Clearing computer lab congestion

The sign-in interfaces at some labs are like a programming experiment gone wrong.

The on-campus computer labs are an invaluable asset to students. They offer a convenient place to edit papers, develop a PowerPoint presentation or check e-mail. Because so many students use these labs, they are prone to congestion.

The obvious solution is to add more computers, but this just throws money at the problem. We feel that the best way to improve the on-campus labs is to devise a better sign-in and sign-out system at the labs. The current interface technology is like some programming experiment gone horribly wrong.

Too often students are forced to stand around and contemplate the enigma that is a “time-expired” machine, while waiting for a computer to finally open up. Others simply search out an open machine and disregard the sign-in process entirely, which creates even more of a problem for students trying to log in to those computers that aren’t shown as in-use.

It’s time to solve this Sudoku of on-campus computing – it has been puzzling students for too long. Academic and Distributed Computing Services should adopt a system that’s more straightforward.

The computers in Wilson Library ask users to log in at the machine, and the logout process is clearly understood. This method is easiest and should be adopted at all computer labs. The existing sign-in/sign-out terminals can be converted into terminals that inform incoming patrons which computers are currently available.

If this can’t be done, ADCS should at least devote each terminal for one purpose, signing in, or the other, signing out. And for Goldy Gopher’s sake, fix the “time-expired” issue. If a computer is not in use, there must be some way the system can recognize that – it shouldn’t take neck craning by students to figure it out.

These changes will reduce the amount of time spent looking for a computer and will undoubtedly reduce the amount of courtesy shrugging those in the front of the line give to those in the back.

Every student knows the hassle of signing into lab computers. ADCS should create a system that restores order to our campus computer labs. An upgrade is long overdue.