Technology news for UMD faculty, staff and students
The ITSS Customer Service Team is responsible for our request tracking system, RT. From July 1, 2009 through December 31, 2009, the team reported these tickets in RT:
- 5,541 resolved
- 106 new/open
- 6 stalled
Library to install new server
UMD faculty, staff and student use of online research tools continues to grow rapidly. In order to support this shift to electronic access the library’s current Sun Sparc 20 server will be replaced with a Sun Enterprise 250 system over spring break. The new Enterprise 250 will be equipped with dual 400MHz processors, 512MB of memory, and a disk array (RAID) that contains 54 Gigabytes of storage.
During January, ITSS staff upgraded our VPN (Virtual Network) service to provide broader platform support. The new VPN service has one AnyConnect client for all operating systems: WIndows, Macintosh and Linux. It also provides support for newer 64-bit operating systems and Windows 7, which were not fully supported with the older clients.
VPN lets you make a secure connections to a University computer from off-campus. When you log into UMD's VPN client it makes your computer appear as though it is directly attached to UMDNet.
You should use VPN if you are off campus and are sending sensitive information (password, credit card information, social security numbers). You should also use VPN if you are sending sensitive information when connecting to UMD's wireless network. VPN also allows you to access UMD Library and other restricted resources when you are off campus.
For details and download the latest client: UMD VPN http://http://www.d.umn.edu/itss/security/vpn/
Several years ago the ITSS funding model changed so that faculty and staff
are no longer charged for file storage on ITSS systems. Most faculty and staff
are using both Novell storage (H drive) and Internet Storage (email, MyFiles,
MyWeb, and login (home) directory). While this has been a positive change overall,
it has resulted in a significant growth in the amount of file storage being
used by faculty and staff. Given the current economic climate, we find it necessary
to put some limits on this growth. Please review our revised Network Data Storage
For details and to download the lasest client: Data Storage http://www.d.umn.edu/itss/computing/data-storage.html
- Over the next few months, we will be contacting faculty and staff who are using more than 5 gigabytes of file storage in either Novell or Internet storage. We will be advising these people to exercise the following options:
- Delete unneeded files stored
- Move selected files to NetFiles or Google (when available) at no charge
- Balance files stored on Novell or Internet storage in order to stay under the 5 gigabyte limit on each.
Request an account on our tiered data storage server and move selected files there. Note that this solution will be billed according to the rates provided here
To request an account, please contact the Help Desk at 8847 or email@example.com.
Because we are preparing to move from Novell to Active Directory, we will not enforce the limits on Novell until such time as we work with you to move your files from Novell to Active Directory. At that time, those who have more than 5 gigabytes of storage on Novell will be asked to use one or more of the above options to reduce the storage they will need in Active Directory.
If you have general concerns about why ITSS is taking these steps, feel free to contact Linda Deneen (ldeneen, 7588). We recognize that this may be an inconvenience for some, and we appreciate your cooperation in helping us to be good stewards of University resources.
For details see: Storage Rates http://http://www.d.umn.edu/itss/rates/#fsbr
ITSS is proposing to increase rates for our billable labor services by approximately 2%. We recognize that all University students, staff, faculty and departments have been and continue to be impacted by budget issues, including ITSS, and we have worked very hard to maintain most service rates at the FY10 level and to contain overall increases in other service rates.
We are also proposing to increase both our basic access and full computer lab access student computing fees approximately 2%. A proposed increase of $.12 will be added to the per-credit basic access fee, which provides students with Email accounts, access to the modem pool, file storage through Samba, web space, basic access computing stations in the Library, Solon Campus Center, Multicultural Center, and SBE Atrium, access to some electronic Library databases, computer maintenance services, and access to the ITSS Tech Center and Multimedia Hub. The FY11 fee proposed is $5.85 per-credit.
This fee will continue to be charged only for the first 13 credits attempted by a student each semester and will be capped at $76.05. There is no additional charge for attempted credits over 13.
Full computer lab access services, which include many specialized application software packages, will be available to students who pay an additional $71.58 computer lab access fee per semester. This is a proposed increase of $1.41. Page printing costs in the computer labs will remain the same, $.05 per page.
