November 2013 update from the CIO

thanksgiving

The first time I encountered Thanksgiving was in 1985 at Hershey Hall, then the graduate dorm at UCLA. Neither I, from Ireland, nor my roommate from Korea, were quite sure what to make of it.  But some things stood out. It wasn’t really commercial, there were no cards or gifts. The food was delicious.  And we could eat under the palm trees in the courtyard!  Ever since then, I’ve loved Thanksgiving in California.  And, in the spirit of the feast, here’s the November update from the CIO, focusing on things I’m thankful for in each of CIS’s four strategic areas.

IT Decision Making/Governance
The Portal Advisory Group (PAG), which we set up last year, is under the guidance of Registrar Mark Ashley.  Although the group has not met yet this semester, Mark, Susan Selhorst and I have been working on creating a list of portal projects that we want the PAG to prioritize.  We’re figuring out brief descriptions for each project and a “rough order of magnitude” to indicate our sense of the amount of effort involved.  I anticipate that the group will be able to meet and finalize the priority list before the semester ends.

Computing Committee Chair, Prof. Rachel Levy got the computing committee off to a start for the year.  This year, for the first time, we have a staff member on the committee (other than the CIO) and Tim Hussey, Assistant Vice President of Communications and Marketing has joined the committee. I anticipate that, among other things, the Committee will help CIS with a new survey on our effectiveness, and with feedback on proposed data privacy and security guidelines.  They have already provided excellent suggestions about how we might make better use of infographics in our documentation.

Infrastructure
I wrote in October about the CINE core switch outages that we suffered in September and October.  We replaced the CINE core switch on November 16th and this seems to have stabilized things. I am grateful to Mitch Shacklett, Cindy Abercrombie and Roger Wiechman for their work on this issue. If nothing else, these failures have emphasized the high risk that the Claremont Colleges face by having a single core switch;  we are actively working on this problem.

We are in the final stages of negotiating a 20 year lease of fiber between the CUC Administrative Computing Center on First Street and downtown Los Angeles.  This is a first requirement for the kind of redundancy and diversity we seek in our connections to the internet.  We have also begun working on a location for a second CINE core switch.

CIS the central IT organization
Rick Fisher has been with the User Support area of CIS for some time, although I have omitted to mention him in earlier updates (sorry Rick!).  He started as an intern and is now in a temporary position funded to help with the transition to the Shanahan Center.  We are finding Rick to be a great colleague and a wonderful addition to the team.

So far this month, the CIS staff have worked on a total of 508 tickets in Footprints, our ticket system.  They have closed 407 of them as of this update.  I am sure that these numbers don’t capture all of the service they have given, and I am grateful for all their hard work.

Innovation
The HSA Advising Portlet went into production in time for Spring registration.  Faculty and students gave strong positive feedback about it.  We are delighted to be reducing the paperwork and data entry for the HSA faculty and their students.

Elizabeth Hodas and her team have identified a front runner solution for software based video conferencing from a company named Vidyo.  The primary goal is to find a good video conferencing solution for Board of Trustee meetings, but the licensing on most of these systems will allow us to use it for other purposes.  So if you want your class to conduct a videoconference with the author of a paper (for example), you’ll be able to do it.  Watch for more information on this.

Other
CIS put together the Shanahan Center Feedback form for the President’s Cabinet.  So far we have received 104 submissions and the Cabinet has begun to review them. I am grateful to the folk who submitted comments and suggestions. If you want to join them head on over to http://www.formstack.com/forms/hmc-shanahan_center_feedback 

Don’t forget that the new control design has been set up in Shanahan B460.  If you are interested in how the screen and projector controls function, please try them out in B460 and send feedback to Elizabeth Hodas.

That’s it for the November update. On behalf of everyone at CIS, I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving.

