Information Technology Systems and Services.

infotech.NEWS

Technology news for UMD faculty, staff and students

November 2012 Archives

January 5-6: Twin Cities Data Service Interruption

An annual maintenance and service interruption at the Twin Cities data center is scheduled for January 5-6, 2013.

The annual data center maintenance outage is set to start at 6 a.m. Saturday, January 5, with restoration scheduled to begin at 6 a.m. Sunday, January 6, 2013. It is expected that all affected services will be restored by noon Sunday.

The outage is required in order to perform necessary maintenance, testing and repairs to facility infrastructure, and involves a complete shutdown of the main data center, resulting in interruption to IT services during that time.

As planned and socialized during the 2011 annual maintenance shutdown, the first full weekend in January following the New Year's holiday was established as the regular maintenance shutdown weekend each year going forward. The work is being planned through coordinated efforts with the IT Change Approval Board.

A complete list of affected services is being prepared, and will be shared with the University community as soon as it is available. Regular updates also will be shared as they become available. Updates also will be available on the Twin Cities Data Center Operations Services website, and on the University's system status page during the service interruption period.


Posted on Friday, Nov 30, 2012 | Permalink | No Comments


Policy Update: Appropriate Use of Information Technology

The UMD Campus Policy on Appropriate Use of Information Technology governs how we use technology on our campus. It is also linked to the University of Minnesota Policy on Acceptable Use of Information Technology, which we also follow.

As users of information technology tools provided by UMD and UM, we must also be good stewards of these tools. Because we are publicly funded, the community at large is interested that we use our resources wisely.

Although the policy allows for reasonable personal use of these resources, excessive personal use, unauthorized commercial use, and use for personal financial gain are prohibited.

Please take a few minutes to review this policy and ensure that you are following it.


Posted on Friday, Nov 30, 2012 | Permalink | No Comments


ITSS By The Numbers: Our Staff

ITSS is proud to serve the UMD campus. We have an experienced and highly-educated staff.

On November 30, 2012, ITSS had:

  • 40 professional staff
  • 10 with masters degrees
  • 2 with doctorates
  • 2 who are working on advanced degrees
  • 33 IT Professionals
  • 4 IT Managers
  • 1 Accountant 1 Supervisor
  • 1 IT Specialist
  • 1 Principal Accounts Specialist

Posted on Friday, Nov 30, 2012 | Permalink | No Comments


Database Server Upgrade

The main ITSS database server is scheduled to be upgraded on Monday, January 7, 2013. The upgraded server will include the current release of the Debian operating system and MySQL database management software.

ITSS is currently in the process of contacting database owners about this upgrade, and it is very likely no changes will need to be made to databases. We are also identifying and updating the status and usage metadata for databases housed on this server. This information includes: Department, Description, Administrator and Contact Information. It is the goal of ITSS to standardize and maintain up-to-date information about each of our databases.

If you are aware of any databases you administer on this server and have not already been contacted by ITSS, or if you have any questions about this upgrade, please contact Stacy Schweikert, slschwe@d.umn.edu.


Posted on Thursday, Nov 29, 2012 | Permalink | No Comments


One Way to Influence Information Technology at UMN

The Office of Information Technology on the Twin Cities campus is actively seeking input from the University of Minnesota (UMN) community on matters of IT through "Communities of Practice." The various Communities of Practice are open to all members of the UMN community and are organized around topics such as "E-Learning" and "Academic Technology Tools" as well as "Helpdesk Consolidation" and "Computer Management."

To learn more about this emerging method of influencing IT at UMN, please consult Communities of Practice (CoPs).


Posted on Wednesday, Nov 28, 2012 | Permalink | No Comments


Ten Years Ago in ITSS: eGradebook

In December 2002 ITSS announced eGradebook. This program that was developed by ITSS combined the most popular features of the two previous grade management programs and provided additional functionality not available from those applications.


Posted on Monday, Nov 26, 2012 | Permalink | No Comments


Google Apps Accessibility

Google has expressed a commitment to accessibility and provided instructions for how to use accessibility features of their products. However, Google Apps currently possess accessibility barriers.

