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).

Fall Semester 2012 Reminders

 Fall Semester 2012 Reminders

Dear faculty,

Here are a few reminders about IT services for the Fall Semester.

CIS Help Desk
The Help Desk is located in the Learning Studio on the ground floor of Sprague. The hours are 8am-5pm, including lunch hour. Please send a support request via our request form or send us email at helpdesk@hmc.edu or call us at (909) 607 7777.

 

Course Mailing Lists
You should have received an email message about the course mailing lists that you own. For any questions or help with mailing lists, please contact the Help Desk.

 

Sakai Updates
Fall 2012 courses have been created and populated with students and faculty. As a reminder, we are now running imports from the student information system three times per day (rather than once a night!) to add students as they add courses, and will also inactivate students who drop courses.

 

Learning Studio Classroom Reservation
You can view and request reservations for the Fletcher Jones Classroom in the Learning Studio in VEMS. The advantage to using VEMS is that you can see right away whether the classroom is available. You can find VEMS at http://emsweb.claremont.edu/HMC/. You can also contact the Help Desk or F&M for reservations.

 

Course Mudd Shots
Course Mudd Shots have been updated for the semester. They are available at http://www.internal.hmc.edu/dir/courses/. The pages are restricted to the HMC network only, so if you are off-campus, please connect to the VPN first.

 

VPN (Virtual Private Network)
We would like to remind you about the availability of the VPN. The VPN software allows you to connect to the HMC network to use HMC and Claremont-only resources when connecting to the Internet via an ISP. The VPN also encrypts network traffic, so if you are connecting to an unknown or potentially unsafe network, logging onto the VPN first will encrypt all traffic going through the potentially unsafe network.  Visit http://vpn.claremont.edu and select the GROUP as HMC-LDAP.  Log in with the same username and password you use to access Sakai (but without the @hmc at the end of your username).

 

AudioVisual Requests
To request an audiovisual setup for your class please use our AudioVisual Setup Request form at http://www.formstack.com/forms/hmc-avrequest. We appreciate at least 24 hours advance notice.

Have a good semester!

Working with Professor Kerry Karukstis on Prof S.O.S.

You may have heard or read the news about Professor Kerry Karukstis’ faculty-assistance program called Prof S.O.S., where S.O.S. stands for “student-offered support”.  Essentially, HMC faculty are given an easy way to get student assistance for an occasional or short-term project or task.  You can read more about Prof S.O.S. at:  http://www.hmc.edu/profsos/

Faculty fill out a form on a webpage, and the data from that form gets sent to a tracking system that students monitor.  Students choose a task they want to work on and provide updates on their work through the tracking system.

CIS was very happy to help Professor Karukstis with this project, and we enjoyed working with the student coordinators.  We combined several cloud-based solutions for the submission and tracking of tasks.  The software we used included FormStack (cloud-based form software), Google Apps (cloud-based email), and FootPrints (ticket tracking system hosted by Pomona College).

Here’s a quick summary of the technical background:
The form to collect Prof SOS data is hosted on FormStack.  When the form is submitted, the data is scraped together and emailed into a Google Apps account on our g.hmc.edu domain.  The FootPrints tracking system then pulls email from that Google Apps account and puts them into the ticket system queue.  Students work on the tasks in the FootPrints ticket system and provide updates through the ticket system.  The ticket system will automatically send out emails to the faculty member with each student update.  FootPrints provides Kerry and the student coordinators a broad view of all the tasks that are in or have gone through the system.

Visit to Reed College

In mid November, I visited Reed College in Portland, Oregon, to learn about their user support program, their procedures and processes, and to meet the IT staff there.  If you haven’t heard of Reed College, it is a private, liberal arts college in Southeast Portland with about 1400 undergraduate students.

Learn more about Reed College at www.reed.edu or
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reed_college

This is a picture of their Help Desk, which is open until midnight.  A team of students helps staff their Help Desk.  I learned about their great student help program, where they have about 15-16 students working for them.  The students who have worked there longer are the ones who train the newer students.  When it gets busy, all hands are on deck, and the support staff are there to help out:
Reed College uses PaperCut software to handle print queuing and load balancing.  Coincidentally, PaperCut is also the print queuing software that I was investigating for student print queuing and card-swipe printing.
This is their print station directly across from their Help Desk.  The four identical printers are load balanced for print jobs.  The iMac you see to the left of the printers is a print release station:

This is one of their computer labs as viewed from the outside.  Reed faculy, staff, students, and computer labs mainly use Macs:

This is one of their computer labs:

I also learned a lot about their internal procedures and processes, and met a lot of great people in the IT department there.

