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Acing the Lab … the Computing Kind
Wednesday, February 9, 2022 - 09:05
Pitt IT’s Student Computing Labs are equipped with high-performance computers loaded with access to dozens of academic, productivity, creativity, and scientific apps. The labs provide students with a quiet, comfortable place to work while on campus. Whether you’re just killing a little time between classes or settling in for a long study session, here are some tips to make sure you get the most out of the labs.
Find Available Labs or Machines
There are seven labs on the Pittsburgh campus: Cathedral of Learning G-27 and G-62, David Lawrence, Alumni, Bellefield, Benedum, and Sutherland Halls. (The Hillman Lab is currently closed during library remodeling.) But it’s not enough to know where the labs are. You need to know when the lab opens/closes and if there is a machine available with the OS (Windows or Mac) you want. After all, how annoying would it be to show up and find all the computers are being used!
That’s where the interactive Lab Status Map at pi.tt/map comes in. The map highlights each lab, shows if it is open (green) or closed (grey), and shows how many machines are available. Clicking on a location opens a pop-up window; click the lab name to display a detailed map showing the layout of the lab, what OS each computer uses, which machines are in use, and other equipment in the lab. You can also see information about lab availability on the digital signs around campus or via the Pitt Mobile app.
Need to pull an all-nighter? The lab off the lobby of Sutherland Hall is open 24/7 and available to all students. Go to pi.tt/labs to see the complete lab schedule.
We recently shared a blog about common printing issues, but it bears repeating here. Black and white printers only use standard letter-sized (8.5 x 11”) paper, while color printers can also accommodate tabloid double-size (11 x 14”) paper. Regardless of the size your document is saved in, be sure to change the paper to an accepted paper size or you’ll get an error when you try to print it.
Also, keep an eye on your print quota. While most students never get close to maxing it out, printing in color (49 cents/sheet) instead of black and white (7 cents/sheet on a B/W printer) consumes it much faster. In addition, when printing in black ink only, do so on a B/W printer (7 cents/sheet) rather than on a color printer (21 cents/sheet). Check your print quota at My Print Center (print.pitt.edu).
Labs Turned Lecture Hall
Should you find yourself needing to join an online meeting or event from inside a labs, there are some guidelines you need to follow. Playing sound through the computer speakers in the labs is not allowed; headphones are required when listening to audio. Make sure your headphones have a microphone attached if you will need to speak, and please talk quietly to avoid disturbing others. If your headphones don’t have a mic, use Chat to answer questions or engage in discussions.
Know What the Labs Provide
Due to COVID safety protocols, headphones aren’t available for borrowing from the lab at this time. This is true for the other support devices as well. However, if you need to use a scanner, we’ve got you covered. Scanners are now attached to the desks between computers and can be used by the computers on either side of it. No need to ask to use them. Printers are still open for use in the Labs and other spots around campus.
Battery running alarmingly low? The Alumni, Benedum, DLH, and CL labs include Mobile Computing Counters, so you can attach your laptop or mobile device and charge it while you use it. (The G-25 CL lab is an entirely mobile lab.) Mobile Charging Stations are available in all Student Computing Labs, the William Pitt Union, and at Walk-In Support. Charging stations are equipped with various cables to charge a variety of devices. In addition, you can rent a SuLo Portable Charger by the hour. These chargers are in several Pitt buildings, including the CL G27 and DLH labs, coffee shops like Crazy Mocha, and other places around Oakland. Just download the app, take it with you to charge up, and return it to any available location when you’re done. (Note: SuLo is an independent company not affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh.)
Help Is Here
Labs may not be fully staffed at all times, as attendants may be needed to service the printers or attend to other IT-related matters. If you are in a lab without an attendant and find you need help, just chat live with the Help Desk through the desktop link on the lab computers. Labs are also monitored with video surveillance to make sure computers and other devices stay secure.
Student computing labs are a great campus resource, so please take advantage of them! And if you want access to everything the lab machines have to offer while you’re off-campus, just connect to the Virtual Computing Lab!
-- By Karen Beaudway, Pitt IT Blogger