Laptop Initiative Frequently Asked Questions
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Q: What hardware is required?
A: The only hardware requirement is that the laptop has a physical keyboard, permanently attached to the monitor. Thus, traditional laptops are allowed but tablets are not.
Q: Who is eligible for the program?
A: Cadets who are classified as a junior or senior (11th or 12th grade) for the 2012-2013 school year will be eligible.
Q: What determines my classification as a junior or a senior (11th or 12th grade)?
A: Your classification as a junior or a senior (11th or 12th grade) will be determined by the Dean’s office based on your credit hours.
Q: If I bring a laptop, will I also be issued a terminal?
Q: What type of surge protection do I need to purchase?
A: Each cadet will be required to purchase a surge protection device for their laptop. To cut down on confusion, the cadet should purchase this through the Cadet Store ($18.50) when they return to campus. The surge protector plugs directly into the wall outlet, and it has six swiveling outlets on it.
Q: What type of laptop lock do I need to purchase?
A: Each cadet will be required to purchase a Kensington combination lock from the Cadet Store ($30.50). The locks sold through the Cadet Store will be specifically designed to be used in a school environment. The lock is very secure, has a six foot cable, and attaches to the laptop using a special slot designed into most laptops. The cadet will be able to set their own combination on the lock and change it when they want. RMA will have the ability to read the combination of the lock even after it is changed by the cadet. This will prevent the cadet’s laptop from getting permanently attached to an object if the cadet forgets his combination.
Q: What does it mean when you say my laptop will be screened by the RMA Technology Department?
A: The Technology Department will look at your laptop and determine if it has an up to date anti-virus program running. They will also record some important information from the laptop like its MAC address(s) and its serial number.
Q: What is a MAC address?
A: The MAC address is a unique number assigned to each network device, wired and wireless, in the laptop. It is used by the network to route traffic to and from the laptop. It is similar to a phone number in that it identifies each device on the network. We record these numbers to help us determine which devices may be having, or causing, difficulty on the network.
Q: Does this mean that you can see what we are doing on the network?
A: While we cannot always actually see what you are doing, much of what you do on the network, or internet, is monitored, tracked, analyzed and recorded. For example, every time you visit a web site using our network, our equipment determines if you should be allowed to go to that site. At the same time, all of that information can be written into a log file. While we do not have the time to actively monitor your use in person, it is possible to have our equipment produce an alarm for certain types of behavior, which we can act on later. Additionally, our Internet Service Provider (ISP), as well as yours at home, maintain the same types of logs. It is best to assume that anything you do on a network or the internet is being documented in some fashion, and modify your behavior accordingly.
Q: Where will I be allowed to use my laptop?
A: At this time, laptop use will only be allowed in the cadet’s barracks room.
Q: I want to use my laptop while sitting on my bed. May I bring my own access point and use it in my room?
A: No. Personal wireless access points are not allowed. If detected, they will be confiscated. You may, however, bring a longer Ethernet cable which will reach to your bed.
Q: Do I need to supply my own Ethernet cable?
A: No. We can supply you with a cable. However, the cable will probably only be long enough to reach to your desk.
Q: What will I be required to do to secure my laptop?
A: Your laptop must remain secured in your room. If it is out on your desk, it must be locked to the desk using your Kensington lock. You may also want to secure your laptop in your closet when you are not in your room.
Q: What type of device will be allowed?
A: Only laptop devices will be allowed. For the purposes of this program, a laptop will be defined as a computing device which has both a screen and a physical keyboard, where the keyboard is permanently attached to the device as part of its original design.
Q: Can I bring a printer?
A: At this time, only the laptop itself is allowed. No other devices such as printers, speakers, scanners, or cameras will be allowed.
Q: Does this mean that I cannot bring a mouse?
A: You may bring a mouse, personal headphones, and an Ethernet cable to use with your laptop.
Q: May I bring my own external keyboard?
