CITES offers new upgrades

By Lane Song

Students and staff at the University can now receive the latest updates on services offered by CITES by subscribing to a RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, feed. When the Status of Services Web page is updated, subscribers are automatically notified.

Information about server maintenance and services such as Illinois Compass and CITES Express E-mail can be found via the feed, as well as news about network status and performance.

The Campus Information Technologies and Educational Services service status page can also be checked through a Web browser, but the feed can automatically provide the latest information without having to constantly visit the page.

“The campus technical support staff who serve students and faculty get the most benefit from subscribing to the feed,” said Randy Cetin, the director of Systems and Technology Services at CITES. “Many organizations on campus depend on our services, and the RSS feed helps our staff communicate problems quickly.”

Other feeds from CITES are also available, such as CITES news and updates from the Office of the Chief Information Officer.

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“(The RSS feed) is a common technology that can be used to push out dynamic information,” Cetin said. “The campus technical support staff indicated that this would be beneficial and help them support their customers. It was really a no-brainer to deploy the RSS feeds at low cost and high value.”

The RSS feed may also help students wondering if a particular lab or Web service is available. Updates to the feed can vary from 4-5 times a day to none for a week, Cetin said.

“There are direct and indirect benefits for students,” he said. “The news feed helps students stay up to date, but also helps the technical support staff assist students faster.”

The RSS feed could also be viewed on other platforms like cell phones.

“My understanding is that any phone that is ‘web-enabled’ could theoretically connect to a web-based Really Simple Syndication reader, although the screen size might be a problem,” Cetin said.

Students had mixed reactions to the new feed.

“I think it would be good for people coming in from outside of campus,” said Mike Paschke, junior in Engineering.

“I like knowing about when and where the service will be out,” said Evan Acharya, graduate student. “But I’d rather have them focus on fixing their current network problems. That way, there would not be any need for a service status feed.”