eScience Lectures Notes : Lab 1

Slide 1 : 1/1 : COMP1710 : Laboratory 1 (index.en.html)

COMP1710 : Laboratory 1

Use of the labs, MacOSX, email, and text editor

1. Objectives

This lab has for purpose to introduce you to the basic tools you will be using during this semester. There is nothing complex here, and some of you may already know most of the procedures. The target of this lab is that at the end, everybody should be able to attend other labs and submit their work by mail by the end of each session. One of the major "difficulties" is that you will be working under the MacOSX system.

At the end of this lab, you will send an email both to AND to your tutor AND to yourself with a zip file attached. That zip file will contain a directory and two files. That first submission will be rewarded by your first mark for this course.

You will make sure that you have a working computer account and that you are able to use some of the basic utilities of the ANU Student Computing Environment. Specifically, you will

You should bring along the Student Computing Environment: User Guide ( In general, the lab exercises give only brief indications of how you should carry out the various tasks. The main emphasis of a laboratory session is that you work out how to do the task, either by yourself using the online help system or in collaboration with your tutor/demonstrator or your fellow students. When you find out how to do something, annotate your copy of the Student Computing Environment: User Guide for future reference. Students who have used a windows-based system before will probably be able to finish this week’s exercises early.

2. Tasks

Note : you should keep at least half an hour to check the task 2.5 (configuring your mail tool and sending an attachment), especially if you are not sure about that task. You will always be able to get back to the other tasks once you have checked that you are able to send a message to yourself and to receive it.

2.1 Your computer account

See Chapters 2 and 3 of the Student Computing Environment: User Guide. A computer account is generated for you in the ANU Student Computing Environment from enrolment information. The account has an associated username and password. If, for example, your student number is 0491919 then your username is u0491919. Your password is initially set to your Personal Access Code (pac) issued with your student card. If you wish to change your password, go to InfoPlace (located on the 3rd level of the Chifley Library) for help.

A laboratory machine that is available for use will present you with a login screen. Type in your username, followed by the Enter key, then your password, again followed by the Enter key. When you are finished in the lab you must terminate your session by logging-out (see Section 2.6). This closes down your session so that the next user cannot access your account, and leaves the laboratory machine in the appropriate state for the next user.On the login Screen enter your university ID (starting with a u) and your password (provided to you during your enrolment)

2.2 Computing Environment

If your login process succeeds you are presented with a graphical user interface called the Aqua user interface under MacOSX. It utilizes a mouse to point, via a cursor, to windows and icons. You may be familiar with the analogous interfaces such as Windows 98/NT/XP , kde, gnome (Linux) or still previous version of MacOS (for Apple computers). Just remember that what you will experience under MacOSX, today, is what you may experience on other Operating Systems in one or two years from now ;-)

2.2.1 Log-out / Log-in

The first thing you should do is to log out (close your session) and log in again. It is important for you to remember to always log out of  your account when you leave the lab (or any other public access space). Your account identifies yourself for your submission for instance. Clue : look at the Apple menu.

2.2.2 Familiarize yourself with the interface

Look at the different menus (they are always at the top of the screen for any Mac application). You have already explored the Apple menu.
The main applications are directly accessible from the dock (at the bottom of the screen). There are other applications accessible from any "Finder"'s window, by clicking on the 'Application' directory, on the left side of the window (the 'sidebar'). To get back to the finder at any time, either :

Note that the MacOS GUI is built to be used with one button mouse or with any number of buttons on a mouse. Use the right button of the mouse or ("Ctrl-Click" if you have only one button mouse or if you like to use both hands) to work with contextual menus (menus that contain a tool list that varies according to where you are clicking).

Look for 'Help' : Press the help menu, not the tutor !

Open a web browser. You have a choice between Safari, Netscape, Explorer (please avoid this last one for once).

Have a look at the apple web site that describes MacOSX :

Have a look at the ANU Student IT Guide about ANU specific MacOSX related information :

Have a look at the InfoCommon Web site for more on the student public labs :

"Apple + L" is the usual way to access the web page address (URL) field in most Mac browsers

Have a look at the COMP1710 web site : normally, entering "escience/nm" into the address field should be enough within the ANU, otherwise try the shortcut and find out what is the complete URL of the course.

2.2 Organisation of your data

2.4 Creation of text files

Chose a text editor : Textwrangler, TextEdit, Tumult HyperEdit, SubEthaEdit ... or vi !. SubEthaEdit is my favorite, but just because of personal taste. Tumult HyperEdit is a lightweight HTML editor with a preview pane.
Please always remember the risks that you may encounter if you follow the path of "excessive collaboration" : Cut and Paste of other people's work without understanding and assimilating it is cheating.

Create a new text file, enter some text into it and save it into your LAB1_Uxxxxxxx directory
NOTE: Chose a "Correct" name for the directory :
On the Mac alone, you could use any name, as long as it does not contain the ':' character and it is not "too long".
Nevertheless, your target within this course is to produce stuff that should be uploadable on any web server. In that context, it is always better to restrict oneself to stricter constraints. We'll get more information about these constraints in the next labs. For now, just check that:

Your first web page ...

Explore the possibilities of the text editors : look at how you Cut And Paste pieces of text, how you are able to automatically align text, colour it (NB : The colour won't be stored within the file itself; the colouring here is an automatic one that will for instance put all the HTML tags in a different colour from the content text). The configurations you may change are in the Preferences

2.5 Packaging of your data structure

"Right-Click" or "Ctrl-Click" on the LAB1_Uxxxxxxx icon to get the contextual menu.

Chose to create an archive of the directory. That file will contain the directory and all of what is in it : the structure of your information as well as the compressed content. As a result, that zip file will me smaller than the directory and its contents (use the Get Info tool in the File menu to compare the size of the directory and the packaged one). At the same time, you will send more information than if you  were just sending all the individual files within the directory.

N.B. : Due to a bug in the Networking configuration, you have to copy locally your folder first (for instance by "Drag and Drop" on the Desktop) and Archive the target folder locally. Remember to put your stuff back into the networked folder (the one which name is your UniID on the Desktop). Any document that remain on the Desktop at the end of a session (when you log out) is automatically deleted.

2.6 Use of a mail tool

Use a webmail interface (, or Mail or Eudora

Make sure that, when you send an email, there is some sort of ID in the From: or Reply: field that will identify you with both your name surname and uID. If you use anumail, you have nothing to do. If you decided to forward your ANU mail towards another service (See "Online Account Management System (OLAMS)" for more about configuring your ANU mail), there is a way somewhere on that service to say what email user will see from you when you are sending them a mail.

Send a mail to yourself to check that everything is working well.

Send another mail to yourself, with the previously created zip file attached to it (see 2.5). Receive it. Save the attached zip file (not in the same directory where your LAB1_Uxxxxxxx directory is). Double click on that zip file. Check that the content of the newly created directory is similar to the initial LAB1_Uxxxxxxx directory).

Go to point 3 to get your first mark.

3. Summary to get 1 mark for this lab session


4. Conclusion

At the end of this Lab, you are supposed to run to the closest Apple store and buy a Mac (that will match the colour of your iPod !), if you haven't got one already. If you are not convinced yet, please try again :-)

Well ... if you really want to keep dealing with viruses or recompiling your kernel, you are free to suffer, err .. I mean to manage your digital experience the way you want, and you may want to look at some software that you may want to use on other platforms, and on the Mac too.

5. Extra work

If you have reached that point and you don't want to waste your time, try the following :