Whyrl (whyrl) wrote,
Whyrl
whyrl

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The following takes place between 6:30am and 11:59pm on the day of my BEng (Software) graduation.


Early morning

As predicted in an earlier journal entry I slapped my alarm clock to shut the hell up at 6:30am. I hate early starts.

I grabbed the notes I'd prepared the night before and went through my usual morning routine. I actually kicked around for a little reading email and a couple of LJ entries before Dad and I left for Oxley. We left a little later than our planned 7:20 departure. The traffic was starting to build for the morning rush but things were still moving so that was good.

Dad said to me en route that I should take some driving lessons and get my license, which I think is a good idea now. I should probably spend my earnings on that rather than computer toys. ;> He added that there was already a battle of possession of the Nissan Pintara between Mum and Rod (who has his license already), implying that it'd only be worse when I get my license. Apparently Rod wants to buy the Pintara, so Dad would get a new car for Mum. I said she'd be happy about that because she's never really liked that car (it's a station wagon, so it has a few blind spots, and it has terrible pickup).

I asked (with my usual hesitation) what I'd have to do to get a car loan when I finally start working full time. I guess that's a fairly normal question, but I've never shown much interest in cars, or finance for that matter, so it's new territory for me. He said he'd have to act as guarantor since I have no credit history. The alternative would be to go to a loan shark, but "they charge 25% interest". Dad told me I should look for a car in the $7k - $8k range. Anything under $5k is a risk and I don't want to be spending money fixing up a car after I've bought it, since that'd be expensive. (Same thing goes with houses really; unless you're getting a house specifically to fix it up and resell it, you oughtn't be thinking to yourself "I'd really like this house if it had this and this and that" when you're house hunting. You should look elsewhere if that's the case.;>)

But as buran said, it all depends on what sort of income I'm on. I don't want something too flash (i.e expensive) but I don't want something that's crap and doesn't meet my needs. I already sort of have an idea what I'd want. Something like a Golf. ;> Okay, I'm going to get a little sidetracked here. I'd really like to travel around, so the car would have to be reasonably comfortable to sit in for long periods, for starters. I don't want something that's too old, since I don't want to be coughing up for maintenance. I'd like a CD player, but that's not really essential. Aircon is a must, though. I don't really need a sedan. I'd like to at least be able to fit my PC in there someplace, of course. ;> Dunno about manual or automatic. I've never driven a stick. :P Eh, back to the entry. :>

Strangely enough, I saw two ambulances rushing out to scenes that day. The first time was on our way out to Oxley; the second when I was taking the bus into campus. Weird.

Work

We got out to Oxley shortly after 8. I spent some time rewriting the login script to match the information in the Windows roaming profile(?) logon.bat. Okay, it didn't take long, really! I did try fixing it up a little. I had the client try to log in, but it didn't work since sudo wasn't set up properly. I fiddled around with that a bit, and added some stuff into the script to add directories if they didn't already exist, and it seemed to work ... some of the time. :P It did hang a couple of times around the sudo'ed mount commands, so maybe I still didn't have that set up right.

Eh. It's a clumsy way of doing things. I'm looking into doing things completely differently so that all this will happen behind the scenes. I guess I have been guilty of thinking too much about how I can change things in the way that they're currently done rather than thinking about how they could be done. I guess I just need more self confidence being able to work the problem.

After I got that "more or less" working I tackled the next problem, which was getting printing set up. Now, as I've mentioned I've never even set up printing under linux before, much less even heard of CUPS before I started this job, so I was pretty green about how to go about this. I'd spent the prior evening reading relevant parts of the CUPS documentation. I was shown how CUPS was set up under Xandros, which certainly helped. I tried setting up one printer without realising it was located in another part of the building, and the print job seemed to be waiting around on the server anyway, so I gave up on that. I tried setting up a printer just outside the room. Nothing. :b

I skimmed through the online documentation and poked around here and there. I ran a command which started the web interface for CUPS and so I decided to use that instead of the command line. I set the printer up as before. It kept saying the printer was busy. Then I took a coffee break.

