The world is going mobile, and the University of Saskatchewan is going mobile with it. In fact, a quick survey of the country’s leading research universities suggests the U of S may be leading the pack when it comes to the mobile accessibility of its homepage, course catalogue, library, events calendar, and more.
Part of the reason for that success is a small team in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) that is encouraged to respond to changing demands.
“We’re paying attention to the emerging needs of students,” said Todd Trann, manager of ICT web applications and leader of the team behind the university’s improved mobile accessibility. The team monitors usage carefully and actively solicits feedback through such features as a prominent and easy to use feedback tool in the iUsask smartphone application.
As of April, the main U of S homepage at www.usask.ca, as well as most of the first level pages accessible from there, are now fully functional on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. More U of S sites will soon follow; a new mobile website template that ICT makes available free to any U of S department makes the transition much easier. The PAWS portal will also be much more mobile friendly by July, with all channel content expected to be mobile accessible by 2014.
But mobile websites are not the only way to go mobile. Smartphone applications or “apps” are another option but one that involves a lot less “pinch and zoom, pinch and zoom” when it comes to finding content online.
Use of the iUsask smartphone app, which was the first of its kind at a Canadian university, has exploded; at the start of the term in January 2013, the iUsask app was being opened some 14,500 times a day, almost double September’s usage. Trann expects that upward trend to continue.
So, should the university focus its mobile efforts on websites or apps? Trann said that is not his team’s call to make but he wants to see better choices for users. “Right now, we’re trying to offer people the best possible experience through both mobile-accessible pages and apps,” Trann said, adding that the group now needs to analyze where people go online.
It all comes down to asking, “how do people want to interact with the university?” But the answer to that question can change quickly, especially since the field of mobile technology is still so new.
“Mobile is like the web was ten years ago,” said Kyla Hoffman, who leads the work on the university’s Web Content Management System. “It’s the wild west.”
Originally posted in On Campus News on April 26, 2013.
On Campus News - April 26, 2013 PDF
April 11, 2013
New ICT Team to Support Research
Research Computing is an all new team working to coordinate Information and Communications Technology (ICT) services to better support U of S researchers.
The newly launched unit comprises experienced ICT staff already well known to many researchers: Jason Hlady; Ian MacPhedran; team leader Keith Jeffrey; and Brian Reilkoff.
The Research Computing team will assess the ICT needs of researchers, assist them in using existing services, explore new tools that may be of help to them, and inform researchers of service enhancements. The team will draw on the staff and services of the entire ICT portfolio in its mission to support research success.
ICT already provides many services important to researchers including access to high speed research networks, email, online survey tools, videoconferencing, etc., as well as virtual computer servers, high performance computing facilities, computer system administration services, assistance with grant applications, and more.
In the months ahead, watch for:
• new high performance computing capacity available to researchers
• savings in time and grant money through use of virtual servers
• services to help plan and manage research data — to keep it safe and secure while conducting research, as well as archived and findable after the research is done.
The launch of Research Computing bolsters the university’s position as a member of the U15, the country’s 15 leading research-intensive universities. Strengthening the university’s overall research culture through this initiative also supports the university’s priorities as stated in the Third Integrated Plan, particularly that of fostering knowledge creation.
Be sure to follow the ICT Research Computing blog where the team will continue to share news about everything they’re doing and planning to do to better support U of S researchers and strengthen their success.
Contact the ICT Research Computing team at email@example.com
Originally posted in the ICT Research Computing blog on April 11, 2013.
March 21, 2013
New blog on ICT resources for researchers
There’s new support for researchers at the U of S. A new blog featuring news and information about how research can be assisted by computing is now live at http://words.usask.ca/researchcomputing/
Written primarily by Research Computing support staff (including Jason Hlady, pictured above) in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), the new ICT Research Computing blog will keep up a steady stream of helpful information about new and evolving computing resources.
For example, the inaugural post announces ICT’s new computing cluster for research and instruction. It explains how the new cluster -- called Zeno -- uses graphics processors (GPUs) to accelerate computing and why that makes it such a powerful new research tool.
Other articles will discuss software that could open up research and scholarly work in exciting ways – such as using programs like MATLAB and Mathematica to analyze images or to plot unusual math functions.
The blog will also present helpful methodologies (such as for the optimum use of a geographic information system (GIS)), tips on visualization techniques, and more.
Written for a diverse audience, this blog aims to deliver valuable information for all those engaged in research, scholarly and artistic work at the U of S.
Bookmark ICT’s new Research Computing blog today: http://words.usask.ca/researchcomputing/
March 14, 2013
New PAWS Tab for Employees and New Finance Content
There’s a new tab in PAWS, visible to all faculty and staff, called the Employee tab. If you work at the U of S, you’ll recognize its content from its former location on the Admin Services tab. We’ve moved four channels to the new tab to better reflect the two types of content in PAWS aimed at Employees. The new Employee tab contains content relating to you as an employee. Looking for your pay information? Assistance from the EAP? Access to your pension plan? The Employee tab is where you’ll find it.
The Admin Services tab is now dedicated to content relating to your work, and includes two new channels for employees who use UniFi, called UniFi Self-Service and UniFi Plus. If you need access to the Academic Admin Services channel, Financial Services, Wireless Guest Access, Workflow Worklist or other job-related resources and systems, the Admin Services tab is still where to go.
Originally posted in What's New in PAWS on March 11, 2013.
February 28, 2013
Ten-Digit Dialing Changes Call-Forwarding, Speed Dialing
Because of the move to 10-digit dialing in Saskatchewan, all 10 digits of a telephone number (area code plus 7-digit phone number) must now be used whenever forwarding a university phone to an external number.
If a line is forwarded to an external number without using the full 10 digits, callers will hear a SaskTel recording telling them the area code must be used. This recording has led to some confusion, particularly when a caller on a university line receives such a recording after dialing a 4-digit internal phone number, unaware that it has been forwarded to an external line.
Stored speed dials on desk phones and cell phones, as well as programmed numbers in fax machines, should also be updated as soon as possible to ensure they include all 10 digits.
From now until May 11, calls made using 7-digit dialing will still be connected following the SaskTel reminder recording. As of May 11, however, 7-digit dialing will cease to work altogether.
For further information about 10-digit dialing in Saskatchewan, please visit: http://www.sasktel.com/dial10
February 07, 2013
TechQual+ Assessment Survey Feb 7-28, 2013
The TechQual+ survey is being run February 7-28, 2013. All faculty and staff, as well as a random sample of students, have been invited to participate in the TechQual+ survey.
The TechQual+ survey is used to measure your satisfaction with U of S IT services and to help guide the development of service improvement initiatives. Quality is assessed by measuring your satisfaction with network connectivity and access, technology and collaboration services, support and training, and the extent to which our services meet your needs.
If you received an invitation, providing your feedback and input by completing the web-based survey will help improve ICT services at the U of S.
Learn more about the U of S TechQual+ Assessment, including the 2011 TechQual+ report.
February 01, 2013
ICT's Year in Review
When you’re travelling down a highway, it only makes sense to glance in the rear view mirror every now and then.
For one thing, it can show you how far you’ve come. And, in 2012, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) at the University of Saskatchewan went a long, long way toward meeting important institutional goals and supporting the university community at every turn with new and evolving technologies and an increasingly robust and reliable digital infrastructure.
Here now is a look back at some highlights of a remarkably busy and productive 12 months.
A new organizational structure…
First of all, last year saw the elimination of the previous Information Technology Services (ITS) division and the launch of an all new Information and Communications Technology (ICT) organizational structure. The newly reorganized ICT portfolio positions us better than ever to improve ICT services overall and to streamline the delivery of those services to all members of the university community.
