Information Technology Systems and Services.
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Technology news for UMD faculty, staff and students

August 2011 Archives

WebVista, Moodle 1.9, Moodle 2.0...What CMS Should I Use This Academic Year?

Starting next academic year, Moodle 2.0 will become the sole Course Management System (CMS) within the UMN system. This multi-year CMS transition has been two-fold:

  1. A major Moodle upgrade, from version 1.9 to 2.0
  2. Transitioning away from offering two Course Management Systems, Moodle and WebVista, to offering a sole CMS, Moodle

What Does this Mean at This Point in the CMS Transition?

We have less than 12 months to transition away from WebVista and Moodle version 1.9. All course materials from these systems need to be moved into Moodle 2.0 before September 1, 2012.

If you're using WebVista, you can continue to use this system for this academic year. We do encourage you to request a Moodle 2.0 Development site sometime this Fall or Spring to start learning about the new system. The move from WebVista to Moodle 2.0 will be a manual process.
Moodle version 1.9
If you're using Moodle version 1.9, you can continue to use this system for this academic year. We do encourage you to request a Moodle 2.0 Development site sometime this Fall or Spring to start learning about the new system. The move from Moodle 1.9 to Moodle 2.0 will be upgraded with an automated process.
Moodle version 2.0
If you are really comfortable learning new technologies during the rush of the Fall semester and have a really good "Plan B," Moodle 2.0 may be for you.

ITSS will be offering sessions for the campus community throughout the academic year as we transition to Moodle 2.0. For more information regarding the CMS transition, visit the following sites:

Posted on Wednesday, Aug 31, 2011 | Permalink

NetFiles Changes

NetFiles was upgraded on Saturday, August 27, 2011, to version 7. New features include:

  • A new share feature that makes it easier to share files
  • Advanced upload feature allows for uploading multiple files or entire folders at once with drag and drop
  • LDAP groups which allow IT staff to manage groups for departments and colleges
  • Users no longer need to sign up to use NetFiles

Changes to NetFiles

  • Some users create a "ticket" in order to share documents in NetFiles. This ticket creates a URL/link providing people access to a file or folder stored in NetFiles. Password-protected tickets will not work after the upgrade and will need to be recreated (which is easier with the new share feature).
  • The URL for NetFiles has changed, which means existing bookmarks will not work. If you follow an old bookmark and log in to NetFiles, you will come to a blank screen and it will appear that you have no files in your NetFiles account. To access NetFiles, go to and re-bookmark the page.
  • The new version of NetFiles has a new look. If you had used the feature of creating "bookmarks" with the old version with direct links to certain folders on the left navigation of NetFiles, that is gone. To find those bookmarks in the new version, look for the Bookmarks tab at the top left of the screen, right above the U of M-logo.

An introductory video is available.

Posted on Tuesday, Aug 30, 2011 | Permalink

ITSS By The Numbers: Web Team

The ITSS Web Team develops and facilitates development of accurate, well organized, and accessible technical documentation and other written information in support of ITSS and other UMD organizations.

From January 1 through July 31, 2011, the team reported:

  • web-site development and credit-card applications for 21 campus units
  • 207,428 views of ITSS web pages
  • 50,177 visitors to the ITSS web site
  • 34,854 views of the /itss/google web page

Posted on Thursday, Aug 25, 2011 | Permalink

Policy Update: Digital Signage

The UMD campus has adopted a new policy on digital signage.

If you are considering installing any digital signs on campus, please read and understand this policy first. Note that there is an approval form that must be completed before proceeding.

Posted on Thursday, Aug 25, 2011 | Permalink

University Systems Maintenance on October 1 and 2

The University of Minnesota plans a complete shut down of the primary data center on the Twin Cities campus on October 1 and 2. This will impact many enterprise systems on which we rely. Systems housed at UMD will not be impacted.


Saturday evening, October 1, 2011 beginning at 6 p.m. through Sunday, October 2, 2011, ending at 12 noon.

Services Affected (avoid these during the window)

Most of the University’s web-based and server-based systems (View the full list (PDF))

  • Moodle
  • PeopleSoft (Financials, Student, and Human Resources systems)
  • Library MNCAT Catalog System (Aleph)
  • ImageNow
  • Email Mass Distribution System (Lyris)
  • Data Warehouse

Services Not Affected (common services that users often ask about)

  • Google Apps (Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Sites)
  • UMD Active Directory
  • UMD Network
  • UMD Student Computing Labs
  • All other UMD systems

Specific Details

  • The University’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) will be shutting down its main data center (WBOB) to perform necessary maintenance, testing, and repairs of facility infrastructure. CLA-OIT houses all of its production servers in WBOB.
  • Specifically, the Emergency Power Off and fire suppression systems need to be tested to comply with Fire Marshal requirements.
  • To prevent damage to critical equipment, University engineers will be powering down servers, network, and other valuable equipment in advance of the test and returning systems to full operation following some additional overnight maintenance.
  • The OIT data center services team intends to leverage the downtime to fulfill some additional data center activities that are less urgent, but require the power to be off. View the full scope of maintenance activities, including the schedule for restoring services (PDF).
  • Plans for this outage began earlier this summer. The OIT Change Approval Board and the University of Minnesota IT Leadership Alliance both lobbied for better timing to minimize the impact on instruction, research, and other essential University functions.


