Advice on surviving grad school
Finding a room for a defense
This is a big pain. There is no database of classroom availability that is accessible to students or even people in any department. Most building have a few rooms that are scheduled locally by the department, but the larger rooms are scheduled by Classroom Services. You have to provide (via Joanne, or Scott, or some department person), a list of rooms that you want and times that you want the room. If you don't care where you end up, they can always find you a place. But if you have a specific request, it can be hard.
One way to get around the system is to do a google site search within the UW Time Schedule for the room number you want. If you paste the following line into google
site:washington.edu/students/timeschd/WIN2009/ "FSH 107"
then you'll get a list of all department course lists within the Winter Quarter 2009 schedule which have at least one class in FSH 107. You can then scan through these for the time and day of week that you want, or make a big table of all conflicts in those rooms. The absence of a conflict does not guarantee you'll get the room, but the presence of a conflict guarantees that you won't.
Also, for exams early in the quarter, you probably won't be allowed to schedule the room until after the quarter begins, which presents an additional challenge.
You can generally borrow equipment like laptops, projectors, cameras from your department to use for committee meetings, defenses, etc. However, if you have trouble getting a reservation or need something for more han a few hours, check out the STF Equipment Loan Program. As long as you are a currently enrolled student, you can check out equipment for a week at a time for free (funded by the student technology fee).