Technology news for UMD faculty, staff and students
From January through June 2007:
- Tech Fest 2007 featured 117 presenters and had 951 attendees.
- The Viz Lab Presents series included 10 presentations.
- The Viz Lab Games Symposium featured 15 presentations and over 500 attendees.
- The Student Web Contest had 10 participants and 3 winners.
Ten Years Ago in ITSS - December 1997
Administrative Web Committee Formed
Vice Chancellor Magnuson has appointed an Ad Hoc Web Administrative Committee to:
- Review the format and structure of the top-level UMD Web pages;
- Write and seek approval for a UMD Web planning document;
- Review and revise the Web publishing policies;
- Recommend development work for a technical support person;
- Oversee implementation of Web developments on campus;
- Review and recommend access to information technology equipment and training
- Serve as a liaison to the Twin Cities Web Team.
As part of an ongoing University-wide effort to increase online security, the Department of Audits has requested that all Internet passwords expire one year from the date they are set. Internet passwords are used for most common online applications such as e-mail, wireless access, course registration, UMCal, and pay statements.
During spring semester, email notices will be sent to all UMD faculty, staff, and students with passwords older than one year. These notices will explain how to change the password.
For those who do not comply, access will be limited until the password is changed.
We recognize that security measures such as this often result in extra fuss and bother for customers. We are sorry for this and thank you for your willingness to help us improve security.
It has come to our attention that Google has implemented a reverse telephone lookup feature as part of their search services. If you enter your home telephone number in the search box, it will bring up your name, home address, and link to a map of your home's location.
Reverse telephone lookup services are quite common on the Internet. Quest Communications has one as part of their whitepages.com site, and a search of "reverse telephone lookup" in Google brings up many other options.
Some may consider this to be a safety concern. Assume that if you give someone your telephone number, they will easily be able to find your home address. Google allows you to block reverse lookup on their site, but many other sites do not have this feature.
Many of you have seen the recent announcement that the Twin Cities Campus is eliminating their modem pool and encouraging their faculty, staff, and students to use external providers for access to the network from home. ITSS plans to continue to support our UMD modem pool for the immediate future, and we will give lots of warning before discontinuing it.
ITSS recognizes that UMD has more people living in rural areas where good service from Internet Service Providers is not available. This is the primary reason why we will try to keep our modem pool going for awhile yet.
Despite this, the number of people using our modem pool has dropped significantly, and many people have moved to broadband services, which are much faster. For more information about local broadband options, see http://www.d.umn.edu/itss/computing/other_isps.html.
ITSS has no plans to continue to upgrade our modem equipment, so we are thinking ahead to a day when we will discontinue it. We are also reducing the number of available lines as the number of people using this service shrinks.
For more information about the modem pool, see http://www.d.umn.edu/itss/computing/modem/.
Students actively provide feedback to questions posed in PowerPoint by clicking on their radio frequency remote. Sound difficult? It's not, and we usually call these remotes "clickers." The data you collect may be used in any number of ways, but the most common and powerful use is the real-time feedback from students. IDS (Instructional Development Services) sponsored a workshop run by faculty using clickers called "Clicking into Bloom: Realizing the Potential in PRS Systems." IDS can provide many excellent examples of using clicker technology with your class.
For more information on the clickers in use at UMD, please select the following
For more information on IDS, please select the following url:
At this time, ITSS in involved with a number of construction/remodeling projects. The ITSS PhoneNet Team is involved from the very beginning on most projects, providing design input and technical specifications for IT infrastructure. Here's a summary of what we're working on.
Labovitz School of Business and Economics. Communications cabling (500 telephone, 600 data) is nearing completion. Lots of testing and labeling of jacks yet to be done. Network electronics installation will consume a good portion of February.
Chester Park School Renovation. Design phase just wrapped up. Bid packages have been sent out. Bids are due December 18, 2007. Construction could begin in January with an anticipated completion of Fall 2008.
Civil Engineering Building. Working with engineers on comm room design. Some underground cabling will need to be rerouted prior to construction. Work on the routing and size of copper and fiber optic feeder cables is underway.
Darland Administration Building Rewire. This project began with the remodeling of the Mail Room and ROTC spaces in the basement. Since then, all of floors 3, 4, and 5 have been completely rewired for voice and data. New electronics to support network connections have also been installed. The basement rewire is nearing completion as the old ITSS office spaces are being renovated. Approximately 1/4 of the 1st floor was recently rewired during the rooms 139/159 renovation project. Some prep work has been completed to get necessary feeder cables to the 2nd floor. Schedule for rewiring the 2nd floor and remainder of 1st floor is yet to be determined.
