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+ Why are we seeing more spam?

+ facultEtools: eGradebook

+ Computer Assessment Services

+ Network Architecture Improvements

+ Other ITSS services

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ITSS home : Info.tech.NEWS : November 2005

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Technology news for UMD faculty, staff and students

November 2005

Why are we seeing more spam?

ITSS staff have several processes in place which minimize the amount of spam delivered to your email folders. Some of the processes look for sites to block, some look for virus signatures, and some use a temporary reject process that has been quite effective over the past six months. However, the spamers are always looking for ways to get past whatever blockers we use, and recently they have found a way through some of our processes. Our staff are monitoring the situation and looking for new ways to filter the useful from the useless (and often malicious) and we will keep you posted.

Please be extra wary of any email that requests any kind of personal information. Almost all institutions no longer request private information via email, and since most email is still unencrypted it is very important to never use email for transporting private information. Email messages from banks or credit institutions are a favorite right now, and you should always make a phone call to the bank or credit institution before reacting to any of these kinds of messages.

Also, please be aware that another common misuse of email appears as official looking email messages from our ITSS administrators, often from support@d.umn.edu or similar. These often send you to sites where you have to re-enter your account name and password, and these are really attempts to gain access to systems at our site. Always call our Help Desk at (726) 8847 to verify any request for information from ITSS, and be suspicious of any request for information via email.

facultEtools: eGradebook

Focus on facultyEtools: Each month we will feature one of our technology resources for faculty. If you have questions about a tool or would like to set up a meeting to discuss using one of the tools that we feature, please contact Shelly McCauley Jugovich at (x6862, smccaule) or Bruce Reeves at (x6831, breeves)

This month's featured facultyEtools is eGradebook

eGradebook is available for general use by all UMD faculty members and is an easy to use web-based program. Faculty can easily add grades to the grade book and students can easily access their grades using a web browser. No programs need to be downloaded or installed on your computer.

Faculty and students access their eGradebooks at: http://www.d.umn.edu/egradebook

After logging in faculty can create grades books for specific courses, enter grades, and change settings. The set up is easy and very flexible. Once you design a grade book you can copy the same grade book structure into other sections or semesters. It you are using Scantron, grades can be automatically uploaded into the grade book. Please contact Spring Billiar (x8843, sbilliar) for details.

Students log in and see a list of courses that they are currently registered for and will have an active link for courses that use the eGradebook system. The student will view only his/her list of grade reports. If a class does not use the eGradebook system, students will see a note to check with the instructor for grade information.

Start using eGradebook today. It is easy to set up, easy to update, and provides secure access for students!

Other facultyEtools: http://www.d.umn.edu/itss/facstaff/WebServices.html

eGradebook Quick Start Guide: http://www.d.umn.edu/itss/FacultyWebServices/eGradebook/quickstart.html

eGradebook Setup and Help information: http://www.d.umn.edu/itss/FacultyWebServices/eGradebook/index_help/create.html

Computer Assessment Service - Two levels available

For the past few years, ITSS staff have been providing a Computer Assessment and Update Service to our customers. This assessment is designed to help a department or individual assess the current configuration and capability of their computer and update some of their software. Departments have used this to help in planning for future upgrades and replacements.

The Computer Assessment covers such items as determining processor speed, amount of memory (RAM), and level of the operating system, applying any Windows service packs or security updates, and upgrading basic business software such as Mulberry, web browsers, the Novell client, and anti-virus software. The cost for this basic assessment, which can normally be completed in an hour or less by one of our trained student technicians, is $10.

Recently, ITSS has added a new assessment called the Desktop Computer Security Check. The security check is designed to assist departments in meeting the University standard on Securing Private Data (http://www1.umn.edu/oit/security/privatedata.html). The standard defines the requirements for securing computers that store or access private data, such as social security number, birth date, home phone number or address, student grades, health information, and more. The standard states in part that, "Computers and other devices must be either continuously managed or reviewed on an ongoing basis for appropriate security measures by a full-time information technology professional."

OIT has established a set of guidelines for securing all desktop computers (Windows, Macintosh and Linux). The Security Check service provided by ITSS meets this guidelines and is available for both Windows and Macintosh computers. The cost for this critical service, which requires one to two hours of time and must be supervised by an ITSS staff member, is $39.

If you would like to schedule either of these assessments for yourself or your department, please fill out the online web form, "Desktop Computer Support" at: http://www.d.umn.edu/itss/requests/dtteam/html/softreq.html

If you have questions or would like more information, please contact Sally Bradt, (x8856, sbradt).

Network Architecture Improvement

ITSS staff made some substantial improvements to the main network backbone during the summer. There are now three feeds between our two main routers, one of which is a redundant path. The redundant path follows a different physical route between the two routers. This should allow network services to survive a cable cut.

In addition, our network vendor is now providing switches that can be stacked. In the past our building design often had a main switch with several additional switches daisy chained off of the first one. A single switch failure in that design can cause several other switches to fail. New switches that are stacked can be set up as independent units with dual paths to improve uptime. Our new architecture for buildings which will be rolled out during the next several years includes gigabit feeds, stacked switches and dual paths.

Work is still progressing on the architecture needed to allow full network service redundancy. The next sets of improvement steps are planned for this during the January break and August 2006 time frames.

Other ITSS services you may be interested in

Would you like to have assistance in designing a solution for your management reporting and data needs? Would you like to reduce the amount of document storage in your office, be able to easily locate documents, and view them on your office computer monitor? Do you need help with implementing a web-based application?

Our staff can provide a variety of support and service to assist your individual and department technology needs. We offer programming and consulting support, data base and data warehouse support for the newer client server environments, imaging and workflow consulting support for document management, and development for web data base applications.

For assistance in training, design, consulting, programming, or for another technology support requirement please feel free to contact Steve Patterson, ext 8785 or email spatters@d.umn.edu. You may also submit a service request on-line at the following web page: http://www.d.umn.edu/itss/requests/

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: sbradt@d.umn.edu.