April 2014 Update from the CIO

As we round the corner into the home stretch and everyone’s focus is on those last few weeks of the Spring Semester, I hope you can take a moment to read the news from CIS.

New CIS Web Site
The new College website was launched in January. In line with that effort, Elizabeth Hodas led a team within CIS that developed a new CIS site. It emphasizes simplicity and is designed to help us keep information accurate and up to date.  Since January we have made a couple of important additions.  We now have a “top IT Projects” page, which lists the status of our most important projects and will receive at least quarterly updates. And we also have a rapidly developing “service catalog” page which will list all of the services we provide, with information about how to request them.  Take a look at http://www.hmc.edu/cis

Top IT Projects
Our Top IT Projects page https://www.hmc.edu/cis/it-projects/ is intended to give you an overview of our top projects, even though it is a subset of the 50 or so projects that we have in the pipeline at any time.  The CIS Management Team (CIO + four Directors) chose these projects as the “top” ones by considering such things as importance to the community, impact and cost & effort required.  We review this list on a regular basis, with each project owner giving an update on status at least once per quarter.  Early feedback has been positive; it included suggestions that we avoid acronyms and be more specific in places. We’d love to hear  your feedback too.

Educational Technology
We have reorganized a little in CIS in order to focus even more on Educational Technology, shifting the responsibility for everyday AV operations to the User Support Team.  This is a natural progression from the creation of an Educational Technology Group in 2009, originally funded by the Fletcher Jones Foundation.  Elizabeth Hodas has been taking the group through some online professional development experiences, which will help shape future work.  In the coming year, we anticipate a collaboration with the Claremont Libraries around digital badges; we are looking at video over IP solutions and there is rumor that we will have access to a Perceptive Pixel.  If there is an area of Educational Technology in which you are particularly interested, please make sure to contact Elizabeth about it (ehodas@hmc.edu).

The Computing Committee
The Computing Committee got off to a slow start this year, with only one or two meetings in the Fall, due to some issues with membership and faculty assignments.  But under the intrepid leadership of Rachel Levy, the committee made important contributions in what remained of the year. This year’s committee was Rachel Levy (Chair), Deb Mashek, Weiqing Gu, Tim Hussey, Jacob Bandes-Storch and myself. In the policy arena, the committee reviewed and made significant changes to a draft policy on safeguarding private information and suggested a new statement on incidental personal use. Both are currently under review by Campus Counsel.  The committee sent out a survey requesting feedback and created a mechanism for ongoing feedback to the committee (https://www.formstack.com/forms/hmc-computingcommittee).  It cautioned against asking faculty to complete a long survey to benchmark IT services and provided strong feedback about ways in which we at CIS could improve communications and the quality of service provided through the Footprints Ticket System.  The committee was also instrumental in the design of our efforts for Data Privacy Month (https://www.hmc.edu/cis/dpm/).  We also engaged in vigorus conversation about the role of the committee in IT Governance, which will benefit future instances of the committee. I would like to publicly thank Rachel and the other committee members for a really great year.

Consolidation of web servers
We have started consolidating older web servers such as www2, www3, www4 and www5.  The number of servers proliferated over time to meet different needs, but they have proved somewhat difficult to maintain.  For example, when www4 crashed as part of the Charlie issues we dealt with in January, we were not able to revive it.  So we worked with the seven or so faculty who had material on that server and moved it all.  One of the new destinations is the new Charlie, but in a new, more secure manner that is easier to maintain.  Tad Beckman was one of the people affected by this and the result was some adventures in self publishing.  Read about them at http://www5.hmc.edu/ITNews/?p=2779.

Network Infrastructure work during the summer
At the January Board meeting, the Budget and Financial Planning Committee approved additional IT Infrastructure Funds (ITIF) to undertake a complete rewiring of the two structures that make up the Parsons building (Parsons East and Parsons West).  We will be removing a large amount of unused cable, and recabling the whole building.  We will reduce the number of network closets down to two from six, and make serious improvements in the wireless network, increasing the number of access points from nine to seventy three.  This work will come with some disruption and network downtime unfortunately, but you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.  We are working closely with the building occupants on this project.

The summer will also see work on the network in preparation for the new dorm; we will bring online a new fiber connection from Claremont to downtown Los Angeles; and we are researching solutions for more wireless capacity on campus, particularly in the residential areas.

Other topics
People have been asking for more support for Google Apps for Education (g.hmc.edu). So we were delighted by Debra Mashek’s note.  Read more …

Elizabeth Hodas wrote that Sakai will be upgraded to version 2.9 this summer, with a new look and feel being planned.

