CINE wireless signal is going away

When you are on the HMC campus and look at the wireless signals (SSID) available, you will normally see at least the following:

CINE
Claremont
Claremont-WPA
Claremont-ETC

As I mentioned in the September 2012 Update from the CIO, the Claremont Colleges have agreed to remove the CINE wireless signal from service. There are a number of reasons for this:

* The CINE network is open (anyone can access it).
* The CINE network is unencrypted and therefore insecure (network traffic may be visible to third parties).
* The Library licenses electronic content that requires authentication.
* The Library was subject to some overcrowding due to the “free wireless”.

The Library and some of the other Claremont Colleges have already stopped broadcasting the CINE signal.

What should you do? The next time you need wireless access on campus, you should configure your laptop or other wireless device to connect to Claremont-WPA . This is a one time configuration as most laptops will remember the wireless network and can also be configured to give Claremont-WPA priority over other networks on campus. You will not have to enter your HMC Credentials every time you connect to Claremont-WPA. For details about how to do this visit the following link:

http://www.hmc.edu/about1/administrativeoffices/cis1/faq1.html

We do not yet have a fixed date on which the CINE signal will go away. We need to design a guest access solution that will work for the HMC community and allows access for many types of devices. Our target to get this done is the end of 2012.

If you have questions or need help configuring your laptop or other wi-fi device to connect with Claremont-WPA, please contact the Help Desk on the first floor of the Sprague Learning Center (helpdesk@hmc.edu or 909 607 7777).

September 2012 update from the CIO

I know we’re two weeks in, but welcome back to all who have been away from Claremont over the summer. And welcome to the Class of 2016!

This is the first update from the CIO for the Fall 2012 Semester.

Here at CIS we had a very busy summer.  Most of this update will cover changes we have made or are in the process of making.  So please read on.

Email and Calendar
We closed down mailbox-01.hmc.edu and migrated all active accounts to either g.hmc.edu (Google Apps) or m.hmc.edu (Office365). We are now focusing on accounts that are still on the VMS system named “Thuban”. That work is a bit more complicated, although there are only a few accounts on the system. Once we have moved the accounts, and found a home for web content that still resides on Thuban, we will be able to close down the VMS systems. This is consistent with an approach we describe with the phrase “stabilize, standardize, simplify”.

Now that we have done the work of migrating accounts to the new systems, we are beginning to turn our attention to the fact that both Google Apps and Office365 are much more than email systems. For instance, we’ve been asking people how they make use of them.  For example, Eliot Bush told us how he uses Google apps, and Patricia Wang did the same for Office 365.  In CIS we’ve started using shared Google docs to capture the agendas and notes for our meetings. We like the fact that agenda items can be added at any time, and the notes are easily shared and searchable.  Senior My Ho has been helping us by building a Google Apps script application to help run meetings and automatically distribute notes and action items.  Meanwhile, some departments have started to explore the Google Apps marketplace and request the installation of apps in the g.hmc.edu domain. If you’ve found a good use for either Google Apps or Office365, do drop us a line to tell us about it.

Password Policy
In November 2011 the President’s Cabinet approved a password policy for HMC.  I ask that you read it carefully and follow the policy whenever possible.  During discussions of the policy last Fall, the Computing Committee advised that CIS should provide some information about password management tools, so Jeho Park and Calvin Tong wrote up a report which we hope you will find useful.

CINE wireless signal to be decommissioned
All of the Claremont Colleges broadcast the same wireless signals in an attempt to provide a consistent user experience. As part of a Claremont wide agreement,  the CINE wireless signal (SSID) is scheduled to be turned off.  The CINE network is insecure (no encryption), open (accessible by anyone) and the internet (IP) addresses) associated with it are needed by the other wireless networks.  The target date for shutting down the CINE signal is Fall Break 2012.   Some of the other Colleges and the Library have already stopped broadcasting the signal, so you may not see it if you roam off the HMC campus.  At HMC we will turn off the CINE signal only after we have established a system for guest access that is consistent with the College’s values and needs.

In the meantime, if you are not a guest, you should connect your wireless devices to either “Claremont” or “Claremont-WPA” and we recommend “Claremont-WPA” since it is the most secure. Our instructions for connecting to either of the two networks are on the College website.

