terra Ceia after 8th grade for homeschooling, and in homeschooling I was never technically graded. I suppose I could conjure up (in a much less connivery sense of the word) what my grades more or less would have been, had I been graded. The problem with that is that other students in my ENG112 class that have been through real highschool know that part of the reason your HS grades don't reflect your college strengths/weaknesses is that often (so students have claimed) HS teachers make mistakes when inputting grades, and the environments of many highschools can effect the performance of a student. None of that would be relevant for me because I was homeschooled. However for 8th grade, which was spent at a real school, I would agree that yes (or no?) my "HS" grades don't reflect my strengths and weaknesses as a college student. Though if I was to write entirely on the subject of my highschool grades then I would say that yes the "grades" from that do reflect my strengths/weaknesses as a student in college because I'm working almost completely the same here at the comm co as I was/am in homeschooling type situations.

Above I mentioned getting one of these fantabulous dell keyboards for my optiplex, and that got me thinking about my other optiplex, as I have two. Last night Tyler and I got to the conversation of routers, and how modern "home use" routers are nothing more then Systems-on-a-Chip with five ethernet ports and a wireless network adapter slapped on there. Because of this, when subjected to higher loads, such as when businesses with 20-30 computers run all their network activity through one, they fail. What Tyler was telling me was that what he does, and suggests for his clients, is to use an operating system called Smoothwall, running on a computer with two or more NICs. It sounds fairly amazing, supporting very controlable proxying and QoS, and neat things like scanning the first few packets of, say, a file sent over AIM to check for anything ominous. Similar to Tomato it supports in depth bandwidth monitoring and control, which is really cool. I popped it in virtualbox and played around with it for a bit, but since I didn't really read the manual or anything beforehand I was mostly stranded, but the principal sounded pretty great.

How I plan to [eventually] use it is pretty simple. Take my spare GX1, with the PII 400Mhz processor, put 256MB of RAM in it, and a 10GB HDD. Plus another 10/100 NIC to work alongside the onboard 3com. My cable modem would go to one of those, and then either my cisco 10/100 switch or another switch would be connected to the other. I'd set the current router to work in WAP mode only (don't you just love router firmwares that are versatile!) and connect it to the switch, and taadaa you have a fancy router! The main thing I'm wondering about though is alternative switches for direct connection, because I'd only need one with five ports, so the 12 port cisco switch would be overkill. I'ld probably put a test version of it into effect one of these days when dad is in Raleigh for a while, because it will cause a few hours of downtime at the least.

I'm going to go ahead and wrap this up for now, I might start another post in here later on today, but I have a few other things on my mind that I'd like to peruse.