Computing Concerns!

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

300MB limit is the talk of the town these days. Team MM caught up with Prof. A.K. Turuk, HOD of Computer Center, demanding answers and clarifications regarding the new policies put forth by the Computer Center.

MM: From the start of this academic year we have been experiencing frequent disconnections while accessing the internet. These disruptions are becoming a menace for the students appearing for online tests, registering for GRE and other million reasons. What could be the reason behind this?

AT: I have got a lot of complaints from the students also on this issue. The main problem that I have detected is that there is a lot of spamming in the hall of residences. This is choking the entire bandwidth of the institute. There might be some malware in the computers of the students so I advise all the students to download the Anti-Virus issued by the institute from the software vault. I believe this will reduce the spamming and keep the systems free of malware. To overcome the disruptions, we are planning to change the normal switches to high capacity switches but this will take a considerable amount of time. We are in the process of changing all the old networking equipment to the new ones.
Coming to the other question, about filling up the forms the students can go to the Computer Center anytime. This facility is available to the students. Just the other day, a student had requested me for uninterrupted power supply and a fair share of bandwidth for a Conference on Climate Change. If anyone from the student community needs any support for such reasons, I’m ready to provide the facility. I would like to send a message through MM to the students not to hesitate to ask for any kind of help.

MM: Coming to the main issue, the new sudden download limit (300 MB) has been imposed for all the students. Everyone wants to know why was this implemented?

AT: I was informed by my team in the Computer Centre that one night around 150 users downloaded around 1.5 GB in one night. And most of the data downloaded is videos. And we all know video takes up a lot of bandwidth. The Data Center had informed me saying that most of the bandwidth is being used for Entertainment purposes. The students are using the Internet facility to stream sporting events, movies, TV shows in their very rooms.

     Even infinite bandwidth won’t be able to accommodate such demand of the students. We are providing the internet facility only for Educational purpose and not for recreational purposes.

So, it has been very difficult to provide the bandwidth to the students. The main logic behind this move was to provide better speed to the students.

MM: Residents of Vikram Sarabhai and MSS hall are facing a lot of problems to connect to the institute network. Has the network access been blocked room wise or block wise? And is this going to continue?

AT: I had enquired of my networking team in the Computer Center after students had come to me regarding the “UNIDENTIFIED NETWORK” message which shows up when they connect to the institute network. They informed me that the machines have not been registered on the website so they are facing this kind of problem. Once they register their machines they should be able to connect to the “NITR-HALL” network.
I’ll look into the matter about the machines which have been registered but still are not able to connect to the institute network in the different halls of residences.

MM: In Dhirubhai Ambani Hall of Residence, from 4 Wi-Fi routers on each floor last year it has come down to 2 or even 1 on some floors. Is this situation going to improve? And is there a chance for LAN connection?

AT: The Wi-Fi routers to be set up have been issued by me, as some of the routers have been stolen as well as the RJ-45 cable which also supplies the power to the routers. I have instructed my networking team to set up 4 Wi-Fi access points on each floor in GD Birla and Dhirubhai Ambani Hall.
About the LAN connection, I have a file right over here about the plan to provide LAN connection in GD Birla Hall and Dhirubhai Ambani Hall. We are in the process to get wired connection available in these two halls. It will be done as soon as possible but we are having problems in acquiring the equipment. To provide wired connection there are two types of works required i.e. the cabling and setting up of the I/O ports. The cables are already acquired but I/O ports have not been acquired. And another problem we are facing is that the students are tampering with the cables and Wi-Fi access points. This is causing a lot of problems for the contractors in charge of setting up the LAN connection.

MM: Since summer, Facebook has been blocked even on holidays till 5:15pm. Can it be possible to block Facebook only in the institute area and let the Hall residents access it?

AT: I’m actually not aware of this issue but I will definitely look into it.

MM: Students are looking for access to websites like Coursera, Stackoverflow, Codechef, Wolfram, Wikipedia and other educational websites during class hours. They would also benefit a lot if full internet access is provided at least during exam time. Can the Computer Centre allow this?

AT: During working hours from 8 am to 5:15 pm, the internet access is totally switched off to the Hall of Residents. So the policy has to be changed and sanctioned to make this possible. But one of the main drawbacks for this is that some of students will not attend classes saying they can study from the Halls. Even for access during exam time it needs a policy change.
It’s a policy changing decision which needs Higher Level Authorization which Computer Center cannot do. It is very difficult to change this policy but I’ll inform the administration regarding these two topics.

MM: While opening the institute webmail, a message shows up saying “Uncertified Connection”. Why is it happening?

AT: The reason behind this is that we do not have the “Security Certificate” for the institute webmail. We are working on acquiring the required security certificate. It will be resolved soon.

MM: The IP addresses have been changed. Is it going to remain the same throughout the year or more changes going to take place?

AT: Yes the IP addresses have been re-allocated and this is going to be permanent. This was done since students have been shifted to other halls so new IP addresses have to be allotted to them. Only the student IP addresses have been changed while the Hall IP addresses have remained constant. For example, a student from GD Birla last year has moved to VS hall so he will need a new IP address but the GD Birla Hall’s IP will be the same.

MM:Is it possible to create a campus wide Wi-Fi network like IIT-KGP even NIT Patna?

AT: I’m very happy to inform you that the Government has asked us to set up campus wide Wi-Fi in NITR. We are going to put a proposal to the Government and administration for this. But the students can expect Wi-Fi in the campus by the next academic year.

MM: FTP access has been inaccessible since 3 semesters. Any chance of it being back?

AT: FTP access is under the Automation cell, the job of the computer center is responsible for providing the services. You can contact the Automation cell regarding this issue.

MM: Even websites like Twitter and IMDB have been blocked. The students have never understood the reason for this. Why have they been blocked?

AT: I didn’t know Twitter was blocked.
I’ll look into this!

MM: During the weekend when the Hall elections took place there was no network in all halls except VS and CVR. It was accessible only during the elections and then turned off again. What had happened then?

AT: Then, there was some problem in the power supply cable. The entire connection to the Hall of Residences goes through to the Dilip Tirkey stadium. The power to the DTS was disrupted so there was no internet access possible.

I have discussed with the Chief Warden to supply power through a generator so that no such disruptions take place. So the students need not worry about this matter.