Olson's Blue Period
by Heather Thompson
The new favorite color of the Olson basement must be blueberry. Blueberry, that is, from the plastic cases of the iMac Apple computers that adorn the recently renovated computer classroom 21 Olson, as well as the new computer facility, 1 Olson.
21 Olson, as well as PC lab 27 Olson, began renovation during the last week of June and reopened in time for the start of Summer Sessions II.
27 Olson opened on July 21. Inside reside 23 Dell Optiplex GX1 PCs which have 128 MB of RAM and are 450 MHz Pentium IIs. These computers are accompanied by Zip drives and, besides the standard PC software, have Statview 5.01 and Turbo Pascal 7.0. 21 Olson opened on August 3. These 30 blueberry colored iMacs have 96 MB of RAM and external floppy drives attached.
A great improvement for students are the networked printers in each newly opened lab; no longer will students have to walk down the hall to 15 Olson to pick up their printed documents. 15 Olson will continue to house computer room consultants, as well as four print-only stations.
There were many other exciting renovations in the two Olson labs: custom built furniture, audio/visual improvements, and more space for workstations. The furniture was built specifically for the computer classrooms by the UCD Facilities Services/Physical Plant. These new tables are similar to those recently installed in other computer classrooms around campus. Todd Van Zandt, IT Hardware Support Manager, says, "Custom building the new furniture allowed us to make use of some additional space in the rooms and extend the majority of the tables an additional 6" to free up more table/workspace for our clients." In 27 Olson, the tables also house the tower computer in a special out-of-the-way compartment. These compartments exist in the 21 Olson iMac lab, but as the iMacs have no tower, computer consultants have been encouraging students to stow their backpacks in them. This helps to clear space in the labs, maintaining the clean new look achieved after the renovation.
Another part of the renovation was to incorporate the audio/visual system controls into the instructor's computer table so he/she won't have to walk to the corner of the room to turn the computer or VCR display on or off.
Although fluorescent dimmer lights were installed in 1 Olson, 21 and 27 Olson retained the full overhead fluorescent lights and the back lighting of the track lights. One computer consultant, Jason Hahn, claims that the labs are definitely less drab and less dark than they used to be. The crisp, clean appearance of the new tables and the cheerful splashes of color from the blueberry iMacs attest to this impression.
Student response has been positive in the newly renovated labs. Van Zandt believes that "although students think the iMacs look cute, there still tends to be a higher usage in the PC lab, Olson 27." He attributes this to the fact that most students own or are more familiar and comfortable with PCs.
The tentative hours for Fall 1999 are Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. To check for lab availability, please see Lab Management's Web site at http://lm.ucdavis.edu/rooms/available.