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Technology news for UMD faculty, staff and students

February 2011

Everyone into Google Apps by June 30, 2011

The transition to Google Apps has gone very well. Since we began inviting UMD users to opt in, four months ago, over 6,751 UMD users have made the switch (48% of the campus). The transition has been smooth for the vast majority of users. Only 153 Help Desk tickets were generated during those 4 months and only 183 users took advantage of our weekly training sessions. With UMCal being shut down at the end of the fiscal year, enterprise calendar users will need to be opted in to use Google Calendar. Given our positive experience thus far, we expect to get all remaining users into Google Apps by the end of the fiscal year (June 30, 2011).

We are still working on a process to move departmental accounts and we are expecting a solution very soon to accommodate units who work with protected health information. Once we have all current accounts moved into the Google Domain, we will be able to turn our attention to alumni and retirees. The Google Transition Team really appreciates the help we have received from all of our partners on campus and we look forward to working with the remaining users on a similarly smooth transition.

For opt in reports, technical how-tos, and general information, please visit our Google Apps for the University of Minnesota Duluth or call the Help Desk at 726-8847. Feel free to contact jdavis@d.umn.edu with any questions or concerns.

Google Calendar? UMCal? Which Do I Use?

Once you have made the switch to Gmail you have opened the door to more than just email. The UMN Google suite includes:

This article will look at Google Calendar and the transition from UMCal.

Currently, UMCal is the University calendar. UMCal will be shut down this coming summer, so some users and departments have already made the transition. You can, too, as long as you do not need to interact with UMCal users. Google Calendar and UMCal cannot talk to each other easily.

If you think you can make the switch, you can export your UMCal information once and import the data into Google Calendar. You will need to do this from the UMCal desktop application.

  1. Go to the "File" menu.
  2. Select "Export".
  3. Select "iCalendar" format (.ics).
  4. Make sure you pick to export all dates in your calendar.

This will save a file to your computer. Be sure you know where it was saved!

Go into your Google Calendar by selecting the "Calendar" link in the upper left-hand corner of Gmail. Once in Calendar complete the following set of instructions.

  1. Go to the upper right-hand corner and select "Settings > Calendar settings".
  2. Select the "Calendars" link.
  3. Select the "Import calendar" link.
  4. Browse to the file you saved in the export steps above.
  5. Choose the file.
  6. Select "Import".

This may take several minutes to import your data depending upon how many meetings you have. Once it is done you will see a window. Close the window. When you go back to your calendar it may take a short while for the initial display of all the data imported, but it will display. Be patient!

For more information visit Google Calendar.

ITSS staff, in conjunction with staff from the Office of Information Technology (OIT) on the Twin Cities campus, have been gearing up for UMD's migration to Active Directory (AD). During the summer, our student computing labs were converted from Novell to AD for authentication. Over the winter break, ITSS and Library staff workstations were migrated to AD as well. The remaining groups on campus, beginning with CEHSP in February, will be migrated to AD during spring semester and through next summer.

The Active Directory project has two components:

  1. Move all data off the Novell server to the AD Windows server. This will affect faculty and staff who use Novell on either Windows or Macintosh workstations.
  2. Add all University-owned Windows workstations to the Active Directory service. Personal computers and Macintosh/Linux workstations will not be added at this time.

ITSS is working with the technical support staff in each unit to plan for and schedule the migration of workstations in that area. As part of this process, ITSS is sharing with each department a list of all active Novell accounts and data storage. In return, ITSS is asking departments to inventory their workstations and provide a list of all Windows workstations that will be migrated to AD. Exceptions will be documented by each department via the Active Directory Exception Form.

"Moving to AD" Workshop

Prior to a move, ITSS will offer a short workshop for technical support staff from the area. During this workshop, we will demonstrate the process used for adding a computer to AD, migrating Windows profiles, accessing data on the Windows AD server, and printing through AD. We will also answer any questions support staff may have about AD or the process.

Move Schedule

The current schedule for moves is as follows:

Dates College/Department/Office/School
February 7 - 25 College of Education and Human Service Professions (CEHSP)
February 28 - March 18 College of Liberal Arts (CLA)
March 21 - April 1 Labovitz School of Business and Economics (LSBE)
April 4 - 8 School of Fine Arts (SFA)
April 11 - 29 Swenson College of Science and Engineering (SCSE)
May 2 - 13 Vice Chancellor Academic Administration (VCAA)
May 16 - June 10 Vice Chancellor Academic Support and Student Life (VCASSL)
June 13 - 17 Vice Chancellor Finance and Operations (VCFO)
June 20 - 24 Athletics
June 27 - July 1 Auxiliary Services
July 4 - 8 Facilities Management
To Be Determined Pharmacy
To Be Determined Duluth Medical School (Dmed)
To Be Determined Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI)

For more information visit Active Directory. If you have questions please email Sally Bradt at sbradt@d.umn.edu or call her at 726-8856.

