In this Issue
New Facilities & Services
PolyU IT Strategic Plan 96/97-98/99 on the Roll-out
Windows 95
Network Updates
Special Events
Industry Collaboration Projects
User Support and Education
Hardware & Software Updates
Don't Mis-use Computing Resources


Try the Internet Proxy Server

ITS has installed an Internet Proxy Server to speed up access to the Internet. The Server acts as "memory" storing information which is frequently accessed. When a user requests the same information on the Internet, the information will be provided by the on-site proxy server instead of down loading from the original source.

This technique is widely adopted by other Universities which has the effect of speeding up the delivery of information. Our statistics show that on average, the transfer time without using the proxy server is 15.53 seconds per request whereas only 9.78 seconds are required when the proxy server is used. An average improvement of 5.75 seconds, or 37% per request.

The name of the Server is proxy.polyu.edu.hk. To enable the Proxy service in Netscape for quicker information:

select "Option"
select "Network Preferences"
select "Proxies"
click "Automatic Proxy Configuration"
then enter the following configuration location (URL): http://proxy.polyu.edu.hk:8181/



Compuserve- Maintain Connection with PolyU from Overseas

To facilitate more cost-effective E-mail communications with PolyU for staff travelling overseas, ITS has opened an account with CompuServe, an INTERNATIONAL Internet Service Provider (ISP). This service enables a computer user to connect to the telephone system in an overseas location and to dial a local telephone number which provides access to their E-mail account in PolyU. Staff travelling abroad will then be able to stay in contact with colleagues back in Hong Kong. No international calls have to be made at all to get connected to Hong Kong or other locations, thus making remote access much more economical.

We have tested the service and found it to be reliable. The user requires a computer, probably a laptop, with a suitable modem which can be connected to the phone system. There are a few settings to enter and a fairly simple procedure to follow, and we will provide training for users.

Anyone who is interested to use this service will first receive endorsement from their Head of Department and then contact the ITS Help Desk at least two weeks in advance of their intended use. They need to bring their laptop to our Help Desk for installation of the appropriate software. Our staff at the Help Desk will also advise on the plugs and connectors necessary for the particular destination and provide suitable training for operating the service. Insurance cover for your laptop can be arranged with the FO.



Good News!!!

UNIX Consultancy Helpdesk In Service


A new UNIX consultancy service is now available to provide support for UNIX users. Users may either visit our UNIX Consultancy Helpdesk which is opened every Wednesday from 10:00a.m. to 12:00 noon at P507 inside the Student Computing Centre at P Core or, they may direct their problems to our technical staff via the "UNIX Consultancy Service Request Form" in our Homepage at: http://www.polyu.edu.hk/~sns/system/asksns



Video Conferencing Coming onto the Campus

Pilot testing of the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) technology has been undertaken by ITS with a view to facilitating teleconferencing and multimedia communications with external or overseas organizations and institutions. Installation of such ISDN facilities for high quality teleconferencing is planned at strategic locations on campus.

At the same time, desktop video conferencing facilities will also be installed in all the multimedia PCs in the WISE Lab in our P Core SCC during the coming summer. As the next stage of development, ITS plans to introduce and assist those departments and users who may wish to implement and experience video conferencing facilities on their desktops, through a small investment on video equipment and software.


To support the PolyU's Vision 2001 in which Information Technology (IT) is identified as a critical issue in steering PolyU towards a "preferred university", the Office of Information Technology Services (ITS) embarked on the preparation of an Information Technology Strategic Plan for the 3-year period 96/97-98/99 in November 1995. The major objective of the Plan is to ensure that an up-to-date, efficient and cost-effective Information Technology environment is provided and continuously maintained so that the teaching, learning, research and administrative activities of the University can take full benefits of the latest technologies.

With the support of the Information Technology Services Committee (ITSC), the IT Strategic Plan has subsequently been submitted to and endorsed respectively by the Senior Academic & Management Group and the President's Executive Group. In January 1997, budgets began to be available by phase for the implementation of the Plan, and ITS has since been planning and working full swing to roll out the implementation of the various IT initiatives and projects identified in the Plan.

