Campus / Featured / News / October 10, 2012

Student technology complaints call for solutions

Senior Joseluis Bedoya poses for a photo illustration. Students are becoming increasingly frustrated with Internet and printing problems plaguing campus. (Jessica Couvillier/TKS)

Update: Oct. 18

Chief Information Officer Steve Hall announced that an additional 100 megabits per second of bandwidth will be added to the college network by Oct. 31. This brings the total to 300 megabits per second, or a 50 percent increase.

The range of complaints regarding Knox technology is just as diverse as the solutions ITS personnel are currently creating.

Facing complaints regarding Internet speed, inability to stream videos and absurd login times in campus computer labs, Chief Information Officer Steve Hall has been implementing solutions and will continue to do so.

“September is always a rugged month,” he said, adamant that the challenges were not too far out of the ordinary. “I don’t really see this September … as really any different than any other Septembers.”

Hall and his team, including Senate Tech Chair junior Nana Opoku, have been working to simplify the login system in an effort to keep up with the rapidly changing face of technology.

“To be honest, I’m not surprised there are a lot of problems,” Opoku said of the new system.

“We anticipated this because it was a big change.”

Not all problems were foreseen: Hall claimed that struggles with the Sophos anti-virus system coupled with continued phishing attacks and reorganization of the IT department have hampered their ability to fix the problems faster.

“We’ve taken one to one-and-a-quarter people out of that operation and 43 years of experience,” Hall said, speaking of the removal of himself and Associate Vice President and Chief Communication Officer Sean Riedel from a direct oversight role. “I’ve just overburdened them.”

Hall stated that because of this restructuring he hopes to have hired a third person to help in the department by the end of the month, in addition to purchasing an extra 100 megabytes of bandwidth that will be active by the end of the month.

“ITS is moving as fast as it can to solve these problems,” Opoku said of the improvements. “I know in the next few weeks, we should have very good results. At least half of the problems we’re having now should be eliminated in the weeks to come.”

The changes, however, remain a cold comfort for students still unable to access YouTube videos and other streaming sites quickly.

“We tried to watch a TV show today, like a 40 minute episode,” freshman Adam Schrag said.“We got through like 25 minutes of it in an hour and gave up. It sucks.”

Sophomore Mikko Jimenez claimed the problems existed in even simpler Internet tasks.
“Simple things like even going on Facebook or checking my email takes like a while to load,” he said. “It’s just progressively not getting any better.”

Some students found comfort in having their Internet usage restricted.

“YouTube wouldn’t work, but because of that, I got a lot more work done,” junior Amanda Shiew admitted.

Other students claimed to have never noticed a problem.

“I think it’s been pretty much the same throughout my three years here,” junior Raleigh DeRose said.

In response to the varying complaints, Hall has been working to correct what he sees as an IP version 4-address space issue. In the past week, Hall claims to have freed an additional 256 IP addresses for student use and corrected a single network port in Founders Lab that has made log-in times “longer than it should be, [but] back to what we’ve seen in the past.

“It has nothing to do with the age of our computer equipment. It’s [our] capacity to handle our number of users,” Hall said of his diagnosis, citing an increase of over 300 smart phones and tablets that occupy vital IP space on a constant basis.

He also stated that the problems have nothing to do with the bandwidth and that the decision to increase it was made prior to the complaints.

“I think we could add the hundred megabytes and still have this problem,” he said of the streaming issue.

Students have been seeing slow improvements.

“For two weeks, every single time I opened my computer, I had to reconnect to the Internet. I was disconnected every time without turning off my computer. And it would get tedious,” junior Liz Oatney said. “In the last week it’s gotten better. Speed of downloads still lagged, but I don’t have to reconnect every time.”

Hall reminds students to contact the help desk if they continue to experience problems.

“It’s really a lot like going to the doctor,” he said, asking students to be as specific as possible.

“You don’t walk into the doctor and say, ‘I need a blood transfusion.’ You walk in and give them a set a symptoms.”

Correction: The original version of this story said that Joseluis Bedoya was a junior. He is a senior. Our apologies for the error.

Tags:  bandwidth Knox College slow internet Steve Hall Technology

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