Help me draft this letter.

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Postby Doogiehowser » Thu Oct 02, 2008 2:15 pm

Another thought. . . look back at the college's press releases or marketing material and see if there is something in these documents that points to a plan on becoming a 21st century school via internet, technology upgrades or anything like that.

Put that in your letter. Say, "Hey, you said you were wanting to become a technologically advanced school and yet you can't even give us proper bandwith to do our research/testing with."

Not exactly like that, you can wordsmith it if you want :wink: but it shows that you are interested in your school and you're holding them accountable to what they are actually saying and not doing.
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Postby VikrumthePally » Thu Oct 02, 2008 2:26 pm

Dorvan and Doogie are dead on.

I don't know the official terminology but it has something to do with p2p and State people (read the people in power at the state level) beign required to limit this on the campus.

At least that is what was told to me when I did the exact same thing you did but at my wife's college.

Granted I didn't take the video game route.

But on top of that at a school of about 15k it would not have been a problem at all to get a petition going and blow this problem out of the water. However I decided to let it die since she was graduating the next semester.

Also I would like to point out. That when I got to where I had given up I just developed a relationship with the IT guy and he told me basically certain things can get through while others can't. (this guy may have been blowing smoke I know someone here can confirm this)

Anyhow what I am getting at is I first noticed this problem when my wife (then g/f) and I were playing LOTRO. It would never work due to latency. However WoW would work fine.

So I did some research and read that a lot of places had developed specific permissions for WoW alone to prevent the problem.

Perhaps that might be a route you can take if there is any truth to this.

Best of luck. I know this is a super frustrating thing! We were 2 hours apart and being able to game together really helped sometimes.

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Postby Shirak » Thu Oct 02, 2008 2:47 pm

moduspwnens wrote:
Shirak wrote:From an IT professional, asking for bandwidth for youtube and games = epic fail.

As the VP I would laugh as I throw this letter in the trash.

Your are college to learn not to play games and watch videos.

You need to take a completely different approach from the aspect of learning and education.

What educational and monetary value will the school get from increasing the Bandwidth?


They don't get an educational value from it, and the only argument I make for monetary losses are from prospective students being swayed not to come here because of it (in conjunction with whatever other problems they have).

I realize I'm at college to learn and not play games, but dang. The college probably spends a few hundred thousand dollars on athletics coaches for games. Either way, I don't need to make the argument to you, I suppose, I need to make it to him.

Anyone else have any thoughts? Does it seem like he's just gonna reply with a politician response and be done with it? I mean, I think it's quite valid to want my college to have fast internet. How do I convey that if it's different from above?


/sigh...

You need to point out possible gains from a better backbone and connection. As far as sports, DUH, how else do you think they get the money from the alumi?

Demanding will get you nothing, calling for the ability to game or waste Bandwidth on streaming media will get you nothing.

You need to be bringing up points like the increased need for internet research. Some of this research comes in the form of lectures and conferences that are watched on the internet and under the current conditions are hampering students ability to study... etc.
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Postby Jkol » Thu Oct 02, 2008 2:53 pm

I would reiterate what others have said about highlighting academic issues. Your letter will be much more convincing if you focus on why the administration should want faster internet, not why you want faster internet.

Too this end you need to highlight academic merits of better quality internet. If you cannot justify this need academically and you are a computer science major, the administration is going to question the value of being at the forefront of technological advances.

That does not mean that you have to completely abandon your comments on Online games. The reason that schools fund athletic programs is that they believe doing so adds value to the school and student life. Accordingly you must highlight how online games add similar value to your school.

What I would avoid, are studies that show high numbers of students play online games. The problem is that many students also drink or abuse narcotics. Again, you need to highlight why the administration wants people to play online games.

