Delan Azabani

Tutoring at a gigabit per second

The last two days have been both interesting and very exciting. So much has happened. Where do I even start? I've wrangled a "notoriously underspecified" network configuration with a friend, helped ComSSA with acquiring around sixty new members on orientation day, netted myself a 1000BASE-T switch with 240 ports, and somehow managed to become a tutor of two classes for the coming semester.

Yesterday a good friend of mine enlisted a bit of my help setting up WDS so that he could share an existing wireless network over Ethernet to his desktop and NAS, which do not have wireless NICs. Having recently moved in to renting a share house, drilling holes to run a wired switch would be out of the question. An initial obstacle was my mistaken assumption that he was referring to Windows Deployment Services rather than the 802.11 wireless distribution system... "standard", as it were, which led to much confusion.

After a few hours covering the similar methods to those he had tried to no avail, I installed DD-WRT on his router to try its "Client Bridge" feature. Having a little bit of past experience using DD-WRT and OpenWRT, setting it up was fairly straightforward, but alas I didn't succeed. Feeling defeated, I went home until somehow he managed to coax it into working with DD-WRT overnight. Success after five days without networking!

Today was Curtin's orientation day, or O-day for short. With a stall for ComSSA near the guild buildings, this was our most lucrative opportunity to gain new members, especially from students starting their first computing degree. This year we've started using TidyClub, which is a refreshing change from a mess of paper forms and fragile bespoke membership management software. We received about sixty registrations today, definitely nothing to scoff at, with most of these being new members.

Back up a few days to last weekend. I thought I'd give online auctions a spin, participating in a local computer hardware sale. Expecting nothing to come out of this, I bid on a few Cisco switches, a couple of Liebert UPS units, a pallet of IBM servers and a box of Sony floppy disk drives. Last night I received an email saying I had won two lots: a Catalyst 4506 switch for $15, and the box of twenty floppy drives for $5. It gets much better.

The floppy drives were all new and unused, in individual plastic packaging, which I totally did not expect, as no such indication was made in the item's description. What surprised me even more was the Catalyst 4506, which is essentially a giant modular rackmount switch. For the price I paid, I expected 10/100 ports, which would be of limited use to me. It turns out, in fact, that the linecards installed in the switch yield an astonishing 240 powered 1000BASE-T ports, plus a couple of ten gigabit uplinks.

If this works, I don't think I'll ever need to buy a switch again. The main issue will be finding a way to power it. It takes four IEC 60320 C19 plugs, perhaps because of its potential to consume over ten amperes via Power over Ethernet. The only 15 A power socket I have is for the oven, however, so I may need to look into obtaining additional high current circuits while I get RCDs installed at home.

To round off these events nicely, I received an email offering me a chance to tutor two classes of Software Engineering 110. As a second year student, this is quite a rare opportunity as it's usually policy to require students to wait at least two years between learning a unit and teaching it. As this would be my first time tutoring, I really have no idea what to expect, and I'm simultaneously delighted, apprehensive and enthused. Now I won't have to wait until semester two to see Dave in Software Engineering 200.

If only every day was as eventful as these.