When I arrived at Ithaca College in the fall of 2014, I became immediately frustrated with HomerConnect, the school's unintuitive and difficult-to-use class registration and degree evaluation system. Knowing I'd be stuck using this system for four years, I spent a few hours hacking together an extension for Google Chrome that made a few minor improvements (like making the menus easy to understand) and added a few features (like the ability to use your browser's back button without being logged out).
I created "Less Terrible HomerConnect" with the sole intention of making things easier for myself, but after some egging on from my dorm neighbors and my academic advisor, I published it on the Chrome Web Store. I'm not sure if this speaks more highly of my extension or poorly of the original system, but within a week or so, my extension had a user base the size of ten percent of the Ithaca College student body.
The whole situation spun completely out of my control when our student body newspaper published an article about my work. I soon received this email from the college's Director of Enterprise Application Services:
Amazingly, rather than punishing me or yelling at me, Dave (now the Ithaca College CIO) and his team took the time to listen to my concerns about the system. I was soon offered a job in our Information Technology Services department, a position I've now held for almost four years.
Within a few months of our conversation, IT released an updated version of the system that addressed some of the most irritating issues. Several years later, I was told by my academic advisor that this whole situation led directly to the creation of a faculty-staff task force that worked to address some of the broader issues with Ithaca College's registration process.
Desmond said meeting with Zufall and seeing his creation motivated ITS to create HomerConnect 2.0.
“Honestly, that was probably a big driver for why this happened,” Desmond said. “We’ve always known that it’s an issue. I think it was really that that said ‘All right, guys, this is a really big issue, you need to do this now.’”