Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Techno U

I notice on the Registrar's site that grades have to be submitted electronically at IU. Yet another example of just how technohip IU is, right?

Well, yeah, but then check out this stunning counterexample I encountered today. I went to the Math and Computer Science library to pick up a book on Databases along with another - a classic - on the lambda calculus only to find that IUCAT is down. Nothing so odd about that; systems have to be maintained, and no better time to go offline for maintenance than during the holidays, right? Well, right, except that the university provided no backup...so if you're wondering how the helpful librarians accomplished these checkouts, they did indeed do it by hand. Yup - the university couldn't even give them a temporary backup. I mean - as in, not even a program that scans the barcodes and remembers them until tomorrow (when the system goes back up) and then performs all the transactions then. How hard, I ask you, is it REALLY to code such a thing? I mean REALLY. We're talking, what, two hours of someone's time? All the bleedin' thing has to do is scan the books in the normal way, save the acquired data in a textfile somewhere, and then remember to do the update sometime tomorrow when the system comes back online. Whatever 'professional' staff the university has working on this housekeeping that has IUCAT down for two days isn't working hard enough, that's for sure!

And what of browsing? See - we can't even browse the catalogue while IUCAT is down. That's something else they should have though of ahead of time. Again - I can understand the master database going down for cleaning - but surely they could have made a backup database that shows you some minimal information like whether or not a given title is in the system? I mean, fine, it doesn't have to tell you whether it's available or how many copies are floating around or where - but shouldn't it be fairly basic to set up a temporary site that keeps the rudimentary 'card' catalogue functions functioning?

For a university that prides itself on being tech savvy, this is embarrassingly lazy.

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