February 2015 Update from the CIO

80101383152976HMCWeb10We had such a busy Fall semester that I was unable to send out updates.  In this one, I will cover developments since my last update in late August. I hope you have some time to read it.

People
Starting with the most important aspect of all organizations, I have the pleasure of introducing three people.  Taylor Calderone has joined us in a permanent position as a technical analyst on the User Support team.  Taylor has been with us for a while on a temporary basis, working primarily with audiovisual support.  When Corey LeBlanc left for Pomona’s Computer Science department, it was really great to see Taylor compete for and win the permanent position.

Brian Reid has joined us in a temporary capacity to work on the User Support team. Brian came to HMC from the Geek Squad, and we are very happy to welcome him to the campus.

I am also very happy to announce that our Senior Network Engineer search has finally yielded fruit.  Duke Vu joined  the CIS team on January 5th.  He comes to us after a five year stint at JPL and we are really looking forward to adding his set of skills and insights to the team that works on that most fundamental of things, our network.  Duke will report to Mitch Shacklett, Director of the Systems and Network Group.

ITC
The intercollegiate Information Technology Committee (ITC) has  been very active of late.  This year, I get to co-chair the committee with Ken Pflueger of Pomona. Among the topics we are dealing with is the IT Assesssment by BerryDunn, which I mentioned in my last update.   The final version has been received and is under review by both the ITC and the Presidents Council.  The ITC agreed with many of its recommendations and has started to lay the groundwork to implement some of them.  The Council discussed the report at their January 2015 retreat and ITC is meeting with Council in March.  Council has urged the IT leaders to collaborate more deeply in order to build strong centralized services where appropriate, in particular in areas like networking, data centers, security, identity and access management and disaster recovery.

Related to the ITC, I have been helping out at CUC since the late Fall departure of the previous CIO. I am assisting Stig Lanesskog, the CEO of CUC, with IT decision making and keeping the department moving while they redefine the CIO position and launch a search.  It is an honor and privilege to help the consortium in this way, and will, I believe, yield benefit for HMC in the long run.

Workday
I hope you all saw the announcement about Workday Financial Management.  This is big news for lots of reasons.

Last year, the intercollegiate Budget and Financial Affairs Committee (BFAC) began looking for a replacement for the aging Datatel financial system that is run by the Claremont University Consortium (CUC).  The BFAC narrowed its requirements down to four or five “show stoppers”, two of which will be of great interest to our faculty.  The first was the ability easily to report across fiscal years, which is often very important to grant holders. And the second was support for all modern browsers. (You read more about their philosophy on user interface design).

There is so much to say about this topic that I have started a series of separate posts about it.

Password Policy
Password Policy: As you know by now, we did not implement the system change we had announced for October 27th, which would have required you to change your password every 365 days.  Thanks to good feedback from the community and the Computing Committee, I went back to the drawing board, connected with our financial auditors and finally we worked out an agreement that will require slightly longer passwords, but no annual changing of passwords.  Once per year, you will be required to check your password to ensure that it meets the HMC Credentials password requirements (the timing of this check is up to you, based on when you last changed or checked your password).  If your password meets the requirements, then you are good to go.  Only if it doesn’t meet the requirements will you be required to change it.

Email aliases
joseph.vaughan@hmc.edu, jvaughan@hmc.edu, vaughan@hmc.edu, joseph_vaughan@hmc.edu which one am I? We have traditionally tried to anticipate what people might think was someone’s address by populating our “Mail Central” with a number of aliases for the main address, which is always of the form username@hmc.edu. During the Fall semester we reviewed a number of issues with this system:

  • As the numbers in our community increase, it is more and more common to have name clashes, so that the underlying idea of being able to “make up” the email address if you know a person’s name is no longer valid.
  • Many systems now use email addresses as usernames, which means that they treat the different aliases as different accounts.  We have a variation of that problem with the Footprints Ticket System.
  • All modern email systems have some form of directory lookup and autocomplete of addresses, so you don’t have to remember them.

With this in mind, we decided to stop creating aliases for email addresses and just use the canonical form username@hmc.edu.  We did not touch existing aliases, but will no longer be creating them when we create accounts.

Other Topics
So this update has gotten long enough. But please visit our IT News site to read other articles:

NSF cyberinfrastructure grants

Dramatic increase in service requests in SCTL

CIS Digital Badge Pilot

Enjoy Spring Break and the rest of the semester.