In setting our rates and fees for the next fiscal year we have:
- Followed the University policies and accounting principles that govern internal service organization rate development methodology
- Reviewed and complied with FY11 Budget Planning Guidelines.
A complete listing of our proposed rates and fees information will be available on the web by April 19 for your review at: ITSS Rates and Fees.
We are committed to retaining rates and fees as low as possible while continuing to provide quality support and services. Please feel free to address any questions to Linda Deneen (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Steve Patterson (email@example.com).
The final rates and fees decisions are pending campus administration review and Board of Regents approval.
For details see: ITSS Rates and Fees http://www.d.umn.edu/itss/rates/
Following last month's article on Active Directory, we received a few questions from our customers. This month, we're sharing the answers.
- Q: I am a staff person with two jobs and two separate offices and workstations now. Will I be able to have my "desktop" from any computer I use on campus?
- A: We're looking at options now, but it is likely we will have the option for "roaming profiles" that follow you from workstation to workstation.
- Q: How will AD work with faculty who carry their computers all over campus and home and then back to the dock at their campus desks?
- A: Laptops will generally work as they do now. While on campus, all University-owned computers will connect to the network via the Active Directory domain, which will give the owner access to their workstation and to AD file storage and printing. While on their home network, they will bypass the AD login to connect to their network. If they wish to access their AD file storage from a home network, they will need to log in to the VPN service first, and then log on to the AD file storage.
- Q: If people have their laptop off campus, will they sign in through the VPN to access AD?
- A: Yes, from home they would need to log onto VPN first (just as they do now to access Novell or Samba file storage), and then they will log in to access their AD file storage.
- Q: How will migrating to AD updates affect all the stuff people keep on their hard drives and desktops?
- A: AD won't affect files stored locally on your computer. AD will provide the opportunity to push out operating system updates and security patches.
- Q: What about staff who share computers or sit at another personís computer for a period of time? Right now the workstation password can be provided and the visitor can sign into Novell with their own password. Will the person assigned to the computer have to give out their x.500 password? Will there be a way to keep a visitor from accessing private information stored on your computer?
- A: When we move to Active Directory (AD), it should actually be easier to share workstations between staff, as there will be no separate "workstation" passwords to remember. Each person who uses the workstation will log in with their own X.500 account and password; this will provide access to their files (and only their files) on the workstation, and to their AD file storage.
If you have other questions about Active Directory services, please submit them to our TechCenter Help Desk at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information and updates, visit our AD web site at: UMD Active Directory http://www.d.umn.edu/itss/ad/
ITSS encourages entry into AT&T's "2010 Big Mobile on Campus Challenge." Open to all full-time students, the contest encourages development of "an innovative e-learning mobile app." Enter to win a $10,000 scholarship and a chance to demonstrate your winning application at the 2010 EDUCAUSE annual conference. Open to individuals and teams.
For a list of prizes, contest rules, and for additional information, see: Contest Rules http://bigmobileoncampus.wireless.att.com/main/default.aspx
One of the challenges in copyright law as it applies to teaching has to do with the disconnect between what you may do in your face-to-face classroom and what you may do on the Web. The latitude you have in the classroom does not automatically extend to the Web. How do you make legal use of other's copyrighted materials on the Web? Because there are many pieces to this answer I encourage you to contact Bruce Reeves ( breeves, x6831), or Amanda Evans (amevans, x7680) to discuss what you are using and what you want to do. The TEACH Act allows us to do quite a lot on the Web, but there are requirements we need to meet in order to take advantage of it. Please meet with Bruce or Amanda. They can help you do the teaching you need to do using the Web while respecting the rights of the copyright holders you intend to use.
Sponsored by the Office of Information Technology (OIT) and the University Libraries, we are pleased to offer faculty and P&A instructors a Digital Teaching Workshop (at no charge). The focus this year is "Integrating Digital Audio and Video into Teaching and Learning"
For details see: Register http://www.oit.umn.edu/programs/digital-teaching/index.htm
Did you know that UMD's Visualization and Digital Imaging Lab (Viz Lab) has been around since the turn of this century? Did you know that Blackboard Inc. will not be supporting WebVista beyond 2012? Do you know what Active Directory is and when it will be visiting a work station near you? If not, attend our April Technology Tuesday's @ Two (TTT) sessions!