The IT Strategic Plan has identified a number of initiatives which ITS would need to focus in the coming few years in order to effectively support PolyU's strategic vision. They fall into 7 areas as follows:

IT is a rapid-changing technology. It is expected that the IT Strategic Plan will be continuously reviewed and modified to take account of evolving user needs in consultation with users as well as new technologies. The successful implementation of the Plan will rely on the concerted effort of ITS and users of the PolyU community.



Among one of the "Frequently Asked Questions" received from the Virtual Help Desk on our WWW Homepage is : Should I Upgrade to Windows 95?

To facilitate users to choose the best operating system suitable to their personal needs and to help them avoid/overcome expected difficulties in using Windows 95, ITS has conducted a comprehensive study on Windows 95 quite some time ago. The user reference guide on the Windows 95 platform can be available from the User Services Section's Virtual Help Desk under the ITS WWW Homepage. Key features of interest are reproduced below.

Recommended Hardware Requirements

Computer 486 / Pentium with a hard disk with approximately 100 MB free disk space for typical installation
Memory 16 MB RAM recommended
Display SVGA with video card capable of outputting 16­bit TrueColor
Optional Network Card, CD­ROM drive


Operating System Options for Windows 95 Installation

MS­DOS version 3.2 or higher
Windows 3.0, 3.1, and workgroups 3.11
IBM PC­DOS
OS/2 (configured to dual boot with MS­DOS)
Windows NT (configured to dual boot with MS­DOS)

When installation is completed, Windows 95 will completely take over as the operating system.


Plug and Play (PnP) Feature

Windows 95 supports Plug and Play both during startup and dynamically while the system is running. In short, PnP means that during installation of any devices, the configuration of the PC is changed automatically with no manual input required. Each time Windows 95 is started, the hardware is polled for its identification and specification information. When a PnP component device is added to the system, the device will automatically pass its identification and specification information to the operating system and will then take care of any configuration issues.

In order to perform complete PnP functionality, both of the BIOS and hardware devices should be PnP enabled (most of the new BIOS and hardware devices are PnP ready).



Integrated Networking

The networking functionality is fully integrated in Windows 95. It supports multiple protocols, multiple redirectors, universal naming convention, and more. As mentioned, the networking features of Windows 95 support plug and play devices, which means that the network connections would be automatically configured when a device is removed or added to the system.

Other Windows 95 network features include:

Robust networking components using no conventional memory
Easy, graphical configuration for all networking components
Automatic set up of Windows 95 on networked workstations
Simultaneous connection to multiple networks on a single computer
Plug and Play networking support
Automatic reconnection for lost server connections
Long filenames for network resources





Comparison: Windows 95 vs. Windows 3.X

Windows 95

Window 3.X
CPU utilizes the 32­bit architecture of the latest 486, Pentium, and the coming P6 processors based on 16­bit architecture of the 286
Plug and Play supports plug & play, adding of new PnP hardware is easy but may be hard to get the Windows 95 version driver for some old devices manual configuration
Networking advance networking protocols and tools, powerful and user friendly interface basic networking protocols
Disk Space and Memory requires more hard disk space and memory - see recommended configuration above can run on lower hard disk and memory configurations
Applications runs DOS, Windows 3.x and Windows 95 applications runs DOS and Windows 3.x applications
Performance as Windows 95 applications are optimized for the 32-bit architecture, they can run faster than the Windows 3.x applications runs applications slower


Learning Curve

Users should recognise that most of our experiences in DOS and Windows 3.1 are not applicable to the Windows 95 environment. However, the learning curve for Windows 95 is not steep as most of the hardware and memory settings are taken care of by the system which enable users to concentrate on familiarising with the new interface and functions.



Support for Windows 95

Microsoft has made Windows 95 much more stable compared to when it was first released. ITS now provides level one (comprehensive and full range) support for Windows 95 users. Any enquiries and requests for assistance on Windows 95 may be directed to the ITS Help Desk and Hotline. Training courses for staff on Windows 95 will also be available this summer and details can be found in ITS's monthly staff training schedules.



Dial-in Modem Pool

To advance the speed of remote access to computer resources on campus, ITS has upgraded the dial-in modem pool with more PPP connections and enhanced connection speed from a minimum of 14.4Kps. to a maximum of 33.6Kps.




