Technology news for UMD faculty, staff and students
From July through December 2006, the ITSS Student Computing Team provides support for:
- 12 full-access computer labs with 358 computers.
- 8 full-access computers labs are equipped as teaching labs.
- 277 basic-access computers, primarily in the Library.
- 5 departmental computer labs.
- Operating hours http://www.d.umn.edu/itss/labs/schedule/ and usage statistics http://www.d.umn.edu/itss/labs/stats/ are provided by LabStats software.
Ten Years Ago in ITSS - March 1997
Investigating Year 2000 computer problems
It's not too early for the campus to address the issue of what will happen when computer software must process dates after 12/31/99. For various reasons (including expediency, computer word size, date packing, etc.), computer programmers have used less than four digits when storing the year component of a date.
If you use a software program which stores, displays, or prints date fields, or processes dates using date arithmetic, check a computer display or printout of a date and notice its format. If it's of the form dd/mm/yy (instead of dd/mm/yyyy), there's a potential for trouble. In addition to display and storage problems, date arithmetic may be affected. For example, 1/1/2000 minus 12/31/1999 should produce the answer of 1 day. What 1/1/00 minus 12/31/99 produces is anyone's guess. Probably any program which stores, displays, or prints date fields or processes dates using date arithmetic is suspect and should be reviewed.
IS staff will be checking the software that is on our standards list and will inform our customers of what we find out. For software programs which we don't support, especially "home grown" programs written in languages such as COBOL, FORTRAN and BASIC, specific tests should be written to determine the validity of date arithmetic involving dates in and across this and the next century.
In addition to checking software, the next questions will be, "What do we do with software that doesn't pass the test? Does it need to be upgraded? Thrown out? Replaced with a different product?" IS staff will work with our customers on these issues as well.
On August 8, 2005, President George W. Bush signed the "Energy Policy Act of 2005." This Act changed the dates for Daylight Saving Time (DST) in the United States. Beginning in 2007, DST will begin on the second Sunday in March and end the first Sunday in November.
Most desktop computers, servers, and many applications require system patches in order for DST changes to go into effect in March instead of April as in previous years. Following is a short list of items that pertain to the UMD campus commmunity.
- Central systems:
- ITSS staff have been patching the systems that provide email, web service, Novell, file storage and other central/network services and will have all systems ready in advance of March 11.
- Phone and voice mail:
- Our phone system and voice mail system will have their patches loaded March 9th. Work will begin at approximately 5:00 P.M., but steps that require rebooting either of these systems, and therefore causing temporary service outages, will be delayed until after 6:00 P.M.
- Windows computers:
- Desktop computers running versions of Windows will need to be updated as well. If your computer is set to run Automatic Windows Updates, it has probably already been updated as Microsoft released this patch in April. If you're not sure or haven't updated your computer yet, you should run "Windows Update" and apply any "Critical Patches" before March 11. For details see: Daylight Saving Time Help and Support Center.
- Macintosh computers:
- If you are running OSX 10.3 or 10.4 select Software Update from the Apple menu and install the updates it offers. This will make your Mac use the correct dates for Dayligh Savings Time. Run Software Update a second time to make sure you install all of the updates available.
- This may affect some customers who use UMCal. The solution in most cases is to upgrade your UMCal software (desktop client, syn client) or to delete and recreate the problem data. For details, see: UMCal and DST Changes.
Beginning March 1, the campus NetReg computer registration will include QuickStart Basic (Level 1) as part of the registration process for all Windows 2000 and XP computers. This is part of our ongoing effort to ensure that all desktop computers on campus meet the current OIT security guidelines (see: QuickStart Security for Windows XP Pro, XP Home & 2000 Workstations for details).
QuickStart Basic will check for the following five items on the computer:
- Is file and printer sharing disabled?
- Is Windows XP Firewall enabled?
- Is Windows Automatic Update enabled?
- Is a current version of Symantec Anti-virus installed?
- Is the Symantec AV virus definition file current?
If a computer fails any of the checks, the problem(s) must be corrected before the user can continue with the registration. The first three items (File and Printer Sharing, Firewall and Automatic Update) can be quickly fixed by selecting the "Fix It" button that will be displayed. If the computer does not have a current version of Symantec AV or current definition files, these will need to be obtained on CD from ITSS Maintenance and applied to the computer off line before running QuickStart again.
