Everything you need to know

Dear Joe,

With Computing at Carnegie Mellon in full gear, I’m finding it impossible to find a cluster so I can check my e-mail in between classes. On the off chance that I do find a cluster that isn’t used for this class, I’m usually stuck waiting for someone to leave the cramped space before I can do my business. That said, here’s my question: Suppose I find a computer logged onto a user, but no one is sitting there. Do I have the right to give him the boot and log on with my name?

—Webbed in Morewood

Dear Webbed,

First off, hang in there. In a few weeks, the clusters should have more room for guerrilla warfare tacticians like you. Consider yourself a rare breed. Walk into any random cluster, and you’ll find it filled with bloggers, video game junkies, and any other kind of hobbyist who spends an unearthly amount of time on the Internet. What’s left is scarce, at least during testing times like these.

So when you find that key opportunity to seize a monitor but discover that it’s already logged on to a name, practice the following procedure: 1) See if there are any other monitors available. 2) Ask the people next to you whether the computer is in use. Contrary to popular belief, it’s okay to talk to people in a computer cluster. If not, just wait a minute or two if you can. The absentee user may just be printing something. 3) Use good judgment. If whoever was there before was in the middle of something that looks involved, then try to find another computer. 4) After all these prerequisites, feel free to terminate the sucker and enter the wonderful world of the Internet.

I’d write more, but it looks like I have to leave the room I’m typing in. Damned computer skills class again.

Regards, Joe

Dear Joe,

Recently, several friends and I went to half-price in Oakland. After receiving the bill, one of the people at the table suggested that we tip full price. Others insisted on paying the tip based solely on the check, or half the tip the waitress would usually get. I personally think that whenever there’s a special on food, people normally don’t factor that into their tip. Why should half-price be any different?

—Fed up in Donner

Dear Fed up,

Tipping can be a confusing issue. First, if we tip waiters, why not cooks? In fact, why don’t we tip the employees of Schatz when they cook us an omelet? As it is, trying to grapple with the question of whom to tip is almost impossible to answer. However, by whatever strange force made it this way, waiters depend on tips to make a living. Wages for waiters are near peanuts. Because of this, tips make up the bulk of their income. While entrees may be half price, the service given by waiters is still at the same level as when you pay full price. As a former waiter, if I knew ahead of time that I was going to be half tipped, I would teach that table a lesson. Soup would be spilled, orders would be lost, and your ranch would absolutely not be put on the side. In other words, I would do the same work worthy of a half tip at full price. Remember, waiters are the only thing between between the kitchen and your mouth. Here’s a good tip: Treat them respectfully.

Regards, Joe