Finally, I am of the opinion that e-mail is a very informal method of communication. I feel it would be much better if you were to send it formally to his office as a hard copy letter you have printed and signed. Doing so is not guaranteed to make the administration take the issue more seriously, but it will show that you take the issue seriously and that never hurts.
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Postby Arsyn » Thu Oct 02, 2008 3:49 pm

Find some of those videos of Second Life being used for academic purposes (hahahaha!). Most importantly, remind him it is free, beneficial and hell, the BBC use it so it must be useful! It is also a bandwidth sucker as it streams content directly from one person to another needing a lot.

I have seen videos like this amongst academic institutions claiming the virtual world is a great learning tool to be utilised which you and I know is total bollocks but your VP might fall for the sugar coating. Although there is always the risk of him turning out to be a Second Life user and sharing his dark secrets with you... :shock:

EDIT - Here you go, some ammo: http://sleducation.wikispaces.com/educationaluses
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Postby moduspwnens » Thu Oct 02, 2008 5:06 pm

Thanks for all the input! I get what you're all saying, but I'm not sure there's a case to be made that this needs to be done for educational purposes. I just don't think it's going to happen. I think it's a much more powerful argument to say "over half play online games and it's basically impossible" than "one or two students may play Second Life for academic reasons." After all YouTube may be slow, but it works after a while, and for academic reasons, that's enough.

Jkol wrote:What I would avoid, are studies that show high numbers of students play online games. The problem is that many students also drink or abuse narcotics. Again, you need to highlight why the administration wants people to play online games.


Yeah, I should probably make it clear that online games are a safe activity that's better than drinking or having promiscuous sex, but I'll word it better than that. I think I may be kinda screwed though. From the way you guys seem to be putting things, it sounds like this isn't going to happen.

Here are some core ideas:
    The vast majority of college students come from homes with high speed internet.
    You have a residency requirement, and I can't get Internet anywhere else.
    High speed internet is used as part of online gaming, an activity more than half of students would otherwise enjoy.


I mean, isn't that fair? How ticked would you guys be in this situation? It's not enough to make me want to leave, but it really feels like high speed internet should either be provided or available for SOME price. What would you do?
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Postby moduspwnens » Thu Oct 02, 2008 5:09 pm

Zappi wrote:It reads like "need moar money for video game lawl".

I wouldn't focus on online games and explain them. I would focus on everyday issues like ip telephony, youtube, downloads (well not edonkey, but the newest linux iso, java/c/.net runtime, IDE, <whatever you actually study there>)


For the record, the packet shaper makes it fairly tolerable to do basic nonP2P downloads, it's just programmed to add latency to games and such.
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Postby Aybrams » Thu Oct 02, 2008 5:56 pm

Modus,

I'm a professor at a small state supported college. I agree with previous posters that using (or even mentioning!) online gaming is probably a non-starter. However, if the school is private, you may be on the right track in playing up internet speed as a matter of prestige. Private schools generally depend VERY heavily on alumni for financial support - and selling points are very important for generating alumni enthusiasm.

If you're serious about wanting to change this, do as a previous poster mentioned; do a poll among students and professors for their opinions about internet usage/bandwidth, and then see if you can find a study (or do a small study yourself) about alumni (your alumni center will have a mailing/contact list) opinions on the importance of the internet in a modern educational setting. You don't need to prove that the internet is good for education, only demonstrate that the alumni think it is. Then talk to the vp (formal letter is DEFINITELY the way to go there, better yet, ask to make a personal proposal) and play up a) that having better bandwidth is a major selling point for the alumni, and b) as a future alumnus, you feel that bandwidth is important (be delicate here).

As a bonus to all this work - you can probably get class credit for doing such a study, and doing so will allow you to a) show you are a "go-getter"- this stuff looks GREAT on curriculum vitae; b)have an interest in the school's success (makes your tenure there more pleasant when the admins think this about you) and c) earns you college credit for doing something that you really are interested in.

Good luck!


