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Campus Computing News

By Dr. Maurice Leatherbury, Director of Academic Computing

The campus computing environment continues to be dynamic. All sorts of exciting projects, software acquisitions, training opportunities, etc. are going on across campus. Following are some of the more noteworthy developments in recent months.

  • Desktop Application Software Guidelines for the campus were approved by the Information Resources Council on February 17th (on the Web at http://www.unt.edu/irc/policy/deskapps.htm). The guidelines generally recommend that UNT adopt to the Microsoft Office suite (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint), but each college or administrative area will decide what mix of applications it will support internally. Also, the Guidelines say that unless you make prior arrangements with the receiving person(s), WordPerfect 5.1 is the preferred format for transferring word processing files on campus until September 1, 1998. After that date, Word 6.0 will be the preferred format. The intent of the Guidelines is to prevent problems caused by incompatible versions of software being used, such as one person not being able to read another person’s word processing file.

  • The Microcomputer Maintenance Shop has started selling and supporting two models of Dell laptop computers. A campus committee evaluated five different brands of laptops and came to the conclusion that the Dell models best fit our general needs. Information on ordering the laptops is at http://www.mms.unt.edu/prenotebook.htm. Faculty, staff, and students can purchase personally-owned machines from Dell at the University-negotiated price, although you’ll have to get support from Dell directly.
  • Academic Computing recently purchased an upgraded version of the Web-based testing package that has been available since October. The new version, called "QuestionMark Perception," does automatic grading of tests (but not, unfortunately, of essay question answers!,) randomized selection of questions from test banks at the time of testing, and has extensive reporting capabilities. A description of the package will be found at http://www.unt.edu/teachtech/, under the "Web testing at UNT" heading. The new package might not be fully installed and running by the time this issue of Benchmarks is published, but will be available by the fall 1998 semester. Contact Maurice Leatherbury (x3854, or leatherb@unt.edu) if you have any questions about Web testing.
  • The Interactive Learning Team from Academic Computing put on a 16-session Distributed Learning Curriculum for Faculty from January 27th through May 12th. The purpose of the course was to introduce faculty to the possibilities of distributing their courses on the Web and via two-way videoconferencing. An abbreviated version of that series of courses will be offered immediately after the end of the Spring semester – watch for an announcement in your mailbox soon. Jenny Jopling at x4662 can tell you more about the courses.
  • A "Computer Advantage" program, similar to the Service Advantage program run by Human Resources, was established in the Fall by Sandy Burke. The Computer Advantage participants have been working hard to get themselves trained so they can offer computing short courses and have already offered several courses such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and GroupWise 5.2. They will be offering an expanded curriculum of courses in the future, including Microsoft Access classes in the Summer. Contact Sandy Burke (x3856) if you want to join Computing Advantage or if you have questions about the course schedule.
  • The Registrar’s office and Academic Computing have cooperated to establish and equip a new computer training room in the Eagle Student Services Center(room 152.) The new facility has 23 student workstations and will be used for SIMS training, etc. as well as for the short courses that Academic Computing and the Computer Advantage program offer. Sandy Burke (x3856) is the contact person in the Computing Center for the use of the room, and Dallas Newell (x4604) handles the Registrar’s use of the room.
  • The Instructional Program Group of the IRC is forming a campus-wide committee of persons who are interested in adopting a Web course management system. The goal is to get a system in place by the fall semester that will provide a framework for delivering Web-based courseware, tracking student progress, and administering Web tests. At the time of this writing, TopClass and WebCT were the two packages that Academic Computing have identified as the best candidates for our use. Let Maurice Leatherbury know if you have any thoughts on that type of software or would like to join the evaluation committee.
  • An extensive set of computer-based-training packages has been purchased and installed on campus for student, faculty, and staff use. A description of the software can be found at http://www.unt.edu/training/CBTSystems/CBTSystems-Instructions.htm. From a campus PC, you can take training courses on the Microsoft Office products, learn how to program in C++, and even learn Novell networking. Plans are currently underway to sell CD-ROMs containing this software in the UNT Bookstore.
  • The Computing Center recently completed a new installation package for the Internet software that is used for dialing into campus computers. The package includes a recent version of Netscape, the student E-mail client Simeon, and several other packages. Available in the Bookstore on CD-ROM for $10, it works on Windows 95, Windows NT, and the Macintosh and makes it very easy for you to set up your computer for free or Premium Remote Access to UNT’s dial-up Internet services. More information about the CD-ROM can be found at http://www.unt.edu/helpdesk/inet/internet.htm#Software for Basic Internet Service
  • Academic Computing recently purchased a 4-user version of the MatLab software package for use on Sol, the Unix research computer. That package will add some capabilities for mathematical analysis that Mathmatica and Maple (which we already have) doesn’t provide. Contact Philip Baczewski (x3886) or Marc St.-Gil (x3408) if you have any questions on those packages.
  • Research and Statistical Support Services is evaluating the latest version of SPSS for Windows (v. 8.0). The new features of the software include HTML conversion of output files, pivot table output, interactive graphics and new statistical procedures. Other software supported by the office is:
  • SAS 6.12
  • LISREL 8.2
  • Eviews 3.0
  • DBMS/COPY 6.0
  • In February, the Computing Center had to order additional phone lines to accommodate the demand for Premium Remote Access Service subscriptions. Twenty-four (24) lines were added to the 168 lines in the Denton area, giving us the capability of supporting 1344 dial-up users at our guaranteed seven-user-to-phone-line ratio. PRAS costs $45 per semester for plain old telephone service ("POTS") and $90 per semester if you want ISDN service at 128Kb/sec. At the end of March there were 1200 subscribers in Denton and 276 in Dallas/Ft. Worth (out of the 329 subscriptions available there.) n