The agreement between the Colleges means that your experience on either the “Claremont-WPA” or “Claremont” wireless networks should be the same, independent of which campus you happen to be on.

Computing Labs
Toward the end of the summer, the User Support and Systems teams upgraded the Windows operating systems on computers in Labs managed by CIS (LAC and Learning Studio). They are now running Windows 7 and OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard).  If you run into any problems, make sure to send a message to helpdesk@hmc.edu

The User Support team has been attempting to learn more about Academic Department Labs, with special attention to the labs that are in Departments without a dedicated IT person. We are exploring options for better hardware and software support for those labs.

IAM@HMC next steps
In August, we sent people a link to our new password self service portal, which allows you to configure your password for our Single Sign On (SSO) environment. We are working with the vendor to make some improvements to the self-service portal, based on feedback we received from you (thanks!). Currently, only three applications are part of that SSO environment, Ultipro (Payroll/HR), Google Apps and Active Directory (Charlie, Alice, Claremont WPA, Cognos reports).  As the year moves forward, we will add more applications and begin working on account provisioning and deprovisioning (automatic creation of accounts when someone joins or leaves HMC).

Planning Activities
We spent a good deal of time over the summer on planning, as we need to develop tactical initiatives that will shape our work for the next two years. We will continue to use the framework established by our IT strategy document (online version at http://www5.hmc.edu/strategy10/ and pdf version at http://www5.hmc.edu/strategy10/ITStrategyDraft10.pdf).  That document outlines four strategic areas for IT at Harvey Mudd:

  • IT Decision Making (Governance)
  • IT Infrastructure
  • CIS, the central IT organization
  • Innovation

This summer, each unit within CIS developed draft goals for our new set of tactical initiatives. The goals currently number in the 40s.  We are working on refining them and have begun seeking feedback from key stakeholders. Expect more updates on this during the Fall, along with a report on progress on the 2010-12 tactical initiatives. If you find yourself wondering “why all this emphasis on planning?”, consider this: High performing IT organizations not only provided more consistent and predictable service levels, but they consistently spent less than 5% of their time on unplanned and urgent work (also known as “firefighting”) (Behr,Kim, Spafford The Visible Ops Handbook 2005)

On the News Site
Cindy Abercrombie and Elizabeth Hodas put together a helpful list of Fall semester reminders for faculty, which you can read at http://www5.hmc.edu/ITNews/?p=2116

You can also read about the exciting line up of Bite of Learning for the Fall semester http://www5.hmc.edu/ITNews/?p=2110

Soon to come on the news site are articles on Little FE, Data Management Plans, XSEDE and other good stuff.  I hope I’ve piqued your curiosity.

From everyone at CIS, best of luck for a great Fall 2012 semester.

 

HMC Password Policy

I wanted to draw your attention to the HMC password policy which was approved by Cabinet in November 2011.  It is designed to urge people to maintain strong passwords on HMC systems, which is one important part of protecting shared College resources.

If you are interested in learning more about tools that can help you manage your passwords, take a look at an excellent report that Jeho Park and Calvin Tong produced at http://goo.gl/Oew5k

I first started working on a password policy when urged to do so by the College’s financial auditors MossAdams.  I would like to thank the groups and individuals that helped craft the password policy:

  • 2010-11 and 2011-12 Computing Committee Members
  • HMC President’s Cabinet
  • Faculty Executive Committee
  • Department Chairs Committee
  • CIS staff
  • Timothy Buchheim (Computer Science)
  • Claire Connelly (Math)

We all need to maintain good passwords as part of our obligation to protect shared College resources.  Thanks for playing your part!

Time to change your password!

As we move into Fall semester, some of the authentication systems managed by CIS will be configured to require password resets every 365 days.

This is a step in improving the overall security of HMC systems and bringing us into compliance with our password policy.