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Postby PsiVen » Thu Oct 02, 2008 6:56 pm

require laptops of all college students


Sounds like a terrible idea to me. I've never wanted or needed a laptop for my studies and this would likely be a dealbreaker :/

Also, I'd definitely steer away from gaming as a rationale. The only thing university network administrators hate more than gaming is bittorrent.
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Postby Elsie » Thu Oct 02, 2008 7:23 pm

Firstly, you need an outline and plan of attack. Here's some starters:

1. Academic Agenda / Mission Statement
1a. State how faster internet facilitates and supports the mission statement.
1b. State how the University will benefit in prestige or notoriety.
-Don't get too wordy, save something for the conclusion. This is basically your "Introduction" paragraph. Make sure you include a subject.

2. Transfer of research
2a. Large data sets of population data
2aa. Required for significant research and sampling
2b. Complex Modeling Transfer
2ba. Extensive mathematical modeling sets
-You can continue this into other points such as updating lab and faculty equipment software faster. Implementing new technologies faster. Notification system speeds increased, increased cross-college/culture communication and involvement, etc.

3. Why the current system isn't feasible for points in 1.
3a. Mathematic proof of unrealistic data times
3a(cont) eg - current transfer rates for common data only X mb takes Y time.
3b. State the improvement in efficiency and effectiveness of faster internet.
3b.(cont) eg- the upgrade will increase this process by x%.
3b.(cont) eg - this is equivalent to saving x time/day/week for faculty/staff/students/grads
3c. State potential expenses.
3ca. Include estimated time to implement.
3cb. Try offer possible budgeting options.


4. Conclusions
4a. Attached petition of support (students)
4b. Attached testimonials of Professors, faculty, and grad students

Other pro notes:
-You Are Not Just Writing a Letter. You are writing what is basically a Proposal. You're writing something that represents your peers' and mentors' opinions.

-Keep the tone of your letter serious and factual, but upbeat. Avoid negative and accusitive tones.

-Don't set an unachievable goal or unrealistic implementation. Improving the whole network of your campus is a huge task. Narrow your focus.

1.Form a petition. Try to get at least half the student body. This allows the top brass to flaunt they're working in the interest of the students and faculty. Let them flex their muscles. It's also a fail-safe for them if they have to increase student technology fees. Feedback is THE (second after planning) MOST IMPORTANT THING to anyone in a management position.

2. The people with decision power are influenced most by professors and faculty. These are the people will be sticking around 10+ years and they have to satisfy. It's the people they have lunch with and share ideas.

3. In-list faculty aids. Visit a writing center once you have a draft or your English professor. Visit your finance teacher (or an advisor, or the department office) for information. Visit your computer science department and learn more about the process.

4. Do your Homework. You can say and ask for whatever, and it's going to go into the garbage if you don't offer solutions to the problem and how to implement the change. Top level management have a lot to do, usually. They don't want big problems without something to work with.
-Find the schools with top level programs and departments. The whole university does not need to be amazing. For instance, LSU is top 10 for its college of business, and has the highest ranked CIA program internationally. Our computer science department isn't even accredited, though.

5. Try to contact alumni / Donating Companies that have previously donated to the college. Ask for letters of support and attach them in your appendix. Universities are heavily reliant on donations. Your administration works hard to please them in order to get new buildings, lab equipment, etc. These are the people who hold the power of the purse. The administrators ultimately answer to the money's interests.

6. Stay on topic. At some point you may feel the urge to go into other branching thoughts. Like CD-RW stations, server space, lab rooms, etc. None of that matters here. That requires a whole new slew of financial and implementation requirements. You may want to ultimately better your whole campus's network - but that won't help you get your point across.

7. If you have a student council, ask them for a resolution. In fact, if you get them involved you can probably have an easier time polling the students or getting a petition of support. A resolution isn't anything special - just a statement of what something to accomplish. Those in control like student organization involvement like this since they are the larger sources of student feedback, and it's something that gives prestige to the campus - which makes them look better.