Several faculty have told me that they were surprised by some of the things they learned when they took the FERPA quiz. Take a few minutes and see how you do yourself.

The CIS staff and I wish you the very best for a busy, but at last celebratory, end of semester.

Adventures in Self Publishing

This is a story in the “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade… ” category.

After we experienced some hardware issues with the Charlie file server, some of the older websites that were published under www4.hmc.edu went offline.  The new version of Charlie did not provide the file system needed by the www4 server, which had been limping along for some time.  So we quickly began to explore ways to host those pages. The inimitable Mitch Shacklett (Director, Systems and Network) came up with a great way to do this, by making a subset of your folders on Charlie visible on the web.  He promises that we will soon have a way to password protect pages being offered in this way too.

One of the people affected by this was Tad Beckman, Professor Emeritus in the Humanities, Social Sciences and the Arts Department.  Tad had a collection of pages that included some essays and lecture notes that were referred to by many people around the internet.  Together we looked at a variety of options to publish this material in a more permanent format.  In the end, Tad found a very interesting solution: he published five eBooks on Amazon’s Kindle Store.  I was intrigued by this idea, and asked Tad a few questions by email:

How did you discover that you could publish on Amazon’s kindle store?

I Google searched self-publishing and Kindle Direct Publishing was one of the sites that came up.

Why did the  Claremont library not want to take your material?

The Claremont Digital Library program seems to be only for faculty works that have already been published somewhere. I was dealing with course notes and unpublished materials.

To whom would the material be of interest?

All of these materials have been on my WebSite from the early 1990s onward. Some were developed for courses I was teaching but others were just pursuing interests of mine. Philosophy students around the country have used my course notes and I’ve had extensive contact with some of them. Students of Native Americans (especially California 4th graders) have used my extensive notes for my freshman course “Indigenous People of the Western US”. I used to interact with parents, students, and teachers quite a bit. In addition, I wrote a whole book about California’s indians (The View from Native California) but failed to finish it when I became department chair for the second time. It wound up on the WebSite. In addition, I put up an article on Martin Heidegger which has been read widely over the internet.

How easy/difficult was it, in your opinion to get this done?

If you already have an Amazon account, it is easy to create an account on Kindle Direct Publishing. If you intend to publish, you can go ahead and fill out the tax-related forms as well. Then you get a “bookshelf” from which you can add new titles. It is very easy to do if you have your material in MS Word format. (I was using Word for MAC 2004 but switched to Word for MAC 2011.) When you add a title, you fill out a longish form with all the vital information — title, subtitle, author, categories, search words, etc. You will do two important things toward the bottom of this form — first, create a cover using their cover-maker (import your own image or leave it without an image) and, second, upload your Word file. After that, you go to a second form where you select a price and authenticate that you have authorship rights. After that, it takes the system about 12 hours to put your book into the store. The book appears on your “bookshelf” and offers several operations that you can perform — like creating an updated version, etc.

The one thing that gave me trouble until I finally figured it out was creating a table of contents that worked on a Kindle or iPad. When you know the magic it is easy in Word. In the MAC version at least, you just insert a “bookmark” over the title of a chapter, essay, etc. Then, in your table, you insert a “hyperlink” to that bookmark. When you are all finished, the table works in the Word version and is taken up by the Kindle-format conversion.

What would you say to fellow faculty about your experience with the Amazon system?

Well, I wanted these materials someplace where people could continue to use them and this looks like a good place. It was a very easy process to convert my Web pages into Word format and then coalesce them into a full document. Most of the time went into proofreading, editing, and making additional text so that the final document would be coherent. In about three weeks, I have created five publications. (You can see them by searching “Tad Beckman” on Amazon.com.) I’ve even sold a few!

Any other comments?

Retirement is great!

I am grateful to Tad for telling me about this. You can take a look at his new  pages, served from Charlie, at http://pages.hmc.edu/beckman and his Amazon publications can be found at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=tad%20Beckman



Summer 2014 Upgrade to Sakai 2.9

This summer the Pomona IT staff will be upgrading the consortial Sakai server to version 2.9. We are currently running version 2.8. The Sakai Administration Team will be testing version 2.9 over the summer, with a tentative upgrade date of August 12, 2014. More information on how long Sakai will be down during the upgrade will be available as we get closer to the upgrade date.

