Fall 2023 update from CIS

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Fall update from CIS

At this time of gratitude, I wanted to open by offering our immense gratitude to the HMC community.   

First, you were so amazingly patient as we worked our way through the long list of Computer Upgrade Program (CUP) orders this year.  We were without an administrative assistant for a couple of months and that had a big effect on our ability to get orders processed.  This complicated an already difficult season due to manufacturer delays and changes. 

Second, you were kind and supportive during the transition away from SMS text messages on Duo.  We know that cybersecurity often trades off against convenience and the change on October 10th was a change that brought its share of inconvenience.  

A last piece of gratitude goes out to the people who take the time to complete our service surveys when we “close a ticket”.  We read them all and try to pull lessons from the “excellent” ones as well as the “poor” ones.  It’s feedback that we take as a gift from you every time.

New faces at CIS

I am happy to introduce you to Raf Davis, our newest Technical Analyst in User Services.  Raf is a Pomona College alum so he knows Claremont well and he comes to us with several years of IT experience in the private sector.  We are delighted to have Raf join the User Support Services team; he has hit the ground running and made a real difference.  Make sure you say “hi” when you see Raf around campus.

Our second new face, Elisabeth Villalta is new to CIS but not new to HMC. She has worked as a Program Assistant in Upward Bound for the past year.  Before that, she worked in the Minesterio de Educación in Córdoba, Spain. She earned a Master’s degree of Public Policy Administration from California State University, Long Beach and completed her undergraduate degree at UCSD. She created this poster to share about some of her interests  Elisabeth Villalta – Intro.pdf.  Elisabeth joined us just in time to get the CUP orders all collated and arranged. We’re delighted to have her on the team too!

AV in Shanahan

What would an update from CIS be if we didn’t have something to say about AV systems?   At the September BOT meeting, I reported that, as of July 1, 2023, the Audio Visual Fund  is now fully funded, which allows us to plan out maintenance over the years, and lease equipment that we need.  I also told the Trustees that  43 projectors, 25 ceiling boxes  and the lecture capture systems had been replaced.  25 new network switches dedicated to AV will be installed over winter break.  There are now only one or two projectors left that are the older “bulb” projectors; the rest are all laser. The next big piece is replacement of the Crestron Controls, which is the part that coordinates the AV systems.  We hope to see that project approved by the board in January.

Research and High Performance Computing

Another note of gratitude!  I want to thank Jamie Haddock, Calden Wloka, Weiqing Gu and Stephen Xu ‘27 for their service on the Computing Committee.  We’ve been learning a lot about the many HPC options that are available to us as we prepare a set of recommendations for the Department Chairs Committee (DCC).   And we’ve been learning about the kinds of work that are faculty want to do using HPC.  A sample of things we’ve learned:

  • An HPC cluster funded by an NSF grant (# NSF # 2232917) and dedicated to the smaller colleges in the Los Nettos network will start coming online around March. People at HMC will have access to it using their HMC credentials.  This particular cluster will have 2 petabytes of longer term storage provided by Caltech, which will connect to the system at USC using the science DMZ that was funded earlier by NSF.
  • Another NSF grant application, with faculty from CMC and HMC as co-PIs, was submitted in November.  This one would fund a cluster to be housed at the Kravis data center on the CMC campus.
  • Some of our Mudd professors  currently have trial access to a third HPC cluster at Pomona.
  • We also learned about the really nice interface for the NSF ACCESS program (it stands for “Advanced Cyberinfrastructure Coordination Ecosystem: Services & Support.”).  ACCESS provides  different kinds of free supercomputing allocations to researchers, educators and students.  If you’re unsure about what kind of resource you might need, play around with their Access Resource Advisor and you can learn more here.  Aashita Kesarwani in CIS is our “campus champion” ; she knows about ACCESS and would be happy to help.

The Computing Committee is aiming to make its recommendations to DCC by the end of the semester.

Tips and Tricks

A common type of email conversation at Mudd (and in Claremont generally) involves back and forth about possible times to meet.  “I can do these times, do any of them suit?”.  “No, but I have these times” and so on.  This means jumping back and forth between calendar and email and takes way more time than it deserves.   If you are using Google’s web email client, you can skip all that and just propose meeting times directly.  Hit compose and then look for the little calendar icon on the bottom right of your draft message. Click on it to open your calendar in a sidebar, select options and google will add a set of clickable calendar dates and times for your meeting.  See step by step instructions on how to offer meeting times directly from gmail

The good news is that none of us will be proposing work meetings over the next three days so it only remains for me to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving from everyone here at CIS.