Maria Holland

Internet Rationing

In Uncategorized on June 17, 2015 at 10:12 am

Okay, so the internet situation feels a little dire right now.

I went into work today and started setting up the Windows computer.  I’d like to be able to leave my laptop at home in the future, so I was downloading the programs that I need for work – Mendeley, Texmaker, Sublime, Evernote, OneDrive (because Dropbox is blocked).

A little before lunch, I ran out of internet.  For the month of June.  The students each get 20 GB a month, and the guy whose account I’m using had already used 18.5 by the time I logged on yesterday.  I’m not sure if they have to pay for the initial 20 GB, but after that they do pay by the gigabyte.  So, another labmate signed me on to his account, and he’s only at 8.5 for the month so that could probably last me for a while.  But tomorrow I’m going to get my own account.  Because I’m not a student, it will be “expensive” – 10元 per day for 2 GB.  It’s not an expense I was counting on, and that’s like 10% of my daily stipend here, but it should be $50-100 total and I think that’s worth it – both from a convenience and security point of view.

I’m still completely bewildered by this, though.  I can’t get over the fact that the Aerospace Engineering department at Tsinghua, the MIT of China, rations internet for their students.  Wireless and wired data is something I’ve never tried or even thought about trying to restrict.  I’ve paid for internet by the hour, or been restricted to lower speeds, but I’ve never before looked at a download size as anything other than an indication of how long I should expect it to take.  

So now I’m in this wierd position where the internet at the hotel is free, but super slow, while the internet at work is fast, but limited.  All in all, I’m not sure how tenable this OneDrive idea is.  I’m trying to put all the files I use for research on the cloud so I can access them on my laptop at the hotel and on my work computer in the lab. I got the necessary files down to 2.8 GB, but I’ve been uploading for about an hour and have only transferred 7.6MB.  Maybe if I do the initial setup manually, using my external hard drive or a flash drive, then maybe it would be possible to only update things?  I don’t know.

Anyway, besides the debacle that is my internet situation right now, things are good.  I walked in to work today and it was even easier than yesterday.  The AQI was around 70 and I’m only wearing a mask when it’s over 100, so that made things more pleasant.  It is frustrating, though, that when I see my building over the wall it means I ‘only’ have one more kilometer to walk, because the two most convenient campus entrances are equally inconvenient for me.  

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I told my labmates that I can’t use my lunch card between 11:45 and 12:30 (you know, lunch time, basically), but we didn’t get there early enough so I still had to have someone buy me lunch.  We ate in a four-story cafeteria!  Lunch was 7元 (just over a dollar) and delicious.  

I sat with three guys and started learning their names by trying to write them.  I did alright, actually – 5 out of 8 characters.  In Chinese, there are a lot of characters that sound the same, so you “spell” by giving an example word that contains the character.  My name, 马利亚, is 马 from “one horse”, 利 from “fluent”, and 亚 from “Asia”.  (They’re phonetic in this case, not so much chosen for their meaning).  Anyway, one of the guys’ names was 林绍珍 – 林 from “forest”, 绍 from “introduce”, and 珍 from 珍珠.  I didn’t immediately recognize the last character or example word, until I realized where I’d seen it before – 珍珠 means pearl, and milk tea with tapioca bubbles (“boba” in the US) is called 珍珠奶茶, or pearl milk tea.  So then I got really excited and said I knew the character because I love milk tea.  He laughed about it, but I felt kind of bad.  The character apparently means “treasured”, and I associate it with milk tea.  He’s a nice guy, though, and now I have an even more positive association with him!  

We had a crazy thunderstorm in the afternoon.  Finally, a new shade of gray!

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It ended very suddenly, and before it could start again I made a break for it.  My labmate 程 lent me her bicycle (she rides a motor scooter), so I rode that home for the first time.  It’s small for me, but I’m actually more comfortable maneuvering that in the traffic because it’s so easy to put my feet down.  The brakes are more of a comfort object than a functional component but then, that’s what my feet are for.  My favorite part is that there’s a basket and it’s slightly bent out of shape in almost the exact same way as the one on my bike back home.  The ride home was awesome – the air was cool and clean after the rain, and the bike made the distance feel way shorter.

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