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Computer Science facilities are situated in the Owheo Building.

Find the Owheo Building on Google Maps

There are 5 general purpose labs (used mainly for the teaching of undergraduate courses), running various dual-boot combinations of Red Hat linux and/or OSX and/or Windows. There are also a number of research groups, which are populated by a mixture of staff, postgrad students, research fellows and 400-level students doing lab-related topics.

There are kitchens/common rooms and toilets situated on all floors. These are for general use by both staff and students – but Computer Science shares the Owheo Building with two other departments, so please be considerate of others, be unobtrusive, and clean up after yourself if you use these rooms.

Find out more information about the research groups

Being a member of the school

Students are considered members of the school. As such, they benefit from close access to academic and professional staff, and access to a wide range of premises and equipment. With this access goes trust. Here are some of the areas in which you have to keep up your end of the bargain.

1. Computer labs

Guidelines for using the computer labs

When you continue on with Computer Science courses past first year, you become a member of a community, sharing in communal resources. We hope that you will take a part in caring for those resources – after all, it is in your interests to do so.

Seat allocation in labs: who has priority

Please attend your own scheduled lab (the practical work is a very important part of the course). This is the only time you are guaranteed a seat. You may need to leave the lab when there is a tutorial on for which you have not been streamed, to free up resources (machines/tutor's time) for the scheduled group. In general, if there are more than 5 spare seats during a scheduled lab time, you may stay. If there are less then you must leave. The problem will be greater when there is an assignment due. Please start your assignments in plenty of time before the due date, to avoid the rush on the labs just before the deadline.

Use of lab machines for non-CS work

You may not allow anyone else to use your account, or use someone elses account yourself. You are given your Computer Science account to do Computer Science work only. There is some flexibility here, but this does not extend to printing out large documents for other courses. We get no funding for costs incurred for other courses.

Please keep the noise down in the lab. We provide the common rooms for the (necessary) social interaction which is part of the learning environment. If you wish to listen to music, please use earphones.

Eating and drinking

Please do not eat or drink in the labs. There is always a kitchen or common room nearby the lab where you can sit around comfortably to eat or drink.

Leaving yourself logged in

If you are leaving the lab briefly, you may leave yourself logged on, as long as you lock the screen (so that nobody else can access your session) and are only absent for up to ten minutes. If someone does inadvertently leave themselves logged on insecurely, please respect their privacy. Just log them out.

Reporting problems with machines or equipment

If you become aware of any issues with a machine, either software or hardware, please inform a Teaching Fellow and make sure that an e-mail message goes to IT Support or visit our local IT Support team in Room 120 on the first floor.

The last person out at night

Finally... if you are working late at night (on those interminable CS assignments), if you are the last person in the lab, and you are leaving, please check that the windows are all shut, and that the doors to the outside are properly secured when you leave. The lab is yours to use, and yours to look after. If it is left unsecured, and something goes missing, the whole community will be affected by the diminished resources.

2. Computers

These are the guidelines for using the computing resources.

This information is mainly intended for new users.

Operating system

We use PCs running Windows or Linux (a variant of Unix). Most machines are dual-boot. In our undergrad labs the main operating systems are currently Fedora and OSX.

If you are new to Linux we have provided a couple of introductory tidbits, mainly designed to head off a few simple mistakes and give some words of caution.

View these introductory tidbits

Your user account

To have continued use of a user account on our machines, you must abide by our rules and regulations, as well as the official University of Otago computer usage policies. (Use of the account you have been given implies an acceptance of/agreement with these regulations/policies – even if you have not read them!)

We have provided some recommendations for password creation below.

The webpage we have provided to allow you to change your password will screen your choice of password.

Home directories

Student and staff teaching and research machines have the home directories mounted on them from file-servers. This means that people will be able to log in to any machine and have the same home directory (files) wherever they are within the school. If you need to access your files from home, please ask a teaching fellow for details on how to do this.

All user home directories are backed up every 24 hours currently. If you need to retrieve a deleted file, please email AskOtago ITS Support.

It is advisable to retain a copy of any critical files yourself, as any departmental backup will be up to 24 hours old.

Email is a primary form of communication between staff and students, so please check it regularly.

Further details regarding email are available here

3. Network

When you log onto a machine in one of the labs, you are initially placed in your "home" directory, which is an area where you keep all your personal files. This directory isn't actually stored on the machine you're sitting at. It is stored on a disk system which is physically attached to a file-server in the server room, and this disk is "mounted over the network" on all the lab systems. Many of the programs which you run on your local machine are similarly mounted (from the /usr/local disk).

If the network connection between the lab and the server room goes down, you'll lose access to your home directory, and to quite a bit of other stuff. Naturally, we work hard to ensure that this doesn't happen. Unfortunately, since ITS "owns" and manages the network, there are some outages over which we have no control.

So – no matter which computer you sit down in front of (whether it is in one of the Owheo labs or a remote connection from your home computer through hex) – your home directory will be physically, exactly, the same. If you delete files from your home directory while you are logged on to one computer, they will be just as gone from any other computer you log into (make sure you have backups).

A consequence of everyone's files being on the one big disk, is that, if one person fills up all the available disk space, nobody else will be able to store their files on it. This may well turn out to be tragic.

Make sure you know how to backup your files

4. Student IT Support and printing

For student IT Support within the University in general there is a blog post.

If you need to print there is information in the blog regarding printing (though our courses have been configured in such a way that students should not need to print anything).

Visit the IT Services for Students blog

Plagiarism and regulations

Plagiarism and cheating

You should never submit for assessment any work except your own.

You are welcome to discuss tasks and program designs with other people, but the code that you submit for assessment must be written by you (and no one else), and you must not share your code. There are some exceptional cases, where the lecturer specifies team work or allows the use of open-source (or otherwise permitted) code (with acknowledgement), but these only apply if clearly described by the lecturer.

You may be asked to discuss assessed work or code with teaching staff, and the outcome of these discussions may affect your mark for that work or code. Markers routinely check assignment code for similarities between students, and run searches to check for plagiarism in code and essays. In the unfortunate cases where plagiarism is detected, formal Academic Integrity proceedings take place.

In general the standard Otago policies apply.  Please see the Otago page on Academic Integrity and Academic Misconduct (including A Brief Guide for Students), the policy on Academic Integrity, and the page on Plagiarism.

Rules and conditions of use for the departmental computing resources:
You need to have abide by these in order to have continued use of a usercode on departmental machines.

The Information and Communications Technology Regulations 2014:
You're also bound by these when you have an account at the Computer Science department. In fact, you are bound by these as soon as you sign an enrolment form.

Other ITS policies/regulations may also apply.

See more on the ITS "Plans, Projects, and Policies" page

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