Busy Signals, Long Waits Frustrate System Users

Overload Slows Science Center Terminals; High Enrollment in CS 50 Eyed as a Cause

Seasoned procrastinators dependent on the Science Center computer terminals, beware.

An onslaught of students using electronic mail and enrolling in computer courses has made it hard for users to find terminals and has slowed down the available machines, students say.

"The computers are very slow right now," Matthew Valencius '97 said. "I try to find weird hours when no one is here so the machines respond more quickly."

Richard S. Steen, acting director of computer services in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, said he hopes students will be patient, as this is the busiest time of the year.

"There is a new freshman class with lots of questions, other people are returning with questions about new services, and at the same time all the professors are inquiring about resources for their courses," Steen said.


Steen said that the computer staff is actively working to increase the computers' reaction time.

He said he hopes the problem will be corrected within the next couple of weeks.

But even if the computers get faster, students are still concerned that there may not be enough of them to go around. "Most of the time, when you walk in it's hard to find an available P.C.," Yoritaka Sakakura '97 said.

The current overcrowding is caused by an unusually large enrollment in Computer Science 50, "Introduction to Computer Science." There are 285 students in the course--up from 152 last year--who rely on the Science Center computers to complete assignments.

Instructor in Computer Science Margo I. Seltzer '83, who teaches the course, said she hopes to move her students to a different set of computers, perhaps at the Aiken Computation Lab.

Another thing which may alleviate overcrowding at the Science Center computer rooms is activation of the high-speed network, scheduled for this year.

Steen said that after the network is activated, more students will work from their rooms and from the computer labs in the houses.

For current modem users, 16 additional telephone lines have been ordered. This should help prevent students who dial in to the system from getting a busy signal.

Students who still have questions about computers can call the University's question hotline at 495-9000. In just one and a half weeks, the hotline has already fielded over 500 calls, Steen said.