Josh Boldt – 10; Unsuspecting Tablet Users – 0

The following is a reprint of an email I received from an employee with Computing Services on campus here, at DSU. This email was sent to all the students, most of which have had to purchase a new M275 Gateway Tablet PC for classes. After roughly 10 tablet-related emails, he sent this gem of drivel. I left this email as is. Enjoy!

Tablet users… I realize this letter is a little long, but please read through it because there are some very important points you need to know. Non-tablet users may want to read through this also just in case.

Rules of the Road

Having a computer is a great thing. It can be exciting and it can be frustrating, but life with a computer is never boring. Owning your own computer can be one of the first great achievements of your adult life. We applaud those of you who are embracing your tablets and are ready to live a digital lifestyle.

However, you do not own your M275 – you are sharing it, in a sense – so we do have a few rules that we need to enforce on campus to ensure a stable environment that is conducive to academic activities. Please keep in mind that the M275 tablets given to you are property of Dakota State University and the State of South Dakota. DSU has to abide by state, federal, and local laws pertaining to dissemination of information and copyright infringement, among others.

Please read through the Rules of the Road below with an open mind and understand that we are not trying to oppress you or frustrate you; we are merely trying to keep the environment stable for students to be able to do their work effectively and efficiently. These practices are meant to reduce unnecessary network traffic, streamline the Help Desk process for those of you with repairs, and keep our network infrastructure secure and stable. We are not saying that you have to be a clone and not make any changes to your tablet, and we are not telling you that you can’t have fun with it. We are however asking you to be intelligent, responsible adults and to understand that the actions that you take can have consequences for you and for others.

1. Dakota State University is not an Internet Service Provider (ISP). We provide internet on campus for academic activities only. Internet on campus is not for downloading music and movies or for things like chatting and instant messengers. We allow some of this activity as long as it does not get out of hand or start to destabilize the network or unduly slow it down, but we do not guarantee services of those types. Our only goal in providing internet is to provide you with a stable environment from which to finish your homework, do academic research, or check your campus mail for academic related materials. Maintaining academic activities is our highest priority and activities that impede this process will be dealt with.

2. In light of the fact that your tablet is the property of and is maintained by the State of South Dakota, please keep in mind that viewing and storing pornography on it is not a good idea. What you do in the privacy of your own home is not our concern and we have no wish to censor you, but using State resources like our internet connection (which can be and is monitored by the State of South Dakota) to download or look at porn or to use Sate equipment like your M275 tablet to store it and view it is not something we want to explain to the taxpayers who contribute their hard earned tax dollars to the State, or even to the Dakota State Alumni who contributed to many of your scholarship funds and whose money also helps to operate and maintain this school, or to your parents whom for many of you are also contributing funding for your stay here at DSU.

3. Your tablet is for academic purposes only. This does not mean you cannot install games and other programs, but if you do install games or non-academic programs on your computer and it were to cause problems with your computer, your case would be assigned a lower priority at the Help Desk than users with legitimate problems. In order to verify that these software packages are not contributing to the problem with your tablet if you bring it in for repair, we reserve the right to ask you to remove instant messenger clients, games, and other software prior to troubleshooting.

4. Do not make any major changes to your tablet. They are set up for your classes at DSU and if you make any major changes to your system it will no longer match your peer’s tablets, you may not be able to follow along properly in class or study with your peers, and you may not have the proper software and\or settings for your classes any longer. Think of it this way… if you reformat your computer or delete a bunch of programs and come looking for help, then your case may be assigned a lower priority and there could be a delay in returning your tablet to you. We may also reserve the right to ask you to back up any data you need from your tablet and we will reset your hard drive to the way it was the day we distributed it to you.

Not changing the tablet significantly also means not changing or deleting the administrator account that we use for troubleshooting your computer. If you don’t know how to do that then just ignore this, but if you do please stay out of the management setting unless you are legitimately trying to troubleshoot your own computer and you know what you are doing.

5. Do not install or execute any software that is designed to help you download files like movies or music from the internet. This pertains not only to your tablet, but also to any computer plugged into the campus network.

Many, if not most, of these programs allow you to download files that illegally infringe copyrights. This is unethical and unacceptable and we can track your activity and take disciplinary action and\or report you to local and federal authorities. These programs are sometimes called P2P, or peer-to-peer programs. Programs in this category would be programs like Kazaa, Limewire, eDonkey, Morpheus, BearShare, Blubster, etc. You cannot install these programs on your M275 tablet and you cannot run them on the DSU network.

In addition, most of these programs are filled with spyware and malware which track your activities unbeknownst to you, harm your computer, make it slower, and cause you to come and see Computing Services to get them fixed. Unfortunately, we cannot spend countless hours eradicating spyware and malware from your computers so if we find that you are infested with viruses, spyware, or malware we will instruct you to back up any data you need and we will reset your hard drive to the way it was the day we distributed it to you.

Also many of these programs will cause issues with certain software that you need for classes. For instance, many campuses have found that WebCT is often broken by installing Kazaa on your computer. On some computers Kazaa has even been know to break the wireless configuration.

6. You must not disable or remove the Symantec Antivirus software from your tablet. The Symantec Antivirus 9.0 that is installed on the tablets is the newest version from Symantec\Norton. It is updated almost every day while you are on campus, managed by our network administration staff, never expires, and is more stable, robust, and speedier than consumer anti-virus products. For standardization and for security we require that all DSU owned computers have Symantec 9.0 installed in managed mode so that we can administer updates to them regularly. There is no exception to this and if we find that you have removed or disabled it we will require you to come in and have it restored.

7. Do not install a software firewall like Zone Alarm on your tablet and do not enable the Windows Firewall. Please visit this website and scroll down to Step # 2 to help you disable the Windows Firewall if you are not sure if you have it running. A software firewall will cause your system to loose its ability to function properly on our network and it will interfere with software that is necessary for some classes.

Thank you for your patience and understanding and thank you for your commitment to a stable and efficient computing and network infrastructure at Dakota State.

Computing Services Staff


8 Replies to “Josh Boldt – 10; Unsuspecting Tablet Users – 0”

  1. You don’t explain why it is a “gem of drivel”. If you make a statement like that on a public page that over twenty people forwarded to me when it was first posted you should at least quantify or qualify the statement, otherwise what was the point of saying it at all other that to be spiteful or hurtful. It is hard to make the program work for the students and try to answer questions when people just bash it behind your back and say that it is drivel yet no one explains why they feel that way.

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