Computing at Muskingum Q&A 2010-2011
What is Muskingum University's computer philosophy?
Muskingum University strongly believes that one aspect of an education is access to information and resources. Much of that information can be accessed on our campus network and the Internet.
Muskingum University does not require students to own computers, but we do encourage students to consider ownership. Every residence hall room features a port which enables students to connect to the campus network. In addition, students have access to a number of computer labs on campus.
Access to the network offers a number of benefits, including the potential for instant communication with instructors and fellow students at Muskingum and other institutions, and the ability to receive and complete course assignments from the residence hall at any hour of the day or night.
Additional benefits are 24-hour access to the University Library, the ability to request titles from among the 24 million book records of Ohio Private Academic Libraries (OPAL) and OhioLINK members, and access to an increasing number of online reference databases and full-text periodicals.
As Muskingum continues to advance its campus network, providing for multimedia resources and high speed access, computer ownership has become an essential component of a Muskingum education.
Will my student need an e-mail account or will the university provide one?
All students are given an e-mail/web account for their personal use. While students frequently have other e-mail or web identities, all official Muskingum University electronic communication is sent to the student’s Muskingum email account. While having more than one electronic identity is fine, it is imperative that the student use their Muskingum identity for internal communication and that they read it often.
What kind of computers should incoming students have? What about current students?
We recommend that incoming students arrive with the right equipment (see the following information), and we also encourage current students to consider upgrading older computers before the start of the next academic year to ensure their hardware and software remain current for today's computing needs.
Does the university have preferred vendors?
As a customer of the Hewlett-Packard product line for University owned computing resources, we have been pleased with HP's "after the sale" service and support program. Feel free to utilize any vendor's products and remember to ask for "Academic" or "Educational" pricing during your negotiations. Should you wish to utilize HP's products, they offer an on-line store called the "HP Academy".
Should I purchase a warranty?
The majority of name-brand vendors provide three year warranties, with year one frequently being on-site. If you are shopping for a new system, you should pay particular attention to the warranty as this is a method many vendors utilize to reduce the initial system cost. You are advised to select a minimum of three (3) year warranty and you may also wish to upgrade the warranty to either a fourth (4th) year or on-site maintenance.
Is it easy to connect to the campus network?
Connecting a network-ready computer (one that features pre-installed ethernet capability) to the campus network is a simple procedure. Using his/her own ethernet cable, a student should simply plug into the network jack in their room (or into the correct port if they are using a network switch). Upon trying to access any web page, the student will automatically be taken to the policy management server which will guide them through the steps necessary to certify their computer. This certification process will check for the correct operating system (including any necessary patches) and for current and subscribed virus protection. Once the certification process completes successfully, the student will have full access to the campus network and the internet. Please read and review our "ResNet" pages for additional information and Frequently Asked Questions about connecting to the campus network?
Is help available if I need it?
Computer connection assistance is provided, on-site, by Residential Computer Assistants (RCAs) throughout the course of the year, including move-in weekend. For assistance, call CNS (8050) for an initial consultation and to make an appointment with the RCA when needed. If necessary, telephone based assistance is also provided by Computer and Network Services staff during regular business hours.
What if my roommate and I both want to connect computers to the network?
While there is only one port available in most rooms on campus, students may purchase small switches to expand the port count in their room. The Muskingum University Bookstore will have a quantity of 5-port switches available at a very competitive price, which will include the network cable necessary to connect the device to the network port. If you bring your own switch, please remember that most commercially sold devices do NOT include this cable as part of the purchase. Because Muskingum’s network is not similar to a home network, devices designed for home application, known as routers, are not appropriate for use. Therefore, we ask that you do not bring routers to campus. Some rooms do feature a “port-per-pillow” configuration. Students should verify the room configuration before making any purchases.
What about Home Networking devices for Broadband Connections?
Because Muskingum’s network is not similar to a home network, devices designed for home application are not appropriate for use. In particular, devices such as routers and wireless access points are strictly forbidden on campus.
Where, if at all, is wireless connectivity available on campus?
Wireless access is available in the following locations: Walter K. Chess Center, Thomas Hall lobby, Kelley Hall lobby, Circle 240, Muskingum Library main floor reference area, Quad Center (TOC & BOC common areas), Boyd Science Center third floor lobby area, Caldwell Hall, and Walter Hall. By completing the automated computer registration process, students can connect to the campus network wirelessly in these locations.