To reset your passwords please visit the HMC password and account management portal at:

https://iaas2idm.fischeridentity.com/identity/self-service/HMC/kiosk.jsf
(Nov 2012 edit: we have replaced this link with

https://iam.hmc.edu/identity/self-service/HMC/login.jsf

)
Using this portal, you will set up security questions and set the password for all of the following systems in one go:

Claremont WPA wireless (eg laptops, phones and other devices that connect to Claremont WPA wireless)
Alice and Charlie file servers
Cognos 10 reports
Google Apps for Education
Ultipro

If you have not reset your passwords in over 365 days, you should do so. We will be working with each department to ensure a smooth transition to this new system.  You can change your password any time you like using the password and account management portal.  Once we have worked directly with each department, we will turn on the feature that requires a password change every 365 days.

Thank you for your understanding and your efforts to increase the security of our systems.

Please don’t hesitate to send questions or concerns to us at helpdesk@hmc.edu

How are you using Office365?

A while back, I posted an article about how Prof Eliot Bush is making use of Google Apps for Education.   We recently completed the migration of accounts from mailbox-01 to Microsoft Office365 for Education.  I asked Patricia Wang how she liked it, and to tell me two things that she does with the Office365/Outlook combination.   Here’s what Patricia wrote:

Since I was really comfortable using Zimbra, I was a little apprehensive about migrating to Outlook 2010. I’ve only been using Outlook for a short time, but I’ve discovered a couple of features that I really like already.

One of the features that I find helpful in Outlook 2010 is the built-in task list. I use it to organize my tasks by assigning due dates, setting reminders, and marking tasks as complete when I finish them. It can also be used to delegate tasks to other people and manage task assignments. Tasks can be created from scratch by selecting the New Items > Tasks button on the Home tab. However, my favorite way to create a task is by by dragging an email to the task button on the bottom of the navigation pane. This transfers an existing email message to my task list without me having to create an individual task from scratch. I can also use this drag and drop method if I want to flag a contact record for follow-up.

Another feature that helps me keep organized is the Rules Wizard. Outlook lets me set up instructions, called rules, that determine how it should process messages upon receipt. I can set up rules to automatically move, copy, delete, forward, redirect, or reply to an incoming message. For the messages that are already in my inbox, I love the run-this-rule-now feature. It’s like waving a magic wand to reduce the clutter in my inbox!

I hope to discover other neat features as I explore Outlook 2010!

Thanks to Patricia for sending these comments. If you have other interesting ways that you make use of Google Apps or Office 365, don’t hestitate to share in the comments section below, or send me an email.

May 2012 update from the CIO

After a wonderful Commencement and set of Board Meetings, CIS has now shifted gears for the many projects we undertake in the summer months.

Email and Calendar
We are on track to hit the target of shutting down mailbox-01.hmc.edu by the end of June (Mailbox-02.hmc.edu was shut down some time ago).  At that point, we will no longer be using Zimbra for email.

In preparing for Calvin Tong’s departure, I checked in with the email and calendar team. Although they will miss Calvin, the team was confident that his departure would not slow the email migration project down.

The majority of faculty, most staff, and all students have moved to either Google Apps (g.hmc.edu) or Microsoft Office365. As a reminder, everyone will eventually have a google account, to facilitate collaboration on documents and spreadsheets; staff will also have an Office365 account, to facilitate the use of Outlook, one of the more popular “fat” (non-web) email and calendar clients. If you need a google account sooner (for example, if you are on a committee that is using google apps), please send an email to helpdesk@hmc.edu to request one.

Sakai
You are more than likely aware that there were four significant Sakai outages during the month of April, for a total of 15 hours of unanticipated downtime.  They were due to problems with a storage device (SAN) at Pomona, a power outage on the Pomona campus that shut down cooling to the Pomona data center and human error. We are currently conducting incident review, in order to draw what lessons we can from these incidents.

In March, an intercollegiate committee, the Information Technology Committee (ITC), decided to move Sakai from Harvey Mudd to Pomona. The Claremont Academic Deans Committee (ADC) recently endorsed this idea, and we are now working with Pomona staff to arrange the transfer.  HMC was investing significant resources in managing the Sakai service for the Claremont Colleges, and we are now looking forward to being able to concentrate more fully on projects that are local to HMC.  From the end user perspective, you should not see any major changes in the Sakai service overall.

More important than the location of the Sakai service, both the ITC and ADC have begun to ask the question: what should our next step in Learning Management Systems be?  Should we stay with Sakai? Upgrade to Sakai 3.0 (“open academic environment”)? Change to a different system?  Look forward to more on these questions in the Fall.