I kinda feel bad about taking coffee breaks when I'm out on a site visit since I'm sorta wasting time and not working. During the break Dad asked me what I intended to do. I said I wasn't sure. Dad said he didn't want to spend too long on it, and he was giving hints that we should only spend another 20 minutes on it.

I went back to it and tried a few different combinations of settings. I was alerted to the fact that I should be using lpd: instead of socket:, and suddenly it started printing! ... garbage. :b Obviously I was using the wrong driver, so I switched over to a generic laser driver and voila! I was just about to give up in frustration, too! Dad and the client talked a bit about what was next on the agenda, and then we left. Spent two and a half hours there for all that!

At one point I was sitting in front of the screen without a terminal and musing on how to fix the login script, but also waiting for the client to move away from the keyboard so that I could get it back, or wait for a pause in the conversation between him and Dad. :b The client realised this and said "Oh! I suppose you want the keyboard back." (Wireless is a nice thing.) "You should have asked!" Dad spoke to me again on our way back home and said that I'm in the driving seat and the client expects me to be in control so if I need something then I should be assertive about it. Yes. Assertive. Me. I guess I don't need to "work on it", I just need to do it. ;p

Dad also remarked that this must all be pretty new to me. I said yeah, I'm kind of in the deep end and feeling my way around a bit but managing to get through. He said no, not that, and explained that he meant working in the commercial world. He explained his role in determing billable and non billable work, getting and approving job requirements from the client (it wasn't the engineer's role to determine this), oh and on the way over he said what a hassle it was when there's little or no documentation. Some engineers think, well, the job's done so why do we need to document it? But of course that's silly since employees come and go and later employees have no record of what's actually been done, and often there's a lot of covering the same ground which is very inefficient of course. But fortunately I appreciate documentation and I like to document things as this journal no doubt illustrates. ;> (When I don't put it off, of course.)

Downtime

Got home just after 11am. My mind sort of went into numb mode and I poked around aimlessly for a little while as I usually do. I asked Kreggan about how to set up the 14 workstations so that a staff member could log into any one under their own account and get access to their files with as little inconvenience to the user as possible (i.e. doing away with those silly login/logout scripts on the desktop after the user has already logged into X Windows!). I did actually think about running remote X sessions but there are a few reasons that would be less than desirable. What I got out of the discussion with Kreg was that there's a PAM module that authenticates using LDAP. Samba already uses LDAP to authenticate users so this would be very tidy if it works. The question of home directories was a little trickier and the alternatives seem to be either mounting /home on the workstation to point at the server, scp all the files over from the server to the workstation and then back again when the user logs out, or a combination of the two.

1pm rolled around and I started preening myself for my graduation ceremony. I decided to wear all-black since black is a neutral colour and wouldn't be likely to clash with my academic gown (I wasn't sure what they looked like). I didn't wear a tie. I've only got one tie other than my old high school one and it's pretty blah. :p I need some ties. *mumbles some pun about tie fighters*

I was squeezed for time and said goodbye on IRC, then decided that I should actually shave as well. I may have invisible stubble (the envy of my dark-haired male friends!) but it's not invisible stubble. In fact I've been asked a few times if I'm growing a beard, when in fact the truth is I just can't be bothered shaving since it's not such a big issue with me. ;>

Anyway, so I shaved and then fretted around a bit in my room, then got a call from Mum (who was at work) just seeing if I was leaving I guess. Or checking up on me, or whatever. I told her I was just about to go.

I decided on taking my discman, going back on my earlier decision to leave it behind since I figured I'd rather not have to worry about it. I was only going to take one disc though, since I wanted to travel light. Yeah, it'd have been great if I went there with a backpack in tow and no one to dump it onto before the ceremony. ;P The CD I picked was Powderfinger's "Double Allergic" album. There were a couple of reasons:
  • I hadn't listened to it for a few weeks.
  • It's one of the albums I haven't listened to death.
  • It was the second CD I bought from the campus music store, so I thought that was appropriate.
  • I was in the mood for it. ;>

I also took a fresh set of batteries for my discman but that's a trivial detail.

