July/August 2023 Update from CIS

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In our May update I outlined some of the staffing challenges we were experiencing in CIS.  Over the summer it got worse and at one point we were down 25%.  But I am happy to say we are on the mend.  We have a new person starting in a couple of weeks, and we have some good applications and leads for two other positions.  Among other things, the launch of this year’s Computer Upgrade Program (CUP) was delayed because of the personnel shortage. We have to send out invitations to participate in this year’s CUP in small batches and have sent the first batch of eleven.  We are on the path to being fully staffed, but please bear with us as we get there.  

My hat is off to the people in CIS who have worked so hard over the summer under these conditions. Please give them a smile when you see them around campus!

HMC Computing Committee

The computing committee is back after a hiatus of several years!  Thanks to Jamie Haddock’s leadership, the committee is all set to meet during the first week of classes and every week until October with a view to providing a report to the Department Chairs on High Performance Computing at HMC.  We have responses from 39 out of 130 faculty to our survey on HPC usage.  The overall response rate is 30% and the response rate by department is below.  Please take a moment to help us out by responding.

HPC Survey Departmental Response Rates

Kuali & Formstack

Many, many thanks to the people across campus who worked to retrieve their Formstack data and to wind down our use of the platform.  We are on track to cancel the contract next week. 

On the Kuali Build front, the team has been focusing on a few key forms and workflows that were needed to support summer research and the start of the new year.  We’ve been working on a “friend access” form for F&M, which will streamline the process of authorizing dorm access for friends.  And, for DSA, some Covid related forms that were also needed for the the start of term.  While doing that, we’ve been identifying data sources that can be used to autopopulate forms.  

But forms are only one aspect of Kuali Build, the really great stuff is in workflows. Once we get through the start of classes, watch out for news of training and office hours for Kuali Build users. 

MoveIT issue

You will no doubt have seen the news about the MOVEit breach, which affected many companies and institutions around the world.  We do not use MOVEit at HMC.  However, both the National Student Clearing House and TIAA were affected.  The National Student Clearing house informed us that no private data about HMC individuals was accessed.  The people that were affected by the TIAA breach were notified directly by TIAA, which was in contact with TCCS. 

This was, of course, one more reminder that the cybersecurity landscape has become very complicated and that we all need to keep upping our security game. 

Wifi and Audiovisual systems

A dear colleague of ours often says “Frustration = Expectations – Reality”    There are two areas where we want to fill in some information about reality and help set your expectations as we head into the Fall: wifi and AV systems in Shanahan. 

Along with our partners at TCCS, we have made significant changes to the wifi infrastructure on campus and evidence so far indicates that they have produced improvements.  

  • The bug we talked about in the March and April updates from CIS has been removed from the picture
  • As load on the systems has steadily risen since the beginning of the month, things have been stable
  • Sporadically, you may experience a short delay (1-2 mins even) in getting a connection if you move from another building into Shanahan, Jacobs/Keck, Olin, or LAC (these buildings have newer access points and controllers).
  • Once you have connected, wifi should be stable and reliable inside all buildings
  • You will be disappointed if you expect wifi outdoors: wifi is not like cell service and, generally speaking, we do not provide outdoor wifi

“Wifi issues” can sometimes have more to do with software on the client computer, or on other extraneous factors; please come visit or call us if you experience issues. You can also use our form to report a problem.

Audiovisual systems – We are down to the wire on AV installations this week, with some last minute installations taking place as I write (late arrival of equipment and some vendor issues).  

  • Projectors have been replaced throughout Shanahan  
  • Ceiling boxes, those sources of destabilizing heat, have also been replaced
  • Other equipment has also been replaced such as AV network switches, cables and matrices (these reduce issues when streaming protected content, often experienced by Apple users)
  • Lecture capture recorders have been replaced too.
  • The Crestron Control systems are next on the list

Overall, we anticipate a much better AV experience for everyone in Shanahan.  

A reminder: you can view the status of any given room on our live classroom AV status page.  We have people checking the classrooms at least daily, often twice a day and they update this status page with any issues encountered.  If you encounter an issue and it is not on that list, report it please!  We will have staff on all floors of Shanahan during the first week of classes, so reporting an issue could be as simple as sticking your head out the door. 

Both wifi and AV are things that should just work without you noticing them much – that’s the E.  The infrastructure for R is outlined above. The proof will be in the pudding: lots of people will arrive with lots of wifi devices and classes will start on Monday.  We’ll be happy if we don’t hear anything from you, which we’ll take as an indication that F is close to 0.