Computer Literacy (University of Massachusetts)


COMPSCI 105 Image

News & Upcoming Events

Encrypted Book Sections (complete book will never be available this way)

Lecture Notes (Only a few will ever be here)

Request My Grades

Request My Grades

Friday, February 10, 2017

It's official: the midterm will be held the evening of Tuesday, March 7, from 7:00pm to 9:00pm.

Notes and Due Dates

This is the week that you should be working on Lab #1 (from volume 3 of the Workbook). The lab is due any time next week. You may turn it in in-class, or bring it to the TA office (LGRT 222) before 5:00pm next Friday.

Evening help drop-in lab sessions for students needing extra help are Wednesday and Thursday, 5:45pm through 7:15pm, in DuBois Library 1685 (side room). The TA is allowed to leave if nobody shows up within the first 15 minutes or so.

Remember that there are TAs now holding office hours in LGRT 222.

Talking to the Server

For labs #2 and #3 you will need access to our server:

  • The host address is
  • Your username is the same as your UMail username
  • Your password will initially be ELxxxaaa, where xxx is the last three digits of your student ID and aaa is the first three letters of your username.

For example, if Fred Smith has username fsmith and student ID number 12345678, then his initial password would be EL678fsm (with uppercase and lowercase as shown). We'll use this username and password in all the following examples.

Telnet for Windows PC users

In the OIT lab in DuBois 1685 use the PuTTY program, which should be already installed (not verified). Do not attempt to download or install it yourself.

At home, Windows PC users need to download a program called PuTTY to their computer. Go to the main site, click on the Download tab, and download putty.exe to your desktop. It is the upper left link on the download page. There is no installation for this program, but you should scan it for viruses. Run it.

  • In the Host Name box of the opening dialog place the host name:
  • Verify that the SSH radio button is set.
  • Click the Open button.
  • When the server responds (black screen) with login as: type in just your username. (Fred Smith would type in fsmith)
  • When the server asks for the password, type it in. THE PASSWORD WILL NOT ECHO TO THE SCREEN. (Fred Smith would type in EL678fsm)
  • You should now be connected to the server and can give it commands.
  • At the end of your session, type logout to drop the connection to the server and close the PuTTY window.

Telnet for Mac users

Mac users do not need to download a program to their computer for this step. Go to Finder-Applications-Utilities and run the Terminal application.

  • At the Terminal command line, type ssh, a space, your username, an at-sign, and the host address. (Fred Smith would type ssh
  • When the server responds (white screen) and asks for the password, type it in. THE PASSWORD WILL NOT ECHO TO THE SCREEN. (Fred Smith would type in EL678fsm)
  • You should now be connected to the server and can give it commands.
  • At the end of your session, type logout to close the connection to the server and return to the Terminal command line.
  • Type logout again to close the Terminal program.

Changing Passwords

When you first log in, via PuTTY on the PC or via ssh through Terminal on the Mac, the first thing the server will demand is that you change your password. It will first demand that you enter your OLD password (the one you just used for logging in), before it will ask for the new one, which it will do twice.

Change your password to something containing digits and both upper and lower case letters, with no sequences or dictionary words (for example "frog1234" is a bad password because is contains both a dictionary word and a sequence). If you forget your password I cannot retrieve it for you, but I can set it back to the initial ELxxxaaa default for you if you send me an email asking me to do so.

After successfully logging in and changing your password, the server will automatically log you out. You must log back in, this time using your new password.

FTP for Windows PC users

In the OIT lab in DuBois 1685 use the WinSCP program, which should be already installed. (There may be another tool available instead of WinSCP.) Do not attempt to download or install it yourself.

At home, Windows PC users need to download and install a program called WinSCP. Go to the main site and download the WinSCP Installation Package. WARNING: This site might have an advertisement linked to a software package with a big DOWNLOAD button -- DO NOT CLICK THE DOWNLOAD BUTTON! Click the link to Installation Package (sponsored) instead. Once the package has been downloaded, install it. Accept all the default settings during the installation that pertain to WinSCP (turn off any options to install other software). Run it. In the WinSCP Login of the opening dialog place the following items:

  • Host name:
  • User name: your user name (Fred Smith would type in fsmith)
  • Password: your password (Fred Smith would type in EL678fsm), password will appear as dots.
  • Click the Login button.