With so much to be proud of…
Ahead of schedule and under budget. When it comes to project delivery, it just doesn’t get better than that -- especially when the project delivered is crucial for the university’s ability to remain competitive. That’s the story of the Campus Wireless project. In early 2012, the project came in not only under budget, but five full months ahead of schedule. ICT installed approximately 1,000 new wireless access points in some 60 different buildings, bringing the university to a total of nearly 2,000 wireless access points overall. That means ubiquitous wireless coverage is now available in classrooms and libraries, student study spaces and meeting rooms, offices areas, research labs and public areas in more than 40 major campus buildings, with partial wireless coverage available in more than 20 other buildings, including several off-campus locations (such as the Station 20 West Community Centre).
Replacing the university’s telephone system was another of ICT’s major projects in 2012 and it continued on schedule and on budget. This multi-year endeavour is replacing the soon-to-be-obsolete analog telephone system with the new “voice over internet protocol” or VoIP standard. Going VoIP not only means cost-savings for the university but provides much improved services such as the ability to receive voicemail via email. Even better, to avoid the need for new-one time funding when the old technology is obsolete once and for all, this project is being entirely funded by the savings from moving to VoIP technology itself, along with the regular telephone operating budget over a six year period. The telephone system replacement project is expected to be complete in 2015.
Ongoing service improvements: business better than usual…
Upgrading to the Exchange email system in 2012 allowed for calendars to be consolidated across the university within the email program. 2012 also saw ICT make substantial improvements to our teaching and learning services. Our learning management system, U of S Course Tools (Blackboard), was upgraded to provide a simplified tools menu, the ability to view courses by term, easier course-to-course navigation, and new grading and grade history features. We also added management tools for our Lecture Capture system (which uses Matterhorn, an open-source technology developed jointly by a handful of top universities including the U of S) and Rich Media streaming right inside the U of S Course Tools menu, making it easier than ever to add lectures, video and audio material (podcasts) to course content. In addition, we enhanced our videoconferencing services which are now used to reach sites in such locations as Île-à-la-Crosse, La Ronge, Prince Albert and Regina -- an important part of our support for the university’s push for distributed learning.
The high quality of our ICT services -- and our ongoing improvements to them -- are also a big reason the U of S recently earned an ‘A’ for IT on the Globe and Mail’s report card!
Greater support for research…
In 2012, ICT also introduced a major addition to High Performance Computing in the form of a new supercomputer. Called Zeno, the high performance computer cluster offers approximately 100 computing cores so its power is considerable and a major new resource for university researchers.
The WestGrid inter-provincial consortium, part of Compute Canada's national program, is another major area of activity for ICT. As of last April, more than 40 WestGrid/Compute Canada research projects were in operation at the University of Saskatchewan, with approximately 110 researchers, including graduate students, research associates and postdoctoral fellows, participating.
ICT’s continued support of research activity in 2012 also included the systematic gathering of requirements for UnivRS, the forthcoming new research administration system. The new system will provide improved reporting on research activity, support regulatory requirements for ethics and clinical trials, and automate formerly paper-based processes.
Better institutional information…
We also went a long way last year toward improving our university’s overall strategy for gathering and disseminating institutional information. The launch of the University Data Warehouse (UDW) allows for the consolidation and integration of institutional data while the new uView tool allows for self-service access to meaningful information through the UDW. By providing better information about the university’s achievement record, enrolment, student analytics, research metrics and more, these initiatives will enable better decision making and planning for the future.
Improved security and planning for the future…
Last year’s launch of the all new ICT Security unit, headed by director Lawrence Dobranski, was a major new step toward protecting our data, our systems and our university community from those who might wish to do them harm. The new unit is already improving our overall security practices and putting more rigour into our processes for security incident responses. Its further mandates include developing new security policies for the university and educating the university community about individual responsibilities when it comes to security (See: “University community has role in IT security”)
In addition, we formed a new ICT Planning and Priorities Committee to bring together ICT decision makers from throughout the university. The new committee provides advice on ICT priorities to the Chief Information Officer (CIO) and to the Provost’s Committee on Integrated Planning (PCIP), looks for possible gaps in ICT services and will be an ongoing source of ideas for future improvements.
Building the Digital University…
In 2012, ICT also hosted two major national gatherings. The first was CANHEIT, Canada’s premier conference for IT professionals working in higher education. Run by a veritable army of local volunteers, the highly successful four-day event drew some 360 participants from across the country and featured an enormous array of informative and entertaining presentations as well as keynote addresses by renowned guest speakers George Siemens and Lev Gonick. The theme of CANHEIT 2012 was “Building the Digital University,” inviting participants to explore global trends in higher education and to examine how advances in information and communications technologies are contributing to the reorganization of education and the transformation of the university itself.
While promoting a national vision…
ICT also played host to a pivotal meeting of 75 key stakeholders from industry, government and educational institutions from across the country. Their mission? To devise a comprehensive strategy for achieving a Canada-wide digital infrastructure for research.
What came out of that first national summit was agreement about the need for a truly national vision and a coordinated approach -- and that is now the focus of the ongoing work of the all new Leadership Council for DI Implementation. The U of S is proud to be a key player in these discussions and looks forward to achieving a national vision for a strong and sustainable digital infrastructure which could greatly support the university’s own strategic objectives throughout the coming years.
Bright light on the horizon…
These and ICT’s many other achievements in 2012 made for an outstanding year -- and those accomplishments will serve us well as we move forward into the year ahead.
There is no question that, given the university’s current financial situation, there will be change on the horizon -- but that horizon holds bright prospects for ICT given the many essential services and resources we offer the university and our proven ability to deliver these cleverly, efficiently and cost-effectively.
ICT is well positioned to ensure the university’s continued success as a proud member of the U15, Canada’s top 15 research universities, and we will continue to work to support its larger goal of becoming one of the most distinguished universities in Canada and the world.
December 06, 2012
U of S Supercomputers, Student Takes Math to Heart
The following article appeared in the StarPhoenix on December 3, 2012:
Student Takes Math to Heart
By Thomas Onion
As a child growing up in Iran, math problems really got Saeed Torabi's heart pumping. As a PhD student, he is using his love of math to help build a computer simulation of a beating heart.
U of S PhD Student Saeed Torabi
Simulated hearts exist already, but Torabi's work at the University of Saskatchewan aims to make them lifelike enough to have a practical use in labs and hospitals.
"Medical researchers could use these really fast simulations to design drugs or determine optimal placement of pacemakers," said Torabi's supervisor, U of S computer science professor Raymond Spiteri.
"Doctors and other health practitioners could also be trained on virtual hearts, or see how the effects of procedures unfold in front of their eyes."
Using supercomputers on campus, Torabi solves complex equations that are mathematical models of a heart. Electrical currents make our hearts contract and push blood through our bodies. He uses equations to simulate these currents and finds the most efficient way to model a pulsing human heart.
By solving these equations, Torabi determines the voltage at every point of the heart, at any time during a heartbeat.
Equations that model the heart already exist, but Torabi analyzes them to explain why one method of solving might be faster or more accurate.
So far his research on single cell models of the heart has led to new methods of solving equations that are up to 270 times faster than existing methods. Torabi is now working on more complex equations that model the whole heart. Using 2-D models, he is achieving results that are three times faster than the common methods. He is now working on 3-D models.
"Our final goal is to simulate a heartbeat, in a heartbeat's time," Torabi said.
