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In This Issue

+ Macintosh OSX 10.5 Leopard released

+ FacultEtools: Class Email Alias

+ ITSS Workshops and Seminars

+ Group Work in ITSSS labs

+ Audio-Visual Equipment in New LSBE

+ Enhanced Control Systems

+ Classroom Sound Systems

+ Spotlight on: Josh Richard

ITSS home : infotech.NEWS : November 2007

infotech.NEWS

Technology news for UMD faculty, staff and students

November 2007

ITSS by the Numbers

From January through June 2007:

  • The UMD mail server delivered an average of 91,666 email messages per day.
  • The number of email accounts was 19,153.
  • UMD anti-spam systems filtered out 68 percent of incoming email on an average day and 87 percent on the highest day.
  • The number of customers using the UMD modem pool has fallen to 799 from 1,410 in fall 2005.

Ten Years Ago in ITSS - November 1997

Year 200 Initiative at the University

The Year 2000 Initiative at the University of Minnesota is being led by the Office of Information Technology (OIT) at the Twin Cities Campus. ITSS is coordinating Year 2000 efforts here at UMD.

The ITSS desktop team is studying the Year 2000 problems for desktop computers and will be making recommendations to our customers about strategies. They are also evaluating some software tools that we can use to evaluate desktop computers for Year 2000 compliance.

Macintosh OSX 10.5 Leopard Released

Apple Computer released the new Macintosh operating system OSX 10.5 (Leopard). Lots of new features and functions and a fair amount of changes in the interface, particularly in the Finder (some will like it, some won't).

It will take a week or two for ITSS to duplicate the Dual-Layer DVD disc that 10.5 comes on before we'll be able to check out the disks for installing on UMD-owned Macs. Technology Coordinators will have copies of the OSX 10.5 install disc and they'll be able to install OSX 10.5 on their departmental computers. ITSS's Maintenance shop will also have the disk for checkout.

Apple's minimum requirements for installing OSX 10.5:

Those are the minimum specs for installing OSX 10.5. ITSS recommends a G5 or Intel Mac with 1GB or more or RAM for installing OSX 10.5

Should you upgrade? Maybe not, at least not right away, unless you need some of the newer features of OSX 10.5. See http://www.apple.com/macosx/. OSX 10.5 won't change how your applications work (other than new features of some of the updated Apple utilities). A number of non-Apple programs and utilities may need an upgrade in order to run under OSX 10.5. Microsoft Office 2004 seems to run OK on OSX 10.5. The new Office 2008 is scheduled to be released in January and will be available for all UMD-owned Macs.

A major change in your computer's interface can cause some confusion and take up a fair amount of time to get used to the differences. Upgrading during winter break might be a good strategy. There are also the inevitable bugs, glitches, and incompatibilities with a new operating system - particularly a "point zero" release. It's likely that a 10.5.1 updater will show up soon and fix some of the bugs that Apple didn't catch or have time to fix before the rollout.

ITSS is still testing OSX 10.5 for compatibility with UMD services and applications. For example, we've just upgraded the Macintosh VPN client to a newer version that's compatible with OSX 10.5. http://www.d.umn.edu/itss/security/vpn/mac10.html

Contact Joel Ness (x8841, jness) if you have questions about OSX 10.5.

FacultEtools: Class email alias

Email your class all at once. The class email alias allows you to contact all your students in a course with one simple email address. The list is updated automatically to reflect adds and drops throughout the semester. Activating your alias(es) is easy. Please use the link below. https://www.d.umn.edu/itss/acctmgr/calias/index.html

November ITSS Workshops and Seminars

A Microsoft Excel workshop series will be offered Tuesdays and Thursdays, November 6, 8, 13 and 15 from 9:00-11:00 am in Library 115.  These two hour workshops are designed to teach participants the basics of Excel.  Each session will build upon information and materials covered in previous sessions.  Course sessions will focus on familiarizing students with workbook elements, cell basics, formatting cells, printing worksheets, sorting and filtering lists, and importing data from text files. Also included in the workshops you will find examples of how to use Excel formulas and functions. To attend these sessions please register on-line at http://www.d.umn.edu/itss/support/Training/workshop/

Our twice a week Technology Seminar Series this month spotlights a variety of technology topics of interest to the university community.  November seminar offerings include:

Sessions are on Mondays at 1:00 pm and repeated Thursdays at 3:00 pm. All are held in the Visualization and Digital Imaging Lab, 154 Marshall Performing Arts Center. No registration is required and UMD faculty, staff, and students are encouraged and welcome to attend.  For all complete listing of our Fall 2007 seminar series offerings please visit http://www.d.umn.edu/itss/support/Training/ttt/

Beginning November 26 and running through December 7 “Introduction to Cascading Style Sheets" will be offered as an eClass. This is a convenient way to expand your web design knowledge and skills.  If you are interested in participating in this eClass please register online at http://www.d.umn.edu/itss/support/Training/eclasses/.

