INFO300 - Hardware/Software - Summer 2011

Current Stuff as at August 6th:

(8/10) Final Grades except for one student still working on the LAN project.

Course Info

(6/13) Syllabus with course objectives, textbook info, rules for submitting papers, &c.

Class Policy: All makeup quizzes will be given at the scheduled exam day & time for the class regardless of the reason the quiz was missed. All quizzes must be taken at the announced time. 

Suggestions to Ace the course: Come to every class, on time; Abandon social networks during classtime; pay attention; take notes; ask questions; give testimonials; don't hesitate to correct the Instructor -- IT's changing quick and some of you are at the front lines; Take notes. If you're not taking notes, with a pencil or deft key or table strokes, you're denying yourself one of the most powerful tools for recalling details and learning stuff...

Quiz #1 Lecture Topics

Quiz #2 Lecture Topics

Quiz #3 Lecture Topics

Demos and Projects:

Class Demo & Discussion: Setup and Secure a Linux Firewall/Server

Get a CentOS Server/Firewall/Router Secured & on The Internet: I've stopped trying to keep the details posted for every FC install after FC4, but the last one at this link shows the _kinds_ of details that need to be considered when installing or re-hosting OS and apps. If you want to advance in network admin or app development you've got to start installing and operating server operating systems, unprotected by VCUNet, outfacing on the internet, on your own ISP connection, preferably with fixed IP-addresses, to get your eyes on the logs and otherwise learn to protect your (employer's) resources from crackers seeking to vandalize your domain or rob its secrets. This is entirely do-able! Even better, virtualize your machine and run Linux, Windows Server, and SQL Server and learn how to apply firewalling techniques using virtual LANs. This will let you learn how SMTP servers dance, watching the behavior of at least the open source sendmail and proprietary MS Exchange.

Covered in class:

Oddest Places to Find Linux

LAN Project: Bill of Details and Network Diagrams for an office LAN

Specs for this project are delivered in the memo below and verbally in class. The network rack for DMLH, Ltd. is put together similar to the DMZ sketched on the board in class, and a sketch is included in the Memo From The Boss just below. Students are asked to get together purchase orders, a summary of purchase and on-going costs, a floorplan for the premises wiring showing equipment location and jacks for networked equipment an phones. A separate, detailed diagram showing the PBX, equipment and jumpers on the network rack is requested.

Memo From The Boss Start on LAN Project, quick intro to networking security, firewalls & LANs.

RackDiagram similar to the one sketched in class.

The 'warm backup server' needs to be rigged with at least three ethernet ports so it can take over for either the secure app server or firewall. It will be running 'rsynch' to log all updates on the secure application server or the firewall machine. In the event of the failure of either, a couple of jumpers can be changed and appropriate services started on the warm backup server so it can quickly take over for the failed server or firewall/router.

Visio is recommended for the diagrams -- it's free thru the MSDNAA. Here's Where & how to get MSDNAA software.

(Don't wimp out and use the Excel or Word drawing tools! The job will be much more difficult since you'll have to invent your own shapes and the diagrams won't be very Pro in appearance.) Excel makes it easy to do the Bill of Details (POs, and summaries of up-front and operating expenses). Most students put the final document together in Word and copy/paste the Visio diagrams and Excel bill of details into it. Open Office users can add 'Dia', an open-source, Visio-like, 2D CAD software that plays well with Open Office.

This is an exercise with technical drawing tools. Hand-drawn diagrams, or hand-drawn marks on a diagram are not acceptable.

Here are general requirements for the project.

Here are some Examples of winning projects.

Tips for Pro work:

On the due date, bring a printed copy at the _beginning_ of class where I'll have a heavy-duty stapler, please don't submit your project in a binder of any type.  Send an electronic copy prior to class as one document, preferably not zipped, attached to VCU-originated email to

Tech Marketplace Brief and Hands On Linux:

(1st Mention 3/10) Approved Topics and Mimimum Requirement for these Technical Briefs.  On the due date, posted on the home page for your class, Bring a printed copy to class, stapled or ready to staple at the upper left corner, no binders please.  Also submit an electronic copy as a single document attached to a VCU-originated email, due before the last class.

