Stuyvesant Introduces Updated Talos

Talos creator Rodda John (’17) and the Program Office introduced a “new Talos” to the Stuyvesant community on April 20.

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Talos creator Rodda John (’17) and the Program Office introduced a “new Talos” to the Stuyvesant community on April 20. The transition is just in time for fall course selections, and students may use the new Talos to view their transcripts and take daily attendance.

Contrary to popular belief, the administration was uninvolved with the creation of a new Talos; instead, John planned the update on his own, after Talos expanded to Bronx Science High School. “[Work on the new site began] probably around a year ago,” John said in an e-mail interview. “Many long awaited features [like] pronouns will be supported shortly on new Talos, in addition to a bunch of programming features that you all can’t see.”

These features include fixes that will prevent new Talos from crashing, an issue that has occurred frequently in the past. “New Talos is built on a virtualized auto scaling infrastructure such that an algorithm of mine controls how many virtual machines underlie the site. Most of these variables are in flux, but if, for example, response times for the 95th percentile user exceed 400ms, then an additional virtual machine is spawned. Hopefully no one is experiencing speed delays,” John said. “Students will see a lot of new features once the new blog/document section is released, in addition to the next stage of programming and program changes.

Additionally, the code for the updated Talos is entirely new and does not rely on any old features or programs. “[The] biggest change is likely just that many settings that used to be controlled in code are now controlled through various GUIs that administrators can access and change,” John said. This means that other schools may implement Talos without hiring John to manage their site, as the new code is much clearer.

Though some students have voiced concerns about the new website—noting that new Talos does not have tabs for checking out textbooks and managing lockers—many are satisfied with the new website and feel that it is more stable when handling many users at once. “The new site is more structured and runs smoother as compared to the old site. It’s also prettier and more appealing in a sense,” freshman Faima Safwana said. “It’s more helpful because there are more options to explore, [but] some tabs are hidden, so it would be better if they were positioned in a more obvious place.”

Freshman Kathleen Zhang added, “I remember that the old Talos was really slow, and I couldn’t log in. The new site is pretty similar to the old Talos, but I was able to find the forms I needed quickly.”

The new system also includes usability improvements for counselors and administrators, allowing them to more easily access students’ grades and parent contact information. “I can download certain reports into Excel, and I can drag things into boxes, making my life a little easier,” guidance counselor Sandra Brandan said.

The counseling department is optimistic about shifting to the new Talos. “I am hoping that it’s easier to learn [than the old Talos site] and user-friendly. Change is always scary, but once you get used to something, you see its benefits,” Brandan said.