 

XSEDE HPC Workshop on MPI at Harvey Mudd College

Harvey Mudd College will be participating in Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center’s XSEDE HPC Workshop about MPI (Message Passing Interface) as a remote site. MPI is a message passing library standard that can be used to parallelize your serial C/Fortran program and algorithm to exploit multi-node, multi-core clusters (or supercomputers) for enhanced performance and/or accuracy. If you are interested in learning MPI, please register for the workshop through XSEDE and come join us in the Learning Studio Classroom on Wednesday, December 4th and Thursday, December 5th.

This is a two-day intensive workshop through which you can learn from the basics to more advanced skills of MPI programming.

The tentative agenda given below is subject to change.

Wednesday, December 4
All times given are PST

  • 08:00 Welcome
  • 08:15 Computing Environment
  • 09:00 Intro to Parallel Computing
  • 10:00 Lunch break
  • 11:00 Introduction to MPI
  • 12:30 Introductory Exercises
  • 01:30 Scalable Programming: Laplace code
  • 02:00 Adjourn/Laplace Exercises

Thursday, December 5
All times given are PST

  • 08:00 Laplace Exercises
  • 09:00 Laplace Solution
  • 09:30 Lunch break
  • 10:30 Advanced MPI
  • 11:30 Outro to Parallel Computing
  • 12:30 MPI Debugging and Profiling
  • 01:30 Adjourn

Please visit the workshop page for more information: https://www.psc.edu/index.php/training/xsede-hpc-workshop-december-2013

For more information about other XSEDE HPC trainings, please visit the course calendar page at https://portal.xsede.org/course-calendar

For any questions, please contact Jeho Park (x79023 or email jepark@hmc.edu) at CIS

XSEDE HPC Workshop about OpenACC GPU Computing

[Online Registration for Harvey Mudd College is open at https://portal.xsede.org/course-calendar/-/training-user/class/152/session/271.]

Harvey Mudd College will be participating in Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center’s XSEDE HPC Workshop about OpenACC. If you are interested in learning GPU programming with OpenACC, please register for the workshop through XSEDE and come join us in Learning Studio Classroom on Tuesday, November 5th. OpenACC is a GPU (Graphics Processor Unit) programming standard for C and Fortran. Using accelerators such as GPUs is a great way to substantially reduce the computational time of computationally-expensive numerical algorithms such as dense linear algebra problems and FFT. And OpenACC is an easy way to enable GPU computing blocks in your program.

(If your schedule is too tight to commit yourselves for the whole five-hour workshop, you can register for the workshop and just participate in the sections for “Intro to OpenACC” from 9:15 am to 10:00 am and/or from 11 am to 1 pm to get an idea how you can use OpenACC for your program.)

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October 2013 Update From the CIO

IMG_20130704_210653What a Fall Semester we are having so far!

Shanahan Center
We love the new Shanahan Center.  As everyone knows, we’ve seen a few issues with the AV systems.  We are developing a list of these issues and their status, which we will share with everyone.   And I thank the people who have given us specific feedback about what’s working or not working for them.

I’d like to provide a little context about some of the issues. The TLB Advisory Committee (8 faculty, 2 students, 5 staff) met with the two AV companies that were bidding for the project in early summer 2012.  Both companies recommended a Crestron system and both anticipated programming the system, receiving feedback from users and then making changes.  That is the phase we are going through at the moment.

Overall, from our perspective, the move into the Shanahan Center has gone rather well. The sheer number of pieces of technology in the building (90 wireless access points, 450+ wired ports, VOIP phone system, networked projectors, lecture capture, document cameras etc) is daunting and, while we acknowledge that some things need fixing, we are glad that so much is working well.

CINE issues
When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions. (OK, so Claudius, in Hamlet, probably didn’t have the Shanahan Center and CINE in mind).  Most of you know “CINE” as one of the wireless networks on campus.  “CINE” also refers to the backbone network between the Claremont Colleges and connectivity beyond the colleges to the internet.  Harvey Mudd College is responsible for that CINE too.  Recently some work being done by a contractor in the CUC phone office on Eighth Street resulted in damage to parts of the CINE core switch.  As a result, we lost internet connectivity, VOIP phones, VPN and other parts of the network for periods of several hours in late September and October.  These incidents emphasized the fact that we have a single point of failure at the CINE core.  We had received approval from the Colleges late last year to place a second redundant switch at a different location and bring new fiber connections from downtown LA to the CUC building on First Street.  The project was approved and we are moving ahead with obtaining the new fiber, as well as looking at ways to get the second CINE switch earlier than we had planned.  Together, these initiatives will remove the single point of failure problem with the CINE core switch.

