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In This Issue

+ Audits and Information Technology

+ November eClasses and Workshops

+ iTunes U podcasting is Coming

+ Data Storage at UMD

+ Campus Technology Plan

+ Increased Bandwidth to Campus Improves Service

+ TLP Project Yields New Task Management Tool

+Viz Lab News

+ Remember To Think Before You Print

ITSS home : infotech.NEWS : November 2008


Technology news for UMD faculty, staff and students

November 2008

ITSS by the Numbers

From October 2007 through July 2008, the ITSS Security Team responded to 1,846 security reports, including:

  • 60 complaints of copyright violations
  • 1,280 malware (viruses, spyware, etc.) infections
  • 482 concerns about peer-to-peer file sharing
  • 19 rogue network hubs
  • 5 insecure servers
    During the past year, the Department of Audits has noted:

Ten Years Ago in ITSS - November 1998

Laptop Initiative at UMD
The proposal to require all students to have laptop computers at UMD starting in fall 1999 has been withdrawn by UMD administration. Discussions will continue about the future of laptops for our campus, and laptop pilot projects are being considered for fall 1999.

Audits and Information Technology

During the past year, the Department of Audits has noted:

The Department of Audits has requested that CIO Steve Cawley take responsibility for helping to clear IT audit findings system-wide, and ITSS will be assisting UMD units to clear IT audit findings at UMD. Please contact ITSS Director Linda Deneen if you need assistance with audit issues.

Units who run their own servers or major applications need to develop a disaster recovery plan for those systems. OIT has provided a template for developing such a plan. If this applies to your unit, you can be proactive by starting now to develop this plan. Templates are available from Linda Deneen.


November: eClasses, TTT, and Workshops

Upcoming eClass: Accessibility 101: November 10th-21st
Anytime | Anywhere learning

Are you a web designer, developer, technology professional , or a person interested in web site accessibility? What does "web accessibility" really mean? What all does that term encompass? Why is it that some people are unable to use certain web sites - and whose job is it to provide access? This eClass will answer those questions and more, and features the popular "disable your browser" exercise

Don’t miss “TTT”: Technology on Tuesday’s @ Two
Informal discussion | No registration required

November 11: Laptop Encryption -- keeping your computer protected!
November 18: NVivo -- manage, shape and make sense of qualitative research

Workshops & Open Sessions: Teaching with Technology Series
New Topics | New format | No registration required

November 6: UM Course guide:
November 21: Overview Course/Learning Management Systems: which to use - Moodle or WebVista?


iTunes U Podcasting Coming to a University Near You!

The University of Minnesota is joining Apple's iTunes U later this semester. Both a public and private podcasting option will be available with the private option allowing class restricted access. We are working on options to help you with creating your podcasts. Stay tuned for more details!

For more information please go to


Data Storage at UMD

Several years ago UMD Administration converted many ITSS services from the charge-back model to a central-funding model. As a result, many services became "free" to end users. Realistically, however, these services are not free, and we need to work together to make usage rational and reasonable.

Data storage - and the associated storage needs and costs for backups - has grown explosively since the budget model change, and ITSS is beginning to study how best to control usage. We want users to store important documents on central servers so that they can be secure and backed up. On the other hand, we would like users to be aware that storing files does cost money, and our capacity is not infinite. Over the next several months, we will be instituting a number of steps to manage data storage.

ITSS has added several large storage devices that we are putting into production now. In addition to setting up these devices, we also need to set up the connection to our backup systems. Then we will begin moving some larger data files to the new systems.

In the meantime, we have instituted a 10Gb limit on Novell accounts; customers that have a business need for additional storage may request an increase at any time. At present, we are increasing limits upon request at no charge. At some point we may need to charge for exceptional usage.

The office server is not well designed to store large research data sets. We will begin working with researchers who have large data sets to find a more appropriate place to store their data. Please contact Sally Bradt (sbradt, 8856) if you have questions about this.

Please help us conserve our data storage and make sure that it is used appropriately. Although we certainly want our customers to have the storage they need for their work at UMD, we discourage unnecessary use. In particular, personal pictures, music, video, or other files should not be stored on ITSS servers.

