Technology news for UMD faculty, staff and students
Viz Lab Presents
This past summer was extremely productive for the summer researchers at the Visualization and Digital Imaging Lab (VDIL). From composing music using ProTools software to analyzing the waters of Lake Superior, research continues in a wide variety of disciplines. The Viz Lab Presents series allows the researchers to present their efforts to the campus community.
All events will be at the Viz Lab (MPAC 154) Fridays at noon, unless otherwise noted (see October schedule at right).
If you have not had the time to tour the Viz Lab, this is a also a great opportunity for you to discover what is happening in this high tech lab. For questions regarding the Viz Lab, please contact Lisa Valdez at x8093.
For more information: Viz Lab Presents www.d.umn.edu/vdil/events/
The recent outbreak of viruses and worms on the Internet (e.g., Welchia and Blaster) are more the norm than the exception these days. While ITSS continues its proactive scanning for viruses and other network problems, computer owners need to be vigilant about anti-virus software and operating system updates.
What ITSS is doing
ITSS continues to regularly scan the UMD campus backbone for systems that are vulnerable to the "Blaster" type of vulnerability. The list of vulnerable computers is shared with those that provide support for each unit.
ITSS also scans inbound email for viruses based on a 'signature' match of known virus. The scan is done as the message is being delivered, and messages infected with viruses are discarded. We are researching several products that scan the messages right after they are received, which is more efficient. We are also researching methods to get current virus signatures from web sites that watch for this information on a continuous basis.
What you can do
Your best defense is a good offense: follow the tips below to protect yourself, your computer, and your private information.
- Install Norton anti-virus software
- The University has an agreement with Norton that means you get free anti-virus software for any University-owned computer, and one personal computer. Install the "managed" version for computers on campus, and it is automatically updated. If you install the personal version on your home computer, be sure to run the "Live Update" feature at least once a week.
- Run Windows Update Service
- Apply the service packs and critical updates for your operating system. Windows Update Service and a fast Ethernet connection make this relatively painless. To run this service, select "START - Windows Update", select "Scan my computer", then select and install all "Critical Updates and Service Packs" listed in the left-hand menu after the scan.
- Enable Automatic Updates
- Automatic Updates ensure that your computer remains up-to date with the most current service packs, patches and updates. To enable this feature on Win2000 or WinXP computers:
- Select Start -> Control Panels -> Automatic Updates
- Select "Download the updates and ... notify me"
- Install "spyware" software
- Do you know what's running on your computer? Are pop-ups driving you mad? When you download and install "free" programs from the Internet, you may be getting more than you realize. Ad-Aware is a free program that ferrets out unwanted spyware, adware and pop-ups.
For more information: Virus and Security info www.d.umn.edu/itss/security/
Audio-Visual (AV) services has been on the move over the summer and fall. We moved to Kirby Plaza 143 in May, and we anticipate moving back to KPlz 175 near the end of October. At that time, we will make every effort to minimize disruptions in service.
Since we are in the midst of the construction zone, we have been trying to minimize foot traffic in and out of AV. Whenever possible, please feel free to request reservations by leaving a voice mail at 6222 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We also have an online AV Checkout Equipment reservation form. We will confirm these reservations within one business day.
AV has also been converting to a new reservation software program. We'd like to thank all of our customers for their patience as we implement this transition.
With these changes, we'd like to remind everyone to allow as much lead time as possible when making reservations or picking up equipment. If you have questions, please contact Sarah Paro at x6317 (sparo) or Jason Davis at x8782 (jdavis), or refer to our web site.
For more information: AV Checkout Equipment www.d.umn.edu/itss/classroom/page2.html
On Friday, June 13, 2003 the Board of Regents approved an agreement between the University of Minnesota and Microsoft Corporation to provide a suite of Microsoft's most popular software for use on computers that are owned by the University of Minnesota.
Academic & Distributed Computing Services (ADCS) and the Office of Information Technology (OIT), which are both located on the Twin Cities campus, will be administering this license. The starting date for this license is July 1, 2003 and the University is committed to a 3-year term for these products.
The Microsoft software available through the new system-wide agreement is essentially the same software suite that has been provided through separate UMD campus agreements during the last two fiscal years. Since this new agreement began July 1, 2003, UMD ITSS will no longer negotiate or implement a separate campus agreement.
The software that is available through the new agreement includes the following:
- Windows operating system upgrades
- Microsoft Office XP Professional
- Microsoft Office for Macintosh
- Front Page
- Visual Studio.net
- All Windows Client Access Licenses (CALs), including SQL CAL
PLEASE NOTE: It is important that departments not purchase this software through any other means. Licenses for these products have been paid for already and the software may be used legally on any computers that are owned by the University of Minnesota. Separate purchases are unnecessary and wasteful.
UMD ITSS will provide access to the Microsoft software and product license keys for departments through CD media kits provided to collegiate offices and department technology coordinators. If you are interested in obtaining a collegiate unit or department cd media kit, or have other questions about the program, please contact Steve Patterson (email@example.com) or Frank Simmons (firstname.lastname@example.org).
For more information: Microsoft University-wide Campus Agreement www.d.umn.edu/itss/software/ca/
ITSS recently created a "studenttech.announce" ListServ for students interested in technology news at UMD. Students who subscribe to this list will receive the monthly Infotech.News, as well as email updates on services or systems that students use.
ITSS maintains several email ListServs for the UMD campus. Each ListServ is geared toward a particular subject; users who subscribe to a ListServ receive periodic email updates and information from ITSS staff on the chosen subject.
