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Harvard Launches New Personal Web Pages

By Shira H. Fischer, Crimson Staff Writer, a customizable web portal for Harvard undergraduates, graduate students and Faculty, has been officially released and is ready for student use, according to Franklin M. Steen, director of FAS computer services.

Every student who logs into the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) UNIX login cluster since last week has been greeted by the message, "'' is now on-line," as part of an effort to get students to use the site.

"We put the announcement in for the portal as soon as it was officially released last week," Steen wrote in an e-mail message.

The Harvard Arts and Sciences Computer Services (HASCS) has been developing this site since last year, after the FAS Information Technology (IT) Committee conceived the idea.

The page is customizable, allowing users to add personal links, shuttle schedules, dining hall menus and headlines from The Crimson.

The newer version runs more smoothly than the old beta version and allows for personalization of almost every part of the site.

Unlike the beta test version, everything can be removed from the site so students can decide exactly how to use the page.

"As it is enhanced and expanded, we hope the portal will become the unifying element for digital communication throughout Harvard," said Professor of Pure and Applied Physics Paul C. Martin in a press release.

"We believe that the inaugural version, developed by Harvard Arts and Sciences Computer Services, takes a major step in this direction," said Martin, who serves as dean for research and information technology in FAS and chairs the FAS IT committee.

Since the fall, the group developing the site has been seeking student feedback on the beta version and making changes to the page.

Now, administrators are hoping the page will enable the University to get information to students with the click of a mouse.

"We look forward to the portal becoming every individual's home-and-away-from-home page," said Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles in a press release.

But several students said yesterday that the site announcement hasn't changed their web-browsing habits.

"I just noticed it a couple days ago," said Valerie R. Dixon '01.

Dixon said that although she saw the login announcement, it hasn't prompted her to actually visit the site.

"I didn't even give it a second thought," she said.

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