IT explains ongoing computer and printing issues

October 10th, 2013

Computer programs receive an update

This year, there is a new look to the computers on John Carroll University’s campus. With a look similar to the new iOS 7 for the iPhone, the new Virtual Desktop program has been underway for a year. In fall 2012, Information Technology Services began deploying virtual desktops in the math and computer science departments. A virtual desktop looks and acts like a traditional PC, but runs on a server over a network.

The PC software was installed at the beginning of the spring 2013 semester and was not changed until the end of the semester. The virtual desktop technology allows the IT department to provide access to different software depending on the needs of the user at that time. The software is able to change as often as necessary to accommodate the users’ needs. For example, a computer science student could go to any computer lab and access a virtual PC that is running the software required for their academic course.

In spring 2013, 40 virtual desktops were installed in labs across campus to test their abilities on a less computer science-specific spectrum. The trial run was a success, and this fall, 150 virtual desktops were installed in many labs and classrooms without replacing the standalone PCs.

This Virtual Desktop program shows the screen much flatter and simpler and is supposed to make the computer run faster and more efficiently. A lesser-known benefit of these systems is that they consume 94 percent less energy than a standard PC and are part of JCU’s strategy for a “green” IT.

“The computers work well, but as far as printing, it seems that no matter where you go, the printer is either low on ink or out of paper,” said sophomore Elizabeth English. “There should be specifically trained people to help with the printing process.”

Printing issues being resolved by IT

The printers on campus are replaced as needed and the printers in high-volume areas are replaced more frequently than those in low-volume areas. The printers work off of a central printing system, which is tied into the campus card system. This system is the same across the entire campus.

“Personally, I think the new desktop stations are pretty good,” said sophomore Peter Landoll, who works in the IT department. “They have a few bugs to work through, but that shouldn’t take much longer. The printers, though, are getting older and stop working too often. Hopefully in the coming years, the printers will be replaced and will work better with the new stations.”

At the beginning of the fall semester, the program that uses the campus card printing began experiencing problems, which prevented students from printing. ITS has been working with the vendor to fix this problem, and the system is currently deactivated until it is tested and fully functional. Printing is still available at this time, but is not linked to the campus card system.

Juniors Freddy Keppler and Daniajla Celan both said the computers on campus are accessible, but the printing does not work well in certain areas and paper always seems to be low.

As a result of the printers not being connected to the campus card system, printing volume has increased significantly. Associate Chief Information Officer of the IT department Jim Burke said he hopes students will still think before they print and conserve valuable resources. When printing was tied to the campus card system, on-campus printing dropped by 50 percent, and hundreds of trees have been saved with this program.

Not all printing was deemed inefficient, according to senior Jessica Kreuzer.

“I like the double-sided printing because it is helpful when I have to print lengthy PowerPoints,” she said.

Feedback wanted for DoubleMap app

Other new technology for JCU students includes the DoubleMap program. This program can be viewed from or downloaded as an app on your phone. This program tracks where the shuttle is and what time it will be leaving and picking up during the weekend hours of operation.

“I like the app when it works,” said freshman Simrath-Leeza Kahai. “Sometimes the app will tell you there is no shuttle running when there is.”

“I like the app, but sometimes the times it tells you are late,” said freshman Quan Thai.

The first weekend that the shuttles ran, they did not have the proper technology and hardware in them to be tracked.

“It is frustrating to continually answer calls about when the shuttle comes,” said officer Jim Owens of Campus Safety Services. “If the app was working properly, then the police phone lines would be more open for emergency calls.”

“There should be the same tracking technology on the Carroll vans as well,” said officer Patrick Ahern of CSS.

According to Lisa Ramsey, director of student activities, the best way to assess the program is by using the app’s feedback feature. This allows users to put in their name and time they used the program, as well as comment on the app. Ramsey said that feedback is the only way they can become aware of problems and make the app a success.