I said "seeya tonight" to Jeff, but he reminded me that he wasn't going to my graduation ceremony. He had classes that evening. :b I amended myself in saying "much later tonight", or words to that effect. I said see you at 9, then quickly asked what time he finished. He told me 9. Heh. Silly QUT and their night classes. ;>

I then said "seeya tonight" to Rod, who definitely WAS going to my ceremony. I started Powderfinger playing and walked off for the bus stop.

Countdown to graduation

Had about a ten minute wait for the bus. I pulled out $3.20 for the fare to uni. It's a pain that my student card had already expired. Apparently UQ alumi have access to cheap movie tickets, but that's another tangent. The bus pulled up, I boarded (behind some guy ahead of me) and asked for a three zone transfer. The driver said it was $3.40. I swore under my breath and started fumbling between my discman and mobile for my wallet to get another 20c out. I can never remember what bus fares are. They always seem to be rising. :p

Mmmmm...Powderfinger.

I got into the city and checked the timetable for the bus to campus. I had about five minutes to kill so I ducked into JB Hi Fi to see what the price of Powderfinger's latest album, "Vulture Street", was. It was released here a couple of weeks ago, but this was the first time I'd really had an opportunity to pick it up. They had the album for $20, but I hunted around a bit further for the special limited release CD/DVD pack. $20.80! :D *snatch!* Took it to the counter, told the sales assistant I already had one of those CD carry case things, paid and left a happy wedgie. :D Of course now I was carrying around a CD case which I couldn't conveniently stash into a pocket. There did seem to be some sort of significance in switching over from the earliest Powderfinger album I have to their latest one for the trip into campus. Listened to the first few tracks. Liked. Rock good. Resisted urge to sing along. ;>

Arrived on campus around 3:40. I headed straight for the academic dress hire place where I picked up my gown, hood and trencher (headwear). They had a video showing of how to put the stuff on, but one of the assistants came and helped me into it. There were a few other graduands hanging around there as well looking just as lost as I. I felt a little silly and proud to be wearing that garb, especially walking around in front of the student union. I went into the Lolly Shop with a bit of a grin and the intention to get something to eat and drink so that I wouldn't be distracted during the ceremony. I looked for DP first, but they didn't have any and it's not really my drink anyway. Ginger beer was it, of course, so I picked that up, and picked up some fruit jubes as well. Yay candy!

From there I wandered towards the UQ Centre, where the graduation ceremony was to take place, and I'd read in their information guide that there'd be photographers on the east side of the building waiting to take photos. Their ad said the sitting was free and they'd help make me look presentable in my attire, so that sounded pretty spiffy! I went down there, feeling a little more comfortable in my clothing but still uncertain as to what I was doing. The wind was up and the clouds looked menacing. It was cute to watch the ravens soaring in the wind though.

I dithered uncomfortably in front of the white photographer tents until an assistant approached me in a friendly manner and asked if I'd like a photo. She got me to write down my name and email address (I chose my fastmail.fm account rather than my student one - expiring soon - or a whyrl@ address) and she confirmed it as it was typed into the computer. "dot-CC? Oh, okay." Yes, I could use a slightly more normal-looking email address than that. ;>

She asked one of the photographers if he was free and he came over. Older kinda person. Prolly in his fifties or so. Seemed nice enough. He asked me to sit on the stool (up until that point I'd been afraid to sit down in my academic dress. Heh.), tidied up my clothing and took a couple of photos.


This was the better photo.


Do I look too cheesy? :> My smile looks half-hearted in the other photo.

I actually sat there for a moment still holding that tube half expecting more photos for some reason. Doh! I got up and the assistant gave me my customer card and said I could check the proofs the following day from 4pm (it's actually just after 3pm now and they're already up).

I went back up into the building to sit down in the cafeteria. I grabbed a table to myself and sat there for 45 minutes or so listening to my new CD. The ceremony wasn't due to start for nearly two hours, but I had to assemble at about 5pm. I dug in to my lollies and drink and soaked up the atmosphere, or perhaps tried to tune out to it. There was an earlier graduation ceremony happening in the hall while I was waiting. They had a flat panel TV up on the wall that showed what was happening in the hall. When the procession came out there was just a sea of people. A cacophony of noise. I really don't like crowds, but I guess that was an odd experience. I felt like, yeah, whatever, I'm here. Deal. I had my music. I was comfortable. None of this had anything to do with me. Almost the fly-on-the-wall attitude I adopt at times, and yet I knew I was in the thick of it. People everywhere.