Once a simulation this advanced is completed, doctors will be able to turn on their computers and open up a lifelike virtual heart, beating and ready for their tests.
With today's technology, the calculations are so complex that supercomputers are needed. Torabi said the early-stage work can be frustrating.
"Our biggest calculations can take two months," he said, adding it can take weeks to know whether the computations will work out.
The simulation could make a major difference in people's lives. Ischemic heart disease - a disease characterized by a reduced blood supply to the heart - is the leading cause of death worldwide. In 2008, it killed more than seven million people, 15 per cent of all deaths globally.
The project's potential to improve the quality of virtual simulations is being recognized. Torabi's work is supported through grants received by Spiteri's lab from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the research organization MITACS.
Spiteri's team is collaborating with the University of Oxford's Cancer, Heart, and Soft Tissue Environment (CHASTE) group. CHASTE is its biological simulation package, which includes models for organs like the heart.
When the U of S team finds faster ways to simulate the heart, it writes computer code or "patches," which are used to improve CHASTE.
"The primary goal of our project is to have our methods be part of the software package that would be the first in the world to reach real-time simulation," Spiteri said.
Torabi stresses that math is everywhere, from the structure of buildings to the pulses through our veins. He is happy to use math in a project that could help people.
"I would be very happy to see mathematics save human lives. Also, it would help show that mathematics is a practical and useful knowledge," he said.
Thomas Onion is a graduate student intern in the U of S Office of Research Communications.
© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix
November 24, 2012
Cisco Funds Research Chairs
Networking company Cisco Canada is providing the U of S with $2-million over 10 years to establish the Cisco Research Chair in Mining Solutions.
The chair, housed in the College of Engineering, will promote, support and lead research, development and innovation through industry-linked projects within Canada’s mining sector. The chair’s research could be useful in day-to-day mining operations for communication in mines or in emergency situations when the use of sensors on human workers could track their health and location within the mines.
Cisco also committed $2 million over 10 years to creating a chair in e-governance to look at ways for governments to more effectively use the newest technologies. This chair will be located at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Regina.
“We are thrilled with this investment from Cisco,” said Ilene Busch-Vishniac, U of S president, at the funding announcement Nov.20 in Regina. “As one of the leading research-intensive universities in Canada, we are continually looking to undertake new research opportunities. The work of these chair holders will undoubtedly produce positive effects not only for our universities, but also for our province.
November 06, 2012
University community has role in IT security
IT security is increasingly a community responsibility. For example, if you fall prey to a phishing attack email, it could mean your computer or your university account is compromised and used to launch attacks on others. And, with billions of devices connected to the Internet at any given time, problems can multiply rapidly -- with far-reaching consequences.
In this ever-shifting online landscape, navigating risk has never been more important. For that reason, enhancing security is one of the top priorities for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) at the University of Saskatchewan.
Our new Director of ICT Security, Lawrence Dobranski, is responsible for assessing the current environment, examining our approaches to ICT security, and developing strategies to ensure that our university systems are properly protected. He is also determined to help raise awareness that, when it comes to information and communications technology, security is everyone's responsibility.
Read OCN's article about Lawrence Dobranski and IT security at the University of Saskatchewan here: University community has role in IT security
Lawrence Dobranski, Director of ICT Security
For more information, please visit: ICT Security
October 17, 2012
Technology Week 2012: Oct. 29 – Nov. 2
Tech Week is on its way!
The University of Saskatchewan's 8th annual showcase of innovation and celebration of cyber culture will run from October 29th to November 2nd.
This year's keynote speaker is Michael Geist -- the internationally syndicated columnist, blogger, and holder of the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-Commerce Law.
Join us for his talk: "When Internet Met Copyright: The Story of the Canadian Copyfight." Learn what this impassioned fight has been all about -- and how it affects you!
(Friday, Nov. 2nd, 10:30 a.m. in Room 46, Edwards School of Business)
We also invite you to attend any or all of the free, thought-provoking and highly informative sessions that will be taking place throughout Tech Week. They range from sessions on how to keep your virtual self safe to a Q&A session with the university's Chief Information Officer, Rick Bunt, and our new ICT directors so you're up to speed on everything that's happening on the information and communications technology front here at the U of S.
We’ll be running free laptop and mobile clinics throughout campus all week. We also invite you to step back in time and explore one of our many Computer Museum displays which will be scattered around the university.
A detailed schedule of events will soon be available at our Tech Week website:
Please check it out -- and be sure to mark Tech Week in your calendar now!
September 25, 2012
ICT Team Making Headlines
Our ICT team has been busy making headlines in the most recent editions of On Campus News (OCN).
First it was Janis Shirriff and her golden triumph at the 14th Federation Internationale de Natation (FINA) Masters World Swim Championships in Riccione, Italy this summer. An article about Janis was featured in OCN's first print edition of the new academic year. If you missed it, be sure to read the story online at: "Golden summer for masters swimmer"
In that same Aug. 31st edition of OCN, the "Around the Bowl" column also named our six new ICT Directors: Monisha Shukla, ICT Applications; Glenn Hollinger, ICT Client Services; Troy Harkot, Information Strategy and Analytics; Ed Pokraka, ICT Planning and Governance; Chad Coller, ICT Platform Services; and Lawrence Dobranski, ICT Security.
Then it was Jason Hlady. In the Sept. 14th edition of OCN, he helped the whole university community take a "Sneak Peak" at our High Performance Computing Research Facility (HPCRF). You can also take a "sneak peak" of the facility online. Jason's video tour of the HPCRF can be viewed in the On Campus Now news digest: Video sneak peak of the high performance computing research facility.
Finally, look for Mark Horseman in "Around the Bowl" in this Friday's edition of OCN. Mark is a Ward 10 candidate in the upcoming civic election in Saskatoon. By day, Mark is a Data Administration Analyst with ICT's Information Strategy and Analytics unit. The civic election takes place on Wed. Oct. 24th - be sure to get out and vote.
To download PDF copies of On Campus News: http://news.usask.ca/category/pdfissues/
September 22, 2012
Sneak Peek: High Performance Computing Research Facility
On Campus News (OCN) recently featured a "sneak peek" of our High Performance Computing (HPC) Research Facility.
Take the video tour with HPC analyst and coordinator Jason Hlady here in the digital edition of: On Campus Now.
The video is also available on YouTube at: OCN Sneak Peek - High Performance Computing Research Facility
View the Sept. 14th "sneak peak" as it was featured in the print edition of OCN here: OCN Sneak Peek - PDF file
Jason Hlady at the High Performance Computing Research Facility
For more information about High Performance Computing at the University of Saskatchewan, please visit the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) info page on High Performance Computing.
September 21, 2012
Updated: Issue with Sophos Antivirus May Require Immediate Action
Simplified instructions are now available to respond to this issue. See link below.
On September 19 Sophos updated its Antivirus software, and as a result many Windows systems are now incorrectly flagging files as virus-infected and, in some cases, deleting them. In addition, this issue may also be preventing many programs with auto-update functions -- including Adobe Updater, Oracle Java Updater, and Sophos Antivirus itself -- from updating automatically.
If your computer downloaded this update you may be receiving numerous Sophos alerts about infected files.
If your computer is not managed by U of S IT personnel, you will need to take steps to correct the issue.
Although Sophos provided instructions for how to address this issue on their website, ICT has now developed simplified instructions for the U of S community. These are located on the ICT website:
You may make the repairs yourself or you may contact the ICT Help Desk to assist you with the repair.
- University-managed computers with this issue will be corrected by U of S IT personnel.
- Mac computers were not affected by this update.
