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July 3, 2012

DoIT News Moving to myUMBC Groups

As of today, the DoIT News will be published through the DoIT Group on myUMBC, which in turn feeds the new DoIT site at doit.umbc.edu. As such, we will no longer be maintaining this Movable Type blog. However, it will remain for archive purposes.

FYI to DoIT Group members:

How do I post a new blog in myUMBC groups?

If you have questions, please contact the Technology Support Center (TSC) located on the first floor of the library next to the RLC or call 410.455.3838.

Posted by fritz at 9:19 AM | TrackBack

June 1, 2012

June 1 2012 Mail Delivery Delays

Today UMBC was the victim of a targeted spamming attack that overwhelmed our e-mail environment. Our staff are working to address the issues but it has been challenging as all of the spam is originating from compromised UMBC accounts. At this time the delivery delays are not nearly as severe as last weekend but you can expect to see some messages take up to several hours to be delivered. Users who are on UMBC's Google Mail system are currently not experiencing delays.

Posted by mikec at 8:04 PM | TrackBack

April 30, 2012

DoIT Launches Annual User Survey

As part of its annual assessment plan, the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) invites the campus community to complete the following annual survey of information technology services.

http://umbc.edu/go/doitusersurvey

This brief (10 minute), anonymous survey will help us in our planning for academic year 2012-2013 and provides important feedback to understand what technology services are important to you and how well we are meeting your needs.

Note: if you are prompted to login, this is ONLY to limit access to the survey to the UMBC community. The survey itself is anonymous.

If you have any questions about this survey or need more information, please contact our Technology Support Center located on the first floor of the library or call 410.455.3838.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation and assistance.

Jack Suess
VP of Information Technology and CIO

Posted by fritz at 7:37 AM | TrackBack

April 23, 2012

Data Center Shut Down Friday, April 29th

In preparation for the campus wide power outage scheduled on Sunday, April 29th, DoIT will be shutting down one of our two campus data centers. During the power outage there will be no backup cooling available to the Public Policy (PUP) Building data center so a shutdown of the hardware in this location is necessary.

Beginning at 4:00pm on Friday, April 27th the PUP data center will be shut down. There are two services that will be unavailable during this time (April 27 4:00pm through Noon, April 30th). All other services will be unaffected.

Affected Services:

* iStrategy (REX) Finance Only - (Student Will Remain Available)
* Peoplesoft Development


We anticipate having the PUP data center and all associated services fully restored by noon, April 30th.

On a positive note we have a new data center lease agreement with Allegis in UMBC’s research park. DoIT will begin moving many of our production systems currently hosted in the PUP data center to the new data center late this summer. The new data center has fully redundant power and cooling which will enhance UMBC’s redundancy and disaster recovery.

Posted by mikec at 3:30 PM | TrackBack

April 17, 2012

Gmail Service Disruption

The Technology Support Center (previously known as the Help Desk) began receiving reports around 1:15pm today that UMBC's Gmail system was not working. This does not appear to be affecting all Gmail users. Google has confirmed there is an issue. The status can be monitored at:

http://www.google.com/appsstatus#hl=en&v=issue&ts=1334721599000&iid=a88855ea3653b5d2f71d98b0b8906f84

Posted by mikec at 1:33 PM | TrackBack

March 21, 2012

Human Resources to Release New UMBC Holidays Calendar

In 2011, the campus transitioned to Google Calendar as the campus-wide calendaring solution. Incorporated in the use of Google Calendar is the need identify when the campus observes holidays within each year. As a result, you will now see a new calendar named UMBC Holidays which represents the official University holiday observances. The new calendar will appear in the "Other calendars" section of your calendar. Official holidays will appear at the top of your calendar as a note. Beginning March 30, 2012 the new UMBC Holidays calendar will be added to your UMBC Google calendar.

HR will continue to post the hard copy schedule as we have in previous years. The holiday calendar within Google is an additional feature for your convenience. Each year, the calendar will be updated with the University's observance dates for your convenience. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact Sherrell McNamara at mcnamara@umbc.edu or ext. 5-3646.

UMBC%20Holiday%20Calendar%20Image.png

Posted by mikec at 8:48 PM | TrackBack

March 19, 2012

Known Issue: Intermittent Login Failure, Workaround is Using VPN

Over the weekend, DoIT has received several reports of intermittent login failures using myUMBC, Blackboard and even the RT (Request Tracker) ticketing system The problem is actually not with these systems, but appears to be one of the campus authentication servers, which DoIT is addressing.

In the meantime, if you encounter this error (depicted by the images below), a possible work around is to access these campus systems AFTER first logging in through UMBC's Virtual Private Network (or VPN) at http://vpn.umbc.edu. For help in using the VPN, visit the following FAQ entry:

How Do I Connect via VPN?
https://wiki.umbc.edu/x/boAc

These are images you might see after failing to login to myUMBC, Blackboard or RT (Request Tracker):

Image2.jpg

Image1.jpg

2012-03-19_0728.png

Posted by fritz at 7:08 AM | TrackBack

March 7, 2012

McAfee to be Replaced by Microsoft's Forefront Anti Virus

Starting the week of March 26th the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) will begin phasing out McAfee as our antivirus (AV) software and moving to Microsoft’s AV software named Forefront.

This is being done to provide the campus with better virus and malware protection. DoIT has been testing Microsoft’s Forefront software for eight (8) months and it has consistently exceeded McAfee detection and removal capabilities. You do not need to do anything to get this software if your machine is in Active Directory as it will be installed automatically. If you have any questions please contact the technology support center at x53838.


Why is this being done?
Microsoft antivirus/antimalware software (name Forefront) offers superior protection over McAfee. There is also the added benefit of Forefront being less expensive than McAfee

What about my home computer?
For our customers using McAfee at home we recommend installing Microsoft Security Essentials which is the home version of the client we will be using on campus. It is a free download and will remove McAfee cleanly upon installation. Security Essentials will automatically be updated every day as well as when you install your monthly system updates from Microsoft.
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/products/security-essentials

I’m a Mac user, what does this mean for me?
For our Mac users we recommend using one of the free antivirus software packages listed below.
http://www.sophos.com/en-us/products/free-tools/sophos-antivirus-for-mac-home-edition/faqs.aspx
http://www.clamxav.com/

Do I need to install anything on my work computer?
No, if your computer is part of UMBC’s Active Directory this software will be automatically installed for you and McAfee will be automatically removed. If you have a PC and are not joined to Active Directory please see our software downloads page for the Forefront installer http://www.umbc.edu/downloads/mcafee/

When is this happening?
DoIT will begin installing Forefront the week of March 26th. Several departments will get the software each day with a completion date of April 27th for the entire campus to be moved over.

Will I notice anything?
Yes, during the installation you will see the McAfee v-shield icon disappear and be replaced by a shield enclosed in a green box. You can continue to use your computer while DoIT installs the software as we have not seen any noticeable performance impact on the desktop PC.

I’m not comfortable updating my computer, can I get help?
Yes, please contact our technology support center and one of our staff would be happy to walk you through the installation process

I don’t want to switch right now, can I keep using McAfee?
Yes, your current version will continue to receive updates from McAfee but DoIT strongly recommends you change your antivirus software as soon as time permits.

Posted by mikec at 10:31 AM | TrackBack

January 20, 2012

Known Issues with Enrollment of Bb Courses

UPDATE: 1/24/12

As of 10:30 a.m. today, course enrollment updates are now occurring hourly.

Current SA to Bb Update Schedule:

  • New user updates - top of the hour
  • New enrollment updates - bottom of the hour
  • New course updates - daily at 2:15 a.m.


    As reported previously, there have been a number of issues with auto creation and enrollment of Blackboard courses since the December 23 upgrade:

    12/29/11: Spring 2012 Bb courses were auto created but auto enrollment is still once a day
    12/28/11: Bb auto enrollment changed from every two hours to once a day
    12/26/11: Winter 2012 courses were manually created by hand, not auto created

    Basically, DoIT has had to completely re-engineer Bb's integration with the Student Administration (SA) system, a project we'd planned for Summer 2012. Good news? It is nearly completed and appears to be working. Bad news? It is not fully tested.

    Current Status & Next Steps

    • Blackboard courses are being auto-enrolled ONCE A DAY at 3 a.m. using the new "snapshot" process.
    • This process can take up to 90 minutes to complete and has impacted performance.
    • Enrolling courses more frequently risks overall performance and usability of the system at the hectic start of semester.
    • DoIT is testing a new "event driven" process that would update Bb course enrollments every hour, based on incremental changes in SA. If it doesn't work, we can and will roll back to the once-at-3 a.m. approach.

    What You Can Do To Help?

    Students

    If you cannot access your Bb course 24 hours after officially enrolling in it via SA, please submit an RT ticket via myUMBC help or directly at rt.umbc.edu. Please include the following:

    Faculty

    Similarly, if you do not see your Bb course, confirm you are the official instructor of record in the Schedule of Classes (SOC). If not, contact your department scheduling coordinator so you can be added to the course in SA, which updates Bb instructor enrollment, just like students.

    If you ARE the instructor of record but still can't access your Bb course, follow the same steps as students (above), but also include your Blackboard courseID.

    Posted by fritz at 2:23 PM | TrackBack

    January 17, 2012

    Resolved: Slow RT (Request Tracker) Performance

    UPDATE

    DoIT staff have identified an issue with the system storage which has been fixed. Please contact DoIT if you are still experiencing the slowness identified earlier today.



    DoIT has received several reports of sluggish performance of the RT (Request Tracker) ticketing system. Initial attempts to adjust the system memory resources have not been successful, so DoIT staff members are exploring possible hardware issues.

    The Technology Support Center (TSC) can still be reached at 410.455.3838, but RT's current issues will affect the TSC staff's ability to update existing tickets. Meanwhile, several IT-related frequently asked questions (FAQs) are available from the myUMBC help menu or directly at www.umbc.edu/faq.

    DoIT will update the campus when we know more.

    Posted by fritz at 10:43 AM | TrackBack

    December 29, 2011

    SP2012 Bb Courses Auto Created and Enrolled

    Following yesterday's announcement of a new "snapshot" data synchronization process between SA and Blackboard, DoIT reports that a Bb course shell has been auto created and enrolled for all Spring 2012 courses in the Schedule of Classes. As previously announced, all Bb course shell enrollments are being updated daily at 9 a.m., pending further development and testing of the new process.

    Reminder: All Bb course shells are unavailable (to students) until the instructor of record makes the course available.

    If you have questions or concerns not addressed by this update, please consult the specific Blackboard Help section of the IT support FAQs or submit a Request Tracker (RT) ticket via the myUMBC Help menu or directly at http://rt.umbc.edu.

    Sincerely,

    John Fritz
    Asst. VP, Instructional Technology & New Media
    UMBC Div. of Information Technology (DoIT)

    Posted by fritz at 9:12 AM | TrackBack

    December 28, 2011

    WT2012 Bb Courses Enrolled Daily at 9 a.m., For Now

    To resolve reported issues with Winter and Spring 2012 Blackboard courses, DoIT has successfully tested Blackboard's "snapshot" process for automatically creating and enrolling all UMBC Bb courses based on updates to the Student Administration (SA) system. As a result, all Winter 2012 Bb course enrollments have been updated today, and will continue to be updated at 9 a.m.

    Pending further development and testing of the snapshot process next week, DoIT will return to our normal practice of automatically updating all new Bb courses and enrollments from the SA "feed" every two hours.

    For now, DoIT has NOT created or enrolled Spring 2012 Bb courses, so we can see what issues (if any) are reported by faculty and students using Winter 2012 Bb courses. We are optimistic we can create/enroll Spring 2012 courses soon, but will update the campus if and when we have done so.

    We appreciate the campus' patience during this unexpected change in data synchronization between SA and Bb course creation & enrollment. If you have questions or concerns not addressed by this update, please consult the specific Blackboard Help section of the IT support FAQs or submit a Request Tracker (RT) ticket via the myUMBC Help menu or directly at http://rt.umbc.edu.

    Sincerely,

    John Fritz
    Asst. VP, Instructional Technology & New Media
    UMBC Div. of Information Technology (DoIT)

    Posted by fritz at 9:42 AM | TrackBack

    December 26, 2011

    DoIT Reports Issues Creating WT & SP 2012 Bb Courses

    While the campus Blackboard server was successfully upgraded on Friday, December 23, DoIT has encountered issues with the planned auto-creation of Winter and Spring 2012 Bb course shells. We are still investigating the issue, but as of today here is a status update:

    • All 100 or so WT 2012 Bb course shells have been manually created by DoIT staff, and the instructor of record has been enrolled. Faculty can now begin to export old Bb courses and import them into these new WT 2012 Bb shells.

    • However, NO students have been "auto-enrolled" in these WT 2012 Bb course shells, and will none will be able to until DoIT has determined the nature of the current problem.

    • Instructors of WT 2012 Bb courses can use the Student Administration (SA) system to view a class roster. If you need to email students before Winter courses begin on Tuesday, January 3, either download the SA roster and email students directly or manually enroll your students into Blackboard and send email through the Bb course site. When DoIT fixes the auto-enroll function, all officially-registered students will remain in the Bb course site, regardless of how they were initially enrolled in it.

      Reminder: Instructors need to make their Bb courses available for students to see AND log into them.

    • Spring 2012 Bb course sites have not been created or enrolled. DoIT will provide another update as we learn more.

    We apologize for this inconvenience, especially to Winter 2012 Bb faculty. If you have questions or concerns not addressed by this update, please consult the specific Blackboard Help section of the IT support FAQs or submit a Request Tracker (RT) ticket via the myUMBC Help menu or directly at http://rt.umbc.edu.

    Sincerely,

    John Fritz
    Asst. VP, Instructional Technology & New Media
    UMBC Div. of Information Technology (DoIT)

    Posted by fritz at 8:07 PM | TrackBack

    December 19, 2011

    DoIT Closed 12/24/11 to 1/2/12

    The Division of Information Technology (DoIT) will be closed during the campus holiday break from December 24, 2011 to January 2, 2012. During this time, the 24/7 lab in Engineering 021 can be accessed with a valid Campus ID card. In addition, DoIT staff will remotely monitor and support (via an RT ticket ) any issues related to the December 22 Blackboard upgrade and subsequent auto-creation of Winter and Spring 2012 course shells.

    Posted by fritz at 3:48 PM | TrackBack

    October 12, 2011

    12/22 Bb Upgrade Will Delay Auto-Creation of WT & SP 2012 Courses

    To fix a known issue of broken content links in some courses, reduce growing web browser incompatibilities, and install Collaborate (Blackboard’s replacement for Wimba), DoIT will be upgrading the Blackboard production system on Thursday, December 22, at 10 p.m. As a result, Winter and Spring 2012 course shells will NOT be auto-created until Monday, December 26.

    Faculty can still develop 2012 content using older course sites, and simply delay the export/import process until 2012 course shells are auto-created on 12/26. However, given the start of Winter session on January 3, DoIT will manually create Winter 2012 course shells upon request, with the understanding that faculty who do so need to use a published work around if they encounter the broken links problem the upgrade is meant to resolve.

    Important Note to Instructors About Fall Grades

    While Fall 2011 classes end December 13, final grades are due on January 4. Accordingly, if you display Fall 2011 grades to students in a Bb course, DoIT recommends backing up the gradebook by downloading it to Excel BEFORE the 12/22 upgrade begins at 10 p.m. We do not anticipate any issues with the upgrade, but to be safe, faculty should back up their grade book before the upgrade.

    Why DoIT Is Upgrading Blackboard Before Fall Semester Ends

    Last month, DoIT announced the known issue after students in about a dozen Blackboard courses could not access uploaded documents. We have not received many new reports since then, nor have we (or Blackboard) identified a specific cause, though it appears to be related to importing a Spring 2011 course into an empty Fall 2011 shell under our current version of Bb (9.1.4). While the content IS present in the new shell, the displayed links to it in some Bb courses do not work. Additionally, there is no site-wide fix DoIT can implement after this export/import process has occurred, though faculty can manually work around it if they or their students encounter it.

    Since exporting and importing Bb courses is the primary way all content is moved from one semester to the next, DoIT considers this to be a potentially very serious issue if it is more widespread, particularly in WT and SP 2012 courses. Blackboard believes upgrading our production system will allow the export/import process to work properly, and we believe it will also help minimize a growing problem with web browser incompatibilities due to some browsers changing more frequently than Blackboard. Additionally, we will be installing Blackboard Collaborate which is the new web-based conferencing system following Bb’s acquisition of Wimba and Eluminate in Summer 2010. Collaborate was released this past summer, but not in time for us to test for a Fall 2011 release at UMBC.

    Unfortunately, there is no longer a convenient window of time when upgrades can occur during the academic year, but we have reviewed this decision with an informal advisory group of active Bb instructors in several disciplines, as well as the Faculty Senate’s Computer Policy Committee at its 9/16/11 and 10/7/11 meetings. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work to improve the campus’ use of Blackboard.

    Sincerely,

    John Fritz
    Asst. VP, Instructional Technology & New Media
    UMBC Division of Information Technology

    Posted by fritz at 4:44 PM | TrackBack

    September 7, 2011

    Known Issue: Students Can't Access Bb Course Files

    DoIT is tracking a problem that has emerged in a dozen Fall 2011 Blackboard courses in which students see the following error:

    The specified resource was not found or you do not have permission to access it.

    Workaround

    Actually, the files DO exist in the course, but need to be re-linked (NOT re-uploaded). We understand this is a challenging problem and workaround at a very hectic time of year. We have submitted a support ticket into Blackboard, which is working to dentify the cause of this problem. We will update UMBC Bb instructors as we learn more.

    Posted by fritz at 7:53 AM | TrackBack

    August 24, 2011

    UMBC Blackboard Help Now Part of myUMBC Help Wiki

    As part of campus-wide user support changes announced by the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) earlier this summer, the Blackboard Help tab inside Bb (available at www.umbc.edu/blackboard/help) is now run by the “Find Help - FAQ” wiki on the myUMBC Help menu.

    myUMBChelpmenu.png
    Wherever possible, our approach will be to focus on UMBC-specific Bb help that can't be found elsewhere (e.g., course creation, enrollment, availability), or useful, but perhaps less well-known tools in Blackboard’s generic online user manuals available in every course site under “Tools” (for students) or the “Control Panel” (for instructors & community leaders).

    Examples include:

  • How to make your Bb course available (a key UMBC-specific task), and
  • How to enable "subscription" to discussion boards so users can get an email alert of new posts (a useful, but little known tool).

    As in the examples above, our preference will be to show brief (5 minutes or less) focused video “screencasts” of key tasks, followed by simple step-by-step text instructions. Not all articles will contain videos, but our goal is add them to the most frequently asked questions (FAQs).

    In addition, there are key advantages to using a wiki for Blackboard Help. First, as some faculty know who have used wikis for student projects, it is easier for more people with a variety of technical skills to edit and maintain a wiki because it is a completely web-based tool and does not require highly technical programming skills to do so. For now, DoIT staff are maintaining the site, but eventually we hope to make this more directly available to students, faculty and staff who can help us monitor and edit existing help documentation or actually create new articles that can be published (and searched) as “drafts” for use by the UMBC Bb community. Until then, you can “suggest an article” on the FAQ “about” site to add, change, comment on or request deletion of an existing FAQ article.

    Second, there are useful wiki tools such as shorter URLs or web addresses, a “history” of changes to the document and the ability to email it to yourself or a colleague. We’ve also added feedback tools and a “request help” link that goes to the other main link on the myUMBC Help Menu: Request Help. This site serves as the campus gateway for the RT (Request Tracker) ticketing system used by DoIT, Financial Services, Academic Services and some academic departments such as Computer Science/Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. Unlike sending a help request to a support staff member’s personal email inbox, an RT ticket can be monitored and acted upon by more than one individual, who may be busy or unavailable due to vacation or sickness. In addition, you can use the RT interface to monitor the status of your open RT ticket and provide feedback on your experience.

    Clearly, interest in RT is growing, and it appears the myUMBC Help menu may be one reason why. Last year, the campus generated more than 50,000 RT tickets (about 25,000 were IT-related), and the “Request Help” link was accessed 30,000 times (students, faculty and staff can also call the main tech support number of 5-3838 to have a ticket entered on their behalf).

    By contrast, the myUMBC “Find Help” site, which used to be called DoIT Knowledge base (KB), was accessed 10 times less than “Request Help.” So, over the summer, DoIT and Library staff worked on redesigning the FAQ, with the hope of creating a central, community-driven knowledge base similar to Indiana University or Virginia Tech. We also plan to participate in a broader higher education knowledge management initiative that is sponsored by the Kuali Foundation and based on the Indiana KB.

    Finally, DoIT and the Library have collaborated on the “Find Help -- FAQ” wiki as part of the new Retriever Learning Center (RLC) that opens this fall. The goal is to explore and refine inevitable issues when different organizations (and cultures) share a single web platform to provide end user support. This is key to encouraging other campus organizations to use the wiki, which will hopefully make it easier for students, faculty and staff to find, request and track online help about a wider variety of topics.

    For more information, visit the FAQ “about" site that contains a brief, video overview of the changes to myUMBC help.

    Posted by fritz at 6:16 AM | TrackBack

    July 29, 2011

    New Account Deactivation Process

    In an effort to maintain and streamline our account management, DoIT will be implementing new procedures focusing on account deactivation beginning in August 2011. Accounts are deactivated when the user becomes unaffiliated with UMBC. When an account is deactivated, the user will be unable to log in and access to campus computing resources will be removed. This includes email. Notification of a pending account suspension will be sent to the user’s UMBC email address as well as the user-supplied email address given for account maintenance. This is not a phishing attack. The email will refer back to this article as well as provide the recipient with the UMBC Technology Support Center phone number (410.455.3838) in case the recipient would want to verify the authenticity of the email or ask questions about the email.

    The following specifies at what point an account becomes deactivated after the UMBC affiliation (e.g. Faculty, Staff, Emeritus, Alumni, Non Alumni, Other) is lost.

    Faculty
    1 Year

    Staff
    2 Weeks

    Emeritus Faculty/Staff
    Only after 1 Year inactivity

    Alumni
    Only after 1 Year inactivity

    Former (non-alumni) Students
    4 Months

    Others (special programs, etc)
    2 Weeks

    Posted by mikec at 9:25 AM | TrackBack

    May 10, 2011

    DoIT's Google Calendar Pilot

    On March 29th, 2011 DoIT moved 75 full-time off of Oracle calendar and onto Google Calendar. Overall the migration has been extremely successful. We used this an opportunity to fully test the Google calendar platform. Feedback from users has been positive with several highlighting the wonderful mobile device support and ease of sharing within Google Calendar.

    Posted by mikec at 3:04 PM

    March 9, 2011

    UMBC Moving to Google Calendar

    Oracle Calendar to Google Calendar Migration
    On June 7th, 2011 the campus will move to Google calendar as the new campus-wide enterprise calendaring solution. Oracle calendar has been the campus’ calendaring solution for the last decade. Unfortunately, Oracle calendar has not kept up to date with current web and mobile technologies.

    kathy_raab.jpg
    Kathy Raab
    DoIT hired Kathy Raab, a former UMBC staff member with Oracle calendar experience, to help in creating just-in-time online training videos to support the move to Google calendar. Raab's prior UMBC experience coupled with her Google calendar training will create a smooth migration. In addition to a web site dedicated to the migration, Raab will provide two training sessions the week before migration for those who feel they need extra hands on experience.

    Campus Benefits

    * Improved Web interface
    * Support for Outlook client users
    * Superior mobile device support (iPhone, Android, Blackberry)
    * Simple collaboration (publish to web, share with other users easily)
    * Easily subscribe to other calendars (e.g. Holiday schedules)

    Pilot March 29th
    Beginning on March 29th DoIT will begin piloting Google calendar for all DoIT meetings. This will allow us to identify documentation and training needs.
    April 13
    All Faculty/Staff provisioned with a Google only account allowing access to all Google features except mail. Those that have already migrated to Google will not be affected.
    April 15
    Google calendar support and training site go-live. All faqs and minute training videos online
    June 1st and 2nd
    In class training sessions available
    June 7
    Campus moves to Google Calendar.

    More Information about Google @ UMBC

    Posted by mikec at 1:21 PM | TrackBack

    February 24, 2011

    IHE Journal Publishes Article on Check My Activity Tool for Students

    The Internet and Higher Education has published an article about UMBC's Check My Activity (CMA) tool for students in its special issue on web mining in education. For more information, see the following:

    Fritz, J., Classroom walls that talk: Using online course activity data of successful students to raise self-awareness of underperforming peers, Internet and Higher Education, Volume 14, Issue 2, March 2011, Pages 89-97.

    Posted by fritz at 2:44 PM | TrackBack

    January 24, 2011

    Known Issue: Instructors Can't Import Bb Course Over 250MB

    DoIT has confirmed a known issue that affects faculty trying to export an old Blackboard course and import it into a new, empty shell:

    The export works fine, but if the resulting file is larger than 250 MB, faculty cannot import it. The process will return a "time out" error message.

    Other schools running version 9.1 have reported this issue, but until Blackboard releases a fix and we have tested it, the work around is for faculty to submit an RT Ticket with a copy of the error message in the body of the ticket requesting that DoIT import the old course.

    Posted by fritz at 11:29 PM | TrackBack

    December 3, 2010

    UMBC Blackboard Update: WT2011

    UMBC Blackboard update is provided by the Division of Information Technology for students, faculty and staff using Blackboard at UMBC. If you have questions or need help, please consult the Blackboard Help tab inside Blackboard or directly at http://www.umbc.edu/blackboard/help. You can also contact the DoIT Help Desk at 410.455.3838, ENGR Room 020. Students may submit a help request via the 24/7 Blackboard Support portal at http://bbsupport.umbc.edu.

    HEADLINES

    1. WT2011 & SP2011 Bb Course Shells Created 12/1
    2. Instructional Continuity Support WT & SP 2011 Courses
    3. 24/7 Bb Support Still Available For Students Only
    4. Only 4 Seats Left in Hybrid Course Re-design Workshop 1/14/11
    5. Ad Hoc SP2011 AV Support Reservations Now Being Accepted
    6. FYI: EDUCAUSE Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference 1/12-1/14

    Posted by readel at 4:27 PM | TrackBack

    Only 4 Seats Left in Hybrid Course Re-design Workshop 1/14/11


    Participants learn the principles of good course design and apply them to a traditional, face-to-face (F2F) course that could be delivered as a hybrid (part-online, part F2F) course. Using hybrid delivery to demonstrate best practices of hybrid teaching, this workshop is open to any UMBC instructor considering teaching a hybrid course in any semester.

    The workshop will also help meet the requirements for a one-time course-redesign stipend through the Alternate Delivery Program (ADP), which is sponsored by the Office of Summer, Winter, and Special Programs (OSWSP) and the Provost's Office.

    Posted by readel at 4:21 PM | TrackBack

    FYI: EDUCAUSE Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference 1/12 - 1/14

    The 9th Annual EDUCAUSE Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference will be held at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel from January 12 -14, 2011. This year's conference is titled "Setting a New Course for the Future" and will focus on meeting the changing needs of learners, faculty, researchers, and administrators through innovation - while continuing to support the critical IT infrastructure. The programming on Thursday is particularly geared towards faculty and educational technologists, and includes presentations and hands-on opportunities that focus on classroom activities. This year EDUCAUSE is offering special one-day registration options. Early registration is open until December 15 and can be found at http://net.educause.edu/Registration/1025803.

    Posted by readel at 3:55 PM | TrackBack

    Ad Hoc SP2011 AV Support Reservations Now Being Accepted

    AV Services is now accepting ad hoc reservations for AV equipment and support for SP 2011 courses. As previously announced all such requests should be submitted via the Request Service Form, or via the RT system directly. Faculty requiring AV equipment in their classroom on a regular basis should be working with their departmental scheduling coordinator to request a "Smart Classroom" during the course scheduling process. This will maximize the possibility that faculty members will be scheduled into an appropriate room already containing the AV equipment they need.

    Over the past several years, DoIT has worked in conjunction with the Office of the Provost to equip more of the classrooms scheduled by the Office of the Registrar with permanently installed AV gear. At the same time, the number of faculty requiring such gear has also increased. While AV Services does have number of mobile carts that can be delivered, in the past year staff members have noted that the deployment of these carts has approached 100% during the peak class times of 10 am to 2 pm, especially on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Additionally, many of the global (semester-long) requests for gear do not come in until the first week of the semester, which makes it hard to anticipate any shortages that might occur. To date, AV Services has not yet had to deny any service requests, and we are hopeful that it will not reach that level. We are asking that academic departments help our efforts in planning ahead by taking advantage of the ability to request a Smart Classroom during the scheduling process. Departmental scheduling coordinators have all been trained how to make this request, and we anticipate that it will increase the efficiency of scheduling limited resources.


    Posted by readel at 1:57 PM | TrackBack

    November 29, 2010

    Voice Mail System Failure November 29, 2010

    Earlier today, DoIT staff noticed errors on one of the two UMBC Voicemail systems supporting the campus phone service. The particular voicemail system is accessed by dialing x51121.

    We placed a call with Siemens tech support and their technician arrived on-campus this afternoon. The technician determined that one of the hard drives in this system failed, and we worked with Siemens to install a replacement drive.

    Unfortunately, all messages stored on the faulty hard drive can’t be recovered. These lost messages may impact one or more stored messages on individual phone numbers. Due to the age of our phone switch (almost 30 years old) there exists no method to provide a backup of voice messages for recovery purposes.

    Posted by mikec at 10:40 PM | TrackBack

    November 19, 2010

    Update:Voice Mail System Error

    Update 11-19-10 1:00 p.m.
    Voice mail access was restored at approximately 1pm today.

    ---------------------------------

    This morning one of our phone nodes suffered a failure. At this time anyone that dials "1121" to retrieve their voice mail will receive a busy signal. We are working with the vendor to have a technician sent out to evaluate the issue. We will post more information as we learn more.

    Posted by mikec at 10:57 AM | TrackBack

    September 30, 2010

    Effective Use of Blackboard for Collaboration by Staff

    During today's UMBC Professional Development Day, John Fritz presented five reasons why (and how) UMBC staff might want to use Blackboard in their work.

    1. Using Blackboard for Job Search or RFP Committees

    Key Steps

  • Review one “thread” per applicant or proposal on the Bb discussion board.
  • Post initial “vote” by changing subject line of your reply to Yes, No or Maybe.
  • Optional: Use body of your reply to explain your “vote”
  • “Subscribe” to the Discussion Board to receive email alert of posts by other members.
  • Meet face-to-face as a group to “negotiate” your online voting differences and reach consensus.

    2. Subscribe to a DB to be alerted by email whenever there are new posts

    Key Steps

  • Subscription is NOT a default setting for the discussion board—but should be.
  • Bb Instructors have option for what “subscribers” are alerted about:
  • Forums (Great for receiving update about any new post)
  • Threads (More targeted and specific)


    3. Configure access to content (e.g., timesheets, P&T documents) based on roles

    Related Demo

  • Tim Hardy (ECON) uses adaptive release to raise student grades by 20 percent

    4. Train PT or student workers using online tutorials

    Key Step

  • Learn how to create brief “show & tell” screen cast videos with Jing. Dead easy.

    5. Use Wimba voice & video conferencing for live or recorded meetings from home.

    Posted by fritz at 1:22 PM | TrackBack

    September 28, 2010

    SPSS License Update Fall 2010 Updated 9-30

    Posted 10-01-2010 1:35PM

    IBM-SPSS has notified us that the new license generation program for the network license where our 900 lab computers point is not working, disabling SPSS in the labs at this time. We have no firm estimate of a resolution time; we will continue to post updates as we receive them.

    Posted 9-30-2010 9:30PM
    The NEW permanent codes for SPSS 17 and 18 have been posted on the SPSS download site.

    We were unable to obtain the network license for SPSS. This will affect SPSS usage in the DoIT labs. SPSS customer service opens at 8:30AM tomorrow at which time we will work with them to send us the proper network codes. Once we have those we will update the network license to ensure SPSS works in the labs.
    ------------------------------
    Posted 9-30-2010
    The contract has been signed. We have been told by SPSS-IBM that we will receive our permanent codes later on today (Thursday, September 30, 2010).

    ---------------------------------------------------
    Posted 9-28-2010
    On Friday, October 1, 2010 SPSS will stop working on all machines and systems at UMBC. At this time IBM-SPSS is unwilling to issue a 30 day temporary code until the new contract is signed by UMBC.

    In the past this has not been an issue but we have been informed that SPSS-IBM will not make an exception. Even if they made an exception they are unable to issue a 30 day temporary license due the inability to issue a $0.00 order before their quarter ends.

    Earlier this year IBM purchased SPSS. This resulted in new contract terms being negotiated with IBM. We began negotiating the new contract terms over two months ago. Unfortunately, there have been a number of delays due to contract revisions and requests for changes based on Maryland law. UMBC’s legal team received IBM’s final proposed version earlier this week. Campus legal is currently reviewing the contract terms proposed by IBM.

    This issue has been escalated to senior management at IBM-SPSS for review but at this time it is doubtful this will be resolved before the expiration on Friday, October 1. We will update this blog post as we know more.

    ------------------------------------------------------
    Posted 9-2-2010
    UMBC has been working with IBM-SPSS to renew the campus site license. Our current licenses will “soft expire” on August 31, 2010. During the soft expiry period users will receive a pop-up warning each time SPSS is launched. The good news is that SPSS will work normally after accepting the pop-up warning. The “hard expire” for is October 1, 2010. After this date SPSS will no longer work.

    It will take at least 45 days for UMBC to receive the permanent license codes from IBM-SPSS. This vendor will not provide a permanent code until they have received an actual check from the state, a PO is not sufficient. Therefore, a temporary 30 day code will be issued by IBM-SPSS which we will release the week of September 20th.

    We expect to receive the permanent license codes around the second week of October. With IBM's recent acquisition of SPSS all of UMBC's existing SPSS contracts had to be re-negotiated and vetted through both legal departments. This process took the better part of summer and was finalized in mid August.

    We apologize for any problems this may have caused.

    Posted by mikec at 11:53 AM | TrackBack

    September 25, 2010

    DoIT Publishes 2010 Annual Report

    Jack Suess, VP of IT and CIO
    Welcome to the Division of Information Technology’s (DoIT) first annual report. Reflecting on this time last year, our focus was on four major initiatives:

    • The launch of the Student Administration (SA) project;
    • Updating our infrastructure for email and storage;
    • Deployment of our new High Performance Computing (HPC) research cluster; and
    • Supporting academic continuity in preparation for concerns over the H1N1 virus.

    While success is never final, all four initiatives are now in place as a foundation to build upon. We continue to work with the functional offices and Michael Busges on advancing SA to meet the needs of the campus. We updated our email and storage infrastructure and had no major events this past year, but continue to struggle with spam caused by successful “phishing” attacks that trick users into giving up their account passwords. The new HPC research cluster, initially delayed due to issues with cooling, was finally launched in the spring giving us a ten-fold improvement in HPC; and the lessons learned in supporting H1N1 were tested during the snow events this past February and are being integrated into training we provide faculty.

    In addition, we began work on four additional priorities designed to improve your experience in using technology at UMBC:

    • Upgrading Blackboard to version 9;
    • Supporting iStrategy for financial reporting;
    • Migrating to Google Apps for Education; and
    • Launching myUMBC 3.0.

    Blackboard 9 is the first offering since Blackboard and WebCT merged in 2006, and will serve as the basis for new innovations, including our own. UMBC has been reworking the integration with SA for course enrollments, but we are also looking at new services, such as ways to integrate the Bb grade book back into SA and improve reporting of how students, faculty and staff use Bb.

    The iStrategy initiative is a partnership with Financial Services that will greatly improve financial reporting. While this will be a multi-year effort, we expect to see Financial Services release the first phase of this in the early fall by providing new tools for tracking state-support budgets. Future phases will work on integrating other fund sources such as grants and projects.

    Over the summer we successfully completed a contract with Google and have migrated all new students over to Google Apps for Education. Starting this Fall, all other students will be eligible to begin moving their mail over. The switch to Google covers much more than email and we expect students to appreciate the collaborative capability of Google Documents.

    The launch of myUMBC 3.0 is intended to tie all these initiatives together and provide a framework for supporting the community. We have streamlined the interface, revamped the topic pages, and built a new group interface into myUMBC that allows groups to have a shared calendar, spotlights, documents, and other resources necessary for collaboration.

    For the next few years a key focus of DoIT will be responding to the IT Restructuring Report recommendations (see back cover). I’m very excited about the opportunities for collaboration this affords DoIT in working with other units and look forward to working with our Faculty Senate Computer Policy Committee and IT Steering Committee on plans and recommendations.

    Lastly, let me thank the DoIT staff members who so ably did their jobs this past year. DoIT staff members are nationally recognized for their work and I’m honored to have the opportunity to lead this Division.

    Posted by fritz at 10:36 PM | TrackBack

    September 1, 2010

    Instructor Display of Bb Menus Using Firefox Now Fixed

    firefox_bb_bad_still.pngYesterday, DoIT began receiving reports from instructors that their course menus were obscured when they used the Firefox web browser (see example at right). We worked with Blackboard, which identified the source of the problem (a missing or corrupt icon image, perhaps a result following the Service Pack 2 upgrade last Friday night during the scheduled maintenance window), and implemented the solution this morning.

    To clarify, DoIT always tests Blackboard upgrades, service packs and hot fixes before implementing in production. We did not see this issue on our Bb test environment, and do not know why the issue manifested itself yesterday (four days after the SP2 implementation). We are working with Blackboard to confirm the cause of the missing image file, but for now the issue appears to be resolved.

    Posted by fritz at 10:11 AM | TrackBack

    August 31, 2010

    Performance of myUMBC on Tuesday, August 31, 2010

    Today, myUMBC users have been experiencing authentication errors and slowness. Initially, the typical message was a “shibboleth listener error.” We believe we have identified the cause of the authentication error and implemented a fix, which we are continuing to monitor.

    In addition, we know there are ongoing issues with slow page loads. DoIT staff are working late to change a few system parameters, and will be monitoring performance of the myUMBC environment tonight and tomorrow.

    In the meantime, you can login directly to most of the services that you typically see in myUMBC. To make this easier, the DoIT web site now has a link to a temporary web page with direct links to many of the various campus services.

    Posted by fritz at 5:34 PM | TrackBack

    August 30, 2010

    Sign Up For Google@UMBC Today!

    If you are ready to experience an entirely new collaborative experience then Google@UMBC is right for you. If you are interested in signing up or just want to know more then please visit UMBC's support site hosted using Google Sites.


    Previous Google Post
    http://www.umbc.edu/blogs/oit-news/archives/2010/08/google_apps_is.html

    Posted by mikec at 1:16 AM | TrackBack

    August 24, 2010

    Changes in How Faculty Can Get Blackboard Help

    Starting today, the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) is directing faculty to the DoIT Help Desk to resolve basic (tier 1) Blackboard issues or escalate to DoIT's Instructional Technology & New Media group. Presidium Learning will continue to support basic (tier 1) student Blackboard issues, excluding DoIT's auto-enrollment and auto-course creation processes, which are unique to UMBC.

    Generally speaking, tier 1 IT support refers to basic but frequent end user support (e.g., forgotten passwords), tier 2 refers to less frequent but more advanced application support (e.g., how to export/import a course or use the grade center), and tier 3 refers to a handful of back end, but high impact system administration issues (e.g., server is down).

    We are making this change in faculty Blackboard support for a number of reasons:

    First, a steady number of faculty continue to report lack of consistency in the depth and quality of 24/7 Bb support they have received from Presidium Learning. We have continually worked with Presidium to address specific issues when we learn of them, and results of a recent user satisfaction survey are generally positive. However, feedback from some faculty is still mixed. As we announced in May, one reason we proceeded with the 9.1 summer upgrade was to learn about issues that may affect support of faculty before the start of Fall. While any upgrade can be challenging, we don't want support of faculty to complicate the transition, so we are making this change now.

    Second, student use of 24/7 Bb support continues to outpace faculty--especially during nights and weekends, and feedback is generally positive. Since nearly all students have at least one Blackboard course, faculty may want to ask students to start with 24/7 Bb support if they have technical issue. In turn, this may reduce the default "help desk" role many faculty play in their Blackboard courses now. Also, as Presidium continues to provide student support, it frees up DoIT staff to provide more advanced, tier 2 application support.

    Finally, as I announced a year ago today (and again in November and January), we continue to face challenges in providing support for an application that is now used by nearly all UMBC classes--with the same Full Time Equivalent (FTE) staffing as when we started using Blackboard ten years ago. To do so, faculty have stepped up to not only support each other, but also to lead by example in how to get the most out of Blackboard and other instructional technologies or effective practices (e.g., AV, clickers, digital storytelling, hybrid learning, etc.). DoIT values and intentionally facilitates these kinds of faculty learning communities, but as technology adoption increases, we need to find the right balance between supporting people while also helping them to help themselves and others.

    To be clear, this change now means that "after hours" faculty Bb support will be limited to the UMBC support staff (and faculty colleagues) who able and willing to provide it. But we hope this change and continuing use of 24/7 Bb student support will be a step in the right direction.

    If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions, please let me know.

    Sincerely,

    John Fritz
    Asst. VP, Instructional Technology & New Media
    UMBC Division of Information Technology
    410.455.6596 or fritz@umbc.edu

    Posted by fritz at 9:47 AM | TrackBack

    ResNet Blitz - August 27, 28, 30. Sign Up Now!

    Welcome back! To make your transition easier, the Department of Information Technology has provided a simple form that you can use to request assistance, should you experience difficulty in connecting to the UMBC network. DoIt staff will be available at the residence halls and apartments on Friday, Saturday and Monday to resolve these issues. The forms to request assistance are available at every front desk of all residence halls, at the Help Desk front desk (ENGR building room 020), on http://my.umbc.edu and http://resnet.umbc.edu.

    Posted by anna at 8:00 AM | TrackBack

    August 23, 2010

    Google Apps for UMBC is Here

    We are excited to announce that beginning August 30th, faculty, staff and students can opt-in to the new Google@UMBC environment.

    Google Apps is a package of online applications that makes communicating and collaborating at UMBC easier and more efficient. The cornerstone of Google Apps is Gmail, Google’s web-based email program, which integrates with Google Docs, for creating and sharing documents, and Google Calendar, for coordinating schedules. All of these services are hosted online, so email, documents, and calendars are always accessible from any computer, anywhere.

    The Google contract was signed by the attorney general’s office in July 2010 under the Maryland Education Enterprise Consortium (MEEC) umbrella. UMBC was the first USM school to sign the new contract thus allowing UMBC to offer the Google collaborative tools to the UMBC community.

    A Google@UMBC Web Site has been setup to answer many of your questions.

    Timeline
    August 6th All new student accounts will automatically be created on Google@UMBC. This includes incoming Fall 2010 Freshmen.
    August 30th Faculty, Staff and Students can opt-in, via NEW Web Interface, to migrate their mail to Google
    January 2011 Migrate remaining student accounts to Google


    Posted by mikec at 7:02 PM | TrackBack

    Anecdotal Reports of System Slowness After Bb 9.1 Upgrade

    Early after the Blackboard 9.1 upgrade at the end of May, DoIT received a few anecdotal reports of slowness in the new version of Blackboard. While we've not been able to consistently replicate these issues for further analysis, we have been in frequent contact with Blackboard, which has inspected our system and found nothing out of the ordinary.

    Without being able to consistently reproduce a problem, it is difficult to pin down, diagnose and resolve. If you encounter slowness in Blackboard, you can help by reporting it via an RT ticket.

    In addition, if you are willing and able to do so, capturing when the slowness occurs in the form of an optional, "show and tell" video screen cast would be extremely useful. I'm attaching a similar email request I sent to hybrid faculty back in June, but essentially it would be helpful if students, faculty and staff could do the following if and when there is new evidence of possible Bb system slowness:

    1. Capture it with Jing (works on a Mac or PC, is free and can be downloaded at www.jingproject.com)
    2. Show or tell the browser and release version you're using (e.g., Firefox 3.6.3, IE8, etc.)
    3. Show or tell the operating system you're using (e.g., Windows 7, Mac OSX 10.4, etc.)
    4. Show or tell the kind of internet connection you're using (e.g., wireless on campus, wireless at home using Comcast, etc.)
    5. Show or tell the specific problem you are able to repeat (reminder there is 5 minute limit on free Jing videos)
    6. Upload your video to screencast.com (part of the free Jing service) and get a link you can paste into an RT ticket (http://rt.umbc.edu)
    7. Create an RT ticket using the "online learning" queue, perhaps with "Bb 9.1 Issue w/Jing" as first part of your subject line
    8. Paste the link to your Jing video in the body of your ticket as well as text responses to items #2,3,4 above.
    9. Submit the RT ticket
    10. OPTIONAL: Add your Jing to the following site so others can learn about "known issues" (I've put up an example):

    UMBC Bb 9.1 Known Issues
    https://spaces.umbc.edu/x/vhHg

    Again, creating a "show and tell" video screencast is totally OPTIONAL and not required for submitting a ticket that contains the same information in textual format. But if you can create the video, it will really help DoIT determine the root of the problem--if it persists.