Shanahan Center brings dramatic increase in service requests

As the table below makes clear, we are seeing a huge increase in the number of requests for CIS services in the Shanahan Center.

We are happy to have this “problem”, but we are having to work hard to make sure that we are delivering services as efficiently as possible.

To that end, we have reorganized within User Support to make sure that there more people available to provide audiovisual services.   We have also made sure that every request goes into our ticket system and our calendar.

One of the best ways you can help us is to always request audiovisual support via our request form. Give us as much advance notice as you can and be as specific as you can about your needs.

We’d also love to hear your feedback about how audiovisual services could be streamlined even more.  So send your ideas our way.   Thanks!

Shanahan Center Usage

 2012
before SCTL
2013
start of SCTL
2014
SCTL full operation
Lecture Capture Events
44216549
Laptops ReservationsLearning Studio *145 (Fall)349 (Fall)
Overtime Hours283377550 (Jan-Oct)
Total Support Hours12,03513,20913,883 (Jan-Oct)

Workday Student

As I mentioned before,  the Claremont Colleges have decided to participate in Workday’s Strategic Influencer program for the Workday Student product.   This initiative is now taking more shape.  The following people have been appointed to the Workday Strategic Influencer Project Team:

  • Margeret Adorno (Registrar, Pomona)
  • Mark Ashley (Registrar, HMC)
  • Andrew Dorantes (Treasurer, HMC)
  • Robert Goldstein (CIO, Pitzer)
  • Elizabeth Morgan (Registrar, Claremont McKenna)
  • Joseph Vaughan (CIO, HMC)
  • Chris Waugh, (Director, Smith Campus Center, Pomona)

The Project Team will visit Workday headquarters in Pleasanton, CA on February 24 for the first meeting of Strategic Influencers and Design Partners.  These meetings will be broadcast so that you can listen in from home.  Workday will be conducting interviews with functional groups as well.  If you have views on what a Student System should do, now is the time to speak up!

Claremont Colleges will use Workday Financial Management

I hope you all saw the announcement about Workday Financial Management.  This wd-logois big news for lots of reasons.

Last year, the intercollegiate Budget and Financial Affairs Committee (BFAC) began looking for a replacement for the aging Datatel financial system that is run by the Claremont University Consortium (CUC).  The BFAC narrowed its requirements down to four or five “show stoppers”, two of which will be of great interest to our faculty.  The first was the ability easily to report across fiscal years, which is often very important to grant holders. And the second was support for all modern browsers. (You can read more about Workday’s  philosophy on user interface design).

The BFAC and the consultant they worked with (a former treasurer at Scripps College) reviewed all the market leaders and finally settled on Workday, a relative newcomer with a strong pedigree (it was founded by the founder of Peoplesoft, Dave Duffield and the former chief strategist of Peoplesoft, Aneel Bhusri).  The Presidents Council signed off on the BFAC choice in August and the target for implementation of the new system is July 1, 2015 (yes, 2015!).

One interesting aspect of this for me, as CIO of one of the participating Colleges, is that Workday is only offered as software as a service (SaaS): there is no on-premise version. We will not be making any local customizations.  This is one more example of systems moving to the cloud, with all the implications that carries for IT units and for the Colleges.

Also extremely interesting from a Claremont perspective is that all of the Treasurers have agreed to “hold hands” and use one system, including changing and aligning business practices across the Colleges.  This includes Pomona College returning to being on the same financial system as the other colleges.

A further related aspect of this is that Workday have begun developing Workday Student, a new student information system.  They invited the Claremont Colleges to participate in the development of this system as “strategic influencers”.  The intercollegiate Academic Deans Committee (ADC), Business and Financial Affairs Committee (BFAC) and Information Technology Committee (ITC) made a joint recommendation to the Council that we should take Workday up on their offer.  But at the same time the committees recommended a market review of Student Information Systems, with a view to replacing Jenzabar CX (including, potentially, with Jenzabar JX). The Presidents agreed.  Andrew Dorantes, Mark Ashley and I will all participate heavily in the Strategic Influencer work.  Workday will also conduct interviews with different groups of users, starting this week with the Registrars.