Can I work during the maintenance window?
In general, OIT recommends that you avoid using the affected services during the maintenance window. Systems may be available during the maintenance window, but they can and will be shut down without warning and may be unavailable for hours at a time. So, use only at your own risk.
Can’t this be done without disrupting service?
To prevent damage to critical equipment, systems must be powered down.
Can you reschedule this window to a more convenient time?
Plans for this outage began earlier this summer. The OIT Change Approval Board and the University of Minnesota IT Leadership Alliance both lobbied for better timing to minimize the impact on instruction, research, and other essential University functions. Unfortunately, circumstances prevent moving the work to a more opportune time during an academic break. However, the maintenance window was shortened as much as possible and moved to night-time hours.
How do I find out more?
During the service interruption, updates will be available on the University of Minnesota System Status page.

Posted on Thursday, Aug 25, 2011 | Permalink

Major and Minor Email Aliases

Starting this fall, faculty will see some important changes with major and minor email aliases (the lists used to send emails to groups of students within a major and/or minor). Previously these were coordinated through ITSS. However, at the end of Spring 2011, ITSS ended their involvement with creating or updating major/minor alias lists and assisted in moving this functionality in to the Advisor Connect email system. If you have a need for specialty lists (i.e., dept faculty), ITSS will still handle creating these lists for you.

Keep in mind that access needs to be set up in order to send messages to major(s) and/or minor(s). For many of you this has already been done. There are 2 types of access: admin (ability to grant other faculty and staff access to send emails to the students within program(s)) and normal (ability to just send emails to students within program(s)).

Once you log into the system, you will need to opt in to send email and add your signature (advisors only can also opt in to receive pre-written calender specific messages to forward to advisees). If you attempt to log in and receive a message that you do not have access, you will need to get access set up before you can send emails to the list.

Log in by clicking on Advisor Connect or go to UMD homepage - OneStop For - Faculty/Staff link - Tools Heading - Advisor Connect link.

Once you have access to Advisor Connect, whenever you are ready to send an email all you have to do is:

  1. log in
  2. create the message
  3. click the major(s) and/or minor(s) you want to send the message [1]
  4. click send

You have the ability to attach documents and cc others on the message. You will receive a copy of the email you sent. The email copy will include the names of all of students who received the message. Students get a personalized email message addressed to their name.

[1] The major/minor lists are updated nightly M-F to ensure the most up-to-date student information we can.

For additional help on using Advisor Connect, please go to Advisor Connect is listed as the 2nd module. If you have any issues or trouble after you have reviewed the information, please do not hesitate to contact Lisa Rigoni Reeves.

Posted on Thursday, Aug 25, 2011 | Permalink

Tech Tip: Gmail Searches

Looking through your inbox for a mail that came with an attachment? Add has:attachment to your search query.

Posted on Thursday, Aug 18, 2011 | Permalink

Ten Years Ago: iPAQ Hand-Held Computer Initiative

The College of Science and Engineering started their iPAQ hand-held computer initiative in September 2001.

Posted on Thursday, Aug 18, 2011 | Permalink

OIT Offers Microsoft Work-at-Home Option

The Office of Information Technology (OIT) has partnered with e-academy to offer the Microsoft Work-at-Home option, an additional benefit of the Microsoft Campus Agreement, to allow faculty and staff system wide who use Microsoft Office programs, as well as the Windows operating system, on their University-owned computers, to use a second copy of a limited selection of products on either a laptop or desktop computer that he or she personally owns or leases. The software may be used only for work-related purposes and only during the term of the campus agreement. The Work-at-Home licenses to not apply to students, unless they also are an employee.

Strict guidelines govern the use of these products on personally owned computers for work purposes. Those who wish to purchase the Work-at-Home license are required to agree to and digitally sign a Faculty and Staff License Agreement during the check-out process before the purchase can be completed.

Products are available to download from the e-academy Work-at-Home web store, OnTheHub, for approximately $10. Users also have the option to order the products on CD for approximately $21. Complete and current fees are listed on the website. The direct link to the e-academy U of M Higher Education WebStore is

Microsoft products also are offered at educational prices for personal use, in the event that users are unable to agree to the terms of the Work-at-Home agreement and want to use the products for personal use, as well.

For more information and the latest news about these products, visit the OIT Software License UTools Windows and Office websites for the latest news and offerings of these products, at Office (Microsoft) and Windows Operating System (OS) Upgrade (Microsoft).

Posted on Thursday, Aug 18, 2011 | Permalink