Adobe products for Students, Faculty and Staff

Adobe LogoAs a participating member of  Adobe’s CLP (College License Program), this year CIS has contracted with Adobe  and Computerland of Silicon Valley to offer a special program for our faculty, staff and students. This program allows students, faculty and staff to purchase fully-licensed popular Adobe products at a highly discounted price.  This option is made available to currently enrolled students and employees of Harvey Mudd College (valid proof of enrollment/employment is required).   Licenses purchased under this agreement are perpetual licenses and are not tied to your continued status as an employee or student.

To view products and pricing, please visit http://www.uscollegebuy.com and click on the ADOBE STUDENT & TEACHER LICENSING  box  (located in the upper left-hand corner). To find out more details about this program, check out their How to Order/FAQ section.

Poster on new Learning Studio presented at Educause 2010 conference

Educause poster

Educause poster

Last week I attended the Educause 2010 Annual Conference in Anaheim, CA. Educause is the international organization for information technology in higher education. The annual conference typically attracts 5,000-6,000 people from all over the world. At the conference I presented a poster session on our new Learning Studio. The poster was titled “From 60s Library to Modern Learning Studio.” Naturally, I didn’t discover until after the proposal was accepted that Sprague was built in 1970 so my title was a little misleading, but sounded good! All of the posters were set up in a corner of the giant exhibit hall and the poster presenters were expected to be present for two 1-hour sessions so that attendees could ask questions and interact with the presenters. I had a blast talking to attendees about our new space. I was surprised and gratified at the number of people who stopped to talk, ask questions, and share stories about their own space renovation projects. People were particularly impressed by our amazing folding Nanawall from Germany which allows faculty to close off the classroom space while a class is in session, but still lets us preserve the open floor plan of the Learning Studio.

ODE Architect in the Cloud

During Summer 2010, CIS supported three summer projects under a new faculty technology grant program, Teaching with Technology, which was a pilot run in conjunction with the Dean of Faculty’s Office.  In this article, we introduce one of the projects, ODE Architect in the Cloud, led by Dr. Robert Borrelli (PI, Mathematics Prof. Emer.) and Dr. Jeho Park (CIS, Scientific Computing Specialist). The project aimed to demonstrate the possibility of running ODE Architect in a remote virtual computing environment.

ODE Architect (ODEA) is a legacy software package that first appeared in 1998 under support of the Consortium of ODE Experiments (C*ODE*E) and the National Science Foundation.  Although it is a 12-year-old program, it’s known to provide a useful teaching environment for college level Differential Equations classes.  But, like most legacy software, it has serious incompatibility issues under modern Operating Systems.  As the ODEA package is bundled with the book, Differential Equations, which is being used in a couple of Differential Equations classes at HMC and Pomona College, the incompatibility issues are a current problem for HMC students and faculty who wish to try the software along with the text.

Prof. Borrelli, CIS , and Wiley & Sons, Inc. (the publisher of the book and the distributor of the software package) collaboratively worked to setup a virtual machine environment for the ODEA package.  CIS put the virtual machine in a cloud computing facility called CloudShare in order to provide an on-demand access to the virtual machine over the Internet.  The beauty of their service is that pre-configured virtual machines can be shared and accessed using a browser, and moreover it is free to try.  So, as a result of the project, the requirements for running the ODEA tool kit became a browser and the Internet, i.e., no more hair-pulling about incompatibility issues!

CloudShare generously offered HMC an extended number of invitations which can be used for our faculty and students during the fall semester.  Please use the form here to request an invitation from CIS to the ODE Architect in the Cloud environment.  For those who wish to try it, we encourage you to read the account setup instructions at http://tinyurl.com/odearch. (Their registration process is kind of tricky.)  Once you setup the CloudShare Pro trial account, you get access to the pre-configured remote virtual machine through your browser using a Java applet.  Currently the Java applet is compatible with most browsers in Windows, but only Firefox in OS X and Linux.

