Free Internet still attractive

October 9th, 2008

Two Nex free Internet computer kiosks that have been on Algonquin campus since 2004 are still being used despite the fact that many students have laptops and wireless.

Despite the rise in popularity of the personal computer, the terminals in the B-building cafeteria and outside the bookstore still see high traffic for students who want to check e-mails.

“I believe the increased laptop with the wireless campus network would definitely have an impact on the number of students using the kiosks,” said Jarred Desjardins from Algonquin’s Ancillary Services. “That being said, for quick searches it might appeal to some rather than having to haul out their laptop for quick Internet usage.”

According to Gaetano Cardone, president of Fokus Media Ltd., the company that created the computers, the average time users stay online is seven or eight minutes. He noticed that as the Internet became much more accessible at the start of the new millennium, the overall usage of the kiosks actually went up.

“We tested at York University, the second largest campus in Canada,” he said, “and even with state of the art computer labs and Wi-Fi everywhere, students were using it, professors, people who worked there.”

The development of the Nex computer kiosk started in 2001 and hit the market in 2003. The idea was to build a quick access point for Internet users that would be easier to use than a school computer.

“The machines are built to last,” said Cardone. The company created their own operating system and designed the machines to be “hostile proof.” The military issue keyboard and trackball are changed once every five years for basic maintenance. One student complained that the trackball was not familiar to use, but would still use the terminal.

For another student, using a public computer kiosk is out of the question.

“I wouldn’t use them, they’re dirty,” said Kyle Sadaka. “It’s like a toilet you use with your hands.”

The business administration, marketing student mentioned he would use it if it was a “do or die” situation, but probably not.

“My suggestion would be to put hand sanitizer next to it,” he said.