Stat Department Computing FAQ

v. 1.72, Nov 1, 2017

Note: The FAQ is an evolving document. Please help to make it better. If you have any additions, suggestions or corrections, please mail Zube.

General

A Brief Prologue
Where can I find the latest copy of this FAQ?
What computer resources are available in the department?
How do I get an account?
How do I (temporarily or permanently) lose my account?
What is my username and password on the network?
How do I change my password?
What are my email options?
Can I send mail from gmail and have it look like it comes from @stat.colostate.edu?
What applications are on the PCs?
What applications are on the Linux machines?
How do I work with my unix files from the PC side?
How do I get to my J: drive from my home PC?
How do I create a webpage?
Where is the Requesting Weber 205/206 Accounts message you send out every semester?

Policy

How much disk space can I use?
When should I run jobs out of /scratch/mydirectory?
Which unix machine should I do my work on?
How many simultaneous jobs can I run on the linux servers?
Where do I find out about system announcements?
How long can I keep my PC/unix account?
I can lock my unix/pc screen and keep the machine exclusively for myself. Isn't that cool?
Can my {friend, relative} use my account?
Does the Stat Department block mail from any domains?
I am receiving email bounces for mail I never sent. Is my account being used for spamming?
What should I think about before I send an email attachment to someone or to many people?
When the heck are machines rebooted around here?
What is Black Tuesday and when does it occur?
I have a machine that I want to put on the network. All I need is an IP number and a live port. It will take you only five minutes to set up, right?
The Department is hosting a visitor. Is it possible for him/her to have access to the network?
Why isn't it possible to run cgi-bin programs on the department web server?

Printing

How do I print from a unix machine?
How do I print to the color printer? It doesn't show up on any PC.
When I try to print a pdf file using the Adobe reader on a PC, the printer LCD screen reads 79.00FE PRINTER ERROR or 49.4C02 SERVICE ERROR or something similar. How do I fix it?
ZOMG! The LCD on a b/w printer reads "Perform Required Maintenance" or the LCD on a color printer reads "Order Black/Magenta/Cyan/Yellow cart" or my color printout of a 500 MB file with 499 1MB pictures isn't done by the time I walk from my office to the printer. What should I do?

Reporting Problems

How do I mail the system people?
How should I describe my problem to the system people?
Where can I find Zube?
Why should I email Zube when I have a problem?
Why are you (Zube) such a jerk?
I deleted a file on my J: drive, but it's not in the recycle bin. Where did it go?
I've lost a file. How do I get it back?
I received an email asking for username and account information. What should I do?
ssh/slogin/scp/sftp/putty/winscp to the unix machines doesn't work. How can I fix this?
Why won't Office 2013 open documents?

Applications

I get lots of junk mail. What can I do about it?
telnet and ftp? What works, what doesn't and why?
How do I set up a vacation message for my email?
Do you have a copy of maple I can install at home?
Can you install WinEdt on my computer?
Why shouldn't I use Internet Explorer (IE) as a browser? What should I use?
Can you install an R package for me on one or many computers?
Why won't TexMaker save files?

Miscellaneous

Where is the CSU Stats thesis format?
Who the heck is Dave Smith?

A Brief Prologue

If you are reading this sentence, well done. All users are told of this FAQ upon entering the department, but when the FAQ is mentioned again, you can almost see the wheels turning:

FAQ?
Hmm.
ef-ay-queue?
Fish And Quail?
Fuzzy Acrylic Q-tip?
Freakin' Awesome Quaalude?
FAQ?
Hmm.

Not everything you could possibly ask is in here, but there is a fair amount of information that is both useful and time-saving. As above, if you happen upon something that is not in the FAQ, feel free to mail me (also see the "mail Zube" question below) and ask about it.

This document also contains, alas, mostly-obsolete sections. It was originally written when PCs were scarce and students used the few available unix machines. While it has been updated, some corners are long overdue for sweeping. I do beg your pardon for the mess.

Q: Where can I find the latest copy of this FAQ?

A: The Stat Department FAQ is always here. That's http://www.stat.colostate.edu/FAQ/FAQ.html for those who prefer their links neat. The FAQ is updated infrequently and to steal a phrase, where it is inaccurate, it is definitively inaccurate.

Q: What computer resources are available in the department?

A: The Stat network consists of a few Dells running Windows 7, Windows 10 and Linux, some laser printers and one color printer.

Unfortunately, some of these resources are restricted to faculty and staff. Fortunately, many are not. By default, all grad students have access to the following machines: quantum, cachat and cheyenne and all PCs located in public or grad areas. In all but the busiest times, you can usually find a free seat to check mail or crunch some numbers.

As far as public PCs go, room 007 has two Windows 10 machines and the third floor has seven PCs with a mix of Windows 7 and Windows 10. All are available for general use. There are also two computer classrooms/labs on the second floor of Weber (rooms 205 and 206) that house 58 Windows PCs. See the Weber Lab FAQ for more information on those labs.

Logins are required on all machines. See Zube for a username and password. There are several things to note about the PC setup:

Q: How do I get an account?

A: If you are a grad student, you will probably receive your username and password from whoever teaches the Computer Introduction for Incoming Students. If you aren't a grad student, keep reading.