Once the computer passes all five checks, the user will be allowed to continue the registration process.
Initially, the QuickStart Basic will only be required for computers that have not yet been registered or have been offline for an extended period of time and need to be re-registered. Over the next several months, ITSS staff will be forcing re-registration for all computers currently in NetReg, to ensure that they all meet the OIT Security Guidelines. Computers will be re-registered by building, and customers will be notified via email when their computer will be affected.
Please note that even if you have previously run QuickStart Basic on your computer, you will be required to run it again each time you register a computer through NetReg. However, the computer should pass all five checkpoints, allowing you to proceed quickly to the final registration.
For more information on NetReg, see: NetReg: What is it?
All faculty, staff, and student employees are required to guard the privacy of any private data the University of Minnesota stores and maintains electronically. This includes disposing of any storage devices securely. The University of Minnesota Standard on Secure Data Deletion http://www1.umn.edu/oit/security/datadeletion.html is an official policy.
ITSS provides secure data deletion services. Deleting data stored
on computers is described here:
All computers that store any private data http://www.ahc.umn.edu/privacy/what.html must be sent in for this service before being disposed of, resold, or transferred to a different user.
This will be done through our Computer Maintenance area in Kirby Plaza 165.
ITSS will also provide secure destruction and disposal of removable media, such as CDs, ZipDisks, and floppies, as well as audio and video tapes. This service is for items that have been used to store private data.
In disposing of electronic equipment, there are two important issues: data deletion and disposal of electronic waste. Electronic equipment, including removable media, must be reviewed with attention to its environmental impact before disposal. See the Office of Environmental Health And Safety web site on Special Waste http://www.d.umn.edu/ehso/waste_management/special.html for information about appropriate disposal. Note that this information can change over time. For example, at the present time, we can dispose of floppies and CDs by placing them in the trash. It is possible that in the future, this may change. Computers and other electronic equipment must be sent to a recycler after collection by Facilities Management.
Voicemail tip of the month: How to Play your Messages
When you log in to CallPilot, you hear the mailbox summary, then the header
first new message. Since our system is configured for Autoplay, your messages begin to play automatically.
But how does one go about skipping to the next message or getting back to the previous message?
- To go to the next message, press 6
- To go to the previous message, press 4
- To go to a specific message, press 8 6, enter the message number, then press #
- To start over at the first message from the end of your message list, press 6
- When you have played your messages, press 8 3 to disconnect
from CallPilot, or
hang up. Or, you can remain logged in to use other messaging features
FacultETools: Web Directory (Folder) Password Protection
Any folder in your Web account (~tilde account) may be password protected so only your students have access to the materials you place in the folder using their x.500 user name and password via a secure connection.
This is a great way to place course materials and presentations online for only students in your course without having to use a full-bodied content management system such as WebCT or Moodle.
To request this service click on the following link: https://www.d.umn.edu/itss/acctmgr/calias/index.html
If you have already requested your class email alias list:
- Click on class email alias list request
- Click on "Updates"
- Select your course
- Click on "Web Services"
- Scroll down to the section "Web Directory (Folder) Password Protection"
- Click the radio button "Yes"
- Put in path to the Web folder to be protected or use the default folder (Please note: you can use a default folder path which will create a folder in your ~tilde account, or you can include the path to a folder that you have already created and want to protect for a course (e.g., ~breeves/fmis3980/readings). This request takes overnight to process.)
You can use the same folder for multiple sections or for future courses by indicating the path to your web folder when requesting your class email alias list each semester. No need to rename your folder, or copy and move files...it's that easy!
Please visit our ITSS Training website for an overview of our spring 2007 workshops, eClasses, self-paced training, and web design references. http://www.d.umn.edu/goto/training
Stop by the Visualization and Digital Imaging Lab (VDIL) for "Technology at Two on Tuesdays" - presentations on a variety of technology topics that are open to all UMD faculty, staff, and students. http://www.d.umn.edu/itss/support/Training/ttt/
Do you have a suggestion for our ITSS training team? Please submit your suggestions using the Training Idea Form. http://www.d.umn.edu/itss/support/Training/FORMS/ideaform.html
Blocking unwanted spam and virus-laden email is a constant battle. ITSS uses a variety of filtering methods that block a high percentage of these messages. However, we don't want to block messages you do want to receive so some spam will inevitably get through.
