September 17 – Moving

Got up at 7 again this morning. Took my backpack down to the hotel lobby, as the program had arranged to move our large bags for us. I took my two smaller bags with me and walked over to the classroom. (I was a bit early, and got there at about 7:45 for an 8:00 am class). The weirdness I had noticed earlier with white barricades along the roads was even more evident as a I walked through. There was no security I had to pass through to get on campus, but that might had just been luck. (normally you have to show your id card to open the closed campus of 50000 people.) Prof Zhang came in right at 8, and said that sergio would probably be late because everything was blocked off for the marathon that was going through campus. I guess shortly after I walked over, the holes in the gate got closed and everyone got told to find another way in, because the main road through campus was only for the marathon runners.

Sergio showed up about 15 minutes late, we had our dictation, and then went through another 20 or 30 new words for the rest of class. Mostly having to do with banking and phone calls.

After class, we gave Prof. Zhang our passports and a room deposit. I hung around the office for a little bit, not entirely sure what to do, but talking with steven, sarah, and alice discovered that they were heading out to buy bikes. I joined them and we walked to a market to the north west of campus with steven’s tutor. In a back alley we found a bike show that the tutor knew of, and found four bikes in working condition. They cost 100/bike, which isn’t that bad, and my bike works and feels like it’s worth about $15 usd. The brakes aren’t like anything I’ve seen in the US, but the tutor was happy to see them, saying they were much stronger than the typical brakes. (this is the mechanism not the actual brakes which are still pads against the wheel rim.) The difference is that rather than a wire that gets pulled, there are actually solid metal rods that move to apply pressure.

I got the bike, the others spent a long time finding bikes, and trying to get the bikes adjusted properly, I sort of figured that my bike felt comfortable enough and for the time I’ll be using it I don’t really need to worry about the exact seat height. I rode back, the bike didn’t break at all, so that was good.

I biked over to the lake and did the first bit of my chinese homework for the day, came back at about 2:10 and there was a sign on the office saying that we could move in at 2:30. So I biked around campus for 20 minutes. I actually like the bike reasonably well. The chain came off once, and was annoying to put back on, since there’s a chain guard that makes it hard to reach. The bike itself is very well shocked, and managed to go over the quite rough streets without too much efforts. It’s also very heavy, which means that it can coast for quite a while on the downhills.

I got back at 2:30, got my key, and moved to my room. The room is a suite, with a large room, a small room, and a bathroom. I guess it’s supposed to be shared by three people. I took the small room, which had a desk and a dresser in it. The big room had two beds and a TV, but really didn’t have any other furniture in it. I unpacked in about an hour, and then discovered that there wasn’t internet.

There were several wireless networks, but only one was open, and it didn’t do anything when I connected. Additionally when I plugged into the ethernet port in my room I got a ‘network is unplugged error’, meaning that something was very wrong with that connection. (other people didn’t get that error, and while they also weren’t getting internet because you apparently have to pay for it, at least it felt like if they paid for it they could get it enabled.)

I took a crack at cracking one of the WEP networks, and did so successfully in about 15 minutes. The problem was that once connected There were no other computers on the network, and it itself wasn’t connected to the internet and hence was a false leed. I started taking packets for the other network nearby but it was WPA encryption, and I didn’t have much hope of getting a key for it. (WEP is broken, WPA is still pretty secure)

in the meantime I walked with steven and sarah and matt over to a cafeteria I’d never been to to get dinner. I got pork and greenbeans, which were very tasty, and some sort of cake like thing for dessert that was also really good. After dinner I came back, wrote my essay for tomorrow, and then fiddled around trying to get the internet to work. Eventually I found that the open network was connected to the main PKU internet, and so I spoofed my mac address to one of the ones I’d seen earlier (actually, one of the ones connected to the closed network I’d entered), and was suddenly able to connect. There’s just one but, and it was pretty big. That but is that I can only connect to .cn domains, and to google. My blog doesn’t work, my music doesn’t work, mudd’s website doesn’t work, it seems that anything that isn’t in china doesn’t work.

After spending lots of time doing google searches and trying to find information in the 1 line snippit of the results that I was allowed to read, I found google’s mobile proxy, and have been using that for this post. It’s official purpose is to reformat websites for mobile devices, but it also allows you to access US based pages despite the weird PKU filter.

I’m going to spend some more time studying characters, as the ones from today aren’t fully in my head yet.

Oh, I forgot to put this in: I met with my math tutor today. One of the tutors (the one who’s an EE major) knew the guy that TA’d for the PKU real analysis class last semester. We met briefly in Prof. Wang’s office, and he seems quite nice. We’ll meet every wednesday in my dorm room at 3:40 to discuss my problem set for the week, and answer questions I have. I can also send him emails if I have questions on things. I’ve finished the first week’s problem set without problem, and am starting on reading lecture notes towards the second one.

I’ll post a picture of my Bike soon, assuming I can bend the internet to my will for a bit longer.