Take me back to Tech…

Well, folks, here I am back in m12-182, and it’s a sight to behold: a room full of SunBlade 1500s with Sun flat panel displays. Other changes to the ‘Tute include a renovation of Building 6 (in progress), the completion of the Broad and the new BCS building, a renovation of the Building 4 Coffee Shop (now apparently called “Cafe Four”), and another equally dumb renovation of Lobdell. Face it, guys: the food sucks, and no amount of cosmetics will fix that. Oh, and there is of course a new cluster combo.
I had lunch with the OCW folk, and stopped by Admissions on my way in to say hi to Ben and company. It’s one of those rainy January days in Boston where it can’t quite decide whether or not it wants to snow. I’m hoping that it turns — snow is, in my mind, far preferable to this fickle half-rain.
I met up with Sherv and Jack for lunch at the CBC yesterday — we drank barleywine and shot the shit for almost two hours before I headed across the river to meet Laura before she left for her new residence in Florida. We walked around the Common and the Public Garden, she told me about her engagement, and we talked about life and moving forward and family and relationships, and enjoyed the beautiful day in the heart of our beloved city. After she left to pack up the car with Kevin, I walked around Beacon Hill, gave Paul a call in Madison, and walked back over the Longfellow to Cambridge and into Central Square, where I took the T back to Laurie’s place in Porter.
LB and I made a pizza and drank wine and did a jigsaw puzzle; her housemate Laura helped, and Scott came over to help with the pizza and have ice cream sundaes with us. Eventually all four of us were gathered around the table, putting together pieces, listening to music, talking, and having a great time. We made it a relatively early night, as today was the first day back to school for this house full of teachers.
I’m trying to figure out how best to spend my afternoon here in greater Boston. I’m contemplating something involving coffee from the 1369. But, at least, for now, it’s time to get out of the cluster.

My job.

At OCW, there are Faculty Liaisons (FLs) and Department Liaisons (DLs) who work to spec classes and manage relationships with faculty. We’re divided up into ‘micro-teams’ by department/subject area. All the teams are headed by an FL, who manages one or more DLs. All the teams have (let’s face it) dumb names, presumably for ‘fun’ and ‘morale.’ I’m on Team Academy. We work with the physical sciences. This is a large picture of us.
Apparently when I smile big, my eyes disappear.

Drastic improvement.

I just spent the afternoon editing LaTeX files on the OCW Athena workstation. I think I’m taking up residence here in prod in front of ocw-athena.mit.edu. It’s the best afternoon I’ve had at work in ages.
Feel free to share your comments on how lame/geeky I am. I’m gonna go get a drink!


The errors made in the citations I’m cleaning up today lead me to suspect that the India team is under the impression that Ibid is the title of a book. As one of my coworkers quipped: “Ibid seems to be a popular author. Does he have a first name? Please validate.”
The question is: if the book is called Ibid, where the hell did they get this random ISBN?

My life in the office, the blogosphere.

From an IM conversation today:

A: i get to give a presentation tomorrow about creating stellar sites
W: woohoo.
W: at all-team
W: oh yeah
W: sounds exciting.
W: powerpoint?
A: i'm contemplating making a really horrendous powerpoint presentating
A: presentation
A: a horrendous and hilarious one
W: a simple one can be helpful
A: i'm not sure if that might be frowned on
A: first i need talking points!
A: something like this: (1) stellar is a pain (2) what's wrong with handouts? (3) i hate
A: it should be more considered
A: 😉
A: also i probably won't because i have to read a book tonight for class
W: that style looks awfully familiar
W: feel free to quote GSS if that will save time and make things festive
A: 😉
A: sounds like a plan!
W: OMG that would be so awesome.
A: it's like hitting it big time
W: well, it's like something.
W: i wouldn't say big exactly.
A: i was going to add: in the small pond

No, make that a kick in the pants.

I spent my afternoon hunting down an article from 1967, xeroxing it, scanning it, and turning it into a PDF.
I just got email from someone with a PDF of the article attached. Apparently it was obtained from some online database to which MIT does not currently have a subscription.
It’s time to go home.

End-of-week relief.

I’ve spent that past three days wrangling with the makings of the STS.464 stellar site. Doesn’t sound complicated, does it? Doesn’t look complicated either. Well, things get a bit more complex and frustrating when you have to scan hundreds of pages of readings from books by hand, convert them to PDFs, and upload them via a web interface. Stellar has its benefits, but the drawbacks — from the administration side in particular — are… just kind of spirit-sucking.
To be fair, most of what caused my frustration was not a failing with stellar (aside from my main complaint, which is that the system doesn’t have a bulk-upload feature for situations when, say, you happen to be uploading upwards of a hundred PDFs for a class, and that the uploading of one file alone involves way too many mouse clicks for comfort). Rather, it stemmed from the sheer mind-numbing drudgery of scanning hundreds of pages out of textbooks. CopyTech and Document Services were purportedly hosed with the beginning-of-term crunch, so it was up to me to turn the materials around in a timely fashion.
From now on it’s Document Services all the way.