A: To be classified as a laptop, it must already have a keyboard. We are trying hard to limit the number of items associated with this project. The more items brought by each cadet, the more chance there is for problems. The more problems we encounter, the more likely we are to not be able to continue this project. Therefore, keyboards will not be allowed. If there is a compelling physical or medical reason a cadet needs an external keyboard, it will be considered by the Commandant on a case by case basis.
Q: Are flash drives (thumb drives) permitted or required?
A: Flash drives are not required as part of the Laptop Initiative. A teacher may require one as part of their class. If so, they will be available for purchase in the Cadet Store and do not need to be purchased in advance. Flash drives will not be considered contraband this year. Their use may be limited, if needed.
Q: May I bring my iPad?
A: No, tablet devices will not be permitted at this time.
Q: My cell phone has a slide out keyboard. May I bring it?
A: No cell phone type of device will be permitted under this laptop program. You may bring your cell phone with the slide out keyboard but it will fall under the cell phone rules.
Q: Can I bring my desktop computer?
A: No. Desktop computers will not be permitted at this time.
Q: What do I do if I am not sure my laptop will be allowed?
A: If you are not sure, it might be best not to bring it. If you do bring it, the device will need to have the approval of the Commandant’s Office and the Technology Department before its use will be authorized.
Q: What if I bring a device and it is deemed unacceptable?
A: Upon arrival on campus, all laptops will be collected by the Commandant’s Office. Once the laptop has been approved, it will be returned to the cadet for use. If it is not approved, it will be held by the Commandant’s Office until the cadet returns home.
Q: How will I know if my laptop has been approved?
A: If your laptop is not approved, it will be held by the Commandant’s Office. If it is approved, it will be given a sticker designating it as a device which has passed inspection and been approved. This sticker will need to be visible on the laptop at all times.
Q: Do I need any special software installed on my laptop?
A: You will only need either Internet Explorer or Firefox loaded as a web browser. Some other web browsers may work but have not been tested. Using your web browser, you will contact a server on the RMA network and download a small plugin or add-on for your browser. This will allow you to create a virtual Windows desktop on your computer, which will have the same applications which are available on the cadet terminals.
Q: The letter to parents states, “It is also intended to provide some relief from the tedium and regimen of Academy life”. Does that mean that games or gaming websites can be utilized on the laptop, but not the desktop?
A: To the extent possible, we will not limit what a cadet loads on his laptop. If certain types of software or activities become an issue, they will be addressed as needed. It is unlikely that a cadet’s laptop will have more access to the internet than the terminals. Laptops will be subject to the same filtering as the terminals. Attempts to bypass the web filter will be considered a disciplinary matter and could affect the success of this initiative.
Q: May I load other software on my laptop?
A: Yes. You may load whatever software you think you need to help you at RMA. However, any software loaded on your laptop will need to properly licensed. The exception to this is that any sort of “penetration testing software”, hacking software, filter bypass software, or other software or devices which could be considered threatening to the network are not allowed.
Q: What will I be allowed to do with my laptop?
A: Cadets will be expected to manage their laptop in accordance with the good order and discipline of the Corps prescribed by the Cadet Regulations.
Q: Will my laptop be subject to inspection?
A: Yes. If deemed necessary, any device brought onto the RMA campus may be inspected.
Q: What if my laptop gets damaged?
A: The cadet and the cadet’s parents will be responsible for filing a claim against their laptop insurance policy and getting the laptop repaired.
Q: What will I do for a computer while my laptop is being repaired?
A: If a cadet is in need of a computer, RMA will provide a terminal for the cadet’s use.
Q: What if I do not want to bring my own laptop to RMA? What will I do for a computer?
A: Any cadet who does not bring their own laptop will be provided with a standard computer terminal for use in the barracks.
Q: What if my laptop gets stolen?
A: It will be up to the cadet and the cadet’s parents to file a claim against their laptop insurance policy.
Q: How do I get insurance for my laptop?
A: There are many ways to get your laptop insured. RMA does not recommend any one way over the other. However, RMA has contacted a company which will insure your laptop. You may get more information here.
Q: If I have trouble with my laptop, does RMA have a helpdesk number I can call?
