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Digitalk: Where IT's at

West campus phone outage

For one to two hours on Friday, Jan. 14, beginning at 11:59 p.m., IS&T must take out of service all MIT phones in buildings west of Massachusetts Avenue, as well as N42, N52, N51 and N57 to perform a critical repair to switch module equipment in NW12. Crucial lines, such as those for Campus Police and for housemasters and dormitory front desks, will be temporarily rerouted to operate out of mid-campus during the outage.

What's a virtual private network?

A virtual private network (VPN) provides a solution to work through various port blocks and other things that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) do to prevent spam, virus outbreaks and other forms of network abuse. These preventative measures often interrupt or prevent legitimate work. The MIT VPN--developed to assist MIT clients with connectivity off campus--can help resolve a number of problems associated with e-mail, Windows file sharing and other network-based applications.

IS&T recently released VPN 4.6. It is supported on Windows, Macintosh and Linux platforms and includes a profile that makes it easy to establish an MIT VPN connection. You can download the VPN client for your platform from the MIT software download site at Certificates are required.

To learn more about VPN, go to If you need assistance installing or using it, contact the Computing Help Desk at or 253-1101.

EHS transactions move to SAP

Two Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) transactions are now available in SAP: Principal Investigator (PI) Space Registration and Substance Authorization and Reauthorization Act (SARA) reporting. PI space registration focuses on the PI and the space for which he or she is responsible. This application lets authorized users identify hazards, safety equipment, and room roles such as emergency contacts, EHS representatives and SARA reporters.

SARA reporting, previously a paper-based process, now includes a custom worksheet and online submission transaction. Listings of SARA substances can be copied from the previous year, updated and submitted to the EHS office during the SARA submission period.

MIT's Data Warehouse provides a custom dashboard for EHS PI space registration and SARA reporting with more than a dozen reports providing data analysis for EHS lead contacts and coordinators.

To access the EHS transactions, go to or

MITnet upgrade boosts external connectivity

IS&T recently reconfigured its external Internet connections, lowering costs and effectively doubling MIT's commodity Internet bandwidth. Three communications vendors--Sprint, Level 3 and Cogent--now provide MIT's external connectivity, so if one link goes down, the Institute will still have Internet access through the other two vendors. The increased bandwidth includes new one-gigabit Ethernet connections to Level 3 and Sprint.

These new connections are routed via the Boston Area Metro Fiber Ring, which MIT, Harvard, Northeastern University and Boston University recently acquired. In addition, IS&T continues to maintain its existing network connections to Comcast, Northern CrossRoads (Boston area Gigpop), Abilene (Internet2) and the Energy Sciences Network (ESnet).

IAP provides computing insights

Once again, IS&T is offering a flurry of IAP events. Informative sessions for the second half of January focus on topics such as home networking, best practices in web publishing, and MIT's evolving e-mail system. For a complete listing, see the IAP web site.

Digitalk is compiled by Information Services and Technology.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 12, 2005 (download PDF).

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