February 2008

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This newsletter is being emailed to all current ResNet users and is also available on the ResNet blog at http://www.bristolresnet.net/2008/02/26/

Read on for information about longer help desk hours, free software from Microsoft, and your chance to comment on the ResNet service.

Help Desk now open until late seven days a week

Information Services is now providing help with ResNet and other IT problems by phone from 8am until 2am, seven days a week. We’ve combined the ResNet Help Desk with the IT Help Desk and extended the hours. Help is also available during vacations, on days when the University main buildings are closed, and on most bank holidays.

The number to call is 0117 928 7870 or internal 87870 free from your room. The previous number dedicated to ResNet (89001) still works and redirects to the same phone line.

We know that students are working and using computers at all times – we hope having someone to call until late will be very useful.

Free Microsoft developer software

Microsoft have just announced a scheme which provides some completely free software to all taught students. Included are Visual Studio Professional programming tools and several graphics, server and web editing packages.

To get hold of a copy go to the Microsoft DreamSpark site https://downloads.channel8.msdn.com/. When you download the software the Bristol Single Sign On page will pop up, enter your username and password to prove you are a student.

We hope this will be helpful, but please note:

  • Many of these packages are not in use within the University, and so the IT Help Desk won’t be able to offer any assistance with them,
  • Server versions of Windows (eg Windows Server 2003) are not suitable for use on ResNet,
  • Microsoft Office, Windows XP and Windows Vista are not included in this deal, but there are other ways to buy student licences for Office and Windows, see http://www.bristol.ac.uk/is/computing/advice/homeusers/software/

ResNet celebrates 10 years

We think Bristol was the first University in the UK to provide Internet access to study-bedrooms in all halls. ResNet started as a small pilot in one block of Hiatt Baker Hall in the spring term 1998. Over the summer vacation a team of university staff and students installed hardware, wrote the docs, set up the servers, designed a logo, stuffed envelopes and did everything else so that ResNet went live across all nine halls of residence for Freshers’ Week, 1998. The student houses followed soon afterwards. We haven’t looked back since!

We’d love to know what you think about 10 years of ResNet. If you’d like to wish us a happy anniversary, say what you think about the service, or suggest what you would like to see from ResNet in future, please leave a comment at <http://www.bristolresnet.net/2008/02/26/resnet>. Here’s to the next ten years!

The ResNet service is 10 years old this term!

We think Bristol was the first University in the UK to provide Internet access to study-bedrooms in all halls. ResNet started as a small pilot in one block of Hiatt Baker Hall in the spring term 1998. Over the summer vacation a team of university staff and students installed hardware, wrote the docs, set up the servers, designed a logo, stuffed envelopes and did everything else so that ResNet went live across all nine halls of residence for Freshers Week, 1998. The student houses followed soon afterwards. We haven’t looked back since!

10 years ago things were very different:

  • Only about 30% of students had a computer, and most of those were desktops with Windows 95, or even Windows 3.1
  • Fast, always on Internet like ResNet was almost unheard of – at home people had dialup if they had Internet access at all
  • Computers didn’t have a network adapter built-in: you had to open the case and fit a special ethernet adapter.

We are very proud of ResNet. It’s been great fun working on something that provides a real service to students and people seem to appreciate (even the Epigrump column likes ResNet 🙂 )

If you’d like to wish ResNet a happy anniversary, say what you think about the service, or suggest what you would like to see from ResNet in future, please leave a comment below. Here’s to the next ten years!

The ResNet team.

One of the Universities central database servers will be unavailable between 8am and 10am on Thursday 6th March 2008.

What does this mean for ResNet? Most people won’t notice, it should have no impact on existing registered connections at all. However, the following services will be unavailable:

  • Registration System. This will be unavailable to new customers. Existing customers should be ok.
  • We don’t think that My ResNet will be affected, but it may be in some cases.
  • We will be unable to sell subscriptions during the maintenance period.

Some other university systems will be unavailable as well. For more information, see http://www.bris.ac.uk/is/news/2008/datahub6mar.html

Information Services is now providing help with ResNet and other IT problems by phone from 8am until 2am, seven days a week. We’ve combined the ResNet Help Desk with the IT Help Desk and extended the help desk hours.

The number to call is 0117 928 7870 or internal 87870 free from your room. The previous number dedicated to ResNet (89001) will also still work and redirects to the same phone line.

The service is also available on bank holidays and days when the University main buildings are closed (except 25 and 26 December, and 1 January).

See IT Helpline now available 18 hours a day for more information.

We’re getting reports that the freewire IPTV client on Windows Vista is encouraging people to upgrade to the latest version (2.1.2.0) – and then failing to work with the following error message:

Freewire 2.1.2.0 error message

The problem seems to only affect some Windows Vista users.

