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Answers to frequently asked questions about computing and data acquisition
at JRM, the Physics Department and KSU. See also the PCSC web site.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Questions:

What computing resources are available?
Where are all the DVD writers and Zip drives?
How do I get a new account or change my passwords?
How do I change my password from a remote location?
I'd call you on the phone if I knew how it worked...
Where is the documentation for our SpecTcl data acquisition system?
Where is the documentation for LabView?
How do I map drive or directory shares to a Windows drive letter?
How do I map my group's network data directory to a drive letter or a shortcut?
How do I create my own web page?
How do I set the security permissions on files?
How do I deny users or groups access to my Windows files?
How do I find out how much Windows system disk space I'm using?
Why is the network/this computer/my logon so slow?
How do I find the size of my Windows profile?
How do I run Mathematica on the Unix system?
How do I use Outlook as my e-mail client?
How can I customize Windows and Office?
How do I create Adobe Acrobat (pdf) documents?
What apps can JRM XP users load with WinInstall?
What "advertised programs" can JRM Vista users load?
Which apps can I (or should I) install on my home computer or laptop?
Where can I download useful, freely available applications from?
How do I add/delete/customize printers?
I need to print transparencies/posters/banners...
Can I sort the Windows Start Menu?
How can I continuously backup (and then recover) my Word documents?
How do I access the Physics Windows system from outside Cardwell Hall?
Plagued by pop-ups?
Swamped with spam?
Need help with Linux?
How do I secure my home PC/laptop?


The Answers:

What computing resources are available?

The Physics Department offers two computing environments: a Linux system based on the Scientific Linux distribution and a Microsoft Windows system. Our desktops run Windows Vista. The JRM Lab has also transitioned from its old reliable VAX VMS based data-acquisition system to a new one based on Debian Linux. These systems all share an interoperable sign-on and file system, so you can access your information on any of them from any of them.

The Linux system is used exclusively for scientific computing. Our theory groups also maintain their own Linux clusters for heavy-duty number-crunching.

There are now many Windows servers, running Windows Server 2003 in clusters for high availability. Some of those visible to the users are discussed below. These servers are now being transitioned to virtualized Windows 2008 Servers running on a blade system.

The file server, called Trajan (presumably after Marcus Ulpius Trajanus, a Roman emperor of the first century), administers our disk storage systems, which are physically provided by a Storage Area Network (SANS) appliance. Everyone's personal "O:" drive is here, as are the shared group "S:" drives.

The application server is named LAPD714 (Joe Friday's badge number); this machine hosts most our user applications, such as Office.

The terminal server cluster goes by "Pike" or just "ts". Terminal Services (aka, Remote Desktop) is our preferred method of remote access.

Our mail is handled by an Exchange server; to directly access our web mail client, go to Spam is filtered by a Barracuda Networks appliance; to manage your spam go to

Our web server is called Comet (after Santa's reindeer). User's personal web space is automatically accessible as the "Z:" drive in Windows, and the individual URLs are of the form

JRM clients on this system usually carry the names of famous quantum physicists. JRM also has its own specialized data acquisition computers running Debian Linux that share this naming scheme.

The University also offers a central Unix system and maintains the campus-wide wired and wireless networks. Accounts for these services are available from KSU Computing & Telecommunications Services. They also publish the weekly IT Tuesday newsletter, which is recommended reading for all users.

Where are all the DVD writers and Zip drives?

The table below shows the location of all the DVD writers and Zip drives. Not shown are about two dozen CD writers - you should have no problem finding one of them. Also note that the laptops "Abbe" (our presentation PC) and "Airy" (in KLS) both have DVD-RW drives.

Please note that while Zip 250 drives can read Zip 100 disks, a Zip 100 drive cannot read a Zip 250 disk!

When creating a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM that you intend to be portable, be sure to close the writing session and write-protect the disk. You should be offered this option before the drive will eject your disk.

Media for these drives is stored in the grey cabinet in the lab conference room (the old "Setup" computer room), or you can get it from Vince Needham in Room 28. If we run out of something or you take the last disk, please tell me so that I can get more!

Removable Media Drives
Room Machine DVD-RW Zip 100 Zip 250
KLS Schrodinger x    
Lab Boltzman x   
Lab Feynman     x
Lab Compton      
Lab Dirac x    
Lab Faraday     x
Lab Rosen   x  
Lab Hawking x x  
Lab Hess x    
Lab Kelvin x    
Lab Pais x    
33 Schawlow x x  
33 Townes      
124 Bell x   
132 Brewster x   
132 Gerlach x  x
132 Galileo   x  
305 Gell-Mann x    
305 Hartree xx  
305 Slater x x  


How do I get a new Physics computing account or change my passwords?

(See also the PCSC tutorial on changing passwords.)

