Council on Academic Computing
December 18, 2003
Jeremy Levy from the Department of Physics
and Astronomy discussed the results of his High Performance Network
Applications Initiative project. This
project was entitled “’Next-Door’ Videoconferencing for Collaborative
University Research.” He collaborated
from the Department of Chemistry.
Professors Levy and Yates direct large, interdisciplinary projects that
involve investigators from multiple universities. Researchers on these projects must
communicate frequently. However, Levy
and Yates wished to elevate communication to a more personal level than that
offered by e-mail or phone. They settled
upon videoconferencing. Most multi-user,
videoconferencing solutions are costly and require expensive hardware. Professors Levy and Yates found a more
cost-effective, software-based solution from Vianet. They were not able to take full advantage of
the software due to network limitations at the University. These same limitations are apparently present
at other universities as well.
COMPUTING SERVICES AND SYSTEMS DEVELOPMENT
Jinx Walton, Director of Computing Services
and Systems Development (CSSD), discussed issues related to discounted dialup
and DSL Internet services. The University of Pittsburgh signed an agreement with Stargate three years ago to offer these services to
University students, faculty, and staff.
This agreement ended when Stargate's Internet
service business units were distributed to E-xpedient
and Earthlink/PeoplePC. Most dialup
accounts were converted to Earthlink/PeoplePC, and
most DSL accounts were converted to E-xpedient. Some concerns arose regarding VPN (virtual
private network) access. VPN users can
use PeoplePC, but the company only provides customer
support to users of Windows platforms.
E-xpedient is a better choice for these
individuals because it provides customer support for VPN users.
Other issues included:
- Telephone and computer
service for most, but not all, individuals within the University’s Western
Psychiatric Institute and Clinic will be transferred from the University
to the UPMC network.
- Class schedules are available
to students and class rosters are available to faculty on their respective
is working with a consultant to determine whether weaknesses exist in the
University network’s security.
The Pittsburgh Digital Greenhouse will be working with University
faculty and students to support interdisciplinary cybersecurity
projects. Three or four projects
involving undergraduate and graduate students will be funded in the first