For all other ways to use the cloud computing environment, please refer to this QuickStart Guide and CloudShare.com website at http://cloudshare.com. They have an FAQ page at http://www.cloudshare.com/Products/CloudShare-Pro/FAQ.aspx, and community forum at http://community.cloudshare.com.  Again, to request an invitation to the ODE Architect in the Cloud environment, fill in the form at http://tinyurl.com/odearch-form.

Firefox browser showing ODE Architect Tool running on 32-bit Windows XP virtual machine in the Cloud.

Staff Computer Upgrade Program

Computers advance at an astonishing rate.  Processing speeds increase, hard drives get larger, graphics get more detailed, and monitors get larger and larger.  Moore’s Law (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore’s_law) states that the number of transistors on a circuit has doubled every two years.  This means that we can also expect the computing speed of computers to approximately double every two years!

To make sure that Harvey Mudd staff are on the leading edge of technology, CIS will be launching a staff computer upgrade program.  This program seeks to replace computers every 4 years and support them for 5.  Each year, each department gets an allocation of new computers.  We will keep an up-to-date inventory of all computers and note which computers are over 5 years old.  The department head can then choose which computers to replace or shift to other locations.

As this program is one of many sources of new computers for Harvey Mudd, departments may also choose to supplement their allocation or buy additional peripherals from their own funds.

Here’s a quick overview of the type of the high-end technology we’re offering in the staff upgrade program this year::
- For desktops: quad-core processors (Intel Core i7), 4GB memory, widescreen IPS monitors
- For laptops: super fast solid state hard drives, 4GB memory, dual-core Intel Core i5 processors

If you would like more details, please feel free to contact me, Calvin Tong at calvin@hmc.edu, x71073, or at Parsons B142A.  I also welcome and like to discuss any suggestions for technology that you think should be included in the program.

Microsoft Home Use Program – Office for your personal or family computer for $10

CIS licenses Microsoft Windows and Office software through the Volume Licensing and Software Assurance programs.  These programs allow us to install Windows and Office on any college-owned computers and also in virtual operating systems (for example, in Parallels on OS X).  We also get Microsoft software well ahead of the consumer release dates.  For example, Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac is slated to be released to consumers on October 28.  We, however, already have Office 2011 for Mac in hand!  (if you have a Mac and would like to run Office 2011 for Mac, please contact us!  We’re happy to install it for you!)

But what if you wanted to use Microsoft Office at home, on your personal or family computer, for personal use?  If you went out to the store to buy a copy of Microsoft Office, you’d probably have to pay over $300 for the Professional version of Office that we have at work.

Part of our Microsoft Software Assurance license includes what is called the Home Use Program.
Essentially, it allows any Harvey Mudd employee to buy a downloadable copy of Microsoft Office for home personal usage for $9.95.  There are both Windows and Mac versions of Office available, and they are the latest and most full-featured versions (Office 2010 Professional Plus for Windows and  Office 2008 for Mac).  They are the exact same software you would get if you bought it in a store and not crippled or changed in any way.  $9.95 gets you the download version (which you can burn to a CD or DVD if you like).  If you would like original DVD media from Microsoft, it’s an additional $13.  However, we recommend saving the additional $13 and just burning the download version to a DVD! (we can help you with this if necessary!)

The Microsoft Home Use Program can be found here:  www.microsofthup.com

To purchase Office through this program, you will need to use your Harvey Mudd hmc.edu email address, and a special program code.  The program code is a special password to be able to buy Office for $9.95, so we cannot post it here (since lots of non-HMC people would probably love to get in on this deal!).  If you contact the CIS Help Desk (helpdesk@hmc.edu, x77777, Parsons B142A), we’d be happy to give you the password and lead you through the purchase if you like.

September 2010 update from the CIO

My last update was in May.  How time has flown!

Welcome back to Claremont if you’ve been away and welcome to the new year, everyone.

There is much to report from CIS, where we’ve had a busy summer.  Of the many initiatives and projects we undertook, in this post I will cover only a few that I hope you’ll find interesting.