So in the near future (July 2015 or soon after) we will gradually bid a fond farewell to OnBase RFCs and the CUC Connect financial reports. And in the medium future (late 2015) the Claremont Colleges will investigate alternatives to Jenzabar CX.
lebowski
There is a lot more to say about this, and as the Dude said “It’s a complicated case, Maude. Lotta ins. Lotta outs. And a lotta strands to keep in my head, man”. So I will post individual news items on it as we move forward.

 

 

Summer 2014 update from the CIO

beanoWhen I was a kid growing up in Ireland, I loved reading the Beano and the Dandy.  Every summer, they would announce a “bumper edition”, which was packed with extra stuff for those long summer days out of school.  This is the bumper edition of updates from the CIO!

Infrastructure
The summer was a very busy one in the realm of IT infrastructure. We oversaw a major rewiring of the Parsons structure; which set the building up to host a modern wired and wireless network that should serve us well for the foreseeable future.  The major points of emphasis in the architecture of the new network are:

  • Assume an increase in the use of wireless devices (to support this we increased the number of wireless access points from nine to sixty seven).
  • Build a high capacity wired network that requires fewer physical cables (cat 6A throughout the building, fewer physical ports, but higher capacity)
  • Improve switching closets and reduce their number (from six to two).

I am very grateful to our partners in Facilities and Maintenance who worked with us to make the wiring project a success, and were supportive of our idea of carrying out our project in parallel with the vacated space project.  The new Clinic space in the basement is just beautiful!

We planned the new dorm wired and wireless network and, taking advantage of the construction work, have laid the groundwork for a “north campus loop” that will enhance the resilience of The Claremont Colleges network by providing alternate (redundant and diverse) networking routes to the second CINE core switch.

We bought new switches for east and south dorms, as well as the Linde Activity Center. We placed a new UPS in Kingston and new wireless access points in the LAC.

A new fiber run from Claremont to downtown Los Angeles is about to be completed, connecting with the Claremont network at the CUC building on First Street. This will increase the resilience of our connections to the internet.  As you can imagine, this is ever more important with the increased use of software services that are hosted elsewhere.

IAM@HMC (Identity and Access management)
We worked closely and intensely with our project partners from Fischer Identity during the summer, meeting every day for many weeks.  This let us push through to get several big wins:

  • We eliminated the distinction between LDAP passwords and Active Directory passwords — it’s all HMC Credentials from now on.
  • Automatic Account Creation (“provisioning”) went live. This meant that we could bring all the new students on board in record time, without manual account creation.
  • We brought the portal (portal.hmc.edu) into the Single Sign On environment. It uses HMC credentials now and you won’t be challenged to log in if you have already logged in and established a session in another application that is part of Single Sign On.
  • We added payors to the HMC portal so that they can view and pay bills on line.
  • We worked with other consortium members to bring up CAS, which will provide single sign on for other systems and, in our case, increases the usefulness of your HMC Credentials. In a new phase of the IAM@HMC project we hope to integrate CAS with Fischer Identity and get even more single sign on in place.

IT Assessment by BerryDunn
During the summer, representatives from consulting firm BerryDunn were in Claremont working on a Claremont-wide IT Assessment at the request of the Presidents Council. Some of you took the opportunity to meet or talk with them and give your views on the quality of IT overall at the Colleges.  I understand that the BerryDunn folk will be coming back again in the Fall, so there will be additional opportunities to meet with them.  I will try to send a bit more advanced notice, so please keep an eye out.  If you are particularly keen on talking with them, please just get in touch with me and we can set up a telephone call. They are very eager to provide the Colleges with a high quality actionable report and would greatly appreciate your input.

IT Policy
During the summer, I completed updates to the HMC Password Policy and finalized the policy on incidental personal use of IT, both of which are now linked on our IT policies page on the HMC website.  Both are the result of extensive discussion with various instances of the Computing Committee, the Presidents Cabinet and other stakeholders.  I believe that policies should be realistic and should interfere as little as possible with your day to day experience, while at the same time achieving institutional goals.  I have found that a good way to achieve that is to have extensive discussion with stakeholders, including college counsel and to be willing to wait until the policy is well cooked before releasing it.

Next up is a policy on safeguarding confidential and sensitive information.

Speaking of passwords, on October 27th we plan to turn on the password expiration function in the Fischer system.  If your password is over 365 days old, you will need to reset it. The prompt at login will just say “invalid credentials”, as we don’t want to give hackers any clues.  But you will receive a notice via email when your password is seven days away from expiring. When we first released the HMC Password Policy, the advice of the Computing Committee at the time was that August would be a good time to remind people to reset passwords, since everyone is coming back and doing housekeeping tasks for the new year.  The timing of your annual reset is up to you though, since you can change your password at any time by visiting the Password and Account Management Kiosk.  If your password is getting old, now might be a good time to change it.