Computer systems use a tremendous amount of energy and other resources that expand our carbon footprint. Help us improve our environment by using only what you need.


Campus Technology Plan

The UMD Campus Technology Plan was developed by an ad hoc committee appointed by Chancellor Martin. This plan has been under development for several years. During this time it was reviewed several times by the Educational Policy Committee (EPC) and the EPC Subcommittee on Information Technology and the Library. Chancellor Martin gave her final approval in October 2008, and the plan is now available at

This plan includes guidelines for technology competencies for students, faculty, and staff. Have a look to see how your competencies match up with what is recommended.


Increased Bandwidth to Campus Improves Service

To address increased usage demands, in October ITSS worked with NTS and the State of Minnesota to increase the Internet bandwidth to/from our campus from 150Mbits to 250Mbits. We also implemented bandwidth shaping to improve overall service for the campus.

Prior to the upgrade, we were seeing our Internet traffic approaching the 100% mark, which was causing some slowdowns for those accessing Enterprise systems based on the Twin Cities campus. Additionally, all traffic from our campus was granted the same level of access.

After the upgrade, we allocated the bandwidth into two separate bands - one for the residence halls, and one for the rest of the campus. Additionally, we made some changes to the residence hall band to improve performance for recreational computing.

These changes to our bandwidth should ensure that faculty and staff are able to access business-critical processes during business hours, and should also improve student access from the residence halls.


TLP Project Yields New Task Management Tool

In the Spring of 2006, several members of the ITSS staff graduated from the Transformational Leadership Program (TLP), a three-week intensive training program, delivered by Matt Larson and Scott Martens from the U's Office of Service and Continuous Improvement. The TLP curriculum is based on the process improvement methodology embraced by 3M, and the intended end results include increased efficiency and better customer service. As a result of the TLP program, the ITSS customer service team will be implementing an open source task management software package called "RT. RT ("request tracker) is a highly flexible and mature project and call center task management software.

Using TLP tools and concepts, the ITSS customer service team did an internal needs assessment to determine what ITSS staff needed. Next they surveyed UMD faculty, staff, and students to obtain the voice of the customer. Finally, after determining what aspects of the ITSS problem resolution process were most important to customers, the team contrasted a large number of commercial and open source software packages before choosing RT as the best solution. The RT solution allows ITSS to combine several processes that have resided in separate databases and also adds new functionality such as more transparent work flow, automated communication among staff and back to customers, and nested tasks for project management.

RT will be implemented over Winter Break 2008 and piloted through the ITSS Help Desk during Spring Semester 2009.

More information about RT can be found here:

More information about the Transformational Leadership Program can be found here:

For information about UMD TLP opportunities, please contact Stephanie Vine, Improvement Specialist & TLP Coordinator / Trainer: 726-7130,


Viz Lab News

An art installation is installed at the Viz Lab windows. This is the first art communication piece of its kind in the world.

Remote Sonar Drawing Device is a project conceived by David Bowen an Assistant Professor in the Art and Design Department. This interactive robotic installation is a collaboration between the Visualization and Digital Imaging Lab and Laboral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial Universidad Laboral Gijón-Asturias, Spain. The project is included in Nowhere/Now/Here, an exhibition opening October 9th 2008 and running until April 20th 2009 at Laboral Centro. Nowhere/Now/Here, is an exhibition curated by the creative partnership of Roberto Feo and Rosario Hurtado (El Último Grito) and features works that investigate new lines of enquiry in contemporary design.

This is a multinational tele-presence robotic installation. The piece consists of the drawing arm and sonar sensor array installed at the Visualization and Digital Imaging Lab in Duluth and a drawing arm and sonar sensor array installed at Laboral Centro in Gijón-Asturias. Each drawing arm produces gestures based on a participant’s interaction with the sensor arrays. The information gathered by the sensors is sent via the internet to the drawing arm in the opposite location. Therefore, the arm in Spain produces drawings based on the inputs it receives from the sensor array in Minnesota and vise-versa. The public is encouraged to participate at both locations. By moving near to the sensor array you can make gestural drawings halfway around the world.

Viz Lab Presents...
Feel free to stop by to learn about the research happening in the Viz Lab. These are informal and friendly discussions, where questions are welcome.

