Getting Started

Table of Contents


If you miss class, misplace a homework assignment, or want to review what we did in class, you can find this information on the class website. You can also use the website to communicate with Mr. Z. and your fellow students, whether to ask questions, to organize a team for a project, or comment on how class is going. In this tutorial, you will learn how to create a user account for yourself on the site, how to choose the settings you want for that account, how to make a page giving everyone some information about you, and how to post messages to Mr. Z. and other students.

1. Creating a username and logging in

The first step is to create a username for yourself. This is the only time you will have to go through this process.

Go to the New User page and fill in the requested information. Be sure to write down your password somewhere safe, or else use something you are sure you will not forget, because even Mr. Z. can't easily retrieve a lost password (if you do forget your password, talk to Mr. Z. in class and he'll just assign you a new password. But then Mr. Z. will know your password, so he'll be able to post messages claiming to be you!)

Now, you will want to log in. Go to the login page (there is also a link to this page in the "tool bar", a set of links at the top and bottom of each web page) and enter the username and password that you just created. You should see a page telling you that you are logged in.

2. Posting a comment

Click back to the index, then click on the link called "Mr. Z.". You will see Mr. Z.'s personal page, which has a short profile of him and a picture of a piece of "fractal" mathematical artwork that he made. Down near the bottom of the page are various messages that have been sent to Mr. Z., and possibly some of his responses.

To post a message that will appear on this page, click your "post comment" link. A page appears with a text area where you can type a comment. Your homework for today requires you to send Mr. Z. a message asking him one question about himself or this course. Type your question into the text area and click the "Submit" button. When you go back to the node, you should see your message, with your name and the date given in above it. You will notice that this "header" is colored in the color that you gave in the user creation page.

3. Changing your user info

If at this point you decide that you would like to change the name that appears in your posts, or the color of your post header, click on the "change user info" link in your tool bar. You will be back to the same page that you created your user in, but with some information filled in. You may not change your username or password, but you can type a new "Name" or "Color" in this page. First, type in your password; then, change the information in these boxes and click "Submit". You should see a message saying that your user info has been changed.

4. Editing a node - Creating your profile

Click on the "messages" link in your tool bar. This link is available whenever you're looking at a page, not editing it. You will see a node whose title is your name. Before you do this part, be sure that this is the name you want to use, because if you change your name, your old profile page still has your same name and your "messages" link to the new page. I would strongly urge you to just use your full name (as in, "Russell Zahniser") as your name on the site.

Part of your homework for tonight is to fill in the "profile" page with some information about yourself. To do this, click on the "edit" link in your toolbar, type a paragraph or so in the text area, and click "Submit". You will notice that if you click "edit" again, the text area is already filled with what you entered before, and you can add to or change it. Some ideas of what information to include:

When you are done writing your profile, you can "lock" it so that no one but you can edit it, but others can post messages to you. To do this, in the editor, scroll down to where you want messages to appear, and type:

<lock:appendBelow [Your username]:edit>
NOTE: Don't type the brackets []

Here, you would replace [Your username] with the username that you would type in the first text field on the login page. This means, "Lock everyone out, allowing them only to post comments, which will appear below this line (that is, in order with the most recent first on the page). But allow me to edit this page." This means that, as well as being able to modify your profile, you can also delete or modify other people's posts on that page. Be sure not to misspell your username, or you will lock yourself out! Mr. Z. would type:

<lock:appendBelow MrZ:edit>

If you wanted to, you could use "appendAbove" instead of "appendBelow"; this would put comments in order with the top being the first posted, rather than the most recent. You could also use "total"; that doesn't even allow other people to post comments (handouts that I want to remain in pristine state are treated this way). But please don't totally lock out your profile page, because the whole point of that page is to let people leave messages for you!

5. Logging out

So that the next person to use this computer won't be automatically logged on as you, click the "log out" link in your tool bar now. Remember to do this whenever you are done at a computer. If you happen to start using a computer and find yourself logged on as someone else, you can easily switch to the right username by clicking your log out link, then logging in again with your own name.

You're now done with the homework. Please let someone else use the computer if you're working in the library. I'll tell you more later about cool things that you can do on this website, like including a picture in your profile, or creating more pages for yourself that you can link to. But for now, we need to respect the needs of others and let them have a chance with the computers.