To get an account on any of the Physics systems, your supervisor should use the the form found under "Request User Account" at the PCSC web site. Your supervisor can request the account and specify what groups you should be accociated with. Your new account name and temporary password will be e-mailed to the address your supervisor includes here. You will have to change this password immediately upon your first login. Please be careful when you do this! Read the instructions and prompts carefully and remember your password. If you think anything untoward might have happened while changing your password, please report it to the system managers immediately. Requests are usually serviced quickly; most will be answered on the same business day.

We require that you change the passwords on your accounts with each new semester. There are instructions available for changing the passwords of your Physics accounts in the PCSC FAQ, and for your Kansas State eID here. Your eID is the username and password combination that allows you to access the campus Unix system, the KSU Telecom dial-up Internet service, K-State Online, human resources data and a host of other online services.

Please read and follow the KSU password selection guidelines for all your computer accounts. Strong passwords are one of our best defenses against hackers.

How do I change my password from a remote location?

(See also the PCSC tutorial on changing passwords.)

If you are travelling when our password deadline rolls around, or if you are an outside collaborator, you can change your Physics computing password remotely by any of three methods:

  • Log into our web mailer ( Select the "Options" folder, and scroll down to nearly the bottom of the "Options" window. Click the "Change Password" button and follow the instructions.
  • Log into our Terminal Server ( Click on the "Start" menu button, then on "Settings", then on "Windows Security". Click on the "Change Password" button in the window that appears and follow the instructions.
  • SSH into "" and use the "passwd" command. The Linux and Windows systems now share a single sign-on for their merged file systems, so you can access both from either with just one password.
University eIDs can be managed via the web at

I'd call you on the phone if I knew how it worked...

The KSU Computing and Telecommunications Services offices have both basic dialing instructions and instructions for using advanced phone services (such as the Audix voice mail system). There are also paper copies of both the Audix instructions and the desktop phone set instructions in near many of the phones in Cardwell.

There are online phone directories for the campus, the Physics department and for the JRM Lab.

To reset the clock in your AT&T 830 telephone:

  1. Press and release "CLOCK"
  2. Enter the time with the keypad.
  3. Press * for AM or # for PM.
  4. Enter the date with the keypad.
  5. Press "CLOCK" again.

Where is the documentation for our SpecTcl data acquisition system?

A tutorial on the use of our SpecTcl data acquisition system is available. This tutorial, by Kevin Carnes, gives a comprehensive overview of logging into our Debian Linux machines, using SpecTcl, and customizing it using TCL and C++.

For more useful information about data acquisition and other lab operations, see our Nuts & Bolts page.

For more tutorials on using Linux and a variety of other topics, plese see our index of tutorials.

Where is the documentation for LabView?

Many of our groups are now writing custom controls or data acquisition applications using National Instruments LabView programming environment. Sadly, someone has absconded with our full set of manuals, so here's a look at the electronic help resources available. There are also paper introductory manuals seeded throughout the lab.

On any computer with LabView installed, find the LabView directory (probably under "\Program Files\National Instruments\") and look for "\LabVIEW x.x\manuals\", where "x.x" is the version number. There are several Acrobat-format introductory manuals and quick-references here.

It might be easier to access these by simply going to the Windows Start Menu "National Instruments | LabView x.x | LabView Manuals" group.

The National Instruments web site,, has a wealth of material - probably too much! It can be a bit difficult and intimidating to find what you're looking for. A good starting point is the LabView Support page at This page has been recently remodeled to make it somewhat easier to find manuals, tutorials and examples.

How do I map drive or directory shares to a Windows drive letter?

(See also the PCSC tutorial on mapping network drives.)

Users should get their various disk spaces on the servers automatically mapped to a drive letter in the Windows Explorer. Knowing how this is done manually is still a valuable skill (especially for laptop users).

Mapping your research group file space is a good example of the process for mapping drives in general. In the Windows Explorer, go to the "Tools" menu and choose "Map Network Drive". In the text box labeled "Drive" pick an unused drive letter (traditionally "J:"). In the "Path" box enter \\castle\jrmres\xx\, where "xx" should be the abbreviation for your group ("ib" for Itzik's group, for example). Ignore the "Connect As" box, and check the "Reconnect at Logon" box. This will guarantee that this connection remains a permanent one. Click "OK" and you're done.

The general syntax of the address is \\machine-name\directory-name. Hence, when I map a drive on my PC, it's \\wigner\dvd, where "Wigner" is my PC's name and "dvd" is the share name that I gave to my removable media DVD drive.

By convention, we always map drives L, M, and N as system drives. As noted above, J is for the research group's data; O is the user's home space (for both Windows and Linux); S is the shared JRM file space; and Z is for the user's personal web site. Additional drives may be mapped for system support and for access to shared group files.

How do I map my group's network data directory to a drive letter or a shortcut?

(See also the PCSC tutorial on mapping network drives.)

Many of you have noticed that when you log onto our Windows system with your own account, you automatically get a "J:" drive that points to our new network data storage directories. If you log onto a data acquisition PC with the "online" account (or some other local account), this doesn't happen automatically. You can manually map your data directories into the file explorer or onto a desktop shortcut, though.

