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Keeping a PC Personal At School? 695

Berto Kraus writes "As one of the most tech-oriented students in my art-oriented institution, I'm usually the one with the laptop. This causes frequent requests from other students to read mail, check some site, or connect it to the projector to display a file from their Flash drive. For the sake of my privacy, the health of my laptop, and my own peace of mind, I'm reluctant. But telling my compatriots to go to our building supervisor and ask him for a desktop-on-a-cart, as they should do, is considered rude and unfriendly. Now, I could dual-boot Ubuntu, or carry around a Linux-on-a-stick. Or I could embed the computer in my skull. For many reasons, none of these solutions is ideal. So I'm asking you, insightful and funny Slashdotters, what would you do to keep your PC personal at school?"
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Keeping a PC Personal At School?

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  • Re:easy. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PeterBrett ( 780946 ) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @02:37AM (#28178305) Homepage

    create a guest account.

    I agree. Note that if you're running a recent version of Fedora, there's a built-in 'xguest' SELinux profile [] which is completely locked down -- that might interest you, along with the fast user switching.

  • Install a keylogger (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @02:49AM (#28178417)
    1. Install a keylogger
    2. Let others borrow your computer
    3. ???
    4. Profit!!

    I'll leave step 3 as an exercise for the reader

  • terminal (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @02:53AM (#28178453)

    Well- depending on how mean you want to be. Set the computer to default to booting to a terminal window and let them have it. If they can figure out how to open OpenOffice, Gimp, FireFox or whatever other standard GNU/Linux application that comes with the computer they won't be asking you for it any more. If by some miracle they figure it out they probably just forgot their own GNU/Linux notebook at home and you have nothing to worry about.

    Ok- now what I'd really do. Install Ubuntu on it and use these situations to show off GNU/Linux, free and open source software, and so on. When they get done using it hand them a business card so they can go buy their own notebook. I might also suggest handing them your own business card as well so if they need any assistance you can make a buck off them.

  • Re:Easy reply (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Foodie ( 980694 ) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @02:56AM (#28178463)
    I would give you mod points if I had.

    I find it very difficult to share my notebook too, it isn't the security and virus, etc, but more because I'm paranoid and a germophobic. :)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @03:00AM (#28178499)

    I use an Icelandic keyboard layout.. that keeps most people off my computer. When they can not find the @ key, they usually give up.

  • by Terje Mathisen ( 128806 ) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @03:06AM (#28178531)

    I've solved this problem by having a Win XP virtual machine: I put this machine on a second monitor (or external projector) and then I don't have to worry at all about the host OS being messed up.

    Alternatively I can make it fullscreen on the primary/only screen.


  • Re:Just say no (Score:4, Interesting)

    by crazybit ( 918023 ) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @03:22AM (#28178635)
    Lending your laptop once in a while is OK, specially when you are truly helping someone who's laptop got infected by a virus or some other problem. Helping others in emergencies is good for friendships and enhancing relations with colleagues.

    On the other side, providing unlimited access to your laptop is dangerous for your data and equipment, and saying "you are rude" if you deny their petition is just a psychological technique to manipulate - "psycho-bullying".

    Say no and explain the reasons politely, and offer them you will help them if they plan to buy a laptop. If they tell you you are being rude after that, it means they don't know what 'Friendship' means.
  • by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @03:27AM (#28178683) Journal
    I agree.

    Art Schools are the worst for whiny incompetent self absorbed losers with entitlement issues. I should know - I've attended three and have an advanced degree in fine arts. The few people that were "real" are to this day some of my closest friends and colleagues. The rest were fucking morons I couldn't stand then and have no time for now.

    If they want something done, they need to take the responsibility to make sure it happens and then GET OFF THEIR LAZY BUTTS and MAKE IT FUCKING HAPPEN.

    You don't have to be nice. You don't have to share. And these people need to learn that they need to depend on themselves and be competent on such self-reliance. When they do that, they become better people.

    That said, if someone's presentation is fucked because their laptop puked blood and died, then: Yes, you would win big karma points letting them use your machine. But if they're bugging you for your machine to check facebook, they're leeches who should just choke on their own tongues.


  • Re:easy. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TOGSolid ( 1412915 ) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @04:02AM (#28178853)
    When I was an apprentice in the Merchant Marines, I was one of the few who had a laptop in my dorm packed with games and music and what not. I set up a guest account with a massively long password so that those that wanted to could play the games I had on it while I was out and about on the campus doing whatever. The catch is, is that to use it I charged by the hour and I only let certain people use it so that it didn't get fucked up. Food, soda, and cigarettes were all accepted currency on top of straight cash. I had no issues saying no, and if I was busy saving the day in whatever game I was playing at the time, then too fucking bad. I don't care if you want on, it's my rig.

