February 2, 2008

Penn State University Network Poor- My Experience

This is a bit of a rant, but is also an informative post on the current condition of the Penn State Network and what I believe to be it's invulnerabilities and annoyances. I have an eye for quality and an expectation for excellent performance- and the network here on campus isn't delivering.

Penn State University, like many other large universities that are hiking tuition rates are quickly becoming very wealthy. My understanding, and my expectations of attending a premium quality campus is that I will have the latest and advanced technology at my disposal to complete course work and other projects. I also have an understanding that if the campus is a multi-billion dollar campus, then they can furnish their students with the latest in technology upgrades and support. The support (IT) here at the Berks Campus is alright, but the current network is not.

Because of the increase in work load of my second semester, I find myself inside the library about 5-6 days per week on an average of 2-3 hours per day. Adding the math, I spend about 12 to 15 hours a week inside the library. Counting that I sleep about 8 hours a day, I am spending a lot of my free time in this library, nearly 50% of my free time. Currently University computers have been having a lot of problems, especially with me. I am not sure if others are affected but I have heard complaints.

Getting onto the problem, the network is slow, and very slow indeed. As a Penn State student I am required to log into the network just like any other university or school. When I enter my information correctly, the computer can take in upwards of 10 to 15 minutes to properly and fully load. The success rate of this is about 30%. Most of the time the computers just freeze on me. Other times they work brilliantly. After the ten to fifteen minute load, the computer needs an "extra" five to ten minutes to load all of the programs and what not. For a university network this is absoloutly ridiculous for the amount of money I pay the university each year- $20,000USD to be exact. If it were a privilidge to attend this university I would understand- but I am paying money out of my own pocket. If the SGA (Student Government Association) president is reading this- start pressuring the university to pay to upgrade it's computer systems.

The cheapest road is often the best road to increase wealth- and Penn State Berks spares no exception. They made a package deal with Dell to supply the university with all Dell computers. While I can't access this type of information, it seems the computers run off of 256MB of ram, something else that is very ridiculous. I have never been a fan of dell computers because of their integrational properties- If I want to upgrade the RAM in my computer than I HAVE to go through Dell to do it- and at a very hefty price. I'm not saying that the University should go with brand name computers- I am saying that they need to not buy crap for cheaper and expect to get away with it. I would consider something as fast as my home PC "acceptable" but it would not be what I would expect from the most expensive public college in the United States.

Logging into this network I also noticed that it has many vulnerabilities. The computer I just logged into has been reloaded, gives me error messages that files are corrupt it appears that the browser was hijacked. I accepted to Penn State with the understanding that this was an elitest college- and maybe it is, but we have a bunch of morons that are not only downloading illegal files but are also downloading harmful files that like to spread around networks. I do not like plugging my $1800 investment into this network but I don't have much of a choice- so I take extra precautions to beef up security. The network isn't constantly down, but you can expect it to be slower 4-5 days out of the week and completely crash at least once or twice a month, always during peak hours (Around 3pm-10pm EST).

Even though I accidentally exceeded bandwidth once, and I am paying for it with a consequence of 56 kbps for a day or so, I am very happy that Reslife enacted the policy of slowing down heavy downloaders- but it is ridiculous that we are limited to 2 GB per day up and down. What I am getting at is, money should be spent on the network in order to improve stability and most of all performance. I don't care if the bandwidth is low since I don't download much anyway- but if you are restricting students because bandwidth is so low then find another provider and increase the performance, NOT PUNISH YOUR STUDENTS FOR IT. I do however like the no bullcrap policy.

Pain in the neck- yes. Potentially dangerous- yes. I have detected multiple servers people are running and really nobody does anything about it, the servers are even named the last name of the people creating them! If the university spent more time upgrading their technology and improving the stability and performance of their network THEN they have the right to brag about being a top-notch university. I can go on and on, but until then and until we receive quality facilities for the College of Engineering then Penn State has no right to call itself a premium university- it's just another statistic out there with the rest of them.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

Have u try the MATH online bookstore Cocomartini


I get all my textbooks for this semester from this bookstore. All are brand new and half price discount.

Good luck and wish some help.

hehe ^_^