    As DoIT continues to investigate this issue, I will update the community if we learn more. In the meantime, if you have any questions, suggestions or need more information, please let me know.

    Sincerely

    John Fritz
    Asst. VP, Instructional Technology & New Media
    UMBC Division of Information Technology
    410.455.6596 or fritz@umbc.edu

    Posted by fritz at 1:51 PM | TrackBack

    Support for WT & SP 2011 Hybrid Courses, Instructional Continuity

    While the Fall semester starts next week, the Division of Information Technology (in partnership with the Provost's Office and Continuing & Professional Studies), is providing support for hybrid learning and instructional continuity. Specifically, departmental course proposals are due to the Registrar's Office September 10 (for Winter), and October 1 (for Spring). Faculty who have support from a chair and meet Fall requirements of the Alternate Delivery Program (ADP) can receive a one-time, $2,500 course development stipend. Space in the ADP is limited, and DoIT encourages faculty to carefully consider how (and why) they are actively using instructional technologies now, but the following resources may be helpful in deciding whether to identify a Winter or Spring 2011 course proposal for "hybrid" or "online" delivery:


    1. ELI's Online Fall Focus Session on Blended Learning (September 15-16)

    Karin Readel
    UMBC's Alternate Delivery Program (ADP) will be featured during the
    1:15 p.m. session on Thursday, September 16 when Karin Readel, Director of Instructional Technology and a 2006 ADP "alum," provides an overview of the ADP, describes her own experiences hybridizing her SCI100 course, and joins a follow up panel of speakers for Q & A. For this online event, we'll have to "share" Karin with the rest of the country, but DoIT is holding a free, joint viewing in ECS 023 for both days of ELI's online Fall Focus session. This is a great way learn more about hybrid or blended learning, ask questions, and think about your own course delivery options before submitting your course delivery proposal to the Registrar's office.

    Note: UMBC is an institutional member of ELI, which is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in effective use of instructional technologies. All you have to do is create a free Educause account and list UMBC as your institutional affiliation. Resources include the "7 things you should know about . . ." series, live webinars and archives, and the spring and fall focus sessions. While separate registration is required, the 2011 ELI Annual Meeting will be held in Washington, DC, February 14-16, 2011. Harvard Physics Professor Eric Mazur, who spoke at UMBC last fall, will be the keynote speaker.

    2. ISD Instructor Jeannette Campos Available for Hybrid & Online Learning Consults to ADP Faculty

    Jeannette Campos
    In addition to working with Karin, for faculty who participate in the ADP, Jeannette Campos, an instructional designer and UMBC instructor in Education's ISD program, is available for up to 10 hours a week of online and remote support. Some may recall Jeannette was a "virtual speaker" for one of our Teaching, Learning and Technology (TLT) "Brown Bag" workshops last fall:

    Using Online Tools for Remote Instruction (9/28/09)

    For her remote support of ADP faculty, Jeannette will hold "office hours" twice per week using Skype, and will probably make at least one afternoon per month available for faculty who would prefer daytimes. She will do tutorials, follow-on work, review of course sites and proposed learning activities, and email related correspondence consistently throughout the week. She will also assist us in further developing our hybrid workshop into an online and hybrid resource for faculty who can't attend the face-to-face versions in January and June of each year. For more information, contact Jeannette at jeannet1@umbc.edu.

    3. Blackboard "Drop-In" Sessions & Informal Consulting with Peers

    DoIT is continuing to provide informal Blackboard "Drop In" sessions through this month and the first week of September. There is no "agenda," per se and you do not have to register in advance, but questions and issues are taken on a first come, first served basis, and time given to each topic is subject to the number of people attending.

    In addition, faculty may want to consult peers in their departments who are actively using Blackboard and ask how or why they do so. Of course, this has to be mutually agreeable between colleagues, but over the years we have found that faculty often learn best from other faculty. Also, while it is not required for participation in the ADP, DoIT recommends that faculty be in the top 50 percent of their department's overall Blackboard activity, as this will make the transition to hybrid or online teaching much easier.

    4. Resources for Instructional Continuity

    Finally, DoIT has prepared a list of instructional continuity resources, strategies and activities that faculty may want to consider in case of inclement weather, H1N1 or other disruption to normal campus operations and access. Many of these "effective practices" are used extensively in hybrid and online learning, but if you're not ready or comfortable to teach this way all semester, then being prepared for occasional disruptions can be a great way to test the waters . . . so to speak.

    One idea that will be described in more detail are optional, virtual "snow days" this fall. Faculty may want to participate in one or more of these exercises by using remote instruction strategies. Tentative plans are underway for virtual snow days on the following Fridays: 9/24, 10/29, 11/19 (last Friday before Thanksgiving break) and 12/10 (last Friday of Fall 2010).

    Posted by fritz at 6:29 AM | TrackBack

    August 13, 2010

    Computer Replacement Initiative Deployment Delayed

    Due to circumstances beyond the control of DoIT, installation of computers as part of the Computer Replacement Initiative (CRI) has been delayed until the end of September. This deployment had been planned to begin at the end of July.

    The reason for the delay is that our vendor, Dell, has recently began offering to its corporate customers an "environmentally friendly" shipping option that avoids excessive use of non-biodegradable packing materials. DoIT, as a part of its commitment to sustainability, chose this optional shipping method when the order was placed. Unfortunately, Dell has experienced various difficulties in executing these orders, and has informed us that it will be some weeks before our computers arrive in their "eco-friendly" packing.

    DoIT apologizes for the inconvenience, and thanks those affected for their continued patience.

    Posted by jamie at 11:41 AM

    August 3, 2010

    New Door Access System

    Many people don't know that there is an entire infrastructure of hardware and software behind all the electronic locks that are in use across campus. Whenever someone swipes their UMBC ID in a door reader, that reader sends a signal back to a server to check whether the door should unlock or not. The system that we are currently using is based on software and hardware by a company called Lenel.

    Earlier this year, we undertook a project to upgrade the infrastructure to the latest hardware and software. This included both the Office of Residential Life (ORL) and the main campus systems. ORL uses a dedicated version of the Lenel system to manage their myriad of doors.

    The upgrades were necessary to support the latest features and continue to receive support from our vendors. The servers that ran the software were also beginning to fail and needed to be replaced. By the end of the summer, the entire card access infrastructure will be upgraded to fully redundant virtual servers with all the latest software and features.

    Posted by mikec at 2:23 PM

    August 2, 2010

    New Version of MyUMBC to be Launched August 14th at 10:00AM

    It is hard to believe but the current version of myUMBC is going on 4 years. We launched in summer of 2006 and made significant enhancements in 2008, adding multiple spotlights, and events. In 2009, with the launch of Student Administration we made minor changes to the user interface but began discussions with campus stakeholders regarding their needs. The needs identified were improving the integration of events and calendar, enhancing discussions, and providing tools for student groups, committees, and small departments to use myUMBC to collaborate.

    Based on that feedback, we have completely rewritten myUMBC. The original version was in written in a language called PHP. The new version is written using the Ruby-on-Rails framework. Ruby is used for applications ranging from twitter to yellow-pages and is prized for its flexibility. The goal of making this change was to 1) Improve DoIT’s abililty to respond to new requests, and 2) Provide more flexibility in supporting a variety of web interfaces, including mobile devices.

    On August 14th starting at 10:00AM, you will see a redesigned version of myUMBC. Please bare with us while the change is made, there may be periods during the weekend where system adjustments are made.

    The most noticeable change is that the dashboard has moved from the left-hand side to the top of the page. This was done so we could improve the layout of secondary pages. The major enhancements are the introduction of what we call group pages. These pages allow a group, committee, or department to create a web site where you can control content based on whether you are a member or not. Groups can be found through the community pull-down that is adjacent to the Topics pull-down. By going to the pull down you can find information on groups you can participate in or that you have joined.We have added features for group discussions, calendar, spotlights, media links, and basic web pages -- all of which can be controlled via a simple web interface.

    Sample Screen Shot of New Dashboard
    Screen%20shot%202010-08-02%20at%204.49.37%20PM.png

    A second enhancement is the way we have revamped the topic pages. Topic pages are now dynamically generated and will be much more consistent across the various topic pages. This allows DoIT to quickly modify a topic page and should improve the usability and consistency of myUMBC.

    A third enhancement is we have revamped the way that calendars and events work. We redesigned the interface and made it much easier to add events. Calendars now provide filters and an iCal interface so you can subscribe specific events to a google calendar or mobile device and always be kept up to date.

    All these changes are designed to make myUMBC more usable and more integral to the day-to-day needs of the UMBC community. We want and need your feedback but we ask that you give these changes a chance. Our user-testing has shown that once people get acclimated to the new interface they find this more intuitive than prior myUMBC versions. That said, we need your feedback.

    Please Visit the MyUMBC BETA Site at: http://myumbc3.my.umbc.edu/ This site is a work in progress but should provide you with a sense of the changes being made.

    Posted by mikec at 10:23 AM | TrackBack

    July 12, 2010

    EDUCAUSE Next Gen Learning Initiative to Focus on College Readiness and Completion

    7/14/10 UPDATE

    EDUCAUSE has moved the first program briefing scheduled for today to July 27 at 4 p.m. (DoIT will still hose a "joint viewing" in ECS 125a).

    No more information is available about the remaining four "Challenge Briefing" webinars, but DoIT will update this site when we know.


    EDUCAUSE, an association for higher ed technology professionals, will lead a new effort funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation -- Next Gen Learning Challenges (NGLC) -- to identify and scale technology-enabled approaches that dramatically improve college readiness and completion, particularly for low-income young adults. NGLC seeks to dramatically improve college readiness and completion in the United States by converging innovation, information technology, and our collective will on these challenges.

    Freeman A. Hrabowski, III
    In addition, UMBC President Freeman A. Hrabowski, III is one of two college presidents who will serve on an advisory panel to the NGLC, which will provide grants, build evidence, and develop an active community committed to addressing these persistent educational challenges. To prepare for a formal call for proposals in the fall, EDUCAUSE is holding one-hour summer webinars about the four "challenges" (DoIT will be hosting "joint viewings" in the following locations):

    NGLC Program Briefing
    July 14 - 3:00 p.m. ET (UMBC "joint viewing" in Engineering 125a)

    Challenge Briefing: Open Core Courseware
    July 21 - 3:00 p.m. ET (UMBC "joint viewing" in Engineering 125a)

    Challenge Briefing: Blended Learning
    July 28 - 1:00 p.m. ET (UMBC "joint viewing" in Engineering 125a)

    Challenge Briefing: Learner Engagement
    August 3 - 1:00 p.m. ET (UMBC "joint viewing" in Engineering 125a)

    Challenge Briefing: Learning Analytics
    August 10 - 1:00 p.m. ET (UMBC "joint viewing" in Engineering 101L)

    For more webinar details and login instructions, visit Educause's upcoming events page

    To comment on the NGLC initiative, visit www.nextgenlearning.com

    Posted by fritz at 10:13 AM | TrackBack

    May 7, 2010

    UMBC Discontinuing Mail Forwards to Hotmail May 12th

    Beginning Wed, May 12th all mail forwards from a UMBC account to a Hotmail account will be disabled. Customers will need to login to their UMBC account to change their mail forwarding to some other mail provider (e.g. Yahoo, Gmail). Alternately, they can choose not to forward their mail and instead access their UMBC mail from myUMBC or a local mail client.

    Over the past two months Hotmail has been sporadically blocking mail originating from UMBC mail servers. One of the contributing factors to UMBC being blocked is the fact that we have allowed account holders to forward their mail to off campus addresses. When a UMBC address is forwarded to an external mail provider (e.g. username@hotmail.com) we do not perform any outbound spam filtering. The lack of outbound spam filtering was done intentionally to ensure users receive all of their mail at the external mail provider.

    Unfortunately, Hotmail is extremely aggressive in blocking anyone they view as a spam source. To complicate matters further they refuse to work with UMBC in resolving the issue. The end result is that most of the time legitimate mail sent to hotmail users from UMBC is simply blocked. This has created a number of issues for various offices on campus that need to communicate with existing and prospective students.

    How Do I Change My Mail Forward?
    To change your mail forwarding options please visit:
    https://my.umbc.edu/personal/
    Goto “Email
    Click on “Create a Mail Forwarding Address
    Update your mail forwarding under “Change Mail Delivery Address

    Posted by mikec at 2:05 PM | TrackBack

    April 29, 2010

    Turnitin No Longer Available in Blackboard as of SU2010

    As of SU2010, DoIT is disabling the Turnitin (TII) plagiarism-detection software inside Blackboard, since it does not currently work in Bb's new version 9.1 that the campus will be upgrading to on May 26. Instead, DoIT recommends that faculty use the SafeAssign plagiarism-detection tool that is already built into Blackboard.

    At its April 16 meeting, the Faculty Senate Computer Policy Committee (CPC) approved the recommendation to disable the TII "building block" (or 3rd-party "plugin"), which first began having technical issues in SP2008 when we upgraded to Bb version 7.3. At that time, Blackboard had also acquired SafeAssign, an alternate plagiarism detection tool, and made it part of the delivered Blackboard software.

    Currently, it is not possible to return a TII-reviewed paper to students in the Bb 9.1 grade book, though faculty can assign a grade for it. This is a known issue reported by other institutions as well. As in the past, we have attempted to troubleshoot the TII issues, but there was and continues to be very little incentive for Blackboard and TII to collaborate.

    While some faculty prefer TII functionality over SafeAssign, which does not have as large a submission database at this point in time, a recent report by Florida State University compared the two products and recommended SafeAssign. UMBC has not conducted a similar review, but at this point, neither tool has been widely adopted in many UMBC courses. Given past technical issues and the likelihood TII will be difficult to use in Bb, DoIT recommends faculty switch to SafeAssign, if only to concentrate our support on one tool that can still support UMBC's academic integrity initiatives.

    For faculty who still want to use TII, which is paid for by the Provost's Office, they can do so outside of Bb by going to the TII website and supplying a UMBC code provided by Barry Casey, interim director of the Faculty Development Center. In addition,
    students will need to create a TII user account to submit and receive papers that are reviewed for originality through the TII database.

    Posted by fritz at 10:19 PM | TrackBack

    FA2010 Lab & Lecture Hall Software Requests Deadline is July 1

    In order to load all lab and lecture hall PCs with our standard set of software (known as an "image"), all requests for additions or changes for Fall 2010 must be received by Thursday, July 1. For Spring 2011, the lab & lecture hall software "image" deadline is Wednesday, December 1.

    To be added to the lab & lecture hall image, DoIT must have the following:


    • Proof of purchase/licenses
    • Media and software installation instructions

    Contact 410.455.3838 and a Help Desk staff member will enter a ticket.
    If the request is not received by the deadline, there is no guarantee the requested software will be made available.

    For an instructor-only demo of software, please use a laptop. If you don't have a laptop, you can reserve and pick up one at AV Services (204 ACIV Bldg).

    If you need software installed on the lab image for a one-time purpose (for example, a 2-day workshop in which all users need access to the software), the request should be submitted no less than six (6) weeks prior to the first lab reservation for that class. The software will be removed once you are done.

    An e-mail will be sent to the requester once the software is installed, typically 1-2 week(s) before the first use of the software; faculty/instructors need to then test the software to ensure everything is working as expected for class. Support for the software is the responsibility of the instructor or department who requested that the software be installed.

    Again, proof of purchase and/or license must be provided for as many copies as will be needed for the students in the class. We cannot install software without appropriate proof of licensing.

    Although DoIT will make a reasonable effort to get all software packages to work, we can not guarantee that they will. Some packages may not function because of the network, computer hardware, and lab setup. DoIT cannot be held responsible for software that does not work by class time. Please contact the Help Desk at 410.455.3838 if you have any additional questions.

    Posted by fritz at 9:12 PM | TrackBack

    April 26, 2010

    Summary of McAfee and Windows XP Events

    Number of Known Machines Affected Campus Wide
    (Including DIT Managed Spaces)

    These numbers are self-reported from Departmental IT (DIT) staff and Division of Information Technology (DoIT) staff. The numbers are likely higher than these due to staff fixing the problem themselves using DoITs online documentation and us not receiving reports back from everyone on campus.

    Campus Labs (DoIT and Departmental)
    679 PCs

    Faculty and Staff Desktops
    330 PCs

    TOTAL Number of Machines Affected
    1,009 PCs

    DAY ONE Wednesday, April 21st
    12:15 p.m.
    On Wed, April 21, 2010, beginning at 12:15 p.m. the UMBC help desk began receiving calls from across campus reporting Windows machines crashing. A quick on-site assessment of the situation along with some Twitter posts led us to believe the cause was not a virus but more likely an errant DAT file pushed out my McAfee. A DAT file contains new virus definitions which allow McAfee to block new viruses and malware. These DAT files are pushed out frequently to ensure protection against newly discovered viruses and malware. We immediately removed the bad DAT file from the on-campus McAfee repository.

    DoIT staff spent the next 45 minutes testing various combinations of operating systems and McAfee versions on virtual machines. The use of virtual machines allowed us to test multiple permutations in minutes compared to hours had we used physical machines. Our testing revealed that the problem was limited to Windows XP Service Pack 3 and McAfee 8.7i.

    1 p.m.
    An emergency meeting of DoIT staff including Desktop Support, Help Desk, Security, Networks and senior management convened at 1 p.m. A careful review of all available information showed that McAfee still had the errant DAT file available from their web site. During this meeting we blocked access to the McAfee repository from on campus to prevent further damage to unaffected machines. At this time there was no fix available from McAfee. We split the staff into three teams.

    Labs Team
    We knew that re-imaging would fix the labs machines because our image did not contain the bad McAfee DAT file. The first team dealt with restoring the labs. Our first priority was to get these spaces up and running to minimize impact to classes. Two staff members re-imaged all of the DoIT Labs in ENG and AcIV. There were 8 DoIT labs affected, the last lab was re-imaged and available for teaching by 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

    Communications Team
    2:30 p.m.

    A quick message was sent to the Departmental IT (DIT) staff on campus letting them know briefly what we were seeing. At the same time individual calls were made to several departmental IT staff to ensure they were aware of the problem.

    3:05 p.m.
    A campus wide news announcement was sent via email letting the campus know what we were seeing and we are working on developing a solution to the problem. We recognized that those with affected machines would not be able to view this message but there were still a large number of unaffected machines on campus. Our hope was that those who could read the message would share it with their neighbors.

    3:15 p.m.
    A DoIT News post was made to the Web site echoing our email announcement.

    4 p.m.
    A myUMBC spotlight was created regarding the McAfee and Windows XP issue. It linked back to the more detailed DoIT News post.

    4:13 p.m.
    A text message was sent to the 4,900 registered E2Campus users reporting the problem.

    6 p.m.
    The DoIT News post was updated with the solution developed by DoIT staff and the files were uploaded to our web site.

    6:28 p.m.
    Second text message was sent to the campus letting them know a fix was available and referenced the DoIT Website.

    6:54 p.m.
    An e-mail was sent to the campus departmental IT staff letting them know of the posted solution and DoIT plans for remediation the following day.

    10:22 p.m.
    A second campus wide e-mail was sent detailing our solution and letting the campus know we would begin remediation the following day at 7 a.m.

    Solutions Team
    2 to 6 p.m.

    DoIT staff worked to identify the file that McAfee was blocking on Windows XP machines. At the same time more information was filtering out from both McAfee and other tech sites around the world. Once the we knew the exact nature of the problem, DoIT staff began developing a script to replace the affected file, update McAfee with a working DAT file and test the solution. The solution was tested on several affected machines around the campus to ensure it worked correctly.

    6:30 p.m.
    50 CDs were created with the fix script. Copies were made available at the help desk and the remaining CDs were used by DoIT staff the following day.


    DAY TWO Thursday, April 22nd
    7 a.m
    .
    Command center setup in office suite with white boards and conference phone. Staff were assigned to various buildings across campus and were re-tasked as they completed a building sweep.

    10:45 a.m.
    Email sent to campus departmental IT staff requesting an update on their status.

    11:45 a.m.
    First sweep and resolution of affected PCs in all UMBC buildings completed.

    11:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
    Patching of departmental non-teaching labs (economics, physics, public policy, athletics, sociology, psychology, chemistry, biology)

    2 p.m.
    Review meeting was held to recap what had been completed. A second sweep of all UMBC buildings was conducted by DoIT staff to catch those faculty and staff not in their offices during the morning sweep.

    4:30 p.m.
    Second on-site sweep by DoIT staff of the campus buildings completed.

    Posted by mikec at 2:02 PM | TrackBack

    April 21, 2010

    Update on Windows XP Problems

    Last Updated 5:55PM
    As of 6:00PM All DoIT Labs in the Engineering and ACIV buildings have been re-imaged and are available for classes.

    DoIT staff have developed a solution to address the issue created by McAfee's bad DAT file from earlier this afternoon. The fix must be implemented locally from the affected Windows XP machine.

    UMBC DoIT staff will be available starting at 7:00AM tomorrow to begin fixing departmental machines. We will be allocating our staff to departmental buildings in order to provide the broadest support coverage possible.

    Self-Service Options Available:

    1) Pick-Up A Fix CD from the UMBC HelpDesk Tomorrow Morning.
    - Insert the CD in the affected machine
    - Open the contents of the CD
    - Double Click on the "CopyExtra.bat" file
    This script will update the McAfee DAT file and replace the damaged or missing "svchost.exe" file.
    NOTE: Please limit to 1 CD per department as we have limited reserves of CDs

    2) Download the Fix Files onto a CD
    - Download ALL 4 files from HERE
    - Right Click on Each File and Choose Save As To Download
    - Place them on a CD
    - Follow the steps in Option 1 above
    NOTE: You may try placing the 4 files on a USB storage device but we seen several affected machines that would not recognize USB devices.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    We may need to visit your UMBC machine to fix this issue. In order to know who was impacted please submit a ticket via Help in myUMBC.

    Today the UMBC campus experienced widespread computer difficulties; symptoms include spontaneous rebooting of machines and loss of network connectivity. Reports of similar issues across the nation lead us to believe that we are sharing in the problem created by a McAfee virus definition update that was pushed out at approximately noon EDT. UMBC DoIT staff have independently confirmed this. We are testing several resolutions to this problem, and are hopeful that a solution is forthcoming from McAfee. We will keep you updated as we develop plans to resolve this issue.

    At this time there is not much that you can do to resolve this problem. We ask for your patience in this matter. Once we know more about the proposed solutions we will share them with the campus community.

    FAQs
    What Machines Are Affected?
    Based on the most up to date information available we believe this issue is only affecting Windows XP SP3 machines running McAfee 8.7i. All other versions of Windows appear to be unaffected

    Is There Anything That I Can Do to Fix My Machine?
    At this time we are unaware of any simple fixes for these machines.

    My Machine is Windows XP SP3 But Did Not Break, Should I Be Worried?
    We have removed the bad DAT file from our servers and temporarily blocked access to the off-campus McAfee repository. We did this to keep machines that had not downloaded the bad DAT from doing so.

    Are the Campus Labs Affected?
    Yes, the majority of campus labs run Windows XP SP3 with McAfee 8.7i. DoIT staff are currently re-imaging as many labs as we can. We are also working with departmental IT staff to re-image labs. We are estimate that by 6PM tonight the DoIT labs in ECS.

    Posted by mikec at 3:42 PM | TrackBack

    March 30, 2010

    DoIT Update on E-mail and Spam

    During the last few weeks the campus has seen a drastic increase in Spam. We are also aware of several mail domains (e.g. Hotmail) that are rejecting or delaying e-mail originating from UMBC mail servers.

    Most of the issues we are witnessing can be attributed to phishing attacks targeted at UMBC in which the criminals attempt to get UMBC users to provide their UMBC login credentials (i.e. username and password). Users at UMBC are often successfully tricked in to providing their login credentials. Unfortunately, it only takes a handful of compromised accounts to generate large volumes of Spam messages. The compromised UMBC mail accounts are then used to send out millions of Spam messages from our mail servers.

    While we quickly identify the compromised accounts it is typically too late as the compromised account has sent out hundreds of thousands of Spam messages from UMBC mail servers. Some of this Spam is sent to UMBC users but much of it is directed to outside addresses at domains such as Hotmail. These large volumes of Spam then get the UMBC mail servers blocked by domains using reputation based Spam filters (e.g. Hotmail).

    The most recent round of attacks used compromised accounts to access the gl.umbc.edu Linux servers to send out the Spam. The approach being used by the Spammers uses the fact that these servers were allowed to sent email through programs such as Pine, but does so in a way that they can send tremendous amounts of Spam. In order to mitigate both the Spam and the blocking of legitimate e-mails originating from UMBC we have developed the following plans.


    Short-term (This Week).

    1. We will disallow email from our Gl.umbc.edu (Linux1, Linux2, Linux3) machines. Over the last months we have seen 120 UMBC legitimate account holders use these systems to send email. This will impact a few faculty/staff but should greatly impede the way the spammers operate. We will be directly contacting the 120 UMBC account holders with information on an alternate approach they can use for email. These changes will be implemented on Thursday morning (April 1, 2010).


    Mid-term changes coming between now and fall.

    2. UMBC is working with the Attorney General's office on a contract with Google. Once the Google contract is approved and signed by the attorney generals office we plan to leverage Google's commercial anti-spam service called Google message security (previously called Postini) for faculty and staff. This service won't involve moving faculty and staff mail accounts to Google but instead it will augment, or possibly replace, our open-source anti-spam filtering solution. The Google message security solution is much better than our open source solution and should help cut-down on the spam that faculty and staff get in their inbox.

    3. As planned and discussed with campus groups, over the summer we will move the student email from UMBC's servers to the Google Gmail service. Students will see a number of benefits to their email, including Google's basic spam filtering services they provide for GMAIL users.

    Closing Thoughts

    FastCompany magazine recently had a very interesting piece (March 24, 2010) that featured an amazing infographic on the SPAM industry from NewScientist magazine, http://www.fastcompany.com/1595958/infographic-of-the-day-the-spam-industry. The article highlights our challenges. In a recent attack that was discovered a group sent out 35 million spam emails with a link in them (this was one of many attacks that day), 10,500 (.03%) clicked the link, 28 bought products (.00008%). This criminal group made millions over the course of the year.

    UMBC receives approximately six Spam emails for every legitimate email (about 1.2 million SPAM emails a day). We are seeing over 2 million many days in the last month. Our current tools have not kept pace with the changes and if just a small fraction get through it can mean dozens of SPAM emails in your inbox. This is why we are anxious to move faculty and staff to a commercial solution for SPAM filtering. We feel the only way to keep pace in this race is to leverage better technology.

    Posted by mikec at 4:21 PM | TrackBack

    March 3, 2010

    DoIT Adopts Turning Technologies Clickers Starting SU2010

    The Division of Information Technology (DoIT) has decided to adopt the Turning Technologies Student Response System (SRS) or “clickers,” starting in Summer 2010. This means Turning Technologies (TT) will be the only clicker sold at the UMBC Bookstore, supported on instructor stations in UMBC lecture halls, and enabled for online class registration in all Blackboard courses.

    The decision to change clickers is a difficult one because of the additional cost to students who have already purchased lifetime use of the Classroom Performance System (CPS) “clickers” from eInstruction.com. However, after a review of current clicker issues and support last year, including a Spring 2009 survey of active clicker faculty and students, and a TT pilot in Fall 2009, DoIT concluded the TT clickers were a better fit for achieving the pedagogical benefits of using clickers in the classroom.

    To be clear, this was not an exhaustive review of the still maturing use of clickers among colleges and universities. To do so would have required even more time than DoIT is currently expending to support two clickers (one in pilot mode), and likely could have led to a decision to eliminate support of clickers altogether. However, building on Karin Readel's experience using TT clickers in her 100 student SCI100 class for several years, DoIT asked Phil Sokolove to pilot TT's newest clicker with Readel last fall. They presented their "lessons learned" during a Nov. 9 clicker faculty meeting. DoIT has also been consulting with Sunaina Khandelwal, a senator representing the Student Government Association (SGA), and has presented several updates to the Faculty Senate Computer Policy Committee (CPC), which approved the decision to adopt TT during its December 11 meeting, following an update about the FA2009 pilot.

    TT clicker to be sold
    in the UMBC Bookstore.
    Currently, about 3,000 students in 20 large enrollment courses, particularly in the sciences, are using clickers. While the UMBC Bookstore will not be “buying back” CPS clickers, students who purchase a TT clicker from the Bookstore ($40.00) prior to the end of the fall 2010 semester, will receive a $10 rebate from TT. This offer does not apply to the same model for sale on TT’s E-commerce website for UMBC (school code = "UMBC" quotes omitted). In addition, there is an active online auction and exchange market for CPS clickers. The buyback value of the TT clicker at the Bookstore is $15, resulting in a potential net total cost to students of only $15.

    Finally, for faculty who allow use of laptops and web-enabled cell phones in the classroom, TT provides students with the ResponseWare (software only) solution for an annual license of $16. A four-year license is $32 and the software can be downloaded for a free, 30-day trial. There is no additional registration cost for use of any TT clickers (hardware or software solutions) each semester, which was a vocal concern among students responding the Spring 2009 survey, and in recent discussions with the SGA.

    Again, to be clear, DoIT is not urging faculty to allow students to use laptops or cell phones in classrooms, if they don’t now. Nor is DoIT promising students that all faculty will support this option. However, given the costs that students may have expended on lifetime use of CPS clickers already, the TT “software only” solution could be a less expensive way for the University to get through a transitional year or two.

    DoIT will continue to provide updates on this transition between clickers, including training this summer when faculty can receive a free TT clicker and receiver, which can be used on their laptops (DoIT will install the TT software on all lecture halls this summer). For more information, visit www.umbc.edu/clickers.

    Posted by fritz at 9:09 AM | TrackBack

    February 22, 2010

    Blackboard Blogs & Wikis Upgraded

    The Blackboard blog and wiki tools developed by LearningObjects.com have been upgraded to the latest version 3.0.12 today. All content and functionality appears to be present and working properly, but one documented issue is the possible loss of a course menu link to the JournalLX (blog) and TeamsLX (wiki) tools. If this occurs, the fix is easy: create a NEW menu button link to the blog or wiki too available in the Bb course tools area. ONLY the menu button link may disappear, all content is still available via the blog or wiki links in the Bb tool area.

    Note: JournalLX and TeamsLX are part of a social networking suite of software that is collectively known as Campus Pack:

  • ExpoLX -- a personal blog and wiki tool available to all UMBC Blackboard users. Tip: each can tool can be "shared" with your classes or communities on the Blackboard server OR even with non-UMBC account holders, who you can allow to view, comment or edit.

  • JournalLX -- a blogging tool for Bb courses and communities.

  • TeamsLX -- a wiki (collaborative web site) for Bb courses and communities. UMBC History Professor Anne Rubin is featured in a LearningObject.com case study.

  • PodcastLX--an upload tool for audio podcasts.

  • SearchLX--searches content across the entire Campus Pack tool suite.

    For brief (30 minute) online demo of the entire Campus Pack software suite, visit the LearningObjects.com "community site."

    Posted by fritz at 8:58 PM | TrackBack

    February 16, 2010

    Brown Bag: Developing and Assessing Quality Learning in Online and Hybrid Courses, RESCHEDULED for 3/10/10, 1-2 pm, Engineering 023

    Bring your lunch and join us as Katie Morris (Social Work) and Tim Hardy (Economics) share two examples of quality student learning in their online and hybrid courses. Both faculty members are past participants of the Alternate Delivery Program (ADP).

    Morris and Hardy joined Tyson King-Meadows (center) for a panel presentation during the Summer 2009 Hybrid Course Re-design workshop.

    Morris, who has served as an ADP peer reviewer, recently completed the Quality Matters Program online certification training. Using the QM principles and approach, she converted her hybrid SOWK 240 course into an online-only course for Winter 2010 and will share her students' feedback.

    One of six faculty to re-design an ADP Summer or Winter course for Fall 2009 hybrid delivery, Hardy will share his observations about quality student learning. Specifically, when comparing his students' scores on his department's common final exam, he found the hybrid students performed better than students in a traditional, face-to-face course.

    To register for this Brown Bag event, please visit http://www.umbc.edu/brownbag.

    Posted by darnold at 8:56 AM | TrackBack

    February 13, 2010

    24/7 Bb Support Update: January Stats & Known Issues

    Last month, UMBC began its first full semester with Presidium Learning as the provider of our new 24/7 Blackboard support service. As a result, 169 students and 83 faculty sought direct, start-of-semester help (266 total). In addition, the related Bb self-support portal recorded 755 visits, 167 knowledge base article accesses and a total of 1,766 page views. This does not include 195 Blackboard "Request Tracker" (RT) tickets resolved by DoIT staff directly. A more detailed summary of January's 24/7 Bb support is available here, and future monthly reports will be announced in this DoIT News blog each month during this one-year pilot that was announced last fall.

    While it's too soon to say what our 24/7 Bb support usage reports mean, or if and how Blackboard support may improve given staffing challenges reported last fall, a few specific issues emerged last month that need to be clarified or improved:

    1. UMBC course creation and auto enrollment issues cannot be solved by 24/7 Bb Support.

    As part of this pilot, UMBC elected not to give Presidium access to the Student Administration (SA) system, which is needed to troubleshoot course and enrollment mismatches between SA and Blackboard. A DoIT workgroup is meeting regularly to address the course and enrollment mismatch issues that emerged again this semester, with a focus on how to improve our current process before a planned upgrade to Blackboard version 9 in Fall 2010. While DoIT initially announced that Presidium would have to refer such "UMBC-specific uses of Blackboard back to the DoIT Help Desk," including course enrollment issues, some students and faculty sought support for these issues from Presidium, which could not solve them.

    For now, DoIT asks students and faculty to submit an RT ticket via myUMBC help or directly at http://rt.umbc.edu for any course creation or enrollment mismatches between SA and Blackboard. Please include the specific course name, and userIDs of students or instructors who are officially enrolled in or eligible to teach the course according to the SA system. We will also continue to ask Presidium to escalate these requests to DoIT on behalf of UMBC students and faculty who end up contacting Presidium first.

    bb_support_still.png
    Tips for getting & improving UMBC Bb help (4:02 min)

    2. Presidium should facilitate a "warm transfer" of issues they cannot solve or that are out of scope (e.g. UMBC Bb course creation and enrollment).

    By mutual agreement, this means the Presidium Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) should explain to the UMBC student, faculty or staff member that they will need to transfer his or her call to the DoIT Help Desk during our business hours, or create an escalated ticket in DoIT's RT system after hours. Unfortunately, this was not done consistently in the first two weeks of January, resulting in some students and faculty contacting 24/7 support only to be told they should hang up and call the DoIT Help Desk directly. This is understandably frustrating and not acceptable. DoIT worked with Presidium's account manager, and the UMBC-specific knowledgebase that guides Presidium CSRs now reflects this "warm transfer" procedure.

    3. UMBC's course copy process is actually Blackboard's export/import function.

    When UMBC first started using Blackboard in 2000, DoIT made a deliberate choice to disable a delivered function called course copy, which literally allows a faculty member to make a new, exact copy of an old course. The problem is that it also requires faculty to create a unique and permanent courseID that follows a consistent naming convention we knew we'd need for any kind of auto-enrollment process to work. Instead, like a number of other institutions, we disabled course copy, and opted to create empty course shells each semester (with the unique and consistent courseID embedded in the new shell for auto-enrollment to work). As we never imagined giving true "course copy" functionality to faculty in the future--and had no third party support entity like Presidium now--we continued to use the phrase "copying an old course to a new one" for what is actually the export/import function in Blackboard now. This simply became a matter where IT and the faculty we've supported for the last 10 years came to understand and thus redefine what "course copy" meant in using Blackboard at UMBC.

    Unfortunately, our understanding differed from Presidium's, which has clients who do allow faculty to use the "course copy" function, resulting in Presidium advising UMBC faculty to do something they can't. When we became aware that Presidium's "course copy" advice to UMBC faculty conflicted with our long-standing recommended export/import practice, we decided it would be easier to train Presidium CSRs than change a term and task UMBC faculty had been using for several years--especially right before the semester started. Unfortunately, some Presidium CSRs reverted to their common practice and terminology, which led to unsatisfactory support for some faculty. Again, we altered the UMBC-specific knowledge base that Presidium CSRs use in supporting our faculty, but it has come at the expense of some faculty understandably being upset with the advice they received from our 24/7 Bb support.

    Going forward, as part of our plans to upgrade to version 9 in Fall 2010, DoIT is exploring a change in our current processes to make course creation and enrollment less problematic for UMBC students and instructors, as well as DoIT and Presidium.

    Finally, I want to thank UMBC students and faculty for their patience as Presidium learns how we operate and vice versa. Eventually, this pilot may show us that 24/7 support is not needed or desirable, and that we should try to staff up if and when budget issues ease, to meet the support needs of ever growing Blackboard usage. However, like January's summary report, I have noticed a similar pattern in November and December that students used the 24/7 support twice as much as faculty. At a minimum, I'm hopeful this may mean we can reduce the default tech support role many faculty find themselves in their current Blackboard courses. In turn, this may free up DoIT staff to support more advanced pedagogical needs of faculty, if Presidium is handling basic Blackboard support needs.

    For now, I'd like to issue an open call to any UMBC faculty member to contact me or Karin Readel (readel@umbc.edu), Director of Instructional Technology, if Presidium is not "learning UMBC" or supporting faculty the way they should. In addition, if you open a ticket on the Bb support portal, please provide feedback when the ticket is resolved, if your support experience could have been improved. We can't help Presidium improve if we don't have specific details of how and when they've stumbled (e.g., date/time of the incident, name of course, name of CSR). To date, DoIT has received 12 such reports from faculty since we started using Presidium in November. Presidium has also expressed appreciation for feedback on what they can do better, and I have appreciated them providing access to the monthly reports I'm sharing in this and future updates about our 24/7 Bb support.

    Together, I still believe we can partner with Presidium to provide quality 24/7 Blackboard support to UMBC students and faculty. If you have questions, concerns or would like to discuss this further, please post a comment to this entry or contact me directly.

    Sincerely,

    John Fritz
    Asst. VP, Instructional Technology & New Media
    UMBC Division of Information Technology
    410.455.6596 or fritz@umbc.edu

    Posted by fritz at 11:09 PM | TrackBack

    January 16, 2010

    UMBC Blackboard Usage Sets All Time Record in FA2009

    Based on UMBC's most recent Blackboard Report for Fall 2009, students and faculty used the course management system (CMS) in more classes than ever before. Specifically, 1,430 courses used Blackboard in Fall 2009, compared to 1,014 a year ago (a 30 percent increase). In addition, 215 courses included one or more sections, which means at least 1,645 sections (or 65 percent of the university's approximately 2,500 sections) used Blackboard.

    While it's hard to pinpoint specific reasons for the increase, the preparation for academic continuity in case of an H1N1 outbreak may have been a factor.

    UMBC_bb_gdr.png
    UMBC Blackboard activity by grade distribution, 2007-2009. Detail table
    In addition, 29 faculty participated in the voluntary request to post final grades in Blackboard, the most ever since 2007 when DoIT began studying how students use the CMS by grade distribution. To date, students earning a final grade of D or F in 110 courses have used Blackboard 39 percent less than students earning a C or higher (the average was 37 percent less in Fall 2009).

    We know hits alone are no measure of quality teaching or learning. Also, the sample needs to be expanded and the demographics of students needs to be studied further. But does the pattern hold true throughout the semester? If so, how might students’ self-awareness, motivation and performance change if they could know how their CMS usage activity compares to more successful peers, earlier in the semester? If not, how and when does the pattern break down? And is it significant enough to dilute student awareness and motivation to seek or accept help from an instructor or the Learning Resources Center (LRC)?

    While we can not yet fully answer these questions, DoIT continues to explore ways to provide this information to students sooner. And they are finding it. During the three-month period from September 1 to December 1, our custom Check My Activity (CMA) tool recorded more than 15,000 visits and 52,000 page views (see Google Analytics report). The CMA lets student compare their own activity against an anonymous summary of their peers, based on average hits per user. This is also how UMBC's most active Blackboard courses are determined.

    In addition, if faculty post a grade for any assignment in the Blackboard grade book, students can view an anonymous summary of the Bb activity by students who earned the same, lower or higher grade as their own grade. Nearly half of the FA2009 Bb courses (658) contained active grade books with at least one recorded grade, and past surveys of specific UMBC classes have shown more than 50 percent of students would be inclined to use the CMA for past assignments before future assignments are due--if they have grades to check. This confirms a national study by the Educause Center for Applied Research (ECAR) that shows students value checking their grade more than any other function in an online CMS like Blackboard.
    Check My Activity
    While we would like to better understand how and why students are using the CMA, and what it tells them, DoIT has made the CMA easier for students to find by creating a custom "building block" that links directly to it from within any UMBC Blackboard course (tools-->"My Activity").

    For more information, visit the UMBC Blackboard Reports project blog at www.umbc.edu/blackboard/reports.

    Posted by fritz at 6:23 PM | TrackBack

    December 5, 2009

    Active Directory Emergency Downtime 12/4 8pm to 12/5 8pm

    Starting at 8pm tonight (Friday December 4th) all Active Directory based shared drives will be taken down for emergency maintenance. This outage will affect all drive mappings from H through Z, including all user and departmental shares. No office or personal machines will be affected and all data contained on these shares will be unaffected. This outage will last until Saturday December 5th at 8pm and is being done to correct a critical system error. DoIT encourages everyone to reboot their computers prior to calling the helpdesk after the outage window should anyone experience problems. We apologize for any inconvenience this might cause.



    Jesse Beauman
    DoIT
    Asst. Director Infrastructure and Support
    410-455-2570
    jesse@umbc.edu

    Posted by anna at 8:40 AM | TrackBack

    December 4, 2009

    UMBC Blackboard Update: WT2010

    UMBC Blackboard update is provided by the Division of Information Technology for students, faculty and staff using Blackboard at UMBC. IIf you have questions or need help, please consult the Blackboard Help tab inside Blackboard or directly at www.umbc.edu/blackboard/help, or contact the DoIT Help Desk at 410.455.3838, ECS Room 020 or submit a help request via the new 24/7 Blackboard Support portal at http://bbsupport.umbc.edu.

    HEADLINES

    1. WT2010 & SP2010 Bb Course Shells Created 12/1, WT2010 Shells Auto Enrolled

    2. Karin Readel Named Director of Instructional Technology

    3. DoIT Offers Informal 60 minute Technology "Drop-In" Sessions

    4. OSWP & DoIT Offer 1/15/10 Hybrid Course Re-design Workshop

    5. Using the Blackboard “Subscribe” feature in Discussion Boards to Engage Students

    6. Student "Check My Activity" Tool Now Available in Bb Courses

    7. Reminder: Changes in Requesting AV Support, SP2010 Reservations Now Being Accepted

    8. Reminder: Instructional Continuity Plans in Case of H1N1 Closure

    9. Reminder: 24/7 Blackboard Support Now Available

    10. FYI: Educause Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference 1/13-15

    Posted by fritz at 11:29 AM | TrackBack

    WT2010 & SP2010 Bb Course Shells Created 12/1, WT2010 Shells Auto Enrolled

    As is our practice normally, Winter and Spring 2010 Blackboard course shells have been created for all courses listed in UMBC's official Schedule of Classes (SOC) on 12/1/09. However, auto-enrollment of students for Spring 2010 Bb course shells will not begin until 12/15/09 (auto-enrollment IS working for Winter 2010 Bb course shells now).

    By default, a Bb course shell is unavailable (to students) until the instructor of record makes it "available."

    INSTRUCTORS: If your course was not listed in the SOC on 12/1/09 OR a cross-list with another course was not officially indicated in the SOC, please submit a Bb Course Creation Request.

    In addition, if you or your department intended one Blackboard course to be "cross-listed" or "associated" with another course, this needs to appear in UMBC's official Schedule of Classes for Blackboard to automatically do so. Please contact the Registrar’s Office to make official cross-lists, so that all students will be properly enrolled in the correct Blackboard course shell.

    STUDENTS: You MUST be officially enrolled in a UMBC course via myUMBC to be "auto-enrolled" in a Bb course "shell." You will see them when they have been made "Available" to students by the instructor.

    If you have questions or need help, please consult the Blackboard Help tab inside Blackboard or directly at www.umbc.edu/blackboard/help, or contact the DoIT Help Desk at 410.455.3838, ECS Room 020 or submit a help request via the new 24/7 Blackboard Support portal at http://bbsupport.umbc.edu.

    Posted by fritz at 11:15 AM | TrackBack

    OSWP, DoIT& FDC Offer 1/15/10 Hybrid Course Re-design Workshop

    The Office of Summer, Winter & Special Programs (OSWSP), in cooperation with DoIT and the Faculty Development Center (FDC), will again sponsor a Hybrid Course Re-Design Workshop for full or part-time UMBC faculty interested in learning how to develop a hybrid class. If the course is offered during SU2010, OSWSP provides a one-time, $2,500 course development stipend as part of its Alternate Delivery Program (ADP).


