Need access to College data to build an app?

If you are interested in getting access to some of the data in our student information system, such as course scheduling data or catalog data, then we are interested in hearing from you.  We’re running a beta program that allows for access to some of the data via a standardized and (near) real time REST API.   If that seems interesting then read on…

For this beta program we are making Harvey Mudd course catalog data available via REST APIs.  Using the HMC course roster APIs (which we have built using a product from, you can build web and mobile applications that could help your fellow students.   With HMC course roster data, you could build course planning tools, course alerting, mobile scheduling and more.

This is a beta program.  The Registrar’s Office and CIS are interested in exploring how best to make data securely and appropriately available outside of the HMC Portal.  We are also interested in hearing from you about other data to which you might like secure and authorized access in order to develop apps.

Want to take your project beyond HMC? The REST APIs that we can build using are standardized using the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS), enabling your project to easily consume data from other higher education institutions.

Have some ideas and want to get started?  Just contact the Help Desk ( and reference this article.

Goodbye Majordomo

We are rounding the final bend in our journey to decommission the old Majordomo mailing list system and move lists to Google Apps for Education (, now known as “G Suite for Education” (see

Lists related to departments (such as or have  been moved over to Google groups.  We are now sifting through the remaining lists and have begun asking list managers to identify which lists need to be recreated in Google Groups. Many of the majordomo lists are very old, appear to have been abandoned, and will probably not need to be moved.  Thanks in advance to the list managers for your help with this.

New Faces at CIS

As you may have noticed, our department has seen changes in the past few months. After four years of great work at HMC, Travis Gomez left us to pursue a new opportunity in which he could use his Engineering degree. Duke Vu, Senior Network Engineer, also left for a job with a utility company nearer his home. Given the fact that networking will transfer over to TCC IT, we will not be conducting a search to fill the position that Duke vacated.

In the past couple months, we’ve welcomed three new people to the team, some of whom you may have met already if you’ve stopped by Help Desk or submitted a ticket recently.

Brittany Oliver joined the team in August; Daniel Flores started in September, and Tim Ku started on Ocotber 3. This is the second time Tim’s followed Travis into a job, so we’re hoping Travis keeps his new job for a long time! All three are members of the User Services Team and you can find them at Help Desk or out-and-about supporting you in the field. If you’ve not had the chance to meet them yet, please feel free to visit them on the first floor of Sprague. We’d be happy to see you!

You can find a complete list of CIS staff here:

Update from the CIO February 2016

This is the first update from the CIO for 2016.

New faces and new groups at CIS
The key ingredient to CIS is the people.  We made a number of changes during summer 2016, and I wrote an article about this last Ocober: New faces and new groups at CIS. Our regrets about two  retirements were tempered by our excitement about three new hires.  We also reorganized to reduce the number of units in CIS, and now have four people dedicated exclusively to Educational Technology.  Since some people’s jobs have changed, your best bet is to contact the Help Desk when you have a service request.

A number of  Consortium wide IT initiatives are under way and they will bring some major changes to IT at the Colleges.  The impact should be positive from HMC’s perspective.   The areas being addressed this academic year include networking, identity and access management (IAM), telephony and security. I have more detail in the post on IT@TCC.  These initiatives have been set up to allow for lots of input from “functional users”, so please make sure to get involved if you have questions or ideas about how to proceed.

Goodbye Majordomo
It is going to be a long farewell, but by now you should all be aware that we are transitioning from Majordomo to Google Groups for the HMC  Mailing Lists.  We have lots of reasons for doing this, and we are gaining some new and much needed automation.  See the Goodbye Majordomo article for more information about what’s done and what’s left to do.

Awesome Videos
During the Fall, a nice coincidence happened.  This year’s Computing Committee with the intrepid Paul Steinberg at the helm, suggested that we should create short training videos as an alternative way of getting information out to people. “Sometimes a workshop is overkill”, they said.  Independently and separately, at one of our staff meetings, Elly Schofield said “we should make some short videos…”.

With that happy coincidence, we have started making what I think are awesome videos (a new meaning for “AV”).  The first two are about Google Groups features, and were put together by Elly Schofield and Brian Reid:

Canvas pilots
Last summer, the Presidents Council urged the ITC (Information Technology Committee) to work with the ADC (Academic Deans Committee) on “transitioning to a new learning management system”.  This could involve moving to a new version of Sakai or to something else. Work on this initiative has proceed during the Fall, with examination of market options and planning to gather student and faculty opinions.