April 13: Viz Lab 10 year event
Check out the cool projects coming out of UMD's creative lab for the past 10 years. Refreshments will be served.
April 20: WebVista
Why is the vendor, BlackBoard, making WebVista go away from the face of the planet? Come learn what options are available if you currently have a course in WebVista. UMConnect will be used for in this session to support distance participants.
April 27:Active Directory
To meet new University security requirements, Windows and Macintosh workstations at UMD will be moving to Active Directory services. Novell file and print services will also move to Active Directory. Stop by for a brief overview of what, when and how.
For details see: ITSS Training http://www.d.umn.edu/itss/support/Training/ttt/
If you become aware that private data has been disclosed inappropriately, then it is your responsibility to report it as a security breach. Here is the University Policy on Reporting and Notifying Individuals of Security Breaches.
For details see: Security Breaches http://policy.umn.edu/Policies/it/Use/SECURITYBREACH.html
If you are wondering about the definition of private data, here is a helpful explanation of what is private and what is public, "Understanding & Identifying Private and Public Information."
For details see: Private and Public Information http://www.ahc.umn.edu/privacy/what/home.html
After nearly a year of planning, purchasing, and installation, UMD's main communications room has a new air conditioning unit. The original unit was installed in 1991, running non-stop for the past 19 years. It had the cooling capacity of roughly 5 tons of ice but our need is 6.13 tons. Being water-cooled, it utilized city water to absorb the heat generated during the cooling process. The conversion to a refrigerant-cooled system will save approximately $27,600.00 dollars a year and would also provide a WLSSD/MPCA sanitary discharge unit reduction of 9,000 gallons per day.
This would aid in offsetting future construction sanitary sewer extension WLSSD/MPCA applications on the campus. The original unit had no redundancy. A single fan, single compressor, and single circuited coil meant a failure to any component threatened UMD's phone systems and network. It wasn't efficient, it wasn't large enough, and it wasn't reliable enough. It was definitely time for a new system.
Our new system has redundant 6 ton units for a total of 12 tons of cooling. Plumbing, electrical, and other infrastructure were installed to support a second 12 ton unit for future growth. Many thanks go to Facilities Management for their coordination of the project. FM's planning, plumbing, electrical, and carpenter shops all did a tremendous job overcoming obstacles. A.W. Kuettel and Sons installed the Liebert units and new duct work.
The State of Minnesota networking staff also deserve a round of applause for their incredible work to move three equipment racks full of sensitive equipment supporting northeastern Minnesota. We have the electrical capacity in that room to grow to 20 KVA worth of electronics. Now we have a cooling system to keep it all working.
The Office of Information Technology (OIT) continues work on integrating Google applications for use at all campuses of the University. ITSS staff are collaborating on this project, since we run our own email system here. Services will be aimed primarily at students, although faculty and staff may opt in to use services as well.
The rollout to UMD is taking longer than we had hoped, for which we are sincerely sorry. At this point we are waiting for OIT staff to complete the configuration of our section of the Google space. In addition, we need to test the transfer of mail from our email servers to Google email servers for those who opt in. We are hoping to have a test group added to Google Apps in April. Once we are sure that all is working well, we will begin to offer this service to others on campus.The Questions and Answers section is particularly good for those who want to see details.For details see: Google Initiative
You may have heard of Open Source Software or Free Software before, what you may not know is that Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) is integral to the services that ITSS delivers to the UMD campus.
Not only is FOSS often times an inexpensive avenue to solve a complex problem, it also adheres to the tenets of the University's mission statement: The University of Minnesota is dedicated to the sharing of knowledge to benefit the people of the world.
Many of the core central and network services are served by FOSS. Though somewhat unassuming and inconspicuous these services are nonetheless of utmost importance to a fully functioning network. ITSS uses a manifold of FOSS to support the campus in the following ways: When a computer first associates to a UMD wireless network or is plugged into a jack on UMDNet, the computer must obtain an IP address to communicate on the Internet. Computers use a dynamic configuration protocol called DHCP to get their IP address in addition to other necessary information to function on the network. Our DHCP servers are comprised of FOSS.
