Are You Taking Advantage of SFU Computers?
Since the loss of my personal laptop, I have been trying poke and explore my way through the SFU computing systems in order to be as efficient with my work and/or play. Besides the extensive number of programs required for various faculty of students, SFU implements several components that make working on the go, much easier.
One common piece of networking software that most students are familiar with is the network filespace designated for each student. Most SFU computers have an icon on the desktop that allows students to connect and access files on their file share. What many students don't know is that this file share also acts as a web server. Within the 'pub_html' folder, files can be placed and accessed by any browser by going to the web address http://www.sfu.ca/~userid replacing 'userid' with the student's respective SFU computing id.
Since this is a network file share connected online, this also allows the file space to be accessed from anywhere with internet connect. With a freeware program called Filezilla, an FTP client, students merely need to enter 'ftp.sfu.ca', they're student ID, and their password to access it. They can upload and download files and set access permission from Filezilla.
For myself, I find that being able to access a personal memory bank both at school and at home is very useful. I can transfer files, to and fro, send them to friends, not one but many, just by sending a link, and I can host my own website.
Another deeply integrated, though not as noticeable feature in SFU computers is their ability to keep personal settings. I often use the same computers in the Surrey Firefighters computer lab and find that each computer keeps my settings, from automatically signing me into MSN to keeping passwords and bookmarks in Firefox, even my Minesweeper high scores are kept. Yet this information is kept strictly to my own account, since I log off after every session, no one else can access it.
The only downside to personal settings is that they are limited to individual computers, they do not pass this information on to another computer. This can be frustrating when you logon to a new computer and it throws every possible notification for the 'new user' into your face. So next time you plan to switch computers, make sure all your files are on your file share instead of the desktop. In my own experience I like to keep a copy of my exported bookmarks on my server, this way I can access them from anywhere with a internet connection.
That aside, a great combination of network file space and personal settings that I've had the pleasure of enjoying is using my file space to install small programs such as Winamp, a media player. Winamp has a small cache of memory which is stores the most recent playlist. As a musicophile I like to open my music and listen on the fly, this is just another way that these programs make my day, just that much better. Once I've established all my settings on one computer, I never have to again and in reflection I find this may be a better method to computing than a personal laptop. At least on desktops I don't have to worry about internet connection.
I just remembered some one more setting that's extremely useful for web-surfing. SFU employs Mozilla Firefox keywords. These are bookmarks applied to text-boxes on any webpage. The advantage is that you can use this directly into the address bar as if it was the textbox. If you want to go to a particular page, just write the shortcut. For example, on a SFU computer in Firefox type "loncapa" and hit enter, you'll be sent directly to the login page. This also works for "webct" and many more that you can set yourself. Right-click on youtube's search textbox and click "add keyword for this search" and enter your shortcut "youtube" in both textboxes in the popup. Now when you open mozilla, you can just type into the address bar "youtube evolution of dance" and it will immediately go to the results page at youtube.
As I mentioned, you can do this with almost any textbox, not just searches, so you can add your login pages as well.
Since SFU computers also keep your personal settings this is another efficiency booster for your websurfing.