Network Shutdown Plagues Campus

Students could not access their e-mail late yesterday and libraries reverted to silicon-free technology for checking out books as the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) computer network was plagued with service interruptions.

The problem—which included loss of internet, e-mail and internal network access—seemed related to network trouble that began Monday night, according to Director of Residential Computing Kevin S. Davis ’98.

The internet brownouts began Monday at around 9:30 p.m. and were fixed by yesterday at 6 a.m., Davis said. The relapse struck yesterday at 5 p.m.

At Lamont Library last night, staffers who could not retrieve call numbers from Hollis, Harvard’s online library catalogue, turned to the Library of Congress website instead.

Though the outages came early in the semester, Yamile R. Nesrala ’05 said she was already relying on the Internet for last-minute research.

“I’m doing research on a consulting firm for which I have an interview tomorrow,” she said. “If I can’t get any information on it, I’ll feel a little bit stupid.”

Some students spent their precious e-mails complaining to the Adams-schmooze list about the network problems—the origin of which eluded Harvard’s computer professionals.

Davis said that there seemed to be no geographical pattern to the network problems.

“It’s really premature at this point to identify the cause,” Davis said. “It willprobably be at least another day until we know what is going on.”

As late as 10 p.m. Davis said that at least three network engineers were still at work, trying to fix what he described as “an issue with some of our core network equipment.”

Joe Rindfleisch, evening supervisor at Lamont, said that when patrons were actually able to find their books—not a trivial task with circulation details reduced to paper-age technology—they could check them out by recording information on pink cards, instead of scanning bar codes into Hollis.

“We’re big on the writing here at the library,” joked a student employee at the circulation desk.

But the manual method of finding and borrowing books didn’t work for J. Justin Santistevan ’06.

Santistevan tried to check out a book for Science B-44, “Vision and Brain” last night at Lamont, but the staff was unable to find it.

“I have homework due tomorrow and [there is] a textbook I don’t have,” Santistevan said.

Andrew J. Bestwick ’07, a Weld Hall resident, said having wireless access spared him some of the network troubles.

“At one point, one of my roommates whose computer was plugged into the wall wasn’t working but I was getting a wireless signal from Widener,” Bestwick said.

Matthew A. Gline ’06, said that in addition to being deprived of access to the UNIX server and course websites, he particularly missed AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) last night.

“It’s kind of funny,” Gline said. “I guess a lot of people use AIM—it’s a pretty popular service—and it’s kind of weird being without it.”

—Staff writer Joshua D. Gottlieb can be reached at jdgottl@fas.harvard.edu.