In order for computers to translate names into IP addresses for communication on the internet, names, like www.google.com, need to be "looked up". The name servers local to UMD are running FOSS. When people browse the UMD web site, the server that returns the page to the clients' web browser is running free and open source software. UMD's email system is running a variety of FOSS to handle mail sending, receiving, and storage.
This article does not exhaustively list all the free and open source software that ITSS makes use of; there are numerous databases, libraries, programming languages, and other tools we use to provide great services and resources to the campus. However, there is one last piece of software that should be highlighted. The ticketing system our help desk and tech center uses is run by FOSS, it is called Request Tracker, or RT for short. The reason for highlighting this particular piece of software is that ITSS has been able to contribute back to the community of RT users by finding bugs, providing patches, and making improvements to the software.
In short, Free and Open Source Software is a highly functional, cost-effective,
and educationally sound way to solve IT issues facing the campus.
The Multimedia Hub, located in the UMD Library, has upgraded the Macintosh computers to Snow Leopard (OSX 10.6) and has added 12 new large-screen iMac's for your video editing needs. The Hub offers students, faculty, and staff a Hub server account to store video footage during the semester. It is great for saving your video footage until your project is complete.
New to the Hub are Canon SD video cameras with mic ports for your audio needs. Notice that the DV tape camera era is ending and technology is going to SD cards. The good news is that the SD card data imports much faster than the mini-DV tape cameras.
The Hub has joined forces with the Library to help faculty with video copyright issues. Procedures are in place to process your request to copy video to your streaming server account. Bring your request to Mary at the Hub, who will forward information to Sunshine Carter of the Library staff. Sunshine will be able to determine what copyright or license issues there may be.
The Hub staff will convert your videos for streaming server when possible, usually within 2 days.
The Hub continues to offer tours and one-on-one help with camera instruction and video editing as needed.
For details see: HUB http://www.d.umn.edu/itss/~mmedia/website/
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 Mandie Johnson, Technology Support Professional.
What Mandie does for ITSS:
Mandie provides desktop support for Windows and Macintosh customers, including email, web browsers, Novell clients, and general software. She also provides web development assistance for ITSS and other departments on campus.
Mandie is originally from the Twin Cities and is a graduate of the School of Environmental Studies at the Minnesota Zoo. She moved to Duluth in 1999 and graduated from UMD in 2003 after majoring in Anthropology. Mandie has always had a strong interest in technology. Her mother worked for their local school district in the computer labs, and was able to bring home mini labs of Macs and PCs over each break. Mandie was fortunate to have hands-on exposure to a wide variety of platforms at a young age. She has always used her technology skills to pay the bills, and has worked as an IT specialist for numerous non-profits and NGOs in the US and UK. While a student at UMD, Mandie was vice-president of the ACM Club and worked for ITSS primarily at the Help Desk. She jumped at the chance to return to ITSS as a member of its professional staff and has been with the department since February 2006.
When not behind a computer screen, Mandie can't get enough of the outdoors, especially hiking, camping, and geocaching. She loves taking road trips to various State and National Parks. Mandie comes from a very musical family, and plays the flute, violin, and piano. She is a big Nintendo fan and likes playing her DSi and Wii. During dark winter nights, Mandie enjoys curling up on the couch to watch silent and pre-code films, as well as many sci-fi classics.
Mandie is married to her high school sweetheart, Aaron. They have one totally awesome son, Henry, who will turn 2 in June. With two cats in the yard, a fish in the tank, and some hermit crabs that sing like birds, they have a very busy and happy home life. The family enjoys volunteering with the Grant Community School Collaborative and the East Hillside Community Club.
An example of Mandie’s work for ITSS:
As part of the Desktop Team, Mandie helps solve problems submitted to the Help Desk. She troubleshoots software, password, and network connectivity issues on desktop computers, laptops, and other mobile devices. Mandie also does web development for the department. She updates web content for ITSS and creates sites for other campus customers. Additionally, Mandie is a member of the Customer Service and the Assistive Technology Teams and enjoys finding new ways of making technology work better for everyone. Mandie's broad skill set and focus on customer service have been great assets for ITSS!