A: No. RMA is not providing one on one support for cadet’s laptops. Any major difficulty will be up to the cadet to resolve. We will, however, help cadets with connectivity issues that arise as a result of our network. In other words, if a cadet plugs into our network and cannot reach the internet, we will attempt to resolve the issue. If it is determined that the issue is with the laptop, we will not be able to provide much support. RMA will not service hardware or software on a cadet’s laptop.
Q: What do I do if my laptop hardware or software needs repairing?
A: Each cadet and his parents should decide the best course of action for each incident. If you would like to contact someone local, here are some businesses which may be able to help. RMA does not have any sort of arrangement with these vendors. RMA does not imply that these vendors can or will fix your problems. These names and numbers are listed solely for your convenience.
Q: Can I, as a parent or guardian, install monitoring software on the laptop to track my son’s internet use and time management?
A: We will leave that decision up to you. It is very likely that you would not be able to monitor this software in real time due to our firewalls and other security precautions. While we will not attempt to stop monitoring such as this, we will also not make modifications to our network or support it in any way.
Q: I would like to use Skype with my son to track his progress at Riverside; will he be able to use Skype on his laptop if I provide him a webcam?
A: We will attempt to allow cadets to use Skype, if possible. This is a very tentative statement, at this time. Skype use will be limited, if needed, to protect network bandwidth, study times, or sleep hours. RMA will not be able to troubleshoot Skype issues associated with a cadet’s laptop.
Q: My son plays video games and I do not want him playing those while at school. Is there a way to make sure he cannot play these games?
A: The short answer is no. If you do not send a laptop with your cadet, we will supply him with a terminal. The terminals will be monitored more closely than the laptops. However, we cannot guarantee that your cadet will not use another cadet’s laptop. We will work with you and your cadet in providing the best learning environment possible.
Q: My son has an iTunes account and we buy eBooks for him. Will he have access to his iTunes account on campus to purchase books, movies, music, and apps?
Q: What does the Technology department do to prevent access to pornographic websites?
A: RMA employs a very sophisticated web filter. This web filter analyzes web traffic and attempts to prevent cadets from accessing inappropriate content. Websites are analyzed by the web filter company and categorized. Sites which are in certain categories, such as adult, or pornography, are blocked. Additionally, sites which are not rated are blocked until they are placed into an acceptable category by the company.
Q: My son is not a junior or a senior, but I would like him to have access to a laptop. Is there anything I can do to get my son laptop privileges while at RMA?
A: At the present time, only juniors and seniors will be allowed to have laptops on campus. Based on the success of this program, we hope to open this up to other cadets in the future.
Q: How will the laptop differ from the issued desktop?
A: The standard issue desktop terminal will provide a cadet with everything he needs to complete his academic coursework here at RMA. However, the terminal is very restrictive in terms of what is available. No individual software is allowed to be loaded on the terminals. Having his own laptop will allow a cadet more freedom in the applications he chooses to use to further his education.
Q: Will both the standard RMA terminals and cadet laptops have access to the internet and e-mail?
A: Yes. Cadets will have access to the internet and e-mail through both the terminals and the laptops. However, e-mail access will be limited to RMA’s mail system. Other mail services, such as Gmail, Yahoo Mail, etc., will be blocked.
Q: What software is recommended to be installed on the proposed privately owned laptops? Is there an approved list?
A: There is no approved list of software for this project nor is there a recommended list. Cadets using their laptops will have access to the same software available to the other cadets. If a cadet has software they prefer over RMA’s choice, like using Microsoft Office instead of Libre office, they are free to use their own. It does need to be a fully licensed copy of the software which they own. A cadet may also wish to bring other software such as his favorite image editor, movie maker, or HTML editor. We will try to be as liberal as possible unless the software causes problems for RMA or the other cadets.
Q: What type of insurance should I buy?
A: Each laptop brought on campus by a cadet must be insured. The insurance policy should cover the laptop for any loss or damage which may occur while at RMA or on any RMA function.