Identity and Access Management
I have written before about the Identity and Access Management project. One of the future outcomes of that project: people will no longer spend time logging into different applications over and over again during their work day.  This is already true for those who make regular use of Ultipro, the HR application.  We are now testing self-service password management, which will allow you to reset your HMC password after answering a few security questions.  We are also testing single sign on for Google Apps, and the campus portal is next. After that, the really big phase of the project will involve mapping out account provisioning procedures so that we can automate account creation, triggered by changes in status (such as being hired, or becoming a student at HMC).

Portal Passwords
Speaking of the portal, we are aware of the problems that some people are having with portal passwords (unable to reset password).  We are working with Jenzabar, the company that provides our Student Information System, to resolve this problem.  We apologize for the frustration this has been causing for some users.  It is an intermittent problem which is affecting some users but not others and so it appears to be one of those issues that are difficult to track down.

Projects for the summer
We have lots more summer projects.  Here are some of them:

  • HSA advising project.  We are working to virtualize the server that hosts the HSA advising program. We are also working with HSA to redesign the application.
  • AV and Networking in TLB.   CIS staff are deeply involved in work on the network and AV functions for the new building, which will open in a mere 409 days.
  • Infrastructure and Network. In order to tackle the challenges outlined in my PPCPC presentation and build a long term plan for the campus network, we’ll be working with a vendor named LightRiver over the summer.
  • Creation of new student accounts.  We’ll be creating new student accounts as soon as possible, with a few changes this year, given the new elements in our environment (Single sign on and Google Apps).
  • PaperCut. We are rolling out print queue management software for all the large printers this summer.  The software is called PaperCut and it will allow us to provide a much better experience when printing to any of the large printers; it should also significantly reduce paper waste.
  • And we’ll be exploring app development in the HMC Google Apps environment, just to keep things interesting.
More to come …
As we did in previous summers, we have selected a number of faculty projects to support under the Teaching with Technology program. We are supporting three projects by providing software, staff time or student support.  Elizabeth Hodas will shortly write an article about them.

In the first of a planned series about “How I use Office365 and/or Google Apps for Education”,  Jeff Groves told you about two things he liked about Google Apps.  We’ve got an interview coming up with Patricia Wang, who will tell us what she likes about Office365. If you have discovered a feature of either Google Apps or Office365 that you like, please let us know.

Those who are on campus know that we’ve been hosting demonstrations of interactive whiteboard technology such as SmartBoards and Luida.  We’ll follow up with a summary of what we learned.

The incoming students are active and chatting away on the Mudd on Facebook app.  Check it out at http://apps.facebook.com/harveymudd
It’s promising to be a lively summer.  Come back to this news site for updates. Enjoy!

Top 10 IT issues 2012

Educause has just released a video preview of some of the top ten IT issues for 2012, which is embedded below.

I serve on the Current Issues Committee that produces the list of top ten issues.   This year, we completely changed the process for selecting the top ten issues, and this resulted in some interesting new perspectives.  The full article is available on the Educause Review Site.

March 2012 update from the CIO

The semester progresses and we’re getting closer to the moment when we graduate a new class.  So I’ll keep this update brief.

iPad 3 and Kinect
If you’re in need of distraction, we have a couple of the new iPads and a Kinect available for loan from the CIS help desk.  You can borrow them to try out for a couple of weeks. Contact the Help Desk.

Google Privacy
Google introduced a new privacy policy for their suite of consumer products.  The HMC  contract for Google Apps for Education is not affected by this new policy, as it is a separate contract. There are more details at.http://www5.hmc.edu/ITNews/?p=1963

Sakai service changes
It is almost certain that Harvey Mudd College will no longer be the “lead Claremont College” for the Sakai service after this summer.  This is as a result of long discussions about the options for sourcing the service, either with a specialized company or with another lead college.  Again, there are lots more details in the article about Sakai service changes coming.

Email and Calendar progress
The Email and Calendar team has been busily migrating people off of mailbox-01.hmc.edu (Zimbra).  We have migrated more than 40 faculty to Google Apps for Education and have begun migrating staff to Microsoft Office365 (CIS moved a couple of weeks ago; the President’s Office moved this week and OCA begins moving next week).  It looks like we are on target to remove all the accounts by the deadline we have set, which will allow us to discontinue the licensing agreement for Zimbra.

