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Geography Computing or “The State of the Empire” Address January 22, 2009 Mark Probert, Information Systems Manager Geography Computing Team - Introductions Gwen Raubal, Computer Network Technologist Jon Hall, Web Programmer Dylan Parenti, Geotechnical Information Specialist

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geography computing

Geography Computing


“The State of the Empire” Address

January 22, 2009

Mark Probert,

Information Systems


Geography Computing Team - Introductions

Gwen Raubal,

Computer Network


Jon Hall, Web Programmer

Dylan Parenti,

Geotechnical Information


Guylene Gadal,


Web Administrator

Bill Norrington,


Mo Lovegreen,

Executive Officer


Geography Computing Team - Introductions

  • Mark Probert– Information Systems Manager

Manages all aspects of computing infrastructure, software licensing, IP addressing, systems administration of Departmental e-mail & UNIX network, faculty, researcher, staff, and student class accounts and backups. Maintains the faculty computing environment. Establishes policies, and maintains dialogue with the University regarding general computing guidelines. Monitors and responds to request queue.

  • Dylan Parenti– Geotechnical Information Specialist

Assists students, researchers, and faculty in all aspects of geographical instructional and field research computing. Manages Department security access control. Maintains the computing environment for the Star, Soils, GeoTrans, Sustainability, and VIPER Laboratories. Functions as Department webmaster, CorporateTime coordinator, GIS data manager, SDE administrator & DBA. Monitors and responds to request queue.

  • Gwen Raubal– Computer Network Technologist

Manages the spatial@UCSB and Descartes Laboratories. Responds to general Departmental computing and networking customer service requests. Assists the spatial@UCSB administrator. Maintains all aspects of the Department’s printing environment. Coordinates with UCSB OIT on wireless computing issues. Assists the Information Systems Manager with all associated tasks.

  • Jon Hall– Web Programmer

Creates and maintains Department website content.

  • Guylene Gadal– spatial@UCSB Web Administrator

Campus Resources

  • UCSB VPN Service
    • Windows and MacOS X clients
  • Poster printing at the Institute for Quantum & Complex Dynamics (iQCD) for $40.00 each.

“What Services Do I Get?”

Core Department services provided include:

  • Geography Department E-mail (& various lists) (
  • Bulletin Board Service (BBS)
  • PDA & handheld GPS units for field instruction
  • Network troubleshooting (wall-plate in)
  • Use of the spatial@UCSB computing lab
  • UCSB CorporateTime Calendar account + Oracle client
  • Installation of ESRI/ENVI+IDL on University-owned machines (and anti-virus for 1 machine)

“What Services Do I Get?”

Additional Services for Recharge:

  • Hardware troubleshooting for grant research-owned computers

Department Resources

  • Mailing Lists
    • Official lists
      • allfaculty@geog
      • allgrad@geog (goes to graduate students only)
      • everyone@geog (same as all@geog [used by campus emergency services in the event of…well, an emergency])
      • allugrad@geog (goes to undergrads only)
    • Private
      • gradb@geog (private grad student list/forum only)
  • Bulletin Board


  • 300 computers
  • 525 users
  • 2 computer instructional labs
    • Jeffrey L. Star Lab (Ellison Hall, Rm. 2610)
    • Descartes Lab (Ellison Hall, Rm. 3620)
  • 1 grad student-only computing lab
    • spatial@UCSB Lab (Ellison Hall, Rm. 2616)
  • 2 classrooms
    • Ellison Hall, Rm. 2620
    • Ellison Hall, Rm. 3621


  • UNIX accounts
    • Password matches your initial e-mail password
    • Forgot it? Visit Gwen or Mark for a new one (passwords never

e-mailed out), at Ellison Hall, Rm. 1839

    • You can change your UNIX account password using Secure

Shell Client or X-Windows terminal client

      • e.g., on, use

yppasswd at the command prompt, and follow the instructions.

  • Useful Departmental UNIX servers to SSH into
    • whizbang (
    • latitude
    • isoline


UNIX – huh! - What is it Good For? Absolutely…

  • Powerful

UNIX as an operating system can support almost any kind of software. Manage and alter vast amounts of data/files/directories with simple scripts.

  • Flexible

UNIX offers thousands of tools that can be combined and recombined. Or, create ones custom to your needs! Connects with Windows Explorer by mapping a network drive. (e.g. \\latitude\username )

  • Reliable

UNIX is hard to crash.

  • Simple

GUI-free. Shamelessly “borrow” source code, modify, compile, use!

  • Fashionable

UNIX is anacademia OS. UNIX user = instant uber-computer geek cred.



  • Class accounts
    • These are UNIX accounts. For instance, Jane Q. Doe taking Geography 184 would have an account named jqd184
    • But, they expire quarterly/yearly
    • Useful for students’ class-related webpages


  • E-mail accounts
      • Change password, set forwarding and vacation


      • Open with

Internet Explorer (not Mozilla Firefox)

    • Spam filtering
      • 90-95% of all e-mail we receive is spam
      • All UCSB computers are whitelisted, and therefore not

filtered for spam

      • Quarantine account:

Web Pages

  • Personal web pages(created & managed by you)
  • Create public_html folder/directory
    • index.html – your default ~username page
    • Use SFTP/WinSCP/etc. to transfer/command line or map a network drive in Windows XP Explorer
  • Class web pages(established by webmaster, content created by you, managed by you and the webmaster)
    • /www/classes/

