University of Minnesota

UThink News

March 24, 2014

UThink will be retired December 2014

Please be advised that University Libraries and University IT will retire the UThink system, and sites within the UThink domain no longer will be available after December 31, 2014.

The decision to retire UThink was based on several factors, including:

  • Reduced usage
    • Overall UThink usage has been decreasing at a steady rate.
    • Since 2008, UThink sites have dropped from 1,000 active sites to 500 currently.
  • Significant security issues
    • There have been increased and consistent attacks by spammers, and battling these spam attacks takes system resources away from more important needs that support the University's mission.
  • There are now a number of more robust and secure U of M-supported technologies and software alternatives to serve the needs currently handled by UThink. Some of these alternatives include:
    • Blogger
    • Google Sites
    • Moodle
    • Enterprise Drupal Content Management System.
Make note of these key dates in the decommission process:
  • After June 30, 2014, the ability to create new blogs or sites on the system will be removed.
  • Existing blogs will be accessible throughout the 2014 spring and fall semesters.
  • Full system decommission December 31, 2014.

You are encouraged to start considering alternatives to UThink now. The Libraries and IT are planning methods for assisting with migrations to new systems. However, you can take advantage of UThink's data export features now. The UThink data export tool will create a text-based file of all your blog's entries and comments. To create an export of your blog,

  1. Login to UThink,
  2. Select your blog
  3. Select Tools -> Export from the Navigation menu.


The Libraries are also investigating new publishing consultation and platform services that may be appropriate for some UThink content, as well as new content (e.g., open access journals). More information regarding these new services will be forthcoming.

We apologize for any inconvenience or disruption due to the decommission. Please let us know if you have any questions or comments.

Shane Nackerud, UThink Project Lead
University Libraries eLearning Support Initiative
snackeru@umn.edu

Steve Nguyen, Service Director
Collaboration and Web Content Services
spn@umn.edu

March 15, 2014

UThink will be down 6am - 7am March 16

From the Office of Information Technology:

On Sunday, March 16, during the regular 6 a.m.-noon maintenance window, there will be a service-affecting upgrade to the Enterprise Network Attached Storage (eNAS) service. This upgrade will cause a disruption to eNAS (files.umn.edu) and will affect any user, system or service that connects to files.umn.edu and nfs.umn.edu, including Active Directory connections in particular.

The upgrade is scheduled to begin at 6 a.m., and the total downtime is expected to be approximately one hour. During the actual outage, other systems and services that connect to this storage also will be impacted. Those services include:

  • Central email and Gophermail (not University Gmail)
  • UMContent
  • NetFiles
  • Personal web space
  • UThink blogs

Once the upgrade has been completed and eNAS is back online, all affected services will automatically reconnect to the storage service.

eNAS supports the centralized storage for most enterprise systems, and provides consistent and reliable storage management to the University. This upgrade will bring improved performance to and prepare the system for future enhancements, such as role-based administration. You can learn more about Enterprise Storage Services at www.oit.umn.edu/network-storage/index.htm.

Updates will be available on the University's System Status site (http://systemstatus.umn.edu/view/Main/SystemStorageServices), and ServiceNow users can also find information and updates in CHG0035298. Please share this information with any of your end users who may be affected.

May 29, 2013

UThink downtime - server migration

UThink will be unavailable from 7am - 9am this Sunday June 9 as we migrate the system to new servers. There is a chance that the system will be down for less than 30 minutes, but 2 hours should give system engineers enough time to complete the transition.

We are migrating the system to two load balanced virtual machines which should help with recent performance issues and increase uptime.

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns. Of course, we are sorry for any inconvenience.





October 16, 2012

UThink and Firefox 16

UPDATE: Movable Type released a patch which we have installed. The problem seems to be fixed. Please let us know at uthink@umn.edu if you encounter any other difficulties.

Hello everyone. We have received complaints regarding the functionality of UThink/Movable Type when using Firefox, specifically the Firefox 16 upgrade released during the week of October 8, 2012. Complaints include the inability to attach categories to entries, the inability to resize entry boxes and even the inability to write entries.

If you suddenly have some of these problems, and you are using Firefox, please check to see what version you are using. If you are using 16 please give another browser a try, such as IE, Safari, or Chrome.

People across the Internet are also complaining about Firefox 16 functionality with other applications such as Twitter and Facebook. Hopefully Firefox will release a new, patched version soon.

November 17, 2010

UThink downtime November 18, 2010 at 9:00 AM

UThink (Movable Type) will be down for approximately 5-10 minutes Thursday November 18 at 9:00 AM for server maintenance. All functionality of the system, including managing and viewing blogs, will be down for the 5-10 minute period.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause. Please contact uthink@umn.edu with any questions.