To map the directory to a drive letter, open the file explorer and go to the "Tools | Map Network Drive" menu item. Pick a drive letter, then enter "\\castle\jrmres\ib" into the "folder" field, replacing "ib" with whatever your own group name is ("ib" is for Itzik's group).

To create a desktop shortcut, right-click on the desktop and select "New" and "Shortcut". Enter the same address as above into the "Type the location of the item" field. Click "Next", give your new shortcut a name, and click "Finish".

It is also possible to map to the address "\\castle\jrmres\", which will list all of the different group directories. This might be a more convenient mapping for PCs that are shared between groups.

See also the general instructions in the answer above.

How do I create my own web page?

Every user on our system has a Windows "Z:" drive created for them, which is, in fact, space on our web server. You can create your own personal web site here.

Any file named "index.htm" or "index.html" put in the root of your "Z:" drive will automatically appear when a visitor goes to

You can make this file by hand with a text editor, or use a web creation tool like the commercial Expression Web or the open-source KompoZer. We don't currently have any such tool available on a department-wide basis. You can use either of two Microsoft Office applications: Word or Publisher. Note that these tools produce highly complex, non-standard HTML intended to perfectly reproduce the appearance of traditional paper documents, but for simple pages that will never require human maintenance they may be good enough.

If you do use these Office tools, try saving your pages as "Filtered HTML". This option removes the most obnoxious of the specialized markup.

If you're not sure what sort of page layout you might like, Publisher provides some built-in templates, and Word templates are readily found on the web.

Your "Z:" drive web space has a 50 MB default size limit. This is usually more than enough for most personal web sites. If you should need more (for sharing data files or for special purposes, for example), please contact the PCSC or your group's webmaster for help.

Please remember that your web page will reflect on the reputations of both the Physics Department and Kansas State University. Strive to make and to keep your pages useful, attractive, up-to-date and, of course, appropriate. Be sure to read and follow the university information technology policies.

To create a personal web site on the KSU campus Unix system, see KSU's Creating Your Own Personal Home Page for instructions.

More information on web publishing is available from KSU's Tools for World Wide Web Publishing page.

How do I set the security permissions on files?

If you want to share files or directories with other people on either the Unix or Windows systems, you must set the security permissions on those files appropriately. The basic approach to security is the same in most operating systems, though the implementation is somewhat different.

Three general classes of users are recognized for security purposes: the owner of a file, a user group or workgroup that the user might belong to, and rest of the world. Any of these classes of people may be given any combination of read-only, write, or execute permissions.

In Unix, use the chmod command to set privileges. To allow anyone complete access to a file, for instance, use

chmod a+rwx filename.type
The a argument means all user types; you might also use u for the user (for the file's owner), g for group or o for other (the rest of the world). The + sign adds a permission; a - sign is used to remove settings. Read access is specified by the r, write access by w and execute access by x.

An example of using chmod would be in setting permissions for your web page directory. The ~username/.html directory (and any subdirectories defined within it) must allow the world both read and execute privileges, so from your root directory use

chmod a+rx ./.html
The files within the .html directory must similarly be available, so from within the .html directory use
chmod a+rx *
where the wildcard * gives read access to all of the files.

The idea is the same in Windows, but the graphical user interface makes the job easier.

In the Windows Explorer, right-click on the file or directory that you want to change. Select Properties from the menu and a dialog box appears. Click on the Security folder tab, and then on the Permissions button. A list of users and user groups appears with a description of the types of access that they are allowed. To change the setting for one of the existing groups shown, select that group and then pick the kind of access from the drop-down box at the bottom of the window.

If the user or group that you want to modify permissions for is not shown, you need to use the Add button. This brings up another window that lists all the different groups defined on our system. To also see individual users, click on the Show Users button; the complete alphabetized list of users will be added at the end of the list of groups. Select the group or person you want to add and click the Add button again. Now pick the level of access from the drop-down box and click OK.

If you are changing the settings for an entire directory, you now have the option of giving the same permissions to all of the files and subdirectories inside of the parent directory. To do this, check the boxes labeled Replace Permissions on Subdirectories and Replace Permissions on Existing Files. Click on OK to close the Security window and again to close the Properties window and you're done.

How do I deny users or groups access to my Windows files?

Open the Windows Explorer and find the file or directory that you wish to protect. Right-click on that object, and select "Properties" from the menu. Click on the "Security" tab and press the "Permissions" button. A window opens that shows the "access control list" for each class of user or group.

NEVER fool with the permissions for any administrator, creator/owner or system. The former can always just change it back, while altering either of the latter is guaranteed to mess up your access to applications.

If a group is listed that you do not wish to have access, then remove that group (highlight it and click on "Remove"). Do not specify "No Access"; if you are a member of a group that you specifically deny access to, you will also deny yourself access.

