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Frequently Asked Questions

Whom do I see to get help?

How do I get technical help?

If you have specific questions about or notice problems with the Center's computer systems, you can send e-mail to `problem@geom'.

The technical staff have office hours between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on weekdays, during which they are available for questions and help. Office hours are posted on the bulletin board near the main whiteboard (as you enter the Center), and are on the Web.

What kind of technical support does the staff provide?

The technical staff are recruited on the basis of a high level of accomplishment in an area of importance in the Center's operation. As in a traditional academic department, their duties involve both teaching and research. In the Center context, this means consulting and assistance to visitors and carrying out long term development and research projects that are important for providing infrastucture or otherwise forwarding the Center mission. Large projects implemented by Staff are supported by decision of the Center's Board of Governors. Only a few such endeavors can be supported. If you would like to make a suggestion or proposal for one, please consult the Director.

Visitor assistance is a high priority. The staff take great pride in their receptiveness to your call for assistance and their skill and dedication in helping you. (Visitors comment on how staff advice and knowledge saves them months of work: how their help and experience allows a visitor to make an animation within a few days of sufficiently high quality to show to a national colloquium.)

Unfortunately, there are limits on what can be done with the Center resources, given that each staff member is involved in many things. Thus, on the day-to-day level, you should expect help and advice in using the video equipment, in answering questions about the capabilities of the Center software and workstations, and in what software to use and where it is located. In a larger framework, you can expect consulting services on software or video design, especially large, ambitious projects that need careful advance planning. As a general rule, the Center cannot provide instruction in basic UNIX and programming skills, provide mathematical programming services, or provide extensive support for your work.

How should staff contributions be credited?

Any time a staff member does a substantial amount of work on a production, for example a piece of software or a video animation, that person must be acknowledged accordingly. Thus, an animation produced with very substantial assistance must be billed as a joint effort between you (as the author of the algorithm or generator of the data) and the staff member (as playing a substantial role implementing that in video). Such assistance should not be cited merely in a secondary role in the video, for example simply acknowledged in the credits as having `provided assistance.' It is easy for theoreticians to underestimate the level of skill and originality contributed by technical staff. Such acknowledgement is a requirement laid down by the Center for the following reasons:

1) Staff should be able to cite work to which they have made substantial contributions as part of their CV. It is difficult to justify this if listed on the work in a subsidiary role. As in any scientific work, their reward is in proper acknowledgement of their effort.

2) The Center's contribution to your work requires appropriate acknowledgement both for reporting to funding agencies and for recruiting and retaining highly talented staff members.

3) Where advances in knowledge or exposition depend on skills and originality of certain individuals, it is right to acknowledge this publicly.

Further, publication of work done at the Geometry Center should acknowledge the Center's supporting agencies. Our support currently comes from National Science Foundation grant DMS-8920161, the University of Minnesota, and Department of Energy grant DOE/DE-FG02-92ER25137.

Getting Administrative Help

The Geometry Center administrative staff is available to help with reasonable requests. They are:

Charlene Videen, Principal Accountant, videen@geom
Kris Kosek, Visitor Program Coordinator, kosek@geom
Linda Halet, Workshop Coordinator, halet@geom
Vanessa Holden, Office Specialist, holden@geom

Mailing Letters and Packages

The receptionist can help you send out business letters and packages; please see him or her before 4:00 p.m.

Note: We do not sell stamps nor do we provide postage for personal letters or packages.

Photocopying & Typing

The photocopy machine is located near the front desk in room 408. We ask that you use the copier for Geometry Center related business only. Ask the staff for the copier's code. If you need assistance, please see the receptionist; if you have large volumes to be copied, he or she can make the copies for you.

The visitor program coordinator (currently Kris) will type business letters. Please put them in her mail tray near the front desk.

For personal copying, there's a public photocopy machine on the second floor.


The fax machine is located in room 408. The number is 612/625-8083. Please log all long distance incoming and outgoing faxes. You will be billed for outgoing personal faxes. See the receptionist for additional assistance.