    Three faculty experienced in hybrid teaching share lessons learned during a recent Hybrid Course Re-design Workshop at UMBC. Seated from left are Katie Morris (Social Work), Tyson King-Meadows (Political Science), and Tim Hardy (Economics). More Information.

    The Hybrid Course Re-design workshop consists of two sessions focusing on pedagogy and good course design in the morning, a panel discussion from past participants during lunch, and effective practices using instructional technology in the afternoon. Both sessions are required and will be held in Engineering 023.

    Following the face-2-face workshop, participants who wish to receive the one-time, $2,500 ADP stipend for SU2010 delivery will be required to present two “learning objects” During the Spring 2010 semester (see dates on the ADP requirements site).

    While the Hybrid workshop is NOT required to participate in the ADP, it has been shown to help faculty prepare to meet the ADP’s requirements. The ADP faculty presentations are open to the campus, especially departments of participating faculty, and will be videotaped for online viewing by future participants through UMBC’s iTunesU and UMBCTube video distribution sites. To register, go to the Hybrid Design Workshop training site.

    Posted by fritz at 11:08 AM | TrackBack

    Student "Check My Activity" Tool Now Available in Bb Courses

    myactivity.png
    Show & Tell Video
    Students can now check their Blackboard activity from within all Blackboard courses and compare it against an anonymous summary of course peers. Also, if instructors post grades in the Bb grade book, students can compare their own Bb activity against an anonymous summary showing the activity of students who earned the same, higher or lower grade. For more information, visit www.umbc.edu/blackboard/reports.

    Posted by fritz at 11:04 AM | TrackBack

    November 17, 2009

    Bb Maintenance to Fix Email Announcements: 11/20, 10 p.m. to 11/21, 1 a.m.

    To address a recent issue with Blackboard announcements not being automatically sent by email when an instructor or manager selects that option, UMBC's Blackboard system will be down from 10 p.m., Friday, November 20, to 1 a.m., Saturday, November 21.

    Reminder: Why Blackboard needs scheduled maintenance.

    Posted by fritz at 4:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    November 4, 2009

    Bb Will Be Down 11/6, 10 p.m. to 11/7, 6 a.m.

    To address issues with web browser compatibility and back up the system before applying latest patches and hot fixes, DoIT will be taking the main Blackboard system down from 10 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 6, to 6 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7.

    Reminder: More info about why DoIT needs scheduled downtime.

    Posted by fritz at 7:01 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    24/7 Blackboard Support Starts Wed, Nov. 11

    As indicated in the August 24 "Challenges and Changes to Blackboard Support" announcement, UMBC's Division of Information Technology (DoIT) will begin working with Presidium Learning to provide basic Blackboard support starting Wednesday, Nov. 11. The DoIT Help Desk and Instructional Technology staff will still provide walk-in and by-appointment Bb support, but all students, faculty and staff will be able to get 24/7 Blackboard support via phone, IM chat or online knowledge base. Based in Lexington, Kentucky, Presidium specializes in answering technical support questions for faculty, staff, and students at more than 700 educational institutions, and provides a 95 percent first call resolution rate.

    UMBC Blackboard Support Portal (sample)
    The partnership with Presidium is a one-year pilot to determine if and how external support can improve use of Blackboard, as well as free up DoIT staff for more advanced issues and opportunities, including refinement of Blackboard course creation and enrollment integration with the new Student Administration (SA) system, trend analysis of our most frequent user support demands, and assessment to help identify and promote effective uses of Blackboard.

    For the Nov. 11 implementation, students, faculty and staff can do the following to get Blackboard help:

    1. Access the online knowledge base at http://bbsupport.umbc.edu (will be active on 11/11).
    2. Ask a question via live Instant Messenger (IM) Chat
    3. Call the existing DoIT Help Desk phone number of 410.455.3838

    Note: A short, brief phone tree will be implemented so as to route all other IT-related calls to the DoIT Help Desk, while still allowing Presidium to handle Blackboard-related calls. In addition, UMBC users will have to create a separate account and password the first time they submit a help request ticket. This may change in the future to use the UMBC userid & password, but is not available at this time.

    Initially, Presidium will be responsible for the following:


    • All Blackboard-related application questions or issues, including how to get started, add content, manage discussion, create electronic assignments, quizzes and surveys and use the new grade center.
    • Refer all UMBC-specific uses of Blackboard back to the DoIT Help Desk. These include all account management and password resets as well as integration with SA to auto-create and enroll courses.
    • Provide a monthly report to DoIT showing all Bb-related support requests or knowledge base accesses, identify trend and root-cause analyses, and help benchmark UMBC usage against similar institutions using Blackboard.

    "As we go forward in this pilot, it is important to note we are augmenting not outsourcing Blackboard service," says John Fritz, Asst. VP for Instructional Technology & New Media. "By supporting one part of the overall structure with a partner who has a wealth of experience in higher education technical support, we hope to provide a higher level of service for UMBC students, faculty and staff."

    Posted by fritz at 2:32 PM | TrackBack

    October 30, 2009

    Update on Web Services Outage

    This morning at approximately 1:00AM we suffered a hardware failure that interrupted myUMBC and campus web page (e.g. www.umbc.edu) services. The problem was reported at 6:30AM today and DoIT staff began working on the problem remotely. Our response team arrived on campus by 7:15AM and had all services restored by 8:15AM today.

    We are currently examining logs and other records to determine what caused this hardware failure to ensure it does not occur again.

    This outage only affected the web services listed above. Peoplesoft, Blackboard, and E-mail were unaffected by this outage.

    Posted by mikec at 10:45 AM | TrackBack

    October 23, 2009

    Windows 7 Is Here But Don't Rush an Upgrade

    Windows 7
    Microsoft released Windows 7 on October 22, 2009. DoIT staff have been actively testing the Beta versions of Windows 7. Initial results from the testing are promising. The new interface is more streamlined, the boot times are faster and many features that worked just barely under Vista now work flawlessly. While testing has gone reasonably well DoIT will not officially support Windows 7 until February 2010. We encourage waiting a few months before upgrading existing systems to Windows 7. This will allow many of the bugs and lagging application and driver support to catch up thus preventing problems for users.


    Posted by mikec at 11:05 AM | TrackBack

    October 9, 2009

    UMBC "Check My Activity" Reports for Students Now Available Inside Blackboard

    bb_reports_tool_link.pngBased on user response to a system-wide announcement in all UMBC Blackboard courses this past week, the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) has made a permanent link to the self-service "Check My Activity" (CMA) reporting tools for students on the myBlackboard tools menu.

    Specifically, all students now have an easy way to find the "Check My Activity" (CMA) and "Grade Distribution Report" (GDR) tools for comparing their own activity against an anonymous summary of their course peers. Using this same myBlackboard tools menu link, faculty and staff have access to similar reports, though staff are unlikely to have need for the GDR tool, which is only valuable if a grade has been entered in a Bb grade book.

    As reported previously by DoIT and The Retriever Weekly, students have had access to their own CMA and GDR tools since Spring of 2009. However, adoption has been slow, probably because the tools don't reside inside Blackboard. So, a link to both reports was posted on Friday, October 2, at 5 p.m. and expired a week later at the same time on Friday, October 9.

    CMA & GDR Demo
    CMA & GDR Demo
    The Results?
    • In just one week, CMA & GDR usage activity increased more than 1,000 percent to 6,051 visits compared to 391 visits the entire previous month (Sept. 1 to Oct. 1).

    • The total number of page views increased to 20,008 from 537 the previous month. Average page views per visit also increased to 3.31 compared to 1.37.

    • The average time spent on the CMA & GDR reports jumped to 1 minute, 18 seconds, compared to just 13 seconds the previous month.

    • Also, returning visitors accounted for 83 percent of all page views, and they spent more time on the site (1 min, 26 secs) compared to new visitors (58 secs). This means the the CMA & GDR tools constitute a "sticky site," in that once visitors discover it, they come back again and again.

    • Is is worth noting that the Grade Distribution Report (GDR) was by far the most popular tool, accounting for 73 percent of all visits to the UMBC Blackboard Reports site that contains all "self service" tools and list of Most Active Courses for each semester over the last two years.

    While user activity steadily declined as the week progressed, it may be because there were fewer new grades to compare user activity against. This strong interest in grades and related Blackboard activity confirms key findings of a national study showing students value the ability to check grades and gain access to practice quizzes and sample exercises as the most valuable functions in a course management system (CMS) like Blackboard.

    A full report showing the CMA & GDR usage activity from September 1 to October 9 is available here.

    Posted by fritz at 10:19 PM | TrackBack

    September 30, 2009

    CIRC Software Workshop Schedule

    The workshops last for one hour and are held during Free Hour (12 noon - 01 pm) in ENGR 122, an instructional computer lab in the Engineering Building at UMBC.

    Though the seating is limited, no sign-up is required; we will accommodate as many people as possible.

    http://www.umbc.edu/circ/workshops/

    Posted by anna at 12:53 PM | TrackBack

    DoIT Staff Will Never Ask to Send Your Username and Password by E-mail

    DoIT would never ask you to send details of your username and password through email or any other means.

    Occasionally DoIT detect emails sent to staff and students asking them to confirm their username and password. These emails are always fraudulent: the practice is known as "phishing". Despite their appearance, a closer look at the emails will show that they will not have been sent by DoIT but by someone fraudulently posing as DoIT. DoIT would never ask you for your password, for any purpose. Remember, your password is your secret. DoIT do not keep records of passwords.

    The University's Regulations forbid you from sharing your password with anyone, including DoIT staff. DoIT will not ask you for your password over the phone, by email, or by any other means.

    If you ever receive a request for your username and password details via email, NEVER RESPOND to it. Instead, just delete the email.

    Unfortunately, a few individuals have responded to phishing attempts, and in one case the account details were used in an attempt to perpetrate financial fraud.Please protect yourself:

    1. If you think you may have responded to a phishing email, change your password immediately using myUMBC.
    2. Never disclose your password to anyone.
    3. Avoid using the same password on different systems (external to the University).

    In particular, be very careful with your University password, and with passwords that you use for financial systems, and for email systems.

    Posted by anna at 8:30 AM | TrackBack

    September 16, 2009

    Changes to E2Campus Emergency Text Messaging

    A recent change to the authentication system for E2Campus means that all members of the UMBC community need to re-register for emergency campus text messages. If you registered your phone prior to August 26, 2009 you MUST login through myUMBC under your personal profile and notifications or directly at:

    https://my.umbc.edu/personal/notifications/

    Users who have not re-registered by October 31, 2009 will no longer receive UMBC alerts.

    FAQs
    I already registered for E2Campus, can I migrate my old account?
    Unfortunately, existing accounts cannot be migrated. All existing users will need to re-register with E2Campus. Since we now know who the person is relative to UMBC's identity management system we will not need to do future re-registrations.

    How long before my existing E2Campus account is deleted?
    Existing E2Campus accounts will remain functional through October 31, 2009. UMBC will purge the old accounts after this date, thus leaving the new accounts in place.

    If I re-register now will I get two text messages sent to my phone?
    Users that have re-registered but still have an old account (i.e. until Oct 31st) will not receive duplicate text messages. E2campus can tell if the same phone number is in their system for more than one account, and will only send one message to that phone number. After October 31, 2009, old UMBC accounts that have the same phone number as new accounts will be deleted.

    Why is UMBC changing the system?
    Background:
    E2Campus was initially setup to use external, non-UMBC accounts. This meant that users had to create a user name and password that was hosted at E2Campus. This presented a few challenges for UMBC.
    -There was no way to know a user’s affiliation (Faculty, Staff or Student)
    -We can't tell if a user is still affiliated with the university (e.g. graduated, quit, terminated etc.)
    -Users forgot both user name and password but UMBC DoIT Help Desk could not assist.

    Solution:
    DoIT worked with E2Campus to be the first campus nationally to use the Shibboleth authentication standard to provide single sign on (SSO) ability. This means that users will no longer need to create an external account with E2campus. Instead UMBC is the identity provider and passes this information to E2Campus.

    Benefits of New Authentication System:
    - We know who the person is and their affiliation (e.g. student, staff, faculty, grad student etc.)
    - We know the person’s status (graduated, quit etc.)
    - There is no password to remember since the login is done via SSO from myUMBC.
    - We can purge/delete old accounts of people who have left the University

    Posted by mikec at 12:59 PM | TrackBack

    September 12, 2009

    Summer 2009 IT Projects & Updates

    Residential Housing WiFi Project:
    This summer, Susquehanna, Patapsco and Potomac Halls were fully upgraded with campus WiFi. With support from the office of residential life, DoIT completed Phase II of the WiFi initiative in residential life installing 200 Cisco wireless access points. Last summer Erickson, Harbor and Chesapeake Halls were upgraded with campus WiFi. In total six buildings are now fully supported by the campus wireless infrastructure. Currently UMBC has over 800 individual wireless access points installed throughout the campus. Support requests or questions should be directed to the UMBC helpdesk via myUMBC under the ‘Help’ link.

    New Operating Systems (Apple’s Snow Leopard; Microsoft’s Windows 7)
    Apple Snow Leopard
    Apple will be released their newest operating system, Snow Leopard, on August 28th. UMBC owned machines can be upgraded to new versions of the Mac operating system using the UMBC site license for OS upgrades. Please contact the DoIT help desk to borrow a copy. Contact the UMBC bookstore to get your personal copy of Snow Leopard at competitive discounts. More information about new features and changes found in Snow Leopard can be found at: http://www.apple.com/macosx/refinements/
    Windows 7
    Microsoft will release Windows 7 on October 22, 2009. DoIT staff have been actively testing the Beta versions of Windows 7. Initial results from the testing are promising. The new interface is more streamlined, the boot times are faster and many features that worked just barely under Vista now work flawlessly. While testing has gone reasonably well DoIT will not officially support Windows 7 until February 2010.

    NOTE: DoIT will officially support Snow Leopard and Windows 7 in February 2010. Early adopters of these new operating systems may encounter software issues that cannot be supported by DoIT. This is especially true of the campus VPN (i.e. Juniper) which will likely not support new operating systems until Spring 2010.

    New Feature Allows Users to Reset Their Own Passwords
    Earlier this summer DoIT released a new feature that allows customers to reset their own passwords. If you have not already done so we strongly encourage you to complete your security questions online. More information can be found at: http://www.umbc.edu/blogs/oit-news/archives/2009/07/create_your_acc.html

    Lab Replacements
    This summer DoIT replaced just over 100 lab machines. This year presented some fiscal challenges which limited the number of machines that would normally have been replaced. However, there were targeted replacements and existing machines that still had a service life were moved to other labs and locations on campus.
    • English Labs (FA001 and 002) Replaced with New 20inch iMacs
    • DoIT Lab (ENG 122A) Replaced with 26 New Dell Desktops
    • DoIT Lab (ACIV ) Replaced with 25 New Dell Desktops
    • VART Lab (ENG 005) Replaced with 18 New MacPros Including 24inch Monitors

    Computer Replacement Initiative
    This summer, under the Provost computer replacement initiative, 104 new computer subsidies were approved across the campus. DoIT staff completed installation of all centrally ordered machines during the summer months. The new machines replaced many significantly out dated machines which did not meet the minimum requirements for campus computing. The replacement of these older machines will aid in the transition to use of important applications such as document imaging.

    Windows Terminal Servers Upgraded
    UMBC has a terminal server environment that allows customers to access their network drive resources when using a non-UMBC machine (e.g. home PC). While not identical to the machine in your office it does provide access to your network drives from off campus. This month the terminal server environment was virtualized and upgraded. Virtualization allows us to run multiple servers on a single physical machine. The benefits are numerous including the ability to save on power and cooling thus making it a Green solution. It also allows UMBC to scale this resource in the event of disaster and to assist in continuity of business planning. Specifically if faculty and staff need to work from off campus due to the effects of H1N1 we can increase the required backend resources with relative ease. More information on using UMBC’s terminal server can be found at: https://spaces.umbc.edu/display/hd2/Access+Files+Off-Campus+Using+a+Non+UMBC+Machine

    E2Campus Emergency Text Messaging Changes
    UMBC recently worked with E2Campus to update our login process. The old version required users to create a separate account which was managed by E2Campus. This created some confusion, especially when a user name or password was forgotten. The new system provides single sign on via the myUMBC portal. This seamless integration makes account creation and management easier while providing new management features for campus personnel. The only down side is that E2Campus users that were registered prior to August 26, 2009 will need to Re-Register. You can do this by going to myUMBC>Profile>Notifications or by clicking here https://my.umbc.edu/personal/notifications/
    NOTE: It is important that you register under the new system soon. Existing accounts created prior to August 26, 2009 will be purged from the system after October 30, 2009. If you have not re-registered by this date you will not receive E2Campus messages.

    Windows Lab Profile Changes
    In an effort to decrease login times and address continuing windows profile quota issues DoIT changed the lab environment to use standard windows profiles. This change occurred on June 7th, 2009. Our peer institutions have been using standard profiles for many years. Since the inception of our Windows lab environment UMBC had been using roaming custom profiles to enhance the user experience. However, as software installs have grown in size so have the windows profiles. DoIT changed to standard windows profiles earlier this summer to address the ongoing support issues. More information on these changes can be found at:
    http://www.umbc.edu/blogs/oit-news/archives/2009/05/windows_lab_pro.html

    Posted by mikec at 11:05 AM | TrackBack

    August 25, 2009

    FYI: Bb Courses Older than FA2003 Will Be Deleted 8/27

    As announced at the end of the Spring 2009 semester, all Blackboard courses older than Fall 2003 (six years from this fall) will be deleted.

    The Division of Information Technology (DoIT) has scheduled this removal for Thursday, August 27, 2009, at 7 p.m. No downtime will be required.

    Posted by fritz at 1:27 PM | TrackBack

    August 24, 2009

    Challenges and Changes to UMBC Blackboard Support

    This summer, the Division of Information Technology (DoIT), has begun to face more than our typical “back to school” challenges in providing Blackboard support to UMBC students, faculty and staff. Specifically, we have lost an employee who provided fulltime support for nine years; the campus has implemented a new student information system that provides the data for our auto course creation and enrollment scripts; and we are preparing for a possible disruption of classes due to the H1N1 flu this coming year.

    In addressing these challenges, DoIT asks for your understanding as we make some necessary changes to sustain (and hopefully improve) how we provide Blackboard support to the campus.

    For example:

    1. We will continue to rely on the full time DoIT Help Desk staff to provide tier 1, basic Blackboard support, including all queries about Bb course creation and enrollment issues.

    myumbc_help_still.png
    A year ago, Help Desk staff members Jim Keys and Barb Myers agreed to an experiment: working with Instructional Technology to learn the inner workings of Blackboard and provide tier 1 basic support, so our full time instructional designer, Bob Armstrong, could focus on more advanced or time-consuming issues and opportunities, including one-on-one support to faculty participants in the Summer & Winter Alternate Delivery Program. By all accounts, the experiment “worked” and Jim and Barb are seasoned Blackboard support veterans now.

    In addition, Jim and Barb have helped us transition Blackboard support to DoIT’s new call tracking system, Request Tracker, or RT for short. As such, to coordinate (and document) demand for Bb support, it would be very helpful to DoIT if ALL Bb help requests are submitted using the RT request form, which is available in the myUMBC help menu or directly at http://my.umbc.edu/help/request. Alternately, you can call the help desk at 410.455.3838 or drop in by visiting Engineering Room 020.

    myumbc_help_still.png
    Debra Arnold

    I also want to thank Debra Arnold, who is stepping up to provide day-to-day, tier 2 application support for Blackboard now that Bob Armstrong has joined the Johns Hopkins School of Engineering to support their distance education program. Deb has provided outstanding IT support and training to UMBC staff for many years, and has orbited the Bb support periphery before, by helping to support Blackboard communities and using Bb to support PeopleSoft finance and HR training. She also recently completed all requirements for her Master’s in Instructional Design at UMBC this summer.

    Currently, Blackboard is used in about 50 percent of all 2,500 UMBC course sections each semester. This includes 65 percent of all 1,000 faculty and 95 percent of all 12,000 students. DoIT has a little more than two (2) FTE support staff dedicated to Blackboard user support. Admittedly, informal benchmarking with other schools has shown an average of .25 FTE for every 1,000 students supported, so we’re sized just shy of where we should be for current usage. But with the new SA challenges, possible H1N1 closures or high absenteeism, and recent staffing changes, user patience and cooperation will be appreciated this semester, and will be important in sustaining efficient and effective Blackboard support.

    2. We encourage faculty within departments to continue helping each other.

    Long before our current challenges, we have always relied upon and tried to facilitate faculty learning from each other. This is one reason why we publish the most active Blackboard courses by discipline, as well as the past participants in the Summer & Winter Alternate Delivery Program.

    True story: I once interviewed a faculty member about student reports of her good Blackboard use (in front of colleague from her department). When we finished the interview, her colleague said: “I had no idea what you were doing. Can we have lunch?” I just smiled and realized half of my job is connecting faculty who can and want to learn from each other. Hopefully, our lists of experienced Blackboard practitioners can do the same.

    Of course, if faculty providing or requesting collegial help get stuck, please consult UMBC's Blackboard Help or submit a myUMBC help request to DoIT and we’ll do our best to solve problems, provide effective workarounds or escalate the problem to Blackboard directly.

    3. We will begin another experiment this year by outsourcing our Blackboard support to Presidium Learning, Inc., which provides 24/7 support, and a 95 percent first-call resolution rate.

    Details are still being ironed out and will be communicated more fully, but working in concert with the DoIT help desk which will provide walk in support, all UMBC students, faculty and staff will soon be able to get 24/7 Blackboard support via phone, IM chat or an online knowledgebase. In addition, DoIT staff will be freed up for more advanced issues and opportunities, including trend and root cause analysis of our most frequent user support demands, and how these benchmark with other institutions running Blackboard installations of our size and composition.

    Perhaps most importantly, if the university is closed or challenged by absenteeism for an extended period due to the H1N1 flu, Blackboard support can continue with off-site support, in case DoIT staff also get sick and can’t provide it. That said, DoIT staff will continue to provide on-site consults, preferably for small groups or cohorts from the same department, but we ask the campus community to first try to use Presidium support.

    Finally, we hope the addition of Presidium will provide a much needed support structure for students, who have often had to rely on faculty for informal technical support, since there just aren’t enough DoIT support staff to meet everyone’s needs. In particular, we think the 24/7 access will be a welcome addition to students when they’re working late at night and having technical problems.

    It is important to note that the agreement with Presidium is a one-year pilot only. A growing number of colleges and universities are considering or implementing outsourced support, but we want to learn the pros and cons of UMBC doing so. In addition to helping with a staffing crunch and possibly increased support due to H1N1 this year, we think it is worth conducting the pilot now as part of DoIT’s overall plan to improve end-user support.

    If you have questions or suggestions about UMBC’s Blackboard support strategies, please contact me at fritz@umbc.edu or 410.455.6596.

    Thanks,

    John Fritz
    Asst. VP, Instructional Technology & New Media
    Div. of Information Technology

    Posted by fritz at 4:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    August 23, 2009

    Blackboard Login "Looping" Resolved

    It's taken a while, but the occasional redirect "looping" problem that occurred when logging into Blackboard has been resolved. If you find otherwise, please report your experience via a myUMBC help request to the Division of Information Technology (DoIT)--preferably with precise steps and a screen shot to document the problem.

    Always difficult to diagnose because it could not consistently be repeated--and never in any other application besides Blackboard--the "looping" problem was most likely solved when DoIT changed authentication systems for logging into Blackboard this summer. Specifically, UMBC's custom authentication script WebAuth, which made UMBC one of the first school's to provide users with a "single sign-on" experience, was replaced by Shibboleth, an open-source, standards-based authentication system that allows universities, businesses and government agencies to collaborate online.

    Campus users may wonder why DoIT didn't make this authentication switch sooner? But while it was annoying, the looping problem wasn't frequent, and as we reported earlier, the simple workaround was to quit the browser and start over. In addition, the problem ONLY occurred in Blackboard, and we didn't want to affect other applications like webmail and myUMBC by switching to something we didn't fully understand.

    For now, if you experience the redirect "looping" problem, please report it to DoIT. And if possible, try to describe or even capture the steps in a screencast or screencapture so we can diagnose it better.

    Posted by fritz at 11:46 PM | TrackBack

    August 21, 2009

    Changes in Requesting AV Support and Services

    Similar to recent user support changes implemented by the Division of Information Technology, Audio Visual Services has adopted the new Request Tracker (RT) call tracking system. As such, AV Services will no longer be accepting requests for equipment delivery or repair by email.

    av_request_form.png
    Because email requests often require follow up to get more information, we ask that faculty instead use the "Request Service" form on the recently redesigned AV Services web site.

    Eventually, this form will also be connected to the new myUMBC help menu, which you can use. But it does not yet provide as detailed a request as the AV services "Request Service" form. does now.

    Finally, AV Services will begin exploring the use or R25, UMBC's campus scheduling system, to schedule deliveries and monitor AV use this semester. Any plans to adopt R25 for SP2010 deliveries will be announced later this semester.

    For questions or suggestions about AV Services, contact Classroom Technology Manager Steven Anderson at 410.455.3680 or sanderso@umbc.edu.

    Posted by fritz at 4:58 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    August 20, 2009

    FYI: Blackboard Synch for iPhone Now Installed

    The Blackboard Synch for iPhone has been tested and installed on UMBC's Blackboard production system. Used primarily to stay current on recent announcements, document uploads and discussion postings, instructions for downloading and installing the iPhone app are available on the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) Knowledge Base.

    Posted by fritz at 5:27 PM | TrackBack

    August 17, 2009

    Tips for Instructional Continuity in Case of An H1N1 Outbreak

    Inclement Weather Update: February 8, 2010

    Given the current campus closures due to inclement weather, students and faculty may want to try the H1N1 academic continuity suggestions below.

    Of Special Note: if you want to talk, text chat or share presentations online at the same time (synchronously) or at different times (asynchronously), consider using the Wimba web-based audio & video conference tools built into every Blackboard course. | More Info.


    Earlier this summer, Provost Elliot Hirshman, in consultation with the Division of Information Technology (DoIT), sent an advisory to all faculty about why and how they might want to consider teaching online in the event of an extended closure of campus due to an H1N1 "Swine Flu" outbreak. The full text of the advisory follows:

    Context

    In response to the World Health Organization’s recent declaration of an H1N1 level 6 flu pandemic, the University needs to move rapidly to facilitate instructional continuity in the event of a campus closure. Instructional continuity is absolutely essential to ensure the academic progress of our students and the financial stability of the University should the campus be forced to close due to pandemic flu.

    The steps proposed here are designed to address the circumstance in which campus is closed, but the information technology infrastructure of the campus remains intact. In this circumstance, remote instruction/distance learning will be necessary to continue courses.

    The University recognizes that faculty members may wish to use different approaches to remote instruction and respects the rights of faculty members to pursue any of a range of available approaches. The University also recognizes that some courses (e.g., courses requiring access to specialized equipment or materials) may be difficult to continue remotely. The goal is to continue as many courses as possible to maintain academic progress and financial stability.

    Specific Procedures

    Some faculty members may teach courses that permit remote instruction, but they may not be familiar with the technology necessary to carry out this instruction. The following steps are designed to assist these faculty members prepare for remote instruction in the most convenient manner possible.

    Step 1: If they are not already, all faculty members who are teaching courses in the fall semester should become familiar with the basic functioning of Blackboard. To access tutorial instructions, visit http://www.umbc.edu/blackboard/help or log in to Blackboard via myUMBC (or directly at http://blackboard.umbc.edu) and review the “Blackboard Help” tab at the top of the screen. Faculty may want to visit the “Getting Started” link first.

    All Blackboard courses have a student manual (under “tools”) and an instructor manual (under “control panel”), but Faculty members should be able to carry out three basic functions:

    1. Turn their UMBC Blackboard course on. |
    2. Post documents (e.g., a syllabus) on blackboard. |
    3. Send an E-mail to all class members. |

    Step 2: Faculty members should consider the lecture, document or presentation posting and discussion requirements of their fall courses. The material below indicates how to use Blackboard to accomplish these tasks remotely. Faculty members should conduct a trial or practice usage of the referenced capacities to ensure that they can post materials remotely and students can access these materials, if necessary.

    For Audio Lectures:


    For Discussions (text-based):

    • For asynchronous (not at the same time, not at the same place) text-based communication, use the Blackboard Discussion Board capacity.

    • For synchronous (same time, but not at the same place) text-based communication (often known as “chat”), use Blackboard’s built in “Virtual Classroom” capacity (under the “Communications” course menu).

    Document and Presentation Posting


    • Use Blackboard’s document upload capacity referenced above.

    Additional Guidance from DoIT


    • For faculty members who have mastered the above-referenced approaches, OIT STRONGLY RECOMMENDS using “Wimba Classroom” for synchronous text-based chat. In addition to being more stable and full-featured than Bb’s built in “virtual classroom,” Wimba can also allow you and your students to use voice-based email, discussions and real-time synchronous chat. It takes a little time to learn the effective protocols for conducting synchronous text or voice-based discussions or chats without everyone talking at once, but with practice, it can be done.

    • For more information on using Wimba, visit the UMBC Wimba guides and tutorials on the UMBC Blackboard Help tab, or Wimba’s own support site at http://www.wimba.com/services/support.

    • Through the hybrid learning website, you can learn many other “effective practices” for managing and assessing online discussions or chats: visit http://www.umbc.edu/oit/hybrid/practice.

    Resources Available to Support Faculty

    In addition to the on-line tutorials referenced above, there are two forms of assistance available to faculty members.


    1. Peer assistance from faculty and staff colleagues is available. Deans will be working with Department Chairs and other members of the Council of Deans to identify peers who are available to consult with faculty members as they become more familiar with the referenced instructional technologies. Examples include the following:

    2. DoIT staff are available for additional consultation

      • John Fritz, Asst VP, Instructional Technology & New Media (410.455.6596 or fritz@umbc.edu)
      • Debra Arnold, IT Training Support Specialst (410.455.3234 or darnold@umbc.edu)
      • Jim Keys, Help Desk Consultant (410.455.3127 or keysj@umbc.edu)
      • Joan Costello, Classroom Technology/Wimba (410.455.3685 or jcoste1@umbc.edu)

    Posted by fritz at 4:01 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    August 14, 2009

    FA2009 Bb Course Shells Created 7/30, Use Request Form if Yours Wasn't

    As is our practice normally, Fall 2009 Bb shells have been created for all courses listed in UMBC's official Schedule of Classes (SOC) on 7/30/09. By default, a Bb course shell is unavailable (to students) until the instructor of record makes it "available."

    INSTRUCTORS: If your course was not listed in the SOC on 7/30/09 OR a cross-list with another course was not officially indicated in the SOC, please submit a Bb Course Creation Request.

    In addition, if you or your department intended one Blackboard course to be "cross-listed" or "associated" with another course, this needs to appear in UMBC's official Schedule of Classes for Blackboard to automatically do so. Please contact the registrar’s office to make official cross-lists, so that all students will be properly enrolled in the correct Blackboard course shell.

    STUDENTS: You MUST be officially enrolled in a UMBC course via myUMBC to be "auto-enrolled" in a Bb course "shell." You will see them when they have been made "Available" to students by the instructor.

    If you have questions or need help, please consult the Blackboard Help tab inside Blackboard or directly at www.umbc.edu/blackboard/help, or contact the DoIT Help Desk at 410.455.3838, ECS Room 020 or submit a help request via myUMBC or directly at http://my.umbc.edu/help/request

    Posted by fritz at 4:13 PM | TrackBack

    June 9, 2009

    ECS Computer Room Power Outage Updates

    This morning beginning at 3:00AM, UMBC’s main computer room suffered a series of three brief, but serious, power fluctuations. Under normal circumstances the uninterruptable power supply (UPS) that protects the computer room would prevent power fluctuations from causing problems. Unfortunately, the UPS itself suffered a hardware failure that left the main computer room in the ECS building unprotected. This resulted in all servers being abruptly shut down and rebooted. At 6:00AM we called in staff and began remediation.

    As a result of the UPS failing, one of the decisions we had to make this morning was whether or not to remain on BGE power or to transfer operations over to using power from the generator. Ultimately, the decision was made to transfer to generator power due to the forecast of severe thunderstorms in the late afternoon. If we had remained on BGE power and a brief power fluctuation were to occur, the UPS would not have protected us. The decision to transfer to generator power meant that we had to spend 2.5 hours safely shutting down the servers that had survived the original power fluctuations before we could transfer to generator. We successfully moved to generator at 11:15AM.

    While a loss of power is serious we have traditionally fared quite well suffering little equipment damage. Unfortunately, this power outage caused a considerable amount of damage to our equipment, which complicated the restoration of services. Some of the damage that occurred is listed below:

    • Three of our four Fibre Channel Switches that support file storage for AFS, Mail and Web services were destroyed. As part of our disaster recovery (DR) plan we maintain some excess capacity. DoIT staff were able to utilize other equipment by running new fiber cabling and get this restored later in the afternoon.
    • One of our two IBM DS4800 storage systems, each holding twenty terabytes of storage, were damaged and will need to be replaced. These storage systems provide data storage for Blackboard, Windows file shares, and Mail. As part of our DR plan DoIT staff reconfigured the disk storage and we use for mirroring data and brought this back up.
    • The Host Management Console that is required by the PS Finance server was corrupted by the outage. Our staff spent several hours restoring this so that we could restore operations for the Finance database server.
    • Power Supply Failure on the server that runs the Legato backup software. This server manages all of the nightly tape backups that occur on all systems. We are currently awaiting a replacement part from the vendor.
    • The repeated up-and-down power outages caused synchronization issues with our virtual machine infrastructure and this required we work with our vendor, VMWARE, to reestablish Windows file services and Blackboard.
    • The decision early Tuesday morning to move operations over to using power from the generator turned out to be prescient as we learned late in the morning that the UPS system would need to have a part flown in overnight. The vendor will be working on this on Wednesday and we will schedule a time outside normal business hours to move off generator power.

    As part of the outage we have been utilizing our disaster recovery plans and validate what has worked well and where we need to focus on in the future.

    Actions that worked well:
    • Using the text messaging to get word out to the campus when email was down;
    • Putting up a quick web page to keep the campus informed;
    • Having run “virtual” simulations of disasters scenario’s; and
    • Designing redundancy into the systems we deploy.

    Issues we have identified that we need to address in future.
    • Lessening the inter-dependence of services. We have a number of services that would seem to be independent of one another but as a result of inter-dependencies are not. This makes it more difficult to get services restored;
    • Better standardization of our file storage. We have a large amount of file storage purchased over the last four years from different vendors for cost reasons. This adds to the complexity of restoring service during an outage; and
    • A simple technical change, setting our servers so if they lose power they shutdown and don’t reboot. This change could have lessened the synchronization issues we encountered.

    Posted by mikec at 9:14 PM | TrackBack

    June 8, 2009

    Experienced Hybrid Teachers Share Lessons Learned

    FA2009_hybrid_panel.png
    Three faculty experienced in hybrid teaching shared what works or doesn't during a lunch time panel for the June 4 Hybrid Course Re-Design Workshop at UMBC. Comments by Tim Hardy (Economics), Tyson King-Meadows (Political Science) and Katie Morris (Social Work) are now available on YouTube, iTunesU and UMBC's own Streaming Media site.

    Posted by fritz at 7:33 PM | TrackBack

    May 20, 2009

    Windows Lab Profile Changes

    On Sunday June 7th DoIT will be changing our Windows lab user profile environment. We will begin the switchover at 1pm Sunday afternoon and should be completed by 7am on Monday June 8th. This change is being done to enhance the overall lab experience by improving login times as well as reducing the number of quota issues faced by lab users. In order to prepare for this migration all lab users will need to backup any files currently stored in their Windows profile. This will not affect any faculty, staff or student computers, only lab profiles need to be backed up.

    Examples of Windows Profile Data:
    • My Documents folder
    • Favorites folder
    • Bookmarks
    • Desktop background picture
    • Pictures
    • Music

    DoIT recommends backing up your data to either an external drive (flash drive, writeable CD\DVD) or your S: which will be unaffected. This includes any files saved to the desktop, My Documents folder and the favorites folder. Bookmarks will also need to be exported and saved as will your background picture if you have changed it. If you need assistance backing up any of your data, please contact our helpdesk at x53838 and someone will be able to assist you.


    Why is DoIT changing lab profiles?
    This change is being made to improve overall performance as well as reduce the number of quota issues faced by users during the semester. This change will also reduce the load on our servers. The use of a standard Windows profile is commonly used at other Universities to mitigate performance issues and to ensure stability within the labs.

    How will this affect me?
    Before the migration you will need to backup any existing data located in your profile or it will be lost. This includes any documents, pictures, music, bookmarks or other data you may have stored. Anything saved to the desktop including your desktop picture will need to be saved prior to the migration. This will only affect lab profiles, faculty, staff and student computers do not need to be backed up for this change.

    Where should I save my data to?
    OIT recommends saving your data to an external drive such as an usb flash drive or a writeable CD\DVD disk. You can also use your S: which will be unaffected during the migration.

    What will be different after the migration?
    After the migration everyone will receive a standard profile which will no longer be customizable. Login times should be much faster and you should no longer run into “out of quota issues.” There will be a folder on your desktop called “My Documents” which is where you will be able to save any data you need to keep for future Windows lab sessions. Your My Documents folder will follow you wherever you login and will come with a 50MB quota.

    Posted by mikec at 12:53 PM | TrackBack

    May 8, 2009

    Faculty Senate's CPC Approves Blackboard Course Retention Policy

    To improve Blackboard performance, minimize downtime during upgrades, and manage growing disk usage, the Faculty Senate's Computer Policy Committee (CPC) approved a DoIT proposal to delete all courses that are more than six years old at the end of each academic year. In addition, all empty, unavailable, auto-created course shells that have not been accessed by students or faculty will be deleted at the end of each semester.

    The full policy approved by the CPC is as follows:

    UMBC Blackboard Course Retention Policy

    To improve Blackboard performance, minimize downtime during upgrades, and manage growing disk usage, DoIT will implement the following changes after the Summer 2009 semester:

    1. All empty, unavailable course shells that have not been accessed by students or faculty will be deleted at the end of each semester.

    2. Any course shells that are more than six (6) years old will be deleted at the end of the current academic year.

    3. Instructors can archive any course at any time and keep a local copy for their own records, but only DoIT system administrators can “restore” an archived course to the UMBC Blackboard production server.

  • Note: Blackboard’s license with all clients stipulates that the company must only support “backward compatibility” of up to two (2) full versions from its current, generally available release.

  • For example, Bb’s current release is version 9.0. UMBC is now operating under version 8.0 and upgraded to version 7.0 in January 2007.
  • 4. Faculty are encouraged to “copy forward” the most current version of their courses, by copying into an empty course shell and then requesting to delete past versions of the course.


  • If they use the Blackboard grade book, faculty are also encouraged to download and keep a copy of it after each semester.
  • 5. DoIT will broadly communicate this policy at the end of each spring semester, but only implement it at the end of the summer special session.

    Posted by fritz at 9:45 AM | TrackBack

    Faculty Request: Show Each Other How Good Students Use Blackboard

    To help DoIT’s ongoing study of how good students use Blackboard, the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) would like to encourage faculty to post their final grades in the Blackboard grade book using “GRADE” as the column heading (please omit quotes and make the column heading ALL CAPS).

    This is a totally voluntary action on your part that will allow DoIT to run a script that determines the average hits per student by grade distribution. DoIT has been reporting final grade distribution by Blackboard activity for the past two years, and we will include SP2009 results after final grades are officially submitted. If you do not want your Bb final grades to be included in the overall, anonymous grade distribution report summary, then do nothing.

    If you want to run your own grade distribution report for your own class, visit the "self service reports" on the UMBC Blackboard Reports site.

    As a matter of convenience to students, we know posting of final grades in Blackboard is a wide-spread, informal practice among many faculty now, and should not be construed as a replacement for “official” submission of final grades. But until we can link Blackboard activity and official sources of final grades in the new Student Administration, this voluntary action by faculty is the only way we can begin to see what relationship, if any, exists between student activity and performance.

    Note: DoIT is NOT suggesting there is a correlation between Bb activity and grades. However, we are interested in Bb activity as AN indicator of student engagement. As such, we would like to see how good students (as measured by final grades) tend to use Blackboard. We are also interested in seeing whether feedback to all students – by showing their grades against an anonymous summary of their peers – can be effective in helping them be more aware about their own performance during the semester, when they might be able to do something about it.

    For more information, visit http://www.umbc.edu/blackboard/reports.

    Posted by fritz at 9:42 AM | TrackBack

    April 20, 2009

    Monday Update:Mail Is Backup

    E-mail for the affected accounts was restored at midnight Sunday, April 19. We have been monitoring performance and the fix seems to be working.

    We have received reports of some users not being able to access e-mail via WebMail or that it is very slow to load. The good news is that this is not directly related to the problem that affected the 25% of our users on MS1.

    Instead this is a known issue that we are working on a plan to address. Essentially when a series of messages are sent to some of the large mailing lists in a short period of time the mail servers are having problems keeping up. This results in mail being slow for some of those users. This is not the same problem that we had on MS1 which resulted in the unexpected weekend downtime.

    We will keep you posted as we know more.


    To: The Campus Community
    Date: April 19th
    From; Jack Suess, VP of IT
    Subj: UMBC Campus Email Problems

    This is an update on the mail server issue impacting the campus.

    OIT staff have been working throughout the day on Sunday on the mail server, MS1. As of 10pm on Sunday they are close to completing the defragmentation and will be working through the night to get mail that has arrived over the last 3 days delivered and verify that the server is operating properly. We are hoping this will be available and working properly monday morning.

    The OIT Helpdesk will be open at 8am, 410.455.3838 should you have questions. We will be posting an updated spotlight in myUMBC. Once everything is working we will send out a followup message later on Monday with any information that could be of use based on questions we have gotten that day.


    ---- message that went out on saturday night ---
    To: The Campus Community
    Date: April 18th
    From; Jack Suess, VP of IT
    Subj: UMBC Campus Email Problems

    One of our four primary email servers stopped working Friday and has been unavailable all weekend. We are working to get this back in operation by Monday morning. If you are reading this from your UMBC email account you are not impacted. However your colleagues or students may be. If you notice email to teachers or students not be responded to this is likely the cause. Because those that are impacted can not get their email we want to let their colleagues know what is happening.

    UMBC has four mail servers that handle mail for all people using UMBC email. Last week, we had numerous periods where one of the four email servers, MS1, was constantly hanging. Throughout the week we worked with experts on our mail system at Carnegie Mellon and UC-Davis to diagnose the problems. The problem centered around a bug in the operating system of the server we use when dealing with a very large number of fragmented files. On Thursday night we took downtime and tried to patch the server. We brought the patched system up at midnight Thursday and began experiencing the problem again Friday morning.

    In consulting with others the best course of action to get a stable working system was to take this system down and defragment the files. The server in question has millions of files and this is very time consuming. This effort was started at 3pm on Friday and is expected to complete very early Monday morning. We continue to monitor this and we will send out an update Sunday evening but we are doing our best to have the system back in operation Monday morning. OIT is capturing all mail that comes in and this mail will be delivered to your account once we get the server back online.

    We have set up a spotlight in myUMBC that explains the problem and also explains how you can forward your UMBC email to an off-campus account through myUMBC. At this point we don't recommend this for faculty and staff because once you forward your email any mail queued will be sent to this outside account and no longer reside at UMBC. In addition, some outside email providers will block mail coming from UMBC and this could cause you to lose email.

    OIT will send out an update to everyone on Sunday night.

    Posted by mikec at 12:09 AM | TrackBack

    April 18, 2009

    Mail Problem Update

    To: The Campus Community
    From; Jack Suess, VP of IT
    Subj: UMBC Campus Email Problems

    One of our four primary email servers stopped working Friday and has been unavailable all weekend. We are working to get this back in operation by Monday morning. If you are reading this from your UMBC email account you are not impacted. However your colleagues or students may be. If you notice email to teachers or students not be responded to this is likely the cause. Because those that are impacted can not get their email we want to let their colleagues know what is happening.

    UMBC has four mail servers that handle mail for all people using UMBC email. Last week, we had numerous periods where one of the four email servers, MS1, was constantly hanging. Throughout the week we worked with experts on our mail system at Carnegie Mellon and UC-Davis to diagnose the problems. The problem centered around a bug in the operating system of the server we use when dealing with a very large number of fragmented files. On Thursday night we took downtime and tried to patch the server. We brought the patched system up at midnight Thursday and began experiencing the problem again Friday morning.

    In consulting with others the best course of action to get a stable working system was to take this system down and defragment the files. The server in question has millions of files and this is very time consuming. This effort was started at 3pm on Friday and is expected to complete very early Monday morning. We continue to monitor this and we will send out an update Sunday evening but we are doing our best to have the system back in operation Monday morning. OIT is capturing all mail that comes in and this mail will be delivered to your account once we get the server back online.