Sophos corrected the problem shortly after it was discovered; no more systems will receive the problematic update.
For more information, please contact:
ICT Help Desk: 966-4817 or 1-800-966-4817 or firstname.lastname@example.org
September 19, 2012
Rich Media Streaming
Rich Media is the new streaming service (using Sharestream) now available to U of S instructors to deliver video and audio online.
Our Rich Media service is a safe and secure alternative to free online video hosting solutions. It is available inside U of S Course Tools and allows for digital rights management and password protected materials.
This service is being offered to instructors this year on an open pilot basis. To explore the service, select “ShareStream Pick-n-Play” and “ShareStream MediaManager” in the U of S Course Tools menu.
For more information on Rich Media streaming, please visit: Rich Media FAQs
For further assistance, please contact the ICT Help Desk at email@example.com.
September 18, 2012
The university’s new web conferencing service is called Blackboard Collaborate and it’s now available from within U of S Course Tools.
Using our web conferencing service, instructors can easily set up virtual meeting rooms open to whomever they choose to invite (such as their students and special guests). Better yet, people can participate from wherever they are. In this way, even large numbers of people can meet and interact together without the need to gather in a physical classroom or conference room.
For more information about web conferencing, please visit: Web Conferencing FAQs
September 13, 2012
Improvements to Videoconferencing
The U of S Videoconferencing Service is now not only easier to use, it offers greater support and expanded capability.
Offered jointly by ICT and eMAP, the newly streamlined service can now support as many as 40 videoconferencing connections at once. It also offers the option of recording your videoconference for later viewing or archival purposes.
In addition, an improved infrastructure and new tools for the university’s videoconferencing support specialists mean you’ll find it simpler than ever to run a successful videoconference.
For more information on our new videoconferencing service, please visit: http://vc.usask.ca
September 11, 2012
New U of S Blogging Tool (WordPress)
We now offer a WordPress blogging tool in addition to the existing Movable Type blogging tool.
The new blogging tool makes it easier than ever for the U of S community to launch and maintain blogs. In addition, the WordPress software comes with a variety of pre-set U of S themes.
Some handy features of the new blogging tool:
- easier than ever to create web content
- supports multiple contributors and authors (with valid NSID)
- flexible layout and theme options for customizable look and feel
- easily accessible feedback channel to support comments
- easy creation of syndicated content using RSS feeds
For more information on the new WordPress blog tool, please visit:
September 04, 2012
Improved Lecture Capture now in more classrooms
Lecture Capture technology allows instructors to record their lectures and to make those recordings available digitally -- and, this year, it’s available in more classrooms than ever.
The service now offers a newly added user tracking function that depicts viewing trends. Students watching the lectures will also find that they can now jump directly to specific times in each recording. In addition, captured lectures now appear in the My Courses page in U of S Course Tools, making it easier for instructors to add lectures to their course content.
For more information on Lecture Capture, please visit: http://www.usask.ca/its/services/e_learning/lecture-capture-faqs.php
For a complete listing on which classrooms support Lecture Capture, please visit: http://www.usask.ca/its/services/e_learning/lecture-capture/where-is-lecture-capture-available/index.php
August 30, 2012
Improvements to U of S Course Tools (Blackboard)
For the 2012-13 academic year, U of S Course Tools (Blackboard) offers a variety of helpful new features and improvements.
These include an easier way to change student email settings, the option of viewing courses by term, and the option of viewing a simplified tools menu. You can now view courses by term, navigate easily from course to course, give negative marks, and take advantage of new automatic re-grading and grade history options. An improved editing tool makes posting your course information simpler. We’ve also added management tools for Lecture Capture and Rich Media streaming inside the regular Course Tools menu, making it easier than ever to add lectures, video and audio material to your course content. A new web conferencing service is also now available within Course Tools for anyone interested in holding virtual meetings.
For more information on U of S Course Tools, please visit: http://www.usask.ca/its/services/e_learning/blackboard-course-tools-faqs.php
For help with U of S Course Tools or more information on any of these new features, please contact the ICT Help Desk at 966-4817 or firstname.lastname@example.org
June 28, 2012
ICT's Janis Shirriff Swims to Gold
After a major health emergency, a trip to swim in an Italian seaside resort might be the perfect way to enjoy la dolce vita. One U of S employee, however, found an even better way to savour it -- by adding in the sweet taste of victory.
Janis Shirriff earned five medals at the 14th Federation Internationale de Natation (FINA) Masters World Swim Championships in Riccione, Italy this month -- one of them gold. Shirriff took first place in the women’s 100-metre backstroke event in the 50-54 age category. Her time of 1:14:15 set a new masters championship record by a full one-and-a-half seconds, and is only six-tenths of a second off the world record.
“I glided in,” said Shirriff. “I kept thinking, ‘I feel so good. I feel so good.’ When the race ended, I thought, ‘I can keep going!”
Shirriff also won silver in 200-metre backstroke and bronze in the 200-metre individual medley which requires swimming 50 metres each in butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle. Earlier in the competition, Shirriff also placed fourth in the 400-metre individual medley and eighth in the 100-metre breaststroke. FINA awards medals to the top ten masters swimmers in each event.
Accomplishments like these would be welcomed by any athlete, but they taste particularly sweet to Shirriff, a training supervisor with Information and Communications Technology (ICT).
A competitive swimmer since the age of seven, Shirriff had been training with the U of S Masters Swim Club since it started in the mid-1980s. A long-time, all-round athlete, she also biked and ran 10 kilometre races. Then, two years ago, a blood clot in her leg -- and then lung -- almost killed her.
Determined to compete again, Shirriff fought her way back into a regular training routine, despite considerable pain that continues to this day. The clot also forced her to give up travel for the better part of a year.
The first trip approved by her doctor was to a Canadian swim meet where she saw advertising for the world championships in Italy. Shirriff remembers exactly what she thought: “What have I got to lose?”
Shirriff embarked on a training regimen that was more ambitious than ever.
By last fall, she was swimming five times a week while continuing to run three times a week. She sought out competitive-level coaching and added an intensive strength and conditioning program five days a week. The combined training program saw her working out two to three hours a day.
“I had to force myself to take a day off,” said Shirriff.
The result was that she not only qualified for the world games, she landed a top five ranking in all her events.
This year’s world games attracted nearly 13,000 athletes for competitions in swimming, diving, water polo, open water and synchronized swimming. In her age group alone, there were up to 120 women competing in every event.
Shirriff left most of them in her wake. Over the course of the meet, she swam the fastest times of her life -- including those of her early youth -- in all but one event.
Despite her gold medal win in backstroke, Shirriff still doesn’t consider herself a backstroker, admitting that her technique in the final stretch could have been better. She’s convinced that correcting it could have earned her the world record.
“I just missed it. So now I’ve got to go after that,” she said with a smile.
The next FINA world championships will be held in Montreal in 2014.
Janis Shirriff at Canadian swim meet earlier this year
June 27, 2012
Improvements to U of S Course Tools
In time for the summer term, U of S Course Tools now offers some helpful new features. These include easier access to change student email settings, the option of viewing courses by term, and the option of viewing a simplified tools menu.
Change Email Settings
It is now easier to change student email settings. In the left hand “Control Panel,” simply click on “Email settings” to view and then select the student email settings you wish to use. The default settings are set so that students can emails to Instructors and Teaching Assistants but not to other students.
If you prefer to use Course Tools simply to post notes and send announcements, you may wish to select the “Simplified View.” This view reduces the number of Course Tools menu options that appear to you. If, at any time, you wish to access the full menu of Course Tools, you can simply switch back to the “Default View.” Changing between these view options has no effect on what students see.