Identity and Access Management (IAM@HMC)
Our IAM@HMC initiative continues apace. We have begun testing Fischer’s work for phase III of the project, which will bring us automated creation and deletion of accounts on several of our key systems. The CIS Help Desk will soon be sending an email requesting that users synchronize their passwords and configure their security questions.  I mention this now to ensure that all users know that the message is a legitimate request from the IAM project team.  It will instruct users to enter their username and current password at the HMC Credentials kiosk. The request will include a detailed set of instructions,  which you should follow.

HSA Advising Portlet
The HSA Advising portlet, which will replace the HSA department’s standalone Filemaker Pro application, is in final testing.  Using this application on the JICS portal, HSA advisors will be able to work with their students to identify the classes that meet HSA requirements and record student progress.  Students will be able to use the portal to review their progress toward completion of the HSA requirements and will not have to shuttle paper over to the Registrar’s office.  This portlet will be in production for Spring pre-registration in a couple of weeks. It was developed under contract by Lee Jones.  Paul Steinberg, Bill Alves and Susan Selhorst guided the work, which was funded jointly by CIS, HSA and the Dean of Faculty.

Ongoing Infrastructure Upgrades
Thanks to the Information Technology Infrastructure Fund (ITIF), which was established in early 2013, we have a source of funding for infrastructure upgrades. These will be ongoing, and we are steadily building out a project list for 2013-14 and for 2014-15. Generally speaking, we will follow a process similar to that for building renewal and replacement.  If a project is on the ITIF list, we will prioritize it accordingly (eg. improvement to network, high number of people impacted, construction opportunity etc). Departments then have the choice of waiting or of funding the project directly to bring it forward in time.

Among the projects funded by ITIF so far this year were the Core Switch upgrade in March, wireless improvements in three dorms (which took advantage of already existing wiring) and improvements to the network in Olin.

One can never say thanks often enough: I am very grateful to President Klawe, Andrew Dorantes and the Physical Plan committee for their foresight in establishing this fund. There is much work to be done on our IT infrastructure, but we now have a regular source of funding and coherent decision making process that will help us design and build out a more robust infrastructure.

Smartboard Arrival
We recently acquired a new Smartboard, which will be traveling around to a number of classrooms in the Shanahan Center.  Some of our faculty will be testing it out in their classrooms during the rest of the semester. We are looking forward to getting a better understanding of how HMC faculty and students might make use of this technology. Do talk to your colleagues and fellow students and let us know what works (or not) with this technology.  If the boards prove useful, we will plan to purchase more.

Educause Conference
Several CIS staff recently attended the Educause Annual Conference in Anaheim. Educause is the professional organization for IT in higher education and the conference was attended by nearly 8,000 people from 51 countries.  Even a glance at the agenda will probably stoke your curiosity http://www.educause.edu/annual-conference/agenda-and-program/annual-conference-face-face-agenda.  Many of the sessions were recorded and most will have some materials available, so take a look if you are interested in topics like   For thought-provoking points on gaming and its relationship to learning, I recommend the keynote by Jane McGonigal, which will be available in about 90 days.

 

Fall 2013 Bite of Learning series

Bite of Learning logoNow that the crush of the start of classes has eased a bit, we’d like to announce the Fall 2013 schedule for the Bite of Learning Series. A Bite of Learning is an informal series of lunch-time presentations held in the Aviation Room in the Hoch-Shanahan Dining Commons on the HMC Campus. We usually schedule 5 or 6 presentations per semester, with the focus being new or innovative uses of technology in teaching or research. This semester we have an exciting lineup of speakers to announce.

