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In This Issue

+ New Voice Mail System Chosen

+ New System for Email List Management

+ Learning Spaces

+ facultEtools: Uthink

+ IRC bots - What you should know

+ VDIL hosts Games Symposium

+ Improvements to Student Computer Lab Services

+ Ruckus update

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ITSS home : Info.tech.NEWS : April 2006

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Technology news for UMD faculty, staff and students

April 2006

New Voice Mail System Chosen

After a year-long selection process, ITSS has chosen Nortel's Call Pilot unified messaging system to replace our older Octel voice mail system. Call Pilot offers many new features including, but not limited to:

Another benefit of the Call Pilot system is its close integration with our Nortel phone system. Users with the black Nortel phones will see the four feature buttons located below the display change to voice mail commands automatically once they've connect to voicemail. If you would like to beat the rush and have not yet upgraded to one of the M3900 series black phones , you can submit a request at http://www.d.umn.edu/itss/requests/pnteam/html/chg-phn.html

What's next? Our implementation team will begin meeting shortly to determine the different class-of-service offerings. Some users may only want traditional voice mail, some may want access to messages via the desktop, and others may want complete unified messaging with access to text-to-speech e-mail. We will be contacting all departments in the next few weeks to set up design meetings where we'll discuss the options available. Departments will choose the mail box type for each user in their department. We would like these design meeting completed before the end of the semester - at least for those departments that are closed for the summer. System installation and testing will proceed throughout the summer months. All customers will receive hands-on training in August before the system goes on-line before the start of the fall semester.

New System for Email List Management

If you regularly send email to groups of people you may be interested in our new email list manager, called Mailman. As with other types of ITSS email lists, such as class email aliases and Listproc lists, ITSS can set up a single address which you and others can use to send email to a group of people. You, or whomever else you authorize, can modify the list through a web page. One advantage of this type of list is that you can easily pass the responsibility of managing the list on to someone else. List management is also quite straight forward. Removing people from the list is as simple as clicking a box next to their address on the list, and adding people is done by typing their email addresses into a text box on the list management web site. There are also a number of configuration options you can choose within Mailman, such as designating who can send email to the list, allowing people to remove themselves from the list, and automatically dropping email addresses that email cannot be delivered to.

For those of you who still have Listproc lists (which you are updating by sending email messages to listproc@.umn.edu) we plan to move all of those lists to Mailman by the end of the summer. We are contacting list owners individually about moving their lists, but if you are ready to take the plunge now, please contact Gordee Bennett (gbennett, x8840). We also set up new lists for UMD departments and student organizations for a small fee. We have a test list set up and can provide the URL and password to anyone who would like to have a look at how list management works using Mailman.

Learning Spaces

Learning Spaces theory is an emerging philosophy developed and championed by EDUCAUSE, a national organization promoting intelligent use of technology in higher education. Learning spaces are not merely traditional classrooms, although they do encompass them. Learning spaces are both formal and informal, physical and virtual, in "real time" and asynchronous. They are thoughtfully planned, incorporating architecture, technology, and the needs of all stakeholders into active and collaborative learning opportunities.

The design of learning spaces presents a number of challenges and opportunities for higher education. This theory is predicated on good needs assessment, involving all of the stakeholders. It requires sound pedagogical theory, the latest relevant and useful technologies, and the usual considerations of architecture, heating and cooling systems, etc. to be considered on an equal basis during the design process.

Some Examples:

Why this is Relevant at UMD:

As we continue to build, renovate, and re-envision the use of space on the UMD campus, learning spaces theory provides another tool for us to use in order to make sure that teaching and learning continue to be well represented in all of these processes. More Information: http://www.educause.edu/eli/

facultEtools: Uthink

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) or Bruce Reeves at (x6831)

This month’s featured facultyEtool is UThink.

What is UThink? UThink is a blog (or weblog). So, what is a blog? The Wikipedia definition of a blog is: “A blog (or weblog) is a website in which items are posted on a regular basis and displayed with the newest at the top. Like other media, blogs often focus on a particular subject, such as food, politics, or local news. Some blogs function as online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. Since its appearance in 1995, blogging has emerged as a popular means of communication, affecting public opinion and mass media around the world.” Visit Wikipedia to find out more information on blog basics, the history of blogs, types of blogs and more. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog

UThink is available to the faculty, staff, and students of the University of Minnesota, and is intended to support teaching and learning, scholarly communication, and individual expression for the U of M community http://blog.lib.umn.edu/

UThink is also a wonderful way to podcast or vodcast with RSS feeds built into the tool. You upload your lectures, discussions, etc. and end users can subscribe to your blog and receive downloads as materials become available online.

IRC bots - What you should know

IRC bots are infecting hundreds of Windows computers on our network, mostly in our residence halls. Computers infected with IRC bots can be used to send spam mail, collect private data (passwords, bank account info, credit card info), distribute viruses or illegal materials, and create denial of service attacks on other computers.

Because the infected computers cause problems with network stability and security, ITSS removes them from the network as soon as they are discovered. We have removed almost 400 hundred infected computers this year so far.

What is an IRC bot?

IRC bots are network-aware worms that allow an infected computer to send information to and receive instructions from a central bot control server. They can download patches and upgrades to themselves, install backdoors, keyloggers, rootkits, and other malicious software, or communicate with each other to perform denial of service attacks.