FTP for Mac users

Mac users need to download and install a program called Fugu. (This is an older program, that many people consider obsolete, but it still works for our purposes. Another FTP program which you could consider instead is called FileZilla.)

Go to the main site, and click the Download link. Download and install the latest version for Mac OS/X 10.5 (Lion) and later. I have successfully used this package with both OS/X 10.9 (Mavericks) and OS/X 10.10 (Yosemite); if you cannot get the program to work with these versions you may have downloaded the wrong version. Also, Macs may object for security reasons when you attempt to install the package: if this is the case, right-click (two finger click) the installation package and select OPEN from the pop-up. Once installed, I recommend that you drag the icon for Fugu to your desktop for easy access.

  • In the Connect to: box put the Host name:
  • In the Username: box put your user name (Fred Smith would type fsmith). Note that Macs automatically fill in to that box the username from the Mac itself, which might NOT be the same as the username on the server - make sure that the username is the one for the server.
  • Leave Port: and Directory: boxes blank.
  • Click the Connect button
  • When the password box appears, type your password (Fred Smith would use EL678fsm), password will appear as dots.
  • Click the Authenticate button.


WARNING #1: If you are attempting to log in to the server using any of the telnet or FTP tools and FAIL six times, the server will lock out your IP address for at least 24 hours. It thinks you are trying to break in! If this happens to you, you will get a message such as "Server unexpectedly closed connection" or something about "ssh-exchange-identification". You can then attempt to log in from another machine (on a different IP address or wireless access point) or you can wait until the server clears yours to try again.

WARNING #2: If you attempt to log in from a public wireless hotspot such as the Campus Center, please remember to first log in to OIT's wireless through your Web browser BEFORE attempting to connect to our server. If you aren't connected to the OIT wireless network, neither PuTTY nor WinSCP nor ssh nor Fugu will work.

WARNING #3: If you are using a wireless hotspot and close the lid on your laptop, you will be breaking the connection to the wireless access point. If you do this while connected in via PuTTY, Terminal, Fugu, or WinSCP, that connection is also broken. Re-opening the lid, particularly if you move to another hotspot, won't automatically re-establish your telnet or ftp session - you'll have to log back in to the wireless hotspot and connect again.

Tuesday, January 24, 2016

Happy New Year! Welcome to all new incoming students, and welcome back to everybody else! This is the main Web page for COMPSCI 105 (Computer Literacy). Check back here throughout the semester for news and updates pertinent to the class. Here are a few tidbits to get you started.


The 11:30am class in Hasbrouck 20 is still open. Anyone looking for another computer class this semester may wish to consider:

  • COMPSCI 145 (Representing, Storing, and Retrieving Information), which meets at 11:15am on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in ILC N101.

  • COMPSCI 119 (Introduction to Programming in Python), which meets at 1:25pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in South College W245. (This class is quite full for Spring 2017, but I offer it every semester.)

In the Fall 2017 semester I will teach both 105 and 119, but COMPSCI 120 instead of 145.

COMPSCI 105, COMPSCI 119, COMPSCI 120, and COMPSCI 145 all fulfill requirements for the IT (Information Technology) minor. If you are interested in the minor, please see me for more information.


The books, available from Amazon, are:

  • Computer Literacy Workbook, 23RD edition, 2016-2017 printing, (YELLOW cover).
  • Computer Science Companion, 3RD edition, 2016 printing, (GREEN cover).

DO NOT buy any older edition of the Workbook with any other color cover! The Workbook is in three volumes and has had updates to the material from last year, especially the lab assignments. All lab assignments are compatible with Office 2007-2013 for Windows and Office 2011 for the Mac, with two exceptions that must be performed on Windows (Neither Office for Mac 2008 nor Office for Windows 2010 Starter Edition will work for this course).


