Technical problems vex ASUP

By The Beacon | October 13, 2010 9:00pm

ASUP had a rough start to the semester because they couldn’t access important documents

ASUP treasurer and senior Ben Thompson, along with the other ASUP executive board members, experienced server difficulties since before the semester began. The problem has since been resolved. (Scott Chia -- The Beacon)

By Natalie Wheeler, Staff Writer --

"Access is denied. You do not have permission to enter."

Those are the words that have been driving ASUP executive officers crazy.

Since the start of the semester, ASUP has had problems accessing its network drive, which holds much of the archived information that ASUP needs to function. Only the five executive officers and Jeremy Koffler, ASUP adviser and director of student activities, have access to the drive. But for weeks they did not.

Because all the budgets and club balances are on that drive, the problem most hampered ASUP treasurer, Ben Thompson.

"My job was essentially gone," Thompson said. "I still had to come in for office hours, but I couldn't do anything."

Thompson's job deals mainly with allocating funds to the various clubs. But since he had no idea how much each club's balance was, Thompson had his hands tied.

"I had receipts piling up," Thompson said. "Some people waited almost a month to get reimbursed."

Those receipts are from the money spent by clubs. When ASUP decides how much money to allocate to each club, the clubs are not given cash, just permission to spend that money. The club treasurers then give the receipts to Thompson to reimburse them.

Thompson says that he was lucky it happened early in the year, when clubs generally spend less.

"Surprisingly, I didn't get complaints, but it was due to the fact that it was early in the semester," Thompson said. "I had 15 to 20 reimbursements to make, but in October or November I would've had 50 to 100."

To frustrate the matter, there was an apparent communication problem. Unbeknownst to Thompson, Koffler had a copy of the ASUP budget with club allocations saved on another drive. While that file would not have provided all the information Thompson needed to reimburse clubs, he still would have benefited from the information.

"To an extent (the budget) would have helped," Thompson said. "I got around three e-mails a day asking about the budget."

After five weeks of trial and error, the Office of Technical Services was able to restore access for the ASUP officers.

The initial problem with the drive started the week before school started, when the ASUP executive officers arrived to prepare for the school year. When the Office of Technical Services came out to solve the problem, the issue seemed to be fixed.

"We had permission for two or three days, but over the weekend we were locked off again," Thompson said. "Had we known, we would've pulled off everything and saved them on our desktop."

Over the course of the next five weeks, ASUP and Technical Services scrambled to try to fix the problem. They even replaced some computers in the ASUP office to see if it was their desktops, rather than the server, which were the issue – but still no luck.

"I placed between 20 and 30 calls to (Technical Services) personally," Thompson said. "All six of us were in contact with them almost every day."

Katie Scally, ASUP vice president, had to put together binders for the new ASUP Senate on their retreat. Many of the papers that go in that binder were in the missing network drive.

"I had to work from memory for some papers," Scally said. "It was just more work."

While there is still uncertainty, it seems the problem had to do with turning on permissions.

On campus, there are various levels of permissions for files saved on the UP server, which can be turned on or off. This summer, many these permissions were turned off due to a virus. Technical Services had restored access, but the ASUP network drive might have slipped through their fingers.

"There was a really nasty virus that happened over the summer," Tom Ank, network engineer, said. "We had turned off the ability to save files to the network."

Kevork Isikbay, help desk specialist for the Office of Technical Services, said that the hectic nature of the start of school added to the confusion.

"In the beginning of the school year, our office was very busy," Isikbay said. "We had some changes in the department as well."

The Office of Technical Services was also in the process of segregating student and faculty networks around that time, which might have contributed to the problem.

Despite the setback, Scally said that not being able to access the network drive was more of an annoyance for her than a problem.

"It hasn't prevented me from doing my job," Scally said. "It's just undermined my effort."

Not all of this was in vain. Thompson has also learned an important lesson about documents.

"See? Look!" Thompson said.

Turning his computer, he shows those precious ASUP files now saved on his desktop.