You can customize the settings for any user or group by using "Add" to include those people and then specifying one of the levels of access listed in "Type of Access". "List" access means that the filenames can be seen in a directory listing, but they cannot be read or used. The other categories should be self- explanatory. If none of the listed levels of access satisfies your needs, you can create custom combinations of permissions using the "Special Access" selection.

Finally, be sure that you give yourself full control of your own files and directories.

If you want the changes you made to a directory's permissions to propagate all the way down through any subdirectories, click on the check box "Replace Permissions on Subdirectories". Now click "OK", answer any "Are you sure?" messages, and the changes are made. Click "OK" on the remaining Properties box and you're done.

Be very careful doing this. You can deny yourself access or break working applications this way, and you will have to get someone with administrative privileges to fix it. They won't be happy with you...

How do I find out how much Windows system disk space I'm using?

It's a good idea to occasionally check the files that you have on your personal "O" drive and anything that you might have put on the shared JRM "S" drive. Aside from disk space being a finite resource, the clutter from years of accumulated stuff can make your life harder than it ought to be. This is true for your home systems as well.

If you want to know how much space you're using on the "O" drive altogether, open up the Windows Explorer and click on the "O" drive entry in the left-hand window of Explorer. Next, click on the first item in the right-hand display, hold down the shift key and click on the last item. This will highlight all the files and folders showing there. Now right-click anywhere on these highlighted items and choose "Properties" from the bottom of the menu. NT will scan your files and report the total space used.

This same trick works on individual files or folders.

If you want to find all the large files on your drive or in a folder, select that item in Explorer and then click on the "Tools" item on the Explorer menu bar. Select "Find" and then "Files or Folders" from the resulting drop-down menu. On the "Name and Location" tab that shows up as the default first page of the "Find" window, make sure that the checkbox labeled "Include Subfolders" is checked. Now click on the "Advanced" tab. Go to the "Size is:" box and choose "At Least", and then enter a file size (in kilobytes) in the next box. To find all files that are at least 1 megabyte in size, for instance, enter 1000. Finally, click the "Find Now" button and your search will commence.

Why is the network/this computer/my logon so slow?

Cardwell Hall's network suffers the legacy of having been originally wired with "thin" coax Ethernet (10Base-2). It was cheap at the time... You residents of the third floor are the victims of the slowest leg of Cardwell's antiquated data network. When traffic is heavy (roughly from dawn to dusk...) the simplest net access can bog down to a snail's pace.

This problem has been somewhat alleviated over time as our servers and certain groups using Internet2 were rewired for 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet. We're still waiting for an opportunity to extend this system to the rest of Cardwell Hall.

In the meantime, be sure to keep the size of your "profile" to a minimum.

Windows keeps your various personal system settings stored in your profile. On the local disk in Windows XP, this is stored in

C:\Documents and Settings\username
while for Vista users it's in
Some of this info is read from the server when you log on and it is written back to the server when you log off. That way, no matter where you log in from, you get an up-to-date environment. The permanent network location for your profile is at
You should also make sure that your profile has the smallest possible size. DO NOT store files within the profile or to the desktop. Save them to your home space on the O: drive.

How do I find the size of my Windows profile?

To get the exact size of your profile as it is stored on the server, open the Windows Explorer and navigate to the "profile" folder of your personal "O:" drive (as described above). Right-click on this directory and select "Properties" from the menu. The total size of the directory will be part of the data reported. Take care that any files you delete from your profile are just your own personal files; deleting a system file could prevent you from logging in!

How do I run Mathematica on the Unix system?

To use the campus Unix version of Mathematica from an XP workstation, you need to install the right fonts in your copy of eXceed. Use the eXceed xconfig program and select "Font" and "Font Database". Uncheck the box labeled "Automatic Font Substitution".

Now click on "Add". In this new window, fill in the following:

Font Directory: n:\local\fonts\windows\math\
File Name: math

and then click "OK".

Click on "Add" again, but this time check the "Server" checkbox on the right. Fill in:

Transport: tcp
Port: 7001

You may now click your way out of the dialog boxes with the "OK" and "Close" buttons.

After that, you need to use make sure that you have appropriate entries in your .rhosts command on the campus Unix network. If all this is correct, you can simply type


(yes, with a capital M) at the Physics unix prompt. There's no need to log onto the campus system just to run the program anymore.

Note that there may still be a keymap problem if you want to use the keyboard rather than the palette. We do not have a proper eXceed keymap file.

How do I use Outlook as my e-mail client?

Tutorials on the use of Outlook and on Outlook's automated message handling features are available as separate web pages. See also our complete tutorials index.

How can I customize Windows and Office?

Office Menus

To disable the annoying partial menus in Office, go to the "Tools" menu of any Office app and select "Customize". Under the "Options" tab, uncheck the box labeled "Menus show recently used commands first". This will also automatically disable and gray out "Show full menus after a short delay", which appears just beneath that "Menus show..." option.

