Computer crashes yield complaints

Lace Nguyen | Contributing Reporter

Sam Fox IT has yet to identify the source of a programming glitch that has left dozens of Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts students with wiped computers over the past year.

The issue is contained somewhere within the proprietary printing script Sam Fox Information Technology installs on sophomore communication design students’ computers to allow them to print wirelessly from their laptops. But the script was corrupted and, one by one, computers loaded with it began to crash.

“Last year, over half of the sophomore communication design class computers needed to be backed up quickly and then wiped completely and reinstalled with the operating system,” Margaret Flatley, a junior in the Sam Fox School, said.

The same thing happened to Flatley again this year and at least five other Sam Fox students.

“The whole thing was a complete hassle,” Flatley said, “And it didn’t seem like the Sam Fox IT people really understood how not having my computer for a few days as a ComDes student put me incredibly behind.”

All sophomore communication design students are required to buy new MacBook Pro laptops with a specific software package. Computers, peripherals and software are distributed to students at the beginning of fall semester. Sam Fox Student Technology Assistants also conduct an orientation and software installation session at the time of distribution.

The combined hardware/software packages cost between $3,000 and $4,200.

Bob Chekoudjian, a technical support specialist at the Sam Fox School, noted that only a handful of students’ computers had the problem. He said the printing script was written by Sam Fox IT and tested several times on their lab computers.

“We have no idea why the computers crashed,” Chekoudjian said.

He would not speak to any future plan for fixing the error but said that the script was updated last month.

According to John Bailey, assistant director of Student Technology Services, STS is not involved in the Sam Fox printing setup. The school maintains a print server completely separate from the centralized printing system used by STS, Olin Library and the other schools, Bailey said.

Both Flatley and Julia Kent, another junior in the College of Arts & Sciences who ran into the same issue last year, said they were ultimately redirected to STS.

“STS fixed my computer last year since Sam Fox didn’t know what to do,” Kent said.

Sign up for the email edition

Stay up to date with everything happening as Washington University returns to campus.

Subscribe