All the international exchange students like myself came to a sudden realization that the extended section of their vacation was just beginning, on the day of the orientation. Orientation here was a pretty simple affair: 7-8 people talking about different aspects of SMU life for a total of 5-6 hours. And because they are so much similar to (actually, copied/adopted from) the American uni system, I could afford to let my pair of ears act like an empty tunnel allowing sounds to pass without making me think much. The guy who spoke about the IT issues here was not any match to Shams Hasan, who is bubbling with energy whenever he addresses the fresh crop in the CMU farm. It was a Friday, the 13th, and every other speaker was trying to make a joke about it – only successfully leaving most exchange students unimpressed by the quality of humor in SMU. The surprise of the day was 2 veggie dishes in lunch <- that isn’t a joke! If you have been to this part of Asia, you know this is a big deal.
Once this was done, it was time to actually begin the real thing: classes. But just like every computer (a.k.a Facebook) addict on campus, I also needed to “get my laptop configured” for the network at an activity session called the “DIY* Laptop clinic” organized by SMU’s computing team called IITS. I thought this was a dummy activity to have us know the name of the broadcasting Wi-Fi connection for students; I thought: stupid business management kids and then giggled with a LOL facial expression. But then again, I was wrong (why am I so confident about things I don’t know enough about?!). Turns out that SMU uses one of weirdest ways of authenticating someone to their network – its called 802.1x. This is one of those options on your wireless connection properties which you never tend to touch because it doesn’t matter to you.
The previous paragraph was not really important. Sorry for that! The important part is that when I went for it, they refused to assist me in setting it up on Ubuntu Linux. They “only support Windows and Mac”. If OSs were races, than these guys were acting racist! And I was represented the minority 😦 But I am not the one to give up too easy – I expressed my frustration (waste of time) and then grabbed the XP & Mac documentations (in a heroic manner) and decided to make this work without official documentation. During this process, I was suggested to reformat my computer to a Windows (so I do a skin surgery like MJ?). This was simply unacceptable! Within 20 minutes, I had my dearest Ubuntu configured to work on this network complying with every requirement of the network. Not only that, just to rub it in their face a little bit, I made a documentation for the same and sent it to the IITS helpdesk team along with a “this-was-so-not-cool-,-guys” message. Only on their email acknowledgement did I realize that I became the first complete Linux user on this campus, and that they appreciate my determination to stick to it. Now, I am all :), 😀 and =)!
*The word gets me excited, in every part of the world!