March 2007

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Up until last wednesday ResNet relied on a collection of proxy servers to provide access to websites on the internet. But applications like itunes and msn messenger didn’t work very well with proxy servers. So we have decided to unblock port 80 on the University firewall and allow ResNet users direct access to websites.

This should mean that your software will now work more reliably, and there is no longer any need to configure proxy server settings in your web browser.  But it is possible that there may be performance issues, caused by the lack of proxy servers.

We are going to be keeping a very close eye on the situation, and are prepared to roll back to using the proxy servers if there does seem to be a substantial increase in latency or packet loss.

This is part of the occasional series of newsletters sent to all ResNet subscribers. In this edition: as the Easter vacation starts information about two useful services when away from the University.

New Squirrelmail webmail

New webmail software, called SquirrelMail, was made available at the start of January, and is now being used by approximately 2000 users every day. It has a more modern look and greater functionality than the old webmail, Silkymail, and reactions from users have been very positive.

To use SquirrelMail, go to https://webmail.bris.ac.uk

You can also use Mulberry or other methods to read your email. See accessing your email remotely for details.

New offsite proxy

When away from the University over the vacation you can still access electronic library resources and other restricted materials that are usually only available within the University network. To do this use the new offsite proxy. This is much easier to use than the authenticated proxy service we had before.

For information on the offsite proxy and other resources useful when working remotely see http://www.bristol.ac.uk/offsite

If you take a computer from ResNet and then connect it to the Internet somewhere else you may find that it is already set up to use the offsite proxy (because we also use the same system as an onsite proxy on ResNet). You might notice this as a prompt to log on that pops up when you visit the Bristol website. You can simply enter your standard UoB username and password to carry on; however if you prefer to get rid of this permanently see how to set your computer to stop using the University web proxy.

Warning about upgrading to Vista

If you buy a new computer with Windows Vista you can now connect it to ResNet. To do this use the normal in-room registration system http://register.resnet.bristol.ac.uk/ and follow the instructions.

Do not run the ResNet security CD on Vista! Doing so can cause serious problems. Instead use the in-room registration system. This will give you a new version of our McAfee AntiVirus which is Vista compatible.

If you are thinking of installing Vista on your current computer – don’t! It will cause old systems to run incredibly slowly and some of your existing hardware and software will break. It is best to wait for several months for problems to be fixed – or the easiest option is to wait until you are ready to buy a brand new computer.

For more info on Vista see the ResNet blog at http://www.bristolresnet.net

New wireless hotspots in halls

Wireless hotspots are now available in many of the halls of residence. They’ve been installed in central areas such as bars, libraries & study rooms. Hotspots are working now in Badock, Durdham, Hiatt Baker, Manor and University Hall. Hotspots for Churchill, Clifton Hill House & Goldney are also on the way.

Hotspots are free to use for all members of the University (you don’t need a ResNet subscription). Each hotspot only covers a limited area though – they don’t provide wireless in your own room.

For precise locations and connection instructions see http://www.wireless.bristol.ac.uk

Win an iPod video for your views on IT services

The University is conducting a survey of all students to get your views on IT services and facilities. What would you like us to do and how could we do it better?

There is a prize draw for all completed surveys – the top prize is an iPod video worth £180, and other prizes of iPod shuffles and print/copier credits are also up for grabs. If you prefer not to enter the draw the survey is completely anonymous.

Your feedback is essential to help us provide the IT services that students need and want to use. Please got to http://www.bristol.ac.uk/student-itsurvey to let us know.

Well so far we have a whole 8 people connection to ResNet with Windows Vista and we have had (that I know of) two people needing to rebuild their systems. Both rebuilds have been caused by running the ResNet Security CD and installing the old version of McAfee VirusScan Enterprise (8.0i).

How can ResNet let us accidentally install the wrong version of McAfee VirusScan I hear you all asking.

Well, when the ResNet security CD is run, we check to see what version of Windows is being run, if it is not 2000 or XP, we exit the installation. Vista (in its infinite wisdom) then pipes up saying something about running the install in compatibility mode, emulating (probably) XP, so the installation can continue 🙁 After McAfee VirusScan is installed, your system will either blue screen and crash or not allow updates to the VirusScan definitions file – either way this is not good. Currently we have not been able to resurrect these dead machines.

Please, please, please do not run the ResNet Security CD on Windows Vista or your Vista installation may get fried.

To register your Vista system simply visit <http://register.resnet.bris.ac.uk> and follow the on-screen instructions.

If you are considering upgrading an existing computer to Vista – don’t. Give it a few months before spending your hard earned cash on something that will probably make an older machine run like a 3-legged donkey 🙂

There was a lightning strike at Wills Hall a couple of days ago and after this some ResNet users reported that their ResNet connection was not working.

We’ve checked our equipment and it appears to be operating fine. So far the people who had a problem have found that the network adapter inside their computer had been damaged by the strike. Replacing the network adapter gets them working again.

We sell external high-speed USB network adapters at the ResNet help desk. If you have a problem please try replacing your adapter (and resetting your connection with Manage My ResNet). That will probably sort it out – but if it doesn’t you can return the adapter for a refund and we will investigate further.

Well we said that Windows Vista could be unleashed on ResNet in February and we were almost right, March 1st is pretty close 😉

To get Vista through the registration process you will need to visit http://register.resnet.bristol.ac.uk and follow the on-screen instructions. At some point you’ll have to phone the ResNet helpdesk to get a registration shortcut code. The phone lines are currently open from 2pm to 5:30pm Monday to Friday

We are working on making the Vista registration process more slick but currently it’s a bit manual – sorry about that.

If you have any feedback about Vista, good or bad, then please drop us an email resnet-help@bristol.ac.uk