When you first arrive in the department, someone will escort (or point) you to Zube, the lone systems person. He will ask you a few questions, create your account, and point you in the direction of this document. He is the person to see if you have technical questions or problems with the computers or the network. Please be nice to him.

Q: How do I (temporarily or permanently) lose my account?

A: By not thinking or perhaps by ignoring certain warnings noted in this FAQ. If the rules seem overly annoying or harsh, they are at least consistent. The metric is very simple. If something jeopardizes the security of the network, in whole or in part, then it is prohibited. Examples:

... you get the idea, I hope. However, some of these rules are not etched in stone. For example, if you have a project related to your research/teaching/whatever that requires some kind of server, send me some mail and we'll talk about it. I try to be fair in any case, but the security of the network always comes first.

Alas, people don't often take this section seriously and wake up to find their account disabled. Indeed, there isn't a lot of time to watch for it, so you may get away with it. Then again, you may not.

Q: What is my username and password on the network?

A: The current convention is that your last name (up to 8 characters) is your username (all in lowercase). If you happen to have a common name, your username will be your last name followed by the first letter of your first name. For example, if your last name is tweedie, then tweedie is your username. If your name is terri smith, however, your username will probably be smitht. If your name is exactly the same as someone else on the network, you'll have to fight that user to the death to see who gets the name (just kidding; first blood is usually enough to decide).

Your password will be created when your account is created. We'll randomly pick a password for your first login; after you log in, you can change it to something a bit more friendly (but still unguessable).

Q: How do I change my password?

A: On the unix side, use the /usr/bin/passwd program on quantum. It won't work on any other machine and it will force you to choose a password (in Jan 2012 anyway) of at least 15 characters. Alas, the passwd program forces some annoying constraints. If you have a password of at least 15 characters that you'd like to keep, put it somewhere private and tell me where it is. If it is long enough and not silly (1111111111111111111 is silly), I'll set it for you.

On the PC side, you change it by pressing CTRL-ALT-DELETE and then clicking on Change Password. The password must be at least 15 characters here as well and you can't change it for 24 hours after your account is initially created.

Please note that the unix and PC passwords are separate. Changing one does not change the other.

Q: What are my email options?

A: You have an email address, username@stat.colostate.edu. This is your stat email. It is not related to your EID/colostate email or any other email that you may have. If you gave the department an email address, username@stat.colostate.edu is already being forwarded to that address. If you want your address to be forwarded out to a different address, please mail Zube.

Please pay close attention now:

You almost certainly do not want to use username@stat.colostate.edu for anything.

No, I'm not kidding.

Stat tries to be a good email citizen by blocking huge swathes of the internet that are known spam havens. This means that some email sent to you will not arrive. The sender will get a rejection notice, so it won't be the case that mail is dropped on the floor, but this goes against most people's expectations that all mail should be accepted and processed, even if only one email in 10,000 is not spam. Due to Sod's Law, the one good email is usually an important one and when it doesn't arrive, both parties go through the five stages of the Kubler-Ross model.

There is also the spf/DKIM/DMARC problem. These are various "solutions" to the spam problem whose main side effect is to kill off email forwarding. Essentially, if mail passes through a third party in route to somewhere else, it may be rejected as not originating from where it should have. So it goes with the modern email landscape.

If you want a "proper" non-blocking CSU address, please go to CSU's Outsourcing of Campus Email to Microsoft or CSU's Outsourcing of Campus Email to Google to obtain an account. Also, please read the last paragraph of this section as well.

For those of you who wish to use Stat's email services, please keep reading.

The most secure way is to use an ssh client (such as putty), log into a unix machine (such as quantum) and use a command line unix email client (such as pine or mutt). [Please note that sending mail in this way *does not work* on most machines, but it will always work on quantum, so use that or mail Zube for more details.]

When confronted with this idea, most people either run away screaming or believe that it's too much work. I will say this: the skills you learn by using mail this way will make you a better computer user overall. But there are other options.

For those of you who like pop3 or imap, the server is quantum.stat.colostate.edu. If you are using a stat machine, the outgoing SMTP server is quantum.stat.colostate.edu. If you are using Pulse Secure or Easy Access Wireless, the outgoing SMTP server should be set to smtp.colostate.edu. If you are anywhere else, you'll have to discover what your local SMTP server is and send mail out through that machine. You should use STARTTLS for connection security and "normal password" for the authentication method and you'll have to accept a certificate to connect. The ports used for imap and pop are not the normal ports. Please mail Zube and tell him which one you will be using and he'll mail you back the port number. These instructions are only for well-behaved mail programs (read: not Outlook). Mail Zube for outlook details.

For those of you who use / want to use the gmail "email fetcher" to pop your email out to gmail, you are out of luck. gmail supports only a small number of ports to connect to and ours is not one of them.

One caveat: please do not "test" your email forwarding by sending an email from the account your mail is forwarded to. For example, if you have a me@gmail.com and a me@stat.colostate.edu account, do not send email from me@gmail.com to me@stat.colostate.edu and then complain when it doesn't show up in your gmail inbox. Because the mail starts at gmail and is forwarded back to the same address at gmail, gmail thinks there is a mail loop and drops the mail. This is probably true of most web-based mail services. To test it properly, create a temporary account at some other mail service or have a friend send you a message instead.

