Update on File Storage Services

Welcome to the New Year!

This is the first of a series of updates about our goals for the 2018-19 year.

File Storage (Infrastructure & Security, goal #2)

One of our ongoing infrastructure goals is to migrate data storage from on premise systems to cloud systems.  Why would we want to do that?

There are many reasons.

Our on premise systems are now quite old and would soon need to be replaced. They will reach what the vendors call “end of support” by January 2020.  That doesn’t mean they will keel over and die, but it does mean that we may not be able to get software upgrades or support for the system. This increases risk with respect to both security and reliability.

Replacement of these systems will be costly (approximately $50,000 last time round). We would have a very hard time affording this. Moreover, our cloud storage options are either free (Google) or relatively cheap (Microsoft).

Alice and Charlie are less secure than our cloud environments, most notably they are not protected by Duo two factor authentication.  Our data center in Parsons is far less physically secure than Google or Microsoft data centers and we could not even dream of the level of availability of their systems.

Convenience.  To access Alice and Charlie, you need to use VPN or be on campus.  File functionality is limited and permissions are hard to manage (most people have to contact the Help Desk for this).

The big goal, then, is migrate our file storage to the cloud.   We fully expect bumps along the way and it may be the case that cloud systems would mean some small changes in daily habits or usage.  For example, it can be quite a step at first to move from a model of saving multiple versions of documents and merging them to a shared editing model where everyone is always working concurrently on the latest version.  That said, we have been making steady progress on this initiative for some time, since we stopped creating home directories for students on Charlie some time ago.

One thing that you can do right now: we’ve noticed that there are lots of files on both Charlie and Alice that have not been touched in more than seven years.   We suspect that these files may not be needed any more (and we’re pretty sure that the College Document Retention Policy doesn’t call for saving that much stuff).   So you could take a moment to look at your files and delete the ones that you don’t need.

We know that people use these file storage services in different ways, so our approach will be to first collect information about usage.   We’ll soon be sending out a quick survey and will follow up with short interviews. Thanks in advance for your help and cooperation with these steps.

Service Reminders for Spring 2019 Courses

Sakai:

Spring 2019 Sakai course sites were created on January 10th and have been populated with faculty and students. If you have not yet requested your ubercourses, this would be a good time to do so. If you’re having trouble finding and organizing your sites in the new Home site, please read our Tips and Tricks for Organizing Your Sakai Sites.

As part of the College’s website accessibility initiative, we have added a link to the HMC Accessibility web page on all HMC Spring 2019 Sakai course sites. This is one of the requirements for compliance with accessibility requirements. If you’re using a web site other than Sakai to host course materials, we’d appreciate it if you would add a link to https://www.hmc.edu/website-accessibility/ to your site as well. If you’d like to learn more about how to make your course materials more accessible, please contact us at the  CIS Help Desk (helpdesk@hmc.edu or 909 607 7777).

Mudd Shots:

Course Mudd Shots are now available only on the HMC Portal. The HMC Portal version includes photos of non-HMC students. The HMC web site version has been retired and is no longer available. More information and links are available in the Mudd Shots Service Catalog Page.

Google Groups:

Course mailing lists have been created in Google Groups. You can see them in your My Groups list or get a full list of all course mailing lists at: Spring 2019 Course Mailing Lists on Google Groups.

With additional feedback from the HMC Computing Committee we have created a “master” Google Group for all courses that have multiple sections. For example, phys-51@g.hmc.edu contains all faculty and students associated with all 11 sections of Physics 51. Master lists will be automatically maintained just like the other Google Groups for courses. You may need to manually remove previous instructors from the course since our automatic removal scripts don’t yet have that functionality.

Gradescope

The use of Gradescope, the online grading platform, has become more popular over the past couple of years. If you are interested in trying it out this semester please send an email to the CIS Help Desk and one of the ARCS team can help you set it up. We recommend using students’ username@hmc.edu addresses when adding them to Gradescope rather than giving them a code to self-enroll. This helps avoid students’ having multiple Gradescope accounts. We can also help by sending you a spreadsheet that you can import into Gradescope that includes students’ Sakai usernames and section numbers.

Classroom technology:

In addition to the video projectors, LCD TVs (in the 12-person classrooms), speakers and screens, many classrooms have resident document cameras, Blu-Ray/DVD or DVD/VHS players. You can find a full list of which rooms have what equipment in this document: AV Equipment in HMC Class/Meeting Rooms.

