While I was a junior at Bryant University, I sought to substantially improve the residence hall computer registration process. Previously, registration was a manual process that could take as long as three weeks between the time a student registers a computer and the time that the student's port is enabled. At the end of the Summer of 1999, I designed and implemented an automated process to handle residence hall computer registrations, making the process on-demand for students. My position as a residence hall computer consultant at the university enabled this to happen as I already knew the relevant contacts to make the system official. At the beginning of the Fall semester of 1999, students were able to quickly enable their residence hall Ethernet ports, and the system properly handled the load without failing.
In addition to the registration process, ResNet Online included the following features:
- Computer moving wizard
- Student profile update page
- Integration with Bryant University's DirList2 student database to automatically retrieve student names, email addresses, and phone numbers, simplifying data entry for students
- FTP-based authentication against Bryant University's IRIX sever for logins
- Frequently asked questions that linked to each other using a simplified syntax similar to modern wiki software
- Administrative Ethernet port management that used asynchronous communication with the web server to enable and disable ports. This was years before XMLHttpRequest existed and AJAX was a buzzword
- Wizards persisted the data entered thus far into a PHPLib session, enabling students to complete a wizard between several sessions without having to re-enter any information during subsequent sessions
- Traffic graphs from the multi-router traffic grapher (MRTG)
- Squid proxy server statistics using a customized version of Prostat
- I customized Prostat to retain its state into a file so that subsequent runs do not need to re-parse the log file parts that the previous run had processed. This substantially increased Prostat's summarization performance as I had it automatically run every 5 minutes for up-to-date statistics
- DialPad proxy status information for the underlying DialPad proxy that I had set up using ipmasqadm autofw
Please feel free to see the above capabilities in action through the screen shots below.
Port Registration Wizard
When a student logs in, they are asked to select their hall and register their computer through the following sequence of pages. Students do not need to enter all information in one session; a PHPLib session stored any entered information until it was committed to the main database at the end of the wizard. The flow of the wizard largely reveals the database table relationships in ResNet's normalized MySQL database.
In addition to registering computers, students can modify their contact information and where their computers are located.
Contact Residence Hall Computer Consultant
Students can easily contact a residence hall computer consultant (RCC) for network and computer related questions. ResNet Online had a database table that contained information about which students are RCCs for each hall. Because a student's registration knows which hall they live in, requests for help were routed to the proper RCC or RCCs.