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September 2011 Archives


October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. This is an annual effort to increase awareness and prevention of online security problems, spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA).

This year's theme is: STOP.THINK.CONNECT:

  • Stop: Before you use the Internet, take time to understand the risks and learn how to spot potential problems.
  • Think: Take a moment to be certain the path ahead is clear. Watch for warning signs and consider how your actions online could impact your safety, or your family's.
  • Connect: Enjoy the Internet with greater confidence, knowing you've taken the right steps to safeguard yourself and your computer.

Protect yourself and help keep the web a safer place for everyone. Through out the month, ITSS will be posting security tips on our Facebook site, our web site, and our digital sign.

For information to share with your students, families and colleagues, NCSA has put together a number of cyber security "tip sheets:"

You will find additional tip sheets and information at their main site:

Posted on Friday, Sep 30, 2011 | Permalink

Authentication Service Disruption, Scheduled Downtime

This morning, September 29, from approximately 7:20-7:50 a.m., users were unable to log in to U of M Google Apps. This service disruption was caused by issues with the authentication service.

The Office of Information Technology (OIT) is aware of ongoing issues with authentication. They have been experiencing heavy loads, and have been working to mitigate the service disruption as much as possible.

In order to prevent further incidents such as the one the University experienced this morning, OIT is scheduling recurring maintenance on authentication. Beginning Friday, September 30, maintenance will be completed daily from 6:30 am-6:40 a.m. During that time, users will be unable to log in to applications that require authentication. These include Google Apps and Moodle. Users who are already logged in will not notice any service disruption.

While this short-term fix presents an undesirable service impact, it is intended to minimize service impact while OIT investigates a more permanent and satisfactory solution that addresses the root cause of this issue.

Posted on Thursday, Sep 29, 2011 | Permalink

How is Educational Technology at UMN Working for You?

We need your feedback! During the month of October a sample of faculty and students will have an opportunity to provide feedback for the 2011 UMN Technology Survey. In general, the surveys are designed to gather information about faculty and student experiences with and perceptions of educational technology.

Why is This Important?

We believe that data from these surveys can help administrators, faculty members, educational technologists, students, and others to form a comprehensive picture of the use of educational technology at the University of Minnesota. We also hope that survey data will be useful in the creation of programs and infrastructure surrounding digital technology, such as faculty development programs, technology-enhanced learning activities, and technology support systems for students and faculty members.

What Should I Do?

  • For the Student Technology Survey: Raise awareness and encourage your students to complete this important survey if they are in the sample. Ask your students how they feel about this recent UMD Statesmen article, Technology and school: A dangerous combination.
  • For the Faculty Technology Survey: Watch your inner campus mailbox and email inbox to see if you are in the sample.
  • For more information: please visit the Technology Surveys website.

Posted on Thursday, Sep 29, 2011 | Permalink

ITSS By The Numbers: Management Team

The ITSS Management Team effectively and efficiently plans, organizes, directs, and controls organizational resources in pursuit of organizational goals.

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

  • 41 professional staff and 55 student employees
  • 16 compliments and 11 complaints
  • 2 major service outages
  • 7,034 projects completed

Posted on Thursday, Sep 29, 2011 | Permalink

Policy Update: Mass Email

ITSS has provided a new web page to describe the many options for sending mass email.

If you need to send email to larger groups of people, please have a look to find out what might work best for you.

Posted on Thursday, Sep 29, 2011 | Permalink

Infrastructure Investment Initiative (I3) Award

An interdisciplinary group of researchers in the Viz lab (Morris Levy, Biomechanics-HPER; Joellyn Rock, Art + Design; Thomas Isbell, Theater; Robert Feyen, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering; Peter Willemsen, Computer Science) has been awarded an Infrastructure Investment Initiative (I3) grant for research investment in the Viz lab.

A 3D motion capture and high definition video production video production studio will be constructed over a period of five years. Equipped with a multiple camera shooting space, chroma-key green screen, cyclorama and backdrops, studio lighting and sound booth, this high definition video production and motion capture studio will foster faculty collaboration and research in biomechanics, ergonomics, animation, performing arts and computer generated virtual environments research. The Viz Lab will continue its long-standing record of research support, while expanding with new and emerging technology.