Websites
When we moved to the new HMC website last January, we vowed that we would work hard to ensure that only accurate and relevant information would appear on our pages. We continue to work on that goal and have been enhancing our Service Catalog page and keeping on top of updates to the IT Projects page.  Our goal is to make it valuable and effective to turn to the CIS web page whenever you are looking for a solution or are curious to know what we’re up to.

We have also set up pages.hmc.edu for people who wish to host static html pages outside of any of our content or learning management systems.  I wrote about this in the April update, but it is worth mentioning again as we work towards decommissioning older systems such as thuban (www2), odin (www3) and www5.  www4 has already been decommissioned and replaced by pages.hmc.edu

Educational Technology
Thanks to our restructuring that placed AV operations under the wing of User Support,  Educational Technology Services had become even more focused and productive under Elizabeth Hodas’  leadership. Elizabeth is paying special attention to the question of how to relate technology tools to the goals of faculty and students.  I hope you will notice this emphasis in the roster of workshops available during our Week of Workshops, which started on Monday.

Over the summer, there was a surprising amount of interest in trying out Google Glass. Jeho Park described our experiments in his article OK Glass,shoot a laser beam!.  I found the star mapping app really compelling, even though the night on which I had Glass was a cloudy one!  It was the first time I really felt for myself the potential of augmented reality applications and I will never forget my daughter’s exclamation “oh wow” when she donned the Glass and went outside to conquer her fear of the dark.

Also over the summer, Deb Mashek set up a Google Apps Learning Community that several of us participated in.  It was a quiet success and I heard from a number of the participants about how they liked the hands on and interactive approach of these sessions, so we’re thinking of other possibilities.   We are also exploring the possibility of subscribing to lynda.com campus edition through a Claremont wide agreement. This would give faculty, students and staff a large number of online professional development and learning opportunities.

People
Unfortunately, Corey LeBlanc left us for Pomona College, where he is now the Computer Science Dept System Administrator. We wish him the best of luck, and were very sorry to see him leave us.

Taylor Calderone will be helping to fill in as we search for a new DTA. Taylor has been with us for a while in a temporary capacity, particularly with AV support for events, so he knows the ropes.

In other hiring news, we are having more success in the search for a Sr. Network Engineer and have interviewed a couple of really promising candidates in recent weeks.  Stay tuned for news on that front.

As I completed writing this update, I had a feeling of exhilaration.  It is just so pleasing to see so much progress in so many areas!  And, once again, my hat is off to the hardworking staff at CIS who just keep on working at a very high level.

Welcome back every one (and welcome, first years).  At CIS, we missed you and are looking forward to supporting you for yet another great year at Mudd.

 

 

 

May 2014 update from the CIO

We made it!  Commencement was great, congratulations to all new graduates.caps

Summer is a time for projects for CIS and we went full steam ahead starting on Monday May 19th.

Electronic Billing
We plan to roll out paperless billing starting July 1.  Bills will be presented via the Portal, where the College already accepts payments. This Portal improvement has many beneficial side effects, and not just for those paying bills.  It removes a lot of tedious printing and scanning of paper bills (which were the hybrid by product of a pre-printed form and an electronic source) and eliminates the cost of mailing out the bills.  I’d like to thank Patricia Wang and Scott Martin for their patient help with reaching this goal.

IAM@HMC
Last week, we took a step in the IAM@HMC project that had the effect of synchronizing people’s passwords over a number of systems. This passed unnoticed for most people, but is a prerequisite for steps we are taking over the next few weeks.  In preparation for paperless billing which starts on July 1, we are adding people to the JICS portal this week and bringing portal single sign on live.  Next week, we’ll be creating accounts for incoming students.  There is a lot of complexity to single sign on, but hopefully most of it is hidden from your view.  One thing to note is that the interaction between systems and the identity provider will often have the result that the only way to fully log out of a particular application is to close your browser.  We look forward to hearing and reading your reaction to this stage of the IAM@HMC project.  For more information, see the new IT Mattters section of our website.

