Thu. Nov 14th, 2019

Age of e-mail; living without

It’s so easy to take e-mail for granted. In a nano second, text, photos and gigabytes of information can be sent to anyone with an e-mail account all over the world. However, what happens when your e-mail goes down?
On Nov. 1, USU-College of Eastern Utah IT Department lost all faculty and staff e-mail for the better part of three days. It was frightening to some but proved to be more of an annoyance to others.

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It’s so easy to take e-mail for granted. In a nano second, text, photos and gigabytes of information can be sent to anyone with an e-mail account all over the world. However, what happens when your e-mail goes down?
On Nov. 1, USU-College of Eastern Utah IT Department lost all faculty and staff e-mail for the better part of three days. It was frightening to some but proved to be more of an annoyance to others.
Eric Mantz, chief operating officer, sent a campus-wide e-mail to everyone after the e-mails had been restored. “After spending two days on the phone with several Microsoft engineers and getting nowhere, Jan Curtis and I used an approach that put the system back into operation.
“The reason why it went down is still not fully known and needs further investigating. To put it metaphorically, it is kind of like breaking a toe and having your ear hurt — it just didn’t make sense. We do know it was not because of a virus or hacking compromise. It appears we have an intermittent issue with some of the physical hardware or virtual hardware (which in reality is software) that our e-mail server resides on with many other servers. This issue demonstrated itself in both e-mail software errors and Microsoft server errors.”
In the athletic department, men’s assistant basketball coach Chris Skinkis, was in the process of securing a game tape to prepare for conference play. “I was in the midst of waiting to hear from a coach regarding getting some game tape to scout future opponents. This coach would never answer his phone or text back, but would always e-mail. I had e-mailed him again right before the server went down requesting a game tape. It was frustrating during the time e-mail was down because his answer on this issue was lying there, but was inaccessible.”
Terry Johnson, associate director of high school and prospective student relations, wrote, “Right now, 99 percent of my time is spent on the road visiting with high school students so I’m not on campus to receive communication via the campus phone or personal visits. E-mail is vital for me to keep on top of important communications from faculty and staff, prospective students, high school counselors, other college reps and the high school tour coordinator. This is why I bought a Blackberry cell phone with e-mail access, to be able to receive this correspondence when I can’t access the Internet by using a computer. Having our e-mail server down meant that I was not receiving important updates to the high school tour schedule or other important information that was being sent to me. I guess I didn’t realize how dependent I am on being able to access e-mail to fulfill my responsibilities.”
Online course instructor Daniel Thrower, Ph.D., wrote, “Almost all of my online students send me at least some of their assignments through the CEU e-mail system. I have a very busy schedule juggling all kinds of odd music jobs in San Antonio, Texas, and I have scheduled Tuesdays to be my big online assignment-grading day. Needless to say, I fell even further behind, but I sacrificed my post-e-mail-fix Saturday to compensate. How interesting it is that technology facilitates so many aspects of education and life, but certainly not without frustrations. I know not to take anything for granted–I’m just grateful when things work out all right in the end.”
Counselor Jan Thornton wrote, “We use the outlook calendar function in our office and couldn’t access it to schedule appointments and didn’t dare to schedule new appointments in case we already had one scheduled. We mainly just had to wait and see who showed up. I couldn’t believe how crippling it felt and now I am printing my schedule weekly.
GEAR UP Coordinator Brenda Rawson, wrote, “Like everyone else, I had to resort to the old way of phone calls and face-to-face interaction which always takes longer. I didn’t like this, for I’ve been spoiled with the quick convenience of e-mail. Many of my deadlines were not met, either, and so were put on hold to complete when e-mail was available. The best part of this whole scenario was the loud sign of relief when it was fully restored. I know I definitely heard this sigh in our office, and I believe I heard it campus-wide as well. Of what a relief it was. In fact, e-mail restoration was priceless.”
ATOD Director Tammie Pantelakis, wrote, “In our area we utilize e-mail as a way to maintain instructor’s tests to give to our students who have accommodations. We always communicate via e-mail with professors since office hours are sporadic due to professors leaving to teach classes. Last week we left messages for the professors that we needed exams from and they or someone else had to bring the exams over to proctor to students. Also we weren’t able to get accommodation letters out instantly to instructors. Everything worked out okay in our office just a little more time consuming and delayed. The main problem with e-mail being down in our office is that it affected scheduling abilities because we couldn’t publish to our calendars. Since we couldn’t publish, we didn’t know if anyone had made appointments at certain times so we were unable to schedule more students in for fear of double booking.”
Criminal justice instructor Richard Walton, Ed.D., wrote, “Scott [Henrie] and I are in the middle of role statements and other matters with our new chair up in Logan and this was a real pain- makes us realize how much our lives revolve around this format of communication. It also is indicative of what could happen, on a much larger scale, if terrorists were able to disable our abilities to communicate [by e-mail, cell etc]!

“However, flexibility being the hallmarks of good investigators, we simply used our personal e-mail accounts and managed to survive.”
“The biggest impact for us was that we couldn’t view the RAs nightly reports. Our system is set up so that those nightly reports are e-mailed to all our housing staff, and while the RAs received the reports in their Eaglemail accounts, the full-time staff couldn’t view them since they were sent to our Outlook accounts. We had the same issue with the RAs’ incident reports and any maintenance requests submitted through the housing website,” wrote John Haky, residential life and student conduct coordinator.
Henning Olsen, Ed.D., wrote, “I felt it when trying to communicate with distance learning students who had submitted homework and also in-class students who had submitted their assignments via e-mail. In a way it was actually a relief in not having to delete a lot of unnecessary emails.”
And finally the museum director, Ken Carpenter, Ph.D., used humor in describing how he dealt with no campus e-mail. “Not having e-mail was a real hardship. I was forced to use quill and ink, then send the message by runner. Unfortunately, the runner did not look both ways when crossing East Main and got run over by a run-away garbage truck. Worse was that my message was lost in garbage that spilled as a result of the accident. I then tried smoke signals from the roof, but the roofing tar caught fire. The fire department responded by going to the wrong address, but fortunately my administrative assistant was able to put the fire out with her coffee. Thank God for administrative assistants! Needless to say, it was a harrowing ordeal that I would rather not experience again.”

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