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Tapping into tech troubles

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A month into the school year, students have probably heard of or have had issues with much of the technology at Drake.

“I think the Wi-Fi sucks, but other than that it’s OK,” first-year Sara Brock said.

Ann Kovalchick, Drake’s chief information technology officer, said that even though there are 300 different access points on campus, the points have three different sets of standards based on when they were made in 2005, 2007 or 2010.

“My Internet keeps going out,” first-year Hannah Powers said.

In an article she published for Drake’s Office of Information Technology blog, Kovalchick mentioned that there are multiple variables in wireless connectivity: speed, capacity, reliability and range, most of which are connected to how many students are using a certain access point, as well as what they’re using the Internet for.

Another issue, according to the article, is that students who access the wireless networks while on the move encounter issues causes by moving out of an access point’s range or by moving near obstacles that block the signal. The result is an inconsistent signal.

Another cause for issues is that Drake Wi-Fi can encounter interference from other wireless equipment, including Bluetooth, wireless printers, cameras, cordless phones and microwaves.

Kovalchick said some solutions would be to bring access points to the latest standard or have people use the same devices. The latter is impractical because students have personal preferences, and different majors have different technological needs. Upgrades to the access points are, however, a possibility in the near future.

“We will likely make a budget request for funds to upgrade the wireless network to bring all access points into compliance,” Kovalchick said.

The major change that the OIT made between last year and this year was changing the email provider to blueSky.

Upperclassmen have mixed feelings about this change. Senior Mindy Hiltabidle doesn’t like the new system because she is unable to access the directory of student emails, while senior Abby Koehler hasn’t noticed a difference between the two email providers.

According to Kovalchick, students experiencing issues accessing the directory should contact the support desk at Carnegie Hall for help or look at the blueSky website for more information.

Another change that older students noticed is the addition of campus wide wireless printing. The system was added by Drake’s Office of Business and Finance.

“If it works right, it’s a lot more convenient,” Koehler said.

The wireless printing system isn’t quite bug-free at the moment. When printing through the PaperCuts website, the option of printing double-sided does not show up, and Powers said that her flash drive isn’t compatible with several of the campus printers.

The OIT’s job is to manage the Drake network and enterprise applications and provide support for desktops and laptops to administrators and students. Students who need technology help can go to the support desk at Carnegie Hall.

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