Dear ITS Managers,
I’m going to preface this by saying that I am an ITS employee: I work for IMS as a Classroom Support Tech. I know a lot more about ITS than most students. And I haven’t the faintest idea who this should be sent to–that’s why it’s going here: I know at least a few ITS employees read Wesleying, and so this might actually have a chance of reaching the people it needs to.
That’s the biggest issue here. Nothing I’m writing here would have to be addressed in this manner if there was a better way for me to communicate it. While a lack of communication certainly isn’t a problem unique to ITS, it’s a problem that ITS especially needs to address, because unlike most of the other non-academic departments on campus, students make use of the services ITS provides countless times daily. Most of the times things work fine. Occasionally though, there are problems. And it’s when there are problems that the lack of communication is especially apparent. This post is mostly about a couple of problems and is an attempt to bridge this communication gap.
The first problem is the more general one: residential internet connections have been at least an order of magnitude slower than normal for the past week. I have heard friends complain about this recently, and I have been seeing general anonymous complaints about the issue for weeks even before I experienced it. I’ve been experiencing trouble streaming videos, a generally slower connection, and yesterday was unable to stream audio while simultaneously downloading an album from Amazon. Considering how fast the internet here is normally, this is ridiculous. I’ve heard nothing from ITS through the few communication channels that are available–e-mail, the ITS blog–and so I can only assume that this is not something ITS knows about or is actively trying to fix.
The second problem is more specific: the packet shaping/throttling that ITS does to prevent torrents from consuming an excessive amount of bandwidth is affecting other applications as well. The specific instances I’ve heard of (and experienced) are all related to computer games, but I don’t doubt that there are other affected applications. Having certain of my non-academic activities denied to me is beyond annoying. And worse than that, a good portion of the time the torrent throttling doesn’t work anyway. This has been an issue since the DoS attack near the end of last year. I reported this issue through Helpdesk earlier this year. Please fix it. This issue is a constant irritant to those of us it affects–and I think we’re a larger group of people than you might expect.
The last thing I’d like you bring to your attention is just silly. There is one particular sentence in the Wesleyan Computer Usage Policy that really needs to be removed:
For example, running a program which allows illegal sharing of copyrighted music or video is prohibited.
Every modern operating system has file sharing capabilities. Every piece of network-connected software offers the possibility for copyright infringement. This sentence expressly prohibits users from running Windows, OS X, or any major Linux distribution. Not to mention things like web browsers or chat clients. It’s been there for (I would imagine) years. I first noticed it months ago, but had no idea who to mention it to. Right now it’s doing nothing but making a joke out of the document it’s in.
I do not think that improved communication is a new idea for ITS–in fact, I know that it’s something that’s being focused on as a department. However, I have seen no improvement thus far despite the efforts that I know are being made. I hope that this letter might help you address this, and help address some of these issues. I can go into much greater detail on either of the problems I mentioned if that would be helpful.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Sam DeFabbia-Kane ’11
(sdefabbiakan at wes)