    We have set up a spotlight in myUMBC that explains the problem and also explains how you can forward your UMBC email to an off-campus account through myUMBC. At this point we don't recommend this for faculty and staff because once you forward your email any mail queued will be sent to this outside account and no longer reside at UMBC. In addition, some outside email providers will block mail coming from UMBC and this could cause you to lose email.

    OIT will send out an update to everyone on Sunday night.

    Posted by mikec at 11:06 PM | TrackBack

    April 17, 2009

    Update on UMBC Mail Problems

    UMBC E-mail Problems Update -

    Due to unforeseen complications, we are having to relocate the user data
    to new storage. The large number of users and files on this back end
    mail server means that the migration of data will likely last through
    the weekend. Rest assured that no mail has been lost during the
    migration and incoming email is being queued waiting for the server to
    go back into service.

    The current mail issue still only effects 1/4 of the UMBC mail
    population, those users on one particular back end server.

    For those users who wish to temporarily forward their UMBC email to an
    alternate location for the weekend can go to the following link to set
    an alternate mail delivery address.

    https://webadmin.umbc.edu/admin/Directory/EmailPreferences

    We apologize for the inconvenience, and we appreciate your patience.

    Posted by mikec at 3:40 PM | TrackBack

    March 15, 2009

    Duke Recommends a UMBC "Effective Practice" -- Online Discussion Portfolios

    Andrea Novicki from Duke University added a new post on the Center for Instructional Technology's (CIT) blog about a UMBC hybrid learning effective practice: using participation portfolios to manage and assess online discussions.


    Novicki attended John Fritz' "participation portfolio" presentation at the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) annual meeting in Orlando in January of this year. Basically, a "participation portfolio," consists of the following:

    • An instructor-developed "rubric" that defines a quality discussion post and reply;
    • A portfolio template that allows students to copy & paste their best 3-5 examples of a discussion board participation (based on the rubric).
    • A "self-grade" that students submit, and instructors can accept, raise or lower--based on the "evidence" students supply that meets the rubric.

    The "participation portfolio" and other "effective practices" were developed through a collaboration between faculty and instructional technology staff in UMBC's Alternate Delivery Program.

    Posted by fritz at 10:14 PM | TrackBack

    February 23, 2009

    DoIT Announces Changes in How to Request Technical Support

    In preparation for the new Student Administration (SA) enrollment management system, the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) is changing how the campus requests and receives technical support for most campus computing issues. Starting next Thursday, February 26, DoIT will begin phasing out the “Remedy” ticketing system with a new, open-source, web-based system called Request Tracker (RT).

    Last Fall, DoIT engaged the services of a technical support provider, Presidium Learning, Inc., to help review DoIT’s existing support structures and processes, and make recommendations on how to improve both. While DoIT had already chosen RT, Presidium has been helping to identify and adopt technical support “best practices” in the RT rollout. They have also made recommendations for improving workflow, communications and root cause analysis within DoIT.

    During the first phase of RT’s rollout the rest of this semester, DoIT will use RT to handle all desktop support, infrastructure and Blackboard support issues. However, due to existing maintenance and reporting needs for responding to legislative auditors this semester, Remedy will still be used as an interim solution for all PeopleSoft Finance and HR issues until this Summer.

    Also, during this phased rollout, DoIT will no longer be accepting email submission of IT support requests into the new RT system. Why? Currently, DoIT receives about 25,000 technical support requests annually. Well over half of these originate as user-generated email requests to helpdesk@umbc.edu, often from non-UMBC user email accounts with no identifying information about who is requesting help, or even if the person who is requesting help is a UMBC student, faculty or staff member. The resulting "back and forth" process to determine someone's identity, let alone the nature of his or her technical problem, can be very time consuming.

    myumbc_help_still.png
    On 2/26, the myUMBC "Request Help" link will switch from Remedy to RT.

    For this reason, all technical help requests to helpdesk@umbc.edu will receive a standard “reply” pointing to the new RT help request form which will be available on the myUMBC "Help" menu or directly at:

    http://my.umbc.edu/help/request

    In addition to requesting help, members of the UMBC community will be able to check the status of current request tickets, and find all past tickets that have been resolved.

    At the end of this semester, DoIT staff will analyze the RT implementation, including the “time to resolution” and number of “hops” (or transfers/escalations) required to solve the problem, and will make a decision on how and when to migrate all technical support requests.

    During the spring semester, DoIT will be collecting and analyzing transaction data as well as user feedback about the move to RT as well as the SA implementation’s impact on technical support. A related reporting and feedback site will be announced later this semester, or you can share your comments by using the form below.

    Posted by fritz at 9:08 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    February 2, 2009

    MDBUG Conference Call for Proposals (Deadline: 2/20)


    The Maryland Blackboard Users Group (MDBUG) is now accepting proposals for its next biannual conference, "Learning 2.0: Beyond the LMS," to be held Thursday, April 23, 2009, at the University of Maryland, College Park.

    Also, the conference keynote will be presented by Jeffrey Trzeciak, University Librarian at McMaster University, which received the 2008 Excellence in Academic Libraries award from the Association of College and Research Libraries, in part for their exemplary professional development program in the use of Learning 2.0 tools and strategies.

    Come join your colleagues and share your stories by submitting a proposal to present at the conference. MDBUG is accepting proposals for individual or panel presentations or posters in the following areas:

    • Effective practices in teaching and learning (faculty focus)
    • Effective support models (instructional technology support/technical staff focus)
    • Effective practices/implementations in K-12
    • Leadership issues
    Proposals are due by February 20, 2009, and can be submitted online at the following:

    http://www.oit.umd.edu/as/MDBUG/mdbugproposalform.html

    Posted by fritz at 4:11 PM | TrackBack

    January 29, 2009

    CIRC Software Workshop Schedule

    The workshops last for one hour and are held during Free Hour (12 noon - 01 pm) in ENGR 122, an instructional computer lab in the Engineering Building at UMBC.

    Though the seating is limited, no sign-up is required; we will accomodate as many people as possible.

    http://www.umbc.edu/circ/workshops/

    Posted by anna at 11:09 AM | TrackBack

    January 13, 2009

    Chronicle of Higher Ed Features UMBC Blackboard Reports

    This week's Chronicle of Higher Education contains a feature story that looks at the "average hits per user" approach behind UMBC's Most Active Blackboard Courses reports, which are published after the last day of classes each semester.

    In "A Wired Way to Rate Professors," Senior Writer Jeffrey Young quotes or mentions three UMBC faculty about their "Top 50" rankings as teachers of UMBC's Fall 2008 most active Blackboard courses--across the university or within their disciplines.

    Katie Morris
    Katie Morris
    The UMBC faculty include Gerald Canfield (Information Systems), Lili Cui (Physics) and Katie Morris (Social Work).

    While the Chronicle's article focuses on "rankings" of faculty based on Bb activity data (which has drawn mixed reviews from commenters on a companion blog called "The Wired Campus"), it also acknowledges what DoIT staff have maintained since the project began:

    Hits alone are no measure of course or instructor quality, but by publishing the activity data each semester, faculty and students can more easily seek each other out about what works or doesn't in using Blackboard.

    One thing UMBC faculty and students may still be learning is how an "average hits per user" approach can also shed light on student learning. For example, an examination of 2007-08 Bb-activity based Grade Distribution Reports (GDRs) showed students earning a final grade of D or F tended to use Blackboard 35 percent less than students earning a final grade of C or higher.

    This trend--and the tools DoIT staff have been developing to help students and faculty better understand and apply it in specific UMBC Bb courses--will be the focus of "Showing How Good Students Use Blackboard," the first Teaching, Learning and Technology (TLT) Brown Bag Workshop on Thursday, February 12.

    For more information, contact John Fritz at fritz@umbc.edu or visit www.umbc.edu/blackboard/reports.

    Posted by fritz at 10:51 PM | TrackBack

    December 1, 2008

    WT2009 UMBC Blackboard Update

    UMBC Blackboard update is provided by the Division of Information Technology for
    students, faculty and staff using Blackboard at UMBC. If you have questions or
    suggestions, contact John Fritz (fritz@umbc.edu or 410.455.6596) or Bob Armstrong
    (rarmstro@umbc.edu or 410.455.3885). For more information about using Blackboard,
    login via myUMBC or visit http://blackboard.umbc.edu.

    HEADLINES

    1. Blackboard Down for Upgrade 1/13-16

    2. FA2008 Course Shells Expire 1/15

    3. SP2009 Course Shells Created 12/1; WT2009 Shells Created by Request

    4. New Blackboard Tools (Gradebook) for Spring 2009

    5. UMBC Blackboard User’s Annual Survey (12/1 to 12/9)

    6. FYI: Hybrid Course Re-design Workshop 1/15-16

    7. FYI: Blackboard Training in January

    8. FYI: Educause Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference 1/7-9

    Posted by fritz at 3:34 PM | TrackBack

    September 18, 2008

    FA2008 Clicker Support Issues: Duplicate IDs, Slowness, etc.

    In recent weeks, the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) has learned of and tried to work around issues related to the new version of eInstruction's Classroom Performance System (CPS) "clickers." Specifically, we have received reports of students getting a "duplicate pad ID" error message when they try to click, and we've heard some faculty have to wait as long as a minute to move from one question to another.

    After working with faculty and technical support staff at eInstruction, this is what we know.

    1. Duplicate Pad IDs

    Two weeks before the semester start, eInstruction issued a software update for PC and Mac CPS users. Part of that update included a feature called “Out of the Box," which enabled students to participate in class clicker sessions without having to register their clickers during the first 21 days of the semester. Ostensibly, students could go straight from the bookstore to class without registering, but after the 21 day window, they would be blocked. However, in some cases, this caused duplicate Pad ID numbers to appear in the CPS roster. It also seems to have interfered with properly registered users. The “Out of the Box” feature expired late last week, and we've requested that eInstruction make this an optional (not default) setting on their next release.

    In hindsight, we didn't realize what this setting was, and didn't have enough time to test its impact on other settings. We also knew of other problems that the update appears to have solved. For now, DoIT recommends that instructors sync their CPS rosters to confirm properly registered users on a weekly basis. The CPS "Best Practices" describes how to sync your class if you are unsure.

    2. Slowness

    While it appears to have subsided here at UMBC, eInstruction has acknowledged that slowness in displaying question results is a known issue. They expect to address this in a future update.

    3. Support

    UMBC standardized on CPS clickers in Spring 2007, but individual faculty had been using them a few years later. Currently, we support more than 4,000 student enrollments which represent nearly 3,000 distinct users. As demand has grown, DoIT has been working with eInstruction to represent our needs and support faculty teaching goals for audience response systems. As this technology matures, here are some recommendations for students and faculty to keep in mind:

    Students: Registering Clickers

  • Remember to consult UMBC's clicker support page at www.umbc.edu/clickers.
  • Turn off browser pop-up blockers before trying to register a clicker.
  • ONLY register clicker through the appropriate Blackboard course.
  • Confirm your serial number when registering.
  • Use the same CPS student account for proper credit of payments.
  • If you encounter difficulties registering your clicker, contact eInstruction directly.

    Students: Using Clickers in Class

  • Make sure your batteries are fresh.
  • Wait for your professor to indicate the proper time to turn on your clicker.
  • Turn off your clicker between CPS classes.

    Faculty: Preparing to Use Clickers & Reporting Problems

  • Join the "clickers" email listserve (https://lists.umbc.edu/lists/info/clickers).
  • Sit in on a class of an instructor who uses clickers.
  • If you use clickers, make them required by having students buy them in the bookstore.
  • If you encounter a problem, report it on the clicker listserve.
  • If you don't get a workable solution from your colleagues or DoIT staff, request support from eInstruction and make note of your support ticket or case ID number.
  • If you don't hear from eInstruction in a timely manner, contact Classroom Technology Manager Steven Anderson.

    DoIT is actively working with eInstruction to improve the support process and improve the performance of the clickers in the classroom. If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions, contact Steven Anderson or leave a comment on this announcement.

    Posted by fritz at 8:50 AM | TrackBack

    August 18, 2008

    FA2008 Blackboard Update

    UMBC Blackboard update is provided by the Office of Information Technology for
    students, faculty and staff using Blackboard at UMBC. If you have questions or
    suggestions, contact John Fritz (fritz@umbc.edu or 410.455.6596) or Bob Armstrong
    (rarmstro@umbc.edu or 410.455.3885). For more information about using Blackboard,
    login via myUMBC or visit http://blackboard.umbc.edu.

    HEADLINES

    1. FA2008 Bb Course Shells Created and Enrolled

    2. Seven Classrooms, One Lecture Hall Get Tech Upgrades; Mobile AV Requests Due 8/22

    3. "Clicker" Hardware & Software to be Upgraded in Lecture Halls

    4. Changes to Turnitin Interface--Not Status @ UMBC

    5. Bb Version 8 Pilot Server to Help Prepare for January Upgrade

    6. Using Clickers to Control Online Access to Recordings of In-Class Lectures

    7. DoIT and CIRC Sponsor 9/18 Mathematica Demo

    Posted by fritz at 11:32 PM | TrackBack

    August 17, 2008

    Using Clickers to Control Online Access to Recordings of In-Class Lectures

    If you record in-class lectures and make them available online, why would students still come to class? If they don’t—but can pass exams—does it matter? While faculty have mixed feelings about recorded lectures, a combination of new technologies makes it possible to allow ONLY students who attend class to access recorded lectures online, for the purposes of review (not discovery).

    Problem

    For several years, UMBC has been providing a lecture-capture taping service whereby student videographers are paid by professors or departments to trek across campus, set up tripods and cameras, capture a variety of lecture content (and formats), and bring them back for light editing, digitization and distribution online through open and (sometimes) closed access websites. While the process doesn’t scale particularly well, it is relatively unobtrusive to the faculty member, who can go about the process of lecturing pretty much the way he or she has always done.

    In recent years, lecture capture demand has grown as have a variety of solutions that include dedicated, wall-mounted, pan/tilt video cameras with remote control and automated, scheduled recording. These are attractive (and expensive) solutions, but still don’t address faculty concerns about whether students will come to class if the lectures are available online.

    Tamara Mendelson
    Tamara Mendelson
    LH7_audiorecorders.jpg
    A view of the lecturn at the start of Mendelson's Spring 2008 Biology class.
    Proposed Solution

    Last spring, after seeing a photo of 15 personal digital audio recorders aligned along the podium of a large biology class, we talked with the instructor, Tamara Mendelson, who explains her rationale for allowing them: “Everything I say is fair game for a test, so I tell the students ‘If I were you, I’d record it all.’ And they do.”

    Just like our labor intensive lecture capture service, Mendelson didn’t have to do anything and apparently the students were content to have only her PowerPoint presentations online and their own audio recordings. When we suggested she could make the recordings herself and post them on Blackboard, Mendelson wondered if she could limit access to only students who were in the class. In other words, she wanted to provide the online, recorded lectures for review by students who were present, not for discovery by students who were absent.

    Combined with our own lessons learned about simple screencasting software solutions, clickers and the use of a function called “adaptive release” in Blackboard, we realized it is possible to use a daily record of attendance collected by the clickers as a "precondition" for who can access recorded lectures that the instructor posts to his or her Blackboard site.

    While we are using MP3 digital audio recorders only, the same process can be used for recorded screencasts made with Camtasia and published in Blackboard, which we have been supporting for years.

    Essentially, any faculty member can adapt this cookbook “recipe” to use clickers to control access to any file or function in Blackboard:

    1. Record the audio of your lecture with an MP3 digital recorder (we’ve found a good one for $80) accompanied by a powerpoint; or make a screencast which combines audio and any actions or screens on the instructor’s vga display into one synchronized file (we like Camtasia).

    2. Ask at least one clicker question during the class period or (ideally) the lecture yourself so you don't get clicker-only "drop ins" (you might even want to ask questions at the start & end of the period/lecture).

    3. Upload your clicker grades into your Blackboard gradebook.

    4. Create a folder where your lecture materials (e.g., PPTs & audio or screencasts) will reside; make it unavailable to students so you can take your time uploading lecture materials.

    5. Upload your lecture materials

    6. Use Blackboard's "Adaptive Release" function to limit access to only those students who have ANY score (e.g., activity) for that day's clicker question(s)

    7. Make the lecture folder available.

    8. Send and/or post announcement that the day's lecture materials are available for REVIEW to students who were present and "clicked."

    For more information, DoIT has prepared a help sheet, which also uses short screencast videos to "show and tell" the process Mendelson will be piloting this fall:

    Posting/Controlling Access to Recorded Lectures
    http://www.umbc.edu/oit/newmedia/blackboard/help/audio/audio_directions.html

    Posted by fritz at 10:15 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    Bb Version 8 Pilot Server to Help Prepare for January Upgrade

    To help prepare for a January upgrade to version 8.0, the first installment of Blackboard’s “Next Generation” course management software, the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) has set up a pilot server and welcomes faculty interested in using it for Fall 2008.

    The new version includes a completely redesigned grade book that allows instructors to drop the lowest of several grades, email students when they fall below a certain pre-determined standard, divide the grade book based on class sections if several are included in the same course shell, and other features that were requested by Blackboard users.

    An online manual developed by Southwestern College can be found at http://www.umbc.edu/oit/newmedia/blackboard/help/version8/Grades80.pdf.

    Additional features in version 8.0 include the ability for students to self and peer review assigned materials and the early warning system for notifying students when they fall below standards set by the instructor.

    Instructors from several courses, including some sections of Science 100, English 100Y, MLL 406 and Psychology 100 will be participating in the initial pilot and will share feedback. If you would like to participate, contact Bob Armstrong at 410.455.3885 or rarmstro@umbc.edu.

    Posted by fritz at 5:18 PM | TrackBack

    Changes to Turnitin Interface--Not Status @ UMBC

    While the interface to Turnitin has changed, the status of the plagiarism detection software's use at UMBC remains unchanged.

    As announced last spring, there remain unresolved issues with Turnitn possibly "crashing" inside Blackboard versions 7.2 or higher (which UMBC runs).

    While there were minimal reports of this happening at UMBC, the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) still wants faculty to be aware of these potential issues as well as other alternatives (e.g., using Turnitin oustide of Blackboard or using SafeAssign, which is Blackboard's plagiarism detection tool).

    In the meantime, DoIT will continue to support both Turnitin and SafeAssign for the Fall 2008 semester, but faculty should weigh their own concerns about interruptions in deciding which tool they should use.

    FYI: Once you use the new Turnitin interface, there is a "switch back" option to return to the original interface.

    Posted by fritz at 4:16 PM | TrackBack

    "Clicker" Hardware & Software to be Upgraded in Lecture Halls

    Following a recommendation from eInstruction.com, makers of the Classroom Performance System (CPS) "clickers" used on campus, the Division of Information Technology (DoIT), will be upgrading the clicker hardware and software in all lecture halls for start of semester.

    So far, DoIT has upgraded the CPS receivers in all of the lecture halls to the new receivers that are similar to the “stick” USB flash drives that many of us use to transport data. Testing has shown they accept the inputs from clickers faster and more reliably then previous versions.

    In addition, new PC versions of the CPS instructor software will be installed in all of the lecture halls. As a result, to remain compatible, DoIT strongly recommends that all instructors upgrade their PC or Mac CPS software on their computers as well. The download for the software can be found at http://www.einstruction.com/Downloads/index.cfm.

    FYI: One of the best features of the new CPS software is the ability to take attendance without having to start a Teacher Managed engage session.

    For more information, visit the eInstruction CPS support site or visit UMBC's "clicker" support site.

    Posted by fritz at 12:49 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Seven Classrooms & One Lecture Hall Get Tech Upgrades; Mobile AV Requests Due 8/22

    For the second straight year, the Provost's Office has funded a classroom technology plan to permanently install presentation technology upgrades in all of UMBC's 73 general purpose classrooms.

    Specifically, seven ACIV classrooms (006, 011, 108, 145, 150, 151 and 305) now have permanently installed data projectors, which now means 53 (or 73 percent) of UMBC's general purpose classrooms are permanently "fixtured." In addition, projectors in Physics 107 and 201 have been upgraded this summer.

    NOTE: For faculty teaching in classrooms without a permanently installed data projector--you can check the classroom tech inventory here--please submit an AV request by Friday, August 22.

    DSCF2659.jpg
    The new screen in LH7 is nearly twice as high as the previous one, making it easy to see any slide, web page, image or video from the back of the room.
    In addition to installing projectors in classrooms, the wide but narrow screen (and image) in Lecture Hall 7 has been replaced and can easily be viewed from all seats in the room. Unfortunately, the new screen covers the white board permanently installed at the front of the room when the ITE Bldg. was built in 2003, but faculty who need to write notes as well as present images or videos to their classes have two options:

    1. Use The Portable White Board

    DoIT has purchased a portable, double-sided white board that can be moved anywhere at the front of the room--including 25 feet closer to where students are sitting compared with the permanent white board.

    NOTE: The portable white board must NOT be stored or placed directly underneath the new, larger projector screen. If the screen is lowered or raised, any sharp edges on the white board can damage the screen fabric, which is very expensive to replace.

    2. Convert to Digital Annotation & Writing

    If you only want to use one display (the larger screen), then consider switching to digital annotation, writing or drawing, using a tablet PC or the built-in "star board" annotation pad built into the instructor station. In addition to just switching between applications like PowerPoint, a website and a video or image, you can record your digital annotations (and voice) for later review by students.

    For more information, view the taped archive of DoIT's 3/10 "Digital Alternatives to Chalk" brown bag presentation or contact Steven Anderson, manager of classroom technology, at 410.455.3680 or sanderso@umbc.edu.

    Posted by fritz at 7:13 AM | TrackBack

    August 16, 2008

    FA2008 Bb Course Shells Created and Enrolled

    OIT has created new Blackboard course shells for all courses in the Schedule of Classes as of 8/1/08. By default, a Bb course shell is unavailable (to students) until the instructor of record makes it "available."

    INSTRUCTORS: If your course was not listed in the SOC on 8/1/08 OR a cross-list with another course was not officially indicated in the SOC, please submit a Bb Course Creation Request. Students who officially drop courses will be disabled inside courses. Instructors can tell who has been disabled in a course by seeing a red circle with a slash in the Blackboard course roster.

    STUDENTS: You MUST be officially enrolled in a UMBC course via myUMBC to be "auto-enrolled" in a Bb course "shell."

    Please consult the Blackboard Help tab or contact OIT at blackboard@umbc.edu if you have questions.

    Posted by fritz at 4:18 PM | TrackBack

    July 9, 2008

    Limited Blackboard Support Staff 7/14 to 7/21

    Please note: All of of UMBC's primary Blackboard support staff will be attending the BbWorld08 Annual Conference next week, Monday, July 14, through Friday, July 18.

    During this time, all but the most urgent requests (e.g., server down, account or enrollment problems) will be handled as soon as possible after we return on Monday, July 21. So that we may learn from the conference and improve support, routine course or community creation requests, or support of specific functionality, will not be addressed while the staff are away.

    If you have urgent questions or concerns, please contact the Help Desk at helpdesk@umbc.edu or 410.455.3838 or stop by at Engineering Room 020. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

    Posted by fritz at 5:50 PM | TrackBack

    July 2, 2008

    Name Change for UMBC's Wireless Network

    The Division of Information Technology is upgrading UMBC's wireless infrastructure to better improve performance for the campus community. Beginning on July 8, 2008 we will begin migrating buildings that contain OIT managed wireless access points. Each building will take approximately 15 minutes to migrate.

    IMPORTANT: New Wireless Network Names
    - 'UMBC Campus' Replaces the old 'Tsunami' network
    - 'UMBC Visitor' New Network for Visitors and Wireless Devices (e.g. iPhones)

    One important change to note is there will be two new wireless network names (i.e. SSID). The first one is called ‘UMBC Campus’ which will be replacing the old ‘Tsunami’ name. The majority of our campus wireless users will use the new ‘UMBC Campus’ wireless network. This network will require a myUMBC Account.

    The second wireless network is named ‘UMBC Visitor’. This network does not require a myUMBC Account. This new wireless network should be used by customers that have wireless devices (e.g. iPhone, iPod Touch etc.) which don’t typically work well with the UMBC wireless authentication page.

    The ‘UMBC Visitor’ network will not allow access to campus resources such as Active Directory. We recommend that customers use the ‘UMBC Campus’ network, which requires a login, to access these type of resources.

    Access to the old ‘Tsunami’ network will be removed from service on Monday, July 14, 2008. At that time all wireless users should be using the new ‘UMBC Campus’ or ‘UMBC Visitor’ wireless networks.

    Help in configuring your wireless can be found on the wireless support site..


    Migration Time Line

    Tuesday July 8th:
    Engineering Building as the initial test

    Wednesday July 9th:
    ITE
    Physics
    Library
    Sondheim
    University Center
    The RAC
    Chemistry
    Central Plant
    Alumni House

    Thursday July 10th:
    ACIV
    Administration
    AcServ
    Fine Arts
    Math/Phy
    PPlant
    Stadium

    Friday July 11th:
    Biology
    PPolicy
    SouthCampus
    TRC
    Multitenant

    Posted by mikec at 2:35 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

    June 26, 2008

    New Media Studio Wins 2008 Center of Excellence Award

    UMBC's New Media Studio (NMS) has won a prestigious Centers of Excellence Award, presented annually by the New Media Consortium (NMC) during its summer conference.

    nmc.jpg
    Pictured L to R: Paul Iwancio, Bill Shewbridge and Aaron Weidele.
    At a presentation on Friday, June 13, during the NMC summer conference held at Princeton University, Studio Manager Bill Shewbridge, Video Producer Paul Iwancio and Multimedia Designer Aaron Weidele received the NMC's Centers of Excellence award for the Studio's "leadership in capturing and disseminating digital stories across the institution," according to NMC CEO Larry Johnson.

    Patterned after the MacArthur "Genius Grants," recipients of the NMC Centers of Excellence award are nominated and selected anonymously by one's peers. "This is the biggest award a center like ours could receive" says Shewbridge, who has led the Studio since its creation in 2002. "We are very honored."

    In recent years, the Studio has partnered with the Center for Digital Storytelling (CDS) in Berkeley, California, to host digital storytelling workshops on campus, as a way to promote and support its use as a form of creative expression as well as a teaching and learning strategy. In fact, the week before receiving the award at Princetown, Shewbridge and his colleagues completed another digital storytelling workshop with CDS staff, and extended the usual three-day program to a five-day "train the trainer" agenda for participants from last year's workshop (click here for a brief video about the workshop process).

    In addition, two UMBC instructors (Jason Loviglio and Beverly Bickel) joined Shewbridge in a separate conference presentation on how they used digital storytelling techniques to incorporate visual assignments in their Spring 2008 courses.

    IMG_1018.jpg
    In addition to Iwancio and Weidele, other UMBC conference participants who attended the Centers of Excellence award ceremony gathered for a group photo and included (L to R): Adriana Val and Ed Beimfohr (back row); Heather Linville, Polina Vinogradova and Jack Suess (middle row); and Beverly Bickel and Jason Loviglio.
    The Studio's 2008 Centers of Excellence award follows a 2007 Telly Award for the Charlestown Digital Stories project, in which Studio staff and UMBC students have helped create more than 30 digital stories from personal photos, memories and scripts developed by Charlestown residents.

    This year, UMBC joined the Rochester Institute of Technology as 2008 recipients. Past recipients have included Case Western Reserve, Johns Hopkins, UC Berkeley, UT Austin and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

    For more information about digital storytelling at UMBC, visit www.umbc.edu/stories. In addition, an email listserve has been created for announcements, tips and FYIs.

    Posted by fritz at 12:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    May 20, 2008

    OIT Publishes SP2008 Most Active Blackboard Courses

    OIT has again published UMBC's "Most Active Blackboard" courses reports for the Spring 2008 semester, based on an "average hits per user" approach. For the second straight semester, one department (Information Systems) and one class (PSYC 100 "Introduction to Psychology) have taken the top spot for most active discipline and undergraduate course, respectively. For more information, visit www.umbc.edu/blackboard/reports.

    Highlights (based on student activity ONLY):

    Most Active Graduate Course: IS 634 "Structured Systems Analysis and Design" taught by Heather Holden, Carlton Crabtree, Carolyn Seaman (avg hits per student: 2,685).

    Most Active Undergraduate Course: PSYC 100 "Introduction to Psychology" taught by Linda Jones, Eileen O'Brien, Brian Jobe (avg hits per student: 1,632).

    Note: PSYC 100 was also the most active undergraduate Bb course for Fall 2007.

    Most Active Discipline: Information Systems (84 Blackboard courses).

    Note: Information Systems was also the most active discipline for Fall 2007.

    Most Active Community: Geography and Environmental Systems Department managed by several GES faculty (avg hits per user: 533).

    Total Number of Blackboard Courses (including those with multiple sections): 1,034

    While activity alone is not a measure of quality, OIT publishes these reports so faculty can seek each other out about what does (or doesn't ) work in using Blackboard. Toward this end, faculty may also want to try out the new "Average Hits Per User by Final Grade Distribution" reports announced on March 6.

    For more information about the Blackboard Reports project, contact John Fritz at 410.455.6596 or fritz@umbc.edu.

    Posted by fritz at 11:09 AM | TrackBack

    May 3, 2008

    Using Blackboard for Job Search or RFP Committees

    provost_search_bb.png
    When the 20-member Provost Search Committee identified its four finalists, it did so using a Blackboard community to review AND rank all applicants online before meeting face-to-face to discuss their differences. Similarly, the Alternate Delivery Program has frequently used Blackboard to review faculty proposals to receive a one-time course development stipend to redesign an existing course for hybrid delivery in summer or winter sessions.

    Key Steps

    1. Members review candidate materials or RFP proposals on the Bb community discussion board or blog.

    2. Members post an initial "vote" by changing subject line of their reply to "yes" or "no" or "maybe."

    3. Optional: Members use body of their reply to explain their "vote"

    4. Members meet face-to-face as a group to "negotiate" their online voting differences and reach consensus

    "Show & Tell" videos

  • For Bb Leaders: How to Post Applicant/RFP Materials So Committee Members Can Review Them
  • For Bb Leaders: How to Set Up a Discussion Board So Members Can "Vote" On Applicant/RFP Materials
  • For Committee Members: How to Vote and Comment on Applicant/RFP Materials

    Posted by fritz at 12:45 AM | TrackBack

    SP2008 UMBC Blackboard Update

    UMBC Blackboard update is provided by the Office of Information Technology for
    students, faculty and staff using Blackboard at UMBC. If you have questions or
    suggestions, contact John Fritz (fritz@umbc.edu or 410.455.6596) or Bob Armstrong
    (rarmstro@umbc.edu or 410.455.3885). For more information about using Blackboard,
    login via myUMBC or visit http://blackboard.umbc.edu.

    HEADLINES

    1. SP2008 Course Shells Expire on 6/15

    2. SU2008 Course Shells Created on 4/30

    3. OIT Publishes FA2007 Blackboard User Survey Results

    4. New myUMBC Tools Show How Good Students Use Blackboard

    5. UMBC Joins Two National, Online Learning Faculty Development Networks

    6. Job Opening: UMBC Blackboard Graduate Assistant

    7. FYI: Using Blackboard for Job Search or RFP Committees

    8. FYI: OIT to Upgrade Labs to MS Office 2007 (PC) & 2008 (Mac)

    9. FYI: BbWorld'08 World Conference is July15-17

    Posted by fritz at 12:42 AM | TrackBack

    May 2, 2008

    Job Opening: Blackboard Graduate Assistant

    OIT’s Instructional Technology & New Media unit seeks a graduate assistant to provide Blackboard support to students, faculty and staff. The person will assist with routine Bb system administration functions (e.g., course & community site creation), and development of Blackboard user support procedures and documentation. Candidates will be expected to work well in a collaborative team environment and to communicate effectively with customers from a variety of academic and administrative departments.

    In the past, special projects have included design and development of the following:

    UMBC Blackboard Reports
    UMBC Blackboard Help

    The successful candidate must be self-directed and work well communicating information to technical and non-technical users. The candidate must also be able to interact with customers of all levels in a highly professional and competent manner.

    Qualifications

    The qualified candidate must be an officially registered UMBC graduate student with demonstrable experience providing end-user support. The candidate must have good problem-solving skills, strong analytical and organization skills, and excellent oral/written communications skills. Experience with web application development (ideally using PHP & MySQL) is preferred.

    Compensation & Hours

    Term (9 Month)
    Closing Date: Open until filled
    Compensation: TBD by Graduate School policy (typically stipend, tuition & health)
    Hours:
    • PT (20 hours/week) in Fall & Spring
    • FT (40 hours/week) possible in Winter & Summer

    Application Process | Show Me (video)

    1. Login to Blackboard via myUMBC or directly at http://blackboard.umbc.edu
    2. Search for and “Enroll” in the “Blackboard User Group” organization on the Bb Community tab
    3. Complete the “UMBC Bb GA” application by attaching the following:

    - Cover Letter (include a brief description of how you use Blackboard now)
    - Resume or CV
    - Unofficial PDF version of your transcript from myUMBC
    - Names of three references and how they know your work
    - Note: You can “save” your application and come back, but can only “submit” it once.

    Send an email to blackboard@umbc.edu when you have submitted your application using the process described above, or if you need help doing so.

    Posted by fritz at 12:15 PM | TrackBack

    OIT to Upgrade Labs to MS Office 2007 (PC) & 2008 (Mac)

    OIT PC LabsThis summer, OIT will be upgrading the Microsoft Office suite in all labs for the start of the Fall 2008 semester. Windows XP machines will be upgraded to Office 2007, and Apple machines will be upgraded to Office 2008.

    Microsoft Vista is tentatively scheduled to be installed in the OIT labs beginning in Fall 2009.

    Currently, OIT is working with UMBC Training Centers to offer "bridge" training for users accustomed earlier versions of MS Office as they make the transition to Office 2007 (PC) or Office 2008 (Mac). Details will be announced on the OIT News site at a later date.

    Posted by fritz at 9:50 AM | TrackBack

    April 30, 2008

    CS Major Wins "Students & IT" Focus Group Drawing

    ipod_touch_winner.jpg

    Junior Computer Science major Andrew Winder won the iPod Touch "door prize" drawing at yesterday's UMBC student focus group sessions for the 2008 "Undergraduates and IT" study sponsored by the Educause Center for Applied Research (ECAR). Pictured with Andrew is Judy Caruso, principal investigator of the 2008 ECAR study, and Director of Policy and Planning in the CIO's office at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

    Thanks to all of the students who participated.

    Posted by fritz at 3:08 PM | TrackBack

    April 8, 2008

    4/30 Team Based Learning Demo

    Team Based Learning Book
    If you want to make sure students are prepared for class and group work, come to this demo of Team Based Learning (TBL) and its Readiness Assurance Process (RAP) that includes the following:


    1. An individual quiz over assigned readings;
    2. A team quiz over the same material using immediate feedback "scratch off" cards;
    3. An open book "appeals" phase for incorrect "team answers" only.
    4. Corrective instruction (mini lecture) by the instructor based on a real-time understanding of what students didn't understand.

    John Fritz and Jack Prostko will lead the first half of the demo, including a short TBL quiz of L. Dee Fink's "Integrated Course Design" summary paper from the IDEA Center at Kansas State University. Then, Anna Rubin (Music) will share lessons learned from her use of TBL in her Winter 2008 hybrid course, "Introduction to Music."

    For more information and to register, visit www.umbc.edu/fdc/training

    Posted by fritz at 9:49 PM | TrackBack

    March 31, 2008

    4/29 Workshop & Focus Groups Look at How Undergraduates Use IT

    On Tuesday, April 29, Judy Caruso, the principal investigator of a national study on how undergraduates use technology will deliver a "Brown Bag" presentation at noon, followed by focus groups with students at 4, 5 and 6 p.m.

    Judy CarusoFor the past two years, UMBC freshmen and seniors have participated in Undergraduates and IT conducted by the Educause Center for Applied Research (ECAR). UMBC is also participating in this year's ECAR study.

    During a Teaching, Learning and Technology (TLT) Brown Bag workshop Caruso, who is Director of Policy and Planning in the CIO's Office at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison, and co-principle investigator for the 2008 study, will share the 2007 study's key findings, and talk about what she's learned from five years of studying the nation's undergraduate technology trends.

    FYI: UMBC's Past ECAR Study Results


    ECAR LogoFYI: This workshop will be broadcast via the USM's Interactive Video Network (IVN). The conference code is 800841

    Later in the afternoon, Caruso will conduct focus groups with UMBC students about their technology use to inform the 2008 study. If you are a UMBC undergraduate, and would like to participate in a focus group at 4, 5 or 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 29 (food will be provided).

    iPod TouchNOTE: Undergraduate students who register for and attend a focus group will be eligible to win an iPod Touch. Each participant will receive a ticket for the iPod drawing, which will take place after the 6 p.m. focus group is finished. If you can't be present for the drawing, an OIT staff member will put your ticket in the drawing and you will be notified if you win.

    Posted by fritz at 4:23 PM | TrackBack

    March 6, 2008

    New myUMBC Tools Show How Good Students Use Blackboard

    myUMBC Blackboard Reporting ToolsOIT announces the release of two new myUMBC tools designed to show the campus community how top UMBC students use Blackboard.

    Specifically, students can "Check My Blackboard Activity" to see a comparison of their own activity against an anonymous summary of other students in their classes. In addition, faculty can now run their own "Grade Distribution" and "Tool Usage" reports showing their students' Blackboard activity by any item in the Blackboard grade book (including final grade), or by overall tool usage within the course.

    While the trend needs further study, initial findings suggest that students who earn higher grades tend to use Blackboard more than students earning lower grades. It is NOT the case that using Blackboard alone will produce higher grades, simply by "gaming" the system.

    But if students know how their activity compares to an anonymous summary of peers, at any time during the semester, this timely and personal feedback may allow them to monitor and change their own behavior as it pertains to engaging with course concepts, materials, instructors or each other. In essence, students can now draw their own conclusions about the quantity AND quality of their Blackboard activity and the impact this may or may not have on their learning.

    Since the "Check Grade" tool in Blackboard allows students to view statistical differences between their grades and the class average for any visible item in the grade book, OIT will eventually publish student reports showing activity by grade distribution as well. In the meantime, faculty who wish to can provide further insight to students, by viewing, printing and publishing (as PDF files in their Bb course site) their current or past student activity GDRs for their specific courses.

    Background

    A year ago, OIT began reporting on UMBC's "Most Active Blackboard Courses" based on a simple "average hits per user" approach. In this way, "rankings" don't favor large enrollment sites over smaller ones. To date, we now have reports for the Spring, Summer and Fall 2007 semesters.

    After OIT announced the Fall 2007 Blackboard reports and availability of the "self service" faculty Grade Distribution Reports (GDR), 16 faculty used their GDRs, which collectively showed overall Blackboard usage was higher by students earning higher grades. The self service GDRs complemented earlier pilots with two faculty from Geography and Environmental Systems (Karin Readel and Chris Swan), which also showed higher Blackboard usage among students earning higher grades.

    While there is no statistically significant difference among students earning As, Bs and Cs (numerically there is: students earning higher grades tend to use it more), there is a significant difference between this group and those students who earn Ds and Fs. So far, the pattern has held true in the courses mentioned above, and OIT is working on a way to load final grades into a table that looks at all Bb courses to see if the trend is broadly generalizable.

    OIT recognizes that hits alone are no endorsement (or indictment) of course quality. But looking at and publishing user activity is one way to help faculty and students identify and consult each other about effective teaching and learning practices. By adopting an attitude of transparency about Blackboard usage, the entire UMBC community (and not just OIT system administrators) gains a "birds eye view" of how this Course Management System (CMS) is being used.

    For more information, visit http://www.umbc.edu/blackboard/reports. You can also view a brief video demo of these new myUMBC tools for students and faculty.

    Posted by fritz at 2:00 PM | TrackBack

    February 25, 2008

    UMBC Joins Two National, Online Learning Faculty Development Networks

    On behalf of the UMBC community, the Office of Information Technology has recently joined QualityMatters and the Sloan-Consortium, two national, online learning networks that specialize in faculty development, online training and research-based "best practices." Membership in both organizations is made possible through a partnership with the University System of Maryland (USM).

    QualityMatters LogoEstablished in 2003 with a three-year, $500k grant from the Fund for Improvement to Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), QualityMatters is a nationally-recognized initiative by MarylandOnline that focuses on defining and evaluating best practices in quality online or hybrid course design--not instructor delivery.

    Last year, OIT staff and selected faculty participated in several USM-sponsored course design and peer reviewer training workshops by QualityMatters, which is now an institutional subscription service supported by more than 100 colleges and universities in 31 states who have voluntarily adopted the QM course design and peer review standards. UMBC's own Alternate Delivery Program also adopted the QM standards as part of the Hybrid Course Design Workshop.

    Now that UMBC is an institutional QM member, all faculty may access summary or annotated versions of the the highly regarded rubric (or "check list") of 40 course design characteristics that educational research literature identifies in good online courses. An interactive version of the rubric, as well as a form to request peer review by QM trained reviewers, is also available. Send email to John Fritz at fritz@umbc.edu to receive your userid & password for the interactive QM services.

    Note: Two Education faculty members, Zane Berge and Greg Williams, are QM certified "peer reviewers," as are Jack Prostko, Director of the Faculty Development Center, and John Fritz and Bob Armstrong from OIT.

    Sloan-C LogoKnown for its research-based course design rubric--which takes a lot of the guess work out of developing or evaluating online courses--QM does offer face-to-face and online training workshops, but also frequently partners with the Sloan-Consortium, which specializes in online faculty development in all aspects of online learning.

    As 2008 institutional members in Sloan-C's "College Pass" program, UMBC has a total of 100 free "seats" to be used toward any online workshop (including how to use the QM rubric) and 50 additional "seats" in select workshops. UMBC also has ten (10) $50 registration discounts toward Sloan-C's highly regarded Conference on Asynchronous Learning Networks in Orlando, Florida (Nov. 5-7).

    For now, OIT will manage the "College Pass" registration codes on a "first come, first served" basis. To receive a Sloan-C "College Pass" code, click here.

    EducauseFinally, faculty are reminded that UMBC has also been a member of the Educause Learning Initiative (ELI) since 2006. While ELI does not focus exclusively on online learning, it provides excellent resources, including free webinars on timely topics, a very popular "Seven Things You Should Know About . . ." series, and the annual Horizon Report that looks at new and emerging technologies likely to be adopted in the next one to five years. The Horizon Report is also a partnership with the New Media Consortium, which UMBC also belongs to.

    For more information about any of these opportunities, contact John Fritz at fritz@umbc.edu or 410.455.6596.

    Posted by fritz at 11:24 PM | TrackBack

    February 15, 2008

    Mac Office 2008 is Here!!

    Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac was released on February 14, 2007 for Faculty and Staff at UMBC. Faculty and Staff can obtain the media by visiting myUMBC

    Students who want to purchase MS Office for the Mac should visit the UMBC bookstore.

    Posted by mikec at 1:46 PM | TrackBack

    February 14, 2008

    VPN Upgrades Will Support OSX 10.5 (Leopard)

    This Sunday February 17th at 8:00am we will be upgrading the software on our web based VPN. We expect VPN service to be unavailable for approximately 10 minutes. On the first login after the outage you may see a message pop-up that it is installing a new version of the VPN client. This process should not need any user intervention and should appear seamless. This upgrade will offer full support for Mac osX 10.5 (Leopard) as well as some other minor big fixes.

    Posted by mikec at 4:35 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    February 12, 2008

    Blackboard Hardware Issues Affecting the System

    Saturday, September 12, 2009
    The Blackboard system is currently experiencing hardware problems. We are actively working with our hardware vendor to identify the cause and restore the system (updated 11:44AM 9-12-09). DoIT staff are currently restoring the blackboard servers and expect to have the system fully functional by 2:00PM today. Thank you for your patience.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Posted Feb. 2008
    Change to Weekly Blackboard Maintenance: Fridays, 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.

    Starting this Friday, February 22, OIT will change the weekly, scheduled maintenance window to Fridays from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.

    Last semester, OIT announced the need for scheduled, weekly maintenance when Blackboard could be unavailable. If OIT plans to use the new weekly maintenance window, we will post a "Down for Maintenance" notice users will see when they attempt to login.

    While rare, OIT found some classes were actually held on Saturday mornings during the Fall 2007 semester. The new Friday evening maintenance window also works well because overall usage has been historically low during this time.

    Note: As it did last semester, the Faculty Senate's Computer Policy Committee approved the new change in weekly Blackboard maintenance at its February 12 meeting. For more information, contact CPC Chair Ant Ozok

    Posted by fritz at 9:50 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

    January 25, 2008

    Blackboard "Turnitin" Issues & Scheduled Downtime (1/26, 6-9 a.m.)

    Following the planned upgrade to version 7.2 last week, OIT has discovered issues with the Turnitin "Building Block" that instructors may want to understand before using this tool.