For more information: ITSS ListServs www.d.umn.edu/itss/listserv/
Looking for help with your campus web site? ITSS offers an array of basic, advanced and free web services to the UMD community, including web design and development, interactive applications, migration to the new UMD templates, accessibility/usability/link checking, online forms and customized database applications.
Basic and advanced web services
Basic web development services include text editing, html links, simple mail forms, graphics, scanned pictures, animated GIFs, image maps, image compression, registration with popular search engines. The cost of basic services is $13.00 per hour.
Advanced web services include custom Java and CGI programming, interaction with a database, threaded discussion, and secure credit transactions. The cost of advanced services is $41.50 per hour.
Free web services
We strive to provide the UMD community with free information on evolving web technologies, best practices, and available resources for those building and maintaining their own web sites.
- WebDev Guide is ITSS's guide to creating a web site at UMD, and includes a checklist for web site developers, public CGI scripts, University policies, and lots more.
- Web Design References is a huge mega-reference (over 3,000 links) of information and articles about web design and development. It is dedicated to disseminating news and information about web design and development with emphasis on elements of user experience, accessibility, web standards, CSS, information architecture, XML and more.
- WebDev Listserv / Web Design Update delivers web development news and information to your email box.
- Online Web Development Tutorials are a smart choice to learn technology at your own rate. Our online training guides include Dreamweaver, Cascading Style Sheets, Web Accessibility, Flash, and many more topics from our previous workshops.
- Workshops are offered each semester on a variety of web development topics.
For more information: Web Services www.d.umn.edu/itss/webdev/
Media industries have stepped up their efforts to eliminate illegal file sharing on the Internet, and they are targeting campus networks in particular. Please be aware of the risks involved in illegal file sharing and take steps to ensure that you are using your network access legally and appropriately.
Students living in the residence halls were warned about the dangers of illegal file sharing in a letter sent by ITSS Director Linda Deneen to all students. Risks include loss of their network connection, sanctions from the campus conduct code coordinator, or legal action, including lawsuits, against the student as an individual
For University staff using University resources (e.g. computer or network), downloading or sharing copyrighted songs or movies for personal or other non-job related reasons without the permission of the copyright holder is against University policy. Such behavior is not acceptable and is subject to disciplinary action.
UMD customers who have installed the Corporate edition of Norton AntiVirus for the Macintosh may need a "subscription key" to update their service.
Many people are finding their Live Update feature is disabled with an indication that the subscription has expired. When you install the Macintosh version, you are given a 365-day subscription from the day of the installation. In order to continue it beyond that you need to enter a new subscription key.
When you get the dialog box indicating that the service has expired you have an option to click a button and enter a subscription key. This will unlock Live Update for another year. To get the subscription key, please contact the ITSS Help Desk (x8847).
The University is trying to get Symantec to change the product so this is not needed. However, expect that we will need to get new subscription keys on a monthly basis.
For more information: Norton Anti-virus www.d.umn.edu/itss/security/nav/
The ITSS Web Design Update won a Gold award in the University of Minnesota's Communicators Forum Maroon and Gold competition. Web Design Update is a plain text email digest dedicated to disseminating news and information about web design and development with emphasis on elements of user experience, accessibility, web standards and more.
Web Design Update is typically published weekly and is mailed to members of the WebDev ListServ. It is published in conjunction with the Web Design Reference Site. Both the digest and web site are intended as references for web designers and developers. Web Design Update currently serves over one hundred and ninety subscribers from the University of Minnesota, many universities throughout the United States and some from other countries.
The Web Design Update is a free service provided by the ITSS Web Team. If you are interested in web design and development, we invite you to join the WebDev ListServ and receive the award-winning Web Design Update.
For more information: WebDev ListServ www.d.umn.edu/itss/support/Training/Online/webdesign/webdev_listserv.html
Email services, and webmail in particular, have been problematic this fall and ITSS staff have been working to correct this. One solution was to configure separate servers for on-campus and off-campus access to webmail.
Since the web URL for the on-campus webmail server has changed, please delete any old bookmarks that no longer work. The easiest way to get to webmail is from the link on the UMD home page or the ITSS home page; or, use http://www.d.umn.edu/email/
ITSS staff worked hard over the summer to upgrade our webmail server with a bigger, faster machine. Unfortunately, when students returned in the fall, we began to observe serious slowdowns on webmail. When problems with webmail got serious enough, it also slowed down our other email systems.
ITSS staff tried a variety of configuration changes to correct the problem. We shut down webmail completely when it caused our entire email system to fail. We brought it up with access limited to off-campus users only, since it is the primary secure email service for those using non-university networks. Finally we were able to determine that the big new server we had purchased, running the Linux operating system, was probably at fault. The webmail software interacts poorly with the operating system at certain load levels, and the result is that response degrades rapidly rather than evenly.
ITSS staff configured a Sun server to provide webmail services for on-campus users. They also configured a different server to replace the Linux server for off-campus users.
The current configuration seems to be fairly stable for now, but we are still researching options and may upgrade both servers during the next two weeks. We will continue to send updates to the campus about our progress, and will also post updates on our ITSS web site.
Thanks to all of our webmail customers for your patience as we work through this extremely frustrating problem.
For more information: ITSS home www.d.umn.edu/itss/
info.tech.News is published monthly during the academic year by ITSS. An email digest is also sent to all users subscribed to the infotech.announce, UMD.business.announce and studenttech.announce. The goal is to distribute information useful to the daily routines of the University of Minnesota Duluth campus community in conjunction with computer and telephone technologies. Comments or suggestions may be sent to the editor at: email@example.com.