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OIT Reports Smooth Beginning

Janice Flynn | Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Wary of last year’s back to school woes, the Office of Information Technologies prepared for the worst. But to staffers’ surprise, OIT has faced a significant decrease in student technology problems so far this fall.This year, the Help Desk received 2,975 calls during the first week of school. In 2003, they received 4,514.Wait times for machine repairs are also down. The turn-around time for less serious problems has been one to two days, according to Katie Christman, manager of the Help Desk. While there is still a waiting list, the wait time is down from past years, she said. Students usually encounter a six-day period from the time they report the problem to when they are called to bring in the machine. Last year, wait times were two to three weeks.”It has been by far the best back-to-school we’ve had in a really long time,” said Christman.Viruses often hit campus when students return from a break. During the back-to-school weeks last fall, two viruses infected students’ computers, contributing to the high number of help desk calls. When students returned from spring break last year, a new virus hit.Preparing for another onslaught, OIT implemented a Take Charge Tool that students downloaded when they registered their computer. Christman credited this precaution with preventing many of the anticipated problems.”It did a fabulous job of getting the network as secure as could be,” she said.The year has not been without its glitches. A lightning storm that hit during the first days of school left many with hardware problems. But the majority of problems, especially network connectivity and spyware concerns, have been less serious, Christman said.In spite of the year’s smoother start, several students who have had more serious computer problems, such as part-replacement, have encountered a longer turn-around time. Junior Annie Mantay said she dropped her computer off the second day of classes, and has yet to reclaim it because the pick-up day continues to get pushed back.”I was impressed with [OIT’s] willingness to help me and their knowledge of the problem, but they have now had my computer for two weeks,” said Mantay. “It is really starting to become an inconvenience, especially since all of the computer clusters always seem to have a line out the door.”The help desk staff consists of eight full time staff and three students, the same as last year. However OIT has hired an additional contractor to help with repairs, and is in the process of hiring two more, Christman said.To avoid computer problems, Christman recommended that students check that their virus definitions and windows updates are current. Machines should be password protected, and file sharing programs, such as Kazaa, should be avoided, she said.