Before I do that, let me point out that a recurring emphasis you will notice is “experimental”.   Given the vast array of things we could do in IT and the limited amount of time and resources we can apply to any given initiative, we cannot afford to set up structures or services that do not work for the College.   So we’re adopting the approach of trying things out, assessing the work and making changes as necessary.  I believe that this will help us get closer to HMC’s answer to the challenge posed in the 2007 IT Review  by Dodds and Smith: “IT excellence in higher education, especially for an institution of HMC’s size and quality, is not a solved problem”.

About two months ago, we decided that we would choose two services on which to focus our team efforts and we asked ourselves the following questions: ”What is the faculty and student experience going to be like in the Fall Semester?  Are they going to come back and be surprised and delighted by the ways in which we have anticipated their needs and made ourselves easier to do business with?”.  We picked out two service areas to concentrate on, The Learning Studio in Sprague Hall and Printing Services.

The Learning Studio service is completely new.  I hope you will agree that it got off to a great start at the beginning of classes. Lisa Sullivan tells me that the classroom has transformed the way she teaches her Economics class “Home, work, school, play: Representations of the Economy in Children’s Literature”.  And Dagan Karp wrote “I love the space! It is really facilitating the course.”  There are some rough edges still, but we have a nice suite of services in mind and we hope you’ll help us grow them by giving us your honest feedback at http://www.hmc.edu/learningstudio.   We anticipate moving to 24/7 access to the studio within the next week, once the software for managing the card readers has been fully installed and tested.  As an example of our experimental approach, for a four week period we had all the CIS employees help staff the Learning Studio during regular office hours.   We then discussed this experience with staff and gathered feedback from the faculty teaching in the foldaway classroom (there are 17 instances of class per week!).   After evaluating the feedback, we decided to staff the space at the beginning and end of classes, relying primarily on employees from our User Services and Educational Technology and Media Services units.

We are planning a ceremony to mark the opening of the Learning Studio on Friday, November 19 from 4 to 6pm.  Save that date in your calendar!  You can read more about the Studio, including information about how to reserve the classroom,  at http://www5.hmc.edu/ITNews/?p=544

We created a small team of students and staff to push forward with a couple of things in Printing Services.  You’ve been telling us for a long time that print queue management is an issue.  Recently, CUC and the Library introduced a new “follow me” print service that provides queue management tied to your id card.  I asked the team to explore this solution and let me know if it would meet HMC’s needs for the print services that CIS provides to students and for the copiers we manage.  They are in the process of obtaining quotes for this service.  They have also collected proposals and quotes for maintenance of networked printers.  The College currently engages at least two such services, and we’re planning to consolidate if possible.  In the future, support of networked printers will be our primary emphasis, and if the “follow me” print service is as good as it looks, we will reduce or eliminate service for non-networked printers. Watch for more news about this in my October update.

We were about to launch a new staff computer upgrade program in June when we noticed that a lot of departments were doing last minute purchasing, which meant that our statistics about the ages of computers would be out of date.  So we held off and will now use the July numbers as the basis for the program.  The program, which will be overseen by Calvin Tong, aims to provide each department head with an annual list of computers that are eligible for upgrade. The computers will be replaced after four years and supported for five.  The department head is free to shuffle computers around as much as they like; so they could, for example, give a new computer to someone whose computer was two years old, and give the two year old to someone else. They then let us know to whom we should deliver the new computers.  With this program, we aim to streamline the process of computer replacement as well as providing departments with one reliable and ongoing source of computing equipment.

So what’s on the horizon for this semester?  Well, we have five positions open, so we’ll be doing some hiring, including two key positions on the CIS management team.  Watch for a post on new faces at CIS.   The Computing Committee has an interesting roster of topics to discuss (see http://www5.hmc.edu/ITNews/?p=572) and will, I hope, help me with recommendations on several important issues. We are in other words, looking forward to a very productive semester.

Thanks for reading!

Joseph Vaughan

CIO/VP for Computing and Information Services