Students living on campus or in other university-owned housing have a wonderful resource available to them: ResNet. A part of Housing and Residential Services, ResNet provides the network that students use to access the Internet from the residence halls. Fifty times faster than typical DSL or cable modems, the network is both very fast and reliable. Students have come to depend on, and yes, sometimes abuse this network that’s given to them as a privilege, not a right.

You will be able to use ResNet as soon as you arrive on campus. If your computer runs any version of Mac OS or Windows, except Windows 2000, you will immediately have access to the local network. All you need is a CAT5 cable and a network card, which most new computers come with. If you don’t have these, you can buy them at the UCSB Bookstore. In order to connect to the Internet, you are required to register your computer with ResNet. Web browsers should be automatically redirected to ResNet’s registration page upon attempting to access any website.

Before registering, you should be aware that ResNet will automatically disconnect your computer from the network if it exhibits any activity characteristic of a virus infection. To avoid this and to prevent any infection your computer may have from spreading across the network, you should install anti-virus software and run a full system scan before plugging your computer into the network. ResNet provides Symantec AntiVirus to residents free of charge. If you go this route, make sure you remove any existing anti-virus software from your computer prior to installation because different programs, such as Symantec and McAfee, often conflict with each other and can cause annoying problems.

Once you’re on the network, you should take a few steps to prevent a future disconnection by updating the virus definitions for your anti-virus software. If you are using Symantec AntiVirus, you can do this by using LiveUpdate. Just locate the Symantec shield icon on your Windows taskbar, to the left of your clock. Right-click on it and choose “Open Symantec AntiVirus.” A dialog window should appear, and a button labeled “LiveUpdate” should be included near the bottom right of the window. If you click on that button, you will get a new window, so just click “Next” until LiveUpdate runs and completes, then click “Finish.”

Windows XP users should also visit Windows Update (Click “Start”; “All Programs”; “Windows Update”) and install all critical updates for their computer, as these updates typically provide protection against the most common viruses and other security threats. Also, because Internet Explorer is prone to crashing and even corruption, I recommend that Windows users download Mozilla and use it instead of Internet Explorer for Web browsing.

If you need help connecting to ResNet or securing your computer, ResNet has two service centers where you can bring your computer for service or repair. One is located on the first floor of San Nicolas Residence Hall, and the other is in the hallway between the North and South Towers of Francisco Torres. These service centers operate Sunday through Thursday from noon to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. ResNet has also produced a CD that will assist users in getting online if they need some help.

Once your computer is connected, registered and updated, you will enjoy the fast speed, but a word of caution: This fast connection makes illegally downloading copyrighted material very tempting, and you will surely have many opportunities to do so. ResNet does not monitor your activity on the network, but there are others, such as the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), who may, so if you do not want to be prosecuted for such activity, just don’t do it. Remove any peer-to-peer programs from your computer.

ResNet provides an awesome resource for both research and recreation, but do not abuse it – it can be taken away. Let’s all have a great year at UCSB, and happy computing!

Zachary Carter is a sophomore computer science major.