Tech Corner: Free Software for Students?

Ben Winters, Advertising Manager

From the computers in buildings all around campus to the help desk in the bottom of the library to the computers the professors use to run their classes, the Information Technology Services (ITS) department has a pulse on everything technology on this campus. Now and in the coming months, they are facilitating a number of big changes that will impact the students and visitors of the SUNY Oneonta community.

Prior to the implementation of  “Visitor Wi-Fi” on campus, a friend, parent or other visitor wouldn’t be able to use the Wi-Fi unless you gave them your log on, had them get their phone scanned, restart their browser and still probably have spotty connection. However, now, campus visitors will be allowed to connect to Red Dragon Wi-Fi and have basic internet access for 24 hours.

In order to address the constant complaints of poor or inconsistent Internet access on campus, ITS is also making an effort to upgrade the internet quality in the residence halls. Over this summer, they will continue to work in Blodgett, Curtis, Grant, Hays and Huntington Halls installing 300 additional Wireless Access Points.

The biggest development comes with their Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, or VDI for short.  VDI is software that provides students with remote access to a General Purpose Computer Lab from their own computer. In other words, students would be able to log into a computer that you would find in Hunt Union or the library from other places on campus, their homes or even from some supported mobile devices.  This program was put into place in order to increase convenience and flexibility for the students. At busy times in the semester, like midterms or finals, or even some weekday afternoons, it can be hard to find a seat in the computer lab. ITS employee Briana Doyle testified to some of the positives of the software: “For example, if I am working on a document or writing an essay on campus in the library, I can go home and work on that very same document from my own computer by logging on to VDI.”

Another important part of the implementation of this software is that you have access to most of the software programs that are always available on on-campus computers. A lot of majors require the use of wildly expensive software like SPSS or Adobe Creative Suite, and logging onto VDI can bring those pieces of software to your laptop and home. In addition, in regards to software, the ITS has partnered with OnTheHub in order to make a free download of the entire Microsoft Office Suite available to all SUNY Oneonta students.

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