View Courses by Term
You now have the ability to view your U of S Course List by term. To do so, click on the Settings icon (the gear shaped icon in the upper right of the U of S Course List), then check off “Group by Term.”
Course to Course Navigation
The first item in the top menu bar in any course now includes a dropdown menu option allowing you to jump directly to a different course.
Change Course Entry Point
If you use another system for course delivery or have your own course website, you can now use redirect your course to it within Course Tools. In the left hand “Control Panel,” simply click on “Change Course Entry Point” to choose where to redirect your course.
U of S Course Tools now offers additional advanced features such as improved activity reports, automatic re-grading, the option for negative marking and new grade history options. U of S Course Tools now also gives designated college administrative staff the ability to make tools available in bulk, to change email settings in bulk, and to change course entry points in bulk.
For help with U of S Course Tools or more information on any of these new features, please contact:
ITS Help Desk: 966-4817; email@example.com
Compare the Default View Control Panel with the Simplified View Control Panel:
May 11, 2012
ICT’s Kevin Lowey Wins Award for Innovation
Kevin Lowey, Senior System Analyst with Information & Communications Technology (ICT), has been named a Gold Winner for Innovative Development in the annual, international Blackboard Catalyst Awards. These awards are given to outstanding members of the Blackboard software development community whose contributions enable significant educational innovation and collaboration.
The U of S uses Blackboard, a virtual learning environment, to support online courses and to give instructors the opportunity to supplement face-to-face courses.
Kevin’s award-winning work was on a tool that allows instructors to set up test student accounts in Blackboard so that they can see exactly what their students see. This U of S innovation to the open source program has now been adopted by more than twenty other universities worldwide.
Kevin Lowey credits his colleague Collene Hansen, ICT Programmer Analyst, for the success. While Kevin dreamed up the idea and developed the plan of attack, he maintains, “Collene did all the hard work to make it happen.”
This is not the first time the U of S ICT team has developed ways to make Blackboard easier to use and more accessible to faculty and students. Previous homegrown improvements include developing ways to integrate Blackboard with other local information systems. That has made it possible for courses to be loaded automatically onto Blackboard, and for instructors and students to gain automatic access to their courses on Blackboard.
Kevin, Collene, and the rest of ICT team do regular consultation with the campus community about Blackboard and plan to continue making improvements to better serve instructors and students.
Kevin will receive his award at the annual Blackboard Developers Conference in New Orleans this July.
May 02, 2012
Reorganization of Information & Communications Technology (ICT)
A restructuring of the university’s Information and Communications (ICT) portfolio is now underway.
The purpose of the reorganization is to streamline and centralize ICT services and enhance overall service delivery. We remain committed to providing top level service and responsiveness throughout this time of transition and on into our revitalized future.
Under the new ICT structure, ITS has been replaced by four new units: ICT Planning & Governance; ICT Client Services; ICT Applications; and ICT Platform Services. The directors of each of these units will report directly to the Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Associate Vice-President, Information & Communications Technology.
Two other ICT units, ICT Security, and Information Strategy and Analytics (ISA), are also part of the newly reorganized, six-unit ICT structure.
Ed Pokraka, former Director of ITS, becomes Associate CIO and Director of ICT Planning & Governance. Glenn Hollinger, the former Associate Director of ITS, takes on the role of Director, ICT Client Services. The positions of Director, ICT Applications, and Director, ICT Platform Services, will be filled in the weeks to come.
Troy Harkot, Director of ISA, and Lawrence Dobranski, who will begin as Director of ICT Security on June 1, 2012, will, along with the four other ICT directors, form a key part of the university's ICT leadership team.
Over the next several months, references to Information Technology Services (ITS) on university websites and elsewhere will be updated with references to Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and/or to the various units within the ICT portfolio.
As these organizational changes unfold over the next few months, please be assured we will continue to offer our high level of service.
November 25, 2011
“All Things Mobile at the U of S” Website Launched
A new website that Kevin Schneider, Acting Chief Information Officer and Associate Vice-President of Information and Communication Technology, referred to as “All Things Mobile at the U of S” in the November 18 issue of On Campus News has been launched. This site lists and describes the university’s mobile-friendly websites, mobile projects that are in development, and other mobile services. The site also makes it easy for the U of S community to suggest ideas for iUsask or to volunteer to be on a focus group to improve iUsask.
If you have built a great mobile service, are working on something great or have mobile resources you’d like to promote, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to have it showcased on the Mobile at the U of S website. To see the website visit: www.usask.ca/mobile
October 31, 2011
Technology Week 2011 - October 31- November 4
Technology Week is October 31st - November 4th this year and we would like to invite students, staff and faculty to participate in the fun-filled slate of edutaining events!
Select highlights include:
- Retro Movie Night
- Internet Access Panel Discussions
- FREE Laptop Security Clinics
- Copyright Webinars
- Blackboard Demos
- Mobile Security Sessions
- Cloud Computing & SharePoint Presentations
Full details on these excellent Technology Week sessions (and more!) can be found at http://www.usask.ca/technologyweek/.
For more information, contact
Brad Flavell Office of the Chief Information Officer and Associate Vice-President Information and Communications Technology email@example.com
February 18, 2011
ITS Mobile Action Plan Released
Demand for access to online services from mobile devices is increasing rapidly. For this reason Mobile Service Delivery has been identified as a priority by Rick Bunt, CIO and AVP Information and Communications Technology.
Since ITS plays a critical role in the ability of the U of S to provide the necessary ICT environment for mobility and to deliver mobile services, ITS has developed a Mobile Action Plan to identify strategies and initiatives that will move the U of S forward with its mobile initiative.
As part of this, a recently established ICT innovation fund has resulted in a call for proposals with the goal of supporting mobile and e-learning initiatives. Read the call for proposals.
November 30, 2010
PAWS gives thumbs up to text messaging
Faculty, staff and students can now sign up in PAWS to receive timely information and need-to-know campus news on their text-enabled mobile devices. All members of the campus community will still receive these important messages by email, whether they carry mobile devices and have signed up for this new service or not.
This new service allows members of our increasingly connected campus community to benefit from timely information delivered directly to them regardless of their location.
- Phase one, launched today, allows designated staff to send high-priority notices about unexpected events, such as hazards on campus or weather alerts, by text message.
- Phase two, beginning in early January, will allow instructors to send time-sensitive information to students taking their courses. Instructors are invited to explore text messaging as a way to communicate with their students at the beginning of the next academic term.
To sign up for PAWS text messaging:
- log into PAWS and choose the “Mobile” link in the PAWS Announcements channel;
- enter the 10-digit telephone number associated with your mobile device and click “Save”.
November 05, 2010
Free iPad Among Prizes for Student IT Security Quiz
U of S students who test their digital savvy by taking the IT security quiz will be entered in a draw to win one of several great prizes including:
- a 16-GB iPad
- Beats by Dr. Dre headphones (3 available)
- a 1-TB hard drive (3 available)
- a digital camera
The IT security quiz was designed by Information Technology Services (ITS) to show students and others how to protect their computers from viruses and malware, as well as how to safeguard personal digital information and important files.
While only U of S students are eligible to win prizes, everyone is encouraged to take the quiz. You will also find a wealth of useful information in the IT Security Guide on the ITS website.
October 22, 2010
Technology Week 2010 - November 1-5
Join us as we officially launch Technology Week with an Opening Reception in Louis', November 1st from 3:30-5:00 p.m. The reception will feature a presentation on Cyber Culture through YouTube and a demonstration of the Technology in Our Daily Lives.