Some important dates to keep in mind:

  • April 29, 2014: Summer 2014 and Fall 2014 5C course sites created, but not populated with faculty and staff. Faculty can request that they be added manually to a site by contacting the Help Desk with the name and section number of the course.
  • May 16, 2014: Summer 2014 5C course sites populated with faculty and students.
  • June 10, 2014: Spring 2014 course sites unpublished. Students can no longer see these sites, but faculty still have access.
  • August 12, 2014: Upgrade to Sakai 2.9. Sakai will most likely be unavailable for some amount of time. More information will be available as we approach this date.
  • August 19, 2014: Fall 2014 5C course sites will be populated with faculty and students.

The release notes tell us that “Version 2.9 of Sakai contains significant performance improvements, updated technical infrastructure, hundreds of bug fixes (over 600 bug fixes and over 20 security improvements), and it sports a new, updated look and feel, including smoother navigation, with a new neo-portal skin. Significant features have been added to the Resources, Gradebook, and Section Info tools in core Sakai. Major additions and improvements have been made to the “Indies,” including Lessons, which is now turned on by default, Samigo Test & Quizzes, Profile 2, Forums and Messages.”

Google Apps Learning Community

google appsOne of the priorities that came out of the Spring 2013 survey of faculty priorities, was a request for training in Google Apps for Education.  This feedback has come to us through a number of channels, so we are delighted to participate in and support the initiative announced in Debra Mashek’s recent email to faculty and staff, which is the first step in the creation of a “learning community” around Google Apps for Education.  As she was preparing her call for participation, I got the opportunity to share a favorite quote, from an article that Dan Stoebel sent around last year (thanks Dan!):

“A healthy alternative is one that celebrates being an ‘accomplished novice’ who is proud of his or her accomplishments but realizes that he or she is still a novice with respect to most that is knowable and hence actively seeks new learning opportunities.” John D. Bransford and Daniel L. Schwartz, “Rethinking Transfer: A Simple Proposal with Multiple
Implications,” Review of Research in Education, vol. 24, no. 1 (January 1999), pp. 61-100.

What better way to approach a learning opportunity like Google Apps for Education?  If you’re inspired, please visit the form to express interest and preferences by Monday, May 5th  http://tinyurl.com/googleappslearningcommunity

Scientific Computing Seminars: MATLAB, Parallel Computing, and GPU Computing

CIS is very excited to announce the post-spring break events specially hand-picked for you. We have three scientific computing seminars lined up for the week of March 24th and April 1st. If you are interested, please pick one or two (or even all three) and register online to reserve your seat. Please find the details below:

MathWorks MATLAB Seminar:
Wednesday, March 26th from 12:45 pm to 3:30 pm in Sprague Learning Studio Classroom
Register online at https://www.mathworks.com/hmc2014

Title: Programming with MATLAB
Topics covered will include:
•    Basics of the MATLAB programming language
•    Automating with scripts
•    Building robust, maintainable functions
•    Tools for efficient program development
•    Using objects and authoring classes in MATLAB

Parallel Computing Seminar:
Thursday, March 27th from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm in Sprague Learning Studio Classroom
Register online at http://www.formstack.com/forms/hmc-seminar_registration_spring2014

Title: Parallel Computing with MPI (Message Passing Interface)
Topics covered will include:
•    Basics of Parallel Processing
•    Ways to make your program run (much) faster
•    Hands-on examples of MPI

XSEDE HPC Monthly Workshop on OpenACC GPU Programming:
Tuesday, April 1st from 8:00 am to 2 pm in Sprague Learning Studio Classroom
Register online at https://portal.xsede.org/course-calendar/-/training-user/class/163

Title: OpenACC* GPU Programming
Topics covered will include:
•   Parallel Computing and Accelerators
•   Intro to OpenACC
•   Using OpenACC with CUDA Libraries
•   Advanced OpenACC and OpenMP 4.0

*OpenACC is the accepted standard using compiler directives to allow quick development of GPU capable codes using standard languages and compilers. It has been used with great success to accelerate real applications within very short development periods. This workshop assumes knowledge of either C or Fortran programming.

Data Privacy Month (with a painful story about a phone)


Data Privacy Month continues, and this week I have a story that is told to all young system administrators. It’s about what happened when a phone was lost.  Read it, weep… and then go make your phone secure.

Junior system administrators go through many rites of passage. One of them is when, early in their training, they get to spend a whole night in the data center.  This is a way of preparing them for those all  night system upgrades, when they have to  perform at their peak at a time when they are normally asleep. This story is often told during that special training night.