    In addition, the main Blackboard production server will be down for routine, scheduled maintenance this Saturday, January 26, from 6 to 9 a.m. This is unrelated to the Turnitin issues described in this announcement.

    Basically, the Turnitin "Building Block" (or plug-in) for Blackboard we have used for several years has been going down sporadically in Bb versions 7.2 or higher. This was not publicly announced and it seems to be an issue when Blackboard is used in a multiple server configuration such as UMBC uses to guarantee redundancy and performance. We've learned that other schools have experienced similar issues.

    The issue has become more complicated since Blackboard released its own plagiarism detection tool, SafeAssign, this summer. While SafeAssign is free (the Faculty Development Center currently pays for Turnitin), the key to any tool like this is the library of past submissions to compare future papers against. Clearly, Turnitn has a larger library at this point, but given its wider availability across all 3,700 colleges and universities using Blackboard, SafeAssign is bound to catch up. Also, there were early reports of "issues" when Safe Assign first shipped, but they appear to be settling down.

    While we have worked with Turnitin, there is no guarantee the tool will not go down if you use it inside Blackboard. Accordingly, OIT has made SafeAssign available in all courses and suggests the following options:

    1. Use Turnitin Outside of Blackboard

    As a campus, we haven't done this in a while, but it is possible to access Turnitin outside of Blackboard; it's just not as easy for faculty and students who may be accustomed to using it inside Blackboard.

    Instructions

  • Go to http://www.turnitin.com
  • Click on "Create User Profile"
  • Pick "Instructor" and click
  • Enter UMBC account "ID" and "Enrollment Password" (Obtain from Jack Prostko at prostko@umbc.edu)
  • Create user profile.
  • After creating the profile, add your class and create a password.

    After the class is created online, students will need to create accounts and submit papers using your class ID. If you have questions, please contact Jack Prostko, Director, Faculty Development Center (ext. 5-1829 or prostko@umbc.edu).

    2. Use SafeAssign

    While we do not have a lot of experience with this tool yet, OIT has made it available. Also, faculty can upload student papers from past courses to "jump start" the rebuilding of their respective bank of papers SafeAssign can check against. For more information on how to use SafeAssign, visit www.safeassign.com.

    3. Use Turnitin Inside Blackboard | More Information

    OIT recommends piloting “Safe Assign” for those courses where issues would be most problematic or for faculty who do not wish to worry about Turnitin. We will keep the Turnitin service running for faculty who wish to continue using it and accept that there is some risk.

    If you have questions or concerns, please add them as a comment to this announcement, which OIT will monitor, or send email to blackboard@umbc.edu.

    Posted by fritz at 1:08 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    January 14, 2008

    Reminder: Blackboard Down for Upgrades 1/15 to 1/17

    As announced November 30, 2007, UMBC's main Blackboard production server (http://blackboard.umbc.edu) will be down for hardware and software upgrades from Tuesday, Jan. 15 through Thursday, Jan. 17, 2008.

    Note: The alternate Blackboard server being used in Winter session (http://bbss.umbc.edu) will continue to operate during the production server upgrades.

    Posted by fritz at 1:30 PM | TrackBack

    October 16, 2007

    GES Faculty Show and Tell How and Why They Use Blackboard

    Karin Readel
    Karin Readel
    Chris Swan
    Chris Swan
    OIT has published two inaugural "Show & Tell" screen capture videos by Geography and Environmental Systems (GES) faculty Karin Readel and Chris Swan, whose courses are among the top five Most Active Undergraduate Blackboard Courses for Summer 2007 and Spring 2007 respectively, as measured by average hits per student on the UMBC Blackboard Reports site.

    In addition, OIT has published pilot reports for some of Readel's and Swan's recent courses showing student activity by final grade distribution:

  • Readel: SCI100_7050_SU2007 "Water: An Interdisciplinary Study"
  • Swan: GES302A_0101_SP2007 "Applied Issues in Ecology"
  • Swan: GES408_0101_SP2007 "Field Ecology"
  • Swan: GEOS206_0101_SP2006 "Ecology"

    While this kind of individual course report is not yet available (faculty can do it manually), OIT intends to provide this service to faculty who wish to view it privately (or eventually post it inside a Bb course for future students to monitor and benchmark their own activity).

    OIT will also be publishing a similar, public report that summarizes student activity and tool use by grade distribution in the top 25, 50, 75 and 100 percentile ranges of all UMBC Blackboard courses. The goal is to see what difference, if any, exists in student grade distribution across a range of Bb courses and activity levels.

    UMBC on iTunesAfter watching Readel and Swan show how they use Blackboard in their actual course sites, faculty may want to check out why they do so in two new "Q & A" video interviews on UMBC's iTunesU service (for more information about UMBC on iTunes, see http://itunes.umbc.edu).

    OIT plans to publish more "Show & Tell" (how) and "Q & A" (why) videos from faculty teaching active Blackboard courses in other disciplines, but if you or a colleague has an effective practice or insight you'd be willing to share, send email to fritz@umbc.edu. Please include a short description of the pedagogical problem that is solved or the new learning opportunity that is created in using Blackboard.

    Note: To protect the work and identity of students who may appear in the "Show & Tell" videos, only UMBC faculty can access them with their myUMBC userid & password. These videos are intended for collegial, professional development only, so all faculty are reminded that any medium containing identifiable student academic information constitutes an "educational record" that is protected by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

    Posted by fritz at 4:10 PM | TrackBack

    September 13, 2007

    Weekly Blackboard Maintenance Begins This Weekend

    3/8/10 UPDATE

    The weekly Blackboard maintenance window is now Friday, 10 p.m. to Saturday, 1 a.m.

    Division of Information Technology


    Starting this Saturday, September 15, the Office of Information Technology (OIT) is implementing weekly Blackboard maintenance on Saturdays from 6 to 9 a.m. While OIT may not always use all or part of these weekly maintenance "windows," Blackboard users should plan accordingly.

    Since 1999, UMBC has used Blackboard which now supports more than 1,000 courses and 350 organizations every semester, making it one of the largest, most mission-critical technology services on campus. However, there is no good time when OIT can perform necessary patches, upgrades or even simple reboots because the academic semesters all overlap (except the third week in August, which is too close to the start of Fall).

    OIT will continue to implement major upgrades in January, when the small number of winter courses can be run on a separate Bb server. But we need regular weekly maintenance and think the 6 to 9 a.m. window on Saturdays minimizes disruption to users while giving OIT staff access to the system to maintain it.

    For the next month, OIT will post system-wide Blackboard maintenance "reminders" on Thursdays, develop a generic "Blackboard is Down for Maintenance" message for anyone who logs in when Blackboard is down, and continue to note any changes to the system.

    Long term, we think regular maintenance will help improve Blackboard's performance, and appreciate the campus community's support and patience as we move forward.

    Posted by fritz at 8:51 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    August 28, 2007

    Blackboard Will Be Down 9/1 (9 p.m.) to 9/2 (9 a.m.)

    To extend a fix of recent "database connection" errors that have increased during the busy days leading to the start of semester today, the Office of Information Technology (OIT) needs to take Blackboard down from 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1, to 9 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 2.

    Working with Blackboard, OIT has developed a short-term fix to the "database connection" errors, but needs extended downtime with no user access to address an underlying issue with the production database. No content has been lost, nor is it expected. But the production database that runs Blackboard needs to be "cleaned up" so performance does not degrade throughout the semester, when the user load will only increase. We are also continuing to work with Blackboard to identify existing processes that may be contributing to the problem.

    Currently, we believe overall performance is stable. If we find otherwise, we will post an update on the OIT News site at http://www.umbc.edu/oit/news which you can also subscribe to by RSS feed or view in myUMBC. If you encounter system performance problems, please send email to helpdesk@umbc.edu.

    We understand this is a busy time of year, and appreciate your patience as we address these system issues to maintain acceptable performance during the semester.

    Posted by fritz at 2:18 PM | TrackBack

    April 16, 2007

    UMBC on iTunes U

    itunesUUMBC on iTunes U is now available at itunes.umbc.edu. UMBC on iTunes U provides access to UMBC-related digital video and audio content through Apple's iTunes Store, a popular online music, video and podcast service.

    Initially, UMBC is offering public content through the service, including special events, video features and lectures. Select course lectures are also available with the permission of instructors.

    In the coming months, we are planning to integrate iTunes U with UMBC's user authentication system, allowing course-restricted access to content through UMBC's Blackboard course site. Instructors who are interested in making course lectures and materials available through UMBC on iTunes U, either in a public or a restricted way, should email us at newmediastudio@umbc.edu

    Once authentication is in place, we also plan to open the site up to campus organizations as a way of distributing media content. If your group or department is interested in participating, please email newmediastudio@umbc.edu

    On March 15, Aaron Davis, Senior System Engineer with Apple gave a presentation on what UMBC can expect with iTunes U. You can view the presentation here.

    You can also find more information on what iTunes U has to offer on Apple's support site.

    UMBC on iTunes U is sponsored by the Office of Information Technology and the New Media Studio. For more information email us at newmediastudio@umbc.edu.

    Posted by shewbrid at 10:20 AM | TrackBack

    March 23, 2007

    OIT's Bill Shewbridge Named UMBC's Employee of the Quarter

    Bill ShewbridgeBill Shewbridge, who is manager of OIT's New Media Studio, has been named UMBC's "Employee of the Quarter" effective April 1 to June 30, 2007. OIT celebrated Bill's accomplishments during an Instructional Technology & New Media staff meeting on Thursday, March 29, at 2:30 p.m. in ECS 023.

    "Bill's work is distinguished by his patient persistence. He listens well and knows how to 'cut to the chase' of a problem and propose an effective solution," says John Fritz, director of Instructional Technology & New Media. "He is extremely creative and well-versed in all kinds of new media technology (e.g., Web, multimedia, podcasting and video production/streaming). He is also very responsible, doing whatever it takes to complete a project on time to the client's satisfaction."

    Bill has been manager of UMBC's New Media Studio since it's inception in 2001, shortly after the merger between University Computing Services (UCS) and the Office of Instructional Technology (OIT). Prior to this, Bill was a video and multimedia producer and has more than twenty years of experience at UMBC providing educational media support and expertise.

    Working with campus leaders and historians, Bill and the New Media Studio staff produced the UMBC 40th anniversary oral history video and the related interactive timeline. With his leadership, the New Media Studio annually produces well over 100 projects with a staff of two other full time employees and up to four part time student research assistants.

    "Bill is a natural born teacher and approaches his job as a learning opportunity for both himself and his student research assistants," says Fritz. "Sitting in a biweekly NMS staff meeting is a treat. In addition to reviewing status and completing numerous projects, Bill and his staff use the meetings as a connection point between interesting, new technologies and real campus needs that require creative, out-of-the-box solutions. Bill gives direction but also receives it with aplomb."

    In recent years, Bill has distinguished himself serving on the advisory board of the New Media Consortium's 2007 Horizon Report, which looks at new and emerging technologies over the next 1-5 years. He also served on the advisory board's 2005 Horizon Report.

    Finally, Bill has been a constant shepherd of the new relationship forming between UMBC and Retirement Living TV. He has helped serve as a liaison for the RLTV temporary takeover of the UMBC TV Studio in ACIV, and served as an advocate for faculty affected by the move. He has also led the development of several "Digital Storytelling" projects involving Charlestown Residents, which may likely appear on RLTV as pilots. These projects involve UMBC students interviewing Charlestown residents and capturing their stories with 2-3 minute, first-person, narrated documentaries complete with family photos and memorabilia. Bill first used the "digital storytelling" workshop method in his ART 395 "Video Production" class, and has led the charge to bring this new kind of literacy to UMBC, through an open workshop this past January, which will be repeated in Summer 2007.

    Originally from Frederick County, Maryland, Bill holds a B.A. in History from UMBC, an M.S. in Instructional Design from Towson University, a Certificate in Environmental Studies for the Johns Hopkins University and a Doctor of Communications Design from the University of Baltimore. Bill lives with his wife, Janet, a graphic designer, near UMBC.

    As UMBC's Employee of the Quarter, Bill will receive the following:

  • A check for $500;
  • A personalized employee parking space;
  • One day of administrative leave;
  • A certificate;
  • His name on a plaque located on the fifth floor of the Administration building;
  • An invitation to the annual Service Award Ceremony for all the recipients of the quarterly award.
  • For more information about UMBC's Employee of the Quarter award (including eligibility, a list of past recipients, and a nomination form), click here.

    Posted by fritz at 10:06 PM | TrackBack

    March 2, 2007

    Daylight Saving Time Issues

    The Energy Policy Act of 2005 changed the dates for Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. Beginning in 2007, DST will begin the second Sunday in March and end the first Sunday in November: March 11, and November 4, in 2007.

    Different layers of computer applications implement DST in different ways. There may be required patching at the OS, database, programming language, or application level to ensure correct representation of current time during the expanded portion of DST as well as correct date calculations that cross the new DST boundaries.

    For more detailed information about desktop machines and PDAs please visit the page below.

    http://www.umbc.edu/oit/DST/

    Posted by mikec at 7:27 PM

    February 26, 2007

    Elimination of SGI Support

    UMBC has had a long history of using Silicon Graphics (SGI) IRIX computers. Over the past few years, SGI has been struggling financially, and has not been continuing development of these technologies. The SGI computers used inside OIT include Titan, UMBC7, and Irix2.gl. The newest of these systems is 6 years old, and the oldest is over 10. OIT will eliminate these machines and remove them from service on August 31, 2007. If you are a current user of any of these systems, please be aware of other OIT supported computing options that are available for your use:

    Applications - Applications that OIT has current software support arrangements for, such as Matlab, SPSS, SAS and Maple are available on OIT's centrally managed Linux and Solaris servers. Updated versions of popular open source software packages are also available on these other platforms.

    Titan- For some time, OIT has had available a multiprocessor Linux-based server, hercules.rs.umbc.edu, which is many times more powerful than Titan. Many of the popular applications that have been used on Titan are available on this server and other computing resources. Users who have been granted access to Titan are also able to access this server; the filesystems and data that have been available on Titan are also available there. OIT is also working with the research computing subcommittee to further develop resources to be used for campus-wide research cmoputing. The only application which was specifically licensed for Titan is Spartan; users of this application have been previously notified and been given appropriate time to make alternate arrangements. It is available under other operating systems such as Linux and Windows in student or server editions.

    UMBC7- UMBC7 has been primarily used by faculty and staff to access email. Most of our users have migrated to using our IMAP, POP or WebMail services. The pine email application is availble on our general purpose cluster under both Linux and Solaris. Users can access these servers by logging into:
    *linux.gl.umbc.edu - For Linux access.
    *solaris.gl.umbc.edu - For Solaris access.
    Both of these servers provide a more modern computing environment than the existing UMBC7 server, and a similar suite of applications -- including, of course, the popular pine. OIT will also be augmenting and updating the solaris.gl.umbc.edu resource in conjunction with the retirement of UMBC7.

    GL - OIT will be eliminating 'irix2.gl.umbc.edu' from service. Similar, or newer software, is available on the solaris.gl and linux.gl servers.

    Outside of OIT, the migration away from SGI IRIX based systems has been in progress for some time. OIT no longer provides support for departmental IRIX-based computing resources.

    Finally, OIT recognizes that change is always hard. We have held off discontinuing support for these systems as long as possible; however, these systems have reached the end of their useful life. If there are any issues we have not identified or addressed, please let us know so that we can be of assistance.

    Posted by mikec at 10:55 AM

    January 16, 2007

    Oracle Calendar Downtime Jan 18 from 7:00PM to Midnight

    On Thursday, January 18th, 2007 Oracle Calendar services will be unavailable from 7:00PM through Midnight. OIT will be performing an upgrade to the production calendar environment.

    **Will I notice any changes?
    The most noticeable difference will be by customers that access Oracle calendar via the Web (calendar.umbc.edu). The initial Web login page will look slightly different. However, subsequent pages will look the same as they always have. Customers that use the desktop Oracle Calendar Client will notice no significant differences.

    **Why Are We Upgrading?This upgrade will provide for the future use of collaboration features. Of most interest will be the ability to synchronize calendar entries over-the-air (OTA). OIT will have device and configuration recommendations that support OTA by the end of the Spring 2007 semester.

    Posted by mikec at 9:14 PM

    January 8, 2007

    Seven Faculty Selected for SU2007 "Alternate Delivery Program"

    Seven UMBC faculty have been selected to participate in UMBC's Alternate Delivery Program (ADP) to redesign existing UMBC courses for online or hybrid delivery in Summer 2007.

    Sponsored by the Office of Summer, Winter and Special Programs (OSWSP) and supported by the Faculty Development Center (FDC) and Office of Information Technology (OIT), the Alternate Delivery Program provides a course development stipend, instructional design training and technical support to redesign existing courses for online or hybrid delivery.

    Since the ADP began in Spring 2005, 16 faculty have redesigned their courses for online or hybrid (part online, part face-to-face) delivery in UMBC's Winter and Summer Special Sessions. Of the seven new faculty accepted into the SU2007 cohort, five will be redesigning an existing course, and two will participate as "peer mentors," which was a new award announced in the Summer 2007 "Request for Proposals."

    The SU2007 ADP faculty cohort includes

  • Matthew Belzer (Music)
  • Mary Davis (Economics)
  • Linda Harris (English)
  • Jodi Kelber-Kaye (Gender & Women's Studies)
  • Katherine Morris (Social Work)
  • Susan McCully (Theatre)*
  • Greg Williams (Education: Instructional Systems Design)*
  • * Selected to serve as "Peer Mentors."

    After two half-day training workshops in mid-January, the SU2007 cohort will begin working on their course redesign deliverables. These include meeting twice during the spring semester (March 1 and April 5) to present two learning objects, assignments or activities that represent how their courses will be redesigned for hybrid or online delivery. Each faculty member's departmental colleagues are encouraged to attend the lunchtime presentations (location and presentation schedule to be announced).

    Quality Matters Online Learning "Rubric"

    One new development in the SU2007 ADP cohort is the use of the Quality Matters online learning "rubric" or checklist as both a proposal form for the new "peer mentor" awards and as a guide for all new faculty developing future online or hybrid courses. Quality Matters is a voluntary, standards-based method of evaluating online course design (NOT instructor performance or course delivery). In addition to having their online courses evaluated, QM also trains faculty to serve as QM peer reviewers who can earn $150 for participating in a three-member team evaluation of another faculty member's online course.

    From 2003 to 2006, QM was funded by a $500,000 grant from the Fund for Improvement of Post Secondary Education (FIPSE). It has won numerous awards for articulating a simple, but effective standard by which online learning design can be evaluated. Currently, QualityMatters is operating on an indvidual and institutional "subscription" model. However, during the 2006-2007 academic year, the University System of Maryland is sponsoring several QM workshops and training programs to System schools and faculty. In March, QM will host online and face-to-face workshops on how to improve an online course and how to become a QM peer reviewer.

    For more information about the UMBC Alternate Delivery Program, visit www.umbc.edu/ssfaculty/adp or contact John Fritz at 410.455.6596 or fritz@umbc.edu

    Posted by fritz at 2:00 PM

    January 7, 2007

    Part-Time Employment Opportunities

    The OIT Help Desk have positions open for part-time customer support. Available hours are Sunday thru Saturday. Must be able to start training immediately. Interested UMBC students should complete our online application at http://www.umbc.edu/oit_jobapp. All majors welcome.

    Job Description:

    The Help Desk is the first point of contact for students, staff and faculty seeking technical assistance for campus technology issues. They serve as members of OIT by providing technical support over the phone and in person, and maintaining the smooth operation of the OIT equipment and facilities. Help Desk employees are under the supervision of the Help Desk Manager.

    Specific duties include but are not limited to the following:

    • Primary responsibility is user support and customer service. Be present and visible in the Help Desk and available to customers requiring technical assistance.
    • Respond to questions from callers; assist in person with problems in the computer lab.
    • Learn fundamental operations of commonly used software, hardware, and other equipment.
    • Follow standard Help Desk operating procedures; accurately log all Help Desk contacts using call tracking software.
    • Accept general responsibility for the computer lab and ensure that it is ready for use; stock paper and toner in printers, push in chairs, restart frozen computers, etc.
    • Enforce all Computer Lab policies.
    • Manage the circulation of headphones, manuals, or other materials as appropriate.
    • Attend all Help Desk training sessions.
    • Become familiar with available help resources; stay updated on campus technology changes or problems.
    • Become familiar with OIT policies, services, and staff.
    • Direct calls to appropriate OIT staff as necessary.
    • Maintain reasonable discipline and decorum in the Help Desk and computer lab areas.
    • Other duties as assigned by the Help Desk Manager.

    General Requirements:

    • Must be fluent in English and be eligible for employment in the U.S.
    • Friendly presence and helpful attitude; good interpersonal skills and ability to work well with others.
    • Ability to provide technical support over the phone; good phone skills, professional demeanor, previous customer service experience strongly desired.
    • Good problem solving skills; ability to visualize a problem or situation and think abstractly to solve it.
    • Ability to handle constantly changing flow of traffic; remain productive during slow times, be able to multitask effectively during busy times, exercise patience and professionalism during stressful situations.
    • Ability to work responsibly with or without direct supervision.
    • Working knowledge of common operating systems and software applications.
    • Adequate familiarity with equipment found in OIT computer facilities.
    • Work a minimum of 12 hours per week; maximum of 35 hours per week.
    • Be a current, registered student.

    Term of Employment:

    • Year-round employment, reviewed each semester, renewable upon favorable review.
    • Must start shifts a month before the start of each semester.
    • Required to work before the start of semester (during Move-In Days), during holidays, and Finals week.

    Posted by anna at 8:00 AM

    December 22, 2006

    Help Desk Hours of Operation during Winter Semester

    The OIT Help Desk will have the following hours of operation:

    Sunday 12noon to 10:00pm
    Monday 8:00am to 10:00pm
    Tuesday 8:00am to 10:00pm
    Wednesday 8:00am to 10:00pm
    Thursday 8:00am to 10:00pm
    Friday 8:00am to 10:00pm
    Saturday 9:00am to 5:00pm

    Our 24-hour lab in ENGR room 021 will be available. Please use your UMBC ID to access.

    Posted by anna at 8:55 AM

    November 28, 2006

    Greylisting FAQ

    Overview:
    - How does Greylisting work?
    - Why is my legitimate e-mail taking so long to get delivered to me?
    - What if the external e-mail is still not delivered to me after 4 hours?
    - Should I update my personal Whitelist?
    - Why am I getting legitimate e-mail in my “Spam” folder?
    - Does Greylisting affect e-mail sent from UMBC?

    How does Greylisting work?
    Essentially any new message, one that has not been seen by UMBC’s mail servers for a period of time, is rejected by our mail servers the first time it is received. Properly configured external mail servers will send the message again, typically twice within the first hour, but some mail servers may wait for several hours before resending. Unfortunately, the “resend” configuration of external mail servers is outside of UMBC’s control.

    However, when the second delivery attempt is made UMBC’s mail servers will accept the message and record this in a database. Recording this successful e-mail delivery allows UMBC’s mail servers to deliver future e-mail from that particular sender without first having to reject the message again. The result is that all future mail from that specific e-mail address will be delivered without delays.

    This procedure helps to prevent SPAM because spammers typically do not “retry” or “resend” their spam after receiving a failed delivery the first time. They simply move on to the next victim. Therefore, by rejecting the first attempt at delivery OIT can help reduce SPAM on campus.

    This is a very brief description of Greylisting. More detailed information can be found at http://www.umbc.edu/oit/news/archives/2006/11/what_happened_t.html

    Why is my legitimate e-mail taking so long to get delivered to me?
    Greylisting relies on the principle that a properly configured mail server will retry a failed delivery attempt. Unfortunately, not all mail servers are setup the same. For instance, UMBC’s mail servers will retry a failed delivery twice within the first hour. However, some mail servers at external businesses and schools may take 3-4 hours before making a second attempt. The good news is that once the message has been resent, UMBC’s mail servers will allow that particular e-mail address to send mail to UMBC without future delays. Basically the initial delivery delay is a one-time penalty that we endure to help prevent SPAM.

    What if the external e-mail is still not delivered to me after 4 hours?
    Other servers do not have a well identified fix to make them compliant. For that, the following two procedures exist:
    1. Manually perform the "re-send" that the external server should be doing automatically:
    a. If it has been a few minutes and the message is not arriving, tell your sender to just re-send the message once to the intended recipient. The recipient might receive 2 copies (one from each send), but the process will not need to be repeated, future messages will pass through without any delay (with only a single sending of the message).
    2. Request help in identifying the problem if the above does not work to immediately pass your e-mail:
    a. E-mail with the bounce message or e-mail address of the external sender
    b. OIT will extract the information needed from that message
    c. OIT will verify the information and see if the problem did or did not stem from a communication with our server,

    Should I update my personal Whitelist?
    Updating your personal whitelist found at http://accounts.umbc.edu will have no impact on Greylisting. Greylisting does not filter SPAM based on SPAM filtering rules. Instead all e-mail is rejected the first time (See “How does Greylisting Work?”)

    However, once the e-mail is successfully delivered your personal SPAM filtering rules and Whitelists will work. This is why you will still see SPAM e-mails in your “Spam” folder. It is also possible that the occasional legitimate e-mail will be flagged as SPAM and placed in your “Spam” folder. Please continue to check your SPAM folder.

    Why am I getting legitimate e-mail in my “Spam” folder?
    Greylisting does not filter messages based on SPAM filering rules. Therefore, mail successfully delivered to your Inbox will have the same Spam filtering rules applied that we always have. If you find that legitimate e-mail is being placed in your “Spam” folder then you should add them to your personal Whitelist found at http://accounts.umbc.edu or you can simply move them back into your Inbox.

    Does Greylisting affect e-mail sent from UMBC?
    No, Greylisting has no impact on e-mail being sent from UMBC. It also does not impact mail sent from one UMBC address to another UMBC address.

    Posted by mikec at 7:19 PM

    November 27, 2006

    What Happened to all my Spam?

    OIT’s Core Systems group has put in place an implementation of greylisting on the central email servers over the thanksgiving holiday weekend. Greylisting is another method of combating spam which relies on the methods that most spammers are currently using to send their messages by returning a temporary error to a mail server the first time it attempts to communicate with a particular recipient. While well behaved mail servers will simply retry sending their message within a short period of time, spammers won’t, causing your wanted messages to get through but leaving the spam on the floor.

    Like any anti-spam technique, greylisting does have a negative side effect. The side effect is that a delay – sometimes significant – may be incurred on the first time a message is sent to a UMBC recipient from a particular server. However, after the initial message does get through (after a short timeout period), messages from that mail server should flow smoothly to your mailbox from that sender. While our servers are configured to accept mail 2 to 5 minutes after the initial attempt is made – the remote server is responsible for scheduling the re-try.

    We’d like your feedback on how the greylisting is working.

    The Details

    First, a little about how internet email works. Email is a store-and-forward system – a message is passed along from mail server to mail server, and if at any point there is a temporary failure in transport, an attempt is made to retry sending the message to the next hop.

    Back when internet Spam first became a problem, spammers would use “open relays” – misconfigured hosts on the internet – which they could use to send mail from anywhere, to anywhere, in this fashion. Mail server administrators caught on to this, and made efforts to secure open relays, or, track them, so that they could reject mail coming through these insecure access points. The spammers, of course, caught on to this, and now rely on bot-nets – armies of compromised PCs throughout the world – as the initial source of their spam. These hosts are numerous hard to track – some may only be used to spam for very short periods of time – so the methods of blocking spammers by the hosts their messages originate from became almost impossible.

    Attention then turned to content-analysis of messages – phrase analysis, or other patterns – which could flag a message as being junk mail. Again, the spammers quickly caught on to this, and began to craft the content of their messages to evade such detection.

    Spammers need to send their messages quickly and move on – after all, they have millions of individuals to offer their latest and greatest stock tip, or discounted Mexican Viagra to. Therefore, spammers don’t spend much time trying to re-send a message when it returns an a temporary or permanent error – they just move on, sure to get you in the next round of messages.

    What is Greylisting?

    Greylisting is a practice of using the spammers ‘shotgun’ approach against them. When a mail message comes into a mail server, three pieces of information that make up the envelope are recorded: the source IP address of the message, the SMTP FROM: address, and the SMTP recipient. This triple is looked up in a database of triples recently seen by a mail server, and if a matching record is found and is recent, but not too recent, the mail is allowed to pass. If a triple is not found, or the timestamp recorded in the database is too old, or too young, the mail server returns a temporary error to the sending host. A well-behaved mail server will simply queue this message for a retry at some later point (usually within 30 minutes, usually less), at which time the mail will go through, as that triple has already been seen. A bot-net’d PC being used to send spam won’t retry – either because the spammer has moved on to spamming someone else, or, that host has been discovered and cleaned of it’s infection.

    Posted by mikec at 3:42 PM

    October 18, 2006

    HFS12 Still Having Problems - Update on UMBC Campus E-mail Problems

    Today 20% of our e-mail users were without e-mail access from approximately 11:00AM until 2:30PM. One of our file servers suffered a failure during a fix that we were applying to deal with slow e-mail performance problems. It took several hours to salvage this server and restore access.

    Over the past couple of weeks e-mail performance has been extremely slow. OIT is aware of the problem and are awaiting new e-mail servers, which are currently on order with the vendor that should help to ease the problem. Over the next two days OIT system administrators will be applying fixes that we hope will alleviate some of the performance problems until the new hardware arrives and can be installed.

    We apologize for any inconvenience that this is causing.


    Michael Carlin
    Director of Infrastructure and Support
    Office of Information Technology

    Posted by anna at 8:43 AM

    August 29, 2006

    myUMBC Downtime Wed at 12:15 a.m.

    Tonight OIT staff will be performing database maintenance on myUMBC. This work will begin at 12:15 a.m. Wed August 30th and will be completed by 2:15 a.m. Wed August 30th (i.e. late at night).

    Posted by mikec at 4:10 PM

    August 14, 2006

    ListProc Migration Schedule for Sunday August 20th

    During the past eight months OIT has been engineering a new mailing list replacement for ListProc. ListProc has served us well over the past years but recently it has begun to show its age. Messages frequently hung in the system, list management was cumbersome and the online archives left much to be desired. The replacement for ListProc is an open source product called Sympa (http://www.sympa.org/). OIT staff presented the new system to a large group at the Departmental IT meeting in May 2006. During this meeting much appreciated feedback was received with regard to the configuration and setup. The result is UMBC’s new list management package.

    OIT will be migrating to the new system on Sunday, August 20th. All active lists will be migrated beginning at 2:00 p.m. and ending by 6:00 p.m. During this time all lists will be unavailable to the campus.

    FAQs
    ***How Do I View My List(s)***
    Sympa has a very easy to use Web interface. If you visit http://lists.umbc.edu and login using your UMBC username and password you will be able to manage your lists and subscribe to others.

    HINT: lists.umbc.edu will only work after Sunday, August 20th. If you would like to see the interface before please visit http://sympa.umbc.edu

    ***Will List Subscribers Notice Any Difference***
    List subscribers will notice that messages will be From: listname@lists.umbc.edu instead of the old naming convention of From: listname@listproc.umbc.edu

    ***What Happens if a Message is Accidentally Sent to the Old List Address?***
    For the foreseeable future OIT will maintain an alias for all existing list addresses. If someone sends a message to listname@listproc.umbc.edu it will be forwarded to the correct list address of listname@lists.umbc.edu

    ***Will My Customized E-mail Filters Still Work?***
    All personalized mail filters created using UMBC’s centrally managed system will be converted to use “lists.umbc.edu”. You will not need to modify those rules created at http://accounts.umbc.edu under Email > Email Filtering

    Unfortunately, locally created filters are client specific and reside on the local machine. OIT will not be able to modify filters created by the local e-mail client. It will be up to each individual user to modify their respective filters to reflect the new naming convention.

    ***What Has Changed in the New System?***
    *List Address
    Please note the list address has been changed to the industry standard of “lists.umbc.edu” Please do not advertise “listproc.umbc.edu” once this migration is complete.

    *Web Interface
    The web interface is cleaner, easier to use and allows owners complete management of their list.

    *Username changes don't impact subscriptions and are seamless to the list owner
    All three aliases plus the username can be used to post messages. Customer can have their mail client setup with user.name@umbc.edu, username@umbc.edu etc. and Sympa will allow any of them to post the message.

    *Live Synchs to LDAP (UMBC’s Identity Management System):
    Campus groups can be automatically enrolled in a given list. For instance if we have the need for an UMBC-Faculty@lists.umbc.edu then we can set this list up to poll LDAP for ALL faculty. The list owner does not need to manually update the list as they do now, instead will be automatically updated in real time.

    *RSS Feeds:
    You can use RSS readers or web page plugins to publish the archives from

    Posted by mikec at 1:48 PM

    August 4, 2006

    Comcast Blocking Inbound Emails from @umbc.edu

    OIT System Administrators confirmed today that Comcast blocks inbound email addressed from @umbc.edu.

    Many myUMBC account holders prefer to view their email from one account. They use the email forwarding feature to automatically transfer an email sent to their @umbc.edu to @comcast.net. Unfortunately, this forwarding is an all or nothing option which means it also forwards SPAM messages.

    This forwarded SPAM has caused UMBC to be blacklisted by Comcast's mail servers. We have been working with Comcast technicians to resolve this issue and will keep the campus posted.

    Posted by anna at 11:20 AM

    August 3, 2006

    Power Outage Scheduled for August 18th and 19th

    Engineering Computer Room Power Outage on August 18th and 19th
    On Friday, August 18th beginning at 9:00PM, all Internet and campus services will be taken down due to electrical work being performed in the computer room. Services will be restored by noon on Saturday, August 19th.

    In order to facilitate this work all computer room equipment will need to be shutdown. All OIT services will be unavailable between the hours of 9:00PM on Friday August 18th and Noon on Saturday August 19th, 2006 while this work is being performed.

    The electrical contractors will perform their work during the evening and early morning hours of August 18th and August 19th. Once power is restored network services will be brought back online and tested.

    What Campus Services Are Impacted?
    At a minimum we expect the following services to be unavailable from 9:00PM Friday to 12:00PM (Noon) on Saturday.
    PeopleSoft
    Email
    myUMBC
    remote login to gl.umbc.edu (campus Unix servers)
    Web services
    OIT Computer Labs
    Network Services (DNS, DHCP etc.)
    HP3000
    Active Directory (e.g. H:, I:, P: etc.)
    Network Printing
    Blackboard
    Dial up Modems
    Off-campus Internet Access
    Main UMBC Web Page

    OIT will have staff in the help desk from 9:00AM to 5:00PM on Saturday, August 19th to answer any questions that may arise as a result of this power outage.

    Background:
    Over the past few months OIT has been working with electrical contractors and Physical Plant to perform a critical power upgrade to the computer room located in the Engineering building (formerly the ECS building). They have completed the rough-in work and now require a power outage to complete the connections to the main power grid. This upgrade will provide the additional circuits required to meet the increasing IT demands of the campus.

    Posted by mikec at 11:07 AM

    August 1, 2006

    OIT Units Merge to Become Instructional Technology & New Media

    After 33 years of service, Victor Aulestia, OIT’s Director of Classroom Technology retired on June 30, 2006. As a result, Classroom Technology merged with New Media Learning & Development to become Instructional Technology & New Media, reporting to John Fritz as director of the combined unit.

    “As more faculty use Blackboard in the classroom, the lines between online and face-to-face instruction have blurred,” says Fritz. “Victor left a strong group that joins another one to support UMBC’s focused efforts in teaching, learning and technology, as well as the campus’s broader innovation with new media such as streaming video, multimedia and web development.”

    The newly merged ITNM unit is still sorting through the transition, but generally, instructional technology encompasses in-class, audio-visual support, including fixed and mobile classroom presentation technology, the International Media Center, all OIT computer lab scheduling, and Blackboard. The New Media Studio (www.umbc.edu/studio) focuses on all aspects of video production, including video streaming, video conferencing and video/audio duplication services, as well as multimedia and Web development & support.

    For more information or to make comments or suggestions, contact John Fritz at 410.455.6596 or fritz@umbc.edu.

    Posted by fritz at 12:27 AM

    July 27, 2006

    Dell & McAfee v8.0 Issue

    There is a conflict between McAfee VirusScan Enterprise v8.0 and Wave Systems Embassy TrustSuite Document Manager which comes preinstalled on Dell Latitude D620, D820, Dell Precision M65 and Precision M90, that causes Windows to crash and shutdown. In addition, due to the complexity of the enhanced security with the Wave Embassy Trust Suite software you could potentially be locked out of your laptops if you have forgotten your security settings. For these reasons OIT recommends customers who have purchased or will be purchasing our recommended Dell Latitude D620 laptop to install McAfee v7.0 available for download at myUMBC.

    Posted by anna at 8:52 AM

    July 23, 2006

    FYI: 9/15 Assessment Webinar & TLT Brown Bag

    Assessment of student learning outcomes has become very important, as the College of Engineering and Information Technology (COEIT), the Education Department and even the University itself has learned through recent accreditation visits and reports. Join Peggy Maki, Higher Education Consultant and former Senior Scholar and Director of Assessment, American Association for Higher Education (AAHE), for an Educause Learning Initiative “Webinar” on Assessment, on Friday, September 15, at 1 p.m.

    OIT has recently joined the Educause Learning Initiative (http://www.educause.edu/eli), which offers conferences, “best practice” online repositories and frequent “webinars” on timely teaching, learning and technology topics. OIT will host a “joint viewing” of this Assessment webinar in ECS 023, as part of the Teaching, Learning and Technology “Brown Bag” workshop series (refreshments will be provided). To “register” for the Brown Bag, visit http://www.umbc.edu/brownbag.

    Posted by fritz at 12:41 AM

    June 30, 2006

    OIT System Interruptions June 29, 2006

    At 7:00pm on June 29, 2006 multiple OIT systems suffered a failure due to an electrical circuit overload in a rack that contained several servers.

    OIT staff have been on site throughout the evening and early morning hours restoring the affected systems. These systems were E-Mail, WebMail, Web pages and a few other ancillary systems.

    - E-mail service was restored at approximately 11:00PM
    - Web Services were restored at 12:10AM
    - WebMail was restored at 12:20AM

    We apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused.


    Mike Carlin
    Director Infrastructure and Support

    Posted by mikec at 12:33 AM

    May 26, 2006

    Help Desk Hours of Operation

    Summer hours of operation begin Tuesday, May 30th until Saturday, August 19th. The Help Desk will be opening on:

    Sunday - 12 noon to 8:00 pm
    Monday - 8:00 am to 10:00 pm
    Tuesday - 8:00 am to 10:00 pm
    Wednesday - 8:00 am to 10:00 pm
    Thursday - 8:00 am to 10:00 pm
    Friday - 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
    Saturday - 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

    Posted by anna at 7:00 AM

    May 11, 2006

    Shibboleth is Key to Single Sign-On

    In March, UMBC joined the Shibboleth community to allow single sign-on to some web-based applications.

    Shibboleth is a "standards-based, open source middleware software that provides Web Single SignOn (SSO) across or within organizational boundaries. It allows sites to make informed authorization decisions for individual access of protected online resources in a privacy-preserving manner," according to its official web site. It is part of the Internet2 project.

    With Shibboleth, UMBC users can access programs that are not part of the campus's web presence by using their UMBC login and password. As of now, those include the alumni site and a new music sharing service available through the University of Maryland System. More applications will be added later.

    The Shibboleth Community currently consists of about 40 institutions, with more planning to join.

    Posted by at 1:54 PM

    May 9, 2006

    Computer Lab Now Open 24x7

    To accommodate the needs of students and others who need late-night computer access, OIT staff worked during spring break to set up a 24-hour computer lab in Room 021 of the Engineering Building.

    Students, faculty and staff can enter the room at any time of the day or night using their Campus One-Card to open the door.

    The lab houses both personal computers and Macintosh computers, and a pay-for-print service that uses the same campus-one ID card that allows access to the room.

    For security purposes, the room is under video surveillance and is equipped with a panic alarm that notifies campus police when activated.

    Posted by at 3:24 PM

    Computer Replacement Initiative

    The Office of the Provost is working with all units that report through them to subsidize upgrading office and lab computers that don't meet minimum standards.

    Minimum requirements are defined as below a Pentium 1.0 GHz or a Mac G4.

    As part of the replacement initiative, OIT has worked with Dell to negotiate special volume pricing so computers can be purchased at far less than regular prices.

    OIT is encouraging any department that plans to buy computers at the end of this fiscal year or the beginning of the next to contact Mike Carlin, OIT's Director of Infrastructure and Support, and arrange for all orders to be part of the discount package.

    Orders are scheduled to be placed June 12. Complete details about minumum requirements can be found on the replacement website.

    Posted by at 1:53 PM

    The Continuing Battle Against SPAM

    OIT has stepped up its efforts to eradicate SPAM, but it's a stubborn problem that will never completely go away.

    For one thing, said Jack Suess, Vice President for IT, 20 percent of the SPAM the UMBC community receives is from phishing scams, and SPAM filters don't block addresses that look legitimate.

    Phishing is the practice of sending SPAM from e-mail addresses that appear to be legitimate and asking users to provide personal information, often to "verify" or "update" an account. Ebay and Amazon are among the return addresses used in Phishing scams. And since those are legitimate company names, SPAM filters won't block them.

    However, OIT has made changes that are helping to block other forms of SPAM. In late January, filters were set to automatically reject messages that had a high score as likely SPAM.

    While some faculty members have complained that some legitimate mail could be blocked, Suess said the change was necessary because of the huge volume of unsolicited, unwanted e-mail that passes through UMBC's mail servers each day.

    The university receives approximately 500,000 inbound e-mail messages every day. Between 60-70 percent, or as many as 350,000, appear to be SPAM. Many messages are filtered into Spam folders where users have the opportunity to review them to assure they really are unwanted e-mail.

    Messages more than 21 days old that have been labeled as SPAM are deleted from campus e-mail accounts. This is necessary, Suess said, because of the huge amount of space those unwanted, unread messages consumer on UMBC's mail servers.

    Suess said OIT continues to monitor and re-evaluate the SPAM problem, and will continue to look for innovative solutions for blocking unwanted e-mail.

    Posted by at 10:38 AM

    May 8, 2006

    From the CIO--Save the Internet

    As Congress looks at updating the 1996 Telecommunications Act, one part of the revision could severely limit the Web sites available to you through your Internet service provider.

    As it is now written, the Telecommunicaitons Act requires "Network Neutrality." That means regardless of which service provider you use, you have access to any site on the Internet. The service provider can't block you from visiting any site you want to see.

    But big companies like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T are hoping to change that. They're lobbying Congress to allow them to choose what Web sites you can see, based on who pays them the most.

    Many--including myself--feel that Network Neutrality is a critical element that we want to see in whatever bills come out of Congress, and we need to let our representatives know.

    You can help assure that free and open access to the Internet remains a fact of life by contacting your Congressional representatives and letting them know how you feel.

    The website savetheinternet.com makes it easy by providing a form that automatically determines who your representatives are, based on your home address. You can also sign up for a mailing list that will keep you up to date on what's happening with the Telecommunications Act revision and how to get involved in preserving network neutrality.

    Posted by at 12:59 PM

    Help Desk Switching to Parature

    This summer, OIT will begin using Parature, a web-based support product that offers unlimited site licenses, a knowlege base to help users resolve issues more quickly, and an easy, Web-based user interface that allows users to file a help request form and check on the status of tickets they have previously filed.

    UMBC purchased Remedy, the current Help Desk system, in 1998. Since then, the number of tickets filed annually with the help desk has increased to 25,000. Remedy has not been able to keep up with that demand.

    "We identified shortcomings in the way Remedy supports the community," said Jack Suess, Vice President of Information Technology. "Parature is a better platform for UMBC."

    Among other enhancements, the new product is Web based and does not require those managing tickets to install software on their computers. It also offers options for use by departments outside of OIT, and provides a knowledge base so users have an opportunity to resolve their problems immediately, without contacting the Help Desk.

    The Help Desk will begin using Parature by the end of July. However, PeopleSoft support will not migrate to Parature until later. OIT will work with the offices of Finance and Human Resources to migrate to the new product at a later date.

    Posted by at 12:49 PM

    New Email List Management Coming This Summer

    Beginning this summer, OIT will migrate e-mail lists from listproc to Sympa, an open-source application that offers flexibility and stability, and allows users to control more aspects of their lists.

    Sympa offers an easy-to-use web interface and works well with other UMBC applications such as Webauth.

    Sympa's features include:
    -Configuration options are accessed through an intuitive user interface.
    -Easy management of list owners, managers and subscribers.
    -Searchable, threaded Web archive with access control.
    -Each list has a Web-based file sharing repository with access control, moderation and an optional quota.

    OIT will migrate mailing lists from listproc to Sympa this summer. Lists will still be accessible through myUMBC.

    For a sneak-peak of Sympa, visit sympa.umbc.edu.