Technology Week is a great opportunity to hear from our guest speakers about what's on the horizon and how it will affect us. Featured speakers include:
• Darwyn Peachey, University of Saskatchewan Alumnus and Chief Technical Officer of Pixar Canada.
• John Hill, University of Saskatchewan Alumnus and Chief Information Officer of SaskTel.
Rick Bunt, CIO & Associate Vice-President, Information and Communications Technology, will be giving his Annual Technology Update on November 3rd at 1:30 p.m. in the Neatby-Timlin Theatre.
We invite you to attend as many events as your interest and schedule permits. Events are open to the public, students, employees and faculty. Full details are available on the Technology Week website.
February 24, 2010
Helping Change the World, One Computer at a Time
The University of Saskatchewan has recently become a partner in World Community Grid—a global humanitarian effort to harness unused computing power and direct it towards research designed to help address the world’s most difficult health and societal problems.
World Community Grid was launched by IBM in November 2004 with the goal of creating the world’s largest public computing grid to benefit humanity. Only research conducted by public and not-for-profit organizations is accepted by World Community Grid. Progress on critical health issues, such as HIV/AIDS and cancer, as well as environmental and hunger issues, has already been achieved.
Members of the U of S community are encouraged to contribute their idle computer time to assist humanitarian research by joining World Community Grid and becoming a member of the University of Saskatchewan team.
“World Community Grid takes advantage of a computer’s idle time—such as when we’re in a meeting or off for lunch or coffee—and puts those unused cycles to good use,” says Rick Bunt, CIO and Associate Vice-President, Information and Communications Technology. “By joining, individuals can help make a difference on a global scale with very little effort. We can even select which current projects we want our computers to work on.”
By becoming a partner in World Community Grid, the U of S is joining the IBM Corporation and a group of more than 400 companies, associations, foundations, nonprofits, government agencies and academic institutions. The U of S is the second Canadian university to join.
February 08, 2010
U of S Collaboration Profiled in WCMS Case Study
The University of Saskatchewan’s implementation of its institutional WCMS service has been profiled in a case study done with the vendor, Hannon Hill.
When Hannon Hill learned how the U of S was using Cascade Server to provide an institutional service in a decentralized environment, they were impressed and the U of S was invited to participate in a case study. They felt others in the Cascade Server community could gain insight from the collaborative approach taken by the U of S.
The U of S is the first Canadian university to have done a case study with them.
If you are interested in reading the case study, it is available on the Hannon Hill website:
July 28, 2009
Enhancement to the University Wireless Service
A new enhancement to the University Wireless Service -- uofs-secure -- is now available.
This service is a fully encrypted end to end wireless solution and as such will only support a limited Clean Access Profile. Before you can access the internal wireless network, identified by the "uofs-secure" SSID, you will need to configure your laptop or device. A wireless set-up guide is available for Windows, Macintosh and Linux operating systems at http://www.usask.ca/its/services/networks/setup_guides/
We would encourage you to use this new “uofs-secure” SSID.
June 11, 2009
VMS servers Admin and Skyway Archives
On June 1, 2009 the University decommissioned VMS servers Admin and Skyway. Personal and shared file spaces (directory) on Skyway were archived at that time. Until May 31, 2011 owners of files spaces on Skyway may contact the ITS Help Desk to request the files be recovered to their individual file storage on Cabinet or to departmental file storage on Jade.
December 08, 2008
Wiki Service Announcement
There's an exciting new way to collaborate with your classmates and colleagues at the U of S. A new Wiki Service allows students and instructors, staff members or other self-organizing groups to participate in developing and sharing knowledge locally (or globally) using the web. To ensure that all your collaborators are "on the same page," U of S members can invite Non-U of S members explicitly to participate in a wiki space.
This new service is accessible via PAWS. If you're logged in to the campus portal, the Wiki Dashboard channel is your one-click link to this application -- there's no need to log in separately to gain access to the service. (To add the Wiki Dashboard channel to your PAWS layout, click the Add Stuff link at the top left of your screen in PAWS.)
For more information about the Wiki Service, visit the ITS website, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a demonstration or additional information.
July 23, 2008
Webpage Content Management Service in Development
Earlier this year, the U of S purchased a Webpage Content Management System (WCMS) for institutional use. Since then, several units including Information Technology Services (ITS), University Communications, Financial Services Division (FSD), Edwards School of Business (ESB), Educational Media Access and Production (EMAP), College of Engineering and Student Enrolment and Services Division (SESD) have been learning about the system (Cascade Server by Hannon Hill) and creating a central support structure to handle enquiries, training and troubleshooting.
Several Units have completed successful pilots using Cascade to implement webpages and how-to-use training sessions have been held for personnel in the University Secretary’s Office, President’s Office, Provost’s Office, University Advancement, VP Research Office, Food Services and the Wilson Centre. EMAP has completed several of the sites mentioned and is using Cascade for future website development.
Information sessions or demonstrations of the tool and the sample site were conducted for representatives from College of Medicine, IT Managers Forum, Graduate Studies and Research, Campus Safety, and Offices of Communication, Development and Alumni Relations. The School of Environment and Sustainability websites are expected to be in Cascade shortly, and the Department of Computer Science is currently exploring the system.
Sites built using Cascade appear no different from websites built using other tools, and interact seamlessly with them. You can see a sample of sites built using the institutional WCMS system at:
Watch for the Edwards School of Business site which is being implemented using Cascade and going live to coincide with the School’s first anniversary.
Following completion of the pilot phase, we expect to fully launch the new WCMS Service in the fall of 2008.
See http://www.usask.ca/its/about/projects.php for highlights and FAQs about this project.
June 11, 2008
Eduroam Wireless Service Now Available
The U of S is now participating in the Canadian Eduroam Federation. Eduroam (see eduroam.org) is a collaborative wireless network that allows faculty, student and staff members of participating higher education institutions to access wireless services at other participating institutions, without the need to obtain a guest account when they visit.
Using Eduroam, U of S employees and students can access the Internet at a participating institution using their U of S NSID username and password. Several institutions in BC (including UBC, Simon Fraser, BCIT and Uvic) currently have Eduroam service available. In addition to the U of S, the University of Calgary and the University of Western Ontario will also be establishing Eduroam this spring. Participation by more Canadian Universities is expected to follow this year. In the future, access to Eduroam wireless services in other countries may become available.
Before using Eduroam while travelling, U of S employees and students must first ensure that their laptops are set up correctly and work on the U of S Eduroam wireless network. Eduroam set-up instructions for members of the U of S are available online.
More information about the new Eduroam service is available on the ITS website.
January 21, 2008
Wireless Coverage on Campus Doubles!
A major expansion of the wireless network on campus has been completed resulting in double the coverage on campus. The focus of this expansion is student, teaching and public spaces on campus. The wireless network will continue to expand to cover more areas over time in a continuing effort to meet the needs of the U of S community.
Visiting faculty, conference attendees, family and friends can connect to the Internet easily using the U of S wireless network. This creates a more open environment for visiting scholars and enables easy on-site collaboration. While only available in limited areas previously, Wireless Guest Access service is now available at every wireless location on campus.
Employees can provide guest access to the wireless network for visiting faculty and conference attendees through PAWS. Requesting Guest IDs through this channel will provide visitors with a faster connection to the Internet.
Members of the public can also access the Internet while visiting the U of S as part of the provincial government’s Saskatchewan!Connected initiative.
For more information on the wireless service, visit:http://wireless.usask.ca
January 16, 2008
A Blast from the Past Birthday Bash - January 31
Celebrate 50 Years of Computing at the U of S!
