due Sept. 27
Last modified 9/24/99--PR
Class home page
This is a long assignment, but you have two weeks to work on it. You
are encouraged to do this assignment with a partner, and some parts of
it can only be done with a partner! You can turn in one joint solution
set, but be sure to include a separate paragraph for each partner for the
explanation exercise. All the questions you are supposed to answer in your
written homework are in italics. Look carefully, as they're sprinkled
throughout the assignment.
Chapters 2 and 3, and the article
by the Olsons giving an overview of CSCW applications. Depending on
your learning style, you may want to read these before or after you do
the explorations below.
Don't forget to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
with a question or comment about the readings, before midnight on Sunday,
Sept. 26. This question or comment should be very brief and should
suggest some question that you'd like to see discussed or question that
you'd like to have answered in class. IMPORTANT: The subject line should
be: " comments". I use a mail filter to automatically sort all these
messages into a single folder. If you want me to read a message during
the week, don't use that subject line, or it may not be read until Monday
The applications and web sites listed below will provide a common set of
examples that we'll be referring to in class discussions (and perhaps even
exams) throughout the semester. In fact, you might view the rest of the
semester as an exploration of how these applications work, how they're
developed, what network infrastructure lies behind them, how people make
money from them, and how they affect society.
Create a Web Page
If you haven't created web pages before, create one now. If you
don't know HTML, you may want to just create a document in MS Word and
use the "save as HTML" option. Click here
for instructions on making a web page visible through the SI web server.
Read about the MPathways ERP project
Explore a Web-accessible database: the UM SI course catalog
If you're not an SI student, and haven't seen the SI
course catalog, do a little exploration. We'll explore more about how
this is implemented in the class session on databases and markup languages.
Edit a record in a Web-accessible database
Fill in the information about you in the on-line class photo directory,
including the URL for a web page that you've created. Click here
to go to the directory. You'll need to enter a username and password that
I'll be giving out in class and emailing to the class list, so that your
photos and personal information won't be visible to people who are not
in the class. Then click through until you find your photo, and edit the
text that goes with it. (If you weren't in class the first day, or
if we missed you during the photo session, please add a new record for
yourself-- we'll add the picture later).
Sign up for the Class WebBoard
In class, Junho will collect your email addresses and use them to give
you access to the class WebBoard, http://www.communitytechnology.org:8080/~si540_F99.
You should receive an email once your access has been established, and
your initial password should be your uniqname. If you previously had a
WebBoard account, you will first need to visit the class board in order
to let the software know that you're interested in the class, and then
send Junho an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) so that he can give you permission
to actually see the stuff that's there. If you forget your password, contact
Vlad Wielbut (email@example.com) to get your password reset.
Once you're connected:
You should see the following conferences (if not send me an email)
Explore (try clicking on More... in the options at the top of the frame.)
You will almost certainly want to change your password. Click on the "Edit
your profile" option. I do *not* recommend that you use your normal
kerberos password, since connections to this server are not encrypted.
You may be especially interested in the "Mailing Lists" option, which allows
you to participate in the WebBoard via email.
Send an introductory message to your study group.
Througout the semester, whenever you have something interesting to send,
please post it to the general discussion conference.
ICQ (Do this with a partner)
If you don't already have ICQ installed, install it. In the DIAD lab, open
the Novell-delivered Applications folder on the desktop, go to Michigan,
and then Applications. Double-click on the ICQ icon. That should install
it. If it doesn't work, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For your
home use, you may want to download it from the net. Try looking on Yahoo
to find a copy.
Once you and your partner have signed up, try adding each other to your
Change your availability to status and see how it is reflected on your
partner's contact list
Send messages and start chat sessions with your partner. What happens if
you try to send a message when your partner is unavailable or not logged
Version Control (Do this with a partner)
On software projects with many programmers, they often use a software package
to keep track of all the versions. This helps in several ways:
It maintains older versions of files, so they can recover them when it's
It allows comparison between versions (e.g., a piece of software used to
work, now it doesn't; it may be helpful to know what has been changed between
It encourages people to enter comments documenting why they made
It detects when multiple people try to change the same document, and may
Revision control with QVCS
In this exercise, you'll explore a simple version control system called
QVCS. Click here to download the software. Doublic-click
on it and extract all the files into a public directory in your personal
filespace so that you and your partner will have it available on any machine
you log into. You'll be able to use the software for 60 days without paying
Click here for a diagram that may be helpful
in conceptualizing how we're suggesting that you use QVCS.
Run the program Qwin3.exe.
Follow the instructions to create a user account for yourself and one for
Follow the QWin tutorial (you'll find it by clicking on Help; QVCS Help
Contents). This should get you familiar with some of the basics.
Now create a new "project" to be shared between you and your partner.
