Ask SIPB - September 23, 2005
Welcome, especially to freshmen and new grad students! Ask SIPB is a
column published regularly by the Student Information Processing
Board, the volunteer student group concerned with computing at MIT, to
help students like you learn more about the computing resources MIT
provides and how to make effective use of them. This column is part 1
of 4 introductory columns to help you get started with computing here
I don't have a computer/printer/scanner. Where can I go?
MIT has a number of clusters sprinkled around campus, containing
Athena workstations and a few printers. You can access the software
and your files from any Athena workstation. These workstations run
Unix, specifically Linux and Solaris, and provide a common user
interface, regardless of where you log in. The New Media Center is in
26-139, and provides the tools necessary to produce multimedia
projects, such as digital video, photo scanning and manipulation, web
authoring, and more. The NMC is a "do-it-yourself" cluster of G4 Power
Macs loaded with the latest multimedia software. There are also
two clusters of machines running Windows-Athena - one in the back room of
the W20-575 cluster, and one in 37-312 that you can access with your MIT card.
You can find a list of Athena clusters on the back of the Athena
Pocket Reference you received when you checked in, or by typing:
How do I get into the Athena clusters or New Media Center?
The Athena clusters are protected by push-button combo locks. To find
out the current cluster combo, on any Athena machine, type:
changes annually on October 1. Shortly before that time, you can use
athena% tellme combo
tellme combo again to determine the new combo. The New
Media Center now has the same combo as Athena clusters.
Why are there couches and giant screens and whiteboards in corners
of some of the clusters?
They are the recently deployed collaborative group spaces. They were
designed to make working in groups at MIT both easier and more
powerful. To learn more or provide feedback, check out this website:
I forgot my password. What do I do?
You'll need to visit the friendly folks at Accounts. Bring your MIT ID to
N42 during business hours and ask for a password reset. Alternately, if you
have personal certificates on your computer, you can reset your password at:
Help! Something broke! Who can help?
Depending on what broke and how, there are a variety of groups that
can assist you.
You can come ask SIPB in person or via email. Our office is W20-557
(right next to the Athena cluster). Anytime members are in the office,
the office is open to answer questions. You can also phone SIPB at
x3-7788 or email email@example.com.
OLC is Athena Online Consulting, MIT's official support group for
Athena related questions. They have an office in N42, and are usually
open Monday-Friday 9am-5pm.
OLC has a set of stock answers for Athena related questions on the web
To ask olc a question, first make sure the question isn't already
answered in the Stock Answers, then type at an Athena prompt:
You can also call 617-253-4435 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
MIT IS&T staffs the Computing Help Desk, which provides free
support for Macintosh and Windows. The Help Desk phone lines are open
Monday-Friday from 8 am to 6 pm; walk-ins are welcome in the office in
N42 from 9:15 am to 5 pm. For help, call 617-253-1101, e-mail email@example.com, or
drop by N42.
The Computing Help Desk also maintains a set of stock answers for
common Macintosh and Windows questions encountered by MIT community
members, at http://itinfo.mit.edu/answer.
If you are having trouble getting your computer onto your dorm
network, you can ask an RCC for help. RCC's (or Residential Computing
Consultants) are students who get paid to assist other students,
usually residents of the same dorm. They can do everything from
assigning IP addresses, to providing network cables, to helping you
configure networking on your computer. To get in contact with your
RCC, ask around your dorm or visit http://rcc.mit.edu/ to submit a
What is 3-DOWN?
3-DOWN, which can be found at http://is3down.mit.edu/,
provides information about both scheduled and unscheduled network and
service outages. The same information can also be found via a
recorded message at x3-DOWN (x3-3696). Before reporting an outage, it
is useful to check 3-DOWN to see if it is already known.
How can I learn more about computing and computing at MIT?
Throughout term, there are a number of ways you can learn more about
computing or computing specifically at MIT. IS&T provides some
documentation on various components of Athena at http://web.mit.edu/olh/; we'll
cover some of those topics in the next several issues. At the
beginning of term, SIPB ran our annual Computer Tours, which visited a
number of machine rooms and cool labs around campus; keep an eye out
for next year's tours, which will probably be the first or second week
of fall term. Also, during IAP (January), a number of classes are
offered by several organizations (including IS&T and SIPB).
To ask us a question, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll try to answer you
quickly, and we can address your question in our next column. You
can also stop by our office in W20-557 or call us at x3-7788 if you
need help. Copies of each column and pointers to additional
information are posted on our website: http://www.mit.edu/~asksipb/