October 26, 2010

UThink blog administration downtime scheduled for October 31, 2010

UThink blog administration (Movable Type) will be down for approximately 4 hours Sunday October 31 from 7:00 - 11:00 AM for server maintenance. The public will will still be able to view your blogs during this time, but administration and/or modification of the blogs will not be available during this downtime.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause. Please contact uthink@umn.edu with any questions.

May 17, 2010

UThink event planned for June 2, 2:00 - 4:00 in Walter 402!

"UThink: Blogging and Beyond," a presentation highlighting multiple features of UThink Blogs, a service for the University community, is scheduled for 2-4 p.m. Wednesday, June 2, in 402 Walter Library.

UThink, a service offered by the University Libraries with support from the Office of Information Technology (OIT), is intended to aid in teaching and learning, scholarly communication, and individual expression, and provide support for personal, curricular, and scholarly communications conducted by the University community. The service is available to any current faculty, student, or staff member of the Twin Cities campus.

The event will focus on the various uses for UThink, including blogging and less well-known, unique uses the service can provide in an academic setting. Presentations by UThink site creators from the College of Education and Human Development, School of Public Health and the Humphrey Institute are planned. Attendees also will have an opportunity to ask questions of the panel. Refreshments will be served.

Those interested in attending the event should R.S.V.P. via www.oit.umn.edu/news-events/register. The event also will be available via UMConnect at www.umconnect.umn.edu/uthink.

March 9, 2010

UThink upgrade March 14, 7:00 AM - 9:00 AM

Update: The UThink upgrade was completed successfully. Please let us know if you encounter any issues. Go Gophers!

Once again, we are upgrading the software that runs UThink, Movable Type, to MT 4.31 this Sunday March 14. This means that UThink will be unavailable from approx. 7:00 AM through 9:00 AM. Blogs will still be available during this time, but the administration interface will be unavailable. It will also be necessary to periodically reboot the server which obviously will bring the entire system down, but the reboots will be intermittent and not time consuming.

Of course, we are very sorry for any inconvenience this causes. This upgrade will allow us to make adjustments that will increase the speed of the service, fix software bugs, and create new system functionality.

Please let us know if you have any questions at uthink@umn.edu.

January 12, 2010

UThink upgrade January 13, 9:30am - 11:30am

I'm very sorry for this short notice, but the software that runs UThink, Movable Type (http://blog.lib.umn.edu/), will be upgraded tomorrow (1/13) beginning at 9:30. We hope this process will be over by 11:30, and hopefully sooner. We are upgrading Movable Type to MT 4.3. This upgrade fixes many bugs in the software and introduces some minor new functionality. In order to perform the upgrade we must take the software offline. Your blogs will still be available, but interactions with Movable Type (such as through adding entries, creating blogs, commenting, etc.) will not be possible.

We are very sorry for any inconvenience this causes. Please let me know if you have any questions at uthink@umn.edu.

December 9, 2009

The problem with pasting Microsoft code into Movable Type

If you use Microsoft Word to write out blog entries, you may notice some problems with your blog or UThink web site after you paste those entries in. That is because Microsoft Word puts in tons of extraneous tags and code that competes with the rest of the design of your site.

The easiest way around this problem is to not use MS Word to write out blog entries. If you do, copy and paste your entry into Notepad (or TextPad for the Mac) before you paste the entry into Movable Type.

If you already have a bunch of entries created, I have found a nifty little website that will strip out nasty Microsoft code:

Microsoft Mess Cleaner

It says it is only for MS Word 2000, but I have found that it works with newer versions of Word too.

Anyway, here is hoping future versions of Movable Type address this issue. Until then, watch out when you use Microsoft Word! Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

November 11, 2009

UThink downtime Sunday, November 15th

Once again, UThink will be unavailable Sunday, November 1st between 5:00 AM and 9:00 AM due to scheduled load balancer maintenance. For more information please see the Libraries Downtime page or IT Outage on November 15, 2009 from OIT.

This downtime is unfortunately unavoidable. Again, hopefully it will only last a couple of hours during the typically low-traffic time of Sunday morning.

UThink is now also listed on the University System Staus page.

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

October 29, 2009

UThink downtime Sunday, November 1st

UThink will be unavailable Sunday, November 1st between 5:00am and noon due to scheduled load balancer maintenance.

Actually, it is our hope that UThink will only be down for a couple of hours beginning at 5:00am, but in these cases it is wise to plan for the worst. UThink is one of many systems that will be affected.

This downtime is unfortunately unavoidable. Again, hopefully it will only last a couple of hours during the typically low-traffic time of Sunday morning.

UThink is now also listed on the University System Staus page.

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

October 20, 2009

National Day on Writing is October 20!