Parsons Rewiring
The work began on time May 19th. As I mentioned last time, in tandem with the vacated space project we are rewiring all of Parsons (east and west). The contractors will be pulling 1,900 cables out of the conduit, and we’ll rewire with less than half that number. We’re setting things up for a high traffic  “converged network” that can carry video, VOIP phone traffic and all the traditional network traffic. We are placing more than 70 wireless access points in the building (before there were 9) and are consolidating the distribution switches. The cabling infrastructure will be capable of supporting 10Gb to the desktop, should the College want to do that in the future.

Engineering Department VDI Project
We’ve begun a fascinating exploration of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) with an Engineering Department Project that contemplates replacing the Engineering Computing Facility (ECF) with a central service that can be reached from anywhere but provides the same tools, such as SolidWorks and ModelSim. Two of our summer employees, Graham Gordon and Minh Triet Nguyen, are helping Prof David Money Harris to examine solutions like Citrix XenDesktop, VMWare, Apache VCL and Microsoft DV. We hope to have an extended pilot available for testing by students in the Fall. 

Reorganization in CIS
We have made a small reorganization within CIS, which allows us to achieve two goals: first, broaden the base of audiovisual support for classes and events; second, focus more on Educational Technology.  We’ve moved support for AV back into the User Support Group, led by Cindy Abercrombie, and sharpened the focus in the newly named Educational Technology Services, led by Elizabeth Hodas. Elizabeth has written a more detailed article about these changes to Audiovisual and Educational Technology Support.

CMC Course Schedule Discontinued
Many faculty and students were used to using the CMC “Classic” Course Schedule, which was linked from our Portal.  It used some older Jenzabar technology, but many liked how it laid out the course areas. In mid-May, a security problem came to light.  It had to do with scripts that were potentially subject to SQL injection.  Among other things, this meant that CMC had to remove the old course schedule from their site.  It won’t be coming back, as it was built on a version of the portal technology for which Jenzabar discontinued support some time ago.  The newer course search has the same course areas, but they are listed in a drop down box. CMC and Pomona conveyed their apologies for these sudden changes, but the security issues overrode other concerns.

Employee Anniversaries
At the annual staff lunch on May 19th, three CIS staff received service awards:

  • Jeho Park, Scientific Computing Specialist (5 years)
  •  Pete Sanchez, Technical Analyst (15 years)
  • Roger Wiechman, Network Manager (20 years)

Collectively, that’s 40 years of service to the HMC Community.  Thank you, Jeho, Pete and Roger.

Summer Learning Community: Google Apps for Education.
When Debra Mashek proposed setting up a learning community on the topic of Google Apps in Education, we were delighted at CIS.  We have regularly received feedback and requests for additional information about the many features of Google Apps for Education that are available via g.hmc.edu.  We do not see ourselves as the experts on this complex topic, but as “accomplished novices” who want to learn alongside you. “Learning Community” seems like exactly the right way to go. Fourteen people have signed up and the groups start meeting this week on Thursday and Friday at 11am.  It’s not too late to join us.

Learn a little more about this, and reach the sign up form, in the article on the Google Apps Learning Community.

That’s it for the May 2014 update. Make sure you’re enjoying the summer, and gather ye rosebuds while ye may, old time is still a flyin.

April 2014 Update from the CIO

As we round the corner into the home stretch and everyone’s focus is on those last few weeks of the Spring Semester, I hope you can take a moment to read the news from CIS.

New CIS Web Site
The new College website was launched in January. In line with that effort, Elizabeth Hodas led a team within CIS that developed a new CIS site. It emphasizes simplicity and is designed to help us keep information accurate and up to date.  Since January we have made a couple of important additions.  We now have a “top IT Projects” page, which lists the status of our most important projects and will receive at least quarterly updates. And we also have a rapidly developing “service catalog” page which will list all of the services we provide, with information about how to request them.  Take a look at http://www.hmc.edu/cis

Top IT Projects
Our Top IT Projects page https://www.hmc.edu/cis/it-projects/ is intended to give you an overview of our top projects, even though it is a subset of the 50 or so projects that we have in the pipeline at any time.  The CIS Management Team (CIO + four Directors) chose these projects as the “top” ones by considering such things as importance to the community, impact and cost & effort required.  We review this list on a regular basis, with each project owner giving an update on status at least once per quarter.  Early feedback has been positive; it included suggestions that we avoid acronyms and be more specific in places. We’d love to hear  your feedback too.

