February 2024 update from CIS

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Spring Cleaning

Early in 2023 we let you know that Google has changed their approach to storage. So too have Microsoft, Box, DropBox and others.  The days of unlimited storage are over.  And that means we need to change some of our habits. 

In the admin page for our HMC Google Workspace account (g.hmc.edu) there is a banner in red letters that looks like this:

250.6 TB of shared 147.69 TB (169%) used

The 147.69 TB is our total pooled storage that comes with our paid licenses. 

We have announced to alumni that we will no longer  be providing the Google Storage Service and, from now on, alumni will have one year after they graduate to obtain a personal storage account and move their data to it.   On March 1st we will turn alerts for alumni when they log in to Drive.  If an alum has shared a document with you and you want to continue to have access, please either ask them to transfer ownership or make a copy of the document.

Discontinuing the storage service for alumni will reduce the total amount, but we will still need to do some spring cleaning before we decide whether we need to purchase more storage or find another solution.    

So, go ahead and delete those old folders that you thought you might need but have never touched since.   Remember, the College Records Retention Policy can be your guide as well (TL;DR very few records have to be kept for more than two years).   You can see how much storage you are using by visiting https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/quota (log in with your g.hmc.edu account if asked).

If you are the kind of person who needs a social boost to get working on something as traumatic as spring cleaning, watch for announcements about some storage squashing parties we will hold in the near future.  And of course you don’t have to wait for us.   Gather with some of your colleagues and do that spring cleaning together! 

It’s worth repeating that the vast majority of users won’t need to take any action because their storage use is low.  And that we will continue to prioritize academic needs.


The Anthology Student (student information system)  project continues apace.   As you may recall, the target is for us to be doing registration for the Fall 2025 semester in Anthology.  That means that we will be using Anthology for Fall pre-registration in just over one year from now.   Representatives from the Anthology company have been working closely with the staff at TCCS and at the five undergraduate colleges to bang out the details of everything from how payments will be processed by Student Accounts to how classes will be listed and from  book lists to FERPA management.  From our IT perspective, we are having intense conversations about integrations between systems.  Over time, the CX system became a sort of data hub and Anthology is not intended or designed to function in that way, so some new approaches are needed.  The HMC lead on this project is Registrar Mark Ashley and he is always willing to answer questions.  In a related development, we are working this semester with Karen Romero Sandoval in DSA Residential Life to implement a new housing system called StarRez, which will replace Symplicity Residence.


The transition from Sakai to Canvas is also moving right along.  Recent discussions with the other Claremont Colleges produced an interesting projection: Across the seven institutions in the consortium, between 0 and no more than ~180  faculty will be using Sakai in Fall 2024 (next semester).  Those numbers indicate impressive progress.  For Mudd, the number is fewer than five.   As I have pointed out before, once colleges started moving to Canvas and especially once the undergraduate colleges did so, the learning environment for students has been less than harmonious.  Viewed through that lens, the small number of faculty still using Sakai is very good news indeed. 

Our ARCS team, led by Elizabeth Hodas, has turned its attention to Sakai project sites this semester and they are reporting good progress on that too.   They of course stand ready to help with anything you might need to help you complete your transition over to Canvas.   I am very grateful for the work they do, and we all salute the faculty who are taking the time to move their courses and learn a new system. 


In previous updates I’ve mentioned that the Computing Committee was reinstated by FEC and asked to investigate the state of High Performance Computing (HPC) at HMC.  Under Jamie Haddock’s intrepid leadership, the committee produced a thirteen page report for DCC and FEC.  The report had eighteen recommendations in six categories:

  • Education
  • Budget information
  • Rethink the way we organize for HPC and research
  • Hiring
  • Acquiring resources/streamlining faculty access to new/existing resources
  • Transparency around HPC decision making and plans at HMC and consortium

The report was presented to DCC in late January and DCC asked the Computing Committee to continue its work.  

If you have time and interest, read the full HPC @ HMC report.  On March 21, the Computing Committee will be holding an in-person Bite of Learning, sponsored by the Dean of Faculty.  Watch your inboxes for more on that.


Just when you thought I wasn’t going to say anything about cybersecurity… 

I am working on a presentation that will hopefully give people more context about why cybersecurity is receiving so much attention in the last five years. 

In the meantime I thought I’d share a personal story that is something of a cautionary tale.  A few days into winter break, not long after I woke one morning, an SMS alerted me that my $1,000 had landed in my personal sales account in PayPal.  I don’t have such an account, so I was immediately curious.  When I opened my personal email inbox, I discovered that “I” had subscribed to over 300 different websites in the space of four hours while I was asleep! They included what looked like news sites in languages I don’t speak and all sorts of other hobby sites for hobbies I don’t pursue. 

I soon learned that this is called a “subscription bomb”:  the slew of subscription notices is intended to hide other nefarious activity.  In my case, the nefarious activity was a new storefront that was created on Shopify with my email address. The store in question sold, wait for it … “spear fishing posters”.   And apparently someone had paid $1,000 for one of these posters!  The PayPal “order” included the name and address of the person who ordered the poster and a little investigating revealed that it was a 79 year old woman in another state.  I called her local police to ask them to alert her.  

No one was hurt in this incident, no accounts were compromised and no money actually changed hands (PayPal returned the money to the lady)..  But here are some thoughts:

  • Am I glad that I’ve developed the habit of setting up MFA if at all possible on accounts, even ones that seem innocuous! I used to be annoyed by it, but the annoyance has faded over time as the habit became stronger.
  • Similarly, I’m happy to have developed the habit of using a password manager (CIS provides LastPass to you and your family at no cost)
  • The whole thing was likely automated by some script running through long lists of email addresses. Scripts like that lower the effort needed to pull off a stunt like this one.  In my case it failed, but at no great cost to the perpetrators, who may well have succeeded in with other addresses.
  • For accounts that involve money, I think it is a good idea to set up SMS alerts about transactions if available.
  • I can never recoup the hours I spent getting to the bottom of the issue, but they were certainly fewer than what I’d have spent had the perpetrators been successful.
  • Spearfishing posters…imagine that.

On behalf of everyone in CIS, I send warm good wishes for a successful Spring semester!