The weather in Portland during that time was cold and wet, which reminded me of why California is referred to as “sunny California” all the time.

Here’s one more picture of an interesting wall I saw in Portland:

I’d be happy to talk to anyone about my experiences and things I learned at Reed!

Fall Semester 2011 Reminders

Dear faculty,

Here are a few reminders about IT services for the Fall semester.

1) CIS Help Desk
The Help Desk is now located in the southeast corner of the Learning Studio on the ground floor of Sprague. Hours are 8am-5pm, including lunch hour. Call us at (909) 607 7777

1) Course mailing lists
You should have received an email message for each course mailing list that
you own. Please save this message as you will need the list password to
subscribe and unsubscribe people to the list. For any questions or help with
mailing lists, please contact the Help Desk or helpdesk@hmc.edu

2) Sakai Updates
Fall 2011 courses have been created and populated with students and faculty. We are happy to announce that we will be running imports from the student information system three times per day (rather than once a night!) to add students as they add courses, and will also inactivate students who drop courses.

You can find more Sakai tips and tricks at http://www.claremont.edu/doc/sakai/tips.html.

3) Course Mudd Shots
Course Mudd Shots have been updated for the fall semester. They are available at http://www.internal.hmc.edu/dir/courses/ The pages are restricted to the HMC network only, so if you are off-campus, please connect to the VPN first.

4) Learning Studio reservations available in VEMS
You can view and request reservations for the Fletcher Jones Classroom in the Learning Studio in VEMS. The advantage to using VEMS is that you can see right away whether the classroom is available. You can find VEMS at http://emsweb.claremont.edu/HMC/. You can also contact the Help Desk or F&M for lab reservations.

5) VPN (Virtual Private Network)
We would like to remind you about the availability of the VPN. The VPN software allows you to connect to the HMC network to use HMC-and Claremont-only resources when connecting to the Internet via an ISP. The VPN also encrypts network traffic, so if you are connecting to a unknown or potentially unsafe network, logging onto the VPN first will encrypt all traffic going through the potentially unsafe network.  Visit http://vpn.claremont.edu and select the GROUP as HMC-LDAP.  Log in with the same username and password you use to access Sakai (but without the @hmc at the end of your username)

Have a good semester!

– Calvin, and the CIS Help Desk

CIS Help Desk moves to Sprague 1st Floor

As you may know, CIS moved from the basement of Parsons up to the 5th floor of Sprague this summer.  It was a big move, and we are mostly settled in.  Everyone is welcome to come up to take a look at our space (and our view!).  You can see the construction of the new building!

As a result of the move, we also moved the Help Desk from Parsons to the first floor of Sprague.  We decided to put the Help Desk on the first floor rather than the fifth floor for several reasons:

  • Our customers (you!) would be able to find us without having to come up to the 5th floor
  • We would be able to watch over the Learning Studio Classroom and help set up for classes
  • We would be able to help students who are studying or working in the Learning Studio
  • The first floor is a nice place to work in   :)

The Help Desk is currently located in the southeast corner of the Learning Studio.   It is directly across from the group work area, and diagonally across from the classroom.

We learned quite a bit from the old Help Desk down in Parsons, and we plan to apply that knowledge towards building a more-accessible, comfortable, and technologically-advanced Help Desk in Sprague.
For example, at the old Help Desk, we had a L-shaped sit-down desk.  We found that when we worked on a computer with a customer, the customer would often kneel on the ground to try to work on the computer.  We also did not have enough space for more than 1 customer at a time, and cables were strung everywhere for power and Ethernet.

The new Help Desk will have a walk-up counter with comfortable stools, and we’ll be able to help 2-3 people at a time.  Both CIS staff and the customer will have the option to stand or sit down during the consultation.  We’ll have power and Ethernet ports in the counter for easy access, and we’ll have LED-backlit LCD screens behind us for any demos or messages.

If you have any suggestions for what makes a good Help Desk area, we’d love to hear it!  You can either add a comment to this blog post, or contact Calvin at calvin@hmc.edu or x71073.

Bite of Learning: Backing Up Your Digital Data

In early April, I presented at a Bite of Learning on the topic of backups, titled “Backing Up Your Digital Data”.

Many important files are stored on computer hard drives these days.  For example, you may have irreplaceable photos or videos, important financial documents, and so on.

A lot of home consumers consider their computer to be one big appliance, like a toaster.  What they may not know is that there are many distinct components inside a typical computer, and one of them is the hard drive.  The hard drive is the place where your digital data is stored, and if anything were to happen to it, your data might be lost forever!