Windows Menus

You can disable the Windows Start Menu analog of this by going to the Start Menu, selecting "Settings", then "Taskbar & Start Menu" and unchecking "Use Personalized Menus". While you're in this box, you might want to look under the "Advanced" tab and select some of the options in the "Start Menu Settings" box. I like to use "Expand Control Panel", which lets you pick Control Panel apps off the Start Menu instead of having to go through "My Computer".

Windows Transistion Effects

The fade-in "Transition Effects" of Windows are controlled from the "Display Properties" box, under the "Effects" tab. You can open "Display Properties" by right-clicking on an empty spot on the desktop and selecting "Properties" from the drop-down menu. Check or uncheck the "Use transition effects..." line to toggle the effects on or off. The drop-down list box next to this lests you pick different kinds of effects. While you're in "Display Properties", of course, you can also pick your favorite desktop wallpaper, screen saver and such.

Windows Explorer Options

I also customize the "Folder Views" in the file Explorer. If you don't have the file Explorer open, right-click "My Computer" and select "Explore" from the drop-down menu. From the "View" menu, select your preferred style; I strongly recommend "Details". Go to the Explorer "Tools" menu and select "Folder Options". Under the "General" tab, you can cancel the default picture-heavy web-style views by clicking "Use Windows classic folders" under "Web View". Then, under the "View" tab, click on all three "Display..." options at the head of the options list, click "Show hidden files and folders", and uncheck "Hide file extensions..." and "Hide protected operating system files". This last one will require you to answer an "Are you sure?" query. Finally, click the "Like Current Folder" button at the top of the window to have these settings become the default for all windows. Click "OK" at the bottom of the window to finish.

Outlook Addresses Alphabetized

One last hard-to-find stupid interface trick is learning how to alphabetize your Outlook address book by "Last-Name-First" instead of the brain-dead default "First-Name-First". From the Outlook menu bar, select "Tools", then "Services". Under the "Services" tab, select "Outlook Address Book", and then click the "Properties" button. At the bottom of the window that this pops up, select the "File as (Smith, John)" option.

(Note that this is not completely foolproof, since addresses entered while the default "first-name-first" was effective may still wind up stuck that way. You'll have to correct these addresses by hand in the Outlook Contacts section. Usually this is a minority of the total.)

How do I create Adobe Acrobat (pdf) documents?

For a variety of reasons, some of you may have lost the ability to easily create Adobe Acrobat (pdf) files. This topic is a guide to the various ways of making these.

1) The most straightforward way to convert some file into Acrobat is to use the Acrobat 6 application directly. In the "Program" menu, go to the "Adobe" group and click on "Adobe Acrobat 6.0 Standard". This will launch the application; be patient, it's a little slow to start up. Once the application window appears, go to the "File" menu, select "Create PDF" and then "From File". You can then browse to the file you want to convert. Many different kinds of files can be converted, and they will all show up as you browse. The file that you select will appear in the window and be converted. Finally, select "Save As" from the "File" menu and save your new PDF.

2) There is a special Acrobat printer queue that allows you to just "print" a document as PDF. To see if you have that printer installed, go to the "Start" menu, click on "Settings" and then "Printers and Faxes". A list of installed printers will show up. (Alternately, you could look in "My Computer | Control Panel | Printers and Faxes" for the same list.) If the Acrobat printer doesn't appear, then you will have to contact the computer shop to have it reinstalled.

3) Word and Excel documents can be saved directly from within those applications using the little red Acrobat icons that should appear on the left side of the application's taskbar. Just click on the leftmost icon to do the conversion and be prompted for a place to save the new file. In order for this to work, you must have the Acrobat printer available on your machine (see above).

If the icons do not appear in your version of Word or Excel, do the following. First, close those apps if they are open. In the file Explorer, go to "C:\Program Files\Adobe\PDFMaker\". In this folder are two files named "" and "PDFMaker.xla". Copy "" to "C:\Documents and Settings\dummy\Application Data\Microsoft\Word\STARTUP\". Copy "PDFMaker.xla" to "C:\Documents and Settings\dummy\Application Data\Microsoft\Excel\XLSTART\". When you restart either application, the icons should appear.

What apps can JRM XP users load with WinInstall?

(The WinInstall application has been superseded by the built-in "Advertised Programs" feature. Please see the PCSC tutorial on adding and removing programs.)

WinInstall is the application used by the PCSC for distributing applications to Windows XP users. You can run it from the "Main" group of the Windows XP Start Menu.