Here at LSU, the university offers free downloads of vista, adobe, MS office, etc. All for free. We are also given free server space accessible from computer labs all over campus. I just downloaded MS Office today, in fact, and that would've been impossible without the internet connection here - ~750 mb in 7 minutes. There are labs or computer terminals in pretty much every building - many of which allow plug-in devices and CD-RWs.

Steps I'd use to accomplish this:
0. Plan. Just sit for hours and plan. Planning and implementation are your bread and butter.

1. Advisement. Career services would be a good place to start. A teacher you're friends with, too. Someone who knows more about the university.

2. Get accounting statements or information from the university. This could be fruitless if they can't afford it or have several important pending projects.

3. Research what other people have and how they did it

4. Find methods of funding this if the university can't support it any time soon.

5. Develop solutions on how to implement. Narrow your focus to implementation stages. Don't set your goal too high - make it achievable.
-eg, Improve network in certain buildings. Then campus. Then Dorms.

6. Form a draft of your plan
7. File petitions, requests, etc.
8. Put it all together.
9. Get it reviewed.
10. Make multiple copies.
11. Make it presentable.
-Nice binding. Preferably leather-bound. a bit thicker paper. Don't go too far, but good first impressions get your foot in the door.

12. Submit it to the Finance head.
13. Schedule an appointment with the Finance head.
14. Be prepared to discuss your case with him. Review your material.
15. Get there early. You'll probably have to wait, but making him wait is worse.
16. Be concise, to the point, and ready to answer questions and offer solutions.
-Administration is usually busy. Your meeting is squeezed in, probably. Plan to take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes.
17. Thank him for his time.
18. Send a thank you note after your meeting. Without this, you probably wasted your time.

edit: You can, of course, slack. But there's really no point in trying this unless you do all your work. The path to the waste bin is quick, and unrepentant.

edit2: This is what i do while MS office is updating so I can finish the accounting homework I've neglected for 8 days due tomorrow. It was this or to continue procrastinating in "Economic Meltdown."
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Postby moduspwnens » Thu Oct 02, 2008 9:36 pm

Hmm. I could probably set up a fairly simple PHP poll linked to a MySQL database and send it to everyone via the student mailing list. I'll see if I can think of some neutral-worded questions and post them up here for feedback.

Ugh, I guess I don't have a way of verifying each person only does the quiz once, though. Hmm.
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Postby Elsie » Thu Oct 02, 2008 10:15 pm

Hmm. I could probably set up a fairly simple PHP poll linked to a MySQL database and send it to everyone via the student mailing list. I'll see if I can think of some neutral-worded questions and post them up here for feedback.

Ugh, I guess I don't have a way of verifying each person only does the quiz once, though. Hmm.

Well, you don't really have to if it's just a preliminary poll. Suppliment it later with a petition and you're fine.

Petition is one of the easier parts. Stand in a popular area with some signs reading Faster Internet On Campus or something to do with technology. You can also get teachers and stuff to tell their class about it if anyone wants to sign it afterwards it'll be on the desk/posted on wall. CMST, English, Finance, CS, insert science with research field, and ISDS would probably be all amicable to it.
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Postby fafhrd » Fri Oct 03, 2008 12:47 am

I liked the football analogy - the many times i've had to explain WoW addition to friends and family, mentioning the pain of letting 39 other people down always seemed to be something they could grasp better than "i need to kill this dragon".

Also, see if you can talk to this guy in person. If you're good at presenting yourself and don't get overly excited, being there to summarise and present your proposal, then following up later on makes it a bit harder for him to just toss it in the bin after reading the introduction.

