Mobile Computer Service: New Wine in a New Bottle

by Joe Lee

As part of the computer provision, 300 new notebook computers have been purchased for loan to students for on-campus use. These new machines, featuring Pentium M 1.4GHz (Centrino) CPU, 256MB RAM, built-in wireless LAN card, light weight (5.4lb w/ battery), and ease of use, were put into service on 29 December 2003. These machines are secured by advanced anti-virus software and the Recover Genius 3.55 utility so that they are virus-free and the operating environment can be recovered instantaneously when re-booted. In addition, essential software applications, such as Microsoft Office, commonly used plug-ins, secure remote access and file transfer utilities, popular Chinese input tools, and Kingsoft instant translation software, have been pre-installed on the local hard disk for general use.

To increase utilization and to reduce wear and tear of the machines, loaned-out notebook computers have to be returned on the same day. A new Web-based booking system, Computer Reservation System, has been developed for students to book machines online so that unnecessary long queues and disappointments can be avoided. For fair of use, a scoring system is embedded in the booking system to accumulate scores resulted from reservations, cancellations, late returns, violation of rules, and so on. Based on the accumulated scores, students will be automatically placed into different privilege groups and hence, assumed different priorities to compete for the loan.

A special counter with three service points has been set up in the Computing Services Centre (CSC) to provide this service. During peak periods, additional counters (such as the other end of the Service Counter and the Hard Copy Service) may be set up to ease the congestion if necessary.

In conclusion, the Mobile Computer Service has been designed to give students the convenience and flexibility to access the campus network and the Internet, facilitating their learning and academic activities.

Details of the Mobile Computer Service, including regulations and procedures, scoring system, privilege groups and others, can be found at