Not all of the research groups are licensed to use all of the apps that are hosted on our server, and WinInstall is smart enough to only allow you to load the apps that you're entitled to. For JRM, that includes:

  • CadKey (Mechanical Drawing)
  • CorelDraw (Drawing & Imaging)
  • Hummingbird eXceed (X Windows Server)
  • Visual Studio (Fortran, Basic & C++)
  • Origin 5.0 & 6.1 (Scientific Graphing)
  • Simion (Ion Optics)
  • SkyMap Pro (Astronomy)
  • Utilities (Everything Else...)
The "Utilities" group contains the following:
  • GhostScript & GhostView (Postscript)
  • Programmer's File Editor (Text Editor)
  • POV-Ray (3D Ray-Traced Graphics)
  • 3270 Emulator (Terminal for KSUVM)
  • TeraTerm/SSH (Telnet/SSH to Best & CNS)
  • WS-FTP (Graphical FTP)
  • StuffIt Expander (Compression Utility)
  • WinZip (Compression Utility)
  • XnView (Image Viewer)
Many other applications are natively installed on every workstation, such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Acrobat and, of course, anything bundled as a part of Windows.

What "advertised programs" can JRM Vista users load?

When the PCSC adopted the Vista desktop, they also implemented a new software distribution system that replaces WinInstall. Vista users should look in their "Start" menu for the "Run Advertised Programs" application to load extra programs. These programs include;

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • CadKey
  • Google Earth
  • Mathworks MatLab
  • Microsoft Communicator/Live Meeting
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Orignlab Origin
  • Radiation Safety Training
  • Xming & puTTY
  • Simion 3D
  • Skype
  • WinEdt
  • Wolfram Mathematica
These are application that require the end user to perform personalized installations. All other applications are preloaded on your computer.

MatLab and Mathematica are the Windows clients connected to the University's site license for those programs. Note that if the total campus usage of either program exceeds the number of available licenses, you may not be able to use the application.

WinEdt is also licensed software with a usage limit. If you need to use this TeX front-end package, please tell Vince Needham and he'll arrange it.

Which apps can I (or should I) install on my home computer or laptop?

There are many "freeware" or generously licensed commercial applications that you may run on your personal computers. The first among these should be the Trend Micro OfficeScan antivirus utility, which the university requires for all faculty, staff and students connecting to its network. Note that you must supply your KSU Computing username/password to download the software from a non-KSU network address.

The antivirus software and a variety of other applications are available in the Cat Pack CD-ROM found at the Union Computer Store, InfoTech Help Desk (313 Hale Library) or at K-State Telecommunications (109 East Stadium). These apps are also available for download.

Much of the same software is also available on the "JRM Public Software" CD-ROM available (for free!) from Vince in Room 28. The current version of this CD-ROM holds, among other things:

Acrobat Reader
Apple Safari
Apple iTunes
CoffeCup FTP
Google Chrome (beta)
Google Earth
Internet Explorer
LavaSoft Ad-Aware
Mozilla Firefox/Thunderbird
puTTY & Xming
Programmer's File Editor
StuffIt Expander
Trend Micro AntiVirus
Windows Defender
We can also provide certain of our commercial applications for laptop/notebook use. Please see Vince, Kevin or Joe about these.

Where can I download useful, freely available applications from?

Here is some of the aformentioned freely available software (as zip archives):

How do I add/delete/customize printers?

(See also the PCSC tutorial on adding printers.)

A step-by-step graphical tutorial of how to add or delete printers is available.

To pick a printer to be your default printer, open the "Printers" dialog in the "Control Panel". Right-click on the printer that you want, and select "Set As Default Printer". The icon for that printer will change to one with a check mark emblazoned over it to indicate that it is the default.

I need to print transparencies/posters/banners...

If you need to print transparencies, please read and follow the directions posted near the color Laserjet printers in either Room 34 or in the Lab. Be certain to use only laser printer compatible transparencies when using the laser printers; ink-jet printer sheets will melt when they pass over the laser printer's "fuser".

Note that unicode fonts do not print properly to the HPGL/PCL queues of our Laserjet printers. On the Laserjet 8100 in Room 34, the offending text is simply not printed, but on the color Laserjet 5s in either Room 34 or the Lab the print job goes insane and prints a semi-infinite pile of garbled text. Please be aware of this and avoid using unicode. Unicode fonts are all named as such and "Arial Unicode MS" is the one you're most likely to see.

KSU Printing Services offers a variety of products to enhance your presentations or poster sessions, including large-format printing. Please see for details and requirements.

Can I sort the Windows Start Menu?

Yes, the Start Menu is sortable. The easiest way is to right-click anywhere in the main body of the "Programs" part of the Start Menu and select "Sort By Name" from the drop-down menu. The Start Menu program groups will be reordered alphabetically.

If you want more control over the ordering, you can simply click-and-drag the groups around the menu. Click on an entry, then drag it up or down the list; you'll see a solid black line appear on the list to show you where the item will drop when you release the mouse button. Be careful - you can drag the item anywhere and to any level of the Start Menu this way, and it's easy to lose track of where you are.

Windows also allows you to edit items on the Start Menu in-place. Right-click on any entry for the menu of options. If you want to edit the Start Menu the old-fashioned way, the files are now kept in the directory "C:\Documents and Settings\username". Note that while you can change what appears on the Start Menu by editing this directory, the sorting can only be done at the Start Menu itself.

How can I continuously backup (and then recover) my Word documents?