Office Keys and Building Access

The Center is open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. After hours or on weekends, you must have an access card to unlock the security doors in the north or south stairwell. In addition, the doors to the building may be locked. Please see Kris Kosek for an access card and key.


If partial support has been provided for your visit, there should be reimbursement forms in your mail tray when you arrive. Note that you must make copies of your tickets and receipts for expenses greater than $25.00. Please see Charlene (in office 422 before 3 p.m.) if you have any questions.

Office Supplies

If you need any supplies, please see the receptionist at the frontdesk.


We no longer distribute hard copies of preprints. Please refer to our web page for Center preprints.

Things about Daily Life

Where am I?

The Geometry Center is located on the East Bank campus of the University of Minnesota. Minneapolis is to the west and St. Paul is to the east.

The Geometry Center
400 Lind Hall
207 Church St. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55454

Main telephone
(612) 626-0888
Fax telephone -- administration fax
(612) 626-7131
Fax telephone -- general fax
(612) 625-8083
General e-mail
World-wide-web home page
Other telephone numbers
See the on-line phone list for specific phone numbers. Type `phone' at a UNIX prompt to access this facility. See section How do the phones work?.

Where is the first aid kit?

The first aid kit is in the supply room 408. In the event of an emergency, please dial 911. You will be connected with campus police.

How do the phones work?

Dial `8' to make calls outside the University phone system.

Personal long distance phone calls are not allowed unless charged to personal calling cards. There should be a log sheet next to your phone. Please log any long-distance business calls you make without a card on this log sheet.

Phone messages will be e-mailed to you.

There should be a printed copy of the Center's telephone directory in your mail tray when you arrive. There is also an on-line version of this list which is accessed by typing `phone' at the UNIX prompt. Alternately, `phone name,' where name is the name or part of the name of the person you want to call, lists only people who match `name'.

What should I do when the lights go out at night?

The lights are automatically turned off at 5:10 and 10 p.m. to save energy. Call the security desk at 6-8183 and ask them to turn the fifth floor lights back on. You'll need to give them the light circuit numbers. The mapping of light numbers to actual lights is as follows: #12 is offices, #11 is the center bulb of most lights on the floor, and #13 is the outer two bulbs of open floor lights and all bulbs in the library. A complete list of lighting circuits appears in the file `/u/gcg/doc/Lighting'.

How do I get through the doors when they're locked?

Please see Kris Kosek for a security card and building key. If you are arriving after hours, you will not be able to access the Center unless you've made prior arrangements.

How does the shuttle bus that goes across the river work?

There is a free shuttle bus, called Campus Connector, which will transport students and staff to the West Bank, if necessary. Please see the receptionist for current scheduling information. This schedule changes often.

Where can I park my car?

The University parking ramps that are closest to Lind Hall are the Church Street garage and the Washington Avenue ramp. The current rate, subject to change, is $1.50 per hour. If at all possible, visitors are encouraged to take the bus or walk to the Center, since parking on campus is expensive and overcrowded.

Where can I find bus information, city guides, and maps?

Maps, bus schedules, and other local information are available from the receptionist at the front desk.

The Twin Cities have an extensive bus system. You can probably reach any destination in the area by bus. The bus costs $1.25 during peak hours -- weekdays from 6-9 a.m. and 3:30-6:30 p.m. All other times (including all weekend), a one-way trip is $1.00. If you travel within the downtown zone only, the cost is $0.50 during peak hours and $0.25 at all other times. The downtown zone starts at 11th Ave. (two blocks toward downtown from here.) You need exact change. The buses accept dollar bills, but give no change. If you plan on traveling on the bus regularly, you might want to purchase a "punch-card" (which is good for 10 rides) or a monthly pass. These provide significant discounts from the cash fare. Most drugstores and many bookstores in the area sell these. Bus stops are denoted by small square reddish-brown signs with a circled white T on them.