As with all technology changes, there is a learning curve, both for us and you. We have a plethora of options at HMC, with a high emphasis on autonomy. So there are lots of different email clients and practices that people have, which inevitably means there is at least a little bit of learning for each new migration.

We’ve started collecting anecdotes about how people use Google Apps.  For example, read about a couple of things that Eliot Bush does. If you have ideas to share, let us know.  Also, Calvin wrote in detail about an issue we were seeing with mails forwarded to yourself in Google Apps for Education.

Survey on Student Use of Technology 
I recently sent a message to students-l about participating in the Educause Center for Applied Research survey of student use of technology.  It’s an annual survey that is widely cited and helps many institutions make technology support decisions.  This is the first year that HMC had an opportunity to participate. As I wrote to the students, it’s time that the national survey included opinions from students at the institution that gave the world the MIME standard (Ned Freed ’82), SQL (Don Chamberlin ’66), Flash (Jonathan Gay ’89), Remote Procedure Calls (Bruce Jay Nelson ’74) and Audacity (Dominic Mazzoni ’99).  If you agree, prompt a student near you to complete the survey!  Thanks.

Next update will be late April/early May.  Not very far away. Until then, may the end of the semester be a good one for you all.

How do you use Google Apps?

We’re putting together short articles about the ways that people make use of the new HMC Google Apps for Education service.  I asked Eliot Bush, chair of the Computing Committee, to give me examples of things he does.   Here’s what he wrote:

One thing I do is use appointment slots in google calendar. This is great for setting up meetings with students. When its time for advising meetings and registration, I set up a bunch of appointment slots and have them select them.

I also co-teach quite a bit. We often have to do things like write an exam together. Its so much easier to do this with a google doc which can be edited together. It saves us from having a thousand different versions flying back and forth over email.

If you have found a good use for Google Apps, or know of a Google add on we should activate, please don’t hesitate to get in touch, or leave a comment on this post.

Sakai Service changes coming

Harvey Mudd College has been the “Lead College” for the Sakai service since its inception in 2006.  This means that we provide the service to all the Claremont Colleges and receive some funding from the other Colleges to do so.

About two years ago I began to explore the option of contracting with rSmart for Sakai hosting.  rSmart is a company dedicated to hosting Sakai and other Higher Ed applications for a long list of higher education customers.  Hosting the service with them would take advantage of their expertise and the scale of their operation, which is based in Arizona and housed in one of the largest data centers in the country. On almost all dimensions of the comparison — cost, architecture, functionality, infrastructure, expertise — rSmart looked to be an improvement over what HMC could provide alone. Exploration of this option took many months, and then in August 2011 I made a formal proposal to the Information Technology Committee (ITC) that we should host Sakai with rSmart.  A series of monthly discussions took place, including a visit by the rSmart team in December.   However, I did not manage to persuade my CIO colleagues from the other Claremont Colleges and so the ITC voted to accept an offer from Pomona College to host the service.  The ITC is now moving forward to bring that recommendation to two other Intercollegiate committees, the Business and Financial Affairs Committee (BFAC) and the Academic Deans Commitee (ADC).  Assuming those committees endorse the idea, the Sakai service will be provided by Pomona College effective July 1, 2012.

If the service does move to Pomona, end users will not see any real difference in how the service is delivered. Pomona has offered to continue to subsidize the service and to augment and strengthen the infrastructure, which are good things.  Over time, they may install the rSmart version of Sakai which would provide some nice additional functionality over the “vanilla” version of Sakai that we have been running.

User support for Sakai questions will continue in the same way as it does now.  You can contact the Help Desk for help with issues and if you need advice on how to use a particular tool, you could contact Elizabeth Hodas.

For CIS, the change means a return of time and resources that were being dedicated to supporting the intercollegiate service.  During the analysis of the rSmart option, I discovered that we were subsidizing the service by about $50k per year. We were indeed investing time and resources in an important service and received praise from the other Colleges for our work.  But we are now looking forward to investing time and energy in other projects that will benefit the College, while confident that the Sakai service will be delivered in the ways we were familiar with.