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Com Sci 230-231
Operating Systems

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[] The University of Chicago

Online Discussion Using HyperNews

Last modified: Mon Feb 26 11:32:21 CST 2001

All class discussion, outside of lecture meetings, should be carried out with the HyperNews system. HyperNews allows you to attach "responses" to "articles" created by the instructor, and also to other people's responses. It presents the articles and responses as HTML documents, which you may view through your favorite World Wide Web browser. I have provided four articles as starting points:

Please use the Class Work article for all discussion of course content outside of class. All questions about lectures, the textbooks, homework assignments, programming projects, and the contents of the final exam, answers to those questions, and other discussion of the ideas in the course, belong in the public discussion under Class Work. Only items that are truly of no interest to the class at large, or that are confidential, should be taken up by electronic mail.


General Instructions

HyperNews is a new system from NCSA for carrying out discussions on the World Wide Web. The presentation and documentation are still a bit confusing, but the functionality is essentially right, so it is best for us to get on the bandwagon, and increase the incentive for NCSA to improve things.

The best way to get the hang of HyperNews is to use it. Practice in the Test area. Refer to the instructions provided by NCSA for detailed information, but keep in mind that the instructions describe a configurable system which is still under development. In particular, they do not cover local choices made in the installation that we are using.

Confusing Points

  1. Not all of the buttons at the bottom of a discussion page may be used by general participants. The Delete and Copy buttons are only available to system administrators.
  2. The Notify button leads to a page that allows you to subscribe or unsubscribe to a particular article or response. The only point of subscribing is to be notified by Email of additional responses. I strongly recommend that you subscribe to the Class Work article.
  3. The Membership button lets you enter, and later modify, information about yourself, including your name, URL if you have one, and the form in which you wish to be notified of new responses. Everyone in the class should enroll as a member of the local HyperNews discussion group.
  4. The Response button is the only obvious one: it creates a response. This is the only button that you are likely to use repeatedly. The other ones should not have been included on every page. Perhaps a later release of HyperNews, or some local reconfiguration, will improve this.

Special Netiquette Rules for Com Sci 230

  1. Give your correct name on every response, except in the Course Evaluation section, where you may respond anonymously (or in the Test section to test annonymous posting). If you enroll correctly with HyperNews, you need only type in your Email address (the whole thing, including uchicago.edu, and the rest of your identification will be filled in automatically.
  2. Even if you have the ability to serve WWWeb materials in your own directories, please do not use the URL form of response. Rather, type your full response in to the window as plain text, HTML, or setext. In this way, your response will be secured permanently in the class archives; otherwise it will be vulnerable to problems in your own directory or WWWeb server. If you submit HTML, you may point to external URLs, but do so only if they are fairly reliable, and if the information is too voluminous or dynamic to copy in sensibly.
  3. Avoid the PRE-formatted text form of response, because it is very annoying to readers. Learn enough HTML to accomplish whatever structure your document needs (<p> for paragraph, etc.). Use the <pre>...</pre> marking within HTML to lay out pieces of code, but let the remainder of your comments be formatted by the reader's browser. There are excellent online instructions to get you started writing HTML. It's very easy.
  4. Have fun with the "relation" icons, but use them informatively, not misleadingly.