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This chapter covers the main resources that you will use while you are here. Most of it is dedicated to computer facilities, but information regarding the library, the Common Room, and Health and Safety are also included.

Computing Facilities

The Department and Faculty run several computing services, organised in laboratories. There are two departmental workstation laboratories, the Faculty Workstation lab, and the Faculty PC labs. During term time the MVB is usually open during the evenings (until about 21.30) and on the weekends.

If you encounter any problems with the computing facilities (equipment, software), you should report this to the named contact. You should receive an acknowledgement together with an estimated time to fix your problem, or information regarding proposed action, as soon as the message is received.

Maintenance of the computing facilities is usually performed outside term time. If you plan to use the laboratories outside term time, for example during the summer for an MSc project, then be prepared that labs may be closed for some time. Closures are announced by e-mail.

Workstation Laboratories

The main laboratories contain 90 workstations. At present, we have 120 PCs running Linux. All workstations are connected to our departmental servers. Support for the workstations is provided by Sid Rahman,, 954 5632.

Faculty PC laboratory

The Faculty has a lab of PCs, located on the first floor of the Merchant Venturers building. They are equipped with a variety of software and are available for general use except when reserved for specific departmental/faculty activities. If you need support for the Faculty PC lab, you should visit the Help Desk, in 1.07, open daily during term time between 12:45 and 13:15.

Your own computer

If you intend to buy a computer, it might be worthwhile to buy one which is capable of running the software that you need to use in your course. You will not be able to do all your practical work on your own machine, as some software is (very) expensive, or runs only on specialised computers. Some of the software that we use is public domain, other software you will have to buy. For some packages the university has made a deal with the manufacturer so that students can buy them at a (heavily) discounted price.

There are dozens of types of PCs and Macintosh's, based on a variety of processors, making it difficult to give advice on what to buy. Generally, the requirements are not great, and if you have an ANSI-C compiler, a Haskell interpreter, and a Java Compiler running, then you will be able to perform a large amount of the practical work on this machine.

If the Hall where you live has been wired up, you may wish to incorporate an Ethernet card. Make sure that the card is twisted pair Ethernet (UTP). More information on networking in the Halls of residence is on

House Rules

It is in everyone's interest to keep the labs tidy and in good working order. It is common for us to be visited by industrialists and it is important that they don't have to wade through sandwiches or printouts when they are shown around (you might want a job with them later). The house rules are as follows:

Please note that, like all other University computer systems, the Computer Science and faculty machines are covered by the University Computer regulations. In particular you are reminded that: you may only use systems you are explicitly authorised to, you may not attempt to gain access to other users accounts or passwords, and you may not allow your account to be used by any other person.

E-Mail and the World-Wide Web

Undergraduate students have an e-mail address with the university server. You can read e-mail from any computer either by using a pre installed client such as Thunderbird or Mulberry, the University's Webmail interface at or by using ssh to contact the university mail server using pine to read your e-mail.

Postgraduate students and Staff have an e-mail account on the departmental network, where they can read their mail using the same methods as described above.

Staff, Postgraduates and Undergraduates can create web pages that are hosted on the departmental server. Martin Baker, supports this service.

Please use these facilities sensibly. Do not use them to publish material that may offend others and refrain from viewing offensive material. Also note that material on the web may be copyrighted, and that downloading this material may mean that you are in breach of copyright law.

Health and Safety

Health and Safety is covered by an enormous number of regulations. Responsibility for Health and Safety within a Department rests ultimately with the Head of Department. There is a Safety Office with specialist staff which carries out annual audits. Nationally the rules and advice issue from the Health and Safety Executive who implement National and European rules and guidelines. Some of the regulations are irrelevant to us, such as Radiological Protection, but most do apply.

The Departmental Administrator is your point of contact for safety issues. If she is not available then contact the Head of Department. The department's web site has an area dedicated to health and safety matters.


All equipment connected to the 240V mains used in academic buildings must be electrically tested for earthing and insulation. The tests are carried out at specific intervals using specialist equipment and regular visual checks are carried out. All equipment so tested is clearly marked. Any equipment that is repaired must be re-tested. If you suspect any item is faulty report it immediately to any member of staff who will take appropriate action. If out of hours, label the equipment `Do not use' and report it as soon as possible. Neither staff nor students should swap cables around or bring in their own mains-powered equipment, unless you have written permission from Safety Staff. A charge may be made for testing private equipment.


Please report any defects (chairs, doors etc.) to any staff member


There are strict guidelines governing the Workstation Environment. The Faculty has committed substantial resources to ensure correct seating, floor covering, lighting, temperature, humidity and good quality monitors. All seats have adjustments for height, tilt and mid-back support. Follow the guidelines in the labs to prevent back and eye strain and Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI).


The entire building is fitted with sensitive smoke detectors, except in the car parks where other facilities exist. They will be set off by cigarette smoke. Regular fire drills take place. Find out how you get out before you need to! Accessible emergency exits do tend to conflict with security, so they are alarmed to prevent misuse. Whenever the fire alarm sounds you will have to evacuate the building immediately, closing doors and windows. Report any restrictions to emergency exits immediately.

The Buildings

The main stairs and fire escape stairs have an open well extending the height of the building. The handrail does not form a cage and gaps exist between the rails. Therefore, please do not jostle on the stairs, take care if you are tall and do not allow children to play on them. Railings around the mains foyer look like climbing frames - they are NOT. It is a long way to the floor.


Children visit the University premises from time to time - their parents may be staff or students, or there may be an Open Day. Children on University premises are governed by University Regulations. Briefly, children under 5 are not admitted, and from 5-16 they must be accompanied at all times. Other arrangements (e.g. nursing mothers, babies-in-arms) should be addressed to the Head of Department.

Visit the Safety Office web at for further information on safety. This contains a lot of material, of which the codes of practice on `Fire, First Aid and other Emergency Precautions' and `Office Safety and VDU Workstations' are probably the most relevant.


Access to the main entrance, car park and laboratories is controlled by a card-swipe lock requiring a PIN to be entered. During the normal working day the labs will probably be unlocked, but out-of-hours use is by PIN.

The Merchant Venturers Building is open outside normal office hours (on weekdays from 08.00 until about 21.30) to Computer Science students. There is a sophisticated system throughout the building, integrated with the fire alarm system and connected directly to the Security Lodge. They have the ultimate authority to clear a lab or the building and withdraw out-of-hours access if the system is abused. This includes illegal use of emergency exits.

With out-of-hours access available, a possibility arises that you may be threatened to provide access. If it happens, do not put yourself in danger, but report the incident immediately to the 24h Security line on 87848. If you have an emergency you can ring 112233.

The Library

The University library system comprises a main library together with specialist libraries located in the appropriate Faculty or Department. The main library is located on Tyndall Avenue.

Our students generally use the Engineering/Mathematics library which is the repository for books on Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics. The main journals in these fields are also stocked and are available to students and staff for loan, with the exception of the current issue which is for reference only. A computerised catalogue of books and journals is available for use in the library and from other machines connected to the University network. To access this catalogue, use your web browser and follow the link from the University's home page.

Further information on the Library can be found in the follwing documents supplied by Library and Computing Services:

Student Common Rooms

The atrium of the Merchant Venturers Building is used as a common room for general use. Since this area is also used for various functions you should make every effort to keep it clean and tidy.