iMAC labs to reduce waits

Jake Kapsner

The wait in line to get online just got a little shorter, thanks to a new kiosk of five computers in Coffman Union.
The computers, all iMACs, are designated specifically for browsing e-mail and the Internet. They also hold software that enables students to make reservations for computers at two computing labs.
A similar kiosk is slated for the West Bank in the near future, said Dave Johnson, a manager for Academic and Distributed Computing Services.
College of Liberal Arts senior Jeremy Nagle said the computer area is a convenient idea.
“If I’m just passing through here I can use it,” Nagle said. “It’s easier than going to a lab.”
Currently, the reservation system is connected to the high-tech lab in 130 Anderson Hall and Folwell Hall’s language lab. But Johnson said computing services plans to connect the other 13 public labs with the reservation software by the end of fall quarter.
Johnson, who led the team that designed the software, led committee members Tuesday through the reservation process.
The Web site allows students to reserve a two-hour slot on a computer up to seven days in advance. The site lets users choose where to reserve on campus, provides maps of computer labs, and even shows how busy the selected lab is seat by seat.
The kiosk in Coffman — located just under the building’s eastern staircase — is the result of a collaboration between Coffman Union officials and the College of Liberal Arts information technology fees committee.
“Basically, it’s the story of a partnership,” said Bill Vadino, Coffman’s assistant director. “Two groups came together trying to meet the same needs at the same time.”
The liberal arts college paid for the iMACs while Coffman Union covered costs for connection to the University’s high-speed Internet server.
Vadino said Coffman’s board of governors has wanted to install e-mail stations for years, but only recently found the space. Just when they were ready to buy computers, CLA officials announced intentions of launching a reservation system, so the two collaborated, he said.
The CLA committee has sought to create reservation software to reduce computer lab lines for about three years, said Jenise Rowekamp, the college technology committee chair.
CLA’s information technology fees committee is responsible for dispersing the $1.4 million generated from quarterly $45 computer service fees assessed to students in the college.
The fees committee paid computing services about $50,000 to create the reservation software, Rowekamp said.
As the largest college in the University, CLA had the seed money to create a reservation system that other colleges will eventually begin using.
“It’ll offer a seamless connection from the kiosk to Anderson 130, other CLA labs, even (Institute of Technology) labs,” said Mark Ollenburger, lab manager in Anderson 130.
He said students literally scrambled to get online in Coffman when he installed the computers last week.
Vadino said Coffman was going to buy DOS machines for its kiosk until the advertisements for the similarly priced iMAC sprang up.
Not only did the sleek aesthetic of the machine appeal, he said, but the simplified connection allowed them to more easily secure the public computers.