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Aug
13
Hide Your Kids, Hide Your Wi-Fi
Posted by Matthew Austin on 13 August 2016 04:20 AM

Welcome to "Northwestern College"

That's the name of the new wireless network that we installed this summer, and I think you're really going to like it.  Our summer student technicians, Ashton Graves, Tung Tran, and Blake Mulder, led by our network admin Dan Robinson, spent many weeks hard at work in hot dorms this summer ripping out the old system and installing the new.  Seriously, if you see them, give them a handshake or a high-five, they're awesome.   Let me tell you a little bit about the new wireless system.  

It's easier to get connected

Gone are the "NWC" and "Mobile" networks.  With the old system, computers connected to one network, smartphones to another, but what about Tablets?  Gaming consoles?  Streaming devices? Doesn't matter anymore.  Now you just connect any device to the network called "Northwestern College".  Upperclassmen may cringe at the memory of the connection workshops we previously held during freshmen orientation weekend.  We had to install special software and do a lot of manual configuration, and I'll be honest, it was kind of a pain to get connected that first time, and none of us enjoyed it.  Now, it's as simple as connecting at a Holiday Inn or a Starbucks.  Just connect to the "Northwestern College" WiFi network, open your browser, and log in! (click here for more detailed instructions.) Of course an antivirus is still highly recommended, and we still offer Sophos for free if you need it.  Just swing by the help desk and we'll help you install it!  

You've got a stronger signal

Overall, we increased the number of wireless access points (APs) across campus by about 40%.  But that doesn't quite tell the whole story.  We really wanted to focus on improving the dorms, and some dorms were worse than others, so we added even more APs where needed. For example, Steggy had 11 APs at last count with the old system, and it's up to 27 now! Nearly as important, we've moved all APs that were previously located in rooms, out to the hallway ceilings, so the signal is more evenly distributed.    

It's faster

Our old wireless system consisted of the best technology 2011 had to offer.  It was great for awhile, but after five years it was definitely time for an upgrade.  The new Meraki APs we've deployed are the best available as of 2016, with full Wave 2 Wireless AC, which allows for increased user capacity as well as better signal strength and speed.  They're hooked into faster network ports, and the main campus internet connection has been upgraded to a full gigabit.  This, combined with more APs and better placement throughout campus should lead to an improved experience.  

It's new

Well, duh, I've already said that.  But what I mean to say is that as with any new system, there's always a chance something might not work as expected, and that's where we need you.  Let us know if you notice something isn't working quite right.  For example, we've already noticed with the early-arrival students that even though it's supposed to automatically allow streaming devices and gaming consoles when you connect, some of them don't work unless we manually add them to the system.  If you run into that situation, email the help desk at helpdesk@nwciowa.edu with your devices's IP address or MAC address and we'll put it on for you. (If you're not sure where to find this information, email us anyway, and we'll help you find it.)  

Final Thoughts

Is this new system going to rock your world and make all your wildest dreams come true?  Probably not, but I'm excited anyway.  What I hope to hear from students about our new WiFi system is that it gets out of your way and "just works".  And I really do want to hear from you.  If you have questions, comments, complaints, or feedback about the new system, please, send them our way.  You can reach me at matthew.austin@nwciowa.edu.  

Welcome back, everyone, I hope you have an awesome semester.

Matt Austin

Help Desk Manager


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