Top 10 IT Services at Case

This is making the rounds of Blog@Case, so I thought I'd make my own list... Why do I have the uncomfortable feeling I'm going to be echoing other people?

My Favorite IT Services

1. The Network

When I started here as a freshman, the fiber-optic network was brand new and a bit twitchy. You could pretty much rely on a crash or two, of varying seriousness, within any given 24- to 48-hour period. It's improved a lot since then, and... Wow, speed.

2. The Wireless Network

I've been giving campus tours for a couple years now; when I started that, a big point you always mentioned was that Hovorka Atrium had WIRELESS INTERNET OHMIGOD. This past semester I could honestly tell prospectives that I don't even know where to find dead spots on campus anymore. My dinky little handheld-computer wireless card isn't so hot outdoors, but indoors I'm guaranteed a connection no matter what.

3. Blog@Case

This is so cool! My university gives me a real MovableType blog! For free! Just for being a student! My brain has been infested by exclamation-point-happy squirrels on meth!

4. The Software Center

Free copies of Windows XP Professional and Microsoft Office. Plus a bunch of other stuff. I echo Jeremy's thoughts on the KeyWhatsit stuff.

5. The MSDN Student-Library Free-Software Whatchamawhoosis

This, I think, is properly a service the EECS department subscribes to, but I'm listing it anyway because it's the same kind of thing and it's so cool. MORE free software! I get free copies of the latest versions of MS Visio and Visual Studio and various other useful stuff. I just wish I could get the help files to go with Visual Studio instead of constantly resorting to the MSDN Library.

6. Wiki@Case

I'm not quite sure how well this is going to work out just yet, but it seems like it certainly should be useful, particularly for documenting some obscure information that used to be easy to find (see below on Help@Case, also think of useful information for Linux users on-campus and the like).

It is interesting to note that the Greenies already have their own entry on Wikipedia, though.

7. WebMail

This thing is so very useful for situations when I can't get at Thunderbird. Actually, these days I forward all my e-mail to a Gmail address that includes some useful spam filters (Case webmail's sole shortcoming as far as I'm concerned), but I did that through the webmail interface, and Gmail has some odd behaviors and restrictions of its own, so the webmail is a nice backup.


My Least-Favorite IT Services

The ones I'd like improved or humanely destroyed:

1. HCM

I think automating the payment system through web services is a brilliant idea. I hope the university lets me know when somebody does it.

(ARRRGGGHHH! Did we pay MONEY for this thing?! It's the most dysfunctional piece of web programming I've ever seen in my LIFE! It forgets stuff when I'm halfway through entering data, its cross-platform support is nonexistent, it loses whole PAGES of information and only remembers them after I go on an Alice-in-Wonderland-like journey through random other areas of the system, its time-interpretation doohickey is totally nonintuitive... I'm starting to think about donning armor and grabbing a lance before I log in.)

2. MyCase

Okay, MyCase takes a beating everywhere, but seriously... What on earth? I mean, I concede I'm biased since I dislike portal sites to begin with, but the layout's bizarre and hard to process visually, it's burdened with a million useless, trivial items... Where's the information? It's like MSN for my university.

I even expended the effort to try to do away with some of the stupider elements, since I have to use the thing to check grades and the like, and... Do people keep adding new elements? Does this thing spawn children at night when nobody's looking? I just logged in and my front page now includes a Word of the Day. Was that there before? I don't remember asking for a Word of the Day from a site I never visit.

3. Help@Case

I swear information has been steadily disappearing from help.case.edu. Example: When I started here, there was a helpful guide to using routers or switches to connect multiple desktops to the same faceplate. Where is that page now? I can't find it; neither can the search function.

I'm also not too impressed with the change to PerceptIS, to be frank. I'm my own tech support, so it doesn't affect me much, but free tech support's a nice thing for the non-EECS students who don't enjoy a good bout of hand-to-hand combat with their computer.

4. Blackboard

Good idea, mediocre execution. Unlike HCM, there's nothing really specific I can point to here; it's just never struck me as the greatest web service ever designed, particularly as the user interface goes. Which is probably Blackboard's fault and not IT's. I guess there's nothing WRONG with it, per se, but... Meh.

5. SOLAR

I haven't had to deal with the infamous crashes and tie-ups since I was a freshman, but this just seems like an extremely goofy way of implementing what should be a normal web service of one sort or another. I notice the "Modernizing Legacy Applications" tagline on the Opal Player... Does this thing have to connect to some ancient database application on the backend or something? Why are we stuck with this system and not something a little less... strange?


IT Services I'd Like To See

1. An online database for student-employment opportunities

You walk into the Office of Student Employment and there's a big binder full of jobs people want filled. It would be great to have these in a searchable database.

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