December 2010 update from the CIO

Here’s your yuletide update from the CIO.  To be taken with eggnog.

At our December CIS staff meeting, we broke into three groups, each one charged with coming up with four CIS “headline achievements” during the year.  When the groups reported back, we discovered that we cannot count and we’d found 17 instead of 12 achievements worth noting.  You can read about them at

Elizabeth Hodas attended  a TLC Talking Teaching session on Lab Notebooks in November.  Part of the discussion was about using digital lab notebooks of some kind.  Of course, you don’t want to bring any ordinary computer into a wet lab.  So the discussion came to Livescribe pens, those pens that record what you are writing for upload to a computer.  Elizabeth has since identified several faculty who are interested in testing Livescribe pens and perhaps trying them out for Lab Notebooks.  Read more about this new pilot in the making at

We have several audiovisual upgrades planned for January.  They include new projectors and new cabling.  Details are in Elizabeth’s post at

In December, Keith Lawton agreed to joined CIS full time, starting in January.  You may have already met Keith, as he’s been working part time for us for a while. He’s the latest person to join the User Support Group as a DTA (Departmental Technical Analyst).  Keith comes to us from Pitzer College, where he spent several years working at the Help Desk. When you see him, ask him about his extra-curricular musical activities.  Another new hire, Aasim Rizvi, joined us in October to fill the position of  DTA for Admission, Financial Aid, Dean of Faculty, and the Dean of Students.  You can read more about Keith and Aasim, our other new hire in User Support, at

Calvin Tong has recently acquired a set of  netbooks and Wacom tablets, which are available for loan from the Help Desk.  He wrote about this at

At the December ITC meeting (held in the Learning Studio!),  Celeste Anderson, Director of External Networks at USC, gave a presentation for the CIOs of each of the Claremont Colleges.  Among the things we learned is that Los Nettos connects us to Internet2,  You can read more about Los Nettos at  Among other things, they connect us to the commercial internet and to non-commercial networks and initiatives such as

  • CENIC  (Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California)
  • Internet2 (an advanced network consortium, led by universities)
  • NLR (National Lambda Rail, an ultra-high performance network owned by the education and research community)
  • ESNet (Energy Sciences Network)
  • DREN (Defense Research and Engineering Network)
  • NREN (NASA Research and Engineering Network)
  • GENI (Global Environment for Network Innovations)
  • GLIF (Global Lambda Integrated Facility)

If you have an interest in connecting to a particular network, please contact me.  One of the things that I discussed with Celeste is the “chicken & egg” problem that we encounter:  Los Nettos and these networks are prepared to help faculty and students with innovative projects, but faculty and students are often not aware of the possibilities.  She mentioned some examples, such as telesurgery, music master classes and psychological interviews using extremely high quality video. But she is also going to help us describe some other example uses.  Look for more posts on this in 2011.

On the Cloud Computing front, in November Microsoft announced the availability of NCBI BLAST on their Azure Cloud Computing service.  Researchers can use the National Center for Biotechnology Information tool to combine desktop resources with cloud resources for biological research.  The NCBI BLAST on Windows Azure software is available from Microsoft at no cost, and Windows Azure resources are available at no charge to many researchers through Microsoft’s Global Cloud Research Engagement Initiative. More information is available at

So that’s it for the December update.  I hope you’ll agree that we’ve had a good month and a good year.  On behalf of everyone at CIS, I wish you a safe and happy holiday break.

Joseph Vaughan

CIO/VP for Computing and Information Services

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