SPHC 121 Renovation. The old Rec Sports offices will be remodeled starting in December. Design has been going on for some weeks now and we will begin removing all the old voice and data cabling on December 3. This area of SpHC is the oldest and was supported by a substandard cabling system. The new space will house a new communications room with voice and data facilities. This means shorter cable runs, vast improvements in network performance, and cheaper moves, adds, and changes for future occupants.
Humanities Rewire. This project began last summer. The entire 2nd floor and a approximately 40% of the 4th floor has been rewired. A fire alarm and security system project in the Tweed Museum of Arts has prompted us to shift our attention to the rewiring of this portion of Humanities now. Work should be completed over the next few weeks. Work to complete the rewiring on the remaining floors will likely be a summer 2008 project.
During the past several months ITSS staff have been busy behind the scenes replacing equipment and improving reliability. We now have over 400 devices tucked away in various closets, ceiling enclosures, and telephone areas across campus. Besides the usual replacement process of old equipment with new, our staff have also made several notable improvements. This includes:
- Added support for 4800 more wireless users.
- Installed a new “border” router (the router that interfaces to the Internet). This upgrade replaced an old device to improve reliability and throughput to the commercial Internet.
- We reviewed all switches to ensure configurations were current and consistent. An accurate map and current patch levels improve uptime and consistent operation.
- Added support for prioritized IP video and IP telephony. The first buildings to use this new feature are BoHH and LSCI. Plans are to add this to the campus as soon as this is feasible.
- We have also added dual network feeds to several buildings, and set up what are called “stacks” within the buildings. The stacks take advantage of the dual feeds by utilizing both paths in case one becomes unusable. Eventually almost all buildings on campus will be upgraded to use this feature.
Although generally these changes are hidden from view, they are very important in keeping our network reliable and providing excellent network traffic flow.
On November 30, Lucy Witthoft celebrated the beginning of her retirement and the completion of 35 years of outstanding service and support to the UMD campus community. Lucy served as an Executive Secretary for six Information Technology Directors during her distinguished career. In 1997 Lucy was an honored recipient of an Outstanding Service Award. Lucy has been an integral part of our department and a wonderful liaison with other campus units during her tenure. We will miss working with Lucy but we wish her good health, and many years of an enjoyable retirement.
New Staff Member: Amanda Evans
We are pleased to announce that Amanda Evans joined the ITSS staff on December 3. Her responsibilities include providing a wide variety of technology support for the campus faculty community.
Amanda earned a B.A.S. in Early Childhood Studies from UMD and she holds a Minnesota State Teaching License.
During the past four years Amanda has been employed at UMD with the College of Education and Human Service Professions as an Academic Technologist and as a Program Associate for Technology in the Department of Psychology. In these positions she has assisted faculty with integrating technology into their teaching and learning environment, assisted faculty in the development of online courses, and helped faculty and staff in the use of technology.
Amanda's office is located in Kirby Plaza 369. Her phone number is 218-726-7680 and her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each month ITSS highlights a different member of the staff to let you get to know some of the great people who are working "behind the scenes" to make technology work for our campus. This month the spotlight is on Ken McMillan, Telecomm and Network Professional.
What Ken does for ITSS: Ken provides installation and troubleshooting support for our telephone and computer network infrastructure and for our customers. He is also responsible for planning and implementing security cameras on the UMD campus.
Ken's Background: Ken was born in Duluth, MN and other than a two-year stint in Minneapolis after high school he has lived in the Duluth area his whole life. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration, with a Management Information Systems core curriculum from the University of Minnesota Duluth. Ken has been working for UMD ITSS since June 1, 1981 when he started as a Computer Operator (remember mainframes and dumb terminals?). Ken was responsible for supervising the computer labs and student employees when ITSS expanded services to include evening hours in its five labs in the mid 1980's. In the early 1990's when ITSS decommissioned its last mainframe computer Ken moved into the networking area and has since been working with the voice and data wiring infrastructure.
Ken's Interests: Ken enjoys vacationing with his wife Becky and daughters Lydia and Lindsey. He likes to cook for his family and has shared several recipes with other ITSS staff. He also loves to spend time with family and friends at his cabin on Comstock Lake. Ken's hobbies also include muscle cars, he restored a 1969 Buick Gran Sport California and has won several al show awards and Class Champion drag racing awards as well with his car.
An example of Ken's work for ITSS: Ken has provided long term service to UMD in computing, telephone, networking, and security. He is reliable, careful, diligent, tenacious, tactful, and has a positive can-do attitude. Working with him is always a positive experience, and staff and the many student employees that have worked with him rate him highly. He has provided campus wide service for the many services that ITSS offers, especially in the networking area. He has provided network access to many of the offices on campus, and helped with numerous “backbone” upgrades. Much of the installed network base relies on his installation and troubleshooting abilities, and our uptime is a credit to his careful work