Colleen Lewis had already decided to use Canvas in the Fall, which was a nice piece of serendipity, given that CGU moved to Canvas two years ago and it is a strong candidate.  Elizabeth Hodas and the Educational Technology team have worked with several more faculty to set up pilots for the Spring Semester.   We will be collecting feedback throughout the Spring… don’t be shy about giving us your opinions!

Amazon Educate
Have you ever wanted to try your hand at running your own server? Or maybe you are developing a mobile app and want to test it on multiple types of phones, none of which you own? Or you want to explore some “big data” tools? If so, you might be interested in Amazon Web Services, Amazon Device Farm, or Amazon Big Data Services. The College recently signed up for Amazon Educate, a program which will get you free access to any of these Amazon services, and many others (though not Amazon Prime!) For details, see the news article about Amazon Educate.

I’ve promised myself that I will try to do more frequent, but shorter updates this year.  So that’s enough for now.  I hope you’re having a great semester!



Goodbye Majordomo

It is going to be a long farewell, but by now you should all be aware that we are transitioning from Majordomo to Google Groups for the HMC  Mailing Lists.  This is a transition from a very old technology to a more modern (and more complex) one, and there will inevitably be growing pains.   Some of the key lists (course, major, faculty-l, staff-l, students-l) have been moved and we have introduced more automation, which means that the list membership will be kept complete, a task that was difficult before.  For example, faculty-l on majordomo was forwarded to other lists google-groupsthat were manually maintained, and it was sometimes uncertain whether someone was on the (underlying) departmental lists.   One saw evidence of these difficulties in the fact that a random set of individual email addresses was included in faculty-l, itself manually maintained.  Thanks to the Google API for groups, we now automatically add faculty to the list based on their status in the CX database.

There are thousands of lists left on majordomo and we don’t yet have a timeline for the final retirement of that system, but I will keep you updated.

We acknowledge that many people were used to Majordomo and had its commands and addresses in muscle memory. It would be worth your while to take ten minutes to get acquainted with Google Groups on the HMC google apps site at  Our Service Catalog page at is a good jumping off point to learn more.

Some people have asked if we could simply have “” addresses instead of “”.  For complicated reasons that is not possible at the moment, but that is our target and removing majordomo from our “mail central” system is a key step in that direction.

Moving Cores

Over the last few years, we have been improving the network Redundant-network-topologyinfrastructure on the HMC campus, at the CINE core (the network switches for all the Claremont Colleges) and beyond at our ISP, Los Nettos (a consortium of Southern California institutions based at USC).

The key concepts in network infrastructure are redundancy and diversity.  To increase network reliability, it is important to have at least two switches at the core, and that they not be in the same place.  Similarly, it is important to have redundant and diverse connections from the campus to the CINE core and from there to the ISP. In recent years, we have built conduit, pulled fiber and installed switches with the goal of ever greater redundancy and diversity.  In March and April we will take two more big steps in this direction.  First we will diversify the HMC cores by placing one of them in Drinkward dorm, and with new conduit and fiber we will have diversity and redundancy for the first time for many of the buildings on campus.  In April, we will follow up by separating the CINE core switches, placing one of them in the “phone office” on eighth street and one at the Administrative Campus Center (ACC) on first street, where a new fiber line from USC Health Sciences terminates in Claremont. At that point, the Claremont Colleges will have redundant and diverse core switches for the first time ever.

Annually, the Claremont Colleges budget just under $700,000 for networking, and HMC budgets an additional $200-$300k. These costs, and network operations, are often invisible, especially when they are working well.  So much so that I often run into people who think that our internet connectivity is free.

Cindy Abercrombie, Mitch Shacklett, Roger Wiechman and Duke Vu have all worked tirelessly on these projects.  Thank them when you see them!

Amazon Educate

Amazon recently announced a new Amazon Web Services (AWS) Educate program.  It is designed to let you learn to use AWS services by giving you free credits to get started as well as access to a large variety of courses and tutorials about cloud computing “shared by top educators from around the world and by AWS”.  If an institution joins the program, then students and faculty get almost three times the credits they would otherwise be granted.   HMC has joined!

If you ever wanted to get your feet wet setting up a Windows or Linux server,  delve into things like Hadoop or build web applications, this is a great opportunity to get started.

To sign up:

  1. sign up for AWS Educate at using your address.
  2. While filling out the AWS Educate application,  input your own AWS account ID. If you do not have an AWS account, navigate to, click Create an AWS Account and follow the on-screen instructions.
  3. You will receive an AWS credit code in a Welcome Email after your AWS Educate application has been accepted. The code should be entered into your AWS account.
  4. You manage your own account, and can take it all with you if you leave HMC.