New Setting of Modem Pool Effective 1 May 1997
Hunting Group Prime Tel. No No. of lines Max. Time Limited Connection Max. Speed
1 2765 6943 (to Library only) 8Nil 14.4K
22765 6407 1660 min PPP 14.4K
32330 9631 1660 min PPP 14.4K
42330 1300 1660 min PPP 14.4K
52954 9140 3260 min PPP 33.6K
62954 9141 3260 min PPP 33.6K
7 2766 5901 (staff only) 1660 min PPP 33.6K
8 2954 9150 (express group ) 1215 min PPP 14.4K/28.8K

Total no. of lines=148

For users who are using hunting group 2 to 4 as their modem connection, they must change their computer profile to those of 5 & 6 to make a connection to PolyU.



PolyU (ITS) Hosted the Asia Pacific Networking Group (APNG) '97 Meeting & Seminars

PolyU (ITS) hosted the Asia Pacific Networking Group '97 Meeting and Seminars from 24-28 January 1997 on campus. The meeting, which aims at developing guidelines for international networking infrastructure and services especially for the Asia-Pacific region, was held in Hong Kong for the first time under the auspices of the Joint Universities Computer Centre (JUCC).

The five-day event began with an opening address by Prof. Edwin Cheng, VP(RPS) at the pre-meeting seminar on "Internet Management - HK & PRC Experience". IT professors and professionals in networking from more than thirty major Universities of PRC and their counterparts in Hong Kong gathered to explore issues related to Internet management.

An associated full-day seminar on "Internet and Secondary Schools in Hong Kong", sponsored by the Education Department, was held on 25 January for Secondary School teachers with a view to facilitating the use of Internet in Secondary School education. Following the opening address of Prof. T.P Leung, VP(SD), Mr. S. H. Hsu, MBE, Senior Assistant Director of Education delivered a keynote speech on the Education Department's plan and policy regarding the use of Internet in education.

The Asia Pacific Networking Group '97 Meeting was kicked off by the welcoming message of Prof. Joshua Wong, VP(QA) on 27 January 1997. During the two-day meeting, networking professionals from various countries and areas in the Asia Pacific region exchanged information on the latest development of Internet and shared their insights on promoting future co-operation in international networking activities.

Prof. Joshua Wong, VP(QA) declared the opening of the APNG '97 Meeting
Participants of the pre-meeting seminar on "Internet Management - HK& PRC Experience"
Prof. Edwin Cheng, VP(RPS) welcomed IT professionals from PRC to share Internet Management experience with HK counterparts


Symposium and Exhibition on Education on Demand (EOD)

In support of the University's identified strategy of facilitating students' learning experience by "advanced, interactive, multimedia information technologies", ITS organized the Symposium and Exhibition on Education on Demand - Internet Technology for Education on 22-23 April 1997.

This function aimed at introducing the application of Internet technology for education, especially for interactive, multimedia teaching and learning. It also provided an opportunity for colleagues from different departments/units to share their experience and achievements on the development of multimedia materials.

Addressing the participants at the opening of the Symposium on 22 April, the President, Prof. Poon Chung Kwong stated: " …the new Web-based instructional model (EOD) enables students to access interactive multimedia learning material of any subject at any time and any place…the arrangement can bring immense benefit to our students so that learning will be more effective and interesting, and can extend beyond the campus and be flexibly paced".

The President, Prof. Poon Chung Kwong presenting a souvenir to the keynote speaker, Mr. Ng Bing Lim

Mr. Ng Bing Lim, Technical Services Manager from the Ministry of Education of Singapore, was invited to deliver a keynote speech on the topic "Generating an IT Culture in Education". Other speakers of the day included representatives from leading technology suppliers as well as PolyU colleagues who presented the encouraging and stimulating results of their EOD projects.

Also held at the opening of the Symposium was the presentation of prizes to winners of PolyU WWW Homepage Competition organized by ITS. Please see the Section on "Homepage Competition" for the Winners' list and other details.

The associated exhibition at Fong Shu Chuen Hall on 22-23 April featured the latest developments and offerings from vendors including Sun Microsystems, Oracle, Silicon Graphics, Novell and Intel. PolyU colleagues from thirteen departments/units also shared their experiences and achievements in the developments of multimedia materials in support of EOD with visitors to the exhibition.

