Technology news for UMD faculty, staff and students
UMD's existing voice mail system was put into service in 1992. It seems like only yesterday, doesn't it? I can still hear the debate. "Why do we need voice mail when these pink message slips work so well?" Prepare yourself: the time has come to do it all over again.
The end-of-life date for our current system has been announced by the vendor. In a couple of years, parts and service will be unavailable. Today's messaging technology has many ways to increase productivity and help users regain precious minutes in their days.
It's not just voice mail anymore. In today's environment we call it Unified Messaging (UM). With these new systems, it's possible to access all messages through a unified messages window on your computer desktop. Email, voice mail, and faxes can all be accessed through the desktop. No longer will there be a need to log into voice mail separately to check messages. You simply click on the message, like you do with email today, and listen to it via your telephone's handset or the speakers on your computer.
Mail boxes can also be set up to receive faxes. Fax messages are designated as such in your inbox. Just print it out if you need hard copy. No more fax machine needed? Maybe.
Now someone's going to ask, "If I can listen to voice mail from my computer, can I check my email from my cell phone?" The answer is yes for some systems. Text-to-speech technology is available in many systems today. Lots of features are available, but which ones do we really need? Deciding which features to choose requires a lot of discussion.
Due to the complexity of systems today, ITSS has hired a consultant to assist with the project. We have chosen the same consultant we used in 1991 to facilitate installation of the new telephone and voice mail systems, Elert and Associates.
The consultant's first task will be to perform a needs analysis by meeting with 48 departments on campus. During these meetings, Elert staff will ask questions, monitor messaging and telephone practices, and discuss new capabilities. Results of these meetings will be used to develop specifications for a new system.
We expect needs analysis to be complete by mid-May. A request for proposals (RFP) should go out in June. Vendor selection and Regents approval will take through September. System installation could start as early as November. System testing will likely take until April. User training and cut-over will occur in May 2006.
We have more than 48 departments on campus. ITSS will be developing a list of departments it feels represents a good cross section of the campus to survey. Each department will be asked to designate a department liaison through whom we will funnel communications.
We are excited about this new project, and we hope that you will be, too, as you learn more about it in the months to come.
ITSS has released its proposed rates for the coming fiscal year. Our standard suite of services for faculty and staff, which include a computer account, network connection, phone and Novell services, will increase approximately 9%. We recognize that all University students, staff, faculty and departments have been and continue to be impacted by budget issues, including ITSS. It is important to mention that during the current fiscal year this same suite of services decreased by over 20%. It is the nature of an Internal Service Organization, ISO, to exhibit rate fluctuations.
Example 1: Network, phone and Novell full service (per month)
|FY03 & FY04||FY05||FY06|
|Net connection & Internet||3.58||3.00||3.98|
|Novell Full Service||5.85||5.40||5.40|
Example 2: Network, phone and Novell print-only (per month)
|FY03 & FY04||FY05||FY06|
|Net connection & Internet||3.58||3.00||3.98|
|Novell Print Only||3.45||3.05||2.98|
We are proposing to increase both our basic access and full computer lab access student computing fees approximately 2%. A proposed increase of $.10 will be added to the per-credit basic access fee, which provides students with Internet access. The FY06 fee proposed is $4.40 per-credit.
This fee will continue to be charged only for the first 18 credits attempted by a student each semester. There is no additional charge for attempted credits over a maximum of 18. The mandatory minimum fee will increase $.30, to a total of $13.20, and will continue to be charged to students registered for 3 or less credits.
The full computer lab access fee will be available to students who pay an additional $63.00 lab access per semester. This is a proposed increase of $1.20. Page printing costs will remain the same, $.05 per page.
In setting our rates and fees for the next fiscal year we have:
- Followed the University policies and accounting principles that govern internal service organization rate development methodology
- Reviewed and complied with FY06 Phase I and II Budget Instructions.
Our tentative rates and fees information is available on the web for your review at: ITSS Rates and Fees.
We are committed to retaining rates and fees as low as possible while continuing to provide quality support and services. Please feel free to address any questions to Linda Deneen (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Steve Patterson (email@example.com).
