So I’m sitting here in my Numerical Modeling of Earth Systems class– generally a cool class– bored because a week and a half ago I wrote a program to answer the questions that my teacher has been explaining ever since. It looks like today in lab we’ll be assigned to write said program. This is reasonable: I’m the only computer science student in a class of geology majors. For them the geology and math are easy and the programming is hard; I have exactly the opposite problems. But the fact that it’s reasonable doesn’t make it less arbitrarily boring…

On the bright side, PSU’s wireless coverage has become pretty complete: my class is in a sub-basement of Cramer Hall, and I’ve got a full (theoretical) 54Mbps. It’s not just any universal wireless coverage, you see: it’s 802.11g.

If only the wireless access weren’t arbitrarily NoCat-afflicted, it would be pretty much perfect. Ever since last summer’s OSCON, I’ve had a draft e-mail in my “Postponed” folder to some members of the Personal Telco Project (PTP) who I had talked to in person there, regarding a desired partnership between PTP and PSU. (Obviously e-mail is not a great way to communicate with me. I gots nothing better.) There’s been some interest expressed on both sides to have PTP take over running all of PSU’s wireless infrastructure; since PSU apparently wants some sort of excuse for opening up their bandwidth to just anybody, folks talked about PTP getting a bit of backup bandwidth donated.

I pretty much eliminated my own incentive to work on that, though: I configured my laptop to notice when it’s on the network, and automatically set up a VPN tunnel to the MCECS network (see the CAT’s page about the CECS VPN). For whatever reason, NoCat doesn’t interfere with that. But thank goodness I’m running an Unix-like operating system (namely, Debian Linux) that lets me configure arbitrarily complex schemes like this, to deal with arbitrarily complex nightmares like NoCat and PSU wireless.

On a related note, the other day I watched sahara_beara looking up nutrition data at the USDA web site, searching for one vegetable at a time and typing stuff into an Excel spreadsheet. She should know better than to let me see her do stuff like that. A couple of clicks later I had found that the USDA provides their entire nutrition database as a free download; half an hour later I had worked out how to import their entire database into MySQL. If I get around to actually importing the whole thing, then Sarah will be able to search for foods for her guinea piggies with arbitrarily complex requirements. (Einstein needs low sugar, since he’s diabetic, but they both need a calcium-to-phosphorus ratio of about 2:1, or something. I don’t know. I just know I can get the software to answer whatever question she asks.)

So that’s me: an arbitrarily complex guy arbitrarily solving arbitrary problems. (Sweet, I’ve made the word “arbitrary” look arbitrarily weird.)