Connection Problems Plague Data Network

Harvard's goal of increased accessibility to the Harvard High Speed Data Network (HSDN) hasn't exactly gone as scheduled.

Many first-years, who received a booklet during Freshman Week that explains how to connect their computer to HSDN, say that hooking up to the network is not as easy as they thought.

"I haven't even tried [hooking up to the network] because everybody tells me it's too hard and not to bother," said Amy Ozols '97.

The first problem, students say, is purchasing the appropriate hardware.

Students need to buy an ethernet card or adapter, and a cable to connect the computer to a data jack in the wall, Manager of the Technology Product Center David Etheridge said yesterday.


The prices, which range from $120 to $275 for the card and another $10 for the cable, can pose difficulties for some students.

Jedediah S. Purdy `97 said he will not connect his computer to the network because "the hardware required to connect with those resources is prohibitively expensive for me and, I'm sure, for many other students."

After students purchase the hardware, they must register for computer accounts and arrange for their data jacks to be activated. Technical assistance is then available to help students install the ethernet card and access the network, said Deborah S. Flynn, an FAS computer consultant.

But several first-years have already reported difficulties.

"I've had so many problems. First, they said my data jack was on, but it really wasn't. Then the software they gave me didn't work," Jason M. Gastwirth `97 said. "I am optimistic that it will eventually work out."

Jose M. Padilla `97 said, "I bought my [ethernet] card a month ago, and got my account and everything, but they haven't turned it on, and haven't sent me notices, so I'm just waiting."

And even students who purchased a Macintosh Centris 610, which has a built-in ethernet, seem to be having problems. In order to connect to the network, students need their ethernet addresses--which Apple does not provide.

"Since I can't locate my [ethernet] address, it has been useless," said Merry Jean Chan `97 who purchased a Centris 610 this fall. Chan said that when she called, Apple told her they did not print ethernet addresses because people do not need them to access regular networks.

For University networks, Apple sells a program for $60 that reveals the ethernet number. Fortunately, Harvard Computer Services provides the software free of charge for those who purchased Centris 610's, Flynn said.