In October we start up with a presentation by Chris Clark from the HMC Engineering department. Prof. Clark will be presenting on “Robotics: Motivation for Learning.” iRubricForSakai_Logo_medLindsay Janssen and Prof. Steven Casper from Keck Graduate Institute will talk about their experiences using iRubric for writing assessment.

In November Allegra Swift from the Claremont Colleges Library will talk about Open Access Online Journal Publishing and Scholarship at the Claremont Colleges. Pitzer College’s experiences with online course evaluations is the topic of Joanne Zhang’s presentation on November 19th.

In December Prof. Katherine Van Heuvelen, Kevin Heath (HMC ’16) and Jeho Park (CIS) will talk about using the XSEDE supercomputing resource and on Jeho’s role as XSEDE Campus Champion.

We’re looking forward to a great semester and hope you can join us at A Bite of Learning. The full schedule can be found on the Bite of Learning web site at http://www.hmc.edu/bol.

Summer 2013 Update from the CIO

Welcome (back) to all!

2013 was one of the busiest summers ever for CIS, with a large number of projects and a summerheavy stream of upgrades and improvements. In this message I will cover some of the things we got done.

Shanahan Center
The Shanahan Center for Teaching and Learning is now up and running! We have a high speed network and all digital AV systems.  We have purchased additional laptops (dual boot Macbook Air) for our pool and will be providing laptops to the faculty that requested them for their classes.  On a daily basis, we will have staff in what we’ve been calling the “pop up store” beside the Living Room (in the cafe).  There’s a printer there with a print release station and, as we watch what traffic patterns are like in the new building, we anticipate that we may have more technology and/or more people in that space.

Please note that the wall phones in each classroom can be used to dial the help desk at 77777 (just don’t use the big red emergency button with that intention!).  So if you need quick delivery of a cable or are having difficulty getting something working, don’t hesitate to call us.  The room number is on each phone, so you can quickly tell us where you are.

Rooms 2450 and 2454 are “technology rich classrooms”.  For the moment, that just means that they form part of the suite of classrooms in which simulcasting (high definition between room videoconferencing) can take place.  But we plan to take the same approach with these rooms as we did with the Learning Studio Classroom: they are intended to be experimental spaces where we try out new technologies to see what might work for general deployment.  A great example of this approach is Lecture Capture, where we took time to get experience in the Learning Studio Classroom before making the purchase that Elizabeth Hodas has written about in her article on Lecture Capture in the Teaching and Learning Building.

We look forward to enjoying this wonderful new building with you.

New focus in User Support
We have begun slowly rolling out a new model of support in the User Support Group. The old model was built on the idea of a dedicated person for a department or group of departments. We have now switched to a model in which a team of people provide support as service requests or incident reports come in, independent of the source. We try to match expertise with the need and we are building a common body of knowledge across the really great team of people that make up the user support group: Beverly Kelley, Pete Sanchez, Travis Gomez, Corey LeBlanc and Robert Kingston.  To reflect this change in approach we have dropped “departmental” from their titles: they are now all Technical Analysts (TAs).  The User Support program is being run by Cindy Abercrombie, whom you can contact with feedback or questions.

New faces at CIS
In early August we hired two new people in CIS.  Gerald Reyes came across the street from Scripps College to work in our data services unit, where he will be focusing on the JICS portal.  Robert Kingston came to join the User Support team from a position at Apple Computer, where he managed the Apple brand within a Best Buy store.  I was delighted with the strong applicant pool that we received for both positions and congratulate Susan Selhorst and Cindy Abercrombie on astute hiring decisions.  Susan has written more about Gerald and Cindy has written more about Robert.

This is a good place to include a shout out for the HMC students who took up employment with us over the summer: Cindy Angpraseuth, George Aspesi, Andrew Michaud, James Saindon and Eric Storm.  Between them they tackled 37 projects this summer, leaving us in much better state than they found us.