The final rate decisions are pending Board of Regents approval.
More information: ITSS Rates and Fees /itss/rates/
ITSS will be converting the full-access Windows labs to Windows XP Professional for the Fall '05 semester.
We had originally decided to wait for the next operating system from Microsoft (Longhorn). The release of that product has been repeatedly pushed back, however, so a decision was made to make the switch to Windows XP over the coming summer months.
Windows XP will add a number of improvements to the labs including better compatibility with peripheral devices such as the USB 'keychain drives'. Since XP is what most users will likely have at home or in the office, this interface should be more familiar to the majority of our lab users than the current Windows 2000 operating system.
Test machines will be available later this semester, with details on location and availability to be announced. We strongly encourage all instructors to test the software they use for their classes on the Windows XP test units.
The Student Computing Team cooperates in the purchase of lab software based on cost/benefit analysis, overall potential use, number of students using the software, and suitability of implementation in our lab environment given licensing and technical constraints.
Software purchased for the ITSS computer labs comes from several funding sources. The ITSS Student Technology budget funds some of the software in the labs, usually general purpose applications such as productivity software, web development tools, accessibility software, utilities, and some desktop publishing and graphics applications.
Software for specific disciplines and departments is generally funded from college and departmental tech fee budgets. Depending on budget availability, ITSS may be able to help departments fund a part of some software purchases.
The factors affecting ITSS funding of departmental software include:
- Cost per license, or total cost of a site license, and the number of students using the software and total number of hours that the software will be used during a semester.
- Licensing restrictions. For practical purposes, lab software needs to be site licensed or concurrently licensed (allowing an application to be installed on all computers, but limited to the total number of copies that can run at one time).
- Network and server compatibility, including factors such as the disk space required and any network or bandwidth issues. The software must also be compatible with lab operating systems.
Adding new applications to the labs can be a complicated process and require a fair amount of lead time:
- Licenses must be purchased and media obtained, then the applications need to be tested for functionality and compatibility with lab configurations.
- Rolling out new software to the individual lab computers can take a minimum of 3-4 weeks to complete and, for practical purposes, may only be possible a few times per semester.
Departments are encouraged to purchase software (or make any software requests) a number of months before they will need to use the applications - preferably in the earlier part of the preceding semester.
A form for requesting ITSS funding help with software purchases is at Software Purchase Assistance Request
More information: ITSS computer labs /itss/labs/
The ITSS Classroom Team has been investigating ways to improve the usability and functionality of both our basic technology suite (found in all general purpose classrooms with a capacity greater than 30 seats) and in the technology-enhanced MonH 108 classroom.
The team made several site visits to local colleges and to the Twin Cities campus to see what other colleges are doing. We also benefited greatly from a report Don Krueger, Director of Technology Labovitz School of Business and Economics, shared with us. Don has been investigating the same topic and has made numerous site visits in preparation for the new LSBE building.
A common thread among most of the classrooms at these other institutions is an increased ease of use due to a control module that eliminates individual remote controls and power switches. In some cases this control module is networked and monitored by a central station. In all cases this control module eliminates several steps in turning on power and/or selecting inputs and outputs for the LCD projector.
This summer, ITSS will be implementing control module technology in the MonH 108 technology-enhanced classroom and in a general purpose classroom with the standard technology suite (likely MonH 203). Our goal is to thoroughly test this technology within our support model and to see first hand how this might improve the useability of our classroom technology.
In addition to the help from Don Kreuger, we also have received a great deal of help from Jim Gregory and the Office of Classroom Management on the Twin Cities Campus. We will continue to work with Jim's group so that we can benefit from their experience with this technology.
If you have questions, concerns, or ideas you would like to share about classroom technology, please contact Jason Davis (firstname.lastname@example.org).
More information: Classroom Technology /itss/classroom/
In early summer, ITSS will be shutting down our UMD Calendar server, known as "Corporate Time" or "Oracle Calendar". The U of M purchased a system wide license last year, and many have made the conversion to the enterprise server (UMCal). If you have not yet moved your data to the University-wide server, please contact ITSS to make arrangements to get your data moved.