    Start charging for access to use your laptop and don't be afraid to say no. I'm guessing most of those students aren't the smartest people in the world and you don't want one of those airheads busting your laptop after all so be judicious in who you'll let buy time. Remember, the customer is always wrong.
  • by wgoodman ( 1109297 ) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @04:05AM (#28178875)
    being in the same boat and having the same degree, i can say with all honesty that beyond the first year, art school exists solely to teach you how to bullshit. it's not a matter of what you create, it's how you sell it to the others. hell, look at the dada movement as proof.
  • by Ash Vince ( 602485 ) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @07:05AM (#28179823) Journal

    A laptop costs almost nothing compared to most art supplies, if they complain they don't have the cash... ask them how much they paid for their last photo enlargements?

    Or even better, ask them how much they spent on booze last term.

    In fact, the best solution to this is not to tell them they cannot use your PC, the best solution is to start charging a fair hourly rate for laptop rent. This will probably cover the cost of a new laptop just to rent out in next to no time.

    This is perfectly fair as your time in providing a working laptop is probably far more valuable than the laptop itself and they are putting ware and tear on your laptop anyway. If you are going to put in a load of additional time in order to secure it so it can be a shared resource, then you certainly deserve monetary compensation for your time.

    That is how the capitalist world we live in works. It makes sense for your fellow students to learn this as soon as possible since they will all have to join the real world sooner or later unless they plan on trying to find a country that still works on a gift economy.

  • by fprintf ( 82740 ) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @08:17AM (#28180361) Journal

    Back in the stone ages when I was in school we used to do this with our HP RPN calculators. Some nob head would forget their calculator and ask to borrow it. "You can try" was always a prelude to a funny few moments as they tried to do a simple calculation.

  • by Peganthyrus ( 713645 ) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @08:51AM (#28180693) Homepage
    Depends on your teachers and the focus of the school. If you're going to a "fine art" curriculum, yeah. But there are schools that focus on trying to beat all the skills of Actually Being Able To Draw into your tiny little head, too. And then there's going out and getting a job at an animation studio and having a grizzled old vet tell you exactly how shitty your art is in loving detail, and how to make it better...
  • by tippe ( 1136385 ) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @10:49AM (#28182315)

    Ask for a retainer. $600, $900 or whatever the original value of your laptop is. Ask for it in cash (not check or IOU) and say it's because the last time you lent somebody your laptop they dropped it/stole it/lost it, etc, and you were left on the line to replace it. Tell them you'll give them the money back as soon as the laptop is returned in good working order, as determined by you. If they just want to check email real quick right in front of you, tell them "OK, fine, I'll cut you a deal: $300 instead of $600, but no lower". Be adamant and don't ever cave in for anyone (don't accept any "I'll pay you if I break it, I swear" arguments).
    90+% of people won't have the money on them, and most of the remainder will suddenly have to trust that you'll give them back the money when they return the laptop (and you've checked that it works properly), which they may be very hesitant to do. Unless your laptop is brand new, the amount of money they need to put into retainer is more than the cost of the laptop and so as long as your data has little or no value to them, they'll essentially be giving you more than what your laptop is worth, which is likely to discourage anyone from wanting to borrow it.
    Basically, you're sending the ball back into their court and asking that they trust you with a large sum of money. Most won't.

    Also, as other have pointed out, set up a crippled guest account so that if somebody does take your offer, you aren't handing them all of your personal data.

  • by stasike ( 1063564 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @03:53AM (#28192863)

    I am from generation that saw the introduction of a handheld calculator.

    I finally got one in 7-th grade in grammar school. Many, many of my clasmates didn't have calculator at the time. From time to time people from the next class would come to our class and each of them was trying to borrow a calculator, because they has physics test that day and they wanted to save time by not having to do calculations by hand. I hated, just HATED to put my precious programmable calculator [] into the hands of some ignorant clumsy non-geek ;-))
    At that time a good calculator was about as valuable in my country as a netbook is in USA today.

    So, when one of them came to me to borrow my calculator it went like this:
    "Hey, can you lend me a calculator"
    "Of course, no problem at all"
    "Let me just show you how it works. You plug in the power adaptor to the wall socket, switch the thing on like this ..."
    "now let's compute 3*5. OK?"
    "you type 3"
    "now you move 3 to the next register by pressing this symbol - you see this gorgeous thing uses Reverse Polish Logic"
    "now you type in 5"
    "and finally you press * symbol to tell the calculator to compute ..."
    "Hey ... do not run away ... I can show you how to cleverly use the next two registers for parenthesis ... "

    Install some nasty looking geeky system on your notebook and every time one of your art oriented friends comes along just start explaining how this obscure distro works ...

  • Re:Trade! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RockDoctor ( 15477 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @12:10PM (#28196983) Journal

    He's at an art school. More appropriate advice is likely "Ask for sexual favors from both."


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