1) Use Word's backups feature. In the Tools | Options | Save menu, check the box "Always create backup copy". This automatically saves the previous version of the document whenever you save. The older version has the file type ".wbk". This only saves one version back.

2) There is a "Versions" command on the File menu. If you activate this option, all previous versions of your document are retained. This will happen on saves, or you can force it from the "Versions" command. You can specify the name of the version as well. Note that this greatly increases the size of the Word file. See the Word help system for a description.

3) Word (and other Office apps) automatically maintains an "Autorecovery" copy of your work that protects you against catastrophies like power failures. By default, autorecovery makes a copy of your ongoing work every ten minutes. You may wish to change the frequency of the autorecover option. To do this, go to the Tools | Options| Save menu again and change the number in the box next to "Save Autorecover info every:". For more details on how autorecovery works, see this Microsoft Knowledge Base article or this (more approachable) Microsoft Office help page.

If you do have a catastrophe, Word should automatically load the document you were last working on when it restarts. If not, look in "C:\Documents and Settings\ username \Application Data\Microsoft\ program name" for a file named "AutoRecover Save of file name".

4) Manually save early and save often!

5) As always, make backup copies of your work. There is removable media of all sorts stored in the cabinets of the Setup computer room in the lab, and at least one computer of each floor of the building has a CD writer and/or a Zip drive.

How can I remotely access the Physics Windows system from off-campus (or anywhere outside the firewall)?

The preferred method for off-campus access of our systems is to use the Windows Remote Desktop client. Please read the separate tutorial on Terminal Services / Remote Desktop.

You can also access our system (in a more limited way) using our Virtual Private Network (VPN). You need to request permission to use the VPN, and you'll need to install the client software on your computer.

General instructions and downloads of the VPN client for Windows, Mac or Linux computers are available from the KSU VPN site. You need to have a University eID to download the software from there. You can get the files from the Physics department right here:

In addition you need the Physics profile file, which needs to be saved to the "Profiles" sub-directory of the VPN program.

Please note that for security you can access only Physics department addresses while running the VPN client. You will not be able to generally browse the web, read e-mail or anything else, so plan ahead, have your files ready to transfer and only use the VPN when you really need it.

Plagued by popups?

(Note: Windows XP Service Pack 2 added a built-in pop-up blocker to Internet Explorer 6, and it is an integral feature of IE7, Firefox and other modern browsers. For details, see the Internet Explorer 6 or Firefox help pages.)

I use two pop-up stoppers, one simple, the other a bit complicated.

The simple one is "Pop-Up Stopper Companion" from PanicWare. It's the free version of "Pop-Up Stopper Professional". It puts an icon in the Windows system tray and blocks most attempts to open a pop-up in any web browser you may be using. You can configure it to flash the icon or play a sound every time it does this. Since you will sometimes want to open a pop-up that it blocks, this is a useful feature. You can then right-click the icon and tell it to let you open the pop-up. Very simple to use, and you get to intuitively know when it has blocked a window that you really wanted. Get it from:

A more sophisticated and powerful solution is "The Proxomitron". This is a web proxy program that sits between your browser and the network. It filters all the data before it gets to your browser. You must configure your browser to connect to the proxy rather than allowing it to connect to the net directly (there are excellent instructions included with the product). The default filters do an excellent job of filtering not only pop-ups, but ads, banners and lots of other junk. The program is very highly configurable (but can be rather complicated to figure out as a result).

The Proxomitron information page is at Proxomitron is not an actively supported product anymore, but there's a fairly active community of users. There's an alternate site at:

or you can just get the program from me.

There are many other solutions to the problem out there as well; these just happen to be the two that I'm happy with. Most notable of these other solutions is the Google Toolbar, which provides quick Google search access along with pop-up blocking.

Swamped with spam?

There are two different ways to protect yourself from spam: the first is to use the Physics Department's Barracuda Spam Firewall; secondly, you may wish to run a personal spam filter.
Barracuda Spam Firewall FAQ

The Physics Department has installed a new spam-filtering system made by Barracuda Networks. The following are the answers to some frequently asked questions about this new system.

How does it work?

The Barracuda Spam Firewall is a stand-alone computer dedicated to running programs that filter out spam and viruses from our e-mail. All mail arriving at the Physics Department first passes through this filter. A variety of schemes are used to test mail. First, the mail is compared to a "blacklist" of known spammers. Most spam originates from a relatively small number of hard-core spammers, and many of their mail servers are tracked by anti-spam services, who publish these blacklists. Similarly, most spammers send the same message to millions of recipients; this makes it possible to "fingerprint" bulk mailings and then test our incoming mail against that fingerprint. Finally, and most powerfully, the system employs Bayesian statistical analysis of every recipient's own e-mail to distinguish good mail from bad. The system will actually learn the difference between your own personal valid e-mail and your spam.

Every incoming piece of e-mail is assigned a score based on these tests. Mail assigned exceptionally high scores is certainly spam and is "blocked", that is, it is simply deleted. Mail that is probably, but not certainly, spam is saved, but "quarantined" on the spam filter. The remaining mail is probably all valid and is passed on to the mail server for delivery.