Stage 2 though, if after all the great suggestions everyone else gave the university people still ignore your requests:

i. find university rankings/reviewers that your university cares about. there are a lot of them. look at local papers and tv channels too, or the even the campus paper

ii. write some frank letters to these organizations, hopefully get something published so that the university can't just ignore the issue - if they perceive it as hurting their chances of getting funding, or getting admission applications they pretty much have to take notice of it.

iii. have you really tried everything you can to get your own personal connection going? I suppose if your campus is really isolated you have no choice. My university was in a fairly small town. The internet provided was outstanding, but they had bandwidth caps, and with bittorrent just taking off our usage was a couple of orders of magnitude greater than the monthly cap we had - after poking around with the IT people a bit my housemate and I realized they weren't going to budge, so we got a cable internet line hooked up to our rooms, bought a router and modem, and spent the rest of the year blissfully torrenting 24/7, running FTP servers and DC hubs, and downloading a new game to play every night - that ISP too introduced horribly restrictive bandwidth quotas within a year, but we were out of residence by then and switch to DSL.

If your rooms have a cable tv connection, or a phone jack, chances are you can get your own ADSL or cable internet, provided there's an ISP serving the region.
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Postby moduspwnens » Fri Oct 03, 2008 12:59 am

fafhrd wrote:iii. have you really tried everything you can to get your own personal connection going? I suppose if your campus is really isolated you have no choice. My university was in a fairly small town. The internet provided was outstanding, but they had bandwidth caps, and with bittorrent just taking off our usage was a couple of orders of magnitude greater than the monthly cap we had - after poking around with the IT people a bit my housemate and I realized they weren't going to budge, so we got a cable internet line hooked up to our rooms, bought a router and modem, and spent the rest of the year blissfully torrenting 24/7, running FTP servers and DC hubs, and downloading a new game to play every night - that ISP too introduced horribly restrictive bandwidth quotas within a year, but we were out of residence by then and switch to DSL.

If your rooms have a cable tv connection, or a phone jack, chances are you can get your own ADSL or cable internet, provided there's an ISP serving the region.


I absolutely have. We have cable coming to our rooms, but it's basic cable and these are relatively old buildings. In order for us to be able to buy our own internet, they'd have to rewire the buildings. As for the phones, they all run through hardware in the server room. I'm not sure if it's VoIP or not, but either way, we're not able to buy DSL through it.

Thanks for your other thoughts, too. I'm thinking it may be more effective to talk to him in person.
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Postby VikrumthePally » Fri Oct 03, 2008 10:04 am

Elsie wrote:Firstly, you need an outline and plan of attack. Here's some starters:

1. Academic Agenda / Mission Statement
1a. State how faster internet facilitates and supports the mission statement.
1b. State how the University will benefit in prestige or notoriety.
-Don't get too wordy, save something for the conclusion. This is basically your "Introduction" paragraph. Make sure you include a subject.

2. Transfer of research
2a. Large data sets of population data
2aa. Required for significant research and sampling
2b. Complex Modeling Transfer
2ba. Extensive mathematical modeling sets
-You can continue this into other points such as updating lab and faculty equipment software faster. Implementing new technologies faster. Notification system speeds increased, increased cross-college/culture communication and involvement, etc.

3. Why the current system isn't feasible for points in 1.
3a. Mathematic proof of unrealistic data times
3a(cont) eg - current transfer rates for common data only X mb takes Y time.
3b. State the improvement in efficiency and effectiveness of faster internet.
3b.(cont) eg- the upgrade will increase this process by x%.
3b.(cont) eg - this is equivalent to saving x time/day/week for faculty/staff/students/grads
3c. State potential expenses.
3ca. Include estimated time to implement.
3cb. Try offer possible budgeting options.


4. Conclusions
4a. Attached petition of support (students)
4b. Attached testimonials of Professors, faculty, and grad students

Other pro notes:
-You Are Not Just Writing a Letter. You are writing what is basically a Proposal. You're writing something that represents your peers' and mentors' opinions.

-Keep the tone of your letter serious and factual, but upbeat. Avoid negative and accusitive tones.

-Don't set an unachievable goal or unrealistic implementation. Improving the whole network of your campus is a huge task. Narrow your focus.