How do I know if I'm still using the UMD calendar server?
UMD started using Netscape Calendar back in the fall of 1998. Over the years, it's been bought by different vendors and changed names (e.g., Corporate Time, Oracle Calendar), but it's always plugged away faithfully. If you've been using one of these calendars, and have never heard of UMCal, you're probably still using the UMD Calendar server.
To check, when you sign in to your calendar, "Connect to" should be UMCal, as shown in the sample window.
ITSS would like to thank everyone who's done this for making the transition a successful one. Please contact Bruce Reeves (breeves, x6831) if you have questions or are ready to move your data to the twin cities server.
More information: What is UMCal? /itss/computing/ct/
Fileinfo is a browser-based file manager for data stored on ITSS central systems, such as email, web, and Samba (MyFiles, MyWeb). Fileinfo queries the information stored on the ITSS central servers and then displays your file listing in an easy-to-use format. From the list displayed (shown below), you select one or more files to delete or compress.
The program has recently been upgraded to provide a number of new functions:
- In addition to removing files from your home folder, you can also remove email files and files on your personal web site (~username). From the main FileInfo page, simply select Home File Folders, Mail File Folders, or Web File Folders.
- The previous version showed all of your files in each directory, which often took a long time to gather and display on a browser. The new version allows you to click on folders to open them and display all of the files inside, or you can close the folder to minimize the view.
- In addition to removing files, you can now zip and unzip files to minimize disk storage.
- You can now remove an entire directory and all the files and directories underneath it by selecting the directory.
FileInfo is now available to use at: Fileinfo.
More information: Fileinfo
To further protect private data, the University is setting a standard about using Social Security Numbers that will apply to all University systems, including self-service applications and departmentally administered systems.
Suggestions and comments will be accepted through May 10 by Mark Powell, email@example.com.
More information: Standard: Use of Social Security Number (SSN) Usage www.umn.edu/datasec/security/StandardSSNUsage.htm
Deans, directors, and department heads are responsible for ensuring that desktop and laptop computers in their areas are compliant with the latest security standards. The Office of Information Technology provides a comprehensive guide, "Protecting Private Data Guideline," that discusses these standards. The guide includes important information about technical requirements as well as examples of private data that must be protected.
Our Computer Assessment and Update Service can help departments meet these guidelines. It is designed to help assess the current configuration and capability of a computer and to update the basic network, system, and security software. In addition to securing computers against intrusion, this service can help departments plan for future upgrades and replacements.
As part of the Computer Assessment and Update Service, we will:
- Determine the processor speed, the current amount of memory (RAM), and the total and available hard disk space of your computer.
- Determine the level of the operating system and whether any security updates or patches are needed.
- Apply the University security template.
- Update the following software:
- Windows service packs and security updates
- Internet Explorer
- Adobe Acrobat Reader
- Novell client (Windows)
- Symantec AntiVirus
- Check to see whether the fan is operating properly and whether the interior of the computer is building up dust.
The price for this checkup service is $10.00 per computer for up to an hour of assessment and software installation time, and the regular ITSS staff rate for any additional work that may need to be done and is approved by you.
Please contact Frank Simmons (firstname.lastname@example.org or ext. 8849) if you are interested in this service.
More information: Virus and Security Info www.d.umn.edu/itss/security
Just a quick reminder about some upcoming system changes:
- 7/05: FTP and telnet access to be restricted
- On July 11, 2005, ITSS will eliminate off-campus access to our major servers for non-secure login access and file transfer programs (telnet, ftp, rsh, rcp, etc.). The major servers involved are our login and web servers, including ub and bulldog (general access servers), www (our main web server), and several special purpose web servers.
- More info: March 2005
- 1/06: AppleTalk zones going away
- Next January, ITSS will be changing how the Macintosh AppleTalk protocol works on campus. Most Macintosh users may not even notice the changes, but departments with Apple LaserWriters will need to start planning for a replacement.
- More info: AppleTalk zones going away in 2006
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.