BSU Network FAQ

 

  1. How does Ball State connect to the Internet?
  2. What is bandwidth, and should I care about it?
  3. Why does my computer sometimes seem to be slow connecting to the Internet?
  4. What is a firewall?  Does Ball State have one?  Why?
  5. What does the firewall block or not block?
  6. There aren't that many attempted attacks, are there?
  7. Why doesn't "ping" or "traceroute" work for me?
  8. I can set up my PC to share files on my hard drive with other people on campus, can I do the same with friends off campus?
  9. If I set up a web server in my dorm room can my friends and family who live off campus view my web pages?
  10. I made a music video; is there a way I can stream it as part of my online resume?
  11. Sometimes I notice that access to the web seems to be faster in a public computer lab than it is in my dorm room.  Is this my imagination, or can there be a difference?  Why?
  12. I live off campus; can I use all of the Ball State computer resources i.e. BSU Library services, etc. from home that are available from the public labs on campus?
  13. Does the University restrict access to any Internet sites?  What would lead to a restriction should one occur?
  14. Is the Ball State network used for more than access to the Internet?
  15. Has the network changed in any significant way in the past year?  What changes do you anticipate in the immediate future?  Within the next 3-5 years?

 

Answers to frequently asked questions about the Ball State University Network.

1).    How does Ball State connect to the Internet?

Ball State is connected to the Internet through two Internet Service Providers.  Currently these are AT&T and I-Light.  We are connected through a 1Gbps optical circuit and a 100Mbps Ethernet circuit.  Ball State currently pays for a total of 800Mbps of service through these circuits. Additionally, Ball State has 1Gbps capacity to all Internet2 locations.

 2).    What is bandwidth, and should I care about it?

Bandwidth describes the amount of network traffic that can be sent and received over a particular network link.  Users are most familiar with Internet bandwidth, which is shared by all campus devices.  Carelessness and overuse of this resource can have a detrimental effect on all of Ball State's Internet experience.
  
3).    Why does my computer sometimes seem to be slow connecting to the Internet?

It may be that your computer is running slow.  Too many applications running simultaneously can cause poor performance.  Try closing unnecessary applications and reducing the number of programs that show up in your system tray.

4).    What is a firewall?  Does Ball State have one?  Why?

A firewall is a device used to protect a network or user from outside intrusion.  Ball State uses a firewall to ensure that our limited bandwidth is in use by Ball State users and not covertly in use by Internet villains.  The firewall also serves to protect devices that are otherwise easily compromised by hackers on the Internet.
  
5).    What does the firewall block or not block?

Traffic to or from your PC to the campus network is not blocked at the firewall.  Only, traffic originating from the Internet and traveling to campus is filtered at the firewall. This blocks attacks and reduces the likelihood that campus systems or the campus network will be compromised. 

6).    There aren't that many attempted attacks, are there?

 A large institution like Ball State provides a very appealing target for attacks.  It is not unusual for Ball State to deter 5 -10 million attempts daily.

 7).    Why doesn't "ping" or "traceroute" work for me?

Neither of these programs are end-user applications.  These programs are network utilities and are not normally required to utilize the network for accessing the web or other Internet services.  Protocols used by these programs are responsible for a significant portion of the Internet's "Denial-of-Service" attacks and thus are dangerous to the overall operation of the network.  However, the ability to ping the network gateway is available to verify minimal network access.  Unified Communications also provides safe access to a traceroute utility that can be found by going to http://www.bsu.edu/traceroute.

8).    I can set up my PC to share files on my hard drive with other people on campus, can I do the same with friends off campus?

Much of the same technology that allows access to your friends also allows access to outsiders.  Unfortunately, once a device is compromised, they may be able to launch attacks from your machine.  iLocker provides a great way to share files amongst your friends and classmates.
    
9).    If I set up a web server in my dorm room can my friends and family who live off campus view my web pages?

Ball State provides many options for access to web pages from off campus through your personal iWeb account that has been provided within a secured environment. 

10).    I made a music video; is there a way I can stream it as part of my online resume?

Streaming today has become more of a client capability.  Generally, you can place your video in your iWeb space, create a URL to it...and it will work fine.  This, of course is subject to levels of traffic and congestion at the time.

11).    Sometimes I notice that access to the web seems to be faster in a public computer lab than it is in my dorm room.  Is this my imagination, or can there be a difference?  Why?

Most lab computers aren't running several other apps in the background or system tray.  If you reduce these on your machine, you might be surprised the difference it can make.  However, since our perceptions of the performance of the Internet include many parameters, our conclusions are highly subjective. 

12).    I live off campus; can I use all of the Ball State computer resources i.e. BSU Library services, etc. from home that are available from the public labs on campus?

Yes.  Ball State computer resources such as many BSU Library resources have been deployed and configured as such.  There may be resources meant for local access and not available from the outside because of security or license restrictions.  Most are accessible through http://www.bsu.edu/library.

13).    Does the University restrict access to any Internet sites?  What would lead to a restriction should one occur?

Housing, followed by the rest of the University, has restricted the use of high bandwidth applications such as "Kazaa" and its P2P clones, which are detrimental to the campus Internet bandwidth.

14).    Is the Ball State network used for more than access to the Internet?

Access to the Internet is only one of the services that Ball State's network provides.  Ball State's network provides the communication and convergence infrastructure to increase productivity and to enhance teaching and learning.  Campus constituents use it to e-mail, connect to Academic records, operate Administrative systems, etc.  Today, anything requiring computing also requires a safe and efficiently managed communications network.

 15).    Has the network changed in any significant way in the past year?  What changes do you anticipate in the immediate future?  Within the next 3-5 years?

The campus network, like technology in general, is in a constant state of migration.  More recently, Ball State has migrated to a "switched" network environment.  Network paths incorporate ten gigabit links for the core, with gigabit connections to most buildings, and 100 MB to the desktop.  Five buildings have ten gigabit links to the core and each has a lab with gigabit connections to the desktop.  Additionally, two buildings are purely gigabit to the desktop.

We have also deployed wireless technology throughout the Ball State campus.  This is an exciting technology that is currently in a very fast evolutionary phase, which covers all indoor spaces and some outdoor areas. See details at http://www.bsu.edu/wireless.