    Posted by at 10:45 AM

    May 7, 2006

    Mail Service Problems Today, Sunday May 7th

    UPDATE 3:00pm: All mail service has been restored as of 3:00pm today. Customers should be able to receive and send mail without further problems. We apologize for any problems that this may have caused.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Currently UMBC's e-mail service is down. At 12:30pm today OIT staff were notified and they are currently working to resolve the problem. Once we have further information this notice will be updated.

    Thank You,
    OIT

    Posted by mikec at 1:06 PM

    May 5, 2006

    E-mail Delivery Failures on May 4, 2006

    Yesterday afternoon UMBC’s e-mail service suffered a failure between 12:45pm and 2:00pm. After careful examination of this failure it has become apparent that any e-mail sent during this outage was not successfully delivered.

    All mail sent TO: or FROM: an @umbc.edu address between 12:45pm and 2:00pm was not delivered. Due to the nature of the failure customers did not receive the customary bounce back message stating that your message could not be delivered. Therefore, many of our users are not aware that there was a problem yesterday.

    We encourage you to resend any e-mail in your “Sent” mail folder that was sent between 12:45pm and 2:00pm on May 4th, 2006. Alternately, you may wish to send a follow up e-mail to your recipients to find out if they received your e-mail.

    We truly apologize for this inconvenience and are working to ensure that a failure of this type does not occur again.

    Michael Carlin
    Director of Infrastructure and Support
    Office of Information Technology

    Posted by mikec at 9:30 AM

    April 18, 2006

    myUMBC Service Restored

    At approximately 2:15pm today service was restored to the myUMBC portal. We are still examining the cause of the problem but have initiated procedures to minimize the chances of this occurring again. We apologize for any problems that this may have caused. If you experience any problems please do not hesitate to contact us at 410-455-3838 or by e-mailing us at helpdesk@umbc.edu

    Posted by mikec at 4:09 PM

    MyUMBC Portal Problems

    This morning at approximately 10:30AM the myUMBC portal began experiencing problems. We are presently working to diagnose the cause and will provide further updates once the problem has been identified and fixed.

    While myUMBC is unavailable you can reach many online resources by using the URLs below.

    Blackboard:
    http://blackboard.umbc.edu

    Webmail:
    http://webmail.umbc.edu

    Peoplesoft Finance:
    https://fsprd-web.ps.umbc.edu

    Peoplesoft Human Resources:
    https://hrprd-web.ps.umbc.edu

    We apologize for any inconvenience that this may be causing.

    Michael Carlin
    Director of Infrastructure and Support
    Office of Information Technology

    Posted by mikec at 1:21 PM

    April 12, 2006

    Alternate Delivery (Online & Hybrid) Winter 2007 RFPs (deadline: 5/19)

    The Office of Summer, Winter and Special Programs (OSWSP) is sponsoring a program to increase the number of alternate delivery courses - specifically, hybrid and online courses - offered during special sessions (winter and summer terms) in 2007.

    Supported by OIT and the Faculty Development Center, the OSWSP invites proposals from UMBC full and part-time faculty to develop online or hybrid courses to be offered during the 2007 Winter Session. Course development funding, high speed Internet access, technical support, and the opportunity to participate in a faculty learning community are available through this program. The application deadline is Friday, May 19, 2006 (recipients will be notified the week of May 24, 2006). For more information, visit http://www.umbc.edu/ssfaculty/adp.

    Posted by at 4:13 PM

    March 4, 2006

    Dates Set in the Future for Windows Machines

    We are experiencing intermittent problems with computers running Windows. Symptoms include dates on the system tray changing to the year 2142 and the time to 2:22pm. The problem is affecting a variety of programs, including Oracle/Corporate Time Calendar and Outlook. OIT system administrators are working quickly to find the solution. If you have any questions regarding this, please call our OIT Help Desk at 410-455-3838.

    Posted by anna at 11:17 AM

    March 1, 2006

    Spam & Trash Messages to be Deleted Beginning Week of March 12th

    Beginning Sunday, March 5th, 2006, OIT will be sending out messages to users regarding automatic deletion of messages greated than 4 weeks old located in the "Spam" and "Trash" folders. After consultation with the IT Steering Committee, it was decided that OIT should implement such a procedure to manage the volume of "Spam" email that is consuming users' e-mail disk space.

    The e-mail will be sent out 7 days prior to the actual scheduled deletion date. A message similar to the sample below is what our customers will see.

    Subject: Automatic Spam & Trash Deletion
    Date: Sunday, 5 Mar 2006 17:54:44 -0500 (EST)
    From: Automated System Process
    Reply-To: OIT Helpdesk
    To: UserName@umbc.edu

    On March 12, your "Spam" and "Trash" folders will be purged of the following:

    Spam: 595 messages (4MB)
    Trash: 1044 messages (19MB)

    Unless you move them to another folder, or otherwise delete these messages yourself.

    Why is OIT Implementing This?

    Beginning 3/12/2006, OIT will automatically begin purging the Spam and Trash folders of UMBC email accounts of messages that are over four weeks old. After consultation with the IT Steering Committee, it wad decided that OIT should implement such a procedure to manage the volume of "Spam" email that is consuming users' e-mail disk space.

    If you wish to keep these message you must move them to another folder before the purge date. This process will run weekly. For the first few weeks of this process, you will receive a notice such as this one notifying you of how many messages may potentially be purged. This is being done to manage the volume of "SPAM" that is consuming users' e-mail disk space

    Questions?

    If you have questions, more information on managing your email can be found on the OIT web site under www.umbc.edu/oit by selecting "Using Email" on the left hand side. In addition, you can call the OIT Helpdesk, 5-3838,if you have questions.

    Posted by mikec at 3:49 PM

    February 14, 2006

    Network Problems on Feb. 14th

    This morning, at approximately 10:15 a.m., OIT began receiving reports of network problems. We were able to isolate the issue to the main campus firewall. It appears that there is an active attack occurring that is flooding the firewall with an enormous amount of data.

    We are working to identify the machine or machines that are
    causing this problem and will keep you informed.

    Potential Symptoms:
    - General network slowness
    - Inability to read or send e-mail
    - Off campus web pages are inaccessible
    - Sporadic connectivity issues to campus computing resources

    We apologize for any problems this may be causing.

    Posted by mikec at 11:46 AM

    February 1, 2006

    Update on E-mail Problems, Wed February 1st

    This morning at approximately 9:00AM UMBC’s mail servers encountered a problem. It appears that some irregular network traffic generated an operating system fault on our Sun hardware. OIT was able to trace this error back to filters that were in use. They have been turned off to prevent this problem from reoccurring and logs of this problem have been sent to Sun for analysis. Mail service was restored by 11:30AM today. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

    Posted by mikec at 11:37 AM

    January 30, 2006

    Welcome Students!

    We hope you had a great Spring semester 2006 and are looking forward to an exciting Summer semester. To get the semester started off smoothly and to avoid problems down the road, we are providing information to help you get into the swing of things.

    Posted by anna at 6:44 AM

    January 14, 2006

    OIT To Purge Spam & Undeleted "Trash" Email Older than 28 Days

    As the volume of spam continues to grow many of our email system users find their disk quota is consumed with spam. After consultation with the IT Steering Committee it was decided that OIT should implement a system to automatically purge messages flagged as spam that are at least four weeks old. As a housekeeping measure, we will also be purging messages that are at least 4 weeks old from users' trash folders.

    In addition to automatically purging messages, we will begin "rejecting" aggregious spam at our mail gateways, keeping the worst spam from even being delivered into users' mailboxes or spam folders.

    OIT will implement this new spam deletion practice the week of January 21, 2006.

    If you have questions, more information on managing your email can be found on the OIT web site under www.umbc.edu/oit by selecting "Using Email" on the left hand side. In addition, you can call the OIT Helpdesk at 5-3838, if you have questions.

    Posted by fritz at 9:31 PM

    January 9, 2006

    myUMBC Login Issues

    OIT is aware of login problems to myUMBC, which are caused by issues associated with our Oracle database server. OIT staff members are working to address these as quickly as possible. If we cannot resolve the issues, we have a contingency plan to restore service using the previous instance of myUMBC by 1 p.m. today.

    In the interim, you can login directly to the following resources:

    Old myUMBC
    https://your.umbc.edu

    PeopleSoft

  • Finance: https://fsprd-web.ps.umbc.edu
  • HR: https://hrprd-web.ps.umbc.edu

    Blackboard
    http://blackboard.umbc.edu

    Webmail
    https://webmail.umbc.edu

    myUMBC Accounts
    http://accounts.umbc.edu

    Thank you for your patience. To share feedback, visit the "Webteam" blog and post a comment or send email.

    OIT

    Posted by anna at 12:18 PM

    January 4, 2006

    To-Do List for the New Year

    The start of the year is always a good time to renew good habits. Here are some suggestions for safe computing.


    • Backup. Do a monthly backup of your data to optical discs, store program disks and drivers together in a relatively safe place, and keep important day-to-day files on a USB key. Backing up is a valuable habit to get into.
      How to Backup Your Data with Roxio Easy CD
    • Keep your OS up to date. Security patches often are more trouble then they seem worth, but in the end, it’s the folks who didn’t bother to install them who end up having the most trouble.
      How to Update Macintosh OS X Tiger
    • Run a current antivirus program. And make sure the signatures are up to date.
    • Know what software is on your computer. Web sites and programs leave behind things you may not want, so run an antispyware scanner like Spybot Search & Destroy.
    • Be careful with your personal information. This goes for both online and offline data. We’ve seen too many problems.

    OIT wish all of you a healthy, happy, safe, and connected new year.

    Posted by anna at 12:25 PM

    December 23, 2005

    myUMBC Portal Will Change January 6th, 2006

    When you log into my.umbc.edu on January 6, it will look a bit different from what you’re used to seeing. The new myUMBC is built on a different, more scalable platform that will ultimately provide more services to faculty, staff and students.

    If, for any reason, you are confused by the new look or can’t get to something you need, you can easily switch to the old, familiar view by clicking on the “Olde myUMBC” button in the upper left corner.

    The old version of the portal will remain active until February 17. After that date, the new portal will become our only myUMBC portal. The look, for now, is similar to what you’re used to seeing. We hope to begin adding functionality, features and a new look later in 2006.

    You can get a sneak preview of the new portal by clicking on mybeta.umbc.edu. You’ll find a “feedback” link at the top of this test version of the new portal. Please use it to let us know what you think.

    Click here for more information on why myUMBC changed.

    Posted by mikec at 9:52 AM

    November 15, 2005

    Update on Recent E-Mail System Problems

    During the past two days UMBC’s mail servers have suffered two outages. Yesterday, the outage lasted from 4:00AM to 1:30PM. Today we suffered another outage that has affected one half of our e-mail users. At this time we expect our systems to be restored by 3:00PM, Tuesday, November 15, 2005.

    We are in the process of working with outside groups to help us diagnose the problem. One of the measures we are taking is to introduce debugging scripts into our mail systems to help us diagnose the cause of these failures.

    At this time we have not definitively identified the problem. As such there is the possibility that we could have further outages until we have identified the bug. We apologize for any inconvenience that this may be causing.

    Posted by mikec at 3:03 PM

    November 10, 2005

    Mac Users Can Connect to MS Active Directory

    Mac users can now access their files on the new Microsoft Active Directory environment. Most Mac users used the http://novell.umbc.edu web interface. Microsoft does not provide the same web based method but you can connect directly. For documentation on this please click here.

    This access will work while on campus or off.

    Posted by mikec at 3:40 PM

    Need Remote Access to Your Files in Active Directory?

    Many of you are familiar with Novell's method of accessing files remotely using a web browser and connecting via http://novell.umbc.edu Unfortunately, Microsoft's Active Directory does not provide the same web based access. However, there are two options available to those that require access to files from off campus.

    OIT has two recommendations for remote file access:
    UMBC Owned Machine in Active Directory
    This is for UMBC machines, typically laptops, that have been joined to Active Directory. In this scenario access if you have a decent Internet connection (e.g. DSL, Cable Modem etc.) file access performance should be good. This is the preferred method of connecting as OIT can provide a level of security assurance that can't be provided for Non UMBC machines.

    You will log into your machine as usual. Then you will login into the VPN Client. From there you can simply access your drives as you normally would from work.

    Non UMBC Machine
    This would typically be a home machine or any other machine that is not UMBC owned and is not in Active Directory. Due to naming conflict concerns Non UMBC machines will not be joined to Active Directory.

    The good news is that there is a simple way to access your files remotely using the Windows XP Remote Desktop Connection
    Please Click Here for documentation on how to use this type of connection. This remote service will be available to users by the end of the migration this weekend.

    Posted by mikec at 2:24 PM

    Novell to Active Directory Migration Scheduled for Friday, November 11th

    Beginning Friday, November 11th at 6:00PM OIT will begin migration of
    all data associated with the Share volume on Novell (e.g. I: Drive, S:
    Drive etc.). The “Share Volume” is where the common departmental data is shared. The most commonly known drive letter associated with this volume is the I: Drive although there can be others such as the S, K etc.

    All data residing on these drives will be moved from Novell to the
    Microsoft Active Directory environment. It is important that your
    machine already be joined to Active Directory. If it has not been then you will not be able to access this data on Active Directory once the migration is complete. Please see the notes below to determine if your machine is already joined to Active Directory.

    You may recall that we successfully moved the H: Drive data from Novell to Microsoft Active Directory in July of this year and the P: Drive last month. Please see
    http://www.umbc.edu/oit/news/archives/2005/08/novell_to_activ.html
    for more information about this migration.

    ****Can I Access my Files on the Share Volume (e.g. I: Drive, S: Drive)During the Migration?
    Beginning at 6:00PM on Friday, November 11th files located on the
    current Novell share volume will be locked. This is done to ensure data integrity during the migration.

    ****When Can I Access my Files on the share volume again?
    Files located on the share volume (I: Drive, S: Drive etc.) will be
    available for access by 6:00PM on Sunday, November 13th. It is likely
    that your files will be available earlier than this but they will
    definitely be available by the date and time above. OIT will send an
    e-mail to the Novell users once the migration is completed notifying
    everyone of the successful migration.

    ****What if I Need Access to Files on the P: Drive During the Migration?
    If you require access to files you should place a copy of the file on
    your local machine prior to 6:00PM on Friday, November 11th, 2005.

    ****How Can I Tell if my Computer is in Active Directory?
    After logging into your computer goto My Computer. If you see a drive
    letter mapping for H: that looks like the following example then your
    machine is successfully connected to Active Directory.
    Goto My Computer
    EXAMPLE: "username on 'uservol.ad.umbc.edu\Home' (H)"
    If you don't see this drive mapping then you should contact the OIT
    helpdesk at helpdesk@umbc.edu requesting that your PC be added to Active
    Directory.
    If you have questions please contact the HelpDesk.

    Posted by mikec at 2:13 PM

    11/10 Blackboard Problems

    OIT is aware that Blackboard is slow or not even loading in some cases.

    We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your patience while we attempt to fix these problems as soon as possible.

    Posted by fritz at 11:04 AM

    October 18, 2005

    Novell P: Drive Migration Friday, October 21

    Beginning Friday, October 21st at 6:30PM OIT will begin migration of all data associated with the P: Drive on Novell. PeopleSoft data residing on the P: Drive will be moved from Novell to the Microsoft Active Directory environment. It is important that your machine already be joined to Active Directory. If it has not been then you will not get the P: Drive on Active Directory once the migration is complete. Please see the notes below to determine if your machine is already joined to Active Directory.

    You may recall that we successfully moved the H: Drive data from Novell to Microsoft Active Directory in July of this year. Please see
    http://www.umbc.edu/oit/news/archives/2005/08/novell_to_activ.html
    for more information about this migration.

    ****Can I Access my Files on the P: Drive During the Migration?
    Beginning at 6:30PM on Friday, October 21st files located on the current Novell P: Drive will be locked. This is done to ensure data integrity during the migration.

    ****When Can I Access my Files on the P: Drive again?
    Files located on the P: Drive will be available for access by 6:00PM on Sunday, October 23rd. It is likely that your files will be available earlier than this but they will definitely be available no later than the date and time above. OIT will send an e-mail to the P: Drive users once the migration is completed notifying everyone of the successful migration.

    ****How Can I Tell if my Computer is in Active Directory?
    After logging into your computer goto My Computer. If you see a drive
    letter mapping for H: that looks like the following example then your
    machine is successfully connected to Active Directory.

    Goto My Computer

    EXAMPLE: "username on 'uservol.ad.umbc.edu\Home' (H)"

    If you don't see this drive mapping then you should contact the OIT
    helpdesk at helpdesk@umbc.edu requesting that your PC be added to Active Directory.

    ****What if I Need Access to Files on the P: Drive During the Migration?
    If you require access to files you should place a copy of the file on
    your local machine prior to 6:30PM on Friday, October 21, 2005.

    If you have questions please contact the HelpDesk if you have any questions.


    Michael Carlin

    Director of Infrastructure and Support
    Office of Information Technology
    University of Maryland, Baltimore County

    Posted by anna at 9:12 AM

    September 17, 2005

    Fall 2005 TLT Brown Bag Schedule

    The Fall 2005 Teaching, Learning and Technology (TLT) Brown Bag Workshop schedule is now available online at www.umbc.edu/brownbag. Learn about academic integrity tutorials, hybrid courses, podcasting, wikis, online practice assignments, effective group learning and more.

    Specific workshop topics include:

    "Results of a Homegrown Academic Integrity Online Tutorial"
    Lark Claassen (Biology)
    Thursday, September 22, 2005
    12:00 PM

    "Improving Student Learning in a Hybrid Delivery Course"
    Chris Swan (Geography & Environmental Systems)
    Monday, October 10, 2005
    1:00 PM

    "Podcasting 101: An Introduction and Demo"
    Aaron Davis (Apple Computer, Inc.)
    Wednesday, October 12, 2005
    12:00 PM

    "Award-Winning Teachers on Teaching: Ed Orser"
    Ed Orser (American Studies)
    Tuesday, October 25, 2005
    12:00 PM

    "Using Wikis in Teaching & Learning"
    Philip Farabaugh (Biology), Robin Farabaugh (English), Steve Freeland
    (Biology)
    Monday, November 07, 2005
    12:00 PM

    Note: This workshop has been developed by the Provost's Writing in the
    Disciplines (WID) program. OIT and the FDC are pleased to co-sponsor the workshop, but since lunch is provided please RSVP online by Nov. 1.

    The 1st Annual Shimoff Memorial Brown Bag Workshop
    "Learning as Doing: Pedagogical Implications and Online Examples"

    Charles Catania (Psychology)
    Tuesday, November 08, 2005
    12:00 PM

    "Designing and Managing Effective Group Learning"
    Faculty Panel TBA, moderated by Jack Prostko (Faculty Development Center)
    Friday, November 11, 2005
    12:00 PM

    The TLT Brown Bag workshops are co-sponsored by the Faculty Development Center and Office of Information Technology. For more information, including workshop descriptions, how to register for a workshop, view a video archive of past presentations or sign up for an email announcements/reminder listserve, please visit:

    http://www.umbc.edu/brownbag

    Light refreshments are provided, but we ask that you register to help us plan accordingly.

    Posted by fritz at 10:53 PM

    September 12, 2005

    Compare Oracle Calendar Clients and Available Features

    Before deciding how you will use the Oracle Calendar, you may want to compare different options and features. Oracle Calendar: Feature Comparison briefly summarizes pros and cons for different ways of accessing your calendar.


    If you still don't have an account, contact the OIT Help Desk at 410-455-3838 or helpdesk@umbc.edu to place a request.

    Posted by anna at 2:13 PM

    August 30, 2005

    McAfee Virus Scan Upgrade to 8.0.0

    McAfee AntiVirus for Windows has been updated to version 8.0.0. This release is offered at no charge to UMBC users and is available for download at myUMBC "Business Services" section. In addition to virus protection, the latest version of McAfee includes tools for preventing spyware and malware from infecting your desktop. Please check minimum system requirements before installing. Also, if you have a different antivirus software, for example, Norton Antivirus, please uninstall this software before installing McAfee.


    If you have any questions, please contact the Help Desk at 410-455-3838 or helpdesk@umbc.edu

    Posted by anna at 9:35 AM

    August 25, 2005

    Spyware Applications will be Blocked Friday, August 26th

    During the past six months OIT has had numerous reports regarding poor performance and unreliability that were shown to caused by spyware, software that may unknowingly send confidential information from you machine.

    Spyware often masks itself as a useful tool and people unknowingly
    install these programs not realizing the dangers. Given the increasing concern over spyware that is now targeting confidential information on your computer, either your own or files that contain confidential information regarding other members of the UMBC community, OIT is working on a number of steps to protect the campus from spyware. These steps will cause some applications, especially non-standard web browser toolbars designed for Internet Explorer, to stop working.

    The steps we will be taking are the following:

    Beginning on Friday August 26th, 2005 OIT will begin using our Tipping
    Point intrusion prevention system to block most of the common Spyware tools that exist. This may result in some of the more common Spyware tools such as Gator, Weather Bug, 180 Search Assistant and Hotbar to stop working. While most Spyware tools do provide some legitimate functionality (e.g. Internet Searches, Weather Reports) they also contain more nefarious programming code that records and transmits your browsing history back to the company. In some cases installation of a seemingly legitimate application can result in keyboard sniffing software being installed that can in turn provide unknown external sites with all of your keyboard activity (e.g. Logins and Passwords to mail, banking etc.).

    One of the best preventative measures that you can take is to make sure that your Anti Virus is up to McAfee version 8 and that you have
    installed spybot search and destroy. This software can be found at:
    http://www.umbc.edu/oit/security We are launching this change before the semester to protect students before they move in, and faculty and staff prior to the start of semester. If you have any questions please contact the OIT help desk at helpdesk@umbc.edu

    --
    Michael Carlin
    Director of Infrastructure and Support
    Office of Information Technology

    Posted by anna at 9:28 AM

    OIT Pilots Use of Blogs & Wikis in Blackboard

    This year, OIT is piloting a third-party Blackboard extension (or "Building Block") that provides blogs (diary-like web journals) and wikis (group developed websites) contained in Blackboard courses or communities and only visible to enrolled members. Developed by a company called Learning Objects, their "Campus Pack" building block is a set of tools that are designed to foster greater communication between and among Blackboard users.

    Bob Armstrong
    Bob Armstrong
    Teams LX gives Blackboard instructors or managers a powerful way to assign, manage, and assess group projects consisting of web sites jointly built by more than one person (also known as "wikis"). More Information.

    Journal LX enables users to create, share and comment on blogs within a Blackboard course or community. More Information.

    Backpack LX is a dynamic blog and web site builder that permits students and instructors to create and showcase journals and web sites in a central location of the course or community.

    OIT will be evaluating the Campus Pack suite of tools during the 2005-06 academic year, and invites instructors/managers and students/members of Blackboard sites to give us feedback on the product. For help or feedback, contact Bob Armstrong (rarmstro@umbc.edu or 410.455.3885). You may also want to see the Team LX and Journal LX help sheets on the UMBC Blackboard Help Tab.

    FYI: To see how colleges and universities are using collaborative tools like blogs and wikis in the classroom, see the June 24, 2005 Chronicle of Higher Education special section "Ten Techniques to Change Your Teaching" (login required to view the issue online, or visit the New Media Learning & Development office in ECS 101). Sample articles include the following:

    THESE LESSONS CLICK: Thanks to his students' remote-control devices, a biology instructor at the College of Lake County, Ill., can measure the class's comprehension instantly.

    C3PO 4 EE101: Electrical engineering students at Montana State University have a lot of knowledge to navigate, and so do their robots.

    PIXEL PERFECT: A University of Denver art-history professor exchanges the slide projector for more flexible digital technology.

    CUT! Education students at the University of Texas at Austin are learning to tell stories through laptop-produced videos.

    CRUDE BEHAVIOR: Computer simulation turns students at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School into oil executives in a tense negotiation.

    AMERICAS ONLINE: Videoconferencing allows students at the University of Maryland and the Mexico City campus of the Monterrey Institute of Technology to model a joint business venture.

    FACE TO FACE: Thanks to video over IP, the Virginia Community College System can affordably offer an education course team-taught in several linked locations.

    A BUILDING TOOL: Three-dimensional software helps students at Carleton College design an environmentally friendly house.
    CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? Students in an online constitutional-law class from Concord University listen up and write back.

    PEN IN HAND: Tablet PC's allow an English professor at CUNY's College of Staten Island to mark up papers the old-fashioned way -- but in a new-fashioned way.

    Posted by fritz at 12:11 AM

    August 22, 2005

    BSG Staffing Updates

    Todd Haddaway
    Todd is the new Assistant Director for the Business Systems Group effective June 1, 2005. Todd has held many positions in OIT dating back to the late 1980’s as a student programmer up to his last position, Manager of Database Technologies. Todd’s experience with various technologies, passion for organization, and leadership are a great combination for his new position. Todd is responsible for all Infrastructure Technologies for the Business Systems Group.

    Ann Byron
    Ann officially joined the Business Systems Group as member of the HR Technical Team effective July 5, 2005. Ann’s previous position was a Senior PeopleSoft Analyst & Developer. Ann comes to UMBC with 20+ years in IT, the last 15 implementing enterprise PeopleSoft Human Resource, Benefits, and Payroll applications for diverse organizations. Ann will be instrumental in the upcoming major initiative for the HR department involving the Payroll Electronic Interface (EI) to the Central Payroll Bureau. Ann has been at UMBC since last fall as a contractor giving her a good foundation for UMBC business processing. Ann is a welcome addition to our HR team.

    Darryl Del Pino
    Darryl officially joined the Business Systems Group as a member of the HR Technical Team effective May 23, 2005. Darryl’s previous position was a Senior Consultant specializing in the technical aspects of Human Resource Management System software implementations. Over the past seven years he has developed, implemented, and customized various Human Resources information systems using PeopleSoft HRMS. Darryl is a Certified PeopleSoft 8 consultant in the areas of Technology and PeopleTools. Darryl is a welcome addition to our HR team.

    Matthew Riedel
    Matt officially joined the Business Systems Group as a member of the Infrastructure Team effective August 4, 2005. Matt comes to us from Los Alamos National Laboratory Los Alamos, NM where he performed system administration for a large, technically diverse customer base that supported other computer scientists as well as administrative and other technical staff. Matt’s background with systems and storage fit very well with UMBC’s newest architecture put in place for the PeopleSoft initiative. Matt is a welcome addition to our Infrastructure team.

    Kevin Joseph
    Kevin officially re-joined the Business Systems Group as a member of the Infrastructure Team effective June 20, 2005. As many of you know Kevin has done several tours of duties at UMBC over the last 19 years. When not at UMBC Kevin was a senior technical consultant with Computing Options Company. Kevin’s vast technical background, coupled with a wide breadth of University Business Systems knowledge (UMBC and others) should prove to be a winning combination. Kevin is a welcome addition to our Infrastructure team.

    Posted by mikec at 3:09 PM

    BSG Infrastructure

    Business Systems Infrastructure team, led by Todd Haddaway, will be upgrading the storage system for HR and Finance systems in the early fall 2005 timeframe. In addition to enhanced performance this upgrade will provide more predictable performance as development and production systems are further separated. Another benefit of this setup will be better Disaster Recovery options as the development storage as well as some select servers are relocated to a secondary computer room in Public Policy.

    Posted by mikec at 3:09 PM

    Retriever

    UMBC’s team, led by Stacy Long (OIT) and Bob Preston (Finance) placed a new version of Financial Services Retriever product into production in July 2005. The major advantages of this version are daily updates versus weekly updates, enhanced online response time, and a foundation for expanding Financial Services overall reporting solutions.

    Posted by mikec at 3:08 PM

    Payroll Electronic Interface

    UMBC’s team, led by Lance Rand (OIT), Lisa Drouillard (HR), and Rochelle Sanders (HR), are working steadfastly with UMCP to get approval to have an electronic payroll interface to the State’s Central Payroll Bureau. Once this is in place UMBC will no longer need the “Green Journals” and there will be a single system for Payroll. This is an intensive testing and coordination activity involving many different agencies and all the associated complexities. UMBC is currently in testing with UMCP and it is hoped that this will be completed by early Fall 2005 to make way for the next level of testing with CPB.

    Posted by mikec at 3:07 PM

    R25 Scheduling

    For several years UMBC has moved toward using the product known as R25 from CollegeNet for Campus Scheduling. University Commons and Registrar’s Offices have led the way, many times taking some bumps in the road as we refine the use of this tool at UMBC.

    Good news is that previous performance issues associated with the Web Viewer seemed to be resolved at this time. The solution proved to be a complete team effort. Led by Cheri Putro (OIT), Michelle Brown (UC), and Al Frankel (Registrar Office) the teams worked with the Business Systems Infrastructure group to upgrade the server and reconfigure some settings with the support of the vendor. OIT has gotten many positive comments recently associated with the improved performance.

    Next steps include working with the Scheduling Committee on a wider deployment. With performance issues behind us it is expected that strategies to achieve this will be more acceptable. Some items to be considered include training, communication, security, documentation, and procedures for the process.

    Posted by mikec at 3:06 PM

    Computer Replacement Initiative

    Computer replacement machines are currently being configured with OIT’s image. However, given the start of semester rush OIT will delay installation of these machines until the week of September 19th when call volumes begin to subside and more staff will be available to assist with the installations.

    Posted by mikec at 3:02 PM

    New Pay for Print System in OIT Labs

    OIT has implemented the Pharos pay for print system in OIT labs located in the Engineering building. This is the same system that the library has been using for several years. Rather than ringing a bell and waiting to be helped customers can now walk up to a print release station located in ENG 019, login and swipe their UMBC One Card to pay for their printouts.

    Posted by mikec at 2:59 PM

    Novell to Active Directory Migration

    During the past year OIT has been taking steps toward our ultimate migration from Novell to Microsoft’s Active Directory environment for printing and file sharing. This has included a new IBM Storage Area Network, new Dell 2650 servers, and the addition of over 2,000 Windows 2000 and XP desktops to Active Directory.

    Throughout the months of June and July all Novell print queues were migrated successfully to Active Directory. In addition during the evening of July 29th all data located on the Novell home volume (i.e. H: Drive) was migrated to Active Directory.

    Given the start of semester rush OIT will not be migrating any further data until late in September. We anticipate moving all of the PeopleSoft data (i.e. P: Drive) in late September and all campus shares (i.e. I: Drive) in October. Once the campus shares have been completed the campus will be 100% migrated off of Novell.

    Posted by mikec at 1:58 PM

    July 26, 2005

    Working with Email: You have Options!

    Haven't found an email client that suites you or your current email software not giving you all the features you need? OIT offers several clients to make working with email more efficient. Selecting a software requires you to examine a number of important factors. Consider how you work with email daily. The following key points may help guide you in your selection.

    Where will you be using the email client?
    Is the application secure?
    Does the program handle attachments?
    Is the interface laid out well? Is it intuitive?
    Does the program contain tools for fighting spam?

    OIT has compiled a chart to compare functions among all the clients used by the UMBC computing community. Please visit our Email Client Comparison Chart at http://www.umbc.edu/oit/sans/helpdesk/emailchart.html. If you have additional questions about these applications, please contact the OIT Help Desk at 410-455-3838 or helpdesk@umbc.edu.

    Posted by anna at 7:16 AM

    July 12, 2005

    Dealing with Email while Out of Town/on Vacation

    If you're heading out of town this summer for vacation or a conference, there are a few ways of dealing with your email:

    Send Out a Vacation Email Message
    You may want to set up a vacation email message, automatically informing anyone who emails you that you are away and not checking your mail regularly. To do so, visit Enabling Your Vacation Message and follow the simple directions. Note, however, that the vacation message will be sent to anyone who writes you, including spammers and viruses, which may increase your spam and the number of error messages you receive while gone.

    Check Your Mail While Away
    The simplest way to check your UMBC email while away from your home or office is via Webmail, the campus Web-based email client. Alternatively, you can have your campus email forwarded to another account, such as your home DSL or cable modem account or a Web-based account such as Yahoo! or Hotmail; visit Forwarding Your Account and follow the instructions provided.

    Don't Forget to Check Your Quota!
    Remember that your UMBC email account has limited space for storing messages, so to avoid going over your quota and losing new emails, you should check your email once a week--not necessarily to answer messages, but to delete those you don't need. You can find your email quota on the Web at http://my.umbc.edu and click the "View my Current Disk Usage and Quota" link.

    Posted by anna at 8:13 AM

    New Students: Need your myUMBC ID?

    New Students who wish to get started with accessing their UMBC email and accounts can get started by visiting OIT's Getting Started page and following the Create/Manage Your Account link.

    Posted by anna at 8:07 AM

    June 29, 2005

    New Internet Worm Scam

    Websense® Security Labs^Ù has received reports of a new wave of email
    scams disguised as Microsoft Security Bulletins. Users receive an email message which urges the immediate installation of a cumulative security patch. Users who execute the Trojan become infected with an SDBot variant, which is currently undetected by major anti-virus vendors. This Trojan/Bot allows complete unauthorized access to the machine.

    SAMPLE E-Mail Scam Body:
    -----------------------------
    Microsoft Security Bulletin MS05-039: New patch against W32/Sober,
    W32/Zafi, W32/Mytob.
    Issued: June 26, 2005
    Updated: June 26, 2005
    Version: 1.0
    -----------------------------

    Please do not download or install any file of unknown origin. Many of
    these scam e-mails are very convincing. If in doubt contact the OIT Help Desk at 410-455-3838.

    Posted by anna at 1:44 PM

    June 1, 2005

    Position Opening: Campus Web Architect

    The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) Office of Information Technology (OIT) seeks a Campus Web Architect (New Media Specialist) to take lead responsibility of the end-user experience for UMBC's web site and campus web portal. Application Deadline: June 24, 2005. More information.

    Posted by fritz at 5:03 PM

    May 20, 2005

    Online Tech Training for UMBC Faculty & Staff

    Need to brush up on Excel? How about managing your time & projects? If you need to learn IT or business productivity skills, but don't have time or budget to attend in-class training, you can now learn online with SkillSoft. UMBC recently joined other USM schools using SkillSoft. With over 1,800 titles to choose from, SkillSoft is open to all UMBC faculty and staff. Use it on your own or setup a professional development plan between supervisor and employee. SkillSoft can even be used "off-line" and then synched up "on-line, and you can print certificates of completion. For more information, visit http://www.umbc.edu/skillsoft or http://www.umbc.edu/training (includes online demo). To login, use your full UMBC email address for userid & password (e.g., youruserid@umbc.edu). For more information or help, send email to training@umbc.edu.

    Posted by fritz at 1:42 PM

    May 11, 2005

    24-Hour Labs and Support Ends May 13, 2005

    Computer labs in Engineering and Help Desk 24-hour support will end on Friday, May 13. Our new hours of operation for Finals will be:

    Sunday - 12 noon to 12 midnight
    Monday - 8:00 am to 12 midnight
    Tuesday - 8:00 am to 12 midnight
    Wednesday - 8:00 am to 12 midnight
    Thursday - 8:00 am to 12 midnight
    Friday - 8:00 am to 12 midnight
    Saturday - 8:00 am to 12 midnight

    Hours of operation will be observed from Saturday, May 14th until Saturday, May 28th. Summer hours will start on Sunday, May 29th.

    If you have any questions, please contact the Help Desk at 410-455-3838 or send email to helpdesk@umbc.edu.

    Posted by anna at 9:18 AM

    April 6, 2005

    New Email Worm

    Dear Campus Community,

    By now many of you have seen a number of suspicious e-mails that have
    appeared in your mailbox since yesterday. All of them have mysterious
    attachments with files ending in .scr, .pif or .zip. The most common one has a subject line of "Hello" and a zip file attached.

    At this time this appears to be a zero day worm. This means is that the worm is so new that McAfee does not have a DAT file new enough to detect it. Therefore, if you open the attachment you will get infected.

    The good news is that infection can easily be avoided by simply not
    clicking or opening any suspicious attachments. Please Do Not under any circumstances open an e-mail attachments that you are not expecting.

    Remember that just because the e-mail is from a familiar address does
    not mean that that person actually sent it. Hackers can fake the "From" line. If in doubt send an e-mail to the person asking if they really sent you the attachment before you open it.

    --
    Michael Carlin
    University of Maryland Baltimore County
    Office of Information Technology
    Director of Infrastructure and Support Services

    Posted by anna at 9:09 AM

    March 31, 2005

    Spring '05 Blackboard User Survey

    OIT is conducting a UMBC Blackboard User Survey until Monday, April 4, 2005. To complete the survey, login to blackboard and select the relevant student/member or instructor/manager survey links on the My Institution page, or inside ANY Blackboard course or community.

    Your participation will help improve the service, and be compared with our last user survey in spring 2003. If you have questions or concerns, send email to blackboard@umbc.edu.

    Posted by fritz at 9:20 AM

    What it's Like to Teach an Online or Hybrid Course (4/6, 1 p.m.)

    In light of the USM Board of Regents proposal for more online or hybrid (part online, part face-to-face) courses, what's it like to teach and learn this way? Faculty from UMBC's three online master's programs in Emergency Health Services (Maguire), Education (Oliva) and Information Systems (Seaman) will describe their experiences, and share their thoughts on what it would take to support this mode of delivery for UMBC's undergraduate curriculum. Wednesday, April 6, 1 p.m., ECS 023. To register, visit http://www.umbc.edu/brownbag.

    Related Information:

  • USM Board of Regents Efficiency & Effectiveness updates
  • How ( and Why) to Teach a Hybrid Course (10/21/03 TLT Brown Bag Workshop.
  • 2006 Summer & Winter Alternate Delivery Request for Proposals
  • This workshop will be broadcast via the USM Interactive Video Network (IVN).
  • Posted by fritz at 9:19 AM

    Summer & Winter Session RFP for Online & Hybrid Courses

    The Office of Summer, Winter and Special Programs (OSWSP) is piloting a new program to increase the number of alternate delivery courses* - specifically, hybrid and online courses - offered during special sessions (winter and summer terms) in 2006. The OSWSP invites proposals from UMBC full and part-time faculty to develop online or hybrid courses to be offered during the 2006 Winter Session. Course development funding (or a laptop computer), high speed Internet access, technical support, and the opportunity to participate in a faculty “learning community” are available through this program. For more information, click here.

    The Office of Summer, Winter and Special Programs (OSWSP) is piloting a new program to increase the number of alternate delivery courses (specifically, hybrid and online courses) offered during special sessions. The OSWSP invites proposals from UMBC full and part-time faculty to develop online or hybrid courses to be offered during Winter Session 2006. Course development funding (or a laptop computer), high speed Internet access, technical support, and the opportunity to participate in a faculty "learning community" are available through this pilot program.

    Faculty who are interested in developing a course which can be offered as a hybrid (combination face-to-face & online) or entirely online during WINTER 2006 are encouraged to apply to participate in this course development program.

    Preference will be given to proposals to develop alternate delivery methods for existing courses which are: typically oversubscribed during the regular academic semester or during special sessions (as evidenced by student "hold lists"), required for graduation or a major, or lend themselves particularly well to the alternate delivery format.

    The deadline to apply is May 13, 2005. Those selected to participate will be notified by May 27, 2005.

    Details regarding the program and a course proposal form are available on the special sessions faculty web site at: www.umbc.edu/ssfaculty/adp. For questions, contact Beth Jones, Office of Summer, Winter and Special Programs, at ejones@umbc.edu or John Fritz, New Media Learning and Development, at fritz@umbc.edu.

    Posted by fritz at 9:18 AM

    College Park Teaching with Technology Conference (4/8)

    The University of Maryland at College Park will hold its 12th annual Teaching with Technology Conference on Friday, April 8. There is a small fee for USM faculty & staff ($50) to cover parking and food. For more information, visit http://www.oit.umd.edu/twt/. Apologies for the late notice on this one. JF

    Posted by fritz at 9:17 AM

    Save the Date: Goucher College Conference on Academic Technology (5/17)

    Goucher College will be hosting a Conference on Academic Technology on Tuesday, May 17. A conference website has not yet been established, but likely topics include the following:

  • What are the latest technology trends and gadgets our students are using? What websites are they visiting and what are they doing there?
  • How do students use technology to engage in academic work?
  • The dark side: how can technology enable or even encourage academic dishonesty, and what can we do about it?
  • “Technology Fluency” for faculty: what do we need to know and how do we do it?
  • How does a course undergo a transformation through academic technology? What are the possible outcomes?
  • How can we apply distance education pedagogy in a face to face or mixed (hybrid) course setting?
  • How can we use technology to bridge the gap between extra-curricular activities and academics? Can technology bring about a living-learning environment?

    For more information, visit Goucher's Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology or send email to ctlt@goucher.edu

    Posted by fritz at 9:11 AM

    March 28, 2005

    Tip: How Often to BackUp

    Ask yourself how much information you could bear to lose. That's how often you ...

    Ask yourself how much information you could bear to lose. That's how often you should back up your data. If you use your computer to create irreplaceable data files (such as lengthy word processing documents), you may want daily backups of these important files. If other members of your household have access to your computer, and your important data files, you may want to increase the frequency of your backups. If you use your PC primarily for cruising the Internet or sending email, or if you use it on an infrequent basis, a weekly or even monthly backup may be sufficient. If you maintain original company data files (client reports, letters, and so on) at home, or you run a small business from your computer, backups are especially important.

    Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

    March 21, 2005

    Tip: How To Use A Search Engine

    Most search engine users type two- or three-word phrases, and that can be good ...

    Most search engine users type two- or three-word phrases, and that can be good enough most of the time. But too often, these simple phrase searches yield thousands and thousands of hits, way too many to effectively sort. So familiarize yourself with the advanced search options of your favorite search engine. Don't let the word 'advanced' scare you off: You can learn your way around these search functions in minutes. Just read the help provided by your search site. For instance, on Google you can search for an exact phrase by putting it in quotes, limit hits to a particular language, or just show pages that have been recently updated. (Details about advanced searching on Google are at www.google.com/advanced_search.)

    Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

    March 17, 2005

    Engineering 021 and Help Desk Open during Spring Break Week

    Computer lab in Engineering room 021 and OIT Help Desk will be open during Spring ...

    Computer lab in Engineering room 021 and OIT Help Desk will be open during Spring Break week. The hours of operation are:

    • Sunday, March 20 - 12 noon to 5:00pm
    • Monday, March 21 - 8:00am to 5:00pm
    • Tuesday, March 22 - 8:00am to 5:00pm
    • Wednesday, March 23 - 8:00am to 5:00pm
    • Thursday, March 24 - 8:00am to 5:00pm
    • Friday, March 25 - 8:00am to 5:00pm
    • Saturday, March 26th - resume normal hours of operation - 8:00am to 12 midnight

    Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

    March 14, 2005

    Tip: What To Do About "Bounced" Emails

    Some Internet Service Provider (ISP) subscribe to spam-blocking services. We�ve all seen spam: ...

    Some Internet Service Provider (ISP) subscribe to spam-blocking services. We�ve all seen spam: the messages that guarantee a product will help you earn millions or win a free trip to Hawaii. Some spam-blocking services keep track of the each domain name (identifying title given to a system of email servers) from which spammers send email. ISPs who subscribe to these services might decide to block any email they receive from these domain names. Unfortunately, if you happen to have the same domain name as a spammer, the ISP also may block your email and send you an email message. For example, let�s assume that the spammer is winbigmoney@companyname.com, and your email address is yourname@companyname.com. An ISP may block all email from companyname.com, leaving you out in the cold. Your best bet is to contact your ISP or email administrator to see if anyone has blacklisted your domain name.

    Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

    March 7, 2005

    Tip: Should I Let WinXP Report Errors To Microsoft?

    In WinXP, Windows offers to report any errors directly to Microsoft any time an error ...

    In WinXP, Windows offers to report any errors directly to Microsoft any time an error occurs. This may or may not be helpful depending on the situation. Regardless, due to privacy concerns, error reports are completely anonymous, and only a handful of Microsoft developers have access to these error reports. Don't expect Microsoft to get back to you concerning an error report. Microsoft developers, however, may notice trends in submitted reports over time. They can use this information in the future to fix common errors. Remember, the information you submit in these reports is confidential. If you do contact Microsoft's tech support department directly, they will not have access to the report you submitted.

    Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

    February 28, 2005

    Computer Labs and Help Desk closing at 12 noon, Monday, February 28th

    UMBC is closing the campus at 12 noon, Monday, February 28th due to inclement weather. ...

    UMBC is closing the campus at 12 noon, Monday, February 28th due to inclement weather. Our computer labs and Help Desk support will be closing at the same time. We will resume our office hours on 8:00am, Tuesday, March 1st.

    If you still need support, please send an email to helpdesk@umbc.edu.

    Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

    February 24, 2005

    Computer Labs and Help Desk will be closing at 2:30pm Feb 24th

    Due to inclement weather, OIT Computer labs and Help Desk will be closing today at ...

    Due to inclement weather, OIT Computer labs and Help Desk will be closing today at 2:30pm, Thursday, February 24th. We will reopen the facilities at 7:00am, Friday, February 25th.

    If you need technical support, please browse through our online documentation on this page. If you are not able to find a solution, please send an email to helpdesk@umbc.edu.

    Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

    February 18, 2005

    Computer Labs and Help Desk Hours of Operation - Spring 2005

    OIT Help Desk and the computer lab in Engineering room 021 is open 24 hours. ...

    OIT Help Desk and the computer lab in Engineering room 021 is open 24 hours. All other labs may be opened by request depending on lab usage.

    Hours of Operation for ENGR 005, 104, 104a, 114, 122, 122a, 333, 336

    • Sunday - by request
    • Monday - 6:30am - 10:00pm
    • Tuesday - 6:30am - 10:00pm
    • Wednesday - 6:30am - 10:00pm
    • Thursday - 6:30am - 10:00pm
    • Friday - 6:30am - 10:00pm
    • Saturday - by request
    Classes scheduled are posted outside each lab and Print Dispatch area room 019. If you have any questions, please contact the Help Desk at 410-455-3838 or send email at helpdesk@umbc.edu.

    Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

    Scheduled Downtime for myUMBC for Saturday, February 26th at 8:00 am

    As part of ongoing myUMBC maintenance, OIT is scheduling myUMBC downtime for Saturday, February 26 ...

    As part of ongoing myUMBC maintenance, OIT is scheduling myUMBC downtime for Saturday, February 26 from 8:00am to 9:00am.

    If you need to access sites linked from myUMBC, you can click the link below or enter the web address in your browser.

    Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

    February 13, 2005

    myUMBC Down 2/18, 8 p.m. - 2/19, 5 p.m.

    To upgrade database hardware and improve performance ...

    To upgrade database hardware and improve performance, myUMBC will bedown on Friday,Feb. 18, at 8 p.m. to Saturday, Feb. 19, at 5 p.m.

    During this time, you may still access the following services through their alternateweb sites (each requires a UMBC userid & password to login):

    Blackboard http://blackboard.umbc.edu
    http://www.umbc.edu/blackboard
    http://bb6.umbc.edu
    WebMail http://webmail.umbc.edu
    Peoplesoft  
    • Finance
    http://psfsprd.umbc.edu
    • HR
    http://pshrprd.umbc.edu
    • Retriever
    http://psepmprd.umbc.edu

    If you have any questions, please contact the OIT Help Desk at 410.455.3838 or helpdesk@umbc.edu.

    Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

    January 31, 2005

    Tip: Desktop - How do I clean it up?

    Before you can alleviate your clutter problem, you need to determine which Desktop elements you ...

    Before you can alleviate your clutter problem, you need to determine which Desktop elements you want to keep and which you no longer need. You can then dispatch them to their proper places—or throw them away.

    Windows XP users have the Desktop Cleanup Wizard, which can help with this cleanup task. The Desktop Cleanup Wizard is easy to use, but you’ll gain more control if you manage your Desktop manually. The wizard works only with shortcuts and not original programs, files, or folders. Additionally, it doesn’t delete or relocate unwanted shortcuts. Rather, it moves them to a folder on your Desktop, which you can do yourself just as easily. If you want to follow the manual method we recommend, or if you are not using WinXP on your computer, read on.

    You can deal with Desktop items on a case-by-case basis, but it’s just as easy, and it is safer, to create two temporary folders on your Desktop and then move all the Desktop elements into one or the other folder. (Exclude the Recycle Bin and My Computer icons, which should remain on your Desktop.) That way, you won’t accidentally delete an important element or move it into the recesses of your hard drive. To create each folder, right-click an empty area on your Desktop, select New, and click Folder. Name this first folder “Keep.” Repeat the steps to create a second folder, and then name it “Toss” (or something similar). Now, drag all your Desktop elements, one by one, into one folder or the other.

    Once you determine a fate for each element, double-click the Toss folder and confirm that everything in it is destined for the trash. If the items you are throwing away are shortcuts (look for a small arrow in the lower-left corner of the icon), make a note to also remove or uninstall the originals if you no longer want the items on your system.

    Items without a shortcut arrow are actual originals of programs, folders, or files. If you do not have copies of these stored elsewhere on your hard drive, you will be discarding your only copy if you throw them away. Make copies, if necessary, store them elsewhere, and then drag the items to the Recycle Bin.

    If you are eliminating original programs, you should uninstall rather than delete them by using each program’s uninstall utility (check the program’s documentation) or letting Windows remove them. To have Windows remove unwanted programs, open the Start menu, select Settings, click Control Panel, and double-click Add/Remove Programs. (In WinXP open the Start menu, select Control Panel, and double-click Add Or Remove Programs.) Locate and delete the programs, one by one. When you are finished, check to see if the program icon is still present in your Desktop folder. If the icon still exists, you can delete it.

    If there is no uninstall utility for a program and one is not present in your Add/Remove Programs list, you can contact the program’s manufacturer for removal instructions (if any are available). Otherwise, you can delete the icon.

    Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

    January 27, 2005

    Moving into the Residence Halls? Security Steps to Take Before Plugging Your Computer to the Network.

    ul>

  • Have an antivirus software installed
    UMBC has a site license for McAfee ...

    • Have an antivirus software installed
      UMBC has a site license for McAfee Antivirus Software. You can download your copy from myUMBC. After logging in, click on the Business Services tab and locate the McAfee Antivirus link. You can also pickup a copy of the UMBC Security CD from the OIT Help Desk located in Engineering room 020. This media has McAfee version 7 and you can run the install before plugging in your network cable.
    • Maintain an up-to-date antivirus software
      To update your McAfee Antivirus Software, go to http://www.umbc.edu/oit/sans/helpdesk/antivirus/mcafee/index.html#update.
    • Periodically check all files in your system for viruses
      To scan your machine for viruses, go to http://www.umbc.edu/oit/sans/helpdesk/antivirus/mcafee/index.html
    • Maintain up to date operating system security patches
      Installation of 'Critical Updates' is required to maintain the security of your system.
      Windows 98/2000/XP/ME users can use the 'Windows Update' web site or the automated update service.
      Mac OS users can use Apple's 'Software Update', security updates are clearly identified.
      Usersof other operating systems need to identify appropriate updates from their vendors and maintain them.
    • Respond promptly to reports of suspicious activity with your system

    Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

    January 25, 2005

    Spring 2005 Computer Lab and Help Desk Hours of Operation

    Our Spring 2005 hours of operation for computer labs and Help Desk are as follows:<...

    Our Spring 2005 hours of operation for computer labs and Help Desk are as follows:

    • Sunday - 12 noon to 12 midnight
    • Monday - 8:00am to 12 midnight
    • Tuesday - 8:00am to 12 midnight
    • Wednesday - 8:00am to 12 midnight
    • Thursday - 8:00am to 12 midnight
    • Friday - 8:00am to 12 midnight
    • Saturday - 8:00am to 12 midnight
    If you have any questions please contact the Help Desk at 410-455-3838.

    Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

    January 22, 2005

    Internet Access Changes to Walker Avenue on Wednesday, January 26, 2005

    Attention Walker Avenue Residents

    On Wednesday, January 26th, 2005, OIT will be implementing a ...

    Attention Walker Avenue Residents

    On Wednesday, January 26th, 2005, OIT will be implementing a new method of authentication for ResNet access in Walker Avenue.

    You may recall that during the Fall of 2004 the authentication methoddeployed had several problems. This resulted in OIT removing the needfor authentication from Walker Avenue Resnet. OIT has developed andtested a new method of authentication.

    After the changes have been implemented, you will need to go tohttp://resnet.umbc.edu, click on the 'ResNet login' button, and enter your myUMBC login name and password before getting full Internet access.

    If you experience any problems after logging in, please contact the OIT Help Desk at x53838

    Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

    January 21, 2005

    Novell Downtime beginning Friday, January 21 7:00pm to Sunday, January 23 9:00am

    Many of you may recall the severe hardware failure that we suffered with Novell on ...

    Many of you may recall the severe hardware failure that we suffered with Novell on September 20, 2004 which lasted for several days.

    Since that time OIT has purchased new servers and implemented new storage to mitigate this type of failure in the future.

    OIT will be migrating from the old server to the new server beginning Friday, January 21st at 7:00pm. We are scheduled to complete this migration by Sunday, January 23rd at 9:00am.

    Between 7:00pm 1/21/05 and 9:00am 1/23/05, Novell file access and printing will be available except for a brief 30-minute outage Saturday morning.

    Important! While read access to your Novell files are available during this upgrade, all data must be saved locally (e.g. to your local machine C:/, floppy drive, CDRW, USB drive etc.)

    If you save or create data on the Novell servers (H:, I:, P:,)during this period, you risk losing it.

    Once the migration has been completed, you may continue to use Novell as in the past. Your drive letters, printers, and files will be the same.

    Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

    January 12, 2005

    Wireless Network Outage Thursday January 13th, from 7:00am to 7:30am

    On Thursday January 13th at 7:00 the campus wireless network will beunavailable. During ...

    On Thursday January 13th at 7:00 the campus wireless network will beunavailable. During this time we will be upgrading the version of Code on the Vernier authentication system used in our wireless network. This upgrade should allow PDAs and other devices that use SSL version 3 to work with the vernier without a problem.
    We expect the outage to last 10 minutes. After that time, users will be prompted to re-login to the wireless network when they attempt to access any webpage.
    Thank You,
    Damian Doyle Senior Network Engineer UMBC - OIT

    Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

    Closed for Martin Luther King, Jr Holiday, Monday, January 17

    In observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, OIT Computer Labs and Help Desk ...

    In observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, OIT Computer Labs and Help Desk will be closed on Monday, January 17th. We will resume our Winter Hours of Operation on Tuesday, January 18th.

    Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

    December 17, 2004

    Winter 2005 Hours of Operation

    Our Winter Semester schedule will begin on Sunday, January 2, 2005 and ends Saturday, January ...

    Our Winter Semester schedule will begin on Sunday, January 2, 2005 and ends Saturday, January 29, 2005!

    • Sunday - 12 noon to 10:00pm
    • Monday - 8:00am to 10:00pm
    • Tuesday - 8:00am to 10:00pm
    • Wednesday - 8:00am to 10:00pm
    • Thursday - 8:00am to 10:00pm
    • Friday - 8:00am to 5:00pm
    • Saturday - 8:00am to 5:00pm

    Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

    December 6, 2004

    Computer Labs and Help Desk Hours during Finals

    OIT Computer Labs and Help Desk will be changing their hours of operation starting Sunday, ...

    OIT Computer Labs and Help Desk will be changing their hours of operation starting Sunday, December 12. The new hours will be as follows:

    • Sunday - 12 noon to 12 midnight
    • Monday - 8 am to 12 midnight
    • Tuesday - 8 am to 12 midnight
    • Wednesday - 8 am to 12 midnight
    • Thursday - 8 am to 12 midnight
    • Friday - 8 am to 12 midnight
    • Saturday - 8 am to 10 pm
    If you have any questions, please contact the Help Desk at 410-455-3838.

    Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

    November 24, 2004

    Blackboard Security Upgrade: Known Issues & Work-Arounds

    font="verdana" size="2">12/01/04 Update

    Following the 11/26 ...

    12/01/04 Update

    Following the 11/26 Bb security upgrade, OIT is aware of a few issues that may be affecting users. We are working closely with Blackboard to resolve these issues as soon as possible, but here is what we know at present.

    Known Issues:

    1. "Access Denied" Error Message: This error can occur when the user is attempting to log into Blackboard, or (in some cases) access course content after successfully logging into the course.

      Solution: OIT believes this may be related to users who connect with the Millennium Digital Media Internet Service Provider (ISP). We are working with Millennium to resolve this, but if you are a Millennium customer, OIT recommends that you install our Virtual Private Network (VPN) client, which allows you to access a private network like Blackboard, as if you were on site at UMBC.

      If you are getting the "Access Denied" error message and do NOT use the Millennium ISP, please answer the questions below.

    2. Loss of links to course content: This seems to be isolated to only a few courses with the problem appearing when the user tries to access the content and an error message tells the user that the requested content is not available.

      Solution: A solution is currently being developed that will give users direct access to the affected content, possibly by linking to a copy of the existing course.

    3. Continuous looping: This looping occurs after the user has logged out of Blackboard when using Internet Explorer.

      Solution: If looping action occurs when you logout, simply close the affected browser window and the looping action will be terminated.

    4. Gradebook download cannot be viewed in Microsoft Excel:When the Gradebook is downloaded in a tab delimited format, the user may not view the file in Microsoft Excel. The columns in Excel are merged and some characters do not display correctly.

      Solution: If Tab Delimited is selected for the Gradebook download format, follow the steps below:

      • Right-click the Download button.
      • Choose Save Link As.
      • Save the file.
      • Import the file into Excel (or change the file extension and open it in Excel).

    If you encounter the any of these issues (except the gradebook download problem) please email us at blackboard@umbc.edu with the following information:

    1. Are you enrolled in more than one BB course?
    2. If yes, does the access denied problem occur in all courses or onespecific course?
    3. Does this occur on more than one machine, i.e., does this problemoccur across different PCs, Macs etc.?
    4. How are you connecting to Bb? (From home over Comcast Cable,Verizon DSL or other ISP, from on-campus, via UMBC Dial-Up, etc.)?


      To apply a critical security upgrade, the UMBC Blackboard server will be unavailable from Thursday, Nov. 25, at midnight until Friday, Nov. 26, at noon (12 hours total).

      Among other things, the upgrade (known as "App Pack 2") addresses a security issue that -- if we wait to install later -- could affect many users, and would require more downtime to fix when the system is in peak use the last three weeks of the semester.

      While Blackboard has identified "known issues" with the App Pack 2 upgrade, they have also released several "hot fixes" which we will be applying. Still, if we encounter major problems after the upgrade, OIT will "reverse" the upgrade and return to tape backups of the Blackboard system just prior to midnight on Thursday, Nov. 25. If a tape restore is necessary, it would take approximately one (1) hour, be completed no later than Saturday, Nov. 27, at 4 p.m. and will be announced on the Blackboard login page, before and after the restoration.

      Note: Most of the 12 hour downtime will be used to backup the server so OIT can restore it quickly on Saturday if the planned security upgrade is not successful.

      At this point, OIT believes the App Pack 2 upgrade will be successful, but there is a possibility all work done on the system from noon on Friday, Nov. 26 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 27, could be lost if a tape restore is necessary. Consequently, OIT recommends that all users make backups of original files or content posted to the Blackboard server during this time.

      Again, if you do not see an "Upgrade Reversed" message on Blackboard by Saturday, Nov. 27, at 4 p.m., you may assume that all went according to plan.

      If you have any questions or concerns, or encounter a severe disruption of service or functionality after the upgrade, please send email to blackboard@umbc.edu.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      November 22, 2004

      Turn Off Your On Campus Machine for the Thanksgiving Break

      Dear Campus Community,

      Don't forget to turn off your machine for the Thanksgiving ...

      Dear Campus Community,

      Don't forget to turn off your machine for the Thanksgiving break. Notonly is this good for the environment but it helps UMBC to conserveeletricity. Turning off your machine will also help us to preventunwanted security incidents from occurring during the break.

      Enjoy your break and have a great holiday.

      Michael Carlin
      Director of Infrastructure and Support
      Office of Information Technology

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      November 18, 2004

      Thanksgiving Break Schedule for OIT Computer Labs

      Computer labs and support staff will be close on Wednesday, November 24th until 12 midnight. ...

      Computer labs and support staff will be close on Wednesday, November 24th until 12 midnight. We will resume our normal business hours on Saturday, November 27th [8:00 am to 10:00 pm].

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      October 7, 2004

      Scheduled Downtime for myUMBC and PeopleSoft for Sunday October 10th at 8:00 am

      In order to complete routine maintenance myUMBC will be unavailable from 8am - 10am Sunday October ...

      In order to complete routine maintenance myUMBC will be unavailable from 8am - 10am Sunday October 10th. All myUMBC functions will be offline during this time. Direct Blackboard access will still be available at http://blackboard.umbc.edu.

      PeopleSoft Finance and Human Resources will be unavailable in order to complete other routine maintenance from 8am - 12 noon Sunday October 10th. All PeopleSoft access will be offline during this time. Batch jobs that are running or scheduled to run during this time will be impacted. Please reschedule any impacted batch jobs.

      If you have any questions please contact the UMBC helpdesk at 410-455-3838.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      September 28, 2004

      Blackboard Down for Maintenance: 9/29, 7-7:30 a.m.

      UMBC's blackboard server will be down Wednesday, September 29, from 7 to 7:30 ...

      UMBC's blackboard server will be down Wednesday, September 29, from 7 to 7:30 a.m. for database maintenance.

      We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. If you continue to experience problems accessing your course after this scheduled downtime, please contact the Help Desk at 410-455-3838.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      September, 28th, 2004: Evening Gaobot Worm Update

      p>We have worked with McAfee technical support for most of the afternoonand evening ...

      We have worked with McAfee technical support for most of the afternoonand evening to try and identify the worm discovered on campus today.McAfee has provided us with an extra DAT file that we have nowdistributed to the campus via UMBC's McAfee server. McAfee believes thatwe have a new variant of the W32/Gaobot.worm which this extra DAT filewill fix.

      Customers that are part of Novell or Active Directory will automaticallyreceive this update on their machine so there is no need to do anythingfurther. Initial testing shows that this extra DAT file does preventmachines from becoming infected and it appears to clean machines thathave already been infected. If you believe your campus machine isinfected please contact the OIT help desk at 410-455-3838. If there ismore than one machine infected within your department please send us asingle list of names so that we may more efficiently manage your call.

      If you have a home machine or an on campus stand alone machine weencourage you to run your updates to receive the newest version of theDAT file. For instructions about how to update your machine go tohttp://www.umbc.edu/oit/sans/helpdesk/antivirus/mcafee/index.html in thesection labeled "Updating Virus Definition files with McAfee VirusConsole for Standalone machines"
      OR
      If your machine is running a newer version of McAfee simply right clickon the shield icon located on your task bar and then left click "UpdateNow".

      In order to help prevent the spread of this worm (W32/Gaobot.worm) wehad to change all campus Active Directory machine user accounts fromAdministrators to Users. The worm was using the administrativeprivileges to infect other machines. This may cause certain applicationsto break. If you experience a problem with an application please contactthe OIT help desk at 410-455-3838 or helpdesk@umbc.edu

      Thanks again for your patience,

      Michael Carlin

      --- End of Update ---

      This morning, Tuesday, September 28, 2004 at approximately 9:30am OITbegan receiving calls about Windows machines that were freezing orsimply not connecting to the Internet. At present this appears to bespread across a small number of departments.

      While there are a number of new low-risk viruses reported none of themachines appear to be exhibiting the symptoms associated with the newviruses. Even more concerning is the fact that all of the infectedmachines have the most up to date patches and anti virus dat filesrunning on them.

      At this point OIT is working to identify and categorize the problem.Once we have determined what we are dealing with a plan will beimplemented. There is a possibility that we may be dealing with what is called a zero day virus. Meaning it is so new that none of the majoranti virus vendors have a method for detecting or cleaning the virus.

      OIT staff are currently working with Symantec, McAfee and other securityresources to identify and resolve this problem. Until we have moreinformation about how this virus is spreading we urge the campuscommunity to be extremely cautious when opening mail from unknownsources or visiting unfamiliar web sites.

      We will keep you informed as we gather more information.

      --Michael CarlinDirector of Infrastructure and SupportOffice of Information Technology

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      September 20, 2004

      11:00 am 9/23/04 Update regarding Novell Failure

      Start New Update ---

      I wanted to give you a progress update. While not much ...

      --- Start New Update ---

      I wanted to give you a progress update. While not much has changed sincethe last update I feel it is important to provide everyone with somefeedback just to let you know where we stand.

      Last night was a good night so far as the restore process goes. If wecontinue at our present speeds we are hopeful that most if not all fileaccess will be available by noon Friday, September 24th.

      The OIT staff involved in this recovery have been here 24 hours a daysince the beginning of this unfortunate incident. They will continue inthis manner until all services have been fully restored to the campuscommunity. I would like to thank everyone for their support. We havereceived several e-mails expressing thanks for the hard work of the staffhere at OIT.

      --- End New Update ---

      Finally I am able to greet you with some good news. We are a littleahead of schedule and have successfully restored the USER volume (i.e.H: drive) access. If you do not have your H: drive try rebooting yourmachine and logging back in. If you still do not have access pleasecontact the OIT help desk to report this issue.

      Printing was restored yesterday and is available for use.

      At this time we have restored several of the large departmental shares(e.g. I:, J:, K: etc.) and are working to restore the remainder of thedepartmental share drives. Once we have more information as to theavailability of these files we will let you know.

      Please note that while data is becoming available to you via yournetwork drive letters OIT is still restoring other data to the serversconcurrently. You may experience some performance loss as a result ofthis process. Until we have completed the entire restore we encourageNovell users to copy only files that you may require during the next dayor two to your local desktop. Please do not copy all data from Novell toyour local PC as this will severely degrade performance. Once we havecompleted the restore you may continue to use Novell as in the past.

      As of 2:00pm today, September 21st Novell printing services have beenrestored. Please be sure to power cycle (turn off and back on) anynetwork printers that use Novell before attempting to print via thenetwork. OIT staff has already contacted most departments with networkprinters asking them to power cycle their printers.

      Based on the present restore rate from our backup tapes we anticipatethe USER (i.e. H: Drive) volume to be available for use by approximatelynoon Wednesday, September 22nd. This means that all personal filesstored on the H: drive should be available. We chose to restore thisvolume first due the relatively small size and thus faster restore timeof the volume as compared to the much larger shared departmental volumethat will take multiple days to restore.

      Unfortunately, based on current restore rates departmental shared drives(e.g. I:, J:, K: etc.) may not be available before this weekend. OITstaff will continue to work in 24 hour shifts to manage this process.Future updates will be sent as we know more. We again apologize for theproblems this has created.

      If you have any questions please feel free to contact us at the helpdesk, 410-455-3838 or helpdesk@umbc.edu

      Despite valiant efforts by OIT staff the Novell servers have not beenrestored at this time. After receiving the replacement hardware withinfour hours of our call to Dell we brought up the replaced drive array(PowerVault). Despite just having most of the internal hardwarereplaced, the PowerVault subsequently failed during the restore. As aresult the staff continued to work with the on site Dell supporttechnician throughout the night and into the early morning.

      At this point we have begun the restore from tape backups but do notanticipate Novell being available during the business day on Tuesday,September 21, 2004. We apologize for the inconvenience that this hascaused. The staff are doing everything they can to restore services asquickly as possible by working around to clock to meet this goal.

      --Michael CarlinDirector of Infrastructure and SupportOffice of Information Technology

      Dell technical support has confirmed our assessment that the drive array which is attached to Novell lost its' configuration. The result being that all of the drives on the array can not be seen by the Novell servers (this is a bad thing).

      Unfortunately, this means that all data or work that was created ormodified after our last complete backup of Novell at 1:00am Mondaymorning has been lost.

      Presently the drive array has been brought back up and it appears to be functioning properly. The next step is to begin restoring the data and volumes from our tape backups. We anticipate this taking the entire evening and morning but are hopeful that it will be completed by the start of business tomorrow.

      Again we apologize for the interruption but please know that our staffare diligently working on the problem and will continue to do so untilall services have been restored.

      If you have questions please contact the OIT help desk at 410-455-3838.--Michael CarlinDirector of Infrastructure and SupportOffice of Information Technology

      At approximately noon today we experienced a hardware failure on thedisk array attached to Novell. Presently all Novell services areunavailable (e.g. printing, file access). OIT staff are currentlyworking to diagnose the problem. Unfortunately, at this time we do nothave an estimated time that services will be restored.

      Once we have diagnosed the failure and worked with Dell support we will be better able to provide an estimated restore time. As new information is available we will notify you via this e-mail list and the help desk.

      We apologize for the problems that this is causing.--Michael CarlinDirector of Infrastructure and Support

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      August 31, 2004

      Online Financial Scams and Windows XP SP2 Updates

      html xmlns:v="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml"xmlns:o="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:...

      Windows XP Service Pack 2:

      Windows XP Service Pack 2:
      While there are some caveats that exist regarding Service Pack 2 (SP2) forWindows XP the results have been generally positive. In order to assist our XPusers we have created a Web page that outlines our general recommendations.Please visit OIT's Service Pack 2 site at http://www.umbc.edu/oit/winxpsp2/and http://www.umbc.edu/oit/article.html?news_id=157

      Online Financial Scams"Phishing":
      There has been an increase in e-mails to UMBC account holders asking forpersonal financial information. Most recently the e-mails appear to belegitimate requests for credit card information from eBay. Last month it wasCitiBank. Please do not under any circumstances provide financial informationto unsolicited sources. These types of scams are known as phishing. Moreinformation can be found at http://www.umbc.edu/oit/article.html?news_id=149

      Good luck with the start of semester!

      Michael Carlin
      Director of Infrastructure and Support
      Office of Information Technology

       

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      August 30, 2004

      OIT Windows XP Service Pack 2 Recommendations

      html xmlns:o="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office"xmlns:w="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:...

      On August 8th, Microsoft announced the imminent release of service pack2 (SP2) for computers running Windows XP operating syst

      On August 8th, Microsoftannounced the imminent release of service pack 2 (SP2) for computers runningWindows XP operating system. SP2 provides a number of new or enhanced securityfeatures, such as integrated firewall support, a new security console, and configuresWindows XP to be a more secure operating system. OIT has been testing SP2 onsoftware we commonly use at UMBC and have found only a few issues:

       

      1.    The Cisco VPN client is not recognized by the SP2 firewall andusers must manually configure the security console setting to allow this towork;

      2.    The security console does not recognize the most common version ofMcAfee deployed on campus, version 4.5. As a result, it reports that virusprotection is not enabled when in fact it is.

      3.    AFS Clients older than 1.3.70 do not work. Upgrading to the newestAFS client resolves this problem.

       

      Beyond the UMBC specific software tested there have beennumerous reports of SP2 interfering with different vendor applications.Microsoft has technical articles on this at the URL:

      http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?kbid=884130&product=windowsxpsp2

       

      Visit UMBC痴 website on Windows XP Service Pack 2 issues at:

      http://www.umbc.edu/oit/winxpsp2/

       

      The key question to answer is whether it makes sense toupdate your computer with SP2. Here are five categories of machines and ourrecommendation:

       

      Home Computers withHigh-Speed Internet Access (Cable or DSL)

       

      If you have high-speed Internet access and do not have ahardware firewall for your computer we recommend that you upgrade to SP2.Computers connected with high-speed Internet are most at risk so the addedsecurity of SP2 is beneficial.

       

      Home Computers usinga dial-up modem

       

      Home computers are still vulnerable to security issues,though because they are not on the Internet at all times they are lessvulnerable than those with high-speed Internet access. Due to the size of thisupdate, approximately 80 megabytes, we don稚 recommend downloading this bymodem (it will take about at least a day). The OIT Helpdesk, ECS 020, will haveloaner CD痴 available for people on campus to check out and take home. Thiswill greatly speed the process of updating you machine. Please call thehelpdesk, 410-455-3838, to reserve a copy. We expect this to have these CD痴 byearly September.

       

      Student Computers inthe Resident Halls

       

      Students running Windows XP should run the OIT security CDand install the latest version of McAfee and the Windows Updates (SP1). Doingthis will enable your computer to get automatic updates of critical patchesfrom Microsoft, including SP2. OIT recommends that you install SP2; however youshould review the list of programs impacted and make certain there will be noproblems. OIT has supplied students with instructions for how to delay the SP2download for 120 days if you have concerns.

       

      Faculty and StaffUsing the UMBC Novell Network

       

      OIT will automatically schedule the SP2 update to occursometime after the first two weeks of the semester have completed. We will dothis in small groups based on the benefit of activating the firewall.

       

      Faculty and StaffNot Using the UMBC Novell Network

       

      OIT recommends that you install the SP2 update on yourcomputer after reviewing the applications it impacts. Faculty and staff cancontact the OIT helpdesk, (x53838), and request a copy of the OIT security CDfor Windows. We will send you a copy through inter-campus mail. This CD willprovide the latest release of anti-virus software and configure your machine toreceive automatic patches. Alternately, if you would like to have updates toyour machine tested by OIT you can contact the helpdesk and request that yourmachine be configured to use the OIT System Update Service.

       

       

       

       

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      August 25, 2004

      Blackboard Down: 7-9 a.m. on 8/26 & 8/27

      To get ready for the new semester, Blackboard will be down from 7 to 9 ...

      To get ready for the new semester, Blackboard will be down from 7 to 9 a.m. on Thursday, August 26, and Friday, August 27. The time will be used to install memory and processor upgrades to the system.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      August 20, 2004

      Update on Computer Room Power Outage Today, August 20

      Today, August 20, 2004 at approximately 10:30am, all electrical power was inadvertently shutdown to ...

      Today, August 20, 2004 at approximately 10:30am, all electrical power was inadvertently shutdown to the main OIT computer rooms in the Engineering building. It was a mistake resulting from Fire Sprinkler and Smoke Detector testing being performed in this building. The Emergency Power Off switch was triggered when a smoke detector located under the computer room raised floor was 'tested'. The good news is that the system worked as it was designed to in the event of a fire. The bad news is that it was tested unintentionally and resulted in several hours of unscheduled down time to the campus.
      Presently all systems are back online except for Corporate/Oracle Calendar.Unfortunately this system suffered data corruption as a result of thepower outage. This means that any updates to the Corporate/Oracle Calendar system after 2:00am Friday morning were lost and can not be recovered.We are currently restoring this server from our tape back ups as of2:00am last night. We expect this restore to be completed by 5:00pm today.
      We apologize for any problems that this may have caused. If you areexperiencing problems or just have questions please free to contact the OIT Help Desk.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      August 13, 2004

      Wireless Authentication Required!

      During the past several years OIT has added significant amounts of Wireless access points throughout ...

      During the past several years OIT has added significant amounts of Wireless access points throughout the campus. While wireless provides considerable amounts of freedom from the entanglement of wires, it also brings greater security concerns.Currently our wireless networks do not require any type of authentication (Login). While this is very convenient to legitimate users it also makes it easy for someone with malicious intent to use our networks to launch attacks. This particular concern has been highlighted in the state security policy. In fact this policy now requires that some form of authentication be in place to prevent unauthorized use of wireless networks.OIT has been testing a wireless authentication system since Spring 2004 in UMBC's residential wireless network. Given our success in this area we will begin using the same system for all wireless access across the entire campus. Beginning on Wednesday, August 18th 2004 at 8:00am wireless users will first need to login to our wireless networks before being able to connect to the Internet. This will be done by first launching your computers Web Browser and logging in with your UMBC username and password. We have created a web page documenting this process. http://www.umbc.edu/oit/sans/desktopsupport/vernier/If you have any questions or problems please contact the OIT helpdesk at helpdesk@umbc.edu or 410-455-3838.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      August 12, 2004

      Network Downtime Sunday, August 17th 7:00am to 8:00am

      This message is to inform the campus community that there will be a scheduled downtime ...

      This message is to inform the campus community that there will be a scheduled downtime to our Off Campus Router on Sunday morning, August 15th from 7 am to 8 am. This time is being used to install a new piece of equipment. During the outage, there will be no outside internet traffic to/from the UMBC network. The UMBC network will still be up and running.We apologize for any inconveniences. Any questions or concerns should be emailed to telecom@umbc.edu.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      August 9, 2004

      Do Not Install Windows XP Service Pack 2

      Today Microsoft has announced that it will be releasing service pack 2 for Windows XP ...

      Today Microsoft has announced that it will be releasing service pack 2 for Windows XP operating systems. This new service pack only affects XP operating systems. Unfortunately, once installed it automatically turns on certain security features like the Windows XP firewall.Our testing of the Beta release shows that Service Pack 2 breaks Novell printing, Microsoft's Systems Management Server and possibly parts of Peoplesoft.It is very important that you DO NOT install this service pack for Windows XP. Most Windows machines on campus are using OIT's Software Update Services(SUS) to receive patches like this one. These patches are only released once OIT has had the opportunity to test them for potential compatibility issues. If you are currently on Active Directory then you are receiving your patches in this manner, and should be fine.However, for those machines that have been setup to receive their updates from Windows Update automatically, it is important that you DO NOT install this patch. Windows machines configured in this manner would typically be independent machines that do not use Novell to share files.OIT is presently testing the officially released patch. Once we have made sure there are no compatibility issues it will be released to the campus via SUS.If you have a machine that is not on Novell and would like it joined to Active Directory and SUS to benefit from our centrally managed services please e-mail the OIT Help Desk at helpdesk@umbc.edu with your request.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      August 1, 2004

      Caution! Fraudulent E-mails Requesting Personal Financial Information Have Been Received at UMBC

      Recently there have been a number of fraudulent e-mails received by UMBC account holders. ...

      Recently there have been a number of fraudulent e-mails received by UMBC account holders. These e-mails vary in their wording but the central theme is that they want you to submit personal financial information via a fake, but legitimate looking, website.
      Typically you will receive an e-mail or pop-up from a well known andtrusted financial institution like CitiBank. The message may say thatsomeone has recently tried to access your account and that the financial institution needs to verify your information by clicking on the link included. This type of scam is called "Phishing". You can read more about it at http://www.antiphishing.org/
      Do not under any circumstances provide personal information of any type if you receive a message similar to the type described above. These are well known Internet scams. To read more about some of the most common types please visit http://www.antiphishing.org/ and look at their "Recent Phishing Attacks".
      If you ever have any questions about the legitimacy of such a messageplease contact the financial institution or business in question and ask them.
      Thanks,Michael CarlinOffice of Information TechnologyDirector of Infrastructure and Support

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      July 12, 2004

      Network Downtime Wed July 14 From 1:00am to 6:00am

      Last night we were successful in installing part of the campus firewall. Unfortunately, as is ...

      Last night we were successful in installing part of the campus firewall. Unfortunately, as is often the case we need additional time to debug a problem that occurred after installation. In order to provide us with time to work through this issue with Cisco we will need to work on the firewall from 1:00am to 6:00am (tonight)July 14th, 2004.Please note that during this time most network services, datacommunication between buildings and traffic into and out of the campuswill be unavailable.We apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      June 18, 2004

      Network Outage this Sunday (6/20) at 8:00am

      p>This Sunday, June 20th at 8:00am there will be a brief interruption in ...

      This Sunday, June 20th at 8:00am there will be a brief interruption in network service so that we can upgrade software on one of our core routers. This outage will effect all internet traffic, as well as all traffic between the campus buildings and the computer room.

      This outage should only last 5-10 minutes.

      We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, if you have anyquestions or concerns, please email telecom@umbc.edu.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      May 22, 2004

      Blackboard 6 Migration Update & Known Issues

      p>

      As of 5/21/04 All Blackboard version 5 courses were migrated ...

      As of 5/21/04 All Blackboard version 5 courses were migrated toverstion 6.

      Version 5 should ONLY be used by Spring '04 faculty and students topost and view grades until Friday, August 27, when it will be shut down.All others should now use version 6 at:

      From any Internet Service Provider (ISP) including on-campus:

      http://bb6.umbc.edu
      The following may still take you to Bb5 if using Comcast or otherISP:
      http://blackboard.umbc.edu
      http://www.umbc.edu/blackboard

      Bb6 Migration Known Issues

    5. Instructors can't access gradebook in courses migrated from Bb5 toBb6 (but can still do so in Bb5 at http://bb5.umbc.edu).
    6. Usual Blackboard URLs (e.g., Web Address) don't go to new version 6(see above).
    7. Can't login to Bb6 if coming directly from Bb5 (solution: quit ALLbrowser windows, restart browser and go DIRECTLY to Bb6 at URLs above).

      If you need help, send email to blackboard@umbc.edu.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      April 19, 2004

      4/19/04 Update: "Script Produced No Output" Bb Error

      b>04/19/04 Update: For the week of April 19, OIT will be ...

      04/19/04 Update: For the week of April 19, OIT will be rebooting the Blackboard server every day at 5 a.m. During this time, the server will be unavailable for approximately 10 minutes. Thank you for your patience.


      03/01/04 Update: OIT has decided to re-boot the Blackboard server every Tuesday at 5 a.m., in addition to the weekly re-boot every Friday at the same time announced last month.

      Also, as of today, the "My Calendar" link will no longer be available on the "My Institution" page, though the calendar function will continue to be available in individual courses or organizations.

      In consultation with Blackboard, we believe both actions will help minimize the frequency of the "script produced no output" error which appears during periods of extremely high usage. If you find otherwise, please send email to blackboard@umbc.edu. While we can only provide work arounds at the moment, it will help to know if and when users are receiving this error. Screen shots are also extremely helpful.


      02/06/04 Update: OIT has decided to re-boot the Blackboard server every Friday at 5:03 a.m. It should take no longer than five (5) minutes for the server to be available, but please plan your usage accordingly.

      Unfortunately, the "script produced no output" error has returned, which is due to periods of high demand like the start of a semester. Blackboard says the problem will be fixed in version 6.1, to be released shortly. However, all but a handful of version 6 pilot courses and community sites are still running on version 5.6 until we migrate in late May.

      We believe the weekly re-boot will solve the problem this semester, but if you get this error message, here's what you can do to usually work around it:

      1. Hit the "back" button on your browser
      2. Click the link that produced the error
      3. If that doesn't work, quit the browser and try again.
      4. Try "reloading" (netscape) or "refreshing" (IE) the frame cotaining the link or task that caused the error (e.g., digital dropbox, adding/removing users, etc.).
      We realize this is inconvenient, but wanted you to know this error is unrelated to the task you're performing. To work around it, try the steps above. If you still have problems send email to blackboard@umbc.edu.
      9/24/03 Update: OIT has been working with Blackboard on this issue and believes the problem has been resolved. If you find otherwise, please send email to blackboard@umbc.edu.

      Note: If possible, when sending email to OIT via blackboard@umbc.edu or helpdesk@umbc.edu, try to attach a "screen shot" of the error messages you receive. To learn how to do this, click here.


      OIT is working with Blackboard on the "script produced no output" error many users have received when they try to use certain functions (e.g., digital drop box, attach documents, etc.).

      In the meantime, if you get this error, hit the "Back" button and retry the function that produced the error -- for example, resubmit an item to the digital dropbox -- or refresh the browser, perhaps several times. As some of you may recall, this seemed to work temporarily when we encountered this problem at the start of the Spring 2002 semester.

      Beyond regularly rebooting the server on a daily basis -- we will notify users if and when this will occur -- we will continue to pursue a long-term fix with Blackboard, which acknowledges that the problem is caused by their software during periods of extremely high usage. We regret the inconvenience, but if you have questions or concerns, please send email to blackboard@umbc.edu.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      April 7, 2004

      Network Outage - Administration Building - Thursday April 8 6:30am - 7:00am

      The entire Administration building will experience a network outage from 6:30am until 7am on ...

      The entire Administration building will experience a network outage from 6:30am until 7am on Thursday April 8, 2004. This time will be used to install a new piece of network equipment in the building.

      We apologize for any inconveniences. Any questions or concerns should be emailed to telecom@umbc.edu.

      Physical Network Staff

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      March 24, 2004

      UMBC Security Updates: Internet Worm Phatbot and the Witty Worm

      This is an important update from OIT regarding security issues relatedto a new Internet ...

      This is an important update from OIT regarding security issues relatedto a new Internet Worm named "PhatBot" and the "Witty" worm that affects the personal firewall product, BlackIce.

      NOTE: Be sure to turn off your machine before leaving the campus tomorrow. Not only will it save electricity during a long weekend but it is the best known computer security for Internet Worms :).

      ---Phatbot Internet Worm---

      A new Internet Worm named Phatbot, also known as Polybot was discovered late last week. This worm, while rated a low-risk by McAfee, has the potential to create a great deal of problems in the near future if left unattended.

      What Does It Do? (Top 3)

      1. Steals account names/passwords from system's network traffic
      2. Disables anti-virus software & changes to avoid anti-virus protection
      3. Performs a Denial of Service attack
      http://us.mcafee.com/virusInfo/default.asp?id=description&virus_k=101100

      Ensure that you have Anti Virus software installed and that it hasthe most up to date virus data files. To install McAfee please visithttp://www.umbc.edu/oit/sans/desktopsupport/downloads/#virus

      If you have any questions please contact the OIT help desk at 410-455-3838.

      ---Witty Worm Affecting BlackIce and RealSecure Server---

      What Does It Do?

      • Overwrites key hard drive sectors (including system files)

      Why Is It Bad?

      • Random/bad data written out after buffer overflow may crash thesystem and cause permanent errors and blue screens on your PC resulting in it being left inoperable.

      If you are using BlackIce please be sure to patch your system. If you require more information regarding this please visit the reference links below.

      References:
      http://xforce.iss.net/xforce/alerts/id/167
      http://securityresponse.symantec.com/avcenter/venc/data/w32.witty.worm.html
      http://www.kb.cert.org/vuls/id/150326
      http://www.eeye.com/html/Research/Advisories/AD20040226.html
      http://www.eeye.com/html/Research/Upcoming/20040213.html
      http://xforce.iss.net/xforce/alerts/id/165

      Thanks,Michael CarlinDirector of Infrastructure and SupportOffice of Information Technology

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      March 16, 2004

      Downtime for Biological Sciences Building Wednesday from 6:30am to 7:00am

      This Wednesday there will be a brief outage of the Biological SciencesBuilding network so ...

      This Wednesday there will be a brief outage of the Biological SciencesBuilding network so that we can upgrade the software on the networkequipment in the building. The outage will NOT effect the MartinSchwartz Hall.

      We apologize for any inconveniences. Any questions or concerns should be emailed to telecom@umbc.edu.

      Thank You,Physical Networks Staff

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      March 15, 2004

      Spring Break Hours of Operation

      OIT Help Desk and selected computer labs will be open during Spring Break. Please make ...

      OIT Help Desk and selected computer labs will be open during Spring Break. Please make note of changes starting March 21, 2004.

      • Sunday
        March 21 12noon - 5:00 pm
      • Monday
        March 22 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
      • Tuesday
        March 23 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
      • Wednesday
        March 24 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
      • Thursday
        March 25 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
      • Friday
        March 26 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
      • Saturday
        March 27 8:00 am - 12 midnight
      • Sunday
        March 28 12 noon - resume 24 hours
      If you have any questions, please contact the Help Desk at 410-455-3838.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      March 10, 2004

      Partial network outage - Fine Arts Ground Floor - Friday March 12, 2004 7am - 9am

      The Fine Arts building on the ground floor that the network will not be available ...

      The Fine Arts building on the ground floor that the network will not be available from 7am - 9am on Friday, March 12. This time will be used to upgrade and standardize the currentnetwork equipment in the telecom closet.

      We apologize for any inconveniences. Any questions or concerns should be emailed to telecom@umbc.edu.

      Physical Network Staff

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      March 3, 2004

      Fake E-mails Containing Viruses from UMBC Addresses

      OIT has received reports that UMBC account holders are receiving e-mails which appear to ...

      OIT has received reports that UMBC account holders are receiving e-mails which appear to be from official UMBC e-mail addresses. These e-mails are from addresses such as "administration@umbc.edu","management@umbc.edu" or other official looking addresses.

      DO NOT open or install the attached file. This e-mail is not from UMBC's Office of Information Technology. The fake e-mails contain text similar to the sample below. Again please do not install, open or execute any attached files.

      If you receive a message similar to the one below delete the messageimmediately.

      Make sure that you have Anti Virus software installed and that it hasthe most up to date virus data files. To install McAfee please visithttp://www.umbc.edu/oit/sans/desktopsupport/downloads/#virus.

      If you have any questions please contact the OIT help desk at 410-455-3838.

      -------Begin Fake Message Sample---------------
      Dear user of "Umbc.edu" mailing system,

      Some of our clients complained about the spam (negative e-mailcontent) outgoing from your e-mail account. Probably, you have beeninfected by a proxy-relay trojan server. In order to keep yourcomputer safe, follow the instructions.

      Please, read the attach for further details.

      Attached file protected with the password for security reasons.Password is 81600.

      Cheers, The Umbc.edu team http://www.umbc.edu
      ------------End Fake Message Sample-------------------------------

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      Microsoft Patch Deployed to Campus on Thursday, March 4th, 2004

      On Thursday, March 4th 2004, UMBC Novell users will have an important Microsoft security patch ...

      On Thursday, March 4th 2004, UMBC Novell users will have an important Microsoft security patch installed on Windows 2000 and XP desktops. This installation will occur during the logon process to Novell. Once completed you will be asked to reboot your machine. It is important that patched machines be rebooted as requested so that the machine will be properly protected.What if I don't Logon to Novell?For customers that do not use Novell please visit Windows Update using Internet Explorer at http://www.windowsupdate.com to install the most up to date security patches for your machine.Instructions On How to Use Windows Updatehttp://www.umbc.edu/oit/sans/desktopsupport/windowsupdate/to secure your machine. If you have any questions please contact the OIT Help Desk at 410-455-3838 or via e-mail at helpdesk@umbc.eduFor more technical information regarding this patch please visit:http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/ms04-007.asp

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      January 27, 2004

      OIT Help Desk and Computer Labs Closing Today, January 27th at 4pm

      Due to UMBC campus closing from inclement weather, OIT Help Desk and Computer labs will ...