Other technology available for use in the Shanahan Center and other classroom  includes:

  1. Laptop carts
  2. Lecture capture
  3. iClickers
  4. Smartboard
  5. Video cameras for displaying experiments

More details on these other technologies can be found below:

  1. We have three carts with 15 laptops each, which are stored on the second floor of the Shanahan Center for use throughout the building. Laptops are made available on a first come, first served basis so please let us know as soon as you can if you need laptops for your class. Also, consider carefully how many laptops you need or if at some point you realize that your class is using fewer laptops than you requested, please update your requests so that the systems can be made available for other classes. If you’d like more information about the laptops and how to reserve them, please visit  the Laptop Cart Reservation Service Catalog Page. You can find a full list of the software that is included on the laptops and the CIS lab computers in this document: Lab Software in CIS Managed Labs and Carts.
  2. There are six rooms in the Shanahan Center that are lecture capture-ready, including the Lecture Hall (1430), the Recital Hall (B480), the 85 person classroom (B460) and three rooms on the 2nd floor (2450, 2454 and 2460). All of those rooms have a video camera and microphone. Each of the Galileo Auditoria also now have lecture capture available. You can visit the CIS web site for more information at the Lecture Capture Service Catalog Page.
  3. Clickers (personal response systems) are also available for loan. Faculty can borrow sets of 50 iClickers and a wireless receiver from CIS. We can also help install the iClicker software on your computer and provide training on how to use the system. More information about the iClickers can be found at the iClicker Service Catalog Page.
  4. We have one Smartboard (interactive whiteboard) for faculty to try out. While the Smartboard is on a mobile stand, it is too big and heavy to move between classrooms, so we are currently keeping it in one of the technology-rich classrooms (Shanahan 2460). Use of the Smartboard is on a first come, first served basis so please let us know right away if you would like to try it out in your class, as we may need time to work with the Registrar to reschedule classrooms.
  5. Many faculty also like to be able to project a demonstration or experiment from the front of the room to one of the big screens. The document camera is capable of doing this or you can use a video camera, either one of the built-in video cameras available in the lecture capture rooms listed above, or CIS can set up one for you.

If you’re interested in using one of these technology services in a class, please submit a request to the CIS Help Desk. You can use the CIS AV Request Form or send us an email at helpdesk@hmc.edu.

We ask that you give us at least 48 hours notice when submitting a request. If possible, please do not wait until the last minute to submit your requests.

Have a great Spring semester!

Fall 2018 update from the CIO

I hope that your Fall semester is winding down to a good end and that it was a productive one.   Here at CIS we have had our heads down, working hard on a lot of different things, so I thought it was time to give you a Fall update.

New Faces

The best and most important thing about Harvey Mudd College is the people.  We have new people to introduce to you, all of whom we are delighted to welcome to the College.   Click on their names for more details.

Additionally, Brad McCauley joined us six days ago.  Brad will be in the role of SIS specialist and his position is funded by the Workday Student Initiative, providing “back fill” for two years.

With these new arrivals, I am delighted to note that the CIS staff roster is now 47% women!

I would also like to give a shout out to all the interns that worked for us this summer: Shruthi Sukir,  Marie Tano, Adam Grobman, Huize Huang, Peter Johnson, Kyle Grace, Huey Fields, Stephanie Hernandez.  They helped us move forward on many projects and were a delight to work with.

CIS Service

Our survey responses (you’ll find one in your email every time we “close a ticket”) and anecdotal evidence strongly suggest that our current user support team is doing a phenomenal job. I’ve had a number of people walk up to me and say things like “It doesn’t matter who is at the desk, I get consistent service…”.  This kind of feedback is music to our ears, but we love all sorts of feedback so that we can continue to improve. You can respond to surveys, talk to any member of the computing committee or just come by.

It was particularly gratifying to see CIS listed as “a great resource” in Talithia Williams and Susan Martonosi’s presentation on “5 things you should know when you revamp a course

High Performance Computing

In the summer, Jeho Park left HMC to become Director of the Murty Sunak Quantitative and Computing Lab at Claremont McKenna College.  Shortly thereafter the search for his successor yielded Dr. Aashita Kesarwani, whom you might have met on campus during the summer when she taught a class for Girls Who Code.   Aashita brings knowledge and experience in data science and she quickly became an XSEDE (High Performance Computing) campus champion. So there are now three campus champions in Claremont: Aashita, Jeho and Asya Shklyar at Pomona.  Their skill sets complement one another and they will be collaborating to support faculty and students.