Educational Technology
We have reorganized a little in CIS in order to focus even more on Educational Technology, shifting the responsibility for everyday AV operations to the User Support Team.  This is a natural progression from the creation of an Educational Technology Group in 2009, originally funded by the Fletcher Jones Foundation.  Elizabeth Hodas has been taking the group through some online professional development experiences, which will help shape future work.  In the coming year, we anticipate a collaboration with the Claremont Libraries around digital badges; we are looking at video over IP solutions and there is rumor that we will have access to a Perceptive Pixel.  If there is an area of Educational Technology in which you are particularly interested, please make sure to contact Elizabeth about it (ehodas@hmc.edu).

The Computing Committee
The Computing Committee got off to a slow start this year, with only one or two meetings in the Fall, due to some issues with membership and faculty assignments.  But under the intrepid leadership of Rachel Levy, the committee made important contributions in what remained of the year. This year’s committee was Rachel Levy (Chair), Deb Mashek, Weiqing Gu, Tim Hussey, Jacob Bandes-Storch and myself. In the policy arena, the committee reviewed and made significant changes to a draft policy on safeguarding private information and suggested a new statement on incidental personal use. Both are currently under review by Campus Counsel.  The committee sent out a survey requesting feedback and created a mechanism for ongoing feedback to the committee (https://www.formstack.com/forms/hmc-computingcommittee).  It cautioned against asking faculty to complete a long survey to benchmark IT services and provided strong feedback about ways in which we at CIS could improve communications and the quality of service provided through the Footprints Ticket System.  The committee was also instrumental in the design of our efforts for Data Privacy Month (https://www.hmc.edu/cis/dpm/).  We also engaged in vigorus conversation about the role of the committee in IT Governance, which will benefit future instances of the committee. I would like to publicly thank Rachel and the other committee members for a really great year.

Consolidation of web servers
We have started consolidating older web servers such as www2, www3, www4 and www5.  The number of servers proliferated over time to meet different needs, but they have proved somewhat difficult to maintain.  For example, when www4 crashed as part of the Charlie issues we dealt with in January, we were not able to revive it.  So we worked with the seven or so faculty who had material on that server and moved it all.  One of the new destinations is the new Charlie, but in a new, more secure manner that is easier to maintain.  Tad Beckman was one of the people affected by this and the result was some adventures in self publishing.  Read about them at http://www5.hmc.edu/ITNews/?p=2779.

Network Infrastructure work during the summer
At the January Board meeting, the Budget and Financial Planning Committee approved additional IT Infrastructure Funds (ITIF) to undertake a complete rewiring of the two structures that make up the Parsons building (Parsons East and Parsons West).  We will be removing a large amount of unused cable, and recabling the whole building.  We will reduce the number of network closets down to two from six, and make serious improvements in the wireless network, increasing the number of access points from nine to seventy three.  This work will come with some disruption and network downtime unfortunately, but you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.  We are working closely with the building occupants on this project.

The summer will also see work on the network in preparation for the new dorm; we will bring online a new fiber connection from Claremont to downtown Los Angeles; and we are researching solutions for more wireless capacity on campus, particularly in the residential areas.

Other topics
People have been asking for more support for Google Apps for Education (g.hmc.edu). So we were delighted by Debra Mashek’s note.  Read more …

Elizabeth Hodas wrote that Sakai will be upgraded to version 2.9 this summer, with a new look and feel being planned.

Several faculty have told me that they were surprised by some of the things they learned when they took the FERPA quiz. Take a few minutes and see how you do yourself.

The CIS staff and I wish you the very best for a busy, but at last celebratory, end of semester.

Adventures in Self Publishing

This is a story in the “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade… ” category.

After we experienced some hardware issues with the Charlie file server, some of the older websites that were published under www4.hmc.edu went offline.  The new version of Charlie did not provide the file system needed by the www4 server, which had been limping along for some time.  So we quickly began to explore ways to host those pages. The inimitable Mitch Shacklett (Director, Systems and Network) came up with a great way to do this, by making a subset of your folders on Charlie visible on the web.  He promises that we will soon have a way to password protect pages being offered in this way too.

One of the people affected by this was Tad Beckman, Professor Emeritus in the Humanities, Social Sciences and the Arts Department.  Tad had a collection of pages that included some essays and lecture notes that were referred to by many people around the internet.  Together we looked at a variety of options to publish this material in a more permanent format.  In the end, Tad found a very interesting solution: he published five eBooks on Amazon’s Kindle Store.  I was intrigued by this idea, and asked Tad a few questions by email:

How did you discover that you could publish on Amazon’s kindle store?

