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  #1  
Old 05-22-2007, 02:08 PM
Andrew W. Cranisky
 
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Default Macs at Drew

I know this isn't official CNS type business, but I didn't know where else to put this thread. Anyone have any thoughts as to how many people use Macs at Drew? This is to satisfy my own curiousity and also for an article I'd like to write next year.

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 05-22-2007, 11:50 PM
Richard Smith
 
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I really wanted to know this as well because I wanted to fill out the computer exception form. Before I could do that I wanted to know if anyone was even allowed to use Macs. I've been on them my whole life.
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  #3  
Old 05-23-2007, 12:49 AM
E. Axel Larsson's Avatar
E. Axel Larsson E. Axel Larsson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Smith
I really wanted to know this as well because I wanted to fill out the computer exception form. Before I could do that I wanted to know if anyone was even allowed to use Macs. I've been on them my whole life.
You are welcome to use a Mac on Drew's network (and many people do). The College does require that you have an approved Windows-based notebook (and at present running Windows on a Mac doesn't count) as part of the College's academic program, however. The details are all spelled out here. (need to be logged in to view that page)

A point of note on the exceptions is that the language with respect to the requirements and the wording on the forms was clarified this year. The exception form now requires that the student applying indicate how the exception would yield academic benefits (i.e. personal preference would generally not be sufficient). The exceptions granted are generally for truly "exceptional" circumstances, so the exception process shouldn't be seen as a formality. Less than 20 were granted last Fall semester, for instance.
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Last edited by E. Axel Larsson : 05-23-2007 at 01:13 AM.
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  #4  
Old 05-23-2007, 02:58 PM
Mike Richichi's Avatar
Mike Richichi Mike Richichi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard L. Smith
I really wanted to know this as well because I wanted to fill out the computer exception form. Before I could do that I wanted to know if anyone was even allowed to use Macs. I've been on them my whole life.

I'd like to know how we'd prevent people from using Macs. I'm thinking something like a high-voltage shock over the Ethernet cable. Or instead of normal wireless coverage, a focused beam of microwave energy from the access point if we detect a Mac. Probably kill a few squirrels in testing that. . .

Anyway, of course, bring your Mac and have fun. We do try and make things work as well as we can--at least, we don't actively try and break anything. But we have a tightly integrated, managed environment for Windows laptops, and a laptop program that requires a standard laptop for ease of use, ability to support and repair quickly (both warranty and accidental damage) and to ensure that faculty can depend on a standard computing platform. Owning a Mac does not exempt you from being part of that program, which is an academic requirement. I analogize it to textbooks--you can bring whatever books you want to school, but your professors are going to require you to purchase and read the required texts for the class. (And by the way, many students spend more on textbooks than they do on the laptop, per semester.) You can read other books as well during your college career, and the same is true for computers. There was a great story in the Chronicle of Higher Education about a year ago about how students were bringing multiple computers to campus--sometimes a desktop and a laptop, or a Mac and a PC, or a PC and a Linux box. We recognize that trend, and don't have a problem with it. All we say is that in terms of the Helpdesk, and your courses, you'll only get help with your standard laptop. We're simply not equipped or arranged to help with every computer out there. We limit our scope of support to try and be as in-depth as we can with what we have, and support something that is pretty hard to avoid in the real world.

I also wonder how many Linux users we have, how many people with networked TiVos, XBoxes, Playstations, etc. I'm sure it's a veritable cornucopia out there. Seems to all work fine, and if it doesn't we'll deal with it when we need to.
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Last edited by Mike Richichi : 05-23-2007 at 03:01 PM.
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  #5  
Old 06-01-2007, 10:28 PM
Andrew W. Cranisky
 
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Default Whyyyyy!!!

To be honest, I think the fact that we're forced to purchase the Drew computer is a bit ridiculous. I've been at Drew for two years now, and I haven't encountered anything that I've NEEDED the Drew computer for. I haven't used it in months, and I don't plan on using it again.

I understand that CNS couldn't support all laptops, and that's totally reasonable. However, we really ought to be allowed to bring our own laptops with the understanding that CNS will not be able to do anything to service them. I would have much preferred to bring my new iBook to college and rely on friendly, speedy Applecare instead of buying the problem-plagued R40 and relying on the anything-but-speedy CNS. This is not a personal attack on anyone at CNS, of course. You guys do your best, but I'm sure you recognize that you can't handle problems nearly as quickly as a huge company like Apple can.

Anyway, I just want to submit my plea to make buying the Drew computer optional. When it was a part of tuition it made sense, but now that it isn't, we really should not be forced to buy it.
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  #6  
Old 06-02-2007, 01:21 AM
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Paul R. Coen Paul R. Coen is offline
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Default Not really a CNS decision, or an individual one

The major points are 1) the computer requirement is part of the academic program, and the current structure of the program was actually put together by a committee containing faculty as well as student representation 2) it's the entire range of technology services provided, not just the computer, and 3) any other way we've looked at doing things, it would cost more and the University community would get less for its money.

Schools that don't have a requirement, or support multiple platforms have a tendency to end up needing significant numbers of lab computers, and staff to support them. Imagine trying to find places to put 100+ additional lab computers in, and then think of the better uses for the space. We'd pretty much need to scrap any loaner program as well, since there'd be no point, again increasing the demand for computer labs. In the absense of more labs, faculty who rely on software would either have to scale back, or we'd have to spend a ton on cross-platform licensing - which leads to even more support issues.