2007 - 2008 in Review

  • An external Program Review Panel (PRP) report in 2007 remarked that they were “shocked and dismayed by the poor quality of instructional computing facilities in the Geography Department; the situation is especially distressing in that the Department’s international reputation rests largely in the area of the application of information technologies of geographic problems.”
  • Our response outlined a plan to overhaul major shortcomings.
  • Establishment of a computing space to support the spatial@UCSB mission, as well as provide a graduate student computing facility.
  • Implement security measures to protect Department computing property.
  • Re-invent Department’s Web image.
  • Procurement of new hardware & software.
  • Immediately execute the 94 action-items in the PRP Response…and so it began…
Star Lab
    • Open 24/7 for grad students (with building entry)
    • Open 24/5 for undergrads (without grad supervision)

Before…(late 2007)

Star Lab

Open 24/7 for grad students (with building entry)

Open 24/5 for undergrads (without grad supervision)

After…(early 2009)


Computer Labs

  • Spatial@UCSB Lab
    • Open access for graduate students 24/7

Computer Labs

  • Descartes Lab
    • Open access for graduate

students 24/7

    • Access for enrolled

undergrads until 5 p.m.

    • “New” podium, laptop, screen,

projector, updated software, and

surveillance camera installed



Ellison 2620

Ellison Hall 3621



  • Locked – keys checked out from office staff
    • Key may be issued for an entire quarter, and must be returned at the end of each quarter
  • Top tray
    • Dedicated WinXP laptop with Microsoft Office 2007 Pro
    • Laptop plugs into Ethernet port on side
    • Mouse and power adapter
    • LCD Clock
  • Locked Cabinet
    • Basic DVD player, no audio (for now)
    • Documentation, and Wireless Projector Manager software
    • USB presenter
  • Microphone/speaker, if needed
  • Geography website has an overview of the podiums, with




  • Panasonic PT-FW100NTU, ceiling-mounted, wired/wireless
  • Path of least resistance: go wired (open access)
    • Podium laptop resolution is native to projector’s (1024 x 768 pixels)
    • When using your laptop, if it can be set to 1024 x 768, choose that
    • No software required
  • Wireless: advanced (not open access: requires password)
    • Basic how-to on the Department website
    • Isn’t good for video or Google Earth swarming
    • Wireless Manager software – check out software with Computing Staff
      • Panasonic warns software may not be compatible with Vista
      • Don’t expect to learn the program 2 minutes before your initial class
  • 10’ x 6’ pull-down screen in 2620 classroom
  • 8’ x 6’ motorized screen in 3621 classroom
  • 10’ x 6’ motorized screen in Star, Spatial, and Descartes Labs

Computer Labs

  • If you are teaching/TAing a

class, verify that podium is

locked when you are done!


Major Developments

  • Wireless
    • APs within reach of all Geography classrooms, computing labs and conference rooms…and most office spaces.
    • Once connected, Geography networks accessed via SSH/SFTP client programs

Major Developments

  • Hiring of CNT Gwen Raubal.
  • Hiring of Web Programmer Jon Hall to
  • revamp Department’s Web image.
  • Upgraded network to gigabit speeds.
  • Procured two new Web servers.
  • Formulated off-site location for disaster
  • mitigation/backup instructional,
  • administrative, and Web servers in Bren
  • School building.

Major Developments

  • Field Locational Devices

Major Developments

  • Field Locational Devices for Instruction
    • 2 Garmin eTrex H GPS units (very basic)
    • 27 Garmin eTrex Legend GPS units (intended for

undergrads during undergrad field sections)

    • 2 Garmin Rino 130 GPS units (intended for instructor & TAs

during undergrad field sections) (“Rawhide” units)

      • 2-way radio built-in
    • 2 Garmin GPSMAP 60 GPS units
      • TOPO 24K West U.S. maps installed
    • 2 Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx GPS units
      • TOPO 24K West U.S. maps installed
    • 3 ASUS MyPal A639 PDA/GPS units
    • 1 Pharos Traveler GPS 535E PDA

(All PDA units have ArcPad 7.1.1, GarminXT, and CoPilot Live installed)

    • 2 TabletKiosk Slate Tablet PCs

(WinXP, ArcGIS 9.3, Office 2007 installed)

    • 2 Garmin 10 Bluetooth GPS receivers

Major Developments

  • Field Locational Devices
    • Current inventory list can be browsed on the Department website:

    • Check-outs for instructional use only
    • Check out units from Dylan Parenti
    • DNR Garmin software & its ArcGIS 9.3 extension installed on all Star Lab machines

ArcGIS Server 9.3

Server Hardware:

  • Dual Intel Xeon E5440 Quad-Core 2.83GHz CPUs
  • 32 GB 667MHz RAM
  • 9.6 TB RAID-5 for geodatabase
  • Duplicate fail-over and SOC machine


ArcGIS Server 9.3



Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Enterprise 64-bit

ArcGIS Server 9.3 Enterprise Advanced Edition

Microsoft .NET 3.5 (thus, IIS)

Use free Microsoft Visual Web Developer to build applications client-side.

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Standard

Microsoft Office 2007

ArcGIS Server 9.3

Server Software:





ArcGIS Server 9.3

Tasks and Roles with an ArcGIS Server


ArcGIS Server 9.3

GIS Resources are assets you create using ArcGIS Desktop

GIS Services are GIS resources available through the Web

NOTE: Due to security concerns, Web applications that allow an end-user editing directly to the geodatabase won’t be available right away. However, through ArcGIS Desktop in-house (labs) are OK.

Currently students have ~100MB disk space quota on the UNIX network.

This hardware has not been ordered. Added into the PRP Response as a requested addition.

If funded, would eventually provide each graduate student with 120GB of network disk space.

Data Storage

Server Hardware:


The End

…and then there’s printing.