Staff and Students visiting the exhibition to keep pace with the latest technologies


Two new areas of supporting services from ITS in the EOD area were also announced during the Symposium:

Web-based Interactive Systems for Education Laboratory (WISE Lab)

Opening in May in room P504 at the P Core Student Computing Centre, the WISE Lab contains 20 multimedia computers equipped with full screen full motion video playback, connected to a central Video Server and the WWW server via high-speed network. Users can use the facility to view computer-based, multimedia educational materials and courseware of various disciplines, developed by PolyU teaching staff or from outside sources for interactive and self-paced learning.

Multimedia Production Centre

A Multimedia Production Centre (MPC) is also being established under ITS to assist departments in the production of multimedia materials as well as to facilitate electronic publishing services. A full range of specialised equipment and expertise to cater for all aspects of multimedia production will be available in the MPC for staff who wish to develop multimedia material but who do not wish to perform the more laborious technical tasks that are associated with this endeavour. With full back-up by ITS, the Centre will have a wide range of video and computer equipment as well as programming, design and videographic expertise.



Homepage Competition Results Announced

In response to the President's address at the launching of PolyU's WWW Services in February 1996, in which he called for the institution to fully exploit the opportunities offered by the Internet for its teaching, learning, research and administrative services, a PolyU WWW Homepage Competition was organized by ITS.

As a means of furthering and communicating the goals of PolyU's Vision 2001 and in acknowledging the rapidly growing influence of information technology in both education and administration, the University actively promotes its Web-based facilities in pursuit of its vision of becoming a preferred university, offering preferred programmes, producing preferred graduates. The competition is intended to stimulate activity towards this end. Two streams of the competition were held concurrently, one for departmental homepages and the other for personal homepages. All Departments, Offices, Centres and Units were invited and encouraged to create their own Homepage on the WWW. At the same time, staff members were encouraged to build their own Personal Homepages which can be linked to their Departmental Homepages.

The theme of the competition is "PolyU and The Internet - At Your Service". This reflects the focus on service which is pervading PolyU's operations, and is in support of other initiatives aimed at directing the development of the PolyU culture towards a customer orientation.

With the patronage of the President and the generous sponsorship of a number of corporations, the competition reached its climax on 22 April 1997 when the results were announced and prizes presented at the opening ceremony of the Symposium on Education on Demand. The entries were judged by a panel of public figures of the community with staff and student representatives and the results are as follows :

Congratulations!
Departmental Homepage
Winner Pao Yue-Kong Library
1st runner up Department of Land Surveying & Geo-Informatics
2nd runner up School of Design
Special Merit Centre for Professional & Continuing Education
Personal Homepage
Winner Dr. Tommy Chan(CSE)
Special Merit Mr. K.K. AU (SD)

Representing the Pao Yue-Kong Library, Ms. Winifred Ho received the trophy from Mr. Danny Tam, Sales Director of Sun Microsystems of California Ltd., sponsor of the winning prize




ITS and ABC Communications Launched the PolyU-Call Service

Staff and students can now enjoy an integrated E-mail paging service jointly developed by ABC Communications Ltd. and the Office of Information Technology Services. The PolyU-Call service enables staff and students who are also subscribers of ABC paging service to receive notification through their pagers whenever there is a new E-mail message. The sender's E-mail address and the subject of the message will be displayed on the pager panel to ensure that urgent messages will be responded to immediately. This service offers great convenience to E-mail users, especially those who may not have ready computer access at all times.

Held on 20 March 1997, the PolyU-Call Service Launching Ceremony was officiated by Ms. Patricia Yeung, Deputy Managing Director of ABC Communications Ltd., Mr. Richard Li, Director of Information Technology Services and Mr. Lam Ko Ching, ex-President of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Students' Union. They all regarded the project as an efficient means to facilitate both internal communications between staff and students and external linkages with the global community.

For more information, staff and students may visit the PolyU-Call Web Page at "http:www.polyu.edu.hk/U-Call" and for those who are ABC paging service subscribers, FREE on-line subscription arrangements can also be made at the same address.

