September 2011 update from the CIO

September was such a busy month that we saw very few news articles being written!

Nevertheless, there’s much to report. And we’ll get back on the wagon with respect to writing timely news articles this month.

Email and Calendar
The email and calendar team, after slowing down for the start of semester frenzy, have picked up the pace again.  They are busy planning the next phase of “migration”, which will focus on mailbox-01, where most faculty and staff email accounts reside.  One of our emails about this planning caused some consternation, as it led people to believe we were going to move everyone’s accounts in October.  This is emphatically not the case:  there are some people who are eager to move to Google Apps for Education, and we are moving them first.  After that, the team will schedule time with each person to arrange the migration.  Also, I have asked the Email and Calendar team to look into self service possibilities, which would allow you to schedule your move at a time that suits you (Haverford College did something like that successfully).  Our email did have the beneficial effect of encouraging lots of feedback, for which we are grateful.  Keep it up!

Some of the feedback about email and calendar questioned the decision itself, and I have been talking to people who expressed concerns.  I am writing a separate news article on this topic.

Identity and Access Management (IAM)
Identity and Access management (IAM) is the difficult task of creating, managing and deleting accounts across numerous systems.  IAM software allows management of the process, which is currently handled manually (eg. HR sends an email to a group of people when we hire new employees, and that triggers a wave of account creation activity). Typically, IAM software also allows for self-service password management — you can reset your passwords from a single web site, after you’ve answered some security questions. We are in the final stages of negotiation with CUC and an IAM vendor.  As well as self service password management, an IAM product will allow us to join InCommon, an Internet2 initiative which provides federated authentication.  Once we are InCommon members then you will be able to use your HMC username and passwords to access many sites, including the NSF’s (read more about this at

BOLT-MT retreat
BOLT (the Business Office Leadership Team) and MT (the CIS Management Team) held a joint day long retreat in September.  This was the first time we had ever done a joint retreat, and we discovered much that we had in common, as both organizations are service providers to all of campus. We made several agreements, among them that we are partners and will work to improve our performance on joint projects such as the Digital Signage initiative that you see happening in Hoch-Shanahan.  One outcome: MT clarified how to access CIS services, and made some internal agreements to ensure that we are being consistent.  There are two primary routes to service from CIS: you can contact the Help Desk or you can contact your DTA. Those folk will ensure that your service request is dealt with. We know there are secondary routes too, such as directly calling someone you know. We are working internally to ensure that all requests, no matter which route they travel along, will end up in our ticket system. This will afford us a better understanding of the work and help us to make sure that fewer requests are dropped because only one person knew about them. So if you don’t see a ticket being created when you request service, make sure to ask for one!

Infrastructure Presentation to Board
At the last meeting of the PPCPC (Physical Plant and Campus Planning Committee), a Board of Trustees committee, I gave a presentation on network infrastructure. Our two new directors, Mitch and Cindy, have begun the task of developing a 3-5 year plan for the network infrastructure at the College. The presentation focused on our initial work of creating an inventory of equipment, locations and connectivity between the locations and on out to the internet. We are assessing the locations and equipment and gathering the information we will need to create a long term plan. For example, we have 71 switches and routers, some of which are no longer supported by Cisco and some that are nearing end of life. So we need a plan for replacing them.  You will see more on this in future news articles.

High Performance Workstations
We have long wanted to install some high end workstations in the Learning Studio. We are now about to do that, and need feedback, especially from students, about our plans. Calvin Tong has written a nice article on this at

There’s lots more to write about, but it is already mid-October, so I will have to contain myself until the next CIO update.  I hope everyone enjoyed Fall break.




September 2011 Audiovisual News

As you are probably aware one of the Audiovisual Office’s summer projects was to prepare eight temporary classrooms to replace the classrooms in Thomas-Garrett. Since the classrooms opened in August, the Dean of Faculty’s Office has made it possible for us to make a number of additional improvements to the temporary classrooms.

Furniture in the Learning Studio Classroom
Furniture in the Learning Studio Classroom

The video projector in Beckman B115 was one that we had moved from Thomas-Garrett and was not bright enough. It has been replaced with a new Epson video projector. We’re also working with the Dean of Faculty’s Office and Facilities and Maintenance to upgrade the audiovisual equipment in Parsons B146 to include audio, a new video projector, and an SP control system with a VHS/DVD player. We’re also hoping to replace the furniture with tables and chairs similar to, or the same as, the furniture in the Learning Studio.

We’ve also made a few repairs since the semester started. The video projector VGA cable in Parsons B144 was replaced. The motorized screen in Platt A/B has been repaired several times. We’re still having problems with it, however, in that it does not automatically stop at the correct height as it should. We are looking into replacing it.

Two high-performance workstations coming to the Learning Studio

The computers in the CIS computer labs (Sprague first floor and second floor of the LAC) were configured with mid to high range components during the time of their purchase.  The iMacs and Dell desktops have Core 2 Duo processors, between 2 to 4 GB of memory, large hard drives, and mid-range video cards.  Some also have dual monitors.

Every once in a while, we get helpful feedback from students saying that it would be nice to have a few high-performance workstations to do things like:

– test software and programs written for computers with a large number of CPU cores (greater than 4)
– run large compute jobs in a short amount of time
– use software that requires high performance video cards
– digitize or convert digital video or audio
– view work and research on several large monitors (more than 2 monitors)
– do processing that requires a lot of storage (in the TB range)

Based on this feedback, CIS will purchase and place in the Learning Studio two high-performance workstations for faculty, staff, and student use.  Below is the proposed configuration, and we would greatly appreciate any feedback or additions to the configuration.

Workstation 1
8 physical CPU core Mac Pro (Thunderbolt generation)
– Two 2.4GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon “Westmere” (8 physical cores total)
– 12 GB of RAM
– 1 TB operating system drive
– 6 TB of data storage striped (RAID 0) from three Western Digital Black series 2 TB drives
– Two ATI Radeon HD 5770 1GB video cards
– Four Dell 23″ UltraSharp monitors in a 2×2 array
– Dual boot OS X 10.7 Lion and Windows 7 Enterprise 64-bit



Workstation 2
12 physical CPU core Dell Precision T5500
– Dual Six Core Intel Xeon Processor E5645, 2.40GHz,12M L3
– 12 GB of RAM
– 1 TB operating system drive
– 4 TB of data storage striped (RAID 0) from two Western Digital Black series 2 TB drives
– Two 2 GB NVIDIA Quadro 4000 video cards
– 8X Blu-ray Disc Burner
– Media card reader
– Four Dell 23″ UltraSharp monitors in a 2×2 array

Oxford Scholarly Editions on line

Posted by Prof Willard McCarty, King’s College London on the humanist listserv:

March 2012 sees the launch of a major new publishing initiative from Oxford University Press – Oxford Scholarly Editions Online (OSEO) – the first phase publishing online the complete text of more than 150 scholarly editions of material written between 1485 and 1660. Oxford Scholarly Editions Online will provide an interlinked collection of authoritative Oxford editions of major works from the humanities. This content constitutes the cornerstone of research in the fields of English Literature, as well as Philosophy, History, and Religion.

 Each title within the collection presents the full text of the work,  as established by an authoritative editor, accompanied by the  editor’s record of important variations in that text, and  interpretative and explanatory notes. Most also have introductions placing the work and the author in a historical context, and  explaining the editorial principles and the history of the text.  Online publication of these essential scholarly resources facilitates  navigation within and between editions, whilst retaining the  traditional elements familiar to users of the printed editions. The more flexible online presentation opens up new possibilities for search and comparison.

For more see