Monday, November 15, 2010

Guess who sent an angry email today?

Up until last week, all of the students (and staff and faculty) services were run through a portal called uSource.  I loved uSource: it had a portal-based email system that I used heavily, and it had a calendar program which, until I got an Android phone in September, was my only way of keeping organised (especially because it was tied to my email, and sent me reminders about my appointments). 

Mid-way through last week, I noticed that uSource was down, and there was an announcement that said that they were upgrading to a new "more modern portal."  I didn't think too much about it, and used the university's emergency back-up webmail system (which they launched and hadn't updated since 2005) in the meanwhile. 

So.  Today, Ky phoned me and said "The new system is up! And they're making us all use webmail now!"  I went and checked, and she was right: somehow, now the only portal-based email and calendar system is for faculty and staff, and students use the old back-up emergency webmail as their only option now.  I went through the FAQ section and discovered that the university had decided to decommission the calendar system for students.  And apparently the changes were as requested by us? 

Now, I understand that maybe I was the only one who kept my appointments in the calendar system.  And maybe I'm the only person who didn't know that I was supposed to export my address book to Outlook (a program which I don't own) before November 10th.  But I've now lost my address book, because webmail didn't save anything you did in uSource.  (Also: UVic's webmail is awful, and looked pretty rudimentary back in 2005.  Hello, plain text emails from now on!)

Here's my problem (other than the lost email addresses and appointments, about which I've already sent a panicked email to the Help Desk): they've completely separated the tools for students from the tools for faculty and staff, ignoring the fact that grad students occupy a blurry in-between space.  I am sometimes an employee, but I am not one this semester.  When I teach during the summer session, apparently I'll suddenly have access to tools (including an email system and calendar) that will suddenly go away if I don't teach in the fall?  Why would I use them, if I don't have the assurance that they're all going to disappear?  They've restructured the whole system for students with the assumption that all students are undergrads, and that no students are sometimes (but not always) staff. 

Grrr.  I'm still in Hulk Smash mode. 

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