Similar joint projects may also be arranged with other paging companies to advance communication efficiency.

Mr. Richard Li, Miss Patricia Yeung and Mr. Lam Ko Ching introduced the new E-mail paging service to the PolyU Community


Exclusive Dial-up Internet Access Package for PolyU

With a view to facilitating convenient and efficient Internet service for the University community, ITS has entered into an agreement with Asia Online Ltd., a renowned Internet Service Provider in Hong Kong and Asia, to offer an exclusive dial-up Internet access package for PolyU staff, students and alumni at a special rate.

If you have a PC and a modem at home, for HK$60 a month (no extra PNETS charges required), you can enjoy 30 hours free Internet access (excess hours at HK$2 net each) provided and supported by Asia Online Ltd. The Internet access package also includes free Internet installer software, free training, free choice of user name and around-the-clock customer support service.

Subscription forms for this Internet access package are available from the counter of the Student Computing Centres, departmental general offices as well as the ITS General Office. Alternatively, the form can also be retrieved under the Service Section of the Web page at "http://www.polyu.edu.hk/~sns/". To subscribe, simply return the completed form, together with a copy of valid PolyU identity proof(e.g. staff/student identity cards, alumni membership card, PolyU award certificates etc.) directly to Asia Online Ltd. by fax at 2882 2358 or by mail. For enquiries, please contact Asia Online Ltd. at 2111 3333.


Statistics on User Support Services

Monthly Average
(May 96 - April 97)
Hotline calls
300
Personal visits to Help Desk
75
E-mail requests for assistance
50



Help Desk

User Survey Results

The Help Desk conducts a continuous survey of user satisfaction. Anyone who uses our Help Desk service is requested to contribute to this monitoring scheme either by completing the form which they can obtain at the Desk, or by filling in the interactive form under the User Services Section of our Homepage. Respondents are asked to rate our services on a scale of 1 to 5, indicating a range from "very dissatisfied" to "very satisfied", under 10 separate service-related headings. This enables us to monitor our service as well as identifying trends which can assist in the implementation of improvements. So far, the returns indicate an average service rating of 4.0.

Voice Response System Installed for the Telephone Hotline

To address the heavy use of our Help Desk hotline telephone number 5900, we have installed a Voice Response System which allows simultaneous recording of voice-mail messages when the hotline is serving enquiries from other users. Another major feature of this system is that it enables users seeking assistance in specific areas such as ITS training courses and hardware fault report to be channelled directly to the staff concerned. The service scope of the system will be reviewed and expanded to meet users' needs.


Welcome to Join our Special Interest Groups (SIGs)

A number of Special Interest Groups on specialised computer technologies have been established by ITS with a view to providing opportunities for information and experiences sharing among users of common interests. The SIG meetings also provide a channel for collecting users' requirements and suggestions which are valuable information to our planning of campus-wide support for IT facilities and services.

Existing SIGs include the Macintosh SIG, the Windows NT SIG, the Chinese Computing SIG and the UNIX SIG. The Unix SIG had its first meeting in February, and the Unix Consultancy help desk was subsequently arranged in response to requests from the SIG members.

All staff and students are welcome to join any SIGs by contacting the coordinator of the relevant SIG as follows:


Special Interest Group

ITS Contacts

E-mail

Tel
Macintosh Taurus Yuen ittaurus 5501
Windows NT P. F. Chan
Ben Yeung
itpfchan
itben
5917
5500
Chinese
Computing
Michael Tang
Helen Ng
itmitang
ithelen
5499
5913
UNIX Evan Wong
Charlie Yip
itevan
itcharli
5914
5497



New Training Courses for Staff

A number of new computer courses have been introduced since January to meet the changing needs of staff members, including Advanced Word, Excel for Statistics and Analysis, Introduction to SPSS and Introduction to SAS.

Monthly training schedules together with the enrolment proforma are sent to departments one month in advance and an electronic copy of the schedule will also be posted on the "ITS Computer Bulletin" under cc:Mail as well as under our ITS WWW Homepage for information of all staff. Course enrolments are co-ordinated via departments and interested staff may refer to their departmental office for details and enrolment arrangements. For enquiries, all staff are welcome to contact our General Office at Extn. 5934.

