Despite the fact that LSA junior John Cherian was away from the University this summer, he was still able to check his umich e-mail account and keep up with current campus news on the recently developed my.umich.edu website.
“It was very beneficial and helpful,” Cherian said. “I was in Boston this summer and I really wanted to check my e-mail from another computer. I also checked some courses because my schedule wasn”t complete.”
The website, which was first made available to students on February 20 of this year, is currently experiencing difficulties that don”t allow students to check their e-mail.
Linda Place, the University director of website coordination, said this inability to use the mail system from my.umich.edu is due to the high e-mail volume that has been sent on the University”s network since last Tuesday”s attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
“During the past week there has been an incredible amount of activity that has slowed down the system,” Place said. “We chose to remove e-mail so you could use the rest of the environment it was slowing down everything. It was better to lose one piece than many because it is easy to get e-mail elsewhere on campus.”
Place added that the mass-campus e-mails sent out by University President Lee Bollinger regarding the recent tragedy have also added stress to the system, but students who use the system seem to understand the current problems.
Between 4,000 and 4,500 people used the system on a daily basis this summer, and Place said that at one point since its conception, there were more than 15,000 people on the system.
James Hilton, associate provost for academic, information and instructional technology affairs, said the temporary loss of e-mail is being supplemented by an online mulberry system that can be accessed from the website.
Any student with a University account and access to the Internet can utilize the system from anywhere in the world.
The website, originally known as the Janus Project, began in fall 1999 at the request of former University Provost Nancy Cantor, and was sponsored by the Office of the Chief Information Officer.
Yet, the system is still in its “open-pilot” mode while technicians prepare the system for full production.
“We”ve given access to all students but we make no promise that everything can be accessed,” Place said. “We won”t put it into full production until we feel comfortable with all components the reliability and performance levels need to be higher.”
Aside from e-mail, my.umich.edu includes news, a favorite website storage, the campus directory, the student”s personal calendar and announcements, as well as many other features students can personalize to their own interests.
Hilton said the idea behind the site was to provide services and resources for students, with the ability to customize one”s news and activities.
“The goal of my.umich.edu is to see if we can use technology to find ways to make the University feel smaller and more personal,” Hilton said. “Ultimately the infrastructure would allow you to tailor the applications to your own personal likings.”
Place said the system is being updated continually with new items and new applications to serve the student”s need. She added that within a few days the e-mail capabilities should be up and running again so that students who are away from the University for various reasons can retain access.
“We will continue to improve the product as it needs it,” Place said. “But doing this doesn”t necessarily mean we won”t bring it down again we don”t know what”s going to happen to the nation.”