Changes to Filtering Phish Email Messages

Just before our winter break, ITSS staff made changes to our system that filters out phish messages. Phish messages attempt to get you to disclose your private information so that it can be used inappropriately.

Previous to these changes, ITSS staff were putting all suspicious messages into quarantine, reviewing them manually, and releasing for delivery only those that were considered appropriate. As you can imagine, this took a great deal of staff time, and it also caused delays in delivery of some legitimate messages.

Our new process is automated and therefore not as smart as the previous process. Mail tagged as potential phish is tagged with "[phish?]" in the subject. This new process will rely on you, the email recipient, to determine whether a message is a phish scheme or not. Also, with greater automation comes greater likelihood that some phish messages may slip through and be delivered without the tag. During the winter break, a number of you received such messages and reported them.

We plan to continue to use, and to improve, our new automated process. If you receive a message that you think is a phish message, and if it has not been tagged, please forward it to phish@d.umn.edu. Please do not forward general spam, as we cannot possibly keep up with it all. We do, however, want to continue to try to prevent as many phish messages as possible from reaching you.

Lyris, Enterprise ListManager

This Spring Term, ITSS will begin supporting a way of sending email to the campus using an Enterprise tool called Lyris. Lyris ListManager, as it is formally called, is the University's mass email system used to send messages to large audiences. Lyris offers control over HTML and text and is currently being used for both internal and alumni communications. Lyris gives us the opportunity to have branding, opt-out options, and attachments within the messages that are being sent out.

Before your unit begins using Lyris, you should determine the electronic communication needs of your unit. Once you have determined how Lyris can be utilized in your unit, you can begin the process of gaining access to Lyris and sending your own communications. We can help you get the proper access for the users in your unit that will be responsible for sending out emails, and get selected group lists defined to send your emails to.

If you'd like a demonstration or more information you can contact the ITSS Help Desk to fill out a request or you can call Debbie Wing at 726-8784.

Web Server

It will soon be time for customers of our main web server to move from the current server to a new server. The new server will be Linux based instead of Solaris based. The new hardware will be a substantial improvement over the current system. The new server will also run up-to-date packages such as PHP 5, and newer software will mean some work for some customers. The software packages on the new server will be updated twice a year, in August and in January.

Web sites with just the usual HTML and no data base systems will be easiest to move. Sites with compiled code will need recompiling, and those kinds of web sites will require more work. Many departments have web sites as do faculty, staff and students. ITSS staff will soon contact web site owners to provide information about moving their web sites. We are planning to move easy web sites starting soon, more complicated ones during the time frame of May - June 2011, and the most complicated sites July - August 2011. If you have questions or concerns please email dburrows@d.umn.edu or call him at 726-8846.

WebVista to Moodle Transition Update

WebVista will be available through the end of next Spring semester 2012, but the planning to transition to Moodle 2.x will begin this semester. Amanda Evans and Bruce Reeves will host a series of "WebVista to Moodle Tool Mapping" workshops that will help the WebVista user prepare to move to Moodle 2.x. For more information please consult the ITSS workshop site.

Moodle 2.x is scheduled to be available this coming Fall semester 2011, and will run along with Moodle version 1.9. Starting in Spring semester 2012 Moodle 2.x will be the only version of Moodle available. We are currently testing the features and changes in Moodle 2.x. Current Moodle 1.9 users, please look for future articles on transitioning to Moodle 2.x.

IT Policy Update

ITSS has updated our Policy on Computer System and Network Down Time. This policy describes the methods and times we use to update equipment. Whenever possible, we try to work outside of regular business hours in order to avoid inconveniencing customers.

Spotlight on: Adam Moren

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 Adam Moren, Information Technology Professional.

Adam Moren

What Adam does for ITSS:
Adam is a systems administrator for Windows and Macintosh servers, and provides support for Active Directory, student computing and printing services.
Adam's background:
Adam was born in Grand Rapids, MN. Adam has his B.S. in Computer Science, and has worked for SMDC, the Superior school district, and most recently for the College of Pharmacy, here at UMD. He has been working on our campus since 2005 but only recently joined the ITSS staff. Adam claims he is "just cracked enough to think he can be a physicist" and will start working on his Master's Degree in Physics this Fall.
Interesting facts:
Adam has two awesome girls Evangelina (5) and Piper (3). He has been a Youth Group mentor for three years at the UUCD. Adam makes wine, cooks like a fiend and enjoys the Heck out of life!

ITSS is very happy that Adam joined our team! He has been making immediate contributions to our work on Active Directory conversion and Student Computing support.

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