At a recent Bite of Learning, Aashita provided an overview of high performance computing resources at the Claremont Colleges.  You can view it online here.

Math CIS service initiative

In the summer, we hired Molly Reeves to help with the Math CIS service initiative, which is focused on streamlining IT services for the math department.  It builds on the assumption that we can partner with the department so that CIS supports its basic operational needs and Molly can provide support in areas that are unique or special to the Math department.  You can read more about this initiative on the special website we have set up to map progress.

Goals for 2018-2019

Every summer all of the HMC Cabinet members discuss progress on their goals for the past year and draft goals for the coming year. Last Fall we shared our 2017-2018 CIS goals.  This past summer I did an oral presentation to Cabinet on CIS progress, but I am planning to write something up that I can share.  We did very well on almost all of our 2017-2018 goals. In July I presented the new goals for 2018-2019. If you have time, I would love to receive your comments and feedback on that document.   We now have three lenses through which we view our initiatives:

  • CIS annual goals and initiatives discussion with Cabinet
  • Monthly project updates that are conducted at the CIS staff meeting
  • Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon we run a brief stand up meeting to discuss the work we are doing (mostly for projects but also for smaller initiatives).

Workday Student

You may recall that the Workday Student project started in June.  On a roughly two year timeline, the Claremont Colleges will replace Jenzabar CX (perhaps known to you as “the portal”) with a new system that is part of the Workday suite.  The Colleges already use Workday Human Resources and Finance. Many people at HMC are heavily involved in this project already. Here’s a list, with the “functional implementation groups” (FIGs) that they are serving on:

Holly HauckAcademic Appointments
Laura Palucki BlakeAcademic Appointments
David WilliamsAdmission
Lauren KimAdmission
Raissa DiamanteAdmission
Scott MartinStudent Finance
Gilma LopezFinancial Aid
Joseph VaughanIntegrations
Mark AshleyRecords, Advising, Curriculum
Nabel VillafañaRecords, Advising, Curriculum
Kevin BiancoReporting
Patricia WangReporting
Cindy AbercrombieSecurity

HMC is represented on the SIS Faculty Advisory Board by David Harris, Bob Keller and Darryl Wright.

Workday Student is a large complex piece of software and we would be naive to think that there won’t be bumps in the road, but I feel sure that you already know that all of these people care deeply about the students and faculty at the College, and about the principles outlined for the SIS project, among which I would highlight #10:

Simplicity. We will make the system as simple as possible for end users. We will also reach out to users as early and as much as possible to understand their needs.

I think my new year resolution is going to have to be “provide more frequent updates”, since there is a list of things that I wanted to tell you about, but this email is already long enough.

On behalf of the team at CIS, I wish you all the very best for peaceful and restorative holidays.

[Note: IBM Watson tone analyzer says the tone of this messasge is “joy”.  Yay!]

Welcome Molly Reeves

CIS welcomes Molly Reeves, our new Information Technology Analyst. She recently earned a B.S. in Mathematics, minoring in Computer Science and Humanities.

Molly is taking part in the Math-CIS service initiative that aims to streamline services offered to the Math department faculty and staff. During this initiative, she will be working closely with both departments. “

In her free time, she enjoys hiking, spending time outdoors, and volunteering at her church.

Welcome Aashita Kesarwani

CIS welcomes Dr. Aashita Kesarwani in the Scientific Computing Specialist position

Academic and Research Computing Services is delighted to welcome our new Scientific Computing Specialist, Dr. Aashita Kesarwani. Aashita recently graduated with a PhD in Mathematics from Tulane University and is an Indian Institute of Technology alumna. She is actively involved in the data science community being a Kaggle expert and is the author and maintainer of two Python packages – bubbly for data visualization and nytcomments for web scraping.

Aashita is looking forward to boosting HMC students’ involvement in data science, machine learning, and open source contributions by supporting their learning through hands-on workshops and providing guidance and mentorship. She will address the scientific software and computing needs of the faculty, students and staff and also offer her skills in data visualization and gaining insights from data to assist problem-solving and decision making in all areas at HMC.

In her free time, Aashita enjoys reading and likes to meditate.