Finally, check out our training web site for more information about our entire training support. http://www.d.umn.edu/itss/support/Training/

Group Work Space in ITSS Computer Labs

The Student Computing team of ITSS is conducting a pilot project for group work space furniture arrangements in two of our Full Access computer labs.

The Library 118 computer lab has been rearranged to include a number of different furniture configurations for both large and small work groups. There is a large oval table, a pair of “U” shaped tables, two quarter-circle tables and three sets of straight rows in the room. These spaces will accommodate groups up to six students. This room has been designated a “noisy” work area, so users should feel free to talk amongst their groups as needed.

There are six 20-inch Intel iMacs and ten new Gateway Windows computers. The number of computers in this lab was actually reduced to allow for more desk space for student materials and laptops. These furniture arrangements provide better collaboration opportunities and sight-lines from the group members that need to discuss their projects.

The other space with new group furniture is the Engineering 204 computer lab. Three larger half-moon and one short row of rectangular tables have been added to this computer lab. The circular tables will accommodate five or more people comfortably and have plenty of desktop space for other materials. Each table has one Full Access Windows computer on the desktop

This project is being conducted in response to student requests for more group work space in computer labs. The Student Computing team will be evaluating the rooms for the Fall semester and making improvements based on use patterns and student feedback. There are plans to add whiteboards, large format monitors, and other devices that will enhance these computer lab services.

Hours of operation and maps to these labs can be found on the ITSS Computer Labs home page: http:www.d.umn.edu/itss/labs/maps/

If you have questions or feedback about this project contact ITSS's Computer Lab Coordinator, Rick Brill (rbrill, x7031).

ITSS Installing Audio-Visual Equipment in New LSBE Building

The new Labovitz School of Business and Economics building will contain a substantial amount and diversity of audio-visual technology. ITSS has worked with Facilities Management to plan for this technology. Purchasing is underway and installation will occur early in 2008.

LSBE classrooms will include:

Select LSBE Board and Seminar Rooms will have:

The Public Area will include:

All of this equipment will be installed by ITSS and the control systems programmed and installed by ITSS staff member Karl Oman. The digital sign solution is a new enterprise offering by the Office of Classroom Management on the Twin Cities campus: http://www.classroom.umn.edu/cts/digital_signage.asp

Enhanced Control Systems

The first of our new enhanced control systems have been installed in SPHC 8 and 22.  These new systems include Crestron controllers, Audix speakers and Hitachi projectors.  The control systems utilize a redesigned 8 button keypad user interface, which will be standard in most general purpose classrooms.  We have chosen a control system design that can be modified with the least amount of change possible (regarding user interface) when equipping rooms with differing teaching needs.  This will allow instructors to travel from room to room or building to building on campus without having to learn new technology when relocating.

Classroom Sound Systems

The classroom team has been working on a standardized design for sound systems in our classrooms.  This is particularly significant for our lecture halls.  We intend to have all lecture halls on campus similarly equipped so that any lecture hall can be used for presentations, lectures and overflow needs.  The sound systems in the lecture halls, when completed, will offer a more theatrical audio experience as compared to the systems currently in some of our lecture halls.  Basic classrooms will be fitted with a scaled-down version of the lecture halls offering students an improved classroom audio experience.  We hope to begin these installations this academic year and have a significant number completed by the start of fall semester '08.       

Spotlight on: Josh Richard

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 Josh Richard, Systems & Network Professional.

What Josh does for ITSS:
Josh provides systems administrator support for central computing systems and servers. He also assists with network planning and administration.

Josh's Background:
Josh was born in Rumford, Maine.
He has a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science from the University of Minnesota Duluth.
Josh also has a Master of Science in Software Engineering from the University of Minnesota.
Before working for ITSS at UMD, Josh was a Systems Engineer at 50 Below. Prior to that he was a snowboard shaper and producer.

Josh's Interests:
Josh enjoys family, windsurfing, snowboarding, skateboarding, and sailing.

An Example of Josh's Work for ITSS
When Josh was hired his job duties included the basic duties for networking, including switch programming, network design, network diagnostics, network monitoring, and support for network programming projects. It was clear shortly after Josh was hired that he had a talent for programming and he put this to use by collaborating with another University to improve upon a cutting edge method for scanning student computers as they are attached to the network, enabling students to register themselves. This approach and product were already cutting edge at the time, but Josh further pushed the boundaries by adding virus scanning capability the following year. One particular labor day weekend a few years ago, while other campus networks around the country ground to a halt due to a particularly difficult virus attack, UMD's network remained largely unaffected because as students attached to our network their computers were scanned and patched to prevent the effect. This is just one example of how Josh uses his talents to keep the network secure and useful.