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Computer and Informatics Resource Support

MVZ Handbook
General Computer and IT Resources

Main contact: Billy Dunaway
cell 510-388-9169

MVZ will help support your PC or Mac desktop in the museum and general computing and network issues. We do NOT support personal laptops or desktops at home with our limited personnel. Our networked servers include two X-servers (‘gromit’ and ‘wallace’ respectively) attached to a RAID running OS X. Each researcher can request an x-server account with home directory storage starting at 10 GB. More can be allotted as needed.

Xserver and backups

We strongly encourage you to have an xserver account to which local backups (either laptops or desktops) can be automated for data storage and security. Consult Billy Dunaway for help in setting up backup for your data.

Collaborative use of server

The MVZ network has an open shared directory called the ‘public drop box’ to facilitate large file sharing in collaborative projects (\\\Public Drop\). Here, any user can create a directory, upload their files (limit 100GB) for any one else to access. We ask that the directory name has a contact name and/or date attached for identification (e.g. \Koo-California_basemaps-15mar). Remember that anything uploaded here is viewable by other MVZ users, and the directory will be periodically cleaned of all data (i.e. data is temporary; no unique files here!). Notice will, of course, precede public drop box purging.


MVZ has ca. dozen high-throughput, networked laser printers (b/w and color, some duplex) throughout the museum and 4th floor DNA lab for general use (with a few dedicated to curatorial use). We ask that you refrain from printing black and white text to the color printers, and in general, be considerate in your use as toner and paper are expensive to waste. No personal printing (e.g. flyers for garage sales) is allowed. Please contact Billy Dunaway if you encounter low toner levels.

GIS/Informatics Resources

Contact: Michelle Koo

ESRI Software

The Berkeley Natural History Museum Consortium has a generous arrangement with ESRI for software donations of ArcGIS 10.2. (See their website for more information). This GIS application can be installed on your MVZ workstations and PDA for research and fieldwork, respectively. We use the campus license manager for authentication so a networked desktop is recommended. There are limited options to work around the network requirement if needed.

For your laptop, we recommend 1-year standalone installations available. These are not tethered to the campus license manager.

For Mac Users: we recommend Quantum GIS, an open source, cross platform GIS application.

GIS tutorials, data and application tools

The GIS/ All Things Spatial website and blog is a good starting point and is constantly evolving, so check here for tutorial materials to download or links to helpful sites and data sources.

Ready to use ArcGIS 9 and 10 files and data (.mxd files) will be available on the MVZ network at \\\gisdataportal\

EX. California hydrology map template is ready for your data and customization. Copy the Zip file or entire folder named CA_hydro (to retain internal file structure); if you already have ArcGIS 9 or 10 installed, double-click the file “CA_major hydro.mxd” to access.

On an entirely irregular basis, there are also Workshops on technical topics mainly concerning R, GIS and its research applications. The handouts are posted on the website (examples below):

  1. Using Google Earth & Google Earth Pro at MVZ
  2. Beginner's ArcGIS 10
  3. Cartography Using ArcGIS 9
Species Distribution Modeling workshop handouts are also available with more content pending.

Every semester, GIS Clinics are held in the GML where you can bring questions, problems, and data for consultation by Michelle Koo. Demos of useful tools, info are also given. Watch out for emailed notices!

We also have various GITHUB sites for informatics projects, workshops and services.

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