In 2007, Google performed a massive study on hard drive failure trends.  If you’re interested in seeing the whole report, it can be found here:  http://labs.google.com/papers/disk_failures.pdf

What they found was:
– hard drive failures can be unpredictable, with more than half of drives failing without any self-warning
– failure rates generally did not correlate to drive usage

So how should most people back up their data to prevent loss?
Comprehensive backup consists of two parts: local backup and offsite backup

Local backup is fast and quick to recover, but because they are in a similar location, they are also susceptible to many of the same risks that your computer’s hard drive faces.

Offsite backup provides protection against local disasters and local theft, but takes longer to recover from since the data has to be recovered from a distance.

As a result, the best plan is to combine a local backup with offsite backup.

Local Backup
for OS X, we recommend an external hard drive with Time Machine
– for Windows, we recommend the built-in Windows Backup utility, or Acronis True Image Home
– for Linux, we recommend rsync

Offsite Backup
for automated backup, we recommend MozyHome or Carbonite
– for manual file backups, we recommend Dropbox
– all of these services offer free accounts, but to backup a lot of data, you’ll want to get a paid account

If you’d like to see the slides from the presentation, they’re available here:

Calvin Tong – Bite of Learning – Backing Up Your Digital Data

Paper or Plastic? Reader or Acrobat?

Your Help Desk team has responded to several Adobe inquiries recently, specifically Adobe’s Reader and Acrobat programs.  There can be some confusion when working with these two programs… so with my first issue of Keith’s Tech Tips, I’d like to help demystify these programs so users understand when to use one versus the other.  

Adobe Reader:
The Adobe Reader program is a free, limited-feature program originally designed to simply view (or “read”, hence the name) PDF files.  Nowadays, it can do a bit more than view PDFs but it is still used primarily for reading existing PDF documents.  Because of the popularity of the PDF format, the Adobe Reader program is a “must have” on both Macs and PCs.

Adobe Acrobat:
Many folks mistakenly think Adobe’s Acrobat it is a word processing program for creating/editing PDF files. In reality, Acrobat is a conversion program designed to take an existing document, such as a Word document… and “convert it” into a PDF document.

Although you can edit existing PDFs using Acrobat, I wouldn’t recommend it and here’s why:

  • It wasn’t originally designed with editing functionality in mind
  • Editing features are very clunky, as if an afterthought and difficult to learn
  • The learning curve is steep and most users will run out of patience before mastery

Since most users are already familiar with Word… you can save yourself some frustration by simply editing the existing Word document using “Word” first… then converting it again into another PDF using Acrobat. However, if you’re not already well organized, this process can lead to multiple iterations of the same document. Hey, there’s fodder for a future issue! (Hello Mudder, Hello Fodder… sing along if you know the lyrics… all together now!)

What’s Next?
Many times when you’re wanting to just view a PDF file and you double-click on the PDF icon… it opens up inside Acrobat (the conversion program) when you’re expecting (or wanting) it to open up inside Reader (the viewing program). This has to do with “file association” and I will cover that (and the easy fix) in detail in next month’s issue.

Stay tuned:
For more of Keith’s Tech Tips
Tnology! (Technology with the “ech” taken out!)

New Matlab license for HMC

Dr. Jeho Park, CIS’ Scientific Computing Specialist, found from faculty interviews that more faculty use Matlab than any other scientific computing software on campus.  In fact, more than half of the faculty surveyed said that they use Matlab for research or instruction.  Students also use Matlab for research, homework, projects, and Clinic.  In other words, Matlab is very important to HMC.


Our previous license of Matlab was called the “Network Concurrent” license.  Essentially, this meant that in order to use Matlab, you had to maintain a live network connection to CIS’ Matlab license servers.  As you can probably imagine, this was very inconvenient.  For example, faculty and students traveling on a plane were unable to use the travel time to work on their research or instruction.  Faculty and students performing research in remote areas could collect data, but were unable to launch Matlab to process the data.

After several discussions with the Department Chairs combined with additional funding from CIS and the Dean of Faculty’s Office, a new Matlab license was agreed upon.

Effective January 1, 2010, the new Matlab Total Academic Headcount is available to all HMC faculty, staff, and students.  The main benefits of the new license are:

- no Internet access required to use Matlab
– users can download Matlab software and toolboxes directly from Mathworks
– users can access pre-release software
– users no longer have to wait for CIS to post the software before they can get it
– faculty and students both have access to the same set of toolboxes

Calvin recently gave a presentation on the new Matlab license during A Bite of Learning.

To view the PowerPoint presentation, please click here: Matlab TAH PowerPoint Presentation

To view the installation guide, please click here: Matlab TAH Installation Guide

If you have any questions about Matlab, the CIS Help Desk would be glad to help!