A good data center is cold. You should picture the junior sys admins huddled in their parkas around the back of a server, hoping to get some heat from the exhaust.  Some of them are nodding off.  The hoary senior system admin, noting this, decides it is time to tell the phone story, and fill it with detail, to spark their interest.  System admins are by nature fascinated with details, good at reading and, as a bonus, following, meticulously detailed instructions.  And so the hoary one begins…

“Once upon a time, in a far away College, there was a senior member of the administration, let’s call him VP Terry.  VP Terry had lots of responsibilities and was always on the move.  He had a very expensive and very sophisticated smart phone to help with his work. He used it all the time, for emails, for calendar, for reading documents and even for accessing many of the College databases.”

“VP Terry, just like Marissa Mayer, didn’t have a pin, or any other security, on his phone. It saved him (and her) time every day”.

The hoary senior sys admin paused for effect and noted with satisfaction that the eyes of her audience had grown large.  This bunch would be security conscious!

“And then, one dark day, it happened.  VP Terry mislaid his phone. Possibly at the airport. He didn’t notice it was gone until the end of the 11 hour flight and by then he could not contact the IT folk at his College to see what they could do.  Truth be told, he didn’t even think to do that”.  The eyes got wider.

“Someone sent messages from the phone and it was not returned. So do you know what happened?  Are you ready? Here’s the detail:

  • The cell phone contained a direct link to the college’s database, where confidential information on 40,000 students was stored. The College was obliged by law to notify each and every one of them.  Direct cost: $150,000.  Indirect reputation cost: ???
  • The cell phone provided unauthorized access to educational records (grades were accessible from the phone).  Student’s privacy rights were so compromised that it warranted a self-report to the Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) of the Department of Education, placing future funding for the College at risk.
  • A document containing a job offer was viewable on the phone and ended up on the internet.  The candidate turned the College down and was gravely embarrassed at her home institution.
  • VP Terry’s personal credit card information was compromised.
  • He lost all the photos of his family vacations, since he was no better at backups than he was at security.”

As she listed these  details, the hoary sys admin’s voice reached a crescendo.  The junior sys admins were now fully awake and several pulled out their smart phones, sheepishly looking for the settings…

Thanks for reading. Please have a look at this Intel site on mobile security:


Then go forth and put some security on your phones!

Update from the CIO

In this post, I will provide updates on our Identity and Access Management initiative, wireless and other IT infrastructure, the Shanahan Center, Data Privacy Month and the new CIS web site.

Identity and Access Management Project (IAM@HMC)
I wrote to many faculty individually before the break to ask them to synchronize their passwords on our Password and Account Management Portal.  Many thanks to those who took the few minutes needed to update their accounts.  I will be in touch again soon with the remaining 20 or so faculty.

The point of doing this is to allow us to move forward with the next phase of the project without interrupting your work unexpectedly. It is a small step in that it synchronizes passwords between Active Directory and the Fischer Identity Engine, but it sets things up for future improvements. As you are all no doubt aware, we live in an environment where we have multiple sets of credentials. The core goal of the IAM@HMC project is to simplify things so that you use your HMC Credentials for as many systems as possible. Right now, only a few systems are integrated, but with each phase of the project we will add more systems.

Rachel Levy, Chair of the Computing Committee has been urging me to produce an infographic that will explain better what connects to what, and when each system will be included in the single sign on ecology. I am working on it!

Unfortunately, we were not able to bring the next phase of the IAM@HMC initiative into production over the break as we’d planned.  Testing took much longer and did not go as well as we’d hoped. So we continue to test and will let you know about the new date for installation.  Once we do go live, you will have Single Sign On to Google Apps, Office365, Ultipro and, with luck, the Portal.

As more and more wireless devices arrive on campus (including a new slew thanks to holiday gift giving), we are doing our best to get ahead of the demand.

In the Fall, more Wireless Access Points were installed in five dorms, greatly increasing the density of coverage. The dorms in question were Case, East, West, South and North. If you’re wondering why those dorms, it is not because we love them more than the others but because there was already conduit and wiring in place to accommodate the new access points, so a much smaller investment was needed. We also added additional wireless access points in and around the Beckman auditorium, to accommodate additional demand from the large CS classes. We have not forgotten the other dorms and the rest of campus; we are working on a plan to improve wireless across the campus outside of the Shanahan Center.

