General Computing Questions


Can we do most work from computer labs or do we have to go to 316 Hammond?

You must eventually compile and execute your assigned programming exercises using the Workstations in 316 Hammond. However, you can do this, and keep up with the course on the Web pages. These Workstations are connected to the Internet, so that you can remotely login to them and do your work from any CAC lab. You can also connect to these machines if you have a PC with an Internet (EtherNet) connection in your dorm room, or if you have a modem for an off campus PC. Watch as I work examples in class. I will be typing the PC at the front of the room, but a 316 Hammond Workstation will actually be doing the work.

Where are other PC Labs besides Hammond?

Nearby labs include Waring Commons, 15 Sparks and 6 Willard. If you login to PSUVM the command "help labs" will give you more information. You can also follow the Computing trail from the Penn State home page to get a full list of CAC labs.

I'm having problems with telnet. I'm probably doing something wrong. I'm using Windows '95 and when I select Telnet under the Internet access file it gives me a prompt something like there is an error in the Trumpet Winsock program. I have nothing else on the taskbar, like Eudora or Netscape. Do I need something like that?

I don't use Window's 95 so can't give much useful advice. However, it sounds like the driver software that lets the Telnet program actually send information to the EtherNet card is not installed or not functioning correctly.

The question I wanted to ask you concerns these UNIX systems. Is there any way of being able to use these systems while not enrolled in your class? (Can I get an account where I can use these systems after this semester, maybe by remote access?)

The accounts for this class will expire at the end of finals week, and all files vanish. If you want further Unix access, you have three options. First is to find a friendly faculty member in your major (there're one or two in most departments), who will sign a paper attaching you to a CAC Unix account for research purposes (watch out though, the faculty member may try to wring real work out of you for this). The second is to find a faculty member who will add you as a user to a Unix Workstation that they control. The third option exists for those of you with your own PC's, and some money to invest in a at least 600 Mega-bytes of hard disk. Free Unix systems exist such as Linix, that can coexist on your PC with the normal operating system. I have several students who have gone this route, successfully. However, you need to really love tinkering with computers and software to survive this last option with your sanity.

Can you recomment a good, not too pricey modem for my MAC?

Sorry, I haven't used MAC's in 5 years. Look in some recent issues of computer magazines devoted to MacIntosh or Personnal Computers in general, for some comparitive reviews. Check relative pricing in Computer Shopper, and see how much it costs to buy the hardware at the PSU Micro Computer Order Center. MOC is not always cheapest, but worth checking.

Are there other ways of getting around on a computer besides icons or typed commands?

The vast majority of computer operating systems function with either a Mac type point and click interface, or with a Unix typed command interface. Some experimental systems are emerging that take advantage of voice recognision, to literally let you tell the computer what to do. These should appear on the mass market within a few years.

I don't quite understand, what is the difference between a floating point add and an integer add.

I has to do with how the difference in how floating point and integer numbers are represented in the computer. If I want to add to integers, the process of lining them up digit by digit, and adding is something you or a computer can do very quickly. With floating point numbers (scientific notation) you have to look at the power of 10 (computer looks at power of 2) multiplying the mantissa of each number, then pick a common power of 10 to conveniently line up digits in the mantissas so a normal add can begin. This is a little more work than a straight integer add, and in a computer requires some special circuitry to accomplish efficiently.

What is PSUVM

That is the IBM Mainframe computer used for many classes on campus. It operates with IBM's VM operating system (very different from Unix) and is located on the first floor of the computer building, 1 block East of Eisenhauer Auditorium. By the way, you were given PSUVM accounts as part of this class. See a CAC help desk to get your PSUVM password.

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Maintained by John Mahaffy : jhm@cac.psu.edu