Help Desk deals with PC questions

by Khalil Ayvar | 10/10/00 5:00am

With 60 percent of the Class of 2004 owning PCs -- and with PCs becoming more popular with upperclass students at the College, as well -- worries surfaced about the ability of the Computing Services help desk to deal with a larger amount of PC problems.

Some students feared that the help desk would be poorly equipped in PC training and knowledge to handle the new influx of computer problems that would come with a surge of Windows machines. However, it seems these fears were unfounded. The Kiewit help desk consultants who spoke to The Dartmouth recently claim that no serious problems are arising from the unexpected and unprecedented ratio of computers, and some even hinted that in fact the change brought some good with it.

Most of the consultants said that they actually had more personal experience with PCs than with Macs, and were better able to help with problems that might arise. They also said that since a majority of people outside the college use PCs, it is in fact easier to find those who specialize in that genre.

Admittedly, they said, the PC was certainly more complicated to configure, especially to make it compatible with Dartmouth's Macintosh-run network, however that only meant they received more calls for assistance from users, and not that they had any real difficulty in dealing with problems as they arose.

In addition, they said that they frequently receive calls about printing problems -- particularly from PC users, whose configuration for network printing is not as easy to set up.

By far, the problems most often reported to the help desk by PC users are those dealing with the network. However, Kiewit consultants added that the majority of all computer problems reported to them by both Mac and PC users deal with network configuration.

"It's usually configuration problems," agreed Bill Brawley director of user support communications, speaking of past experiences with both Macs and PCs.

Many of even these problems could be avoided, desk workers claimed, if students only followed the instructions provided for both Dartmouth computer purchasers and those who brought their own.

"The beginning of term is a busy time anyways," said Brawley, explaining that after the Fall term, particularly after the first week, the volume of computer problems, even for PCs, abates considerably.

Brawley said as well that Computing Services has hired more people experienced with PCs, in addition to the several student consultants with direct experience.