Intro to Unix

Asking Questions via Email

Please read this entire page before asking questions of your instructor via email. For security and administrative reasons, you must use the Unix account supplied to you by the University to ask a question. (UW-Milwaukee students can use Web-based Failure to do so may result in your question being ignored.

Get Help When You Need It

Don't feel bad at all if you are genuinely confused about a topic or are having problems learning the material or doing your assignments. In fact, asking questions is part of your responsibility to use due diligence in your work.

Be Specific as You Can in the Question

When you ask a question via email, the more specific you can be in explaining your problem, the more quickly and accurately I can help you.

Also, before you ask a question, make sure you have read over the course materials and assignment description.

Vague Question Better (Specific) Question
I don't get the assignment. Am I supposed to show the commands that I used to produce the output for assignment 1?
It doesn't work. When I try to write out a command the output goes to the screen. How can I put the output in a file?
The Internet doesn't work. I try to email the contents of a file to myself, but every time I try it, it doesn't seem to work. I type this: mail > asg1.txt -s "unix-asg1" but then I receive nothing in my email. What am I doing wrong?

If your question is unclear to me, I will send you back an email note like this:

Hi -- I'm unable to figure out how to help you based on what you asked. Could you be more specific in your question? If you are getting an error, send me the exact error messages the computer showed to you and the exact commands that you typed.

If you are using Unix commands and get errors, you can use the mouse and cursor to highlight the commands you typed in and the response you got, select the title bar Edit/Copy to copy the material, and then paste it in the email message you send to me. That way, I'll know exactly what you did and the result.

Use the Correct Subject Line and Email Address

When you've formulated a specific question, send it via email to me at this email address
with this subject line
If you fail to type in the proper email address and proper subject line exactly as shown here, I may not even see your question and will therefore never answer it. This is because I filter my electronic mail. My email reading software (Pegasus Mail) sorts incoming messages with the subject line unix-question into a "Class" folder. Email without this subject line will go into a general folder called "Unsorted" where I may not see it. Further, I check for "" in the sender's email address; If "" is not in the sender's address, I may ignore the email.

Don't be Afraid to Ask for Help

I respect your efforts to further your education, and I am committed professionally and ethically with providing you the best service I can to you.

I expect you to struggle a bit in your learning and use due diligence, so it would be a disservice to you if I would merely give you an answer rather than helping you learn.

I'll therefore help you in a way that furthers your learning, and I'll expect you to step up to this challenge.

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2018-11-14 · John December · Contact · Terms of Use © December Communications, Inc.