Cluster, network issues are main headaches for RCCs

May 23, 2011, 2:04 a.m.

As the University’s first line of defense for all computer and technology-related issues, Resident Computer Consultants (RCCs) regularly face a huge number of computing problems as they keep students printing, surfing and coding. According to several RCCs, the most common issues this year were maintaining residence computer clusters and registering Internet-enabled devices for network access.

Computer clusters posed the most issues to RCCs this year, as almost every RCC noted problems with the computers’ reliability and speed.

“They’re slow, and they’re often buggy. I’ve had the [cluster] computers re-imaged several times,” said Soto RCC Matt Chun-Lum ’12.

Though information from a Student Computing Services (SCS) survey indicated that students asked most frequently about computer cluster printers, Academic Computing Consulting Services Manager Sherwin Smith pointed out that questions do not necessarily correlate with problems. He also noted that problems are expected with frequent use.

“The top questions asked of RCCs were about the wireless network and cluster printers, which is consistent with our understanding that the wireless network and centralized printing are two of the most widely used technology services at Stanford,” Smith wrote in an email to The Daily.

Many RCCs were impressed with the support that University technical teams gave for clusters in anticipation of and response to problems.

“Stanford provides pretty quality, excellent service consistently,” said Joe Domenici ’13, an RCC in Stern Hall.

“It does a pretty awesome job of keeping things running smoothly,” he added.

The busiest time of any RCC’s year is at the start, when personal printers and networks need to be set up. Many RCCs expressed frustration with the registration system, although many admitted that reading directions more carefully could solve these problems.

“At least half of the dorm came to me with registration questions. A lot of times they were legitimate questions in the sense that the registration system is fairly faulty, especially for Windows machines,” said Matei Daian ‘12, the RCC in Castaño.

Other RCCs discussed similar problems in which they had to bypass the registration system entirely in order to get students online.

However, according to the SCS survey, only 2.3 percent of students found the registration process difficult. Smith said even with such low numbers, residential computing is still looking to improve the service based on what students are saying.

“Alongside the quantitative data, we are also paying close attention to the qualitative answers that students provided in order to find ways to improve our services,” he said.

However many day-to-day computer problems are, to some extent, beyond the University’s domain. Countless hours are spent networking printers and getting rid of malware.

“Most of the problems are common sense. They’re more to do with users than actual technical problems,” Chun-Lum said.

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