We have found a (temporary) workaround. The “freewire lite” client doesn’t seem to show the same problems, although it is missing some of the features of the full version of the client. So if there’s something you desperately need to watch tonight, that may be an option.

You may like to contact the freewire helpdesk yourself. Contact information for the freewire helpdesk can be found on their website: http://freewiretv.com/helpdesk.html

We’ll update this post as and when we get more information from freewire.

Update 4pm: Freewire confirm that they have seen other cases of this and their engineers are investigating. It seems to affect some but not all Vista users.

This newsletter is being sent to all ResNet users and is also available on our blog at www.bristolresnet.net

More channels and Apple Mac version of Freewire TV

We’ve just made some improvements to Freewire TV on ResNet. We’ve added several international channels to the lineup today, including Al Jazeera, TV5, DW-TV, PCNE & Zee Music. Freewire is also now available to Mac users for the first time.

If you want to use Freewire first go to My ResNet www.resnet.bristol.ac.uk/myresnet and turn on the signal for your room. Then go to www.freewiretv.com and download the software for either Windows or Mac.

New free Laptop Clinics every weekday afternoon

  • Slow, unwell computer?
  • Can’t connect to the Internet?
  • Computer viruses or spyware?

At the Student Laptop Clinic we’ll look at your laptop while you wait, and fix it if we can, free of charge. The clinics are running from 2pm – 5pm every weekday until Easter. Please bring your laptop (and power supply) during those times to the IT Help Desk at the Computer Centre, Tyndall Avenue.

We can only fix software and configuration problems (we can’t repair physically broken hardware). Even with software problems we can’t fix everything, but if not we can provide advice on what to do next, information to help you fix the problem yourself or suggestions about who else you can contact.

The laptop clinics are a new trial service for all students. They are available from Monday 11th February until Thursday 28th March. We are running these clinics as a trial this term to see how useful and popular they are. If successful we’ll consider how to provide further help next year.

Changes to ResNet fair usage policy – new offpeak allowance & second chance system

We’ve made two changes to the ResNet fair usage policy http://www.bristol.ac.uk/is/computing/advice/homeusers/resnet/about/usage.html

  • From Monday 11th February we now have weekly allowances of 35GB off-peak (midnight to 6pm) and 5GB on-peak (6pm to midnight). Previously there was no explicit limit off-peak. It is very unlikely this will affect you, as in the last two weeks only 19 people on ResNet used more than 35GB off-peak.
  • We now have a ‘second chance’ system so that if you accidentally go over the allowance you have an opportunity to carry on as normal. You can use this second chance once per year.

To view your own usage see My ResNet www.resnet.bristol.ac.uk/myresnet

You may have noticed in the Network Usage section of My ResNet that for the last two weeks we have defined a weekly allowance at off-peak times as well as the usual on-peak allowance. From monday 11th February we are now enforcing this limit.

What are the limits?
The limits are now 35GB off-peak (midnight to 6pm) and 5GB on-peak (6pm to midnight). If either of these limits is exceeded then your connection will be restricted.

The off-peak restriction works in exactly the same way as the on-peak restriction by moving your connection to a different network segment with other high traffic users. Your connection will be limited to web and email for the remainder of the week. You will get the usual warning email at 80% of allowance so you don’t have to keep too keen an eye on your MyResNet page.

Will this affect me?

It is highly unlikely that you will be affected by this revised policy. In the last 2 weeks only 19 users (0.4% of ResNet) exceeded the 35GB limit with 5 of those (0.1%) exceeding it both weeks. It is not something for most people on ResNet to worry about. We’ve only introduced it because a very small number of people on ResNet were using an extremely large amount of the capacity.

More information

To check your usage see My ResNet. For more information see the Fair Usage Policy or information about how to control your network usage. If you have any further questions or you wish to comment on this change then please email us at resnet-help@bristol.ac.uk

We are planning to upgrade to software running on our primary router early on Tuesday morning. This is to solve a few issues we are having with the current software.

As the router has a redundant pair there should only be two very short outages (< 1 minute).

The database server which runs various chunks of ResNet will be unavailable on saturday morning for about 2 hours due to some essential systems maintenance.

Customers with existing connections will be unaffected – your connection will continue to function as normal

The maintenance will affect the following parts of ResNet

  • The in-room registration system for new customers will be unavailable
  • The My ResNet system will be unavailable
  • The slink url shortening service will be unavailable
  • All our back-end administration tools will be unavailable, but you’re unlikely to notice that anyway 🙂

Various other university services will be unavailable during the maintenance period, see the following IS News article for more details.

http://www.bris.ac.uk/is/news/2008/maint9feb.html