Thurs. Oct. 23 noon Women in Saudi Arabia Speak through Their Designs, Sandy Pederson

Thurs. Oct. 27 12:00 PM-12:30 PM Sticks and Stones, Video documentary. Beth Austin.
12:30 PM-1:30 PM Digital Printing and Textile Sculpture, EunKyung Suh.

Thurs. Oct. 30 Remote Sonar Drawing Device, David Bowen

Wed. Nov. 5 noon Fortunate Wilderness, the making of a documentary. (Wolf/Moose Isle Royale study) George Desort, film director

Thurs. Nov. 6 12:00 PM-12:30 PM Geometric Visualization of Algebraic Objects, Marshall Hampton
12:30 PM-1:30 PM Use of Leitmotif and Motto Themes Film Com posters, Jefferson Campbell

Tech Tues @2, a series of informal tech chats:

Scientific Information Design
The Viz Lab is working closely with Sea Grant, water resources and other scientists and graphic designers to better inform the public on scientific research and data visualization. If you want design suggestions or communication ideas, stop by. The Viz Lab is also one of the sponsors of the Isle Royale Wolf/Moose Study 50th anniversary events.

The Games and Animation & Film Group (GAFG) is a small, unofficial group of artists, musicians and techies from various disciplines who explore creating animation, video and games together at the Visualization and Digital Imaging Lab. We have been meeting on Monday at lunch. Please call x 8093 for more information. Valve software will release a revolutionary cooperative multiplayer game in Nov., Left 4 Dead, and GAFG will have people showing how to play on the release date. GAFG has also been learning to make flash games for the Wii.

Emerging Technology
The Visualization and Digital Imaging Lab showcases emerging technology in a variety of fields from biology to engineering and music. Lisa Fitzpatrick, lab coordinator, keeps current on all levels with all technological advances by bringing in demos and obtaining new technology for specialized research. Lisa and her two students manage 23 computers, each with unique builds and software; various cameras, light kits, microphones, keyboards and other equipment; the viz lab website www.d.umn.edy/vdil; the Viz Lab lecture series and ITSS Tech Tues @2; the large format printers, vinyl cutter and various slidemakers and scanners; as well as creatively solving design and technology research questions. The Lab, together with Melissa Jokela (ITSS), has also designed three touchscreen info kiosks at UMD.

Building on the fast-paced growth of video production in the University, the Lab staff continues to facilitate this development. The lab is working on a green screen room and also has acquired a new portable Lowel light box for ease of use. The Viz Lab collaborates with the Multimedia Hub and other entities on campus, such as University Relations, in video production. Additionally, Lisa Fitzpatrick has certification training on video production with Final Cut Pro. The Lab can help with uploading videos for the U's Research Channel, as well as iTunes U and Youtube. The lab also sponsors a blog for researchers and alumni at

Improvements in the sound capture facility include Melodyne, a music analysis software and Finale 2009 and a vinyl to digital transfer station (a record player). The enhanced sound recording studio has an air-intake buffer to reduce ambient noise and a studio layout conducive to recording voice-over narration, vocal or small instrumental groups. Kyle Thomas, one of the Viz Lab RAs, is a grad student in Music. Kyle enjoys playing in as many ensembles as possible while investigating video game music and technology.

As you pass by the viz lab windows, note the cut paper handiwork of Yanbo Xu, Viz Lab RA from math. Yanbo explores art as well as math and computer programming.


Remember To Think Before You Print

Many of us grew up in the paper age and still have trouble adapting to reading information on a computer screen. As a result, we may be a bit too fast to print out anything that crosses our screen. Here are a few suggestions to help us conserve and reuse.

  1. Before you print, ask yourself if you really need a paper copy of the document. Maybe you can save it electronically, or maybe you can even read and discard.
  2. If you must print, consider printing on both sides of the paper. Many copiers and printers offer two-sided printing. Take a few minutes to find out if yours will. And if possible, make it the default setting, so you won't have to remember to switch.
  3. Make sure you recycle the paper you no longer need. In addition to putting used paper in the recycle bin, consider using pages printed on one side in your printer again, or use it for scrap paper.

Here are some useful links on recycling from UMD's new Campus Sustainability Coordinator, Mindy Granley.