Q: Can I send mail from gmail and have it look like it comes from @stat.colostate.edu?

A: No. This requires adding an account in gmail. To add an account, you must be able to send mail to that account through a mail server that will accept it. smtp.colostate.edu used to allow this: you could send to username@stat.colostate.edu from gmail using your EID username and password. Alas, CSU cut off that ability last year, so adding a @stat.colostate.edu account to gmail is no longer possible.

gmail, amazingly, never re-verifies the account, so it still works for people who set it up before the policy change to smtp.colostate.edu.

Envy is a terrible thing.

Q: What applications are on the PCs?

A: R, chrome, firefox, Microsoft Office, a variety of PDF viewers, openbugs, JAGS and many others are on the Windows machines.

Q: What applications are on the Linux machines?

A: Please read:

/stat/HELP/software.list

on any Linux machine for a list of programs that are regularly built, installed and updated.

Q: How do I work with my unix files from the PC side?

A: The best way to work with your unix files is to use WinSCP. It is on virtually every machine, it is small, it works from anywhere and the knowledge you gain from working with it is useful. Hilary Freeman was kind enough to put together a very nice Math Department Schedule Creation page that demonstrates how to do this while creating a public schedule for the department. The instructions are math specific, but if you change ftp.math.colostate.edu to ftp.stat.colostate.edu, it will work for stat as well.

Most people do not take the road less travelled, so if you would like your unix files visible as a drive, you'll have to mail me and set up a time when we can meet. It takes less than 2 minutes to do and there are some limitations (e.g. if you change your PC password, you'll have to come by again before the mapping will work).

Yes, there are *much* better ways to handle this and I would love to be able to go back to the way it was. Alas, this is how it is now and this is how it is likely to stay. While it is a pain for both of us, it does work which is sometimes the best one can hope for.

Q: How do I get to my J: drive from my home/personal PC?

A: There are three answers to this.

The hard way:

If you are connecting via the campus wireless (CSU-EID), get connected first and then mail me and I'll send you some instructions on how to mount your J: drive.

If you aren't on campus, you must use Pulse Secure which will create a VPN tunnel from your machine to the CSU network. From there, you can map your J: drive. Send me mail and I'll send you back the instructions for this procedure.

Q: How do I create a webpage?

A: This entry considers the logistics of setting up a web page. It is not a step-by-step tutorial on how to create one.

On the unix side, you have a home directory. If you create a directory called public_html in your home directory and set the permissions correctly, then people will be able to get to anything under public_html by going to:

http://www.stat.colostate.edu/~username

If you wish to know how to deal with your public_html directory from Windows, you might consult Hilary Freeman's tutorial about how to upload a schedule. The schedule bit isn't important and the machine should be ftp.stat.colostate.edu instead of the one in the example, but it will get you started. Getting your stuff over is the important bit.

Also, if you believe you have created your page correctly, but you still receive errors of the "access forbidden" type, then it's probably a permissions problem. Mail Zube and he'll take a look.

Q: Where is the Requesting Weber 205/206 Accounts message you send out every semester?

A: The message for the fall and spring terms is at http://www.stat.colostate.edu/~zube/mathstat.accounts.txt.

The message for the 8-week summer term is at http://www.stat.colostate.edu/~zube/mathstat.summer.accounts.txt.

Q: How much disk space can I use?

A: A bit. There is enough room to keep all the important stuff but not huge datasets, large outputs, your mp3 collection, etc. Remember that you are sharing the same disk with many other grad students. Please be courteous.

To find out how much space you are using, type "du -s" (no quotes) in your home directory. The number that is returned is in kilobytes. For example:

cachat> du -s
48437

means that I am using 48+ megabytes of space. To see how much space is free on the partition of the disk where your home directory is, type "df ." (no quotes) in your home directory.

cachat> df .
Filesystem         1K-blocks     Used  Available Use% Mounted on
quantum:/nonfacf   141778944 42740736   91836416  32% /home/nonfac/f

See, lots of available space.

At times, you may receive a message from Zube asking you to clean up your directory by deleting unnecessary files. If you receive such a message, please comply. If the disk becomes very full, files will be deleted based on what Zube thinks is non-essential, which may not be the same as your thoughts on the matter.

Q: When should I run jobs out of /scratch/mydirectory?

A: All unix user files reside on one machine. When you log into cachat, for example, the files that you see in your home directory are actually stored on a remote machine (quantum). Normally quantum is fast enough to handle network traffic, so much so that you probably don't notice any delays. However, if you are running a job that is performing frequent reads and writes of file(s), you are taxing both the network and quantum. The result is a slower network and longer running times for your program.

A better approach for these types of programs is to use the local temporary space on a machine. First, ask Zube to create a directory for you in /scratch. It will be /scratch/username. Copy (cp) the relevant bits of your program and data to that directory, modifying any references to files in your home directory to /scratch/username. Now, when you run the program from /scratch/username, any reads and writes to files in that directory are local to the machine and do not generate any network traffic. Hence, your program will run faster and not tax the server or the network.

There are two caveats to this approach. First, /scratch as its name implies is for temporary space. Once you are done with the run, copy back to your home directory the bits you want to save (*small* data files, program files, not 5+ GB of output), and clean up the /scratch/username directory as best you can. /scratch is never backed up, so please save the important bits. Second, /scratch can fill up. Always check the current state of the /scratch file system with "df /scratch" before starting.

