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