IRC bots are considered by many to be one of the gravest threats to a Windows computer user.

How do you get an IRC bot?

Most IRC bots are spread by clicking on malicious links in instant messaging programs such as AIM and MSN.

Unfortunately, current anti-virus software (Symantec, McAffee) does not detect or prevent IRC bots. In fact, at this point in time, there are no tools that will completely protect against an IRC bot infection, although there are tools to remove most varieties once discovered.

However, you can minimize your risk by following the University's "Safe Computing" guidelines.

  • For University computers, see: Securing a University Owned Machine.
  • For personal computers, see: Securing a Personal Machine.
  • If you are notified that you have an IRC bot

    Our network monitoring tracks traffic to and from known bot controllers, and allows us to find infected computers on our network. If you are notified that your computer is infected, you have several options:

    1. Try running the Aimfix tool. Aimfix is a free tool that detects and removes most (but not all) IRC bots. You can get a copy on CD from ITSS Maintenance (KPLZ 165), or download it here: AIM Fix.
    2. Bring your computer to ITSS Maintenance for a more thorough IRC bot and virus cleaning. Our staff have put together an arsenal of tools to detect and remove IRC bots and other malicious spyware and viruses. There is a nominal charge for this service.
    3. Reinstall your operating system. This is the most secure method, and should be done on any University computer with private data. To do it yourself, refer to Part Two of the checklist, Reinstall an Infected Operating System. Or, bring your computer to our Maintenance area (Kplz 165) for assistance. This service is billed at our regular hourly rate.

    For questions or further assistance, contact the ITSS Help Desk (x8847).

    For more information

    Read US-CERT Cyber Security Tip ST06-001: Understanding Hidden Rootkits and Botnets

    VDIL hosts Games Symposium

    The first Games Symposium at UMD, sponsored by the Viz Lab (Visualization and Digital Imaging Lab) and GRAVEL, will be held on Friday, April 21 from 8:50 am until 4 pm in the Kirby Rafters. This event showcases gaming technologies and scholarship in an effort to promote and advance understanding of the important new medium of the video game. The morning features speakers and the afternoon showcases games and technology.

    Interactive exhibits and “hands on” gaming demonstrations will be featured at the Games Symposium. In addition, several gaming experts have agreed to do presentations at the event, including: Sandra Voelker (artist from Electronic Arts), Paul Skalski (video game effects researcher at UMD), Pete Willemsen (virtual reality researcher at UMD), Pete Border (UMTC researcher teaching physics with video games), Steve Horner (composer and sound designer), Nora Paul (INMS/GRAVEL Director at UMTC, modding NeverWinter Nights), Joellyn Rock (digital artist at UMD) and others. For more information, please contact Lisa Fitzpatrick (lfitzpat, x8093)

    And don't forget this week's Viz Lab Presents...

    Harlan Stech, Hans Anderson, Mathematics
    ECOPHYS tree modeling, Beowulf cluster and POVRAY
    Friday, April 7
    1:00-2:00 at the ViZ

    Improvements to Student Computer Lab Services

    The Student Computing team has made a number of improvements to the services it offers in the computer labs. The ITSS Computer Lab web pages have been updated and include updated lists of available software, maps for the locations of all computer labs, a link to the reserved hours for each lab, and much more. http://www.d.umn.edu/itss/labs/

    Lab Support

    The ITSS Student Computing Team is testing an alternate coverage model for our computer labs this semester. We are going to have a single consultant “patrol” a group of labs. They will spend 5-10 minutes in each lab looking for problems with equipment and seeing if students need any help, then visit the next lab. Each roving lab consultant will have a radio, so they can quickly respond to phone calls from lab users when assistance is needed. For the Spring 2006 semester, half of the ITSS Full Access Computer labs are included in this project: Engr 204, Hum 470, KPlz 143, MWAH 177, SBE 17, SSB 216. Large signs explaining ways to contact the consultants have been posted in each of these labs.

    This coverage model is being tested for a number of reasons. Traditionally, much of our Lab Consultants' is spent waiting for an opportunity to help someone. Often long periods of time pass before someone needs assistance. The goal of the program is to become more efficient in how we support the labs. The new coverage model will mean the Student Computing Team will be able to provide more funding for the computer labs themselves, which would result in newer computers and software, more comfortable tables and chairs, better printers, air conditioning units, etc. Please feel free to send comments or questions about the program to the Computer Lab Managers at: labmanager@d.umn.edu

    Printing

    Students can now send print jobs from their own computers to the Pharos pay-per-page print systems in the computer labs and in the Library. A few clicks on a web page will install the black-and-white or color print queues for the labs. Students can then go any lab print station, pay for their print job using a debit card, and pick it up their prints. More details for this service are available at http://www.d.umn.edu/itss/labs/printing/pharos/. The costs for black & white printing is $0.05 per 8˝ x11 page, and $0.20 per 11x17 page. Color printing is $1.00 per 8.5 x11 page and $2.50 per 11x17 page

    Ruckus update

    Ruckus music downloads are now free for use on student computers. To download songs to PlaysforSure compatible portable players the fee is $20 per semester. To continue the service for the entire summer, the cost is $10. Ruckus service will be continued next year. More info at http://www.techmart.umn.edu/HTML/ruckus/

    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.