Q: Which unix machine should I do my work on?

A: You probably want to use cachat. It's new as of summer 2012 and has 4 processors and 24 GB of RAM. You can also use cheyenne but that machine is slower and has less ram. Please do not run on quantum, as that is the mail/web server.

When you log into a machine, try the "ruptime -l" command. This command will show you the load average of all the unix machines for the last 1, 5 and 15 minutes respectfully. Moving over to a less busy machine can have a large effect on response time and on the running time of your programs.

Q: How many simultaneous jobs can I run on the linux servers?

A: First, some background information.

A machine with one processor can run one job flat out. It can run two jobs by switching back and forth between the jobs, etc. This is a gross simplification, but it will do. Another gross simplification is that if you have n processors, it can run n jobs flat out, 2n jobs by switching back and forth between the jobs, etc. But the switch isn't free; it costs time and resources to save one job and load the other one and then to save the other one and load the first one. This is especially true for memory-intensive programs.

Also note that the machines are shared resources.

The two lessons to take away from this are:

Keeping all this in mind, here are the rules:

How do you tell what's running? First, try the uptime command. The three numbers on the right will give you an idea of how many jobs are running. A load average of 0.00 means nothing is running, 1.xx means one job is running, etc. Also, using the top command is recommended, but please don't run top for extended periods of time as it uses a lot of CPU time. Use it to find out what's going on and then exit the program.

If you fail to follow the rules, any extra jobs running will be killed and you'll get nasty email. If you continue to fail to follow the rules, your account will be disabled.

Q: Where do I find out about system announcements?

A: All important system announcements are sent though email. You should probably whitelist Zube@stat.colostate.edu so that the announcements aren't dropped in your spam folder.

Q: How long can I keep my PC/unix account?

A: You may continue to use your account as long as you are affiliated in some respect with the Stat department. Once your affiliation is dissolved, your account will be removed. We usually give two weeks notice before turning off accounts.

Faculty may request that an account remain active for professional reasons, such as an ongoing collaboration. In this case, the account will remain open for another semester, but disk usage *must* be pared down to essential files only. "I want to use it for mail," alas, does not qualify.

If you wish to preserve your files, Zube will happily tar/tar.gz/zip up your home directory so that you can get it via sftp or http.

If you would like all *future* incoming mail forwarded to another address, please let us know. This forwarding can remain until someone with your account name joins the department. Any mail that is currently in your inbox will *not* be forwarded. We will copy your inbox to your home directory, however, so you will have it if you choose to preserve your files.

Finally, on a personal note, please accept the end of your account graciously. There is nothing so disheartening and frustrating as to provide what I believe is a fair compromise between offering no post-STAT support (i.e. your account is gone and it's your tough luck if you didn't save things or plan to move them in time) and offering never-ending support (which is a poor security choice) only to have people say things like:

"I'm going to be visiting Colorado on a Wednesday in the Summer of 2020 and while I'm not planning on it, there is a chance that I might stop by and want to do research, so DON'T DELETE MY ACCOUNT!!!!"

or:

"I'm moving to another department, but I want to keep my account here. No, I'm not going to be in the department anymore, but why can't I keep my account? It's such a pain to move everything."

One thing is certain: if this continues, it's a sure bet that the policy will become more, rather than less, restrictive.

Q: I can lock my unix/pc screen and keep the machine exclusively for myself. Isn't that cool?

A: No, it's discourteous to others, it's annoying to me, it makes me seriously wonder whether I should just remove the lock features altogther and it makes puppies cry.

The purpose of keeping the lock bits around was to insure that users could lock the machine temporarily (i.e., for as long as it takes to run to the bathroom, make a phone call, have a smoke, etc). It was not meant as a way to run simulations on open-access machines or to allow exclusive access to one person. If I (Zube) find your terminal locked for a long period, I will unlock it, log you out and probably send you nasty email. If I continue to find locked terminals, the lock features will go away.

Exceptions: If you have a machine on your own desk, you can do what you like. Also, if it's a particular slow time (i.e. not during the semester), a locked machine here or there isn't a big deal.

Q: Can my {friend, relative} use my account?

A: No. We will disable your account if we catch someone else using it. Further violations will result in the permanent removal of the account. There are no exceptions for wives, husbands, girlfriends, boyfriends, close relatives, people who were "just checking mail" "just surfing the web" or "just helping out."

I'm not kidding!

Finally, the last warning. This warning is repeated in the other section about temporarily or permanently losing your account. People either do not read the FAQ or simply don't take me seriously. No mercy from now on. You let someone else use your account for any reason or any purpose, it will be disabled and you'll have to have a chat with the department chair to get it back.

Q: Does the Stat Department block mail from any domains?

A: Yes. We block mail in several ways.

First, we have several groups of IP addresses (consisting of literally millions of IPs) that we simply drop connections from. These are known spam hosts on ISP networks that either can't or won't clean up their act. This list is updated several times a day.

Next, we check each connection against two sets of databases of well-known spammers. We also check to see if the address is a dynamic IP. If there is a match, we reject that connection too.

Finally, we scan incoming mail for virus content and discard any mail that contains it.

