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WebMail upgrade adds functionality


Photo
EVAN CARAVELLI/Arizona Daily Wildcat
John Hasebrook, computer operations support specialist at CCIT, examines the hard drive array of the servers that run the UA's e-mail system last January.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
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UA's e-mail system will include bigger attachments, smiley-faces

Students and staff at the UA will find a few more buttons to play around with when they check their university e-mail accounts next week.

The WebMail 2.0 system will be upgraded to WebMail 2.5 Monday, and will include new features like smiley-face icons, allowance for larger e-mail attachments and a personalized WebMail home page, according to the Center for Computing & Information Technology Web site.

The CCIT Web site said the personalized WebMail 2.5 home page will display local time and weather, provide a field for Google search engine access and be fine-tuned to provide a more efficient handling of the user address book and user e-mail folders.

Mike Torregrossa, co-director for CCIT, said they use the same e-mail software used at many universities nationwide as the basis for WebMail 2.5.

"We used (the software) because it was popular, it was good and it was free," Torregrossa said.

He said the upcoming upgrade will keep the UA e-mail system up-to-date with the current, more streamlined version of public software.

A handful of specialists from the CCIT Systems Group has been working on WebMail 2.5 since the decision to upgrade the existing system was made at the beginning of 2004,Torregrossa said.

A preview of the new program has been available online since the end of the spring semester.

The specialists are also responsible for UA-specific modifications made to the existing program. Those modifications will allow students to access college and departmental Web sites, Student Link and WebCT by typing a single NetID user name and password into WebMail 2.5.

The integration of these systems with WebMail 2.5 will simplify operations throughout the UA, Torregrossa said.

Torregrossa said he doesn't expect many problems with the launch, but said, "We anticipate getting a lot of questions when (WebMail 2.5) is turned on."

He said the bulk of the questions will probably concern navigation around the new Web site.

Torregrossa also said some problems might arise for users still browsing with older versions of Netscape.

"If your browser works with the current WebMail, then it can use 2.5," he said. "We encourage people to upgrade their browser software for security purposes anyway."

While WebMail 2.5 is expected to be in full swing Monday, WebMail 2.0 will be available until the end of November.

Torresgrossa said there will be a link to the older version on the WebMail 2.5 log-on page in case users have trouble with the new system.

If there is a major failure with WebMail 2.5, Torregrossa said there is no risk of lost user accounts. Accounts are accessed via WebMail and are not stored within the program, he said.

There is not yet a specific date scheduled for the next upgrade, Torregrossa said.

"However, I can say with certainty that there will be an update, because these software packages get updated all the time," he said.



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