This fall marked 50 years of computing at the U of S. The University's first computer, a Royal Precision LGP-30, was purchased jointly with the National Research Council's Prairie Research Laboratory and the Saskatchewan Research Council in October of 1957.
To celebrate this historic milestone, A Blast from the Past Birthday Bash will be held January 31. The celebration includes interactive displays, media gallery, vintage equipment, retro games, prizes and refreshments. This come-and-go event will be held from 2:00-5:00 p.m. in Room 280 of the College Building. The cake cutting will occur at 4:00 p.m.
November 19, 2007
E-mail Spam Attacks on the Rise
Over the past several weeks members of the U of S community may have noticed an increase in the number of spam e-mail messages arriving in their inboxes. This increase is directly proportional to the volume of spam that the University is receiving as a whole. The spam filters are still blocking and quarantining the same percentage of spam messages, but the overall volume has increased. Currently the spam filters block 2,500,000 and quarantine 680,000 spam messages every day. Messages are blocked if they originate from a known spam site or are sent to an invalid U of S e-mail address. Messages are quarantined if analysis of the message results in a spam rating that exceeds a specified threshold.
ITS is aware of the problem and frustration it causes and is working on supplementing the existing filters to improve their accuracy and to further reduce the volume of spam making it through to inboxes.
ITS is in the process of implementing an additional spam-tracking database that will result in fewer spam getting through the spam filters successfully. Other initiatives being worked on include making certain mailing lists inaccessible from off-campus and preventing spam sites from bypassing the spam filters.
Information in the Use E-mail Safely section of the security guide can help you avoid becoming a target for spammers. General information about spam filtering and blocking is also available on the ITS website.
November 02, 2007
ITS Services During Labour Disruption
Students, instructors, researchers and staff should expect normal operations for most ITS services during the current labour disruption.
Computer and printer repair services will be unavailable during the labour disruption. ITS has identified alternative mechanisms for providing these services. Please contact the Campus Computer Store for assistance at email@example.com or 966-8375.
Disruptions to electrical and air conditioning services, or hardware or software failures, will cause IT service interruptions. The time to restore some services to normal operations will take longer during the labour disruption.
We will continue to work to provide reliable services during the current labour disruption. If you have questions or concerns regarding ITS service availability please contact Chad Coller, the ITS Help Desk Manager at 966-5605.
Please continue to check the blog for up-to-date information at www.blogs.usask.ca/updates. If you have any comments or questions, please contact the Call Centre at 966-6510.
October 12, 2007
Online SEEQ Course Evaluations Coming in April 2008
ITS intends to provide an institutional service for online Student Evaluation of Educational Quality (SEEQ) evaluations in time for the April 2008 course evaluations. This service will be a full, flexible service, integrated with PAWS, with good reporting capability and will provide a consistent student interface for all the course evaluations students are asked to complete online.
The SEEQ survey instrument was used by the Integrated Planning Office in a pilot project in fall 2006 and spring 2007. At its June 14, 2007, meeting University Council endorsed recommendations from the Instructional Development Committee designating SEEQ as an approved, validated instructor/course evaluation instrument at the U of S and encouraging its use in an online format.
For evaluations at the end of Term 1, those involved with the pilot project will be able to use the online SEEQ evaluations. Other colleges and departments should continue to use their current course evaluation processes.
Visit the Course Evaluations section of the website for more information.
October 05, 2007
New Monthly Downtimes Begin - First Scheduled October 10
In order to improve the security of the institutional IT services, ITS is implementing a monthly downtime to apply security and related patches to all systems (applications, databases, and servers) that ITS operates. To minimize the impact of service outages, we will coordinate these with other existing scheduled outages (monthly patching of Windows Servers, weekly downtimes of SiRIUS and Unifi) so there is only one scheduled service outage per month.
Monthly outages, occurring on the second Wednesday of the month between 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., will begin Wednesday October 10. All IT services provided through ITS, except those listed below, will be unavailable during that time. There will be rare occurrences when the outage will be rescheduled to the third Wednesday of the month and these changes to the schedule will be announced one month in advance.
Services that will be available are:
- About-Us (HR system)
Services that will NOT be available are:
- File Services (Cabinet, Folder, Jade)
- Web Services (www, homepage)
- Print Services (CPAS, Green)
- Database Hosting (SQL server & Oracle)
- E-mail, including Webmail
September 07, 2007
U of S Network Security Given a Boost
A new network security policy will help ensure that the University computer network is a safe and reliable environment so that members of the University community (instructors, students, prospective students, researchers, staff, and others) have access to the network resources they require and are given the protection they need.
The Network Security Policy applies to all members of the University of Saskatchewan community and authorized guests of the University who access resources or services that are located on the network from on or off campus.
Members of the University community are responsible for becoming familiar with (and abiding by) the network security policy. It is available online at: http://www.usask.ca/university_secretary/policies/operations/4_43.php
The policy defines responsibilities both for people who use the network and for ITS as the network provider. It seeks to balance security (limiting opportunities for and the impact of network attacks) with network functionality and user productivity.
The network security policy was developed through widespread consultation with Council committees, advisory groups, and college and department IT managers. The policy was formally approved by Council on May 17, 2007 and by the Board of Governors on June 22, 2007.
August 15, 2007
Guest Access to Wireless Network Now Available
ITS is making improvements to the U of S wireless network that allows guests to use it when visiting the University. Two types of guest access are available—one for invited guests such as visiting researchers or instructors and conference attendees, and one for members of the general public.
Invited guests will be able to access the U of S wireless network with a guest ID for up to 14 days. The special guest ID (username) and password is provided by an employee who has requested access on their behalf. Conference attendees can be provided access to the wireless network with a special guest ID requested by the conference organizer. Conference IDs can also be used for up to 14 days.
Members of the public who visit the University will also be able to use the U of S wireless network. Access is available to the public as part of the Government of Saskatchewan's Information Technology Office (ITO) initiative to make WiFi available to the public. Details of the government’s initiative are available at http://www.gov.sk.ca/news?newsId=71f283b3-f8f8-44c4-b0d6-693921262e29.
Initially, this access is only available in a limited number of locations on campus. Over the next few months, the number of locations where guest access to the wireless network is available will be expanded to include all University locations that have wireless access.
More information on wireless guest access is available in the networks section of the ITS website.
July 20, 2007
Technology Week 2007 - Call for Topics
Technology Week 2007 runs from November 5-9 and the Technology Week Planning Committee is starting to plan for this year’s event.
Technology Week and the Technology Forum provide an opportunity for the U of S community to see what technology is available and how it is used on campus. It is also a chance to hear about what’s on the horizon and how it might affect us. Connect & Explore!
Do you have suggestions for presentations, demonstrations, workshops or events that you’d like to see during Technology Week? Send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know. If you’d like to become actively involved in Technology Week let us know how.
June 05, 2007
My IT Services (MITS) Now Available
My IT Services (MITS) is a new web application that will allow members of the U of S community to manage or retrieve information for various IT services accessed using the NSID username and password.
MITS incorporates the ability to create and manage aliases previously provided by the Nameserve application and the ability to change your password, check quota information for various services, and forward mail.usask.ca e-mail messages previously provided by the Server and Services Account Management (SSAM) application.
MITS includes several new features as well, such as the ability to:
- Create secret questions so that you can set a new password if you have forgotten your current one.
- Set your own vacation/out-of-office auto replies for mail.usask.ca e-mail addresses.
- Synchronize your password if you have been granted access to additional services.