I Google searched self-publishing and Kindle Direct Publishing was one of the sites that came up.

Why did the  Claremont library not want to take your material?

The Claremont Digital Library program seems to be only for faculty works that have already been published somewhere. I was dealing with course notes and unpublished materials.

To whom would the material be of interest?

All of these materials have been on my WebSite from the early 1990s onward. Some were developed for courses I was teaching but others were just pursuing interests of mine. Philosophy students around the country have used my course notes and I’ve had extensive contact with some of them. Students of Native Americans (especially California 4th graders) have used my extensive notes for my freshman course “Indigenous People of the Western US”. I used to interact with parents, students, and teachers quite a bit. In addition, I wrote a whole book about California’s indians (The View from Native California) but failed to finish it when I became department chair for the second time. It wound up on the WebSite. In addition, I put up an article on Martin Heidegger which has been read widely over the internet.

How easy/difficult was it, in your opinion to get this done?

If you already have an Amazon account, it is easy to create an account on Kindle Direct Publishing. If you intend to publish, you can go ahead and fill out the tax-related forms as well. Then you get a “bookshelf” from which you can add new titles. It is very easy to do if you have your material in MS Word format. (I was using Word for MAC 2004 but switched to Word for MAC 2011.) When you add a title, you fill out a longish form with all the vital information — title, subtitle, author, categories, search words, etc. You will do two important things toward the bottom of this form — first, create a cover using their cover-maker (import your own image or leave it without an image) and, second, upload your Word file. After that, you go to a second form where you select a price and authenticate that you have authorship rights. After that, it takes the system about 12 hours to put your book into the store. The book appears on your “bookshelf” and offers several operations that you can perform — like creating an updated version, etc.

The one thing that gave me trouble until I finally figured it out was creating a table of contents that worked on a Kindle or iPad. When you know the magic it is easy in Word. In the MAC version at least, you just insert a “bookmark” over the title of a chapter, essay, etc. Then, in your table, you insert a “hyperlink” to that bookmark. When you are all finished, the table works in the Word version and is taken up by the Kindle-format conversion.

What would you say to fellow faculty about your experience with the Amazon system?

Well, I wanted these materials someplace where people could continue to use them and this looks like a good place. It was a very easy process to convert my Web pages into Word format and then coalesce them into a full document. Most of the time went into proofreading, editing, and making additional text so that the final document would be coherent. In about three weeks, I have created five publications. (You can see them by searching “Tad Beckman” on Amazon.com.) I’ve even sold a few!

Any other comments?

Retirement is great!

——————-
I am grateful to Tad for telling me about this. You can take a look at his new  pages, served from Charlie, at http://pages.hmc.edu/beckman and his Amazon publications can be found at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=tad%20Beckman

 

 

Google Apps Learning Community

google appsOne of the priorities that came out of the Spring 2013 survey of faculty priorities, was a request for training in Google Apps for Education.  This feedback has come to us through a number of channels, so we are delighted to participate in and support the initiative announced in Debra Mashek’s recent email to faculty and staff, which is the first step in the creation of a “learning community” around Google Apps for Education.  As she was preparing her call for participation, I got the opportunity to share a favorite quote, from an article that Dan Stoebel sent around last year (thanks Dan!):

“A healthy alternative is one that celebrates being an ‘accomplished novice’ who is proud of his or her accomplishments but realizes that he or she is still a novice with respect to most that is knowable and hence actively seeks new learning opportunities.” John D. Bransford and Daniel L. Schwartz, “Rethinking Transfer: A Simple Proposal with Multiple
Implications,” Review of Research in Education, vol. 24, no. 1 (January 1999), pp. 61-100.

What better way to approach a learning opportunity like Google Apps for Education?  If you’re inspired, please visit the form to express interest and preferences by Monday, May 5th  http://tinyurl.com/googleappslearningcommunity

Update from the CIO

In this post, I will provide updates on our Identity and Access Management initiative, wireless and other IT infrastructure, the Shanahan Center, Data Privacy Month and the new CIS web site.

Identity and Access Management Project (IAM@HMC)
I wrote to many faculty individually before the break to ask them to synchronize their passwords on our Password and Account Management Portal.  Many thanks to those who took the few minutes needed to update their accounts.  I will be in touch again soon with the remaining 20 or so faculty.