The next evolution of the Viz lab will bring exciting opportunities for new interdisciplinary research, creative activity, and pedagogical strategies. The grant funds activities that involve faculty from theater, digital arts, exercise science, mechanical engineering, and computer science.

Posted on Thursday, Sep 22, 2011 | Permalink

Ten Years Ago: Star Office 5.2

Ten years ago Star Office 5.2 became available to the campus community. This suite of programs provided a free alternative for processing documents. The programs which ran on the campus SunRay computers were also available for download to Windows.

Posted on Thursday, Sep 22, 2011 | Permalink

Hub Zone

The Multimedia Hub is experiencing increased student use and equipment rental due to the the creation of a "Talk Zone" on the second floor of Library.

The Hub has already had numerous class tours along with faculty reserving time for their classes to come to the Hub to learn about equipment for student usage and video editing software.

The Hub has filmed such events as the Chancellor’s Coronation, Anishinaabeg Gathering on Madeline Island, the EPA’s Climate Change Conference, Earthworm invasion for NRRI and National Science Foundation along with LSBE and University for Seniors events to name a few.

Many faculty are preparing for the future by converting their VHS movies to DVD when copyright permissions allow. The Hub can help with this.

For more information visit the Multimedia Hub.

Posted on Thursday, Sep 22, 2011 | Permalink

Moving your UMCal data to Google Calendar

If you completed the transition to a University Google account and have items in UMCal that you want to place in your Google calendar, it will be necessary for you to manually export your calendar data file, known as your "ics" file, and import it into Google.

You will need to complete this before UMCal is decommissioned on September 30.

To move information from your UMCal to your Google Calendar, follow these steps:

  1. Using the UMCal desktop client, select File then select Export Data. Choose iCalendar file as the export file format. Click Continue
  2. Choose a date range of items to be transferred from UMCal to Google Calendar. Save the file to your desktop. (OIT recommends All).
  3. Open your Google Calendar in a web browser and select Calendar Settings.
  4. Select the Calendars tab, then click Import Calendar.
  5. Click Browse to locate the exported calendar file you created, and select the Google calendar (work, personal, etc) into which you want to import the UMCal items.
  6. Click Import. View your Google Calendar to verify the entries were created.

Some limitations of which you should be aware:

  • Recurring meetings will export and import but will not be associated with each other, and will appear its own meeting. You may need to manually add recurring meetings.
  • Attendees and resources will not be imported with meetings. You will need to re-invited attendees and resources.
  • Reminder notifications will be sent based on what you have set as the default in your Google calendar.
If you do not use the UMCal desktop application, or if you need assistance retrieving your calendar information, contact the ITSS HelpDesk (218.726.8847).

Posted on Thursday, Sep 15, 2011 | Permalink

Important ITSS Web Server Upgrade News

If you have web pages that utilize CGI it is very important that you test them before October 31, 2011.

ITSS is replacing our existing web server ( with newer hardware and software. A Web Server Upgrade guide has been prepared that will help you prepare for the changes that will happen on Monday, October 31, at 6AM. If your web sites do not use CGI (PHP, Perl, C, C++, etc) or data base systems, it is very likely no changes will need to be made to your web sites. If you do use CGI components or use data bases then it's important that you test ahead of time and be prepared to update your web pages on October 31.

For more details please visit Web Server Upgrade.

If you have questions please contact Dan Burrows at 8846 or via email at

Posted on Sunday, Sep 4, 2011 | Permalink 1 Comment

Active Directory Project Nears End of Phase 1

Over the summer, we continued our work on moving workstations on campus units to Active Directory (AD) services. We expect to complete the few remaining groups during September. Once the last Novell data has been migrated, we will be decommissioning our Novell servers in October as planned.

At that time, we will have added over 1500 computers to AD, and will have moved 4 terabytes of data from our Novell server to our AD file server. This process has been a huge undertaking of staff time and talent, and we are glad to be nearing the end of the first phase.