If you take any of my other classes, I strongly recommend that you hang onto these books. There is some overlap, and I think you will find it helpful in these other classes. In particular, the Computer Science Companion is required for my other classes.

Lecture #1

For any student who cannot attend the first class, here is a direct link to a .PDF file of the Syllabus (see also the link to the Syllabus at the bottom of this page), and here is a link to a .PDF file of the first lecture. It is an expanded outline version of the first lecture, with enhancements not covered in class but important nonetheless, in Adobe Acrobat .PDF format. If you do not have Acrobat Reader installed on your computer, go here.


Day-to-day work falls into three categories: quizzes, homeworks, and labs:

Quizzes are held in-class at the beginning of lectures. The schedule for when quizzes will happen is on the syllabus, but I reserve the right to throw a pop-quiz from time to time. You are allowed to bring your books, notes, computer, and calculator to the quizzes (but no electronics are allowed at the midterm and final exams). You keep all the points you earn from all the quizzes you take, but I compute the quiz score as if there were two fewer quizzes. This way you can miss up to two quizzes without penalty, and it is possible to get extra credit if you take all quizzes. Quizzes may not be made up, but the "miss two" rule is there to absorb circumstances where you must be away from campus (illness, travel, etc.).

Homeworks are performed on-line from any machine connected to the Web, at your convenience (subject to due dates, of course). Paper copies of most homeworks are found in volume 3 of the Workbook, so you can get an idea of what is coming, but all homeworks are submitted electronically. Homeworks may be submitted as many times as you wish - if you do not like your score on a particular homework, back up and try again.

Lab assignments are in volume 3 of the Workbook, and are to be performed on your own equipment at your own speed, subject to the due dates. Lab reports are turned in on paper, either to me in class or to the TAs in LGRT 222. If you do not have the proper hardware or software to do a particular assignment, you may use any Windows PC lab on campus run by OIT. All necessary software is already installed. Our TAs will be in DuBois Library 1685 (side room) Tuesday-Thursday, 5:45pm-7:15pm, to help with lab assignments. (Do NOT use lab times to ask for help with homeworks - use TA office hours for that.)

Midterm Exam

The midterm exam will likely be scheduled for the evening of Tuesday, March 7TH from 7:00pm to 9:00pm. THIS DATE MAY CHANGE. The rooms will be announced as the date gets closer. For people with a legitimate reason for missing the regular exam time, there will be a form to fill out to request taking the make-up exam at a later date at the same times in the evening. That make-up request form will be available on-line in late February.

Academic Honesty

Do your own work, including homework and lab work. You may discuss homework and lab assignments with other students, but you may not share files or disks. Term papers must not be plagiarized, and will be scanned using on-line software to detect duplication. Upon discovery of any infraction, I will contact you for a conference, as required in the guidelines set out by the University of Massachusetts Academic Honesty Policy, and we will resolve the issue according to those guidelines.

Pictures of Important Stuff

Previous Semester's Scores

To see how previous classes fared, here are histograms from previous semesters:

Previous Semester's Exams

For reference, here are some links to previous semesters' midterms and final exams, all in Adobe Acrobat (.PDF format):

Social Networking

While I have a Facebook account, I reserve its use strictly to personal friends (high-school comrades, hiking buddies, etc.). Please DO NOT "friend" me on Facebook or Linked-In; all such requests will be ignored.

You may, however, follow me on Twitter if you wish. My posts, although infrequent, will be primarily math and science based.

On-Line Quizzes, Forms, and Homeworks Data for lab assignments
Dr. Bill's Office Hours Teaching Assistants Office Hours
Description of CMPSCI 105 (1.2 Meg) Some fun (free) PC software I wrote
Syllabus and Handbook General Education Statement
Send Email to Dr. Bill Running Windows Software on a Mac
Back to Dr. Bill's Classes Back to Dr. Bill's Home Page

All content Copyright © 1997-2017 Dr. William T. Verts
All rights reserved