Welcome Samantha Washington

CIS welcomes Samantha Washington in the Technical Analyst position.

Samantha Washington is the newest member of our User Support Services Team.  She is originally from Illinois and attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign but has been living in California for the last five years.  She comes to HMC from the corporate world where she was an IT Support Analyst for Horizon Hobby LLC for almost 20 years. 

Sam has two teenager children that take up most of her time but she enjoys running and volunteering at her church in her free time.

Service Reminders for Fall 2018 Courses

Sakai:

Fall 2018 Sakai course sites have been populated with faculty and students. If you’re having trouble finding and organizing your sites in the new Home site, please read our Tips and Tricks for Organizing Your Sakai Sites.

As part of the College’s website accessibility initiative, we have added a link to the HMC Accessibility web page on all HMC Fall 2018 Sakai course sites. This is one of the requirements for compliance with accessibility requirements. If you’re using a web site other than Sakai to host course materials, we’d appreciate it if you would add a link to https://www.hmc.edu/website-accessibility/ to your site as well. If you’d like to learn more about how to make your course materials more accessible, please contact us at the  CIS Help Desk (helpdesk@hmc.edu or 909 607 7777).

Mudd Shots:

Course Mudd Shots are now available only on the HMC Portal. The HMC Portal version includes photos of non-HMC students. The HMC web site version has been retired and is no longer available. More information and links are available in the Mudd Shots Service Catalog Page.

Google Groups:

Course mailing lists have been created in Google Groups. You can see them in your My Groups list or get a full list of all course mailing lists at: Fall 2018 Course Mailing Lists on Google Groups. The list will be updated with

With additional feedback from the HMC Computing Committee we have created a “master” Google Group for all courses that have multiple sections. For example, phys-51@g.hmc.edu contains all faculty and students associated with all 11 sections of Physics 51. Master lists will be automatically maintained just like the other Google Groups for courses. You may need to manually remove previous instructors from the course since our automatic removal scripts don’t yet have that functionality.

Classroom technology:

In addition to the video projectors, LCD TVs (in the 12-person classrooms), speakers and screens, many classrooms have resident document cameras, Blu-Ray/DVD or DVD/VHS players. You can find a full list of which rooms have what equipment in this document: AV Equipment in HMC Class/Meeting Rooms.

Other technology available for use in the Shanahan Center and other classroom  includes:

  1. Laptop carts
  2. Lecture capture
  3. iClickers
  4. Smartboard
  5. Video cameras for displaying experiments

More details on these other technologies can be found below:

  1. We have three carts with 15 laptops each, which are stored on the second floor of the Shanahan Center for use throughout the building. Laptops are made available on a first come, first served basis so please let us know as soon as you can if you need laptops for your class. Also, consider carefully how many laptops you need or if at some point you realize that your class is using fewer laptops than you requested, please update your requests so that the systems can be made available for other classes. If you’d like more information about the laptops and how to reserve them, please visit  the Laptop Cart Reservation Service Catalog Page.You can find a full list of the software that is included on the laptops and the CIS lab computers in this document: Lab Software in CIS Managed Labs and Carts.
  2. There are six rooms in the Shanahan Center that are lecture capture-ready, including the Lecture Hall (1430), the Recital Hall (B480), the 85 person classroom (B460) and three rooms on the 2nd floor (2450, 2454 and 2460). All of those rooms have a video camera and microphone. Each of the Galileo Auditoria also now have lecture capture available. You can visit the CIS web site for more information at the Lecture Capture Service Catalog Page.
  3. Clickers (personal response systems) are also available for loan. Faculty can borrow sets of 50 iClickers and a wireless receiver from CIS. We can also help install the iClicker software on your computer and provide training on how to use the system. More information about the iClickers can be found at the iClicker Service Catalog Page.
  4. We have one Smartboard (interactive whiteboard) for faculty to try out. While the Smartboard is on a mobile stand, it is too big and heavy to move between classrooms, so we are currently keeping it in one of the technology-rich classrooms (Shanahan 2460). Use of the Smartboard is on a first come, first served basis so please let us know right away if you would like to try it out in your class, as we may need time to work with the Registrar to reschedule classrooms.
  5. Many faculty also like to be able to project a demonstration or experiment from the front of the room to one of the big screens. The document camera is capable of doing this or you can use a video camera, either one of the built-in video cameras available in the lecture capture rooms listed above, or CIS can set up one for you.

