Computing Support Coordinators

Computing Support Coordinator (CSC) is the label often used at UCI for anyone employed by a school or department to provide local computer and network expertise. What do local supporters do?

Local computing and network support staff provide a variety of standard technical services as school and department needs dictate. They may maintain local labs, support administrative, academic, and other applications, maintain local network and e-mail servers, and provide end-user assistance, often including discipline-specific expertise, to faculty, staff and some students.

CSCs are your best first resource when you have a technical problem. NACS supports the CSCs, providing information, managing a mailing list, conducting discussion forums, distributing software, supplying specialized technical information, and fostering communication among CSCs from different departments.

For more information, and a list of CSCs, visit: http://www.nacs.uci.edu/support/csc/csc.html

Y2K Bug is a No-Show at NACS

Thanks to preparations and planning, NACS is pleased to report that no Y2K-related problems occurred on the campus network, in the campus telephone system, or on NACS computing systems on January 1. Only minor Y2K problems had been anticipated, but we were concerned about possible threats to network and computer security by those attempting to exploit holiday absences and Y2K confusion.

NACS had staff standing by during the holiday to deal with potential Y2K problems or security attacks. Our goal was to be sure the UCI community could depend on NACS services upon their return to campus.

During the break, about a half-dozen different attempts to find or exploit weaknesses in UCI systems were detected and handled. In addition, several network and computing problems of a routine nature were fielded, and some key installation projections completed. Many thanks to the NACS computing and communications staff who worked or were on call during the holiday.

Reviewing Academic Computing Support

The UCI Academic Computing Support Review Committee has been formed to collect information andperspectives concerning support of academic computing at UCI. The committee will look at both local(departmental and school) and central support of faculty, student, and academic department computingactivities. It will also make initial recommendations on improving UCI’s support situation.

The creation of the committee represents a first step in reviewing the critical issue of technical support atUCI. The information gathered, as well as the initial recommendations made, will be available for campus comment and follow-up study.

“Computing support” includes end-user (faculty, student, staff) assistance, as well as behind-the-scenes network, server and application maintenance and development. Examples of end-user assistance are: system and software installation/setup, hardware/ software problem resolution, “how-to” advice on common software, instructional computing assistance, and consulting on a variety of topics.

The committee membership is a mix of faculty, assistant deans, and computer support managers. Members are: Peter Breen (College of Medicine), Candy Garretson (Humanities), Gregg Goldman (Graduate School of Management), Craig Martens (Physical Sciences), Jim Murry (College of Medicine), Leslie Pearlman (Biological Sciences), Thomas Saine (Humanities), Alan Terricciano (School of the Arts), Jan Vescera (NACS), and Ted Wright (Research and Graduate Studies/ Social Sciences). Input to the committee may be provided to any of its members, or to Committee Chair Dana Roode (DRoode@UCI.EDU, 824-5173).

Computing and Communication Service Upgrades and Enhancements, 1995/1996

This issue of NACS-News summarizes some of the improvements in Network and Computing services NACS has made during the 1995/1996 academic year. The demand for communications and computing access continues to grow at a fast pace. NACS is tracking the increasing demand and is making critical improvements as resources allow.

UCI Network Backbone

In September 1995, NACS pulled and spliced a significant amount of new fiber-optic cable around the campus to expand UCI’s network backbone. At the same time, the backbone was reconfigured into five switched Ethernet subnets, cabled in a star configuration. These changes not only accommodate current growth in campus electronic communication demand, but also increase UCI’s flexibility in responding to demands anticipated in the next five years and beyond. (See the Web document http://www.nacs.uci.edu/communication/backbone-1995 for detailed information).

Modems

NACS increased the number of modems in the campus modem pool from 220 to 300 in September, 1995 as a part of our Dial-up Remote Access Plan. To improve modem performance including file transfer speed and character echoing, two additional terminal servers were added to those servicing the modem pools in April 1996. Terminal servers are specialized computers with communications electronics that connect the modems to UCI’s backbone network. Further performance improvements resulted from balancing the 308 modems and incoming calls among all five modem terminal servers.

As previously announced, NACS has stabilized the free modem pool at approximately 300 modems at 14.4 kilobytes per second. See the Web document http://www.nacs.uci.edu/communication/Modem_Action_Summary.html for detailed information about 1995 modem changes. Enhanced modem services are now available through commercial Internet Service Providers (ISPs); for more information, see the Web document http://www.nacs.uci.edu/communication under “Internet Service Providers”.

Network Services

UCI’s network is not all wires and data communications equipment, it also includes dedicated computers that service network requests such as hostname to address correlation, mail transfer, and user authentication. In September NACS upgraded the “cpl2” network server to new hardware with over ten times the performance of the old. In March of this year we added an additional Mail Transport Agent (MTA) system which is used to post mail sent via LISTSERV mailing lists. Earlier in 1995 we upgraded the campus USENET News server (news.service.uci.edu). These changes collectively reduce the time required for electronic mail delivery, network computer name lookups, USENET newsgroup access, user authentication and campus directory database access.

EA – Student Educational Access Service

Accounts on our EA (Educational Access) student computing servers have grown from about 3,000 just a few years ago to over 14,000 this year. To accommodate that growth, NACS added a fourth system to the cluster in the Fall of 1995, effectively increasing capacity by about a third. Further configuration enhancements were made in January when two systems were added to handle high-volume “operating system” tasks such as mail transfer and user authentication. We also increased overall EA disk storage space several times to accommodate the additional users and large electronic mail storage need.

Over the summer of 1995 we changed the way students receive their UCInetID network identifiers and EA computer accounts. Students no longer have to visit NACS labs during the day to get their IDs and get started, they can go to any location with computers connected to the campus network. Further, they now use the same ID and password for modem use and logging into the EA systems. This ID is also available to each student as an electronic mail address of the form ID@UCI.EDU.

E4E – Faculty and Staff Electronic Access Service

NACS’ E4E service provides electronic mail and other services for over 3,000 faculty and staff. To meet increased demand there, the E4E server was upgraded in January to a new SPARCserver 5 system, which has approximately three times the computing capacity of the previous system.

NACS Instructional Labs

This past year, we have made several improvements to our Instructional Computing labs and more are planned for the summer. Our classroom Macintosh lab in Engineering and Computing Trailer (ECT) 120 has a new server and has been reconfigured to greatly reduce the amount of time required for programs to load. New user requested software, including ClarisWorks, is now available as well. In the ECT 123 Pentium Classroom lab, we have increased memory and updated software. We plan to move our PC labs to a Windows-NT environment over the summer which will improve system reliability and provide a current software platform for campus use.

UNIX File Backups

NACS has provided a file backup service for campus UNIX computer systems for a number of years. This service frees research groups and departments from having to maintain their own file save schedules and tape archives. In late 1995, this service was migrated from a homegrown solution to a commercial file save product, greatly increasing the efficiency of running saves. This change allows us to keep up with increasing demands for saves without increasing fees and will allow us to offer additional save services in the future for MS-Window and Macintosh computers.

 


 

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