Identity and Access Management
Over the summer we worked with Fischer International to put the finishing touches to a sixty-two page functional requirements document for the third phase of our Identity and Access Management (IAM@HMC) initiative.  This phase will include improvements to the password management kiosk, and put in place an automated account creation and deletion process for several of the systems we manage.  It will also bring the Portal and Office365 into the single sign on bundle, meaning you will no longer have to login multiple times as you move between the Portal, Ultipro, Google Apps and Office365.  We anticipate moving into the testing phase of this project in the next month or so, with roll out scheduled for the late Fall.  As part of the roll out we will be asking you to use the IAM kiosk to synchronize your passwords and set (or reset) your security questions.  More on that in future updates from the CIO.

Portal Advisory Group
Registrar Mark Ashley has been working with Susan Selhorst over the summer to refine the list of projects that we wish to undertake to improve the Portal. While Susan was conducting the search that resulted in the hire of Gerald Reyes, she was also directing the work of a contractor from Jenzabar, who managed to “take out” a number of the portal issues that we had identified.  Early in the Fall, Mark and Susan will bring a list of projects for prioritization by the Portal Advisory Group.

Network Infrastructure
During the summer months we made a number of changes and upgrades that affected the network:

  • New conduit was laid under Platt boulevard which will enable us to provide network diversity for the Shanahan Center and reduce risk for Kingston, Hoch-Shanahan and points east.
  • As part of the Olin vacated space plan, we put in upgrades to support higher access speeds for the Beckman Server room.
  • We upgraded the network equipment in Olin.
  • We upgraded wireless in Beckman 126.
  • We are in the process of upgrading wireless in Case, North and South dorms.

More to come
The pace of change in technology is, as always, breakneck.  So we anticipate more changes during the Fall.  Our Office365 suite will be upgraded by Microsoft.  The company has notified us that it will happen over the next four weeks and we are gathering more information to get you the details.  This change will primarily affect staff.

We anticipate completing more network upgrades in the Academic Buildings and will be working closely with F&M to plan for the Parsons vacated space activity.

That’s probably enough for now. Everyone in CIS is happy to see you and we wish you a great Fall semester.  As always, we rely on you to give us honest feedback and let us know what is working well, what needs improvement and what’s not working at all.

Best,

Joseph

Welcome Robert Kingston to HMC

RobertPlease welcome Robert Kingston to HMC and the User Support Group in CIS as our newest Technical Analyst.  Robert is fairly new to California having moved from Arizona in January of this year, and he would love to have suggestions for fun outdoor activities or nearby places to visit.  He enjoys playing basketball in his spare time, and would appreciate knowing about places for local pick-up games or men¹s leagues.  Robert joins us from Apple and Best Buy.  CIS invites you to stop by the Help Desk in Sprague Learning Center to meet Robert.

Technology in the Shanahan Center

Classroom in Shanahan CenterShort version:

If you are planning on only using the video projectors or LCD screens in the new Shanahan Center this Fall, then read no further. If you are planning on using any other technology (and especially if you did NOT respond to the faculty technology survey that was distributed earlier this summer) you should read on.

Long version:

In addition to the video projectors, LCD TVs (in the 12-person classrooms), speakers and screens, we will be providing additional technology in the Shanahan Center on request. This includes:

  1. Laptops
  2. Document cameras
  3. Blu-Ray/DVD players
  4. DVD/VHS players
  5. Lecture capture
  6. Smartboard
  7. Videocameras for projecting experiments
  8. iClickers

We have installed document cameras, Blu-Ray/DVD and DVD/VHS players in the classrooms where faculty requested their use in every session of their class or at least once a week. We also plan on delivering the laptop carts to several courses that requested their use in every class session.

In addition, we have scheduled a number of classes for lecture capture recording of every class session. Recently we purchased a commercial system called Mediasite that will automatically capture audio and video of the speaker as well as video of anything projected through the video projector, such as Powerpoint slides. There are six rooms in the Shanahan Center that are lecture capture-ready, including the Lecture Hall (1430), the Recital Hall (B480), the 85 person classroom (B460) and three rooms on the 2nd floor (2450, 2454 and 2460). All of those rooms have a video camera and microphone. You can read more about lecture capture here.