If you’re interested in using one of these technology services in a class, please submit a request to the CIS Help Desk. You can use the CIS AV Request Form or send us an email at helpdesk@hmc.edu.

We ask that you give us at least 48 hours notice when submitting a request. If possible, please do not wait until the last minute to submit your requests.

Have a great Fall semester!

Patricia Carpenter Promoted to Manager of USS

I’m excited to share that effective July 2018 Patricia Carpenter has been promoted to User Support Services (USS) Manager in CIS.

Patricia came to Harvey Mudd in September of 2015, where she started in USS working at the CIS HelpDesk, doing a great job of coordinating the support efforts of the team. Prior to her arrival at HMC, Patricia worked at a few different libraries in the New Jersey area where she helped visitors with a variety of information requests, technical support and supervision of a computer lab. Patricia received her Bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems from Rowan University Glassboro NJ.

Patricia has been an amazing contributor to the high quality service that our USS team is known to provide and we are looking forward to her taking the service to an even higher level for our campus. Please congratulate and support Patricia in her new role of Manager for User Support. Take a look at the CIS Organization Chart to see how we have set this up.

Summer Project Updates

When school lets out for summer,  the pace quickens at Computing and Information Services. The academic break means time to work on projects that may otherwise disrupt the academic schedule. It also means we have our summer interns to work closely with us on projects and tasks. Here’s a brief look into some of the assignments our team is working on.

Introduction to Engineering Design and Manufacturing Communication Platform

CIS interns have been working to improve the feedback systems used in Introduction to Engineering Design and Manufacturing, often known as E4. Throughout the semester, student teams produce prototypes that solve professor-curated problems, and formative feedback is critical to this process. The professors want to create easy avenues for students to give feedback to their teammates weekly and at the end of the semester so the professors can understand the team’s working environment and so the students see areas for improvement. The intern team is using Google App Maker (available to the all members of the HMC community through our G Suite for Education) to build an administrative hub that will allow professors to send out the feedback surveys, collect the data, and manage the entire process from one place, improving the ease of students rapidly adapting projects and professors changing the class in light of feedback.

The E4 Feedback System Administrative Hub makes the power of the system accessible with just a few quick clicks

Sakai Upgrade Testing

Each summer, the IT staff across The Claremont Colleges set out to upgrade the consortium’s instance of the Sakai Learning Management System. Guided by the Sakai Administration Team based out of Pomona College (the lead college for Sakai), each college thoroughly tests the proposed version of Sakai to make sure that every tool used by faculty at the Colleges works properly. This year, our summer interns and the Academic and Research Computing Services team have been testing integral features such as Lessons and Forums as well as new ones like iClicker and MediaSite Lecture Capture integration on each supported platform (Windows and  Mac OS) and browser (Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer) to make sure you have the best experience come fall semester.

Printing Upgrades

Mudd students love their unlimited free printing, but they don’t necessarily enjoy long waits and occasional missing letters. Reliability upgrades on both the software side (updated versions of our printing software) and hardware side (a new printer) mean that when our students come back in the fall, their printers will be faster, more reliable, and more accurate. Stay tuned for even more exciting news on printing!

Mudders Mentoring Mudders (M3) Website Migration

Mudders Mentoring Mudders (M3) is a program that allows for HMC staff, faculty and alumni to mentor current students. The Wikispaces platform, which is shutting down, hosted the program’s website (which features mentor profiles and mentee applications), so program director and Professor of Mathematics Darryl Yong ‘96 worked with the CIS team to help find a new platform for the site and migrate all of its content. The CIS intern team has worked hard to migrate the site and all of its content to its current home, Google Sites.

 

Charlie & Alice to the cloud

One of CIS goals for 2018 is to move material currently stored on our Windows file servers (called “Charlie” and “Alice”) to a cloud storage option.

We are beginning an initiative to move most of the files on Alice and Charlie to Google Drive. There are a number reasons we would like to move stored files to the cloud as soon as possible. Cost, security concerns, compliance with the College’s records retention policy, and convenience are all factors. On Google Drive you will have unlimited storage space for files of any kind at no financial cost to the College.

We will be proceeding in a phased fashion, similar to our Duo implementation process. As with Duo, we will start with a group of early adopters in order to identify issues and concerns. Although CIS has done preliminary tests, we believe that our usage of cloud file storage may be different from how it is used by other departments.