RPI Administration Unveils New Cyberweb Netsystem

in Humor

By Peter Wood

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute recently announced that it would be overhauling its web interfaces for completing the various tasks necessary to sign up for a new semester. “Instead of having the eBill show how much of tuition the scholarships cover while SIS shows how much the student paid, requiring students to check both sites and do manual calculations to ensure their tuition is paid,” a spokesperson announced, “there are now separate websites for each item that could show up on the bill, reflecting the ever-increasing specialization and diversity that is crucial to the modern workplace.”

The Institute has, in fact, introduced twenty-three new websites, each of which is vital to the process of signing up for a new semester. The full suite now includes, among others:

  • The health-insurance-fee-cancelling website
  • The meal-plan-signing-up website
  • The class-signing-up website
  • The scholarship-renewal website
  • The website for choosing roommates
  • The website for providing an off-campus address
  • The website for confirming that your social security number hasn’t changed
  • The website for specifying what role you plan to have on campus (I tried selecting “Honorable Doctor President”, but it said that it had no vacancies; the only things it would let me select were “undergraduate student” and “Sodexo worker”.)
  • That mysterious website that 503’s half of the time and consists of nothing but a checkbox labeled “I agree to the above terms and conditions” but not submitting it causes random extra fees to appear on your bill
  • The website that handles forgotten password requests from all the other sites

Each of these is made using obsolete technology from a different one of the last thirty years. One of the websites that the administration is most proud of is written entirely in something called THRETRAN, which one programmer described as “Like FORTRAN, but even more obsolete.” To help navigate this bewildering landscape, the Rensselaer Center for Open Source is creating a separate page that lists each website along with the maximum version of Netscape Navigator that can display it properly.


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