Frequently Asked Questions (And Answers Too!)
Where can I get help?
First, check to see if this list answers your question. Second, talk to your RA. She or he will have a list of people who can help you with your problem.
How do I get an email account and address?
- Tampa: Go to the Information Technology Help Desk (1st Floor of the Library.)
- Sarasota: Go to Sarasota Campus Computing.
- St. Petersburg: Go to St. Petersburg Campus Computing.
Graduate students, please ask your department who the computing services provider for you is.
What kind of an Ethernet card should I buy? What do I tell the salesperson? Where should I buy it from?
Most new computers are already equipped with compatible built-in network cards. If yours isn't, you should get a 1000 Mbps / Gigabit Ethernet capable Ethernet card. The Campus Computer Store can help you in picking the right card.
What about Gigabit?
Currently all student connections are at least switched, full-duplex 100 Mbps. Any new residence halls or renovations will upgrade connections to full gigabit (1000 Mbps) speeds.
What about the cable to connect the computer to the wall jack?
That cable must be a Category 6 (Cat 6, Cat VI) cable or better. When purchasing it, just saying 'Category 6 Ethernet patch cable' should be enough. Do not use cable that isn't labeled as Category 5, Category 5e or Category 6. Using such a cable will most likely lead to decreased and erratic performance. Do not place anything on top of the cable, and do not place the cable so that it will be stepped on. This can disrupt the internal structure of the cable and will also lead into decreased performance and network errors. Finally, avoid excessive lengths of cable, try to keep it under 20'. The Campus Computer Store can help you with picking the right cable.
For 100 megabit and gigabit Ethernet to operate properly, there are strict limits to the capacitance, inductance, resistance, near end crosstalk, frequency response and propagation delay of the cable. That's why not just any old cable will do. The various cabling categories guarantee the electrical performance of the cable.
Can I connect two computers to the same jack?
There are things called splitters that let you plug in two computers in one jack, but they only worked on old networks. Currently each computer needs all the wires in a jack, so they cannot be shared. Do not connect any devices such as wireless access points, home routers, switches or hubs to the network ports. If you have legitimate special requirements, please contact Residence Services Computing.
What's an IP address and DHCP?
To communicate with other computers on the Internet, your computer must speak a language called TCP/IP. The IP address is the name of your machine in this language. However, the IP address isn't hardwired into the computer, and if people get careless, two computers could end up with the same IP address. This would be bad, because then neither could browse the web or log on to check email, since other machines can't tell these two apart! To prevent this from happening we use a technology called DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, since you asked), that keeps track of IP addresses and hands unused ones out to computers when they are started.
The other benefit of DHCP is that it automatically configures your computer with other network information, such as netmasks, broadcast addresses, DNS addresses and so forth.
Dos and Don'ts (rules, rules, and more rules)
There is a set of rules that you will have to agree to when you register your computer on the USF network. This chapter elaborates on a few of those rules.
Some major problems are spamming (mass-mailing, or mass-posting or otherwise bothering people with electronic junk mail), hacking (trying to gain unauthorized access to computers or other similar equipment for whatever purposes), copyright infringements —copyright laws still apply on the Internet!—and distributing indecent or otherwise forbidden material, such as putting up a web site with pornographic images in violation with state or federal law, or software that violates copyright laws.
Among other entities the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) monitors things like mp3 archives, and have found, shut down, and followed up on them even at USF. You really don't want to mess up your life by getting caught doing something like that.
Offenses that are less likely to throw you into jail for the rest of your natural life are mostly the same as in everyday life—being obnoxious, impolite or outright harassing. Use common sense and treat everyone with the same courtesy they would receive in a face-to-face conversation. It's not nice to wake up when someone bangs on your door with a baseball bat because you managed to upset their girl/boyfriend.
The speed of the network is high but not limitless, and you share it with your neighbors and ultimately everyone else on campus, so misusing it on purpose is also bad. Chain letters are prohibited, in part because the often include false rumors or illegal pyramid schemes, in part because they annoy people and finally because they tend to congest machines handling your mail. Often seemingly innocent requests to send email to a young cancer patient so that she/he can get into the book of records may just be ploys to collect email-addresses for marketing purposes, or attempts to get someone's mailbox stuffed.
For a very thorough explanation on manners and the Internet see RFC 1941
What should I name my computer?
The name of your computer should be unique - picking any celebrity or cartoon character is likely to be duplicated by someone else. Something generic like your room number works best, but if you don't feel comfortable with that try to be as original as possible.
The name mentioned above refers to Microsoft Networking. The real DNS name of the IP you receive from the DHCP server is fixed. We cannot entertain requests for special names (your address changes randomly due to DHCP anyway), and due to legal reasons registering your own domain name to point at a USF address is NOT allowed.