[May 12, 2006]

PC, Mac and Linux junkies can all be happy in U. Pittsburgh labs

(Comtex Business Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)PITTSBURGH, May 12, 2006 (The Pitt News, U-WIRE via COMTEX) --Two hundred sixty dollars goes a long way. The University of Pittsburgh charges each student a fee every year to fund computing services for the campus community. In other words, that chunk of dough gives you access to seven computer labs, 110 e-mail kiosks, 900 sheets of paper and, if you live on campus, a supreme Gigabit Ethernet connection. But that's not all. There are computer classes, software and 24-hour technical support tied into the deal as well.


But before you can start utilizing these resources, you must have a University computer account in order to log in. Upon your class registration, an account with a temporary password is created for you. You can obtain the password by stopping into one of the seven computer labs to ask lab technicians on staff. Lab technicians are easy to find by the dark blue, collared shirts they wear.

Four years ago, Computing Services and Systems Development opened the newest computer lab on campus, in Alumni Hall. This lab is unique because, in addition to the many computers running Windows 2000 or XP Professional, several computers are running Linux. So if you're one of the few, proud Linux gurus, stop by the lab to check it out. All campus lab hours can be found at www.technology.pitt.edu/for_students.html#labs by clicking the link labeled "Computing Labs Hours, Hardware and Locations."

E-mail kiosks have been placed in different areas that receive considerable amounts of student traffic on campus: The Towers lobby, outside Marketplace cafeteria and Schenley Cafe, and on either end of Posvar Hall's first floor, for example. Installed four years ago, the kiosks are nothing more than upright-mounted computers with Internet access and limited software installed. They allow you to check your e-mail without the hassle of going to a computer lab or returning to your dorm room.

And the 900 sheets of paper? By default, the printers use both sides of the paper, so you technically receive 1,800 printed pages each semester. If you habitually print entire online books and user manuals, or you are campaigning for Student Government Board, you'll want to take advantage of this generous quota. But be warned, the lab technicians do not approve of such activity.

If you're living on campus, you have access to the University's network and the Internet from the comfort of your dorm room. Before you begin surfing the Web, you must have an Ethernet card installed in your computer and a cable to connect the card to the Ethernet jack on the wall. If you're not sure whether you have an Ethernet card, look at the back of your computer. If you see something that looks like an oversized phone jack, you've probably got one.

Ethernet cards and cables can be purchased at a reduced rate from CSSD in 105 Bellefield Hall. Detailed instructions to connect to the University's network, after a successful Ethernet card installation, are available at any computer lab and on the Web at www.technology.pitt.edu.

Oodles of software are at your disposal. A software toolkit CD can be obtained from any of the labs, free of charge. The CD includes connectivity software, Web browsers, plug-ins, document processing and viewing software, anti-virus software and other utilities that you'll find useful. Additionally, under a licensing agreement with Microsoft, Pitt provides students with free Microsoft software, including several versions of Windows, the Microsoft Office Suite (which includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint) and the Microsoft Visual Studio (for application development). All of the software that CSSD offers can be downloaded directly from the Web at software.pitt.edu.

Can't part with your computer when you're studying in the Cathedral? There are new wireless network access sites in the Cathedral of Learning Commons Room, the Cathedral lawn at Fifth Avenue and Bigelow Boulevard, the William Pitt Union lounge area, the study area in the Petersen Events Center, Hillman Library and the study lounge on the second floor of Posvar Hall.

The technology help desk offers 24-hour computer support to students, faculty and staff. If you're having computer trouble, contact a help desk analyst at (412) 624-HELP.

Remember: All students must pay for these services, as the "Computer Network/Service Pgh" clause on your tuition bill clearly indicates, so take advantage of them. In fact, if, at the end of the semester, you have 800 sheets of paper left on your quota, you may want to consider opening Microsoft Word and printing out several copies of a long blank document. That way, you'll have paper for your printer at home. Again, though, the lab technicians certainly won't like this behavior and may even restrict your printing.

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