There were people taking photos of the graduates in front of the windows near where I was sitting. Fools! I probably should've warned them that the photos would turn out crap but I wasn't feeling very citizenly at the time. (Heh. Do I ever?)

I mused on the fact that my graduation afternoon was turning out to be typical of my whole degree. All alone to fend for myself with no friends in sight and my family out of the picture. But I didn't really care. I was taking care of myself, enjoying being by myself and happy for the fact that here I was.

As the time to assemble approached I went to registration and grabbed the all-important white card with my name, degree and seat number on it, then took off to the loo (cos that's what you do just before long ceremonies;>) and preened myself a bit more. I hunted around again on my person for a place to stash my CD but I had no luck. I went outside to sit for a few minutes. I called up Rod and asked where they were. He said "the road that goes by the river" (Coro Drive). He asked why and I said I was going in in fifteen minutes. He said they should be there by then, but I figured after I'd hanged up that they were still ten minutes by road, five minutes to park and another ten minutes to walk across campus, and that's assuming they didn't get lost. No chance of dumping my CD off on them. Sigh. ;>

I sat outside for a few minutes longer before an usher came up to me and asked whether I'd just graduated or was just about to. I told her the latter. She said I should go to the assembly area and pick up the white card, at which point I pulled out my card. She then said I should assemble very shortly because it was going to be a bit of a panic. I looked at my watch and furrowed my brow, and she said "Yes." So off I went.

I took my seat in a slightly round-about fashion (since they were numbered sequentially and not by row), but the theatre was something like 5% full at that point so it wasn't an issue. I spotted CameronQuoll coming up the aisle and exchanged a few words with him. Later on I thought I saw Lindsay, one of my friends from high school. It was, in fact, Lindsay, and they did read out his name when he collected his award. More on that later, though.

A young lady graduating BEng (Environmental) by the name of Leah struck up a conversation with me. She said all her friends were in Chemical Engineering. I expressed my concerns about what to do with my new CD. She asked if that was a gift for someone. I said it wasn't; rather it was an impulse buy on my way in. She said something about being expected to buy gifts but that it was her graduation and she should be a little selfish. We also talked about the problems with getting work experience. Apparently both of us would have graduated last semester if not for work experience, which we both took over summer. I said to her that I took all 60 days of mine over the summer break, and she seemed impressed. She asked me if I was paid. I said no, and she lamented that hers wasn't either.

A guy (professor maybe?) at the lectern explained what was going to happen and what we were supposed to do. My mind glossed over the details, though. It seemed straight-forward enough, however. He showed us a video of last semester's graduation night. He also demonstrated his ineptness with the theatre controls like so many lecturers before him. ;> The board lights were still on so the video didn't show up all that clearly, but it was enough to see what was going on anyway.

Graduation

They wanted to stagger us into two lines: those with odd seat numbers on the left and even numbers on the right. The students in the video were walking like that so it was clear (at least, to me anyway) what they were asking for. They got us to assemble one row at a time at the front of the lecture theatre. There was some deliberation with the first row of people as far as that staggering into two lines thing went, but everyone else got the hang of it.

Before we left our seats I made sure my CD wasn't really conspicuous. The JB paper bag was white, fortunately, and I just slipped it under my white card and carried it in my hand. Easy enough, and it wouldn't look glaringly out of place in the procession.

My row stood up and we walked down to the front, staggering as requested. But this is the cool thing: Just as Leah and I were about to walk out of the lecture theatre one of the ushers told us to wait a moment. The graduand procession continued on into the hall ahead of us, past a small crowd of people that had gathered (leaving a corridor for us to get through). The usher disappeared and we waited. Leah asked a couple of times if we should go, but I was waiting for one of the ushers to tell us that. The lecturer guy came around and asked what was going on, which wasn't a good sign. ;> A couple of the other ushers said they were just holding us up for a moment because ... well, I'm not really sure what was going on but it was something about too many graduands in the hall and I guess it was a timing/seating issue. Something like that anyway. Who knows.