For bus information, call 373-3333.

Where do you go to eat or drink around here?

In the building

The Center provides free coffee and tea in the north end commons area.

There are vending machines on the lower level of Lind Hall. Several cafeterias can be found in Coffman Union or very near campus on Washington Avenue or in Dinkytown. Ask Center staff for their recommendations. (See visitor contributed reviews.)

Where can I recycle stuff?

Many common items can be recycled in the marked bins on fourth floor. Thanks for helping the environment! The small rectangular trashcans found in offices and in the common areas are for non-recyclable garbage such as soiled paper products and glossy coated papers.

Nearby facilities you might like to know about.

Where are nearby banks and automatic teller machines?

There is an automatic teller machine in Coffman Union or Williamson Hall. There is a TCF bank in both Dinkytown and near Washington and Oak Street.

Is there a library around here?

The Geometry Center's library is located at the north end of the common area. It contains several shelves of manuals, books, and journals. The text file `/u/gcg/library/master.bib' contains a current list of the library's holdings in bibtex format. We have reference manuals, programming books, mathematical texts, reference books in math and computer science, and a miscellany of nontechnical books for your reading pleasure. Topics covered by the reference manuals include Irises, NeXTs, Suns, C, UNIX, X, Mathematica, Postscript, TeX, and Renderman. There are also some binders containing printed copies of on-line documentation. These materials may not leave the Center. Please be sure to return the book to the place you found it ASAP.

If you can't find what you're looking for in our library, the University of Minnesota has a wonderful library system. Their very large math library is located in Vincent Hall on the East Bank of Campus. The Walter Science and Engineering Library, also located on the East Bank, contains many computer related books. Ask the visitor program coordinator, office 510, for a note that will allow you to take out books from the campus libraries.

The library catalog is accessible on line. Try using

telnet pubinfo.ais

from any of our machines, and follow the menus through University Libraries/LUMINA. When asked for a terminal id, say `vt100'.

Are there athletic facilities that I can use?

There is a gym at Cooke Hall and an Olympic-size pool at the Aquatic Center. For admission to these or other University athletic facilities, visitors must present a letter which may be requested from the visitor program coordinator.

Things we'd like you to do

Building rules

The building administration imposes some rules:
  1. No smoking inside the building.
  2. No bikes in the building.
  3. No cooking with anything but the microwave (in the kitchen) or the coffee maker.
  4. No roof access. An alarm goes off if you try.
  5. You can use our refrigerator in the kitchen. Please put your name and the date on items that you leave in it.

Visitor Report

All visitors to the Center are expected to prepare a report of their visit and e-mail it to the visitor program coordinator (kosek@geom.umn.edu) at the end of their visit. Please include any comments, positive or negative, on your experience that you think would be of help in the administrative or scientific management of the Center.

Previous reports are on line, under the directory `/u/gcg/reports/visitors'.

NSF database form

Please give the receptionist your completed NSF database form some time during your visit.

Keys and access cards

Please return ALL keys and access cards to the visitor program coordinator, or put them in the mail tray in a sealed envelope if you leave after hours. Another visitor may need these keys right after you leave.

E-mail and your account

Remember to put your new e-mail address in a file named .forward in your home directory. Be sure to remove any .forward file at the destination so your mail doesn't bounce back and forth forever. Leave a physical mailing address with the receptionist. We have ongoing disk space problems; please remove all unnecessary files. Staff members will happily show you how to compress your files or place them on tape to save disk space. Your account will remain for a year after you last use it; if you'll no longer need it after you leave, please let us know. Your files will be archived on tape before your account is deactivated.

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[HOME] The Geometry Center Home Page

Comments to: webmaster@geom.umn.edu
Created: Fri Sep 8 11:39:00 1995 ---

Up: FAQ table of contents

[HOME] The Geometry Center Home Page

Comments to: webmaster@geom.umn.edu
Created: Jun 18 1996 --- Last modified: Apr 14 1998