In terms of service, I think you're off-base. The last time I asked our hardware specialist, the R40 wasn't any less reliable than average. By the way, I own a nearly 4-year-old R40, so it's not like I'm unfamiliar with the model. Try to get a 4-year warranty with accidental damage protection from Apple. Besides costing more, they only go up to 3 years, and they exclude accidental damage in the AppleCare T&C. And they do suffer from parts shortages, delays, etc., just like everyone else. You can have a Mac dissapear into an Apple service center for a couple of weeks. By the way, accident coverage was something the students were really pushing for when we went with IBM and the R40's. Not having it on prior models was a siginificant problem for us and our customers.

By the way, you claimed that wasn't a personal attack - merely saying that you've found AppleCare to be faster would have sufficied, rather than using the "anything-but-speedy CNS" line. Generally, when students have been surveyed about a wide range of campus services, academic programs, etc., we've scored well. Sure, not everyone is always satisfied, and I'm sure there are things that have taken longer than they should, but that happens inside of any support organization. You just try to gradually improve service by figuring out where the problems are occuring and dealing with them.

In terms of "part of tuition", you realize that it actually isn't any different, aside from how it shows up on the bill, right? It's really a perception difference. Look at it this way - our previous President decided to break the computer package out of tuition, but keep tuition the same. Whatever the motive, the effect was to increase what you were paying to attend (since it no longer included the computer, which had concrete value). At the same time, there could be a claim that tuition hadn't gone up for the incoming class, since technically it hadn't. What was included in tuition had been redefined. It's all about perception.

Last edited by Paul R. Coen : 06-02-2007 at 01:25 AM.
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  #7  
Old 06-02-2007, 03:32 PM
Mike Richichi's Avatar
Mike Richichi Mike Richichi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew W. Cranisky
I understand that CNS couldn't support all laptops, and that's totally reasonable. However, we really ought to be allowed to bring our own laptops with the understanding that CNS will not be able to do anything to service them. I would have much preferred to bring my new iBook to college and rely on friendly, speedy Applecare instead of buying the problem-plagued R40 and relying on the anything-but-speedy CNS. This is not a personal attack on anyone at CNS, of course. You guys do your best, but I'm sure you recognize that you can't handle problems nearly as quickly as a huge company like Apple can.

Is there some specific incident that you're referring to here? I'd really appreciate the opportunity to repond to a specific issue instead of vague insinuations. You can easily find anecdotal stories that contradict the point you're trying to make, so I'd like to stick to any actual issues you've had with CNS support.
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  #8  
Old 07-12-2007, 10:27 PM
Andrew W. Cranisky
 
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Default Whoops!

I completely forgot I had started this thread, which is why I haven't responded. Sorry about that.

Anyway, I didn't mean to cause any hurt feelings at CNS. I'm sure you all do the best you can, and that the R40s are fine computers. I know that I and plenty of friends have had multiple issues with them, but perhaps that isn't normal. I shouldn't have even gotten into that, though, because CNS really wasn't the point of my post.

The point I was trying to make is that we should not be forced to buy the Drew computer. I understand all you sacrifice if you don't buy it, and I'm not saying it shouldn't still be offered like it is now. However, we shouldn't HAVE to get it. Perhaps when students come to Drew, instead of being forced to buy an IBM, they should be told "Look, we have this great package where you get a computer and four years of coverage and integration with the Drew network... but you don't HAVE to get it. You're welcome to use your own computer, but of course you won't get the integration and support and whatnot." This makes way more sense to me.

I just prefer to work on my Mac, and I haven't needed the R40 I was told I had to buy. As you can imagine, I was pretty annoyed to find out I wasted $1600, especially when I'm already paying Drew's crazy high prices. This was my point, not to insult CNS. Sorry if I did that!
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  #9  
Old 07-18-2007, 10:37 AM
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Mike Richichi Mike Richichi is offline
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So, you're saying you've never used the Drew laptop? There have been a few Helpdesk tickets on it (and by the way, it's a T43, not an R40. The T43 was in fact the upgraded model that year, so you paid extra for it, by the way). If you took a class like Statistics, the version of SPSS for the Mac is older than the Windows version, so you couldn't have easily done that.

If you look at things like Consumer Reports, you find a problem rate of all laptops in around the 15-20% range. (Apple and Lenovo are generally the highest rated.) So, when you have 2000 computers around, of course you're going to see problems. That's why we get accidental damage protection and a 4 year warranty. Without real comparative data on a similar laptop population in a similar environment you can't draw any general conclusions on relative reliability of various brands from what you see. I trust the magazines and groups who test this stuff with a wide sample size.

If the computer weren't something you bought, but was provided as part of your tuition here at Drew, not as a line item, would you feel differently? If you were required to have the standard laptop in class for say 25% of your courses? 50% of your courses?
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  #10  
Old 07-18-2007, 11:28 AM
Andrew W. Cranisky
 
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I did use it (the T43, as you pointed out) for the first year, before realizing that I could do all the same things on my Mac. I don't use it anymore and I don't expect to use it again. I haven't yet had a class that required me to use "the Drew laptop," and I honestly can't think of an instance that would. Maybe Stats would need a Windows laptop of some sort, but why would it need the Drew-issued one? I'm not just trying to stir up trouble- I honestly want to understand why we're forced to buy a computer that not everyone wants.
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