The University of Pennsylvania's Online Computing Magazine
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December 1996 - Volume 13:4
Library's Center for Electronic Text & Image
by Michael T. Ryan
Penn Web updateSeveral new features and services designed to improve the usefulness of the Penn Web were put in place in November:
- The search page (www.upenn.edu/search/) was updated to include two new options: a search of the Penn Web using the popular commercial search tool Alta Vista, and a link to the Penn Index page (www.upenn.edu/penn-index/), which points to several useful indexes, including an alphabetical list of departmental web pages.
- The electronic calendar was expanded to list events sponsored by student groups. To restrict a search on the interactive calendar page (http://
www.upenn.edu/ cgi-bin/ calendar/ unprotected/ search) to student events, select "Student Activities" from the "Activity" list.
- Reports of broken or out-of-date links on web pages are being sent to providers of information each week so they can fix problems on their pages. The result has been a more reliable Web and fewer error messages to users.
- Users now receive a more useful error message when they do not connect successfully to a page on www.upenn.edu. The new message, which replaces the cryptic "404" error message, explains the possible causes of the problem and allows users the option of having the system notify the provider of the page that there is a problem.
These Penn Web improvements are among the first fruits from a cross-university team formed this fall to plan and operate the Penn Web. Under the governance of the Penn Web Steering Committee, the Penn Web Team includes members from ISC, the Libraries, Schools, and key administrative offices. Its initial efforts are focused on deferred maintenance, improved operational procedures, and planning for a comprehensive redesign of the Penn Web's structure and appearance. The Team is actively soliciting input about the Web from a wide range of sources, including November's highly successful web-based survey. You can contact the Web Team through program manager Randall Couch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The new Facilities Management web pages just keep going, tempting the casual browser to explore just one more nugget about the Penn campus. You can use their direct URL (www.upenn.edu/fm/) to explore the site, but most people will first become familiar with their stunning map collection since the maps recently became the centerpiece for the campus map on the Penn Web (www.upenn.edu/fm/map.html).
Directories offer added convenience
The web-based online directory (www.upenn.edu/computing/directory) is much more convenient to use now that clickable e-mail and home page addresses are available from the search results page. The only caveat is that student home page information will not be available until ISC and the Schools complete modifications to local data-extract processes. Try out the new directory with a search for your own listing and make sure that it reflects your preferences.
If your listing is incorrect, incomplete, or doesn't reflect your current personal privacy preferences, select "Adding/Changing E-mail Directory Listings" to find out how to update directory information. Faculty and staff should note that the "Faculty/Staff Directory Update" form now includes a selection to turn the display of home page addresses on or off and that the Business Services Department now accepts corrections to the Faculty and Staff Telephone Directory via a web-based form -- see www.upenn.edu/bus-svcs/instr.html for details.
Penn Web survey prize winners
The three prizes to the recent Penn Web survey go to the following survey respondents:
- The $50 gift certificate to Palladium Restaurant: Warren L Wang, a SEAS undergraduate
- Claris Home Page (Windows): Adam Kane, brother of a SAS undergraduate
- The $50 gift certificate to the Book Store: Wen-Liang Chen, a Social Work graduate student
Thank you to the nearly 1,900 people who responded to the survey. Look for a summary of the results early in the new year.
Computing restructuring at Penn
Seven campus pilots and an integrative steering group continue to move Penn toward a new model for delivering computing services across the University. Vetted across Penn, the model clarifies a new division of labor that lets the Schools and the central computing group each devote more effort to the things it does best. By July of 1997, all frontline computing support will be at the local level as close as possible to the recipient. The central computing group will concentrate on infrastructure services such as networking, core business systems, data administration, standards, and services for local providers of computing. Most of the pilots can be followed in the computing restructuring web pages (www.upenn.edu/restruct/). One pilot, for example, is organizing undergraduates to deliver computing support to other undergraduates in residence. Another is linking help desks across campus by sharing software that tracks problems and builds a database of solutions. And another is putting in place a coherent set of services targeted specifically to local providers of computing support.
Rare books and manuscripts (virtually)Michael T. Ryan describes the rich web-based resources available from the Library's Center for Electronic Text & Image (www.library.upenn.edu/etext) in Penn Printout Online's feature story for this month.