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Time to fix B.O.S.S.

This item originally appeared in the May 5, 2005 issue of The Tech Talk.

Students often find themselves frustrated between the hours of noon and 1 p.m. as they struggle to log on to B.O.S.S or get turned away as they try to withdraw from a class before the end of the day.

During that hour, B.O.S.S. shuts down as well as the Customer Information Control System, or mainframe, which the school uses to put students information on record in the computer.

Students, especially commuters, are becoming increasingly concerned and irritated with the hour wait period because it has began to be an inconvenience to those who finish class early in the day and have other places to be before 1 p.m.

But Roy Waters, director of the Computing Center, told The Tech Talk that the workers are not just sitting around twiddling their thumbs.

In a world where students are used to 24-hour service from many sites, Waters said Tech is trying to offer a bit of the same high technology at a lower cost to the student body and even the faculty.

B.O.S.S., which has existed on the campus for five years, "talks" to, or uses, CICS to get each student's information. Now, students are able to change their information from many different locations on the campus like the Registrar's Office and the Housing Office, and students make a lot of changes to the information each day.

During the noon-1 p.m. hour, Waters said the Computing Center runs batch jobs, which is basically the process of applying a lot of information to a certain field at one time. Since CICS does not have the interruption of B.O.S.S. and other systems during this time, it can successfully transfer all the information.

These batch jobs are also made during the hours of 6 p.m.-11:30 p.m. and Waters said the software the Computing Center uses to do all these things is already quite expensive.

"We are just trying to help students out here," Waters said. "The software to have 24-hour service is extremely expensive and the money that pays for these things comes out of the students' pockets. We try to make things as convenient as possible for students and try to get the job done as quickly as possible."

But the Computing Center is working on making things a little easier for students. A new mainframe was implemented for B.O.S.S. in the winter, so B.O.S.S. is faster these days.

Waters also said the computing center is going to try to make the time period for students' wait shorter by the fall quarter, as well. Instead of having to wait an entire hour for the system to come back up, the time frame would be shortened from noon to 12:30 p.m.. The evening wait for B.O.S.S. could also be shortened to just a three-hour wait.

Frustration is understandable, but help is on the way.

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