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Using The Request System

Reporting Normal Computer Problems

In general, always send mail to
It is helpful if the subject line is pertinent and contains somewhat detailed information about the request being submitted. This helps the Systems Staff delegate the request and assist you faster!
You should include the following information in the body of your message:

What were you running?

The command name, or the software. Perhaps even the entire command line. It's often useful to tell us what time you were doing something. If you are sending mail long after the problem happened, tell us when the problem happened.

What machine are you working on?

If you are using X Windows (or eXceed) we need to know what interactive server you are working on. (e.g. mamba, cobra, viper).

If you are working under Unix, you are probably sitting at a PC or X terminal. We need to know the name of that machine, too.

What did you expect?

We don't always know what your command or program is supposed to do. Tell us what you were expecting.

What did happen?

Tell us the output, or the error message, or the behavior that was wrong. If there is an error message, it's always good to send it.

The Request Queue

When you send us mail, a ticket is created in our request system. A request number is assigned to the ticket, which helps us keep track of the correspondence between you and our team; this number appears in the subject line of our replies to you.
When you open a request by sending us the initial message describing your problem, you will receive an automated reply to let you know we have received it. This also notifies you of the request number associated with your ticket, so you can keep track of the requests you have sent and track our progress in resolving your problem.

Example automated reply: Greetings. (This is an automated response. There is no need to reply.) Your message regarding: Krakatoa is down has been received and assigned a request number of 37970. In order help us track the progress of this request, we ask that you include the string [Req #37970] in the subject line of any further mail about this particular request. For example: Subject: [Req #37970] Krakatoa is down You may do this simply by replying to this email.

When a request is received, it can be viewed by all members of the systems staff. One of our staff members will then take responsibility for resolving your request. The pairing of requests and staffers depends on the nature of the request, as some requests are best suited for a staff member with certain skills or experience, as well as the availability of each staff member. Because each staff member's workload varies throughout the year, all initial requests for help should be sent to the entire staff for us to delegate out among ourselves. Sending a request to an individual staff member will decrease the likelihood that your request will be handled in the most efficient manner and make it harder for us to track.

Ask not what the queue can do for you, but what you can do for the queue:

So we can help you best, we ask that you keep in mind a couple of things that make our job of tracking and handling your request a little easier:
  • Use a descriptive subject line when submitting your request. Describe your problem in detail in the body of your message to us, and summarize it in the subject line. Sometimes we find it helpful to go back through our records to see how a particular problem was solved, so descriptive subjects help us. "Create e-mail alias," "Cachefsd process on cobra" and "Request file restoration" are much more descriptive than "Hello," "Help with my computer," "E-mail problem," or blank subject lines.
  • If you wish to reply to us regarding a particular request, include the string "[Req #requestnumber]" in the subject line. You can do this by simply replying to the automated reply you receive. If you leave out the above string, a new request ticket will be generated.
  • Open a new request for each separate problem. This helps us track each distinct problem.

View Our Queue!