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The night before classes began brought even more stress than usual.

Mocha — the student-developed Web alternative to the University's online course catalogue — suffered technical difficulties and was unavailable to students for much of the evening, causing widespread frustration as hundreds tried to access the site to plan the first day of shopping period.

The service, which is hosted by an outside company, went down early Tuesday afternoon and began working again at some point Wednesday morning, said Daniel Leventhal '07, one of the four original creators of the service. He said the problem resolved itself after they restarted the server, though it is still unclear precisely what went wrong.
"It happens," he said. "It has gone down in the past. In this case, we don't really know what's going on."

But students looking for last-minute course and scheduling information were not so equanimous. Angry Facebook statuses and tweets across campus told tales of frustration and confusion.

"It was the single most important day for Brown students to have Mocha," said Gabe Paley '12, who tried unsuccessfully to access the Web site as early as 3 p.m. on Tuesday. He said he used the hard copy of the course announcement to plan out his classes, costing him time and scheduling confusion. "It's like living in the stone age," he said.

Mocha was created in 2006 by undergraduates in the Department of Computer Science. It is not supported by the University and is still maintained independently by its creators, Leventhal said. The site allows students to plot out their course schedule visually and provides reading lists, professor information and further course details.

Although Brown does offer Banner — its own online course registration and catalogue site — "Mocha is much more user friendly," said Haley Kossek '13. She added that freshman are unaccustomed to both services and were less frustrated by Mocha's absence.

Leventhal said he did not think any problems were related to Mocha's heavy usage before the start of classes, noting that Mocha has survived many other registration periods. He said he does not expect a similar crash to happen again.



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