Leah was expressing her concern about not knowing where to go, but we figured there'd be ushers to point us in the right direction. We were told to walk again, and I had a smile on my face as we walked into the hall. There were cameras everywhere and huge video displays up so I had to look good. Leah asked me where we had to go and I said "See where the end (of the procession) is over there? We have to join them." I confidently lead the second half the procession in to an anthem playing in the background and with a big round of applause from the hall. That felt good! :>

We managed to catch up with the end of the procession and one of the ushers directed us into our row. I remembered our ordering and motioned to Leah to go first. There were programmes on our seats which reassured me that we could actually dump stuff at our seat. Whew! My only concern was that someone might pinch it, so I definitely didn't put it under my seat and I decided to hold onto it for as long as possible.

Now, what can I say about the ceremony itself? It certainly was a lot more formal than my brother's TAFE graduation a couple of weeks earlier, but that's to be expected of UQ. Maybe I should get a video of it to show people. We rose for the academic procession (professors, chancellors and what have you). There was a welcome address from the acting vice-chancellor, which went for five or ten minutes. Seemed okay, although he obviously wasn't a practiced public speaker since he was moving around a bit and had his chin too far down at times while he was reading off his notes. His headwear blocked the light too. Don't do this, folks. Keep your chin up to project your voice clearly to the audience!

The first award was for the graduate of the year (Dylan Radcliffe), who was graduating in the same degree as I, and achieved the phenomenal result of scoring 7's in all his classes throughout his degree! Holy shit!!! >85% for everything ... in Engineering!!! I only managed to score one "7" in my entire degree! Admittedly I was hardly a model student, but still. That's bloody amazing!

Then the first half of the graduation awards were given out. I applauded the first 50 or so, then decided, nah, my hands were going to get too tired doing this for 90 minutes. I did clap Lindsay quite loudly, though. My section's clapping was very quiet by that point, so I was quite conspicuous. I doubt Lindsay noticed since I was about 10 rows back.

I remembered hawthornowl saying how he goofed up the handshake/take-the-award bit and ended up grappling with the guy, so I paid close attention to what was happening up on stage.

Okay, so first there's the queue up for the stage. The camera can see a couple of people back so it's important to be looking good from then. Some graduands were scratching their nose or adjusting their hood. Of course, some weren't wearing their hood right at all! They had it lopsided, ruffled up or sagging too far. One guy was even wearing it like a sash. Heh. So, look good well before the queue up on the ramp.

Second, have the white card in the left hand to make it easy to pass to the guy at the lectern reading out the names. Some graduands were passing it from right to left hand, or worse, handing it over with the right hand. Obviously they've never done acting. Don't block the camera! Speaking of the white card, I should put it in my pocket so that I don't accidentally misplace it. There. Now, that would be a disaster, wouldn't it? Walking up on stage without a card! I have an easy to pronounce name so informing the guy at the lectern how to pronounce it wouldn't be an issue. The audience got a few laughs out of some mispronounced names. :>

Third, start walking towards the lectern when the name of the person in front (in my case, Leah) is announced. Hand over the card the right way up, of course.

Fourth, wait just to the left of the lectern until the guy starts to read my name, then walk towards the chancellor, look happy, don't walk too stiffly, walk confidently but not arrogantly, keep eye contact with the chancellor, shake his hand, accept the gold tube thing with the left hand and, ummm...play it by ear from there, I guess. I tried to think of something memorable to say.

Well, I managed to get all of that right! I approached the chancellor, shook his hand, and he said to me something like "Congratulations on your achievement. All the best for the future." Something along those lines. I forget exactly because it sort of happened in a daze. Maybe I was too preoccupied with those steps I outlined above. All I said to him though was "Thanks." and "Thank you very much." I took the ramp down on the right of the stage and walked the length of the hall to the back, where there were tables set up with the people handing out the real awards! Then I walked back up the centre aisle back to my seat and my Powderfinger CD. ;>


Edit: The rest of the evening.
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