I'm chugging into my 3rd year here at MIT blogging, studying, and being smashed. And everytime I cross the threshold of a jet, settle into my seat and begrudgingly turn off wifi on all my TSA-worry-inducing gadgets, I realize just how much MIT has permeated every part of my life, and there are some serious perkus nonacademia. I've landed awesome jobs through MIT. I've destroyed and created things because of MIT. My entire brain has been rewired and my physiological response to stress and sleep has changed because of–you got it–MIT. I downloaded my favorite distro of Ubuntu in less than a minute because of MIT:
But to me MIT is like a T800's mission: It's about the people.
I've met some really awesome and incredible students here; friends who've been published in Popular Science and friends who build something amazing and insane just about every month. And as networking goes, through these friends I meet more great friends and so on and so forth. In fact, this is about one such awesome opportunity I snagged through being a superb nerd and making cool friends through cool friends at MIT.
To give you a brief background, I made some really close friends in Oregon. Now that that's out of the way, it's worth mentioning that they are an incredible group of people. The McVeys have a framing shop, a love of the outdoors, and penchant for offering room and board to wayward nerds. My own love of all things outdoors and frequent airline travel vouchers has led me back to visit a few times, and every time it's been a blast.
Most recently though, Dave was asking about possible storage solutions for his son Erich's photography business. He said he was filling up terabyte drives at an alarming rate from the shoots, and wanted to know what would be the best thing to do about it. Talking it over with Dave and a friend of mine here from school who was also visiting, we conclusively decided that it was high time they got a server. And what luck, we were just the guys to make it happen. So Dave uttered the words every geek wants to hear (for various reasons): "Make it so."
And just like that, we were put in charge of building and configuring an 8TB server for them. It was nerd-vana. Unforutnately, the parts wound up arriving toward the end of our stay, so it was a rush job to get it together before we left. Coupled with some array-building headaches like a drive failure, there was little time to do anything beyond getting it on.
So fast forward a bit: I'm there again at the end of August, and after whitewater kayaking and wakeboarding, I ask how the server is working out for them. And they say they haven't really been able to use it, so I said I'd take a look to see if I could figure out why. A number of bugs and reconfiguring later, I managed to make it much easier to use for their computers. And then I broke it, broke it more, broke it worst, and ended up having to completely reinstall the OS. As usual, XKCD says is best:
Anyway, some huge cups of coffee and a few marathon coding sessions, and the server was up and running beautifully. The McVeys were super happy, and quickly found other techie tasks for me to do, including upgrading RAM and hard drives in the laptops and cloning bootable disks for work computers. By the end of it Erich asked if I'd be interested in doing a sort of "B.A. Nerd" themed photoshoot complete with toussled hair, a pocket protector, and huge rimmed glasses. Here are the shots (see if you can spot the Brass Rat!):
So to sum it up, because of MIT, I've made friends that are more like family at this point, gone whitewater kayaking, wakeboarding, tubing, and skiing; built a server, and had some cool pictures taken.
You know MIT, you're alright. And life is good.