Computer Breakdown Prompts Extension of Projects' Deadline

A breakdown in the University computer system Friday night left many students in Nat Sci 110, "Automatic Computing," unable to meet their term projects' Monday deadline.

"There was no alternative but to extend the project deadline until Wednesday at 5 p.m.," William H. Bossert '59, McKay Professor of Applied Mathematics, said yesterday, adding that "the deadline will benefit those who didn't plan so well."

A routine shut-down at 6 p.m. turned into a six-hour delay, wasting valuable computer time.

Computer technicians repaired the system by midnight, but a second break-down occurred a little before 1 a.m., when a leak in the dehumidifier caused the system to short circuit. "The water was running down the walls, and then everything went berserk," Mark Bennett '82, said yesterday.

An overload in the humidifier caused by too many people using the system created excess moisture in the air, affecting the link between the computer consoles and the terminals, Jeff Galvin, head section man for Nat Sci 110, said yesterday.

Call the Boss

"It was pretty much of a madhouse," Jim Whitehead '82 said, adding that some students "had been so mad they wanted to call up Bossert."

Don't Rock the Boat

About 30 students spent most of Friday night in the computer room, waiting for terminals. "It was so frustrating," one student said, "but there was a sense of community--everyone was in the same boat."

Galvin estimated that one-half to two-thirds of the terminals are now rewired for Nat Sci 110 use and are operating under full computer capacity. "The delay didn't cause too many problems," he said yesterday.

An Outrage

The lack of available computer terminals normally affects all Nat Sci 110 students, and the breakdown Friday increased the problem. "When you can't get a terminal at 3:30 in the morning, that's pretty outrageous," one student complained.

"There's a much heavier load on the system right now," Galvin said, "so it's much more likely to crash." At present, 22 of the 31 Science Center terminals and four of the seven Leverett House ones are used for Nat Sci 110.

Great Demand

Students complained that the computer sign-up sheet was ripped down Friday night after the breakdown, disrupting Saturday's schedule. The 24 one-hour slots of time on the sheet normally fill less than an hour after it is posted.

The extended deadline relieves some pressure for Nat Sci 110 students, but most agree that course enrollment is too large for the number of available terminals.