Which brings me to the question of so called “rogue wireless access points”. We have settled on a friendlier phrase to describe them: “wireless access points not managed by CIS”.  Sometimes people set up their own wireless access points, plugging them directly into the HMC network.  Our equipment can detect these access points,  but to date we have not been doing anything about them.  They are problematic because they can interfere with the performance of the main wireless network.  We will need to develop a set of practices and a policy around this issue. We’ll be using new test equipment to identify problematic access points and will be able to provide their owners with information about the impact they are having.  We would welcome hearing from you with any ideas you might have.  You could use the new Computing Committee Feedback form or write directly to me at vaughan@hmc.edu.

Other IT infrastructure
Parsons rewiring. I am happy to report that the Board of Trustees approved additional funding for us to rewire the Parsons building in tandem with the vacated space project that will get underway the day after Commencement.  Parsons is really two structures that were built at different times and the goal of our rewiring project will be to reduce the number of wiring closets down from six to no more than two and to ensure that the building network (wired and wireless) is adequate for the intended usage of the space. We will release more details on this project as they become available.

Shanahan Center.  The  AV systems in the Shanahan Center have been reconfigured.  If you are a faculty member, you can read details in any of Elizabeth Hodas’ emails about this topic. The controls have been greatly simplified, we believe.  So far this semester we have not heard much in the way of feedback.  We interpret that to mean that people like the new controls better.  Right?

We are still working with the vendor, Western AV, to iron out the kinks in the AV installation.  Elizabeth will make sure to keep you informed of progress.

Data Privacy Month
Data Privacy Month started on January 28th, with Data Privacy Day.  Held annually on January 28, Data Privacy Day encourages everyone to make protecting privacy and data a greater priority. DPD is an international effort to empower and educate people to protect their privacy and control their digital footprint. It kicks off Data Privacy Month (http://www.educause.edu/focus-areas-and-initiatives/policy-and-security/educause-policy/community-engagement/data-privacy-month).

Last Fall, I promised the Board of Trustees that we would increase our efforts to make people aware of data privacy issues.  The HMC policy on safeguarding of sensitive and confidential information is under development. And during Data Privacy Month we will be offering stories and tips about ways to improve data privacy.  The first instalment covered passwords and the second asked you to check your file permissions on Charlie and Alice.  Watch for a third and fourth instalment this week and next.

New CIS Web Site
We decided to take the launch of the new HMC website on January 21 as an opportunity to revamp the aging CIS web site. Our goal has been to keep things as simple as possible and to focus the pages through the lens of services provided by CIS, what they are and how to access them.  It is a work in progress but please check it out and give us your feedback at http://www.hmc.edu/cis


Call for Papers in Digital Humanities

From the digital humanist listserv….
Eiffel Tower by Damien Vassart
Second Call For Papers Human-Computer Interaction, HCI, is a symposium in the 18th International Conference Information Visualisation, 15, 16, 17 and 18 July 2014, University of Paris Descartes, Paris, France. http://www.graphicslink.co.uk/IV2014/ Click on Symposia hypertext

Important Dates: 01 March 2014: Submission of papers 25 April 2014: Notification of Peer Review Result 10 May 2014: Submission of camera-ready 15 May 2014: Early registration closes Paper Format Guide: (Not more than 6 pages – excess pages at 30 GBP per page.) http://www.graphicslink.co.uk/IV2014/INSTRUCTION.htm

The Humanities has enjoyed a renaissance in the last two decades. This has been largely facilitated by the acceptance of digital media as a tool for the critical analysis of scholarly works. This new field, the Digital Humanities, includes applied and theoretical use of digital media. Increasingly, large collections of data are being investigated using digital tools. These tools assist in visualising the information contained in ways that expose new meanings and interpretations of scholarly knowledge. Our host, the International Information Visualisation Conference, provides a uniquely propitious environment for a Digital Humanities symposium. With other symposia spanning Information Visualisation Theory & Practice to Visualisation in Software Engineering, attendees of the Digital Humanities Knowledge Visualisation symposium are well placed to make serendipitous connections with technologists in relevant fields. This symposium seeks short and long papers on original and unpublished work addressing, but not limited to, the following topics: * Culture and Heritage Knowledge Visualisation * Art and Design * Visualization techniques for text corpora * Cartographics * Virtual and built environments * Interactive systems * Infographic design and its associated process * Data mining in the humanities * Information design and modelling * Social Networks * Network graph visualisation of historical precedents * Digital media enabled humanities research * Digital media assisted linguistics research * The digital arts, architecture, music, film, theatre, new media, digital games, and related areas Symposium Digital Humanities Knowledge Visualisation