March 22, 2007
ITS Making Major Improvements to the Wireless Network
ITS will begin making major improvements to the wireless network in the next few months. These improvements will provide more widespread coverage for the wireless network, allow easier access to the network, and allow visitors to the University access the wireless network. There will be a significant expansion to wireless areas; ITS hopes to double the area covered by wireless service during these improvements.
Recently the Government of Saskatchewan announced Saskatchewan! Connected, an initiative to “offer users basic Internet service in Saskatoon, Prince Albert, Regina, and Moose Jaw via a wireless Wi-Fi network.” The initiative includes wireless service at the University of Saskatchewan along with other locations. Details of the government’s initiative are available at http://www.gov.sk.ca/news?newsId=71f283b3-f8f8-44c4-b0d6-693921262e29.
The U of S (ITS), in partnership with the Information Technology Office (ITO), will be expanding and enhancing wireless services at the University in line with both the Premier's announcement and the University's own goals for Wi-Fi services. Services for visitors and members of the University community will work together and complement each other.
As a result of funding for this initiative, Wi-Fi will be available in more areas of the U of S campus for students and visitors, the public will have access to Wi-Fi at the University, and other goals identified in the Premier's announcement will be met.
While the University’s partnership with the Province will enable a significant expansion to campus coverage, coverage of the complete area identified in the Premier's announcement is unlikely since funding provided by the program is limited. Further expansion will be needed beyond this program to meet the needs of the University. This program will, however, allow the University to make excellent progress in improving Wi-Fi services for the University.
March 06, 2007
Lenovo ThinkPad Notebook Battery Recall
On March 1, 2007, Lenovo issued a battery recall. It affects the following ThinkPad models: R60 and R60e, T60 and T60p, Z60m, Z61e, Z61m, Z61p. Lenovo advises customers to determine if they are using one of the recalled batteries by visiting www.lenovo.com/batteryprogram. FAQs about the recall are also available on the Lenovo website.
March 01, 2007
Sophos Anti-virus 4.1x Expires March 1, 2007
Sophos Anti-virus software version 4.1x for Windows expires today, March 1, 2007. You can recognize if you have this version of the software by looking in your Windows Task Tray (bottom right-hand corner) for:
a) a Red Lighting Bolt icon, or
b) a Blue "Flower" icon.
If you have this version installed on your computer, you will get a Sophos Notification Message advising you that:
- the version expires March 1, 2007, and
- you need to obtain a new version of the product from Sophos to remain protected.
If you see the expired notification please do the following:
- uninstall the 4.1x version using the "Add/Remove Programs" in the Window's Control Panel
- download and run the new installer found on: http://sophos.usask.ca
If you require further assistance, please contact the ITS Help Desk.
February 22, 2007
Linux Users Group Established at the U of S
A Linux Users Group (LUG) has recently been set up on campus.
Linux4US is a Users' Group in support of Linux and Open Source at the University of Saskatchewan. Any instructors, researchers, students or staff of the University of Saskatchewan can join Linux4US by subscribing to the mailing list. Instructions for subscribing to the mailing list are available at http://linux4us.usask.ca/.
The objectives of the group are to educate, collaborate and advocate Linux and Open Source at the U of S.
Monthly meetings will be held on campus on the first Wednesday of each month from 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Meeting locations will be posted on the website.
For more information visit http://linux4us.usask.ca/
February 20, 2007
High Performance Computing Symposium
The High Performance Computing Symposium (HPCS 2007) will be held in Saskatoon at the University of Saskatchwan from May 13-16, 2007. The theme for HPCS 2007 is “Transforming the Face of Research.”
HPCS is a multidisciplinary conference that focuses on new and exciting scientific and technical work involving High Performance Computing (HPC). HPCS is Canada’s preeminent forum for HPC initiatives. This four-day conference draws attendance from Canadian and international HPC experts and researchers renowned in the sciences, engineering, mathematics and applied human sciences.
For more information, visit http://www.westgrid.ca/hpcs2007/whatis.html
February 15, 2007
TLt/iT Summit 2007: Learning in a Digital World Conference
TLt/iT Summit 2007: Learning in a Digital World is the joint conference of the Educational Technology Consortium and Campus Saskatchewan. The conference will focus on “the diverse impact of technology on teaching and learning.” It will also “showcase the contributions and advancements in technology enhanced learning…”
The conference will be held on May 1-2, 2007 at the Saskatoon Inn in Saskatoon. The Instructional Design Pre-Conference will be held on April 30, 2007.
For more information about the conference, visit: http://www.tlt-itsummit2007.ca/
February 02, 2007
ITS Advises Campus to Delay Upgrading to Microsoft Windows Vista
Microsoft released its new operating system, Windows Vista, on January 30, 2007.
While Vista is now being shipped pre-installed on new computers, Information Technology Services (ITS) recommends that people delay upgrading existing Windows XP computers to Windows Vista until at least summer 2007.
- Windows XP is still a viable operating system. Most offices can continue to operate efficiently for 6 -12 months or longer with XP.
- Computer(s) may not have the memory, CPU speed, video display memory or disk space required to run Vista. Windows Vista is considerably larger and more complex than any previous version.
- Some third party software vendors have not yet released versions of their software that can be used with Vista. Therefore, some software may not run with Vista.
- Some hardware peripheral manufacturers (e.g. printer, scanner, etc.) have not yet released software drivers for Vista.
ITS recognizes that many individuals and departments/units on campus will purchase new computers that will arrive pre-installed with Windows Vista. It is important to ensure that critical software and peripherals work with Vista before ordering.
ITS will work to ensure that computers running Vista will operate with e-mail, file storage services, the wireless network, PAWS, WebCT and other campus IT services. If you have problems, contact the ITS Help Desk or your local college/unit IT support personnel.
While ITS recommends that you delay upgrading to Windows Vista until at least summer 2007, the following references are provided:
- For detailed information on Windows Vista, visit Microsoft's Vista Website: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/
- For information on the different versions and how to acquire Vista, visit the Campus Computer Store’s information on Vista at: http://ccs.usask.ca/Software/vista-info.php
- For information on upgrading to Vista on existing hardware: http://www.usask.ca/its/hardware/vista.php
January 24, 2007
High Performance Computing Advanced by CFI Award
On December 22, CFI announced a research grant award to Saskatchewan universities as part of a pan-Canadian initiative relating to high performance computing. The Saskatchewan portion of the overall project is almost $5,000,000.
A major component of this project will see the U of S establish and host a petabyte storage facility--one of the largest in Canada. ITS has assisted in the U of S participation so far and will manage the infrastructure elements which will be located at the University of Saskatchewan.
Additionally, the U of S and U of R will each also establish an AccessGrid collaboration facility as part of this project. The value of the CFI award is almost $2,000,000. Most of the additional funding required is expected from the province and industry; some University funds will be required. The award also provides additional funds for operations.
The principal investigator for the project is Dr. Ray Spiteri from the Department of Computer Science.
The U of S press release is at http://announcements.usask.ca/news/archive/2006/12/saskatchewan_un.html
The CFI press release is at http://www.innovation.ca/whatsnew/dsp_news.cfm?newsid=201
Notes on New Office 2007 File Format
Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint within Office 2007 use a new way to save documents. The new file format can be identified by the addition of an “x” at the end of the extension. For example a word document might be called “assignment1.docx”. Compared to older versions of Office, this new file format is usually smaller, easier to repair from a corrupt file, and reduces or eliminates “macro viruses.”
It is possible to read and write the new file format in Office 2000, XP and 2003 after an update is installed. This update is