The second phase will involve adding non-Windows computers to AD services. The Office of Information Technology (OIT) has been working to purchase software that will allow Macintosh and Linux workstations to use Active Directory services for authentication and security updates. We expect the pilot study to begin fall semester, and may be able to offer this service to our campus spring semester.

Posted on Sunday, Sep 4, 2011 | Permalink

September 30: UMCal to be Decommissioned

UMCal is scheduled to be decommissioned Friday, September 30. Effective October 1, UMCal no longer will be available, and Google Calendar will become the University's official calendar.

Users who have migrated to Google already and only use UMCal in order to collaborate with other UMCal users, may disregard the migration instructions.

Users will not have access to log into UMCal after September 30, and are encouraged to transition to Google Apps for the University of Minnesota before the September 30 decommission date. Once users have converted their account to Google, it becomes their official University calendar and email application.

Please note that Academic Health Center (AHC) and other Health Care Component (HCC)-related accounts still will NOT be eligible for Google email accounts at this time, and those users will receive additional information soon about transitioning to Google Calendar. For further deatils please visit the Office of Information Technology's UMCal article.

Posted on Thursday, Sep 1, 2011 | Permalink

ITSS Computer Labs

ITSS continues to support a number of computer labs across campus for use by students and faculty. Software packages in the ITSS Computer Labs have been upgraded where requested. We are now using Microsoft Office 2010.

The labs are located in the same locations as last year. Kirby Plaza 143 continues to be a 24-hour/5-day lab, opening at 4:30 pm on Sundays and closing at 4:30 pm on Fridays, with both basic access and full access Macs and Windows machines in this lab.

Please visit the ITSS Student Computer Labs web site for further information.

Posted on Thursday, Sep 1, 2011 | Permalink

New Google Apps and Features Available

New Google applications and enhancements are being released on a continuing basis. Some Apps are vetted by the system-wide Google Steering Committee and turned on by our system administrators. Other features are released into our domain Google Updates schedule. Apps that are currently available in the University of Minnesota Domain include:

  • Alerts
  • Blogger
  • Bookmarks
  • Books
  • Calendar
  • Docs
  • Gmail
  • Labs
  • Maps
  • News
  • Reader
  • Sites
  • Tasks
  • Translate

Nearly all Active UMD Accounts are in Google Apps except Health Components and Alumni / Retirees [1]

As of August 30, 2011, nearly 15,000 UMD accounts are in Google Apps. Some incoming students, faculty and staff accounts will need to migrate during the last few days of summer and first few weeks of Fall Semester.

The following Units will be made eligible for opt in once a HIPAA-compliant solution is in place for them (estimated timeline is late September 2011):

  • Intercollegiate Athletics staff
  • Health Services
  • Human Resources
  • Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Duluth School of Medicine
  • Duluth Pharmacy

[1] Alumni, Retired Staff, and those accounts subject to HIPAA-compliance issues will continue to have access to legacy UMD email until Google solutions are in place for them. A Google Apps domain for alumni and retired staff is in design and planned for a late Fall 2011 implementation - this is an estimated timeline and not yet firm.

Visit Google Apps for the University of Minnesota Duluth for more information or contact

Posted on Thursday, Sep 1, 2011 | Permalink

New Projectors in a Third of the General Purpose Classrooms

ITSS has replaced the Hitachi projectors, some as old as 7 years, with new Epson models.

Last year the Classroom Team, with help from technology staff from across the campus, assessed several different brands of projectors to determine the next generation of classroom equipment. In this fast moving industry it is a good practice to re-assess what brand and model you are using anyway, but we were prompted to move on from what we had been using when that brand and model was unexpectedly discontinued. The end result was that we were able to identify a new Epson projector at a substantially lower cost than previous brands and models. We expect that every general purpose classroom user will have a very positive experience with a modern projector and high quality image.

Contact or if you have questions about classroom projectors.

Posted on Thursday, Sep 1, 2011 | Permalink