The current ITS training covers the following courses:

Introduction to Windows (2-hour 1 session)
Introduction to Windows 95 (1.5-hour 1 session)
Introduction to Chinese Windows (9-hour 3 sessions)
Introduction to Word (9-hour 3 sessions)
Introduction to Excel (9-hour 3 sessions)
Introduction to Powerpoint (3-hour 1 session)
Introduction to Dbase IV (9-hour 3 sessions)
Introduction to SPSS (9-hour 3 sessions)
Introduction to SAS (9-hour 3 sessions)
Introduction to Internet (3-hour 1 session)
Introduction to Web Page Production (6-hour 2 sessions)
Excel for Statistics & Analysis (6-hour 2 sessions)
Advanced Word (3-hour 1 session)
Intermediate Web Page Production (6-hour 2 sessions)


Courses on "UNIX" will be introduced at the beginning of the next academic year.





Free Software Licence for Sun Machines Available

Free Sun site licensed software products are available to departments

through ITS. Please follow the procedure below to acquire a copy of the software license for

your SUN machine:

The software available includes:
PRODUCT CODE PRODUCT DESCRIPTION
SUN-001 SHOWME 2.0
SUN-002 SHOWME TV 2.0
SUN-003 Solaris server OS 2.4
SUN-004 System Answerbook 2.4
SUN-005 SPARCworks 3.1
SPARCompiler C 4.0
SUN-006 SPARCworks 3.1
SPARCompiler C++4.1
SUN-007 SPARCworks 3.1
SPARCompiler Fortran 90 1.1
SPARCompiler Fortran 77 4.0
SUN-008 SPARCworks 3.1
SPARCompiler Pascal 4.0
SUN-009 SPARCworks/iMPact 2.0
SUN-010 SunSoft Performance Library 1.1
SUN-011 Solaris 2.5 Software Developer Kit
SUN-012 Solstice Autoclient 2.0



Standard PC Configurations for Enhanced Campus-Wide Support

In order that new IT facilities and services can be effectively and successfully implemented in the University and to enable users to take full benefit from the new technologies, the Information Technology Services Committee (ITSC), at its last meeting, endorsed the following guideline recommended by ITS on the minimum PC hardware configurations for campus-wide support:

effective date minimum PC configuration
1 July 1997 80486 PC with VGA graphic display
1 Jan 1998 80486PC, 66MHz CPU with 16MB RAM and VGA graphic display

In addition, as new versions of PolyU's administrative systems will require the configuration of a Pentium to run and to take full advantage of the new features, ITS recommends that with effect from 1 July 1997, PCs dedicated for running central administrative systems should conform with the followings:

Pentium systems with 166 MHz CPUs
24MB RAM
300MB available hard disk space
running Windows v3.1.




Users are reminded that the use of the University's computing and electronic mail services carries certain responsibilities and obligations. In particular, a user is not allowed to transfer or resell network resources to anyone else, and E-mail should not be used for any of the following purposes:

commercial functions, such as marketing or business transactions
chain letters
broadcast messages which are likely to harass or offend other users
any communication which violates applicable laws and regulations

If staff or students are found to have allowed PolyU computing resources to be used by individuals outside the University, such abuse will be reported to the management, particularly when the misuse causes embarrassment to the institution or inconvenience/hardship to the public.


Useful Telephone Numbers
Help Desk Hotline 2766 5900
Hardware Fault Report 2766 5931
Central Computer Room 2766 5945-6
Student Computing Centre
Link Building
2766 5895-6
ST Wing
2766 5910-1
Main Building
2766 5947-8
Software Site Licence 2766 5934
Distribution Service
ITS Training Course Enquiries 2766 5934
Computer Stationery Supply 2766 5908
General Enquiries 2766 5908



Get Connected is the newsletter of the Office of Information Technology Services (ITS) published quarterly for staff and students of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. For further information, comments or suggestions, please contact:

Office of Information Technology Services
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Hunghom
Kowloon
Hong Kong

Tel : 2766 5935
Fax: 2764 2647
E-mail: itsgo@polyu.edu.hk


Last Updated on 9 July 1997