A number of major Consortium wide initiatives are under way, all designed to lead to what I like to call “appropriate centralization”.   You may recall that the Presidents Council commissioned an IT report from BerryDunn in 2013.  The resulting conversations led to the establishment of six initiatives owned by Stig Lanesskog, CEO of the Claremont University Consortium (CUC) and collected under the umbrella of IT@TCC.   The initiatives are:

  • Networking
  • Identity and Access Management
  • Security
  • Telephony
  • IT Disaster Recovery
  • Data Centers

For each of these, the College Presidents have asked us to “begin the planning necessary to seek a common solution” (letter from Council to ITC, 1/27/2015).

The Information Technology Committee (ITC) has since been working hard on each of these initiatives and we have made significant strides.  The goal is to have implementation plans for the first four initiatives by the end of Spring Semester 2016.

The impact of these initiatives on Harvey Mudd is, as yet, hard to predict in any detail.  We are very likely to see the transfer of the CINE networking functions to CUC and also to see a more uniform wireless experience across all the Colleges.  In general, if we can be freed of some work that relates to infrastructure, we should be able to dedicate more resources to the direct support of teaching, learning, research and the administrative work of HMC.

The website for this initiative is at

I will try to provide frequent updates on progress and to alert you to any changes that may affect you directly.

New faces and new groups at CIS

Starting early in the summer,we began to make changes at CIS and, by end of summer, we had a new organizational chart and several new faces, as well as saying goodbye to some people:

  • Susan Selhorst retired.
  • Beverly Kelley retired.
  • We hired a new Instructional Designer, Elly Schofield ’13
  • We hired Brian Reid into a regular position as Technical Analyst
  • We hired Tony Xu as a Technical Analyst.  Tony also has expertise in AV systems.  He comes to us from Broadcom and started on September 28.
  • Michael Meyka started a new project on October 1 as a Video and Media Archivist; Michael will no longer be working on day to day AV operations.
  • Yi Sheng (Aaron) Ong ’19 has joined us in a part time position.
  • Patricia Carpenter will join us in a temporary technical analyst position.

As well as all making all these personnel changes, we reorganized, reducing the number of supervisors in CIS:

  • Cindy Abercrombie, Assistance Vice President and Deputy CIO will oversee three areas, CIS Administrative Services, User Support Services and Student Information Systems.
  • Elizabeth Hodas, Senior Director, Educational Technology Services, will concentrate exclusively on supporting students and faculty in teaching and learning.  Elizabeth leads a team that includes expertise in scientific computing, instructional design and audiovisual media.
  • Mitch Shacklett, Senior Director, Systems and Network Services, focuses on the management of our cloud services, in-house servers and the HMC and CINE networks.

For the full organization chart and a list of all the CIS Staff see



Course, Major, Dorm and Class mailing lists

In 2013 the Computing Committee surveyed the faculty to identify priorities for CIS.  The second highest priority (after “Improve the Portal”) was “improve the course mailing lists system”.   Since then, we have been steadily moving lists away from the old software (called Majordomo) to Google Groups within our Google Apps for Education domain  I am writing now to let you know that we are about to move some widely used lists to Google Groups.

There are two kinds of list:  ad-hoc lists that are created by hand and automated lists that are created by scripts that draw on information in the student information system.   We (and you)  have been creating ad-hoc lists on google groups for some time.  We are now ready to migrate the automated lists to Google Groups and also to automate more lists, such as faculty-l, staff-l and some departmental lists.

The automated lists on Google Groups are now working in parallel with the Majordomo lists (so you can write to either).  On Wednesday, August 26 we will turn off the majordomo lists for the following categories of automated lists.:

  • section (“” will become “”)
  • major lists by year (“” will become “”)
  • dorm (“” will become “”)
  • class (“” will become “”)

You do not need to memorize any of these names, as they will appear in both the Directory and your  “My Groups” listing at, as well as autocompleting when you compose a message in gmail.

Your course lists will be automatically updated three times per day, on the same schedule as Sakai. And you will be able to read archived messages at any time.

There should be no major changes for people who wish to use the lists. There are some new additional features of Google groups that you may find useful, such as the ability to view and respond to messages on the web, view archives and view member lists.  To distinguish automatically created lists from manually created ones, we will not be using the “-l” convention on Google Groups, so automatically created list addresses will have the format “”, whereas ad-hoc lists will continue to have “-l” at the end.

I would like to publicly thank Andy Davenport who has done patient and careful work to develop a system for automatically creating these lists.

As usual, I would appreciate any feedback you might have.