Introductory Technical Concepts

Data redundancy is defined as securing your valuable data so it is less likely to be lost by ensuring there are at least two copies on two independent systems. This way, if one system fails, no data is lost. This is a vital concept to both understand and practice, as projects and assignments may represent massive hours of work. This work is far too valuable to be compromised by a simple mistake, error, or hardware failure.

Use a consistent file naming convention with the date so you know which copies of your file are current. For example, call the project file clown_face_3d_may12.3ds since it identifies the subject matter, date, and uses underscores to ensure the title reads the same on any operating system.

Purchase and use flash memory (memory key, USB drive, memory stick, thumb drive). You should have as much of your project saved on flash memory as possible (depending project size).

If a project cannot fit on flash-based media, purchase and use an external, portable hard drive. Any USB 2.0 portable hard drive will do, but it is recommended that you purchase a portable or ‘ruggedized’ hard drive that can withstand the wear and tear of being carried around.

When affordable, in addition to your mobile hard drive for current work, it is best that you also have a backup hard drive on which to save a second copy of all your course work. The backup hard drive should be updated at least twice per week, but updating it daily is the safest solution.

Files can be temporarily saved on the D:\ drive of computers in B5 labs or W700B, but this storage is not secure and files can be accessed and deleted by other users. Computer lab hard drives are erased at the end of each semester so make sure to archive files you want kept before the end of the semester. Smaller files can be stored on the P:\ network drive (each student is assigned space on this drive). Network drives are backed-up by IT, however, any files stored on these drives use up your total quota of storage space.

If all students practice proper data redundancy, many difficulties can be avoided, and it becomes much less likely that you’ll lose data or assignments.

U of L students are issued an email account, with the default email address of firstname.lastname@uleth.ca. (If more than one person has the same name, the newest student’s email address is suffixed with a single digit, ascending as multiples of this name, i.e. john.doe2@uleth.ca.)

Email address of fellow students, faculty and staff can be found at the Campus Directory. The search option ‘Name in entire University E-mail Directory’ (includes all current students) is, for reasons of personal security, only accessible by using a computer connected to the campus network system. New mail can be checked on any computer with access to the internet, navigate to http://webmail.uleth.ca/ and login to access your mail. This method (“Webmail”) can be accessed from anywhere in the world and is fully functional.

Note: if you forward your uleth email to another email service or if you use another email account, it is advisable to use an email address that closely resembles your full name. Using informal nicknames (i.e. superdude@gmail.com) may lead to problems as your email might be mislabeled as spam. This is also important to remember when applying for jobs, design competitions, etc

The default space for student storage on the P:\ drive can be increased by contacting the IT help desk (403-329-2490).

Software piracy is a prominent and complex issue. When persons pay for software, they do not become the owner, rather they purchase a license to use the software. Paying for the license does not give the right to distribute software to peers. Software piracy has a severe effect on the global economy and the companies (especially smaller companies) that created that software.

Please take into consideration the cost of software when considering buying a new computer. Student pricing is available for all major software suites and can be as much as an 80% discount of the normal retail price.

U of L students are eligible to receive a substantial discount on educationally-priced software when available. IT sometimes enters into agreements with hardware and software manufacturers to provide educational discounts to students, staff and employees. Get info at the IT Store.

Free, open source software can also meet your various needs. Open source software has been developed by an open community of users. They encourage participation in the design of these products and, increasingly, the software packages rival commercial software. Open source software is available for most operating systems. Get more info at: (http://www.osalt.com/). Programs including Firefox (web browser), GIMP (similar to Photoshop), Open Office (office applications), Blender (3D modeling), Inkscape (vector graphics software similar to Adobe Illustrator) are notable examples.

Sharing copyrighted material (especially uploading copyrighted material) on peer-to-peer networks is illegal in Canada. Consequently, make an effort to become familiar with these complex and interesting issues. For example, there is a levy on recordable media to help combat some piracy in this sense. The “blank media levy” was introduced in 1997 and is still in effect today. As a side note, the tax that was formally enforced on all new MP3 players (such as iPods) was removed in 2004, and there is no tax on new MP3 players. Most ports that major file-sharing applications use are blocked on campus and in residence.

”Torrents” and “BitTorrent” are common names of a popular method of file sharing. BitTorrent is a second-generation, decentralized file sharing system with no central server. Using torrents can be an effective way to legally distribute content as it is much quicker than a direct download from a single server. Consequently, you may encounter the need to use torrents in your work. However, BitTorrent is often (and most prominently) used for piracy.

Ports 6881-6889 are blocked on campus and downloading torrents anywhere on campus will not work. Likewise, ports for online games and MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games) are also blocked on campus.