Virtual Computer Lab

UCI students, especially in the sciences and engineering, need to learn and use very high-end and often expensive software.  Buying a copy of each package for every lab computer at UCI is not feasible, so how can UCI offer this essential learning aid?

In collaboration with CSU Fullerton, UCI has made a virtual computing lab available.  Using a student’s own computer as the gateway, she or he can run packages such as ArcGIS, Matlab, and SPSS remotely.  These packages are fully licensed, and full-featured, but by fluidly sharing licensing and computing capacity, this service is provided at the fraction of the cost of a local, equally well equipped computer lab.  Additionally, this solution offers freedom of location and 24/7 service.

Group Email – Hints and Tips

mailinglistEmail has become an integral tool for business communications.  However, using email to communicate among a group can be challenging.  Here are some ideas for more effective communication and collaboration within a team or other UCI community.

For small groups and short-term issues, a simple cc: list and “reply all” can get the job done, but when the number of recipients grows, communication becomes disjointed as people reply to different messages in a chain, respond to different drafts of a document, accidentally share comments intended for one recipient to the whole list, and other inefficiencies.

Mailing lists (provided at UCI by the Mailman software) are a convenient method for communication among a large group or interest community.  Lists can be configured to be for announcements only (list members see official postings but cannot reply), moderated (anyone can reply but the list administrator has to approve a reply before it is distributed), or open discussion.  You can request a new mailman list on the OIT Web site.  Administrators can build a list of recipients, or potential subscribers can add and remove themselves from a list as interests change.  Recipients are spared a chain of “Please remove me from this list” email messages which can result from using cc: addressing.

Beyond simple group communications, there are collaboration tools such as UCI Google Groups.  With collaboration software, you don’t have to send email attachments around – teams can work on a single on-line copy of a document together, discussing ideas in email, or attaching comments directly to the document.  Access to the document is tied to membership in the group, so as people join and leave the team, the ability to participate in discussions or change team documents follows in parallel.

If you have questions or wish assistance in using group communication tools, please contact the OIT Help Desk.


Webfiles – Collaborative File Sharing

Webfiles is a NACS service which offers a collaborative filesharing environment. Available to UCI faculty, staff and graduate students, Webfiles provides 1 gigabyte of space in which to place any type of electronic data — documents, spreadsheets, data files, binary media files, etc. These files can easily be shared, with read-only or read-write privileges, with other campus Webfiles users. The Webfiles system also offers “tickets,” which can facilitate sharing or collaborative editing with your colleagues outside of UCI.

file sharing

file sharing

Among other features of this service, you can specify tickets which limit access time or number of uses, you can log all accesses to particular files, and Webfiles can maintain multiple versions of files being modified.

Webfiles is a good alternative to the use of email attachments, especially for those projects which involve large files, or require repeated revisions among several collaborators.

Webfiles training is offered quarterly.  You can find out when the next session is scheduled at the NACS Training website .