The _Outline_ and _References_ are of the essence for this assignment, so please print or copy any pages referenced in your brief. Markup on the pages, using a highliter or any other making device, any facts you've included in your brief. If you read 40 pages of stuff but only use facts from a few pages, copy only those few pages and markup the first of them with the exact url, or publication, with the facts.

Consider the Coding Standards as you work putting your brief, or a pithy abstract of it, on the web. The Instructor offers these standards as an abreaction to getting crappy looking stuff as a response to this project and not being able to dock points for it. Points will be docked liberally for any deviation from these specs. The Rubric for scoring the printed copy is also worth your consideration to earn max points and have a project worthy of your professiional portfolio.

Use View -> Source on this example of a winning project to see how easy this can be: This gentleman submitted well-researched briefs of about 6 or 8 pages each, and posted these abstracts on-line. Every deadline was met, and there were a several pages of 'hilited facts' that were very useful in updating this elder geek about these well-known products and manufacturers. No time was wasted on fancy effects, but it reeks of a careful reading of the specs and serves as a clear example. You might want more pizzazz or subtle effects for your web-design portfolio, but this got max points for the class.

(3/29) A portion of the Hands On Linux portion of the project will be scored automatically and reported on this page: Progress Page. A 'snapshot' of the page with the contents of students' home directories and web space will be taken at the due date/time and points assigned on what's there. The deadline is of the essence for points on the Progress Page portion of the project. 'Lab Time' in class will be provided, and some students get the required work done in class.

Last semester's Progress Pages, updates stopped just after the deadline:

Resources for getting your hands on Linux:

Timely delivery is one of the essential requirements for both these exercises. Progress not demo'd on the class' Progress Pages by the time due will get zero points. Late papers will be docked five points for delivery after the class meeting where they are due and another point deducted for each midnight that passes before delivery.

Printed briefs and references shown at least five days before the last class may be critiqued and scored on the spot in class or in my office, and if re-work would net more points another copy submitted on or before the deadline will be considered as a candidate for full points. Please do not send me anything to review in email, or ask for critique and scoring during the four day period before the deadline.

The Progress Page for this semester's Hands On Linux project is updated every minute thru the end of the semester. The 1st points were this snapshot, taken well after the deadline.

Next Deadlines for the Technical Brief and Hands-on Linux Project: The 2nd deliverable, a nicely indented Outline followed by a Reference List in your Outlines directory, is due by midnite after class Tuesday the 3rd. (This is a 'plain text' file, HTML is not acceptable!) Do it with vi! The printed copy of the Tech Brief is due at the beginning of the last class, Tuesday May the 3rd. Please don't bring the paper in any kind of binder. I'll have a heavy-duty stapler in class. The websites will be scored the morning of Tuesday May 10th -- these may be an 'abstract' of your paper or the whole thing. Do it with vi. Please do not publish your references on your web pages, only in your Outlines directory and on your printed pages. Read The Specs as you plan your work, for full credit make sure the semantic markup of your web document strongly resembles the file in your Outlines directory...

The LAN Project has been discussed in class a couple of times, needs another Q&A in class since some finer points are missing in the memo from the boss, so he'll appreciate questions.

End of Semester -- Needs to be edited for the Summer

Exam Times:

Optional Final Exam: For those students who ask "Is there any extra credit work to bring up my grade?" I reply, "There is an optional, comprehensive Exam." The final exam adds 30 to the total points available. If you've lately mastered the material for Quizzes #1, 2, & 3 you may opt to take the exam and your grade will be calculated as the percent points earned. The optional exam can raise a grade by a letter if max points are earned, or lower the grade if not enough points are earned. This exam is relatively short, is made up of the most difficult questions on the earlier quizzes.

Exit Exam: A 'course assessment instrument' for INFO300 is being standardized, beginning this semester, as the IS department ramps up assessment activity to comply with recommendations of our accrediting agencies, ABET & AACSB. To encourage participation, a max of 10 points may be earned. Six points will be posted for taking the exit exam, and additional points will be assigned according the Quartile for the percent correct: 1 point for scoring in the 1st quartile, 2 for the 2nd, 3 for the 3rd, and 4 for the 4th. The exit exam will be mostly multiple-choice, may include some 'fill in the grid' questions.