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Behind the Helpdesk: IT Coordinator Nate Chu Expresses Concerns and Offers Advice
courtney murray 11 staff writer danielle dalton 12 former features editor
December 15, 2009

When students encounter problems with their laptops, they often take out their frustration on what they perceive as the elusive force of “ITS.” But what makes up this force? Who, exactly, is the man behind the ITS Helpdesk, and what kinds of technological issues does he encounter?

As it turns out, this man is Nathan Chu, Administrative Services Coordinator for ITS. As one of the fifteen workers in ITS, Mr. Chu takes in all of the computers, assesses the problems, and decides what action to take with laptops. He is also in charge of maintaining the stock of loaner computers as well as looking after all video cameras and other audio visual equipment that can be loaned out.

In addition, Mr. Chu tracks the ITS budget and purchases new equipment. Recently, Mr. Chu has also assisted in the mailroom and switchboard.

As the liaison between the school body and ITS, Mr. Chu is the first responder to any issues that may arise with computer technology. When a student first brings his or her computer to the Helpdesk, Mr. Chu assesses the problem at hand.

If a computer has a hardware problem, Jason Zalenski, ITS support services technician, will decide where to go from there. With these hardware problems, many times the computers have to be reimaged. Students believe that reimaging occurs in excess, rather than addressing the original problem. ITS only reimages computers when they see it necessary, and in most situations, reimaging is the best solution to address the problem.

“When we take a computer in, we analyze the problem and try to figure out the best solution to meet the needs of the student, while not taking up an undue number of resources needed to repair the machine,” said Mr. Chu.

When fixing hardware problems, many times it benefits the computer to create a clean slate rather than trying to fix the complex issue.

“It makes for a much more stable system when we start from scratch and return the documents in, and then to try to roll back certain changes, or fix small problems here and there,” explained Mr. Chu.

“Often times it is more successful to reimage than to try and patch things,” said Computer Science and Department Chair and Director of ITS Wendy Shepherd.

This year with the switch from Lenovo IBM computers to Apple Computers, the Helpdesk has seen new problems arise in the community. One of these problems involves connecting to network printers. With the IBM computers, the access to the network authenticates our ability to use these public printers. The Apple Computers require a password every time a paper needs to be printed. ITS is working hard to address this issue and make it easier for everyone.

Another issue ITS often faces is the use of peer-to-peer file sharing, such as sites like BitTorrent and Limewire. Mr. Chu explained, “Because Deerfield owns the network and Internet connection, the school is ultimately responsible for the content that’s on there, and it’s a legal liability for the school and the user of the computer,” he said.

Mr. Chu said that students do have their own responsibility when taking care of their laptops. “Everyone who is issued a laptop should try to take as good care of it as possible. You should be sure to try to avoid any sort of virus activities, and to make sure you treat it carefully. Don’t put in places where you could spill on it; don’t leave it lying on the floor where you can step on it.”

“We try to provide the best service possible to all students, but it would be great if more students who came to us took a more active role in taking care of their computers,” he said.