      Due to UMBC campus closing from inclement weather, OIT Help Desk and Computer labs will be closing today at 4:00pm. We will resume our Spring 2004 hours tomorrow at 8:00 am.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      UMBC-OIT Update on New MyDoom Internet Worm

      A new Windows worm called MyDoom has been discovered. It is spreadingvia e-mail ...

      A new Windows worm called MyDoom has been discovered. It is spreadingvia e-mail and, in some cases, through Kazaa downloads. If you receive e-mail from with an attachment that you are not expecting, simply do not open the attachment.

      More information about this virus can be found at: http://us.mcafee.com/virusInfo/default.asp?id=mydoomUsers of Microsoft Windows should update their virus signature filesimmediately. The latest McAfee update, protecting systems from thisvirus, is available. If you do not have anti-virus software installedon your computer, please install McAfee Anti-Virus immediately from the MyUMBC site.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      January 25, 2004

      Spring 2004 Hours of Operation

      OIT Computer labs and Help Desk hours of operation for Spring 2004 are (Hours ...

      OIT Computer labs and Help Desk hours of operation for Spring 2004 are (Hours effective January 25, 2004 to February 14,2004. 24 hour service starts February 15):

      • Sunday 12 noon to 12 midnight
      • Monday 8am to 12 midnight
      • Tuesday 8am to 12 midnight
      • Wednesday 8 am to 12 midnight
      • Thursday 8am to 12 midnight
      • Friday 8am to 12 midnight
      • Saturday 8am to 12 midnight

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      January 4, 2004

      Winter Hours of Operation for Computer Labs and Help Desk

      only selected labs will be open. If you need access to a specific lab, please ...

      *only selected labs will be open. If you need access to a specific lab, please see a Help Desk staff member in room 020.

      • Sunday - 12 noon to 10:00 pm
      • Monday - 8:00 am to 10:00 pm
      • Tuesday - 8:00 am to 10:00 pm
      • Wednesday - 8:00 am to 10:00 pm
      • Thursday - 8:00 am to 10:00 pm
      • Friday - 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
      • Saturday - 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
      *January 19th 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Martin Luther King

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      December 23, 2003

      Blackboard Down All Day, Dec. 24

      To prepare for the Spring 2004 Pilot Upgrade to Blackboard version 6, UMBC's Blackboard server will be down all day on Wednesday, December 24, 2003.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      December 22, 2003

      Don't forget to turn OFF your computer for the holidays

      Please don't forget to conserve power by turning off your computers and monitors while ...

      Please don't forget to conserve power by turning off your computers and monitors while the campus is closed for winter break.

      You may also wish to setup a vacation message while you are awayenjoying the holidays. Please visithttp://www.umbc.edu/oit/sans/helpdesk/accounts/myUMBC/myumbcvacation.html to see how easily an e-mail vacation message can be configured.

      The Office of Information Technology wishes everyone a happy holiday season. We will see you next year.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      December 18, 2003

      HP3000 Downtime December 29, 2003

      OIT needs to perform some enhancements to the HP3000 environment during the holidays, specifically 12/...

      OIT needs to perform some enhancements to the HP3000 environment during the holidays, specifically 12/29/2003, which will require downtime.

      HPUMBC3, which serves the Faculty Authorizations and Registration functions for myUMBC will be upgraded to enhance performance by a factor of 3. Please note that myUMBC will still be available for the other information it provides.

      HPUMBC1 which serves most of the UMBC community for online access and batch processing will be down at the same time to add some disc space that is very much needed.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      December 12, 2003

      "Jdbgmgr.exe" Email Virus

      Thursday, December 12, 2003

      The Office of Information Technology has received a number of ...

      Thursday, December 12, 2003

      The Office of Information Technology has received a number of questions from the campus regarding an e-mail virus that has reportedly infected their machine. The "Jdbgmgr.exe" message is a Hoax. While the messagesent to individual users looks convincing it is very important that you Do Not delete the "Jdbgmgr.exe" file. It is in fact a legitimate Windows file.

      For more information about this Hoax please visit:http://us.mcafee.com/virusInfo/default.asp?id=description&virus_k=99436

      We ask that you do not pass the hoax message along to others as this is how an e-mail virus hoax propagates across the Internet. The result is more work for your friendly IT support staff. If you have any questions please contact the OIT help desk at helpdesk@umbc.edu or 410-455-3838.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      December 3, 2003

      Finals Week Hours of Operation Start December 7, 2003

      Hours of operation for Finals Week will start on December 7, 2003. Only selected labs ...

      Hours of operation for Finals Week will start on December 7, 2003. Only selected labs will be open until midnight. If you need to work in a specific lab, please see a Help Desk staff member for access.

      • Sunday - 12 noon to 12 midnight
      • Monday - 8:00 am to 12 midnight
      • Tuesday - 8:00 am to 12 midnight
      • Wednesday - 8:00 am to 12 midnight
      • Thursday - 8:00 am to 12 midnight
      • Friday - 8:00 am to 12 midnight
      • Saturday - 8:00 am to 12 midnight

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      Try StarOffice 7.0 in EngrCompSci Room 021

      Our PCs in computer lab Engineering Computer Science room 021 has StarOffice version 7.0. ...

      Our PCs in computer lab Engineering Computer Science room 021 has StarOffice version 7.0. Please feel free to try this software package and give us feedback. Send your questions or comments to helpdesk@umbc.edu.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      November 24, 2003

      Computer Labs and Help Desk Closing at 6:00pm Wednesday, November 26

      OIT Computer labs and Help Desk will be closing at 6:00pm on Wednesday, November ...

      OIT Computer labs and Help Desk will be closing at 6:00pm on Wednesday, November 26. We will be closed Thursday and Friday, November 27 and 29. Our hours of operation will resume on Saturday, November 30.

      If you have any questions or wish to report a computer problem during these times, please send an email to helpdesk@umbc.edu.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      Microsoft Access: Learn to Import Tables

      b>Copy & Paste Method

      The easiest way to import a table is to ...

      Copy & Paste Method

      The easiest way to import a table is to simply copy and paste it in the new database.

      In the Northwind database, double-click the Orders table to open it. Review the data and then click View to inspect the table in Design view. Close the table. In the Database window, right-click the table and choose Copy.

      From the Start menu, open a second session of Access. In the New File frame under New, click Blank Database. (If the New File frame isn稚 open, click File and New.) Choose a convenient folder in which to save the database. In File Name, type SC January Test and click Create.

      Click Edit and then Paste. Type Orders to name the table. You now have three choices: You can copy the structure (Primary Key, Field Properties, etc.), copy both the structure and the data, or append (attach) the data to another table. Select Structure and Data and click OK. Open the Orders table in Design view.

      The entire table (fields, data types, field properties, etc.) has been copied. For example, click in the OrderDate field. In the Field Properties in the lower pane, note that the Caption is Order Date. Click View to view the table. The Caption for the OrderDate field is also Order Date. Close the table. Delete the Orders table by pressing DELETE and confirming the deletion.

      In the Taskbar, switch to the other open session of Access and close the Northwind database.

      Import Table Method

      Now we値l use the Import Table method. In the Taskbar, select the SC January Test database. Click File, Get External Data, and Import. Navigate to Copy Of Northwind.mdb, select it, and click Import. With the Tables tab selected, select Orders and click Options.

      Because this is a new database, you値l want to deselect Relationships in the Import section; you can always create relationships between tables afterward. Under Import Tables, check Definition Only to include only the table痴 structure. In the Import Queries section, merely note that you can import queries as queries or as tables.

      Click OK to import the table. In the Database window, open the Orders table in Design view and note that the fields, data types, field properties, etc. have been imported. Click in the OrderDate field and note that the Caption is Order Field. Click View to see that no data has been transferred and the Caption for the OrderDate field is Order Date. Close the Orders table and delete it from the database. Close the SC January Test database and exit this session of Access.

      Make-Table Query Method

      Most users will feel most comfortable transferring tables using either of these two methods, but there痴 a third way to import a table. You can also create a make-table query in the source database and export the table to the target database.

      Under this method, all the fields and their data types will be imported. None of the other field properties will be imported, nor will a primary key be assigned. You can, however, include criteria.

      In the remaining session of Access, open the Northwind database. Click Queries and click New. With Design View selected, click OK. In the Show Table dialog box, click the Orders table and click Add. Close the Show Table dialog box.

      From the menu bar, click Query and Make-Table Query. In the Make Table dialog box, click the down arrow next to the Table Name field and choose Orders. Click the Another Database radio button. Click the Browse button, find and select the SC January Test.mdb file, and click OK. In the Make Table dialog box, click OK.

      Double-click the Orders field list title to select all the fields. Drag all the fields to the design grid and drop them in the first column. On the Criteria row of the OrderDate column, type >12/31/96 to include orders made in 1997 and after. Click Run and confirm by clicking Yes. Close the query without saving it.

      Click File and Close. Open SC January Test.mdb. Open the Orders table in Design view. All the fields have been imported with their data types, but there is no primary key assigned, and field properties have not been imported. Click in the OrderDate field and note that the Caption property is empty. Click View. Only orders made after 12/31/96 have been included.

      Close the table, close the database, and exit Access. Remember to delete the databases you created if you don稚 want them.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      November 19, 2003

      Solve Problems with Printing a Web Site

      As you browse the Web, you will inevitably discover pages you want to print for ...

      As you browse the Web, you will inevitably discover pages you want to print for handy reference or more comfortable reading. Usually, this is as easy as choosing Print from your browser痴 File menu, but sometimes what you see on your screen is not what you get from your printer.

      Frames. There are many reasons for a printed World Wide Web page to be different from the one on-screen. One of the most likely is the page is composed of frames. Frames let a Web browser display more than one page at a time, combining them into what appears to be a single page. Some Web pages have obvious frames; others use borderless frames and are harder to spot. When you attempt to print a Web page with frames, you usually end up printing only the active frame, defined by the last place you clicked on the page. If no frame is active, some Web browsers will not display the Print option in the File menu. If the Print command is unavailable, check to make sure the page has finished loading and then click in a blank area of the part of the Web page you want to print to activate the frame and enable the Print command.

      If you are using Internet Explorer 5 and Windows 98 or later, you have advanced options for printing framed pages. Open the File menu in Internet Explorer, choose Print, and go to the Print Frames section. The As Laid Out On The Screen option should print a page faithful to the on-screen version. The Only The Selected Frame option will be unavailable if you haven稚 selected an active frame. The All Frames Individually option produces a separate printed page for each frame. Choose the correct option and click the OK button.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      November 13, 2003

      Create Distribution List in Outlook Express

      In Outlook Express, start by clicking the Address Book button on the toolbar or selecting ...

      In Outlook Express, start by clicking the Address Book button on the toolbar or selecting Address Book from the Tools menu. Click the New button on the left side of the Address Book window and choose New Group.

      In the Group window, enter a name. If you致e got the urge, you can also click the Group Details tab and enter even more information about the group, but it痴 unlikely that everyone on your list lives at the same address or shares a phone number.

      As a helpful note on the Group window points out, you can add people to your new group in three different ways. Click the Select Members button to choose folks who are already listed elsewhere in your address book. As in Outlook, scroll through the list and double-click names to move them to the column on the right; then click OK.

      Second, you can add someone to the group and at the same time add her own entry to the address book by clicking the New Contact button, filling out the form, and clicking OK. If there痴 someone you壇 like to place in the group but not in your address book, just enter his name and email address in the spaces at the bottom of the Group window. Click Add to move the name up to the Group Members list.

      Save the Group by clicking OK at the bottom of the window. To send a message to everyone in the group, open a new message form, click the To: button, and find your newly created group name in the list. Move it to the appropriate spot on the right side of the screen, click OK, and continue with your mass mailing. Show me how.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      Network outage in the Library on Friday 11/14/03 @ 7am

      There will be a brief outage affecting the entire AOK library network on Friday 11/...

      There will be a brief outage affecting the entire AOK library network on Friday 11/14/03 at 7am and lasting to no more than 7:15am. During this time, the network staff will be installing a module in to our existing network equipment that is neccesary to the network upgrade going on in the basement pc lab.
      If you have any questions or concerns, please email telecom@umbc.edu
      Thank You,Physical Networks

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      Network Outage in Social Sciences on Friday 11/14/2003

      The Social Sciences buliding will experience periodic network outages on Friday, November 14, 2003 from ...

      The Social Sciences buliding will experience periodic network outages on Friday, November 14, 2003 from 7:30am until 7:45am. This time will be used to upgrade a piece of network equipment.
      If you have any questions or comments, please email telecom@umbc.edu.
      Thank YouPhysical Networks

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      November 11, 2003

      Windows Tips: Skip the Recycle Bin

      Every now and then you need to really delete a file. Right now.
      Well, ...

      Every now and then you need to really delete a file. Right now.
      Well, most people delete the thing, then go to the recycle bin and remove it from there. This is good when you want to recover a file accidentally deleted, but there's a better way.
      Next time your 100% sure, without a doubt, for certain, that you want to delete a file, hold your Shift key down while you delete. The file will be deleted - skipping the Recycle Bin completely.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      November 5, 2003

      Deleted Messages in Outlook and Outlook Express

      Many Outlook and Outlook Express users let deleted e-mail messages pile up in the ...

      Many Outlook and Outlook Express users let deleted e-mail messages pile up in the Deleted Items folder. You can set up Outlook and Outlook Express to automatically delete messages from the Deleted Items folder when you exit the program.

      Outlook Express users, click the Tools menu followed by Options. Click the Maintenance tab and put a check in the Empty Messages From The Deleted Items Folder On Exit checkbox. Show me how.

      Outlook users, click Tools, Options, the Other tab, and then put a check in the Empty The Deleted Items Folder Upon Exiting checkbox. Show me how.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      November 1, 2003

      Troubleshooting: Eliminate the Obvious Culprits

      Always address the obvious trouble spots before engaging in serious troubleshooting tactics. You値l save ...

      Always address the obvious trouble spots before engaging in serious troubleshooting tactics. You値l save time, money, and embarrassment if you can fix the following problems yourself.

      1. Check for floppy diskettes in the diskette drive.
        Leaving a diskette in its drive can hamper your attempts at booting the computer. Remove the diskette from its drive預nd, while you池e at it, remove the disc from your optical drive傭efore rebooting your PC.
      2. Check for power.
        The computer must have a live electrical source to work properly. If your PC won稚 start, look for unplugged power cables, broken electrical circuits, malfunctioning power strips, local blackouts, and any other object or event that may have interrupted the flow of electricity to your computer.
      3. Check for loose cable connections.
        If your PC won稚 start or you can稚 access a particular component, make sure your cable connections are tight. Start with the external connections, including those between the PC and the monitor, the printer, and all USB (Universal Serial Bus) devices. Then, open your computer and make sure your expansion cards sit properly in their slots and the data cables and electrical cables securely connect to their drives.
      4. Check the monitor settings.
        You might be able to fix a seemingly dead or ailing monitor simply by adjusting the Brightness, Color, Contrast, and other monitor settings. Review the monitor痴 users manual for instructions on how to adjust the settings for your particular monitor.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      October 31, 2003

      Cleaning Out Your Inbox

      The fewer messages in your Inbox, the faster email will start. When you start Outlook ...

      The fewer messages in your Inbox, the faster email will start. When you start Outlook Express, Netscape Messenger, SquirrelMail/WebMail, it has to load all your messages into your Inbox and then sort them in whatever order you last sorted them.
      Where can you put all your messages if not in the Inbox? One strategy is to move them to a few new folders. The new folders provide the added benefit of making old messages easier to find. Outlook Express doesn’t display Local Folders by default, so before adding folders, you have to display Local Folders. Click View and then Layout; check Folder List and click OK. In the Folder List, right-click Local Folders and click New Folder; type a name for the folder, such as the name of a specific subject, sender, or project, and click OK. Make as many of these folders as you like. After setting up Local Folders, you can right-click Local Folders or Inbox and click New Folder from either context menu to add folders to the directory tree. In SquirrelMail/WebMail, you can categorize your messages into other folders in your account. Click 'Folders' from the top menu. Enter the name of the folder and click create.
      Next, move messages from your Inbox to the appropriate folders. Sometimes this is easier if you sort the messages first. To sort, click the From, Subject, or Received headings; this groups the messages so that you can quickly find, select, and move them. Select the message or messages you want to move (to select multiple, contiguous messages, click the first message in the group, hold down the SHIFT key and click the last message; to select multiple, noncontiguous messages, hold down CTRL and click the messages). Once selected, drag the messages to the appropriate folders.
      Of course, you can also delete messages you no longer need. To delete selected messages to Outlook Express’ Deleted Items folder, right-click the folder(s) and click Delete on the context menu. To delete messages permanently, hold down SHIFT, click Delete from the context menu, and click Yes in the dialog box that appears. In Netscape Messenger, Deleted Items folder is called Trash.
      Once you get your Inbox cleaned out to your liking, down to a maximum of two or three hundred messages or less, take some measures to keep it clean. You can make a habit of cleaning your Inbox every month, week, or day, depending upon how many messages you receive each day; you might even take up the habit of moving or deleting messages as you read them.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      October 30, 2003

      Computer Room Power Outage Update

      Wednesday, October 29th at approximately 2:45pm all electrical power was inadvertently cut to the ...

      Wednesday, October 29th at approximately 2:45pm all electrical power was inadvertently cut to the ECS computer room while mechanical maintenance was being performed. Office of Information Technology staff were notified within moments of the power outage by our automated environmental monitoring system.

      The majority of our services were back online by approximately 6:00pm (e.g. E-mail, Blackboard, myUMBC, Labs, Novell, DNS, and DHCP). However, services such as the HP and UMBC's Peoplesoft environment required further work. The HP was back up and functioning by 7:30pm. The PeopleSoft servers were back up by 9:15pm after a faulty piece of hardware was hand delivered this evening by an IBM service representative. Once this critical piece of hardware was received OIT staff were able to restore normal PeopleSoft services.

      At this time all services appear to be functioning normally. If you experience any problems please contact the OIT helpdesk at 410-455-3838 or via e-mail at helpdesk@umbc.edu

      Michael Carlin
      University of Maryland Baltimore County
      Office of Information Technology
      Director of Infrastructure and Support Services

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      October 28, 2003

      Setup Multiple Accounts in Outlook Express

      Set up multiple accounts. If you share your computer with another person, you can configure ...

      Set up multiple accounts. If you share your computer with another person, you can configure Outlook Express so that each person can access his or her account. You can accomplish this by creating what Microsoft refers to as “identities.” To add a new identity, open the File menu, click Identities, and click Add New Identities. Type your name, select the Require A Password checkbox if you wish (and, if so, type a password, type it again to confirm it, and click OK), and click OK.
      Outlook Express then prompts you to switch to the new identity. If you choose to switch now, the software will ask you for Internet connection information. Follow the on-screen instructions. To log in under a new identity, click Switch Identity from the File menu, highlight the desired identity from the Switch Identities dialog box, and click OK.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      October 23, 2003

      Daylight Saving Time Ends, Sunday October 26

      Don't forget to set your clocks back on hour on Sunday, October 26th at ...

      Don't forget to set your clocks back on hour on Sunday, October 26th at 2am.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      Blackboard Down Sun., Oct. 26, 6-8 a.m.

      The Blackboard system will be unavailable on Sunday, October 26, from 6 to 8 ...

      The Blackboard system will be unavailable on Sunday, October 26, from 6 to 8 a.m. (Remember: Daylight Savings Time ends at 2 a.m.). During this scheduled down time, OIT will be copying the existing Blackboard 5 database. Later this month or early next, OIT will use this copy to run a test migration of all version 5 data to the new Blackboard version 6, which the campus will upgrade to for the spring 2004 semester (see the Summer 2003 OIT Newsletter). By making the version 5 copy now, OIT can run the test migration without more scheduled down time of the current system and begin to understand what issues, if any, we will face with the upgrade next semester.

      We apprectiate your patience, but if you have any questions or concerns, please send email to blackboard@umbc.edu.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      October 3, 2003

      Scheduled Network Outage, Sunday, October 5

      On Sunday, October 5, 2003 several buildings across the campus willexperience brief network outages ...

      On Sunday, October 5, 2003 several buildings across the campus willexperience brief network outages between 8am and 11am. During thistime, we will be making configuration changes to our network equipment in these buildings. These changes are being done in an effort to build a more stable and robust network across the entire campus.
      Specifically, the following buildings will be affected:

      • Academic IV
      • Academic Services
      • Administration
      • Biology
      • Central Plant
      • Chemistry
      • Field House
      • Fine Arts
      • ITE
      • Math/Psych
      • South Campus
      • University Center
      • University Commons
      --Michael CarlinUniversity of Maryland Baltimore CountyOffice of Information TechnologyDirector of Infrastructure and Support ServicesFax 410-455-1065Phone 410-455-2578Help Desk 410-455-3838

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      September 18, 2003

      OIT Help desk and Computer Labs Closed due to Inclement Weather

      Due to inclement weather, OIT Help Desk and Computer labs will be closed today, Thursday, ...

      Due to inclement weather, OIT Help Desk and Computer labs will be closed today, Thursday, September 18, 2003. We will reopen tomorrow, Friday, September 19 at 7:30 am pending status of UMBC campus.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      August 22, 2003

      New WebMail Debut

      WebMail, the Central Mail Service's web interface, was replaced on August 21, 2003. The ...

      WebMail, the Central Mail Service's web interface, was replaced on August 21, 2003. The new WebMail is more responsive and more informative. Changes include an up-to-date quota status and searching the UMBC email directory while composing messages.

      WebMail can be accessed at myUMBC

      Documentation on how to use WebMail can be found at OIT's Web Site

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      August 19, 2003

      Internet Worm Impacting Campus Tuesday, August 19, 2003

      There was a new Internet Worm, detected today, called the W32/Sobig.f@MM virus. ...

      There was a new Internet Worm, detected today, called the W32/Sobig.f@MM virus. Network Associates (McAfee) rates it as Medium risk. This Internet Worm fakes the 'From' line of infected e-mails sent out from the names gathered on the victims machine. The Worm gathers these names from the address books and Inbox of the infected machine. It then sends out more mail pretending to be those people.

      For more information about W32/Sobig.f@MM please visit:http://us.mcafee.com/virusInfo/default.asp?id=description&virus_k=100561

      What Should I Do?

      1. The first thing you need to do is to make sure that your machine has the most up to date DAT file from McAfee (See 'Updating My McAfee DAT File' below)
      2. Scan your C: drive for the Virus. Please visit:http://www.umbc.edu/oit/sans/helpdesk/antivirus/mcafee/
      3. If your machine was infected it should now be cleaned

      -------Updating My McAfee DAT File ---------------------

      UMBC Campus Users:

      If your machine is owned by UMBC and is on the UMBC network it isprotected by McAfee. There is no need for you to update your software or virus.dat file as the Office of Information Technology is able to do this for you using our McAfee server.

      Off Campus and UMBC Resnet Users:

      If you already have McAfee installed on your personal machine all that you will need to do is get the newest Virus.Dat file. To do this goto Start>Programs>Network Associates>VirusScan ConsoleA Window titled 'VirusScan Console' will then open. Left click once on 'AutoUpdate' to highlight it. Then click the 'Start' button on thetoolbar of the 'VirusScan Console' window (NOT the start button on the task bar) . You will now begin downloading the newest Virus.Dat file.

      NOTE: You will need to be connected to the Internet to perform this download (e.g. Cable modem, dial-up connection etc.)----------------End Updating McAfee DAT File--------------------

      How do I know if I have McAfee installed already?

      You can confirm the presence of McAfee on your machine by looking for the small icon on your task bar that is Blue and White, shaped like a shield and has a Red 'V' on it. Usually this is located in the lower right hand corner of your window on the task bar.

      Need McAfee Anti Virus Software?

      Please visit my.umbc.edu under the 'Business Services' tab to download McAfee. Alternately, you can stop by the OIT Help Desk in ECS 020 to pickup a free copy of McAfee for your personal machine. If you need McAfee installed on your UMBC office machine please contact the help desk. They can step you through downloading the version you will need from my.umbc.edu under the 'Business Services' tab.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      August 12, 2003

      Resnet Outage Today

      The entire Resnet system will be unavailable beginning Wednesday August 13th and it should be ...

      The entire Resnet system will be unavailable beginning Wednesday August 13th and it should be operational again by the end of the day.During this time we will be making signifigant changes to Resnet for the upcoming semester.After the changes are made, there will be a period of a few days in which users will not have to log into the system in order to use Resnet.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      Update: Internet Worm Affecting the UMBC Campus

      UPDATE 8/15/03

      Beginning today, Friday, August 15, 2003 at noon OIT network ...

      UPDATE 8/15/03

      Beginning today, Friday, August 15, 2003 at noon OIT network staff will redirect windowsupdate.microsoft.com and windowsupdate.com to anonexistent location on our router, essentially sending all requests for these Web pages into a black hole. This redirection will remain in effect until noon on Monday, August 18, 2003.

      Why Are We Redirecting These Web Pages?

      By now I am sure that everyone has seen, heard or suffered the effects of the MSBlast Internet Worm that struck the campus this week. This Internet Worm has code integrated into its payload that is designed to perform a Denial of Service attack against Microsoft's Windows Update site. This attack is set to begin August 16, 2003.

      On the Internet, a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is one in which a multitude of compromised systems attack a single target, thereby causing a denial of service for users of the targeted system. The flood of incoming messages to the target system essentially forces it to shut down, thereby denying service to the system to legitimate users.[techtarget.com]

      Unfortunately, there are still infected machines located within thecampus that we have been unable to identify. Any machine that has notbeen disinfected will participate in this attack. In order to protectthe UMBC campus network, the Internet connection that we share with the University System of Maryland (USM) and even Microsoft we will prevent the infected machines from flooding the Internet by redirecting web requests destined for windowsupdate.microsoft.com and windowsupdate.com to a black hole.

      How Can I Patch My Machine if I Can't Get to Microsoft's Update Site?

      Please visit http://www.umbc.edu/oit/wormvirus/ to receive detailed instructions about how to fix/protect your machine. You can get the patch on CD from the OIT Help Desk in ECS 020 or you can download it from the link above.---

      OIT staff members have been actively working to develop a fix for the MSBlast Internet Worm that has been affecting the campus. This Internet Worm has been causing machines to shutdown and reboot throughout the day. A series of steps have been identified that should both remove the Internet Worm and protect your machine from future attacks that exploit this particular Microsoft Windows vulnerability.

      How Do I Fix My Machine?

      Please visit http://www.umbc.edu/oit/wormvirus/ to receive detailed instructions about how to fix/protect your machine.

      How Do I Protect My Home Machine?

      We have two options available. From your home machine you can connect to the Internet and click on this link http://www.umbc.edu/oit/wormvirus/ to download the patches necessary for your machine. Alternately, if your Internet connection is too slow we have made CDs available at the OIT Help Desk located in ECS 020. These CDs contain the patches necessary to protect your home computer. These CDs will be available late this afternoon.

      I Applied the Patch But My Machine Is Still Rebooting?

      If you followed the steps listed at http://www.umbc.edu/oit/wormvirus/and your machine is still rebooting we will need you to contact the Help Desk. Please submit a work request via helpdesk@umbc.edu,http://www.umbc.edu/oit/workorder.html or by calling 410-455-3838. AnOIT staff member may need to work on your machine to address the problem.

      How Do I Get McAfee Anti Virus Software?

      In addition to patching, Microsoft computers should have McAfeeAnti-virus installed with the latest anti-virus definitions. If you donot already have it installed please visit http://my.umbc.edu under the "Business Services" tab, click on the link for "McAfee Virus Protection" and follow the installation instructions.

      For More Information

      Please visit the pages below for more detailed background information.http://zdnet.com.com/2100-1105_2-5062524.htmlhttp://securityresponse.symantec.com/avcenter/venc/data/w32.blaster.worm.html

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      August 4, 2003

      "admin@umbc.edu" -Email Worm Propagation-WARNING

      There have been a lot of reports from our users of e-mail apparently from "...

      There have been a lot of reports from our users of e-mail apparently from "admin@umbc.edu" warning them that their e-mail addresses are about to expire. This message is not from any UMBC staff member and should not be opened. The message asks them to open an attached ZIP file for details.If you get such e-mail, DO NOT open the attachment. It contains a worm that will collect e-mail address from various sources on your computer and then start mailing itself out to new potential victims.For more details about the worm, see: http://xforce.iss.net/xforce/alerts/id/149OIT staff are currently working on detecting this worm and eliminating its spread on our campus.Managers: Please pass this message to your staff.Michael CarlinUniversity of Maryland Baltimore CountyOffice of Information TechnologyDirector of Infrastructure and Support

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      July 28, 2003

      Scheduled Outage - Field House/RAC Building Network - Wednesday July 30, 7am - 7:30am

      The Field House and RAC that there will be a scheduled downtime on Wednesday morning, ...

      The Field House and RAC that there will be a scheduled downtime on Wednesday morning, July 30th, from 7-7:30am. This time will be used by the physical network staff to upgrade its network equipment that serves this building. During this time also, there will be no network connectivity to the rest of the network.
      We apologize any inconvenience this may cause. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact telecom@umbc.edu.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      July 17, 2003

      Student Employment Opportunity - Help Desk

      SUMMARY OF THE JOB

      Help Desk employees are responsible for maintaining phone and walk-...

      SUMMARY OF THE JOB

      Help Desk employees are responsible for maintaining phone and walk-in support to all customers within the UMBC community. Problems dealing with Technical, Network, Operations, and Programming issues are first handled through phone/walk-in support. If the problem is not fixed, then Help desk assigns work requests to 2nd -tier technicians to solve the problem on-site. Prioritizing concerns in order of importance and expediting technicians is a responsibility of the Help desk.

      If you would like to apply for this position, please fill out the online application:www.umbc.edu/oit_jobapp

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      June 6, 2003

      Off-Campus Link Down Sunday, June 8

      On Sunday, June 8, 2003 between the hours of 8:00 am and 9:...

      On Sunday, June 8, 2003 between the hours of 8:00 am and 9:00 am UMBC's campus border router will be upgraded. This work is part of the over all plan to upgrade the campus network to enhance security, reliability and generally increase network performance.

      During this time, off campus connectivity (i.e. Internet) will not be available. All other services routed within the campus will remain unaffected. We expect all services to be fully restored and operational by 9:00 am.
      -Michael Carlin, Director of ISS

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      June 4, 2003

      PeopleSoft Implementation

      The Peoplesoft implementation, which goes live on July 1st of this year, is an attempt ...

      The Peoplesoft implementation, which goes live on July 1st of this year, is an attempt to integrate our budget, human resources, and eventually student information services into a cohesive online environment. This is a much needed upgrade to the slow and outdated model of disconnected processes and will make these business processes more efficient for faculty, staff, and students.

      The first phase of Peoplesoft (Budget and Human Resources) which will go live July 1, 2003, will affect general ledger and financial reporting, grant proposals, Purchase Card reallocation, requisitions, timesheets/entry, payroll, and new hires.

      By consolidating these processes, Peoplesoft eliminates the need for duplicating data entry, and reduces the amount of hand-shuffling forms between offices, signatures required, and storage space for transaction hard copies. Peoplesoft streamlines the transaction process by allowing submittal, approval, and status tracking of transactions online, and empowers our business model by making theses services available via a new web browser-based interface.

      For more information on the Peoplesoft implementation, fire up your web browser and head to www.umbc.edu/peoplesoft.-Kendrick Hernandez, OIT Help Desk

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      May 22, 2003

      Closed for Memorial Day

      ul>

    8. Help Desk will be closed on Monday, May 26th. Regular

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      Scheduled Outage - Police Station Network

      This message is to inform those on the second floor of the Central Plant ...

      This message is to inform those on the second floor of the Central Plant Building, that being the police station and other departments that there will be brief network outage on Friday morning, May 23 @ 8am, lasting no longer than 2 minutes. The Physical Network staff is using this time to move network equipment over to UPS power. Customers will not need to do anything and your connection should come back up with in 1-2 minutes. Thanks for your patience.Please direct any questions or comments to telecom@umbc.edu.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      April 25, 2003

      Lab Changes April 26 & 27

      OIT computer labs and Help Desk will change it's weekend hours of operation to ...

      OIT computer labs and Help Desk will change it's weekend hours of operation to the following:

      1. Saturday, April 26 8:00 am - 3:30pm
      2. Sunday, April 27 8:00 am - 24 hours

      During the morning of Saturday, April 26th (QuadMania) OIT staff will be moving the majority of our equipment onto our newly installed and tested computer room Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). For more information about our UPS please visitUPS Information.

      Much of the work leading up to this final transfer was completed onMarch 28th when the ECS building power was routed through the newsystem. Since that time, contractors have completed their testing and we are now ready to reap the benefits of over six months of steadyconstruction when we transfer our machines to the new power system. All construction when we transfer our machines to the new power system. All work will be completed between 7:00am and 11:00am on Saturday, April 26th.

      At a minimum we expect these services to be unavailable from 7:30am-11:00am:

      • Email
      • Peoplesoft development
      • myUMBC
      • Remote login to gl.umbc.edu (campus Unix servers)
      • Some web services

      In addition, these services will have brief outages when power is being transitioned to the new power outlets. The durations of these outages will range from just a few minutes up to 1 hour:

      • HP3000 (1 hour)
      • Novell (30 minutes)
      • Dial up Modems (few minutes)
      • VPN Servers (few minutes)
      • Off-campus Internet Access (7:00am to 8:00am while a new routeris installed)
      • Library Proxy Server (30 minutes)
      • Main UMBC Web Page (some sub pages may not be available)

      Services that will remain up during this transition are:

      • DNS
      • DHCP
      • Core Network Services will remain up
      • Blackboard
      • OIT Computer Labs

      OIT will have staff in the help desk from 8:00am to 3:30pm on Saturday, April 26th, 2003 to answer any questions that may arise during this work. OIT help desk staff will open early on Sunday at 8:00am to ensure that no problems arose during the evening as a result.

      The good news is that this is the final interruption in service that our customers will face as a result of this new system. Once on the new UPS we will be fully protected in the event of brown outs or even lengthy power outages like the one we suffered on October.

      Thanks for being patient and understanding while this work was being done. If you have any questions please feel free to contact the Help Desk at 410-455-3838 or via helpdesk@umbc.edu.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      April 2, 2003

      Reminder: Daylight Savings Time Begins Sunday April 6

      Remember to set your clock forward one hour this Sunday, April 6 at 2:...

      Remember to set your clock forward one hour this Sunday, April 6 at 2:00 a.m. as we begin daylight savings time.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      March 20, 2003

      Computer Labs and Help Desk Hours of Operation during Spring Break

      OIT Computer Labs and Help Desk will be open during the following hours of operation:<...

      OIT Computer Labs and Help Desk will be open during the following hours of operation:

      • Wednesday, March 26th [10:00am - 8:00pm]
      • Thursday, March 27th [10:00am - 8:00pm]
      • Friday, March 28th Help Desk ONLY/Computer Labs will be closed [1:00pm - 8:00pm]
      • Saturday, March 29 Resume Normal Hours [8:00am - 12:00 midnight]

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      March 17, 2003

      ECS Bldg/Computer Room Power Outage March 28th, 2003

      OIT has been working closely with Physical Plant and Whiting Turner on a power upgrade ...

      OIT has been working closely with Physical Plant and Whiting Turner on a power upgrade to the ECS computer room (see http://www.umbc.edu/oit/newsletter/winter2003.html#ups). This power upgrade will provide backup power to run the computer room and eliminate problems that have been caused by power outages.In order to connect the feed from the Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) to ECS’ building power we have to take down power to the entire ECS building for approximately 5-6 hours. This work is scheduled to begin Friday, March 28, 2003 at 8:00am. The contractor will provide backup power generation but we will need to shut down systems as we transition to the backup feed. In order to allow OIT staff to properly shutdown our systems we will begin this process at 8:00am on March 28th and expect to have all systems fully operational again by 6:00pm

      At a minimum we expect these services to be unavailable from 8:00am – 6:00pm:

      • Email
      • Peoplesoft development
      • myUMBC
      • remote login to gl.umbc.edu (campus unix servers)
      • Some web services
      • OIT Computer Labs

      In addition, these services will have brief outages when power is being transitioned to the temporary generator (approximately 9:30-10:30am and 4:30 to 5:30pm) but should be available while the majority of the work is being performed:

      • Network Services (DNS, DHCP etc.)
      • HP3000
      • Novell
      • Blackboard
      • Dial up Modems
      • Off-campus Internet Access
      • Library Proxy Server
      • Main UMBC Web Page (some sub pages may not be available)

      OIT will have staff in the Help Desk from 1:00pm to 8:00pm on March 28th, 2003 to answer any questions that may arise during this power outage. OIT Help Desk staff will resume normal hours on Saturday, March 29th (8:00am to Midnight).

      After this power work is complete the system will be tested by the contractor and we can begin migrating systems over to the new power system in mid-April. This upgrade will be a major step in moving the infrastructure forward and we thank everyone for their patience during these outages.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      February 25, 2003

      Campus Network Outage Sunday March 2nd from 5:00am to 7:00am

      This Sunday from 5:00am to 7:00am there will be a campus ...

      This Sunday from 5:00am to 7:00am there will be a campus wide network outage, during this time we will be upgrade the core campus router. The outage will effect all traffic going to/from any campus servers or buildings as well as traffic going to/from the internet.

      We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, if you have anyquestions or concerns, please email telecom@umbc.edu.

      Thank You,Physical Network StaffOIT - UMBC

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      February 7, 2003

      Computer Labs and Help Desk MODIFIED hours for February 7, 2003

      OIT Computer labs and Help Desk will be open at 5:00pm today, February 7, ...

      OIT Computer labs and Help Desk will be open at 5:00pm today, February 7, 2003 due to inclement weather. If you would like to report a computer problem,you can send email to the following email address: helpdesk@umbc.edu or fill out the work-order by clicking on the "Trouble Ticket" link on the above toolbar.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      January 31, 2003

      Sunday, Feb 2 Off Campus Internet Failure

      This morning, Sunday February 2nd, 2003 the main campus border router which connects UMBC to ...

      This morning, Sunday February 2nd, 2003 the main campus border router which connects UMBC to the Internet (i.e. Internet 1 and Internet 2), suffered a severe hardware failure. OIT staff working with Cisco Technical Support diagnosed the problem as being a hardware failure of a component internal to the router. In order to limit inconvenience to the campus OIT worked with the vendor to have the replacement part express shipped to UMBC within 4 hours.

      This failure occurred during a scheduled code upgrade to the router but was not caused by the work being performed. The code upgrade was originally scheduled to occur from 7:00am to 7:30am but due to the unexpected hardware failure downtime was extended until approximately 12:30pm today when a temporary solution was put in place. The replacement parts arrived within 2 hours of our order and UMBC痴 Internet connection was working again by 2:00pm today.

      We apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused. If you have questions or are experiencing problems please contact the OIT help desk at 410-455-3838 or via e-mail at helpdesk@umbc.edu.


      Michael CarlinDirector of Infrastructure and Support

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      January 27, 2003

      Blackboard Server Problem, 1/27

      Mid-Afternoon the Blackboard server went down as a result of patching the Blackboard server ...

      Mid-Afternoon the Blackboard server went down as a result of patching the Blackboard server to protect it against Microsoft SQL attacks such as the "SQL Internet Worm" (see http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/internet/01/27/worm.why/index.html).

      The patch supplied created an instability in the Blackboard server. We have an urgent call into Blackboard and their technical support is working on this. We'll be working on this through the evening to get a solution and restore this critical service.

      If you have any questions, please contact the Help desk at 410-455-3838 or via email at helpdesk@umbc.edu.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      January 21, 2003

      Computer Labs and Help Desk Spring 2003 Hours of Operation

      OIT Computer labs and Help Desk hours of operation for Spring 2003 are (Hours ...

      OIT Computer labs and Help Desk hours of operation for Spring 2003 are (Hours effective January 26, 2003 to February 15,2003. 24 hour service starts February 16):

      • Sunday 12 noon to 12 midnight
      • Monday 8am to 12 midnight
      • Tuesday 8am to 12 midnight
      • Wednesday 8 am to 12 midnight
      • Thursday 8am to 12 midnight
      • Friday 8am to 12 midnight
      • Saturday 8am to 12 midnight

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      January 15, 2003

      myUMBC Login Issue Resolved

      We were having problems with logins to myUMBC. Systems administrators rebooted the server and all ...

      We were having problems with logins to myUMBC. Systems administrators rebooted the server and all logins are now accepted as of 2:35pm 1/15/03. We apologize for any inconvenience. If you continue to have a login problem, please contact the Help Desk at 410-455-3838.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      January 14, 2003

      WebMail Down Sunday, January 19

      On Sunday, January 19th UMBC's WebMail will be inaccessible from 8:00pm to 3:...

      On Sunday, January 19th UMBC's WebMail will be inaccessible from 8:00pm to 3:00am while the system undergoes upgrades to improve performance and service reliability.

      While this work is being performed Webmail can not be used but you canaccess your mail through the other normally available methods (e.g.PINE, Outlook, Netscape etc.). During this upgrade a new server with amuch faster processor and increased memory will be installed. Inaddition we will be upgrading to a newer version of the WebMail software to address issues with the current version. Once the upgrade is complete you will be able to access your e-mail using WebMail as you did before.

      We apologize for any inconvenience that this might cause. If you haveany questions please feel free to contact the OIT Help Desk at410-455-3838 or you can send e-mail to helpdesk@umbc.edu.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      January 13, 2003

      Baltimore Modem Outage Friday, January 17

      The UMBC Baltimore modems (410-719-1094) will be down on Friday January 17, 2003 ...

      The UMBC Baltimore modems (410-719-1094) will be down on Friday January 17, 2003 from 7 am to 7:30 am.During this time, we will be upgrading several of our modem banks tonewer equipment.We apologize for any problems this may cause. If you have any questions or comments, please email telecom@umbc.edu.Thank YouPhysical Networks

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      November 13, 2002

      Winter Training Schedule

      The Winter OIT Computer Training Schedule is now available and includeshands-on workshops in ...

      The Winter OIT Computer Training Schedule is now available and includeshands-on workshops in Managing Your UMBC Account, Understanding YourComputer, Corporate Calendar, Internet Basics, Departmental Web Training, and Blackboard, as well asMicrosoft's PowerPoint. Skills to be covered include creating, editingand using your UMBC account, working with the different parts of acomputer including the CD Writer, installing local printers, schedulingmeetings online, browser basics, using search engines effectively,creating and printing presentation documents. To register for a workshop or for more information check the IT TrainingSchedule Web page at http://www.umbc.edu/training.

      For more information on future directions of OIT training, see the November "Tech Watch" column in Insights Online.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      October 25, 2002

      User Survey

      To help guide a planned redesign of myUMBC--the campus' web portal--...

      To help guide a planned redesign of myUMBC--the campus' web portal--OIT invites you to complete a myUMBC User Survey. It is also available on the myUMBC login page. For background on why myUMBC is changing, see the October "Tech Watch" Column in Insights Online.

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      October 11, 2002

      The First News Event in CHE's Site

      ...

      Hello there, isn't this an interesting piece of news?

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      October 2, 2002

      Eudora and SSL Updates

      Eudora email client is experiencing problems with the UMBC environment. After some investigation, OIT system ...

      Eudora email client is experiencing problems with the UMBC environment. After some investigation, OIT system administrators discovered that it is using an OpenSSL system that has major security bugs. For your protection, OIT has elected not to rollback SSL versions which is a less secure system. At this time, OIT is contacting Eudora to inquire about a patch or a more secure upgrade.Currently the following options are available:* Switch to Netscape Messenger version 7.0 or Outlook Express version 6.0 which supports UMBC's SSL setup (Recommended)* Disable SSL in Eudora. Be advised, this will disable any encryption when you are sending and receiving emailIf you have any questions, please contact the Help Desk at 410-455-3838 or send email to helpdesk@umbc.edu

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      Novell Scheduled Downtime 10/3 7:00pm - 8:00pm

      LAN administrators will be updating the Novell servers on October 3 at 7:00pm and ...

      LAN administrators will be updating the Novell servers on October 3 at 7:00pm and is expected to last until 8:00pm. This affects access to Novell personal and shared drives. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.If you have any questions, please contact the Help desk at 410-455-3838 or email helpdesk@umbc.edu

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

      September 19, 2002

      Mail Server Performance Issues on Wed., September 18th

      On Wednesday, September 18th the UMBC mail servers experienced anincrease in e-mail volume ...

      On Wednesday, September 18th the UMBC mail servers experienced anincrease in e-mail volume eight times greater than is typical for this time of year. The result was that OIT's mail processing abilities were adversely affected. The effect was slow mail performance during the day. Customers may have also seen e-mail messages being received hours after they were sent. Presently our administrators are investigating source of this incident. At this time mail volumes have returned to normal and we are no longer experiencing the problems witnessed yesterday. We apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused.If you have any questions please contact the help desk athelpdesk@umbc.edu or 410-455-3838

      Posted by OIT at 12:00 AM

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