Computer Service Narrows Focus

Computer Kiosks Placed on Campus

As students walk through the Science Center for the first time this fall, they'll probably notice some new kiosks. At one they can pick up gourmet coffee or espresso, and at another they can check e-mail, search a gopher or log-on to the World Wide Web.

Franklin Steen, the director of the Harvard Arts and Sciences Computer Services (HASCS), has announced plans to increase student access to computers by placing terminals in kiosks located throughout the University.

During an interview last week, the director detailed other changes in Harvard's computer services, including.

* Replacing the current Vendscard printing system with a new account system which allows students to pay for printing privileges in advance.

* Eliminating group e-mail accounts for student organizations.

* Employing students in the under-graduate houses to provide user support to other students in those houses.

* Moving a 24-hour computer class-room/lab to a new room on the first floor of the Science Center.

"Instructors will require more of their students insofar as electronic communication goes this year," Steen said. "We want to work together to meet those needs."

Steen said HASCS will focus on fewer projects this year but will try to offer an overall higher level of service.

For example, all the application software on Harvard's computers will be sorted into two kinds: "supported," for which HASCS user assistants promise to offer assistance, and "other," programs for which no such assistance is guaranteed.

"I'd rather see us do a good job on a few things than to try to do everything," the director said.

But Steen's plans could be hampered by the sudden, unexplained departure this summer of Michael G. Burner, the manager of Harvard's UNIX systems. UNIX is an operating system for running the computer network.

A HASCS employee, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said Burner had extensive knowledge of the ins-and-outs of the University's link to the Internet, a global data communication network. He has taken a job with a Waltham-based computer company, the employee said.

Burner was expected to be a vital player in Steen's efforts to improve HASCS. The employee described the departure as a "blow" to the new director's plans.

Test Kiosks