We do not filter email based on content, except to look for viruses.

Filtering email is an inexact science. It is probable that we are blocking some sets of addresses too aggressively. If someone is having difficulty getting mail through, please have them mail me at the alternative addresses Zube@cs.colostate.edu and Zzzube@gmail.com and provide details such as where they are trying to email from (what ISP they are using, the outgoing SMTP server, etc.), who they are emailing to and any error messages they are receiving. A rejected email with full headers would be ideal. With such details, I can determine where the problem lies and perhaps adjust our blocking rules.

Also, please understand what our blocking rules imply. There will almost certainly be times when people will try to send you mail, it will be rejected and, due to Sod, this will always be at the most inopportune times. If you wish to maximize the probability that this will never happen, then please don't use your @stat.colostate.edu email as your primary address.

Q: I am receiving email bounces for mail I never sent. Is my account being used for spamming?

A: Probably not. Anyone can forge your email address, just like anyone can put your name and return address in the top left corner of a USPS envelope. As a consequence, you may also receive mail that appears to come from your own account; don't worry, it almost certainly doesn't.

These forgeries usually spring from two sources: spammers and viruses/worms/malware. Many mail gateways bounce mail based on the From: line, so receiving bounces for mail you never sent is not uncommon. Send Zube a copy of the bounce if you are worried and he'll take a look at it.

You should, of course, take reasonable precautions to insure that your account and/or computer do not become a source of spam:

Q: What should I think about before I send an email attachment to someone or to many people?

A: One of the worst jobs in the world is enforcing courtesy. Usually, it's much easier for the enforcer to throw out courtesy completely and instead apply merciless hard-and-fast rules. However, this tends to lower the number of BTUs of happiness in the world, puts everyone on edge and punishes mistakes or ignorance as harshly as open disregard. In short, removing courtesy makes the world worse.

With this in mind, here is one email courtesy everyone should follow, for everyone's benefit.

When sending attachments, think about the other end.

For an attachment to a single user, is the other person expecting it? Many people delete unknown and/or unexpected attachments to avoid potential virus problems.

For attachments to multiple users or any kind of mailing list, all this goes double or treble. For *private* email, one can argue that sending a 20M attachment of something important to 3 people is acceptable. However, sending a 20M attachment to, for example, the grads list, isn't acceptable because it's really

20M * number of grads = several gigabytes of storage per email message sent

If this happens once in a blue moon, I tend to overlook it and on rare occasions, it can be acceptable (especially to the faculty list from the Dean's office). However, in almost all cases, the most courteous way to do this is to put the file(s) on your web site and then send an email with the link. This shows courtesy, a rare trait nowadays. I know its easier to fire up your mail program and attach than to do a bit more work, but when courtesy is ignored, eventually everyone suffers.

Finally, under no circumstances send large email attachments to mailing lists in *other* departments without asking them first. I will get very upset if another department's sys admin contacts me to say that someone sent a 2 meg file to all of the chemistry faculty, for example. I yell at people from other departments when they do this and and I'll yell at you too if you do it.

Q: When the heck are machines rebooted around here?

A: The Linux boxes are patched as patches are made available and are rebooted whenever certain patches are installed (kernel, libc). Warnings are sent if large jobs are running.

The PC server is usually rebooted monthly, after the latest patches from Microsoft are installed. Email is sent to everyone in advance of a reboot.

Q: What is Black Tuesday and when does it occur?

A: It's the day when Microsoft releases patches, always the second Tuesday of the month. Microsoft being Microsoft, they also release patches at other times ("off-cycle"), based on, well, nothing I've ever been able to figure out. IE patches are most likely to be released off-cycle.

In practical terms, this means the following:

And just in case you are in the SUS/WUS/AU camp: the reasons I don't set up PCs for automatic patch installation are:

Q: I have a machine that I want to put on the network. All I need is an IP number and a live port. It will take you only five minutes to set up, right?

A: No.

The security of the network depends upon all the machines that reside on it. I spend a majority of my life securing and re-securing machines on our network so that you don't have to worry about network integrity and I can sleep at night. Adding personal machines to any network makes that network less secure. This, in turn, cuts into my sleeping and makes me even more grumpy.

That said, in the past I have allowed personal machines to be added to the network under a very restricted, non-negotiable set of rules. They are as follows.

then I pull the plug and that's that; no second chances. Sorry to be brusque about this, but I could simply say "no personal laptops" and it would save me an awful lot of time and grief. If I take the effort to respond to your need for a networkable laptop, I expect you to work within the security rules I set.

In addition, patches *must* be installed promptly after release. For Windows machines, I am happy to do this for you on the second Wednesday of the month (patches come out on the second Tuesday) if the machine is here. For macs, either you or I can run software update when the patches come out. For unix, we should talk about how to keep the machine patched or, again, I can do it when patches come out.

I will not, however, try to track you down and beg to patch your machine. I don't have the time. If the machine isn't here within a short time after patches are released (say a day or two), you are on your own. If your machine gets hacked or virus- or spyware-infested, I turn off the port and the machine goes to the back of the personal machine queue, which may put your computer out of action for a long time. This is discussed in more detail in the link two paragraphs down.

There is a way around me though. Use the CSU-EID wireless network.