Here are some statistics on our filtering for Jan 26 through Feb 26 of this year:
- Total messages = 8498778
- Total rejected before virus check = 5486416
- Min percent rejected before virus check = 51%
- Max percent rejected before virus check= 83%
- Total rejected due to viruses = 805
This month we're starting a new series of articles on construction projects and how ITSS is working with various projects to improve communications infrastructure. This month we focus on Bohannon Hall.
Many buildings still rely on telephone system cabling (category 3 wire) to provide network connections for PC's and printers. That situation has many drawbacks, but the one that affects users the most is connection speed. Network connections that run over category 3 wire are limited to10 Megabits per second (Mbps). All new construction is designed with dedicated category 6 cabling for computers and printers. This allows ITSS to provide users with 100 Mbps today, and Gigabit (1000 Mbps) in the future. Bohannon Hall was one of those buildings served by cat 3 wiring and ITSS is taking advantage of the remodeling project to rewire the entire building.
Once the occupants were moved out and contracts were in place, the contractor removed every inch of voice and data cable except for what serves the Bohannon 90 classroom. Each existing telephone outlet has to have its conduit run modified to route to a central cable tray system. Once that is complete, new voice and data cables are pulled in and terminated. At the ends of each floor's cable tray are ceiling-mounted voice and data enclosures. These take the place of actual "comm rooms." This isn't our preferred method of installing cabling and electronics, but in buildings were departments or programs simply cannot give up the space needed, we're opting for this ceiling enclosure technology. Due to the limited amount of space these ceiling enclosure provide us for terminating cable and mounting electronics, a change in electronics size in the future could mean another dead end for the building's communications infrastructure. Another threat is running out of room to add more cable when users request additional network connections. Obviously we do not anticipate either of these situations to occur in the near future. At this time approximately 50% of the rewiring is complete.
What will occupants see when they move back in this summer? Well for starters, new outlets. All telephone outlets will be white (same as the faceplate), and data outlets will be blue. Each outlet has what we call a grid code label on it. This grid code is very useful to us and should be referred to whenever departments request new phone or network connections. Specifying on your work order the grid code you want us to make "live" speeds up the installation and reduces your installation costs. Another improvement will be complete wireless coverage. You'll notice wireless hub antennae sticking out of wireless equipment enclosures staggered throughout the building. And last but not least, Bohannon Hall's new network will be on our NetReg-Camp system. This system requires each user to register their computer with us the first time they go on line. The first time you open a web browser you will be automatically redirected to the NetReg page where you'll be prompted to enter your username and X.500 password. That's all it takes. Since you can't open a browser with a printer, printer connections must be registered manually by ITSS prior to being connected to the network. Please specify the printer name on your service requests to help facilitate the registration process.
ITSS Spotlight on: Melissa Jokela
Each month ITSS would like to highlight 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 Melissa Jokela, Systems Programmer.
What Melissa does for ITSS
Melissa provides support for Unix operating systems, web development, data base software application development and maintenance, and consulting for a variety of department, enterprise, and customer business systems. She also provides primary administration and configuration of the Visualization and Digital Imaging Lab (VDIL) servers and applications, and supervises the ITSS department student programming staff.
- Born in St. Paul and moved to Duluth in 2001
- Worked at 3M, University of Wisconsin River Falls and Gander Mountain before coming to UMD
- Joined UMD in 2001
- Married Alex in 2003
- Renovating our late 1800’s house
- Volunteering for Basset Buddies Rescue (foster, transport, update events calendar and attend events) http://www.bbrescue.org
- Helping the Basset folks at dog shows
- Spending time at the cabin fishing and relaxing with my husband, Alex
- Spending time with family and friends
- We have three dogs: Homer, Sarge and Gerdie
- In August 2006, I went to BBR’s BassetFest and mingled with over 300 bassets!
- Alex and I built our own mini-garage/shed in one summer
An Example of Melissa's work for ITSS
Melissa does the systems administration and programming for several extremely important processes at UMD including eGradebook, our Help Desk problem tracking database, the online Student Association elections, the new informational kiosk in Solon Campus Center, an upcoming alumni database, and countless other projects. While working on the kiosk this past summer, Melissa was happy to spend a week out of town to get training in a new programming language in order to do the best job possible. She also often works on evenings and weekends because many of the processes she monitors and updates are being used constantly, and users can't afford to be without these services during normal work hours. Melissa is extremely generous with her time and effort.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.