Pick any name you want
Put the archive somewhere in your public space (not in the QVCS directory)
Put the workfiles somewhere in your private space
Put some documents in the directory you chose for your workfiles
(you may want to create new MS Word documents for this purpose).
Add these documents to the project archive.
Check out a file, edit it, and check it back in again.
Now have your partner run QVCS and log in (this is why you installed QVCS
in your public space)
When your partner clicks on the project you created, s/he will be prompted
to choose a directory for workfiles. Your partner should pick a directory
in his/her private filespace.
Now have your partner "check out" a file, edit it, and check it back in
Now you and your partner can try to "get" various versions of the file
out of the archive.
What's the difference between "get" and "check out"? (Hint: what happens
when your partner tries to "get" or "check out" a file when you have previously
done a "get" or a "check out"?)
Are there any drawbacks of using a tool like this?
What additional features would you like to see in a tool like this?
(Don't worry about whether this particular progrm already has these features
Suppose you were thinking about buying a revision control tool. Find
the URL for a page that would provide further information. Tell me what
URL you found. How did you find it?
Revision control with MS Word
MS Word also has some built-in revision control features that are especially
tailored to word processing documents. Open a document in Microsoft Word.
On the Tools menu, choose "Track changes; Highlight changes", then click
the box to start tracking changes while editing. Now make some changes
to the document and see how the highlighting works. Finally, from the Tools
menu, choose "Track changes; Accept or reject changes" and see how someone
else could accept or reject each of the edits that you made.
Real-time application sharing with NetMeeting
First, you'll need to install NetMeeting on your machine. In the DIAD lab,
open the SI Applications folder on the desktop, go to Michigan, and then
Applications. Double-click on the NetMeeting icon. Outside the DIAD lab,
you're on your own for this, but you can download it for free from Microsoft's
You'll want to log in to the server ils.si.umich.edu (or it may be called
johnfrank.si.umich.edu). If you're in the DIAD lab, this should happen
If your partner is also logged in, his/her name should appear. You can
double-click on it to initiate a call. Once you've initiated a call, you
can send messages and chat with your partner. If you have several people
handy, you might want to host a "meeting" that they all connect to.
Select from the menu Tools; sharing. Now you'll have the option of selecting
any of the applications you have running to be shared with the other person
on your "call." Experiment with the various options for allowing others
to take control of your shared programs. Which settings for allowing
others to take control of shared programs are best in which situations?
Visit the amazon.com web site.
Use their search facilities to find books related to groupware (or some
other topic of your choice).
What are all the different ways that Amazon uses information from other
people (e.g., reviews, recommendations, shopping habits) to help you find
What's the difference between the "shopping cart" and 1-click shopping?
Which would you prefer to use if this was your first time buying from Amazon?
if you were a regular buyer?
Visit the eBay auction web site. Is there
anything for sale that you'd like to buy? Did you get any ideas about something
you'd like to sell?
Explore the feedback system. Would you trust a seller more if they had
more positive feedback points than if they had none? What about negative
Imagining Application Possibilities
Suppose that you have taken on the role of information systems planner
for GEO, the union that represents the University of Michigan graduate
Prepare a one page memo describing at least three networked computing
applications that you think would be useful during the course of a labor
strike (this almost happened in winter 1999 when contract negotiations
were stalled). Assume that the audience for this memo is the officers of
Note: in this context, an "application" is not a software package
(e.g., Microsoft Excel) but rather a pattern of use of software by one
or more people to perform some function (e.g., budget tracking).
You may find inspiration from one of the frameworks for classifying
applications from the textbook or from the Olsons' article. If you're not
familiar with what happens in a strike, some of the activities include
preparing and reviewing contract proposals, maintaining the visibility
of the strike in the public eye, and convincing union members and others
to continue participating. Here are some general resources about labor
strikes that I found on the web (the IPL was a better source than Yahoo!):
(Find someone who is not taking this class, and who knows less about computers
than you do. It could be a fellow SI student, or a roommate or a friend
or relative). Explain to this person what ICQ is and how it compares to
email as a messaging medium. In your homework writeup, say who received
your explanation, and include a few sentences about what made it easy or
hard to do the explanation.
Checklist of What You'll Be Graded on
Pick a study group of 4 to 8 people, and send email to email@example.com
saying who is in your group.
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com with a question
or comment about the readings, before midnight on Sunday, Sept. 26.
IMPORTANT: The subject line should be: " comments".
Enter your information, including a URL for a Web page you created in
the course photo directory.
Log on to the WebBoard
Answer the questions about QVCS
Which settings for allowing others to take control of shared programs
in NetMeeting are best in which situations?
Answer the questions about Amazon
Answer the questions about eBay's feedback system
One-page memo about application possibilities