Another bit of prose you might consider reading is Zube's PC Patches Policy, which The New York Times called "the biggest bunch of rubbish since rubbish was invented by Joe Rubbish in 1624 and furthermore ..." but then they got hacked because they didn't patch, so we'll never know what else they called it.

Q: The Department is hosting a visitor. Is it possible for him/her to have access to the network?

A: Yes. There are several options, all of which are unsatisfying to some degree. Much of this dissatisfaction springs from unrealistic expectations, such as expecting full network access for any machine that happens to accompany the visitor.

The easiest option is to point the visitor to one of the many kiosks CSU maintains on campus. These terminals require no login and offer web access to the world via a browser. The closest two terminals are on the second floor of Weber, just across from the Men's bathroom.

The next easiest and most reliable option is to request a guest PC account from me (Zube). I can create this quickly and I promise not to grumble about it. All of the public windows computers would then be available for use. For someone who needs network access to check a web-based email account or to use ssh, this option should suffice.

Of course, most visitors bring their own laptops and prefer to stick with them. In this case, the best option is the university's Guest Wireless Access.

This access is brought to you by ACNS (not me), so you must abide by the CSU Acceptable Use Policy and if you have problems connecting, please call the Computing Help Desk at 491-7276.

A third option for those not fettered by conscience is to find a classroom with a wired connection at the podium and connect directly to that. DHCP is usually enabled in the university classrooms, so you may be able to get out that way.

By now, someone is thinking, "Well, gee, can't we just hook the visitor's laptop to our network?" The answer to that is no (see previous FAQ question for details) with exceptions considered long-term visitors. If you *really* want to give the visitor unfettered wireless network access, get him/her an Associate eID.

Q: Why isn't it possible to run cgi-bin programs on the department web server?

A: Because security isn't in most people's Top 1000 concerns. Most users grab the first script returned from a Google search, see that it works and consider the job complete. Never mind that the script hasn't been updated in years or that its security issues have been known for many moons or that if spammers find the script, they could turn our mail server into a spam-generating source. All of that doesn't matter, but hey, anyone can leave a message on my web page! Isn't that neato?

I simply do not have the time to review everyone's scripts for both known and unknown issues. If you have an overwhelming need to be able to run cgi-bin programs, send me an email and we'll discuss it, but counters, guestbooks, wikis and the like are right out.

Q: How do I print from a unix machine?

A: The Stat Department has the following printers available to everyone.

From all Linux machines, lpr -Pprintername filename will print to the printer of your choice. For example,

lpr -Php4 myfile.txt

prints myfile.txt to the hp4 printer.

The enscript command is useful for performing advanced printing techniques. For example, the following command will print myfile.txt in landscape mode, with two pages per printer page to the hp4 printer:

enscript -2r -Php4 myfile.txt

Sas output sometimes contains long lines of data that don't fit on a single portrait page. With enscript, you can pick a smaller font so that the lines will fit:

enscript -2r -fCourier7 -Php4 myfile.txt

The enscript command has many other options. See the man page for details.

Q: How do I print to the color printer? It doesn't show up on any PC.

A: This is by design.

Color toner and imaging drums are expensive but color printers are often used for personal printing. Hence, access is restricted.

If you have a one-off job, your best bet is to ask one of the office staff or a faculty member to print it for you. On the other hand, if you have a machine on your desk and you will need regular access to the color printer, please clear it with the department chair. Once the approval reaches me, I'll be happy to install the printer on your machine.

Q: When I try to print a pdf file using the Adobe reader on a PC, the printer LCD screen reads 79.00FE PRINTER ERROR or 49.4C02 SERVICE ERROR or something similar. How do I fix it?

A: These errors usually occur when the PC sends code to the printer that the printer cannot deal with. When it occurs, the only way to clear the error is to power-cycle the printer (turn it off and back on) and then remove the print job from the printer queue on the PC. That will keep the PC from constantly trying to resend it. If, when you try to remove the printer job it will not delete, reboot the PC before continuing.

So now you know how to clear the error, but how do you print the silly thing in the first place?

First, try printing using a different printer language. Most PCs have two virtual printers for each real printer. One is named printername (postscript), or sometimes printername (ps) and the other is named printername (pcl). Postscript and pcl are two different printer languages for HP printers. If you printed to the postscript printer and saw the error, try printing to the pcl printer. In most cases, the problem occurs when printing to the postscript printer but does not occur when printing to the pcl printer. By 2013, most of the printers were set up for PCL only, so you probably won't see this error much anymore.

If neither works, then to go File -> Print -> Advanced and click on the "print as image" box. This will be slower than normal, but works 99.9% of the time.

You could also load the pdf into the PDF-XChange viewer (c:\pdf\PDFXCview.exe) or the Sumatra PDF viewer (c:\pdf\SumatraPDF.exe), both of which are "not stupid" programs, and try to print from there.

If none of these work, email Zube and tell him what PC you are using and where the pdf file came from.

Q: ZOMG! The LCD on a b/w printer reads "Perform Required Maintenance" or the LCD on a color printer reads "Order Black/Magenta/Cyan/Yellow cart" or my color printout of a 500 MB file with 499 1MB pictures isn't done by the time I walk from my office to the printer. What should I do?

A: Relax. Have a cup of tea. Breathe deeply several times. Then read the following two paragraphs carefully.

