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A non-profit publication of the Office of the University Relations of Virginia Tech,
including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

Internet and Electronic Mail

By Bill Sanders

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 10 - October 27, 1994

The Computing Center and some departments have long maintained computers on the Internet, but the expansion of the campus high-speed data network, and the emergence of networking software for increasingly powerful personal computers are bringing the Internet directly to campus offices, residence halls, and local homes and businesses.

Internet, the global computing network of networks, may not yet be the "information superhighway" we hear about; in fact, navigating it sometimes feels more like driving around on a tangle of dirt roads without a map. However, a little time and experience bring recognition of the Internet for what it is: rapidly expanding open roads through a universe of information, where words like "gopher," "mosaic," and even "news" take on new meanings.

You need four things to get out onto the information highway:

A computer: Most of us have on our desks or at home an IBM PC (or compatible) running DOS or Windows, or a Macintosh. Most such systems purchased within the past several years should be satisfactory.

A communications connection: Most local internetters connect by phone or ethernet, though other options do exist. You may need other equipment, like a modem or ethernet card, depending on your location.

Software: For PC's and Macs, the Computing Center and the Blacksburg Electronic Village provide a starter set of software. Faculty and staff members, and students may pick up the software during normal working hours from 220 Hutcheson Hall in exchange for a new high-density 3.5-inch diskette (two diskettes for Macintosh). The front panel of the brochure provided with the software identifies all the prerequisites and system requirements. You will want to read it carefully before accepting the software.

Permissions: First, you need a PID and password. For all faculty and staff members, and students of record as of the beginning of the fall semester, 1994, a PID has been created, but you must ask to have it activated. To activate a PID quickly, take a picture identification to any Computing Center service location (see chart).

Alternatively, faculty and staff members may complete a PID activation form, have it signed by their department head or computer accounts manager, then take it to a service location or mail it to: PID Registration, 1700 Pratt Drive (mail code 0214). Faculty and staff members will be notified of the activation within three working days.

If you try to activate your PID and find that you do not have one, complete a PID application form at a service location. Faculty and staff members may obtain an application from their computer-accounts manager or the Computing Center (1-9500).

Second, to connect by standard voice phone line from off campus you will need authorization from CNS to use the university's dial-in modem pool. There is a charge for this service.

The clip-'n-save table lists the various Internet and e-mail related Information Systems products and services you may need and where to get them.

Information Systems offers training on most of its systems and the schedule is published each semester as an insert to the first issue of Spectrum. The same information may be found on-line via gopher or World Wide Web, as well as on the VM INFO system.

E-mail and Growing Pains

Highways have traffic jams, particularly during rush hour, and the local segments of our information highway are no exception. Recent increases in traffic have created some problems, especially for the Campuswide Mail service (see Campuswide Mail Tips).

This is a top priority for Information Systems, and full-scale efforts are in place to increase hardware capacity, improve software performance, and assure adequate technical support. As a result, service has improved significantly since the beginning of the semester, but more remains to be done. These efforts will continue until we have the capacity to insure prompt, reliable services to all.

Technical support is available from the Computing Center. Send e-mail to 4help@vt.edu; from on campus during normal working hours, call 4-HELP, or from off campus, call 231-HELP (231-4357).