What kind of software should I purchase?
While other products (such as Corel Office, Open Office, or Libre Office) are acceptable for student usage, the institution primarily uses the Microsoft Office Suite for word processing, spreadsheet, database, and presentation applications. The University’s Education and Computer Science departments use the Microsoft Office Suite for most of their classes, so if you are majoring in either of these, you should have a personal copy of this software. If you are purchasing a new computer, you are advised that pre-installed and "bundled" software is frequently the more cost effective acquisition method. Additionally, when purchasing a suite, you should be sure that it contains all of the components you will need for your course of study. For example, if you feel you will need a database manager, be sure one is included in the suite you purchase. When dealing with retailers always ask for the educational price.
A word of caution about some presumably "free" software. The Microsoft Works product (which is different than Office) is NOT compatible with campus standards and you will experience difficulty printing its files in campus facilities if you choose this software.
Other software for use on the network is available at no cost for downloading from a campus server, including software for e-mail, ftp, and web browsing.
NEW: CNS has researched and recommends the following online Software Stores to satisfy academic pricing needs:
What versions of Microsoft software are used in the university's computer labs?
In the 2010/11 academic year Muskingum began to integrate Windows7 into our labs. As such, for the 2011/2012 academic year, some labs will utilize the Microsoft Windows XP operating system and some will have Windows7. Because it is our standard, Microsoft Office 2007 has been installed in all computer labs. Anyone with an older version of Microsoft Office can download and install the Office 2007 Compatibility Pack from the Microsoft web site in order to read and write Office 2007 files.
Where can I purchase a recommended computer?
As stated above, Hewlett-Packard maintains an on-line store specifically designed for the higher education retail customer. Via the HP Academy web site you may select from a set of pre-configured systems or you may custom configure a system to your preferences. To place an order, simply create an account, select/configure you system, add it to the cart, and check out. If you prefer, you may talk with the Hewlett-Packard higher education sales team by calling 1-866-433-2018. The University's Computer and Network Services department is always glad to assist with this process, so please feel free to call them at 740-826-8050.
What about Macintosh Computers and Linux Operating Systems?
Both Macintosh and Linux systems will work on the campus network, however neither is supported nor recommended by the institution. By using these systems, you will run the risk of incompatibility.
What about my game console?
Game consoles are acceptable for use in your residence hall and can be registered on line. The RESNET home page has more information about this process.
What other considerations should I account for when configuring a computer?
Just like a stereo, computer sound has the potential to cause conflicts between roommates. For this reason, we recommend the use of headphones instead of speakers for computer related audio output. None of our public computer labs have speakers, thus students are responsible for providing and using a personal pair of headphones.
Does the University have minimum requirements for incoming student computers?
For the purchase of a new computer please select a reputable computer manufacturer. We recommend that, should you be considering a used computer, you should compare the processor specifications with those of a newly available computer. Our minimum includes the following:
- Processor Brand: Intel or AMD
- Processor Cores: At least 2 cores
- Processor speed: 3.0 GHz or higher (1.8 GHz or higher for laptops)
- 4 GB RAM Memory
- 120 Gigabyte Hard Drive
- CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, CD-R/RW, or DVD-R/RW
- 8 GB (or greater) USB Flash Memory Stick
- Pre-installed wired Ethernet Network capability (Wireless available in limited residence hall lobbies)
- 14' or 25' straight-through Ethernet patch cable with RJ-45 connectors on both ends
- 17" CRT or LCD display (14" display adequate for a laptop)
- Sound Card and Headphones
- Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 (Professional preferred, any version allowed, 64-bit preferred)
- Fully subscribed virus protection software (no trial versions).
PLEASE NOTE: These recommendations have been set to insure student's computers will be compatible with the network and remain a useful learning tool for the duration of their full four year tenure at Muskingum University. Students whose computers do not meet these standards run a high risk of not being able to connect to Muskingum network resources.
Warning! Many computer vendors offer low-end, low-cost systems for under $500. However, be cautious when considering these systems since many times the processor and memory included in these systems is below our minimum recommendation.