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Information at your finger tips

Friday, November 1st, 2013

Every day we’re bombarded by an enormous amount of information, of which only a small percentage is relevant to us. It’s no wonder then that we struggle to distinguish between the useful and useless.

When it comes to IT related questions, there is indeed one central place where you can find useful answers with a simple mouse click. Whether you want to apply for a telephone line or want to know how to back up your data – all the answers can be found on IT’s selfhelp wiki. 

If you don’t feel like calling the IT Service Desk or want to wait for feedback via e-mail, save yourself some time and see if your question isn’t listed already.

Can’t find your question? Just let us know, we’ll add it and you’ll help to improve our database of information. 

Overseas and need our help?

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Previously you could only reach us by phone or e-mail, then you could follow our blog and tweets.

Now you can contact us via Skype when you’re overseas and in dire need of some computer related assistance.

Save yourself those exorbitant international call costs and look for us on Skype by searching for or the username itstellenuni.

Password synchronisation giving you a headache?

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Every 90 days you receive an email from asking you nicely to change your password. We all know that, although it’s a bit of a nuisance, it’s also necessary for security reasons. But is there a way to simplify the process?

In 2007 Microsoft Research conducted a study and found that the average user has 6.5 internet passwords, each person has approximately 25 accounts with passwords and has to enter 8 passwords per day.  And this was in 2007 – imagine what the statistics will look like 5 years later.

If you use more than one device, password changes can become a nightmare. But there are a few steps you can follow to make sure it goes a bit smoother.

Switch off all your devices except for one, for example your laptop.

Sign on at, select the Change Password option and select a new password according to the guidelines supplied on the website. Log out of the network with the Logout option given on Log onto the network with your new password. Make sure you can access all your network applications – email, internet and networkspace. Switch on all the other devices and type in your new password.

Remember, you can change your password any time at with the Change Password option. Try to stick to the guidelines to ensure you have a secure password – it will safe you a lot of effort and frustration in the long run. If you’ve forgotten your password, you can also reset is by browsing to staff portal.

More information and hints on password changes can be found at

Mirror sites at your disposal

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Did you know there are selected websites you have free access to? These websites are known as mirror sites.

In computing, a mirror is an exact copy of a data set. On the Internet, a mirror site is an exact copy of another Internet site. Mirror sites are most commonly used to provide multiple sources of the same information, and are of particular value as a way of providing reliable access to large downloads. Mirroring is a type of file synchronization and a  live mirror is automatically updated as soon as the original is changed.

But why the need for more than one version of the same website. A few reasons are:

  1. To preserve a website or page, especially when it is closed or is about to be closed.
  2. To allow faster downloads for users at a specific geographical location. For example, a U.S. server could be mirrored in Japan, allowing Japanese Internet users to download content faster from the local Japanese server than from the original American one.
  3. To provide access to otherwise unavailable information. For example, when the popular Google search engine was banned in 2002 by the People’s Republic of China, the mirror elgooG was used as a way of effectively circumventing the ban.
  4. To preserve historic content. Financial constraints and/or bandwidth prevent the maintainers of a server from keeping older and unsupported content available to users who still may desire them; a mirror may be made to prevent this content from disappearing.
  5. To balance load. If one server is extremely popular a mirror may help relieve this load this server may become overloaded with demand. Alternative download points allow the total number of download requests to be spread among several servers, maintaining the availability of the distribution.
  6. As a temporary measure to counterbalance a sudden, temporary increase in traffic.


Therefore, before you download huge files from an international server and run up an exorbitant internet account, check whether there is a local version available. The following websites are available to you free of charge:

A large amount of software downloads are available at

MIT OpenCourse Ware:

Mirror server for linux:

Mirror services available for free via TENET:

The most popular Linux distros are available (Ubuntu,Debian, Fedora, Opensuse, Mandriva etc.)

Complete programming language mirrors are availabla at:

CPAN (perl):

CTAN (Tex/Latex):


Mathematical languages:


Scilab (


Opensource software:

Free Office packages:



Downloadable antivirus updates:



Adobe Reader:


IT: Geared for the future

Friday, March 9th, 2012

Until recently the common perception on campus has been that IT’s main responsibility is the maintenance and support of computers on campus. The people you call when your frustration levels have reached new heights and you have the urge to throw your pc out the window. Fortunately things are changing.

Previously two of IT’s departments, IT Technical Services (ITTS) and IT User Services (ITUS) functioned as two separate entities. However, to ensure that Information Technology stays at the forefront of technology and operates in line with the University’s key aims, the need arose to merge the two departments.

ITTS and ITUS will henceforth function as one department – IT Infrastructure and User Support. The main focus will primarily be Research and Development, Network Infrastructure and Telephone Systems and Hardware and Software Services and Support.

Zenobia Davidse, Hoof: IT Infrastruktuur en Gebruikersondersteuning The responsibility of managing the successful integration of services and continuous support on campus rests on the shoulders of Zenobia Davidse and her team of 26.

With the restructuring the range of focus will also be broadened and moved away from the traditional IT functions. Thanks to technology we can now look at differently at datastorage on clouds in stead of conventional storage on harddrives. More attention will be given to testing of new hardware and software, analysis of users’ technological needs, consultations and selfhelp guides for staff.

IT Infrastructure and User support will become your one stop for any enquiries on e-waste, phone issues, the installation of WAP’s, purchasing and much more.

To improve communication with the rest of campus, faculty representatives will be nominated to speed up problem solving within departments. The additional functions and specialist areas of the various members of the IT staff will also be introduced in Bits & Bytes from now on.


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