The University of Minnesota Accessibility Standard illuminates helpful best practices. They are to:

  • Consider the accessibility barriers of the Google App to be used and which types of disabilities may be affected.
  • Allow the use of alternative software to accomplish the same tasks being done with Google Apps.
  • Consider avoiding the use of Google Apps to provide access to educational material, if Google Apps is the only means of access.
  • Consider a change in pedagogy to include small group participation, eliminating the need for an individual with a disability to interact directly with a Google app.

Tools and Tips

Greg Kraus of North Carolina State (NCS) University has developed a Google Doc to Microsoft Office Bookmarklet. It is a useful tool to convert a Google doc into a Word document. As the NCS web page states:

Some assistive technology users are unable to use the Google Docs user interface. Often times it is more convenient for them to download the Google Doc into its corresponding Microsoft Office file format. It is possible to do this from within a Google Doc by going to the application's "File" menu and choosing "Download as". However, even this task can be difficult for some assistive technology users because of the lack of support for their assistive technology within Google Docs. This tool provides a convenient way to download a Google Doc into its corresponding Microsoft Office file format.

According to Google documentation (PDF) people using assistive technology to interact with Google Apps will have the best experience using Google Chrome with the ChromeVox screen reader extension.

For further information please consult the Google section of the accessibility page of the Web Design Reference site.


Posted on Monday, Nov 26, 2012 | Permalink | No Comments


'Tis the Season for Phishing Scams

Don't Get HookedPhishing scams and malware campaigns are prevalent during the winter holidays and shopping season. As the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) reminds us among phishing scams and malware campaigns this time of year are:

  • Electronic greeting cards that may contain malware
  • Requests for charitable contributions that may be phishing scams and may originate from illegitimate sources claiming to be charities
  • Screen savers or other forms of media that may contain malware
  • Credit card applications that may be phishing scams or identity theft attempts
  • Online shopping advertisements that may be phishing scams or identity theft attempts from bogus retailers

So use caution when encountering these types of email messages.

Preventative Measures

For further information consult Phishing Scams.


Posted on Wednesday, Nov 21, 2012 | Permalink | No Comments


AD SCCM: Cisco AnyConnect VPN, Google Drive added

Cisco AnyConnect Client and Google Drive are now available for Windows AD/SCCM computers as optional installers. These two software packages have been problematic for end users to install as they required administrative rights. However, as SCCM packages, users will not need elevated access rights to install.

Additionally, for University computers previously joined to AD and running SCCM, these two software packages can be installed from any network, which will allow users to install the software while connected to their home networks or while traveling if needed.

Cisco AnyConnect Client is recommended for computers that access or store private University data. Google Drive allows users to sync files from the desktop to their Google Drive space.


Posted on Wednesday, Nov 14, 2012 | Permalink | No Comments


Windows 8 Available

Windows 8 is now available for purchase on new computers and is available for upgrades on University-owned computers. Windows 8 is a combination tablet/desktop operating system, and sports a completely new interface.

Before purchasing or upgrading to Windows 8, you should note a few items:

  • Windows 8 is a vastly different operating system than Windows 7. Most reviews indicate that there is a high learning curve.
  • Windows 8 has a long list of hardware and other requirements to run properly.
  • As with any new OS, some business applications or hardware (printers, scanners, etc.) may not be fully compatible with Windows 8.
  • Computers using Active Directory (AD) services should not be upgraded at this time.
  • ITSS will be providing limited technical support for Windows 8 for Fall semester 2012.

For additional information, please consult: Windows 8 Support.


Posted on Friday, Nov 2, 2012 | Permalink | No Comments


Database Server Upgrade

It will soon be time for customers of our main database server (db0.d.umn.edu) to move from the current server to an upgraded server. The upgrade has been scheduled for January 7, 2013, and the upgraded server will include the current release of the Debian operating system and MySQL database management software.

ITSS is currently in the process of contacting database owners about this upgrade and it is very likely no changes will need to be made to databases. We are identifying the active status and usage metadata for databases housed on this server. This information includes: Department, Description, Administrator and Contact Information. It is the goal of ITSS to standardize and maintain up-to-date information about each of our databases.

If you are aware of any databases you administer on this server and have not already been contacted by ITSS, or if you have any questions about this upgrade, please contact Stacy Schweikert, slschwe@d.umn.edu.


Posted on Thursday, Nov 1, 2012 | Permalink | No Comments