As you have probably already noticed, we have recently been sending out Windows updates via the network to all faculty, administration and staff PCs. The current set of updates takes a short time but does require a reboot. We'd like to remind you that it's good security practice to shut down your PC at night, because (1) a shutdown PC cannot be compromised, (2) updates are delivered when you login the next day. More security advice for on-campus PCs is here and there.
We post our maintenance schedule here. The monsoon of October 8 thru 14 made for unstable electrical power hereabouts, so we postponed the October 12-13 process. Barring earthquakes, more floods or other disasters we'll try again on November 9.
Historically we have sent out a registration "wrap" containing class schedules, registration forms and various other information. We are now moving much of the information online, sending students an email pointing to a "Registration Central" page and including advisor information and credit status. The email will, for the time being, be replicated in snail-mail, but we hope eventually to evolve to an all-digital system.
Around the end of Summer we installed more powerful switches in several areas of both Oakdale and Brookhaven campuses, and moved the existing switches to the Residences to replace outdated equipment. The result is a significant throughput improvement in both networks. We're still working out a few kinks on the Administrative network, especially between Racanelli Center and Fortunoff Hall, but things seem to have settled down now.
Something for Nothing
We managed to convince our Internet Service Provider to give us a 10Mbit circuit in place of a 1.5Mbit circuit without increasing the price. (Kudos to Das, whose skills transcend the mere technical.) The new circuit now connects the Brookhaven residence network to Oakdale, from where it connects to the outside. As a result, students' bandwidth more closely resembles the broadband speeds they get at home.
A memo was distributed on September 1 announcing Dowling's email policy: all correspondence containing personal or academic information MUST be directed towards people's "@dowling.edu" email address. A copy of the memo is here.
Some people are concerned that Dowling's email system is (1) unreliable, (2) not private. Concerning reliability: we invest a great deal of energy toward assuring that the system is stable, so if you are experiencing otherwise we would be grateful to hear from you, so we can fix whatever problems you might be experiencing. Concerning privacy: communication between our mail system and your PC (whether at home or at work) is encrypted so that we cannot intercept it to read it; stored email cannot be viewed except if we change your password, which you would certainly notice. We'd be happy to discuss your concerns -- please call Chris at x3076, or our email administrator, Patrick Petersen, at x3460.
GroupWise Upgrade Coming
We're planning to upgrade GroupWise to version 7 (currently at v6.5) after its initial shakedown period. We don't want to be the first guys on the block. GW7 sports a neater, more "Outlook-like" appearance in its Windows version, and the Web version carries more functions than earlier versions that previously were only accessible in the Windows version. We can install the feature-rich Windows version on any PC on campus, and we will provide a copy for you to install on your home PC as well -- call x3445 for further information.
Good Security Practices
Early in September we distributed an email reminder about security on Dowling networks and PCs. Lots of good tips here. The most important: keep your mission-critical files on your J: drive so they'll be backed up every night, not on your local hard disk, and CERTAINLY not on floppies.
Banner Upgrade: Presidents Day
Once again we have avoided being the first kids on the block with the new toys, but Banner 7 has been available for more than a year now, so it's time to upgrade. The new version's web interface will be quite different in appearance, but the plan is to do the upgrade during a relative "lull" in activity (if there IS such a thing), provide training, and allow several weeks of fumbling before registration begins in earnest during April. Banner 7 will be available for testing during the next few weeks, and documentation will be made accessible.
The server which houses Blackboard has received a significant boost in storage as well as a modest speed improvement. While not unlimited, space is less an issue than previously. We continue to encourage everyone to utilize Blackboard, not only for course support and communication but for special projects that require collaboration among numerous people. Training and advice: Tim Kelly, x3157.
Follow the Money
In the Nixon era Deep Throat's advice was to "follow the money." There is an interesting article on spyware at PCWorld. Spyware is big business -- the article has a number of links to related info that are worth checking. This is also an opportunity to recommend that you visit our own PC security page.
For years that's the excuse I've been giving for why computers misbehave. And all of you have been snickering at our advice to reboot. Well, now we have scientific support for these notions: read the articles here and here.
The Dowling Library announces the availability of its first episode of Omnibus, an online compilation of interviews, updates and reports, which can be accessed here. You can listen right from your computer or download the file to your iPod or other MP3 player. The first show features a discussion on computer security, a talk with the student who founded the Humanitarian Club, and a presention of the history of the Idle Hour mansion through readings from the Library's Special Collections.
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