Access Denied: Laptop Registration Issues
Logging in and accessing the internet is one of the most basic and fundamental things one does in any institution. So, it came as quite a shock to many people in the campus when the laptop registration notices were put up, almost around three months after the commencement of classes. Although earlier the internet was open for all to use, open-network makes it impossible to keep track of all the computers connected to it, thereby increasing chances of mismanagement. Hence, registering laptops was made compulsory for everyone on campus.
However, the laptop registration dates for different halls were released on 24th October and registration started on 25th. Since the notice was put out on 24th October and registration began the next day itself, many boarders missed their respective deadlines for registrations. Also, no webmail was circulated regarding this. So, there was no way a boarder could have found out about this apart from seeing it on the notice board, something which is usually neglected by the students.
The notice circulated gives no exact information regarding who must register. Some students think that since they had already gotten their laptops registered in the first year, they need not register now. No clarity was provided to the students. In most cases, the boarders of any particular hall were allotted just the one day to register, which lead to long queues outside the registration rooms. Often the registration time coincides with the class timings of the students, so eventually, the students had to face a lot of problems because they would have to miss either the class or the registration.
Hence, taking all the students’ anxieties, queries and questions regarding the laptop registration procedure into account, Team Monday Morning approached Prof. C. K. Biswas, HOD, Computer Centre. Following are the excerpts from our conversation:
MM: There is no clear-cut information regarding who must register (people with block change/room change/ hostel change or everyone). Who exactly have to get their laptops registered?
CKB: Everyone, irrespective of any change or not in their rooms or blocks or halls must register. This has been primarily done because we didn’t get a proper list of the boarders and the rooms which had been allowed to them from the wardens of the different halls of residence. Many people have switched rooms with others without any legal permission and aren’t staying in their allotted rooms. Moreover, some boys have also exchanged halls amongst themselves. Had everyone been staying in exactly their allotted rooms, registration for users staying in their previous rooms wasn’t required. However, due to unavailability of proper information and considering the fact that one person using somebody else’s mac id is highly risky and unsafe, we had to take this decision of imposing the rule of mandatory registration for everyone alike.
MM: The examples of people not staying in their allotted rooms is pretty minimal. Maybe around 20% of the entire population falls into that category. So why is the rest 80% suffering due to that?
CKB: Yes, I understand that the major part of the student community is staying in their respective rooms and there was no need for them to register again. However, because of the few defaulters, everybody has to suffer. The problem is that we couldn’t get the correct list that shows who is exactly staying where; otherwise, I myself would have ensured that those particular ports didn’t need to be registered again. One more thing that could be done was that those people who have changed their rooms or are not staying in their allotted rooms would have come and got their laptops registered. But, the point is, no one bothers to register until and unless they face any trouble, and that’s the reason I had to take such a step.
MM: The notice was put up on 24 October and the process of registration began the very next day. Moreover, no webmail was circulated. The webmail finally arrived not until 7th November. As a result of that, many students missed the registration dates and the internet wasn’t working for them after that. Why wasn’t the notice sent before? And why wasn’t any webmail sent in the first place?
CKB: If we send the notification too early, then the students forget. If we send you a day before the date of registration, again it’s a problem. I really can’t help in that aspect. And the reason I didn’t send the webmail was that many webmails bounce back and my mailbox gets filled up, as a result of which I am devoid of many important mails directed to my mailbox. It is impossible for me to send these many (over 6000) mails and hence, I asked the Secretariat of the Director, to send it from their webmail handle. However, he was also busy and he could only send the mails on the 7th of November. And sending so many mails takes a really long time, almost a day. I could have tried sending webmails to the students of the hall concerned regarding the registration dates, but we don’t have the access to send webmail to any particular hall; all goes in a go. Yes, I understand that many people missed the registration dates due to the communication gap and that’s the reason this weekend, that is, Saturday and Sunday are allotted for all the defaulters. Moreover, I had stopped the internet connection only for a day; now, it’s open to everybody until 17 November. After that, unregistered laptops won’t be able to access the Internet.
MM: The given timings of the registration clash with the class timings of many departments. Students try to take out time to go there only to see a never-ending queue. So, though registration takes hardly a minute, the crowd makes the process cumbersome. Why can’t the timings be extended until at least around 6:30 PM so that the students who have continuous classes from 8:00 AM till 5:15 PM can also register? Or can’t every hall be allotted at least 2 days of registration so as to ensure less crowd?
CKB: See, my manpower is available from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM at maximum. After that, they too are exhausted and can’t work any further. And to work overtime, money is required. From where am I going to get that? Anyway, students can come till 6:00 PM and get their laptops registered. In order to reduce the crowd and to carry out the procedure at a faster rate, I had instructed them to form two queues; one on the ground floor and the other on the first floor. But maybe that wasn’t followed due to certain issues. Furthermore, students can also get it done on weekends if they aren’t having any free time on the weekdays. Actually, we are planning to build an application that will enable all the students to register their laptops online, from their own rooms and this will prevent them from the problem of standing in long lines. The Automation Cell of the institute is developing it. Once, you purchase a new laptop, you have to come to get it registered; but after that, on changing rooms, you can simply register online through this app at the ease of sitting in your own room. Hopefully, this will be initiated by the next academic year.
MM: The students with MacBooks are facing a lot of issues while registering since the people there at the registration counter in the Computer Centre at LA aren’t skilled enough to troubleshoot their problems. Hence, the majority of the defaulter are Mac users. What is being done about that?
CKB: There are very few MacBook users in the Institute; maybe around 5% of the whole population. However, I wasn’t aware of this and will ensure that from next time, the Mac users don’t face any issue while registering.
Team MM hereby showed you the current scenario of laptop registration issues and the Computer Centre’s Head, Prof. C. K. Biswas’s opinion regarding the same. The decisive step of mandatory laptop registration for everybody has been taken to guarantee cyber safety and security for all the students of NIT Rourkela.
However, amidst all the chaos, the initiative of a launching an application that shall enable us to register online is definitely something we all positively look forward to! This idea of such an app is simply a beginning; the revolution is yet to arrive. Team Monday Morning will consistently stay in touch with the authorities concerned and certainly keep you updated!