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Hidden Resources at MIT

By Gabe Weinberg

There are many hidden resources around the MIT campus, which allow students to get help, claim abandoned furniture and computer products, and rub elbows with famous visitors to campus.

First and foremost is the MIT Listings Page, <>, which lists (pretty comprehensively) meetings, activities, lectures and events at MIT. The big plus here is the lecture listings. Every day there are several (three to ten) lectures throughout the Institute given by both invited guests and MIT professors. These lectures present excellent opportunities to get a feel for subjects, professors and departments.

Next is free food. This resource is tied inextricably to the MIT Listings Page. Almost every lecture has an accompanied platter of free food from MIT catering. While not advocating anything here; there is an empirical positive correlation between lectures and food.


WMBR. Yes, MIT has its own radio station broadcasting at 88.1 MHz. They have a well-defined schedule, found at < schedule.html>. The station was recently named Best Rock Station in Boston Magazine’s annual awards issue.

Roadkill Buffet <>, the MIT improv comedy troupe, is actually quite funny. Go and see them at least once, if for no other reason than to suggest inane improv scenarios and make them either ignore you or try to humorously insult you on the spot.

The wonders of Athena

So if you know anything about Athena then you know about zephyring. Well if you know a little more about Athena, you know that you can zwrite zephyr classes and instances, which send your zwrites to everyone currently subscribed to that class or instance. By far, the most useful zephyr instance is help. There seem to be quite knowledgeable people subscribed to the ‘help instance,’ 24-7-365.25. Just don’t ask questions that you can easily look up on your own (man pages, olc answers, easy web searches, etc.) To subscribe for your current athena session, type zctl subscribe message help \*, and to write the instance type zwrite -i help.

There are literally hundreds of mailing lists at MIT. Surprised? Just type mailmaint at an Athena prompt and select ‘Show all public mailing lists.’ And those are only the public ones. Anyhow, is a mailing list for the expressed purpose of giving stuff away for free. Seriously... just beware of the high traffic, and the speed at which people claim free stuff. Turn on mail notification and be ready for action (many commonly asked questions, including how to set up zephyr mail notification, are answered in FAQ format accessed by typing olc answers).

And the fun doesn’t stop there. Writing a paper? You can look up words in Webster’s Dictionary (add sipb; webster <word>), Thesaurus (add sipb; thesaurus <word>) or the Oxford English Dictionary (add oed; ox2 <word>). And on the web, you can search the complete works of Shakespeare at <>, browse 441 works of classical literature at <>, or obtain pgp, a privacy program at < network/pgp.html>.

More survival tips

For more extensive research, the MIT library system <> is invaluable. You can search the entire catalog on-line, as well as countless databases of journal articles. Furthermore, the libraries are a great place to study (not for everyone), and believe it or not, there are more libraries than Barker.

It is possible to spend $120 plus in one month on local calls to Wellesley. But aren’t local calls free? Only calls that are really local. Anyways, if you live on campus local calls are free and ACUS rates are competitive. Also, you can call Wellesley rooms by simply dialing 187 and then the room extension. Yes, the California penal code number for homicide is what you dial to turn your phone into a Wellesley campus phone.

Finally, part of the job of being an MIT professor is being responsive to students. You can write or call professors for guidance, research inquiries, or just plain questions. Also, if you are taking a class and are having trouble with any of the material, go to office hours or make an appointment with the professor. I have learned an amazing amount from such close interaction.

Looking for a place to hang out? The Coffeehouse and Pritchett are decent environments for such activity. I didn’t discover Pritchett, a student run dining hall on the second floor of Walker Memorial, until my third term, but I have spent a great deal of time in the Coffeehouse, which is open 24 hours and is located on the third floor of Student Center.