1.Form a petition. Try to get at least half the student body. This allows the top brass to flaunt they're working in the interest of the students and faculty. Let them flex their muscles. It's also a fail-safe for them if they have to increase student technology fees. Feedback is THE (second after planning) MOST IMPORTANT THING to anyone in a management position.

2. The people with decision power are influenced most by professors and faculty. These are the people will be sticking around 10+ years and they have to satisfy. It's the people they have lunch with and share ideas.

3. In-list faculty aids. Visit a writing center once you have a draft or your English professor. Visit your finance teacher (or an advisor, or the department office) for information. Visit your computer science department and learn more about the process.

4. Do your Homework. You can say and ask for whatever, and it's going to go into the garbage if you don't offer solutions to the problem and how to implement the change. Top level management have a lot to do, usually. They don't want big problems without something to work with.
-Find the schools with top level programs and departments. The whole university does not need to be amazing. For instance, LSU is top 10 for its college of business, and has the highest ranked CIA program internationally. Our computer science department isn't even accredited, though.

5. Try to contact alumni / Donating Companies that have previously donated to the college. Ask for letters of support and attach them in your appendix. Universities are heavily reliant on donations. Your administration works hard to please them in order to get new buildings, lab equipment, etc. These are the people who hold the power of the purse. The administrators ultimately answer to the money's interests.

6. Stay on topic. At some point you may feel the urge to go into other branching thoughts. Like CD-RW stations, server space, lab rooms, etc. None of that matters here. That requires a whole new slew of financial and implementation requirements. You may want to ultimately better your whole campus's network - but that won't help you get your point across.

7. If you have a student council, ask them for a resolution. In fact, if you get them involved you can probably have an easier time polling the students or getting a petition of support. A resolution isn't anything special - just a statement of what something to accomplish. Those in control like student organization involvement like this since they are the larger sources of student feedback, and it's something that gives prestige to the campus - which makes them look better.

Here at LSU, the university offers free downloads of vista, adobe, MS office, etc. All for free. We are also given free server space accessible from computer labs all over campus. I just downloaded MS Office today, in fact, and that would've been impossible without the internet connection here - ~750 mb in 7 minutes. There are labs or computer terminals in pretty much every building - many of which allow plug-in devices and CD-RWs.

Steps I'd use to accomplish this:
0. Plan. Just sit for hours and plan. Planning and implementation are your bread and butter.

1. Advisement. Career services would be a good place to start. A teacher you're friends with, too. Someone who knows more about the university.

2. Get accounting statements or information from the university. This could be fruitless if they can't afford it or have several important pending projects.

3. Research what other people have and how they did it

4. Find methods of funding this if the university can't support it any time soon.

5. Develop solutions on how to implement. Narrow your focus to implementation stages. Don't set your goal too high - make it achievable.
-eg, Improve network in certain buildings. Then campus. Then Dorms.

6. Form a draft of your plan
7. File petitions, requests, etc.
8. Put it all together.
9. Get it reviewed.
10. Make multiple copies.
11. Make it presentable.
-Nice binding. Preferably leather-bound. a bit thicker paper. Don't go too far, but good first impressions get your foot in the door.

12. Submit it to the Finance head.
13. Schedule an appointment with the Finance head.
14. Be prepared to discuss your case with him. Review your material.
15. Get there early. You'll probably have to wait, but making him wait is worse.
16. Be concise, to the point, and ready to answer questions and offer solutions.
-Administration is usually busy. Your meeting is squeezed in, probably. Plan to take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes.
17. Thank him for his time.
18. Send a thank you note after your meeting. Without this, you probably wasted your time.

edit: You can, of course, slack. But there's really no point in trying this unless you do all your work. The path to the waste bin is quick, and unrepentant.

edit2: This is what i do while MS office is updating so I can finish the accounting homework I've neglected for 8 days due tomorrow. It was this or to continue procrastinating in "Economic Meltdown."


Business school?
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