A printer will not stop working due to an informational or warning message. If your printout did not come out at the printer and you see such a message on the printer's LCD, please do not connect the two because they are not related. If a toner cart is *empty*, you will get poor printouts or in the case of the color printer, the printer will stop printing until the empty cart is replaced. But a warning message on the LCD does not mean the printer is not working. The cause of your missing printout lies elsewhere.

Big files, especially those with many and/or large color pictures, take a long time to print. There is no "go faster" button on the printer, nor is there a "Zube, make it go faster" request that I respond to. If you are printing a *small* file and the LCD reads "processing job" for a very long time, then there may be a problem, but most of the time, the best thing you can do is wait patiently. Also, if you play with the color printer by opening it, it will go through its ten minute recalibration sequence when it is closed, so your wait will be even longer.

Q: How do I mail the systems people?

A: There is only one system person and you can usually reach me at Zube@stat.colostate.edu. I try to respond ASAP. If you do not receive a reply within a day, mail me again. Very rarely, I also check Zzzube@gmail.com. If I seem to be ignoring you completely, please try the latter address.

Q: How should I describe my problem to the system people?

A: In detail. All problem reports should contain the following information:

Here are examples of nearly content-free problem reports:

I can't print.  HELP!!!!
I tried to do X, but it doesn't work.
I tried to do X, but I get an error.
Here is a much better one:
I am unable to print from seicross to the hp4u printer.  I logged in as I 
normally do, started Word and typed a document.  I saved it, and then
tried to print it.  It never came out.  I tried again, and it still
didn't come out.  Other people on other machines could print to hp4u, as
I saw people picking up printouts.  I haven't seen this problem before.

Also note that problems can be fixed only if I know about them. If you discover a problem, please report it.

Give yourself a pat on the back and a gold star if you read the following document, titled How To Ask Questions The Smart Way before reporting your first problem. While the above document is more about asking questions about software in forums and newsgroups, the general principles are useful just about anywhere. It also provides some insight into the techie mindset. It is time well-spent and will pay for itself many times over if you frequently interact with technical people.

Q: Where can I find Zube?

A: Officially, 004, the stat systems office. Unofficially, just about anywhere depending on the crisis. If you want to get my attention, email will almost always get the quickest and most complete response. If you are sending mail from a non-CSU account, adding something like "(CSU Stat question)" to the front of the subject will help insure your message doesn't get lost.

Q: Why should I email Zube when I have a problem?

A: Email is the Best Method of Communication (tm). Here's why:

Now, to be fair, there are some times when email is not appropriate. Here are some examples:

Also, when/if you do mail me, please make sure the subject line has some relevance to the subject at hand. I've found that people like to ask me questions when they reply to some mass mailing I've sent out. For example, I'll get a message subject of "Re: another virus/worm" but it will be a question about how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll Center of a Tootsie Pop. Please, either change the subject line if you do reply or mail me directly.

Finally, if you aren't going to wait for an answer before plowing on ahead on your own, don't mail me. If the question isn't important enough to wait for my reply, it isn't worth my time to answer it. [See the next entry.]

Q: Why are you (Zube) such a jerk?

A: This is a fair question. I *am* a jerk, sometimes. But I have mellowed out considerably as I've gotten older.

Still, for the record, I generally do not play well with others (I sometimes run with scissors too), I take things personally and covering a lot of ground puts a premium on my time. Sending me email instead of asking me in person, skimming the FAQ before asking me a question, giving me weeks or days to do something rather than hours or minutes and especially, not breaking any of the rules listed in the "How do I lose my account?" sections of this FAQ are all examples of understanding the value of my time. I am much less likely to be a jerk if you show me some courtesy.

Q: I deleted a file on my J: drive, but it's not in the recycle bin. Where did it go?

A: It's gone. The recycle bin works only for local files (meaning those on the local drive, usually c:). This is by design.

Q: I've lost a file. How do I get it back?

A: To recover a file, mail Zube and provide the following information:

The more accurate the information you can provide, the quicker your files will be restored. However, please make sure you have exhausted all your other options before asking me to restore a file. More often than not, thirty or sixty or ninety minutes after a restore request hits my inbox, a second message will arrive telling me to ignore the first request, as the files have been found or a copy has been secured from someone else.

Your files can usually be recovered with the following exceptions:

Q: I received an email asking for username and account information. What should I do?

A: Ignore it. This is called phishing. You should never, never, never send confidental information over email, ever, period. ACNS has written up a summary on how to identify a phishing email.

Q: ssh/slogin/scp/sftp/putty/winscp to the unix machines doesn't work. How can I fix this?

A: Mail Zube. He will mail you back a document that will explain the problem and the solution.

Q: Why won't Office 2013 open documents?

A: The defaults on Office 2013 are restrictive. Here are two things that might help.

First, in whatever program you are working on (Word, Excel, etc.), follow this twisty little path:

Open Other {Whatever} -> Options -> File -> Trust Center -> Trust
Center Settings.

Next, choose Trusted Locations and check the box for "Allow Trusted Locations on My Network". This should do the trick for network files, but sometimes it doesn't. When it doesn't, follow the bit below.