Tuesday, October 20 is the "National Day on Writing," established by the National Council of Teachers of English "to draw attention to the remarkable variety of writing we engage in and help make writers from all walks of life aware of their craft." This day will be celebrated by several groups at the University of Minnesota working in partnership, including the Writing Center, the Libraries, and the Office of Information Technology. Two events involving OIT are planned back-to-back over lunch (12:00 - 1:15) in 101 Walter:

  • Tips to Become a Better Blogger (Sponsored by the Digital Media Center/University Libraries)
    When? 12:00 to 12:30 p.m.
    Where?101 Walter Library (no pre-registration is necessary)

  • 5 Tools to Write & Cite (Sponsored by the Digital Media Center/University Libraries)
    When? 12:45 to 1:15 p.m.
    Where? 101 Walter Library (no pre-registration is necessary)

Please see the complete list of events at http://writing.umn.edu/dayonwriting/index.html

Starting in April of 2004, UThink has been a big part of writing on campus for over 5 years now. According to UThink statistics, there have been over 141,000 entries written on the system. That is a fair amount of writing!

Of course, with all these entries it has been impossible to read them all, but that doesn't stop me from trying to read what I can. But in monitoring the system over these 5 years, of all the entries, one stands out as my favorite during all this time:

Nibbled to death by small geese from The Deception of the Thrush

I encourage you to read it. You won't be disappointed.

And as part of the "National Day on Writing" I want to try a little experiment. The UThink system lets you build blogs based on contents from other blogs. So, I've set up a blog that will display any new entry tagged as "dayonwriting" ... in other words, any entry written on the UThink system that is tagged as "dayonwriting" will show up on this blog. Here it is:

http://blog.lib.umn.edu/dayonwriting/

Give it a try! It may take 10-15 minutes for the entry to appear, but it will be there sooner or later. I guarantee it! And as you will note, this entry appears on that blog ... because I've tagged it as "dayonwriting." Happy writing everyone! And thanks for making UThink a success!

June 15, 2009

UThink upgraded!

Hello everyone! This will be a quick note (since we've been at this for quite a while): UThink has been updated successfully! We are in the process of rebuilding all the blogs, which will take all night, but for the average user UThink is now fully upgraded and using Movable Type 4.25.

A couple of things to keep in mind:

  • If you have an older blog (a blog created before June 15, 2009) and you try to use the new features of UThink (like tagging or the new styles) your blog will not be able to handle this new functionality properly. An older blog will still be using the old MT 3.* templates, so it won't have the correct template tags to display tags, for example. To fix this problem, to bring your blog up to speed using MT 4.25 templates, you may follow these instructions. Warning! Updating your templates to the new MT 4.25 templates will probably remove any customizations you have on your blog! So be careful when using these instructions!

  • Secondly, there is a whole lot of instructions and new documentation located on the UThink Technical FAQ Wiki. It is my hope that some of your most basic questions will be answered by all the updated documentation on this wiki. So check it out! And if you've got something to add, feel free!

  • And while I say that UThink has upgraded successfully, there most definitely could still be some problems. I haven't had time to look at all 7,892 individual blogs on the system yet. We are aware that there still could be some problems and we will do our best to fix those problems as soon as we are made aware of them.

Of course, if you have any questions regarding your blog, or regarding this upgrade and all the new functionality, please let me know at uthink@umn.edu. I honestly don't know what to expect regarding the volume of questions I will receive ... could be a lot, could be a little. Whatever the case, I am expecting some, so fire away.

I'd like to thank the JaWS programmers who made this upgrade possible: Douglas Lochowski-Haney and Alina Rimbu! Thanks a ton guys! You've done some great work!

Also, the upgrade of UThink would not have been possible without a generous grant provided by the College of Liberal Arts Student Technology Fee Committee. Thank you!

Again, if you have any questions, fire away! Happy blogging!

UThink upgrade schedule

Hello UThink users! We are upgrading the UThink system today to Movable Type 4.25. Here is a high level breakdown of what will be happening today:

  1. Monday morning (6/15), access to the Movable Type will be cut off. Blogs are still accessible, but no commenting or editing will work.
  2. During the day, probably early afternoon, work will be done to get the data transferred and upgraded and all the new code in place.
  3. Sometime during the day, we will cut of access to the blogs as well as Movable Type and run the upgrade script.
  4. If all is successful, we switch the DNS so that "blog.lib.umn.edu" points at the new Movable Type configuration. We may also create a new alias at "uthink.lib.umn.edu."
  5. If the the upgrade has finished without any complications, we let people through to both the new UThink/Movable Type and the blogs.

Please note: we are hopeful that this upgrade can be finished today, but please be prepared for this process to take longer. The UThink upgrade could take until Tuesday morning, depending on the complications we run into (and rebuilding all these blogs takes time).

Thanks for your patience everyone. We are excited to finally bring Movable Type 4.25 to all of you. As always, please let me know if you have any questions or comments.


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