Liaison: Theodor G Wyeld, Flinders University, Australia Symposium Committee Theodor G Wyeld, Flinders University, Australia (Chair) Sarah Kenderdine, City University of Hong Kong (co-Chair) Francis T. Marchese, Pace University, NY, USA (co-Chair) Advisory, Programme and reviewing committee: Theodor G Wyeld (Flinders University, Aust) Sarah Kenderdine (Museum Victoria, Aust) Francis T. Marchese (Pace University, NY, USA) Ekaterina Prasolova-Førland (NTNU, Trondheim, Norg) Teng-Wen Chang (NYUST, Taiwan) Brett Leavy (CyberDreaming, Aust) Malcolm Pumpa (QUT, Aust) Marinos Ioannides (HTI, Cyprus) Giovanni Issini (DFI, Italy) Special Journal Edition for selected papers: TBA. Supporting Bodies: Flinders Institute for Research in the Humanities, Flinders University, Australia Museum Victoria, Melbourne, Australia City University of Hong Kong Pace University, NY, USA

HOST: http://www.graphicslink.co.uk/IV2014/ All enquiries about Digital Humanities Knowledge Visualization should be addressed to: Theodor Wyeld Screen and Media Flinders University GPO Box 2100 Adelaide 5001 South Australia ph: +06 8 8201 3508 fx: +06 8 8201 3635 em: theodor.wyeld@flinders.edu.au wb: www.flinders.edu.au/people/theodor.wyeld URL: http://www.graphicslink.co.uk/IV2014/DHKV.htm

Data Privacy Month (with a painful story about file permissions)

January 28th kicked off Data Privacy Month.  CIS is marking the month by reminding you that data privacy is everyone’s responsibility. Here is a second true story culled from the vaults of HMC server administrator lore. Some details have been changed. Read it, weep… and then check your folder and file permissions.

Agnes and students-l are not involved.

So there once was a professor, let’s call him Dr. Linus Windonmax. He was a professor of linguistics in the Humanities Division of a large state university. (Not all of the HMC server administrator lore is actually about HMC.  Server admins sometimes talk to other server admins around water coolers or campfires).  LWM, as his students called him, was a careful and detail oriented person who always read every word of every email sent to him by his local IT unit.  This in itself marked him as a rare bird, since not even the IT folk read every word of every email, especially not the ones they wrote.  But I digress.

LWM had read and carefully followed instructions about how to store files on the file server.  He wanted to keep his work for posterity and he knew that files on the file server were backed up and stored off site, unlike things he stored on his local hard drive. So he had gotten into the habit of stashing his stuff on “charlie”, as the file server was affectionately called.  Only hoary server admins knew why, and no one wanted to be considered hoary.

One day, as LWM ambled to class, his colleague Wilma waved and smiled.  “LWM, congratulations on selling the house”.  Linus politely smiled back; in fact he bared his newly polished teeth to hide his mortification.  For he hadn’t told anyone on campus about the house. In class, a few of his students made arch mention of pajamas and champagne. More mortification: it seemed they knew about his little soiree to celebrate the house sale. Hmm. not good, not good.

Later that afternoon, as the still agitated professor sat in front of his widescreen monitor, it suddenly struck LWM  that someone must have been looking at his files. He’d stored copies of all of the house sale documents and the “pajamas and champagne” party photos on Charlie, as was his wont. He sprinted over to the IT Help Desk to demand an explanation.

The friendly folk at the Help Desk had to work hard to explain the situation to LWM, especially since the server admins were still deep in the long dark teatime of the soul, dealing with students-l problems. In a nutshell, it went like this. No one could actually see LWM’s files, except LWM himself and two server admins of high integrity (definitely not hoary).  But everyone who had an account on Charlie could see the names of his files and browse through his folders looking at how they were organized. That, said the helpful help desk staffer, was a result of the “file permissions”, which determine who has access to a file or folder and what kind of access they have (see file names, open files, edit files, delete…). Most users can change their own file permissions, and over time, the result of choices by users and server admins had resulted in the mortification of LWM.

Coming back now to HMC, the file permissions on Charlie and Alice are not very consistent, and we have had situations in which file names were visible in ways that people did not intend.  This is the result of myriad choices over the years by both users and server admins. And the only really safe way for us to be sure that permissions are correct is to ask you to check them.  So, during data privacy month, perhaps you can take a few minutes to do so?  You can double check your file permissions easily enough.from a Windows computer.  Here are instructions (requires HMC Credentials).

It’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure data privacy. During Data Privacy Month, please make protecting privacy and data a greater priority. Thanks for reading. Now go forth and check your file permissions.