You’d think that if anywhere offered great computing help, it would be MIT. It’s so obvious but up until today I’ve ignored this awesome resource right at my fingertips. You see, MIT offers free MATLAB to its students. And if you knew how expensive this software was you’d be relieved. The catch is you have to be connected to the MIT network, that’s where they keep the licences. Installing MATLAB on your personal computer, though, is no big deal. Lots of people have done it. Last summer, oddly enough, I had a big problem on my Dell where the installer crashed every time, always amidst great fanfare and in every creative, apocalyptic way. I had the grant, I had the licenses, but I just couldn’t get the software to stick. I brought it down to the NASA computing center about 3 days in a row and had a bunch of guys poke and prod at it. The verdict, when it finally came, was solemn. The outlook grim. Something was apparently wrong in my computer in a very big way. The guy recommended wiping everything and reformatting. Isn’t there another way? Afraid not.
I went back up to my cubicle very sad that day but, of course, I never did do what I was told. You see, because, data, can be backed up, but 3 years worth of rare and pirated software? Not easy to part with. A chainsaw couldn’t sever these ties that bind.
So in the end, life went on. I lived in constant fear. It was as if my computer had been diagnosed with some rare and serious heart ailment. And this meant, low cholesterol diet, regular, moderate exercise, and most importantly, no MATLAB.
A year goes by without incidence. For the summer I learned to use Octave. Then I finish a whole year of junior lab data analysis on Athena computers. Including 3 separate instances in which I was booted for violation of some security or sanity feature that prohibited more than 9 1/2 hours of straight access. And then it came time that I part ways with Tiny Dell. In his place is now a brand new 14 inch widescreen Thinkpad T Series. Built like a tank with the computing power of 100 Tiny Dells, maybe even 1000, all black and all business. A beautiful, invincible modern marvel of sorts.
Of course I guess what they say about all good things and idolatry and so on and so forth, well, this morning I decided that, yes, it was time, and yes, I would give this MATLAB thing another shot. After all, new beginnings, right?
“Oh will you look at that, I don’t think I’ve ever seen THIS error before.”
Please please please, I was thinking, fix this. Fix this and I’ll do anything.
What was supposed to be a 20 minute grab-and-go kind of job before work turned into a 4 hour swirling abyss of uncertainty and despair when the the little blue bar marking the progress of the MATLAB self-extraction process snapped to completion and what popped up was not the MATLAB installer but a gentle little stylishly transparent dialog box with a not-so-friendly message. So that’s how I met Jacob. I had run the setup a dozen times under at least as many different conditions, all with the same result. I was sick with worry making breakfast at 4pm, working myself into a bit of a situation not only with this Vista business but also with the pancakes having accidentally followed the direction for making 14 pancakes instead of 4.
But it was a beautiful day and things work out for good people on beautiful days, maybe. So it did with me on this day, because someone recommended I give IS&T a call before they closed up for the day. Together we played with different installers and services settings and in a stroke of mad genius Jacob suggested searching for the unzipped MATLAB installer in my Temp folders. Well, I found 15 of them, one for each time I’d tried installing the software, and lo and behold they worked with a simple click. And the problem? Who knows what it was, probably some kind of linking issue or other.
What now? And what’s next? Well, I’m back to where I started the day, sitting on my bed next to the window with the sun coming in, idolizing my new computer.
I guess at the end of the day what to take away from this is just the usual lesson about using your resources, that and the sweet skills of my man Jacob working his magic on my laptop problem here and really just putting the smack down on Error 0: Running Command MATLAB~1.EXE and making the world a better place for our children.