We will have one Smartboard (interactive whiteboard) for faculty to try out. Unfortunately, it has not yet been delivered, so we have not had a chance to test it out and provide training. So we’ll have to keep you posted on that front.

Many faculty also like to be able to project a demonstration or experiment from the front of the room to one of the big screens. The document camera is capable of doing this or you can use a video camera, either one of the built-in video cameras available in the 6 rooms listed above, or CIS can set up one for you.

Clickers (personal response systems) are also available for loan. At this point all freshmen, sophomores and juniors have purchased iClickers so if you do not have any seniors in your class all you need is to borrow a wireless receiver and install the iClicker software in order to use the iClickers in your class. We also have sets of iClickers that you can borrow if you have seniors in your class.

If you’re interested in using one of these technology services in a class, please submit a request to the CIS Help Desk. You can use our AV request form at http://www.formstack.com/forms/hmc-avrequest or send us an email at help-desk@hmc.edu.

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome Gerald Reyes to CIS

GeraldThis month we welcomed Gerald Reyes to CIS. Gerald joined the Data and Software Engineering Services group as our Web Programmer Analyst, after five years experience in the IT department at Scripps College. Gerald’s principal responsibility is the care and feeding of the JICS Portal and his experience and expertise will be put to good use as we work to improve and enhance that system.

When not busy at work, Gerald likes spending time with his family, working on his 1978 Impala, and traveling – Honduras being a favorite destination. Gerald has twin 8-year old daughters and a 7-year old son who all share the same birthday – but they each get their own cake.

Fall Semester 2013 Reminders

Here are a few reminders about IT services for the Fall Semester.reminder-smiley-face

CIS Help Desk
The Help Desk is located in the Learning Studio on the ground floor of Sprague. The hours are 8am-5pm, including lunch hour. We will also be staffing the IT “pop up store” next to the Living Room (part of the cafe) in the Shanahan Center from 11-2 daily.  We have not yet decided how we will manage that space, but instead we are waiting to see what traffic patterns and need will be.  Please send a support request via our request form or send us email at helpdesk@hmc.edu or call us at (909) 607 7777.

Course Mailing Lists
Course mailing lists have been set up. If you have any questions or need help with mailing lists, please contact the Help Desk.

Course Mudd Shots
Course Mudd Shots have been updated for the semester. They are available at http://www.internal.hmc.edu/dir/courses/. The pages are restricted to the HMC network only, so if you are off-campus or on wireless, please connect to the VPN first.

VPN (Virtual Private Network)
Remember the VPN! It is software that allows you to connect to the HMC network as if you were located on campus. Visit http://vpn.claremont.edu and select the group HMC-LDAP.  Log in with the same HMC Credentials you use for Sakai or Odyssey.

Sakai Updates
Fall 2013 courses have been created and populated with students and faculty. The courses are synchronized with the Jenzabar CX student information system three times per day.

Google Apps for Education
Everyone at HMC is entitled to a Google Apps for Education account in our g.hmc.edu domain. Many people have started using the system for email, to share documents or work on them collaboratively.  As a reminder, here are the URLs that will take you directly to the HMC single sign in page and then on to the g.hmc.edu domain (without an intermediate Google login page):
http://docs.g.hmc.edu will take you to your google drive document store.
http://mail.g.hmc.edu will take you to email.
http://calendar.g.hmc.edu will take you to the calendar.
http://sites.g.hmc.edu will take you to google sites.

Learning Studio Classroom 
With the opening of the Shanahan Center, the Fletcher Jones Classroom in the Learning Studio will no longer be used for regularly scheduled classes.  This means that it will be more readily available for one-off workshops, special study sessions, meetings etc. You can view and request reservations for the Fletcher Jones Classroom in the Learning Studio in VEMS  http://emsweb.claremont.edu/HMC/. You can also contact F&M for reservations.

Have a truly great Fall 2013 semester!