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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Campus Center, Healey Library Go Wireless

Sick of traveling to the bowels of Healey Library and hunting for that ugly-faced I.D., only to find that there isn’t one unoccupied computer? Beginning this week, anyone who owns a laptop with wireless or ethernet capabilities and a UMass Boston email account can access the Internet from the Campus Center instead.

“I’d like to think it’s going to lighten the load, but we’re going to have to see,” says Chief Information Officer (CIO) Martyne Hallgren, of the effects of the wireless network on the library’s computer labs. “At moments in time where the resource is really stressed like midterms, finals, there are rarely enough computers and it doesn’t matter whether you’re here at UMass Boston or you’re at Harvard. …I think that the wireless offers another level of service,” she says.

That service is slotted to connect in a telecommunications or ethernet chord-cutting by Interim Chancellor Keith Motley with IPOD, wireless card, and memory stick giveaways in the Campus Center’s atrium on Wednesday, December 8.

CIO Hallgren explains that the network was slated to open for use earlier this year, but as a result of issues regarding location and problems with the university e-mail system, attention was diverted.

Apurva Mehta, director of client services and web technologies, adds that Computing Services wanted to be sure that the system was running properly and it was amenable to different operating systems and student needs before going public.

In addition to wireless access in the atrium and other Campus Center locations to be announced on the website following the opening ceremonies, hot-jack outlets, marked active by red dots, can be harnessed via an ethernet cable.

“The coverage is not one hundred percent in the building,” explains Hallgren. “There will be maps on the web indicating the area. The atrium, of course, is covered. Essentially, what you do is that you will activate your wireless connection and it will search for the network and you will enter a string, because you have to know the network identifier essentially and that’s on the website for you to connect and the authorization screen will pop up and you fill in your ID and password.”

The atrium, according to Executive Administrator of Auxiliary Services Forrest Speck, is the central location for the wireless rollout as a result of its role as a center of activity, seating, and open space and lack of walls that facilitate the network’s deployment. “It’s a good place to start,” says Speck. “A good location with a lot of traffic and a lot of places to sit.”

Speck adds that the Campus Center cafeteria was a proposed location in the early stages of the wireless rollout. But as a result of concerns raised by both Sodexho and others involved in the launch, the cafeteria remains without access.

Hallgren says that her concern regarding connecting the cafeteria to the network was one of safety. “One of the things that happens with people that use laptops is that the batteries only tend to last anywhere from two to four hours, sometimes six if you’ve got the modern batteries,” she says. “And so you end up having people with the power cables plugged into walls which sets up a situation where people could trip.”

She says that Sodexho’s apprehension is rooted in seating issues that could result. “Their concern is to make sure that there was enough seats in the cafeteria for the people that were actually eating, and when you start working on laptops you tend to sit there for long periods of time. So they were trying to make sure that their service was still high quality,” says Hallgren.

Hallgren and Speck both expect that services will be extended throughout the Campus Center. “This building is very different,” says Speck. “We’re being presented with questions we’ve never had to deal with,” he adds, citing the many changing and interacting services within the Campus Center.

Speck says that these types of concerns are being addressed and reassessed. He expects that the whole building will at some point host wireless access. Hallgren agrees.

“Like everything else in the Campus Center, this is where we’re starting and it’s a new service for us and we’re going to bring it up see how it works, get some feedback, and there will be a second version undoubtedly,” she says.

Despite the food service company’s hesitation at wireless in their Campus Center food court, Sodexho has signed on to help bring the Healey Library further into the information age. According to Speck, when the job of food service provider went to bid last year all the vendors involved were excited about the prospects of Healey’s new Cyber Café, which began construction on November 12 and is currently occupied by demolition and utility crews.

“It’s a way to use food services to develop places for people to meet, talk, interact…it’s a good thing,” says Speck of the coffee bar for which Sodexho is footing a portion of the construction and furnishing costs.

Healey Library pioneered wireless Internet usage on campus, having the capabilities for the service on its twenty-five laptops available for loan for the last four years, says director Daniel Ortiz. Ortiz adds the network was only available on in-house computers for security issues, but now that the remainder of the UMB campus has caught up to speed, those problems have been remedied. Hallgren expects that the library access from personal laptops will be up and running by January, if not sooner.

Ortiz says that the café, dubbed Jazzman’s by its Sodexho food-provider, does not currently have a time frame for its opening, but he remains confident that it will be open sometime in the upcoming spring semester.

“I think the library could be a cooler place, could be more attractive, more inviting,” says Ortiz. According to Ortiz, preliminary plans suggest that the space, across from the circulation desk, will occupy about the same space as Quinn’s coffee bar. He continues that Jazzman’s will not only provide internet access, coffee, and pastries, but also a bold modern design flanked by purples, greens, and yellows, a bar area, and comfortable lounge seating.

Ortiz says that along with this addition to the second floor, Healey Library plans for the future to include the addition of more computers throughout the building, and in mid 2005, a media center that may include a language lab, and CD burning and scanning capacity to their online and half a million print resources.

“Changes are coming,” says Ortiz of the proposed advances in Healey, adding, “The ideas are going to be targeted to our students…and attract people not only to the library, but to the campus as a whole.”