The point of doing this is to allow us to move forward with the next phase of the project without interrupting your work unexpectedly. It is a small step in that it synchronizes passwords between Active Directory and the Fischer Identity Engine, but it sets things up for future improvements. As you are all no doubt aware, we live in an environment where we have multiple sets of credentials. The core goal of the IAM@HMC project is to simplify things so that you use your HMC Credentials for as many systems as possible. Right now, only a few systems are integrated, but with each phase of the project we will add more systems.

Rachel Levy, Chair of the Computing Committee has been urging me to produce an infographic that will explain better what connects to what, and when each system will be included in the single sign on ecology. I am working on it!

Unfortunately, we were not able to bring the next phase of the IAM@HMC initiative into production over the break as we’d planned.  Testing took much longer and did not go as well as we’d hoped. So we continue to test and will let you know about the new date for installation.  Once we do go live, you will have Single Sign On to Google Apps, Office365, Ultipro and, with luck, the Portal.

Wireless
As more and more wireless devices arrive on campus (including a new slew thanks to holiday gift giving), we are doing our best to get ahead of the demand.

In the Fall, more Wireless Access Points were installed in five dorms, greatly increasing the density of coverage. The dorms in question were Case, East, West, South and North. If you’re wondering why those dorms, it is not because we love them more than the others but because there was already conduit and wiring in place to accommodate the new access points, so a much smaller investment was needed. We also added additional wireless access points in and around the Beckman auditorium, to accommodate additional demand from the large CS classes. We have not forgotten the other dorms and the rest of campus; we are working on a plan to improve wireless across the campus outside of the Shanahan Center.

Which brings me to the question of so called “rogue wireless access points”. We have settled on a friendlier phrase to describe them: “wireless access points not managed by CIS”.  Sometimes people set up their own wireless access points, plugging them directly into the HMC network.  Our equipment can detect these access points,  but to date we have not been doing anything about them.  They are problematic because they can interfere with the performance of the main wireless network.  We will need to develop a set of practices and a policy around this issue. We’ll be using new test equipment to identify problematic access points and will be able to provide their owners with information about the impact they are having.  We would welcome hearing from you with any ideas you might have.  You could use the new Computing Committee Feedback form or write directly to me at vaughan@hmc.edu.

Other IT infrastructure
Parsons rewiring. I am happy to report that the Board of Trustees approved additional funding for us to rewire the Parsons building in tandem with the vacated space project that will get underway the day after Commencement.  Parsons is really two structures that were built at different times and the goal of our rewiring project will be to reduce the number of wiring closets down from six to no more than two and to ensure that the building network (wired and wireless) is adequate for the intended usage of the space. We will release more details on this project as they become available.

Shanahan Center.  The  AV systems in the Shanahan Center have been reconfigured.  If you are a faculty member, you can read details in any of Elizabeth Hodas’ emails about this topic. The controls have been greatly simplified, we believe.  So far this semester we have not heard much in the way of feedback.  We interpret that to mean that people like the new controls better.  Right?

We are still working with the vendor, Western AV, to iron out the kinks in the AV installation.  Elizabeth will make sure to keep you informed of progress.

Data Privacy Month
Data Privacy Month started on January 28th, with Data Privacy Day.  Held annually on January 28, Data Privacy Day encourages everyone to make protecting privacy and data a greater priority. DPD is an international effort to empower and educate people to protect their privacy and control their digital footprint. It kicks off Data Privacy Month (http://www.educause.edu/focus-areas-and-initiatives/policy-and-security/educause-policy/community-engagement/data-privacy-month).

Last Fall, I promised the Board of Trustees that we would increase our efforts to make people aware of data privacy issues.  The HMC policy on safeguarding of sensitive and confidential information is under development. And during Data Privacy Month we will be offering stories and tips about ways to improve data privacy.  The first instalment covered passwords and the second asked you to check your file permissions on Charlie and Alice.  Watch for a third and fourth instalment this week and next.

New CIS Web Site
We decided to take the launch of the new HMC website on January 21 as an opportunity to revamp the aging CIS web site. Our goal has been to keep things as simple as possible and to focus the pages through the lens of services provided by CIS, what they are and how to access them.  It is a work in progress but please check it out and give us your feedback at http://www.hmc.edu/cis