You can also choose Protected View from under Trust Center Settings and it will show that it's trying to open files as read-only (that's Protected View) for internet-downloaded files, for files in unsafe places and for outlook attachments. Uncheck whatever is applicable to your particular problem.

Alas, you have to do this sequence for each application, so once for Word, once for Excel, etc. Sigh.

Q: I get lots of junk mail. What can I do about it?

A: The first thing to note is that as of Aug 6, 2006, the mail server is now blocking literally millions of spam-sending hosts. While it won't stop spam completely, it will help as a first pass.

One relatively painless way to get rid of junk mail is to ignore it. Of course, it's hard to ignore when it makes up the majority of your mail.

Another suggestion is to try to filter it. In the past, there were instructions here for filtering mail on the unix system using different programs. While these programs helped, they were hard to keep updated and as spam has gotten worse, they became less and less useful, so the instructions were removed. If you *really* want to filter mail on the unix side, send me mail and we'll talk about it. Nowadays, most people just use a webmail service that has built-in filtering or they use the built-in filtering of a graphical client, such as Thunderbird or Outlook.

Q: telnet and ftp? What works, what doesn't and why?

A: Here's the short version. You can no longer telnet in to the stat machines, but you can (if you are silly and really want to) telnet out. You can ftp out of the stat machines, but unless you are using anonymous ftp, you shouldn't. Both telnet and ftp are horribly insecure and should have been thrown out ages ago.

Instead of telnet, you should use putty on the PCs and slogin/ssh on the unix machines. Every PC in the department and in the Math/Stat Lab has putty installed and the program acts very much like telnet.

In lieu of using ftp, there is a command line program called sftp (on unix) and there is the graphical WinSCP on all PCs.

If you have a PC of your own and want some very long-winded (but not very hard to follow) instructions on how to set up putty and WinSCP on it, mail Zube. He'll mail them back to you straight away.

Q: How do I set up a vacation message for my email?

A: You almost certainly do not want to do this. Really. You may think you do, but there are many good reasons why you do not:

A better approach would be the following:

The cost of this is a little more work for someone else, but no annoying out-of-office messages, no additional spam and no one actually knowing that you might not be at your home.

Still, if you really want to do this, here are the old instructions:

The first question to ask is whether this is what you really want. You should answer no if any of the following are true:

If none of these are true, then do the following:

When you have returned and wish to remove the vacation message:

This will disable vacation completely. If you want to re-enable vacation:

Notes about the vacation program

Q: Do you have a copy of Maple I can install at home?

A: If you are a faculty, the answer used to be yes. Alas, the Stat Department declined to contribute to the CSU Maple license pot, so Maple is slowly disappearing from computers in the department and faculty may no longer use it at home.

Q: Can you install WinEdt on my computer?

A: Yes and no. Yes, I can install it, but WinEdt is not free. While it does have a 31-day trial period, I've found that most people like to reinstall it every 30 days, thereby avoiding the license fee. If you buy WinEdt and present me with the license key, I'll install it. Otherwise, please use a free TeX environment such as TeXnicCenter or TeXmaker or LyX. TexnicCenter should be everywhere, the other two programs are on newer installs.

Q: Why shouldn't I use Internet Explorer (IE) as a browser? What should I use?

A: I could write pages about this, but I'll try to keep it short.

IE is the third most insecure program ever written (kudos to those that can guess #1 and #2). Because it was, by design, integrated into Windows it is a very easy path for baddies to get in. When MS made this decision, the thing farthest from their mind was security. We will be living with the consequences of that decision for a long time.

Why should you care?

Baddies exploit the security flaws in IE to install spyware/malware on your machine, eventually turning it to mush. The stuff may just track where you surf, or it may install a keystroke logger so that your credit card info is stolen or it may do something else entirely. IE is a prime target because it is installed on every windows machine and because most people choose the path of least resistence.

There are alternatives. firefox, seamonkey and chrome are all good choices.

For the record, all programs (well, almost all programs) have bugs and some of those bugs manifest themselves as security issues. All programs need updates. Switching to a different browser won't make you 100% secure, but it will go a long way towards protecting you.

So, in short, stop using IE. The only times you should use it are for Windows and Office Updates.

Q: Can you install an R package for me on one or many computers?

A: Sure, but different requests take different amounts of time. A request for adding a package to a unix machine will be satisfied quickly, usually within the day. A request for one or two particular PCs may take a couple of days. A request to install a package on all machines in the MATHSTAT lab may not happen until a semester break.

All is not lost, however. R provides a method for users to load their own packages, even on restricted machines. Jennifer Hoeting has kindly documented this procedure.

Q: Why won't TexMaker save files?

A: Make sure that the file name ends in .tex and then it will save properly.

Q: Where is the CSU Stats thesis format?

A: The magical files are in this directory. Thanks to Jennifer Hoeting for providing a set of updated files.

Another set of files, quite possibly newer, is here.

Q: Who the heck is Dave Smith?

A: Dave Smith was a grad student who finished his degree a long time ago. He was a system person who was very good at answering questions related to TeX, the Web and various statistics packages, as well as being a nice guy. Those who knew him, loved him. Those who didn't know him, loved him from afar. He has moved on to greener pastures, so you'll have to ask Zube (or other grad students) your TeX, Web, or stat questions. He is also the reason why "we" is used in some of the previous answers.