When you have quarantined mail, the spam filter will send you an e-mail notification. This notification includes a link to the filter's web page, where you can review the suspected spam and/or customize the filter to your own tastes. This web page is at The first notification that you get from the filter will include your username and password for the system. The username is just your e-mail address. You can (and should) change your password the first time that you log in.

The filter web page will display all of your quarantined mail. You can teach the filter the difference between good mail and bad by clicking on the checkboxes next to the messages in question, and then clicking either the "Spam" or "Not Spam" button. If a piece of mail is one that you expect to receive regularly (such as a message from a mailing list), you may click "Whitelist" to permanently exempt that sender from being filtered. Finally, you may then click on either "Delete" or "Deliver" to remove the spam or allow a good message to proceed.

I still see some spam, so is this thing working?

Yes. As described above, the Barracuda spam appliance uses many methods for detecting spam, but it can take some time for the machine to learn what kind of mail we want and what we consider spam. Some spam may also have leaked through the system during the time that it took us to deploy the system.

Am I losing any legitimate e-mail?

No. We have configured the filter such that only very worst sorts of spam are "blocked" and deleted at the filter (and, in fact, even this cesspool will be examined by the system administrators during the first few weeks of operation to guarantee accuracy). All other questionable mail is "quarantined" for your review. No legitimate mail should be blocked. The real question is whether there any good e-mail being quarantined. By default, you will be notified daily of any quarantined mail; you may change this to weekly notification (or turn it off altogether). When you visit the filter's web page, you may see some good e-mail quarantined. If you do, check the box in front of the message and press the "Not Spam" button (as described above). This will help train the system. Then press the "Deliver" button and the mail will be delivered to your inbox.

If spam still gets through to my Outlook inbox, what do I do?

You have two options. First you can just delete them, or you can install an Outlook plug-in that lets you classify the message as "Spam" or "Not Spam" with the push of a button. Note that you must have administrative privileges to install this plug-in.

How do I find the Outlook plug-in?

Go to the Barracuda login page ( ); at the bottom of the page is a link to the software. You will need to be an administrator to install it, but once installed it works for everyone that uses that machine. JRM users can simply contact Vince about this.

How much spam does the Physics department really get anyway?

As of October of 2004, about 82% of the e-mail messages received by the Physics Department are spam. That is about 16,000 spam messages a day.

Can I get to my quarantine box or preferences from outside of Cardwell Hall?

Yes, the Barracuda web pages can be reached form anywhere.

What if I forgot my password or username for the Barracuda?

Your username on the Barracuda is always your Physics e-mail address ( If you have forgotten your password go to and enter your username, then click the "Create New Password" button. A new password will be e-mailed to you.

Other Questions?

Please contact the Physics Computer Support Center (; JRM personnel may also contact Vince.

Personal Spam Filters

If you receive mail from non-Physics servers that don't have their own spam filters, or if you're just a belt-and-suspenders kind of person, you may wish to use a personal spam filter. There are several spam filters available for use with Outlook.

I have personally used Cloudmark SpamNet:

It compares all incoming e-mail against a central database of known spam signatures. Suspected spam is redirected to a "spam" folder. It does an excellent job, with few false positives and even fewer false negatives. Correcting either one just requires a single mouse click. The down side is that this is now a commercial service charging $3.99/month (I'm getting it for free since I was a beta tester, though I don't know how long they will be that generous...).

I also us a free, stand-alone solution called SpamBayes:

SpamBayes creates a local statistical database from your existing spam and your existing real e-mail. Even though it's still in development, it has received a good review from Infoworld.

A good commercial choice is McAfee's SpamKiller, which is a commercial implementation of the open-source SpamAssassin,

which is the tool of choice on unix systems. SpamKiller is $40 from McAfee's online store, but it can be bought (along with the McAfee virus scanner and personal firewall) at Wal-Mart for just $30!

(If you choose to use a statistical program like SpamBayes or SpamKiller, it would be a good idea to start saving your spam in an Outlook folder so that the program has a pool of examples to create its database from.)

There a dozens of other programs (though most of them only work for POP mail, not IMAP or Exchange servers). These are the ones that I know will work with our system and have either used or read good things about. If you try any of them, please let me know how it works and I'll spread the word!

Need help with Linux?

For JRM users processing data on Linux, some tutorials are available. The first offers a few brief tips on using the Gnome desktop on "Maxwell", our original RedHat Linux analysis computer. The second briefly explains how to access our new networked Debian Linux data acquisition and analysis system ("Balmer" and "Stark"). Additionally, the PCSC maintains another FAQ with general informaion on the new departmental Linux system.

How do I secure my home PC/laptop?

There is now a tutorial available discussing techniques for securing your computer, avoiding spam and dispensing with spyware.

Last updated on Thursday, 24-Jan-2013