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New Year brings New Tech upgrades

Joe Coluccio, Staff Reporter - January 23, 2013

With students coming back to Ellensburg fresh from winter break, the university has established a new look as well. Gone are the days of typewriters and handwritten essays – Central Washington University’s IT department has been hard at work bringing upgrades to students and faculty alike. Over winter break, the Groupwise email system received an upgrade.

“Performance will be improved – that is the main benefit from it,” said Greg De Luca, assistant programmer for information technology. “It has got a cleaner look I would say, and it runs on tablets.”

Before the upgrade, Groupwise could not be accessed on iPads or other types of tablets, unless students used a separate app for Groupwise. Now the app can stream Groupwise quickly and efficently.

“It was designed before the tablets came along, and the tablet could not do a double-click, basically,” De Luca said. “They had just changed it so that it double-clicked because that was something people wanted. Total redesign.”

The plans for the new design of Groupwise have been in the works since last summer, but the university waited until the release of Service Pack 1 (SP1) to upgrade. SP1 is the first iteration of bug fixes a company issues out after releasing new software, so by waiting until it came out we avoided the issues of brand new software.

Another big upgrade comes out later this week with release of CWU Mobile 3.0. The previous edition of CWU Mobile is available for free at the app store for smart phones and tablets.

This upgrade was paid for partially by the technology fee paid for by students as a portion of tuition, and partially by the university. Version 3.0 has many new features, including cameras watching mountain pass conditions and the ability to live stream 88.1 The Burg.

“Two of the big things that are in 3.0 are Safari and a service called ‘Community’,” said Carmen Rahm, vice president for information technology. “[Community] uses a tool that we worked with a company on that will give students and everybody easy access to downtown information in the community.”

The new feature uses a webcam to give directions to different businesses, as well as providing their menus, allowing for growth between the Ellensburg business community and the university. 3.0 will be an automatic upgrade if someone has the previous software, and will be available for download this Friday.

The ability to enroll for classes via Smartphone or tablet may be sooner than you think.

“Features like enrolling for classes are there already,” Rahm said. “But we want to roll things out gradually in case there were issues.”

This past Monday, several device changing stations installed on campus in Bouillon Hall, the SURC and Brooks Library. These charging stations are being made available by the CWU Student Success and Human Resources.

“I think [all the upgrades] will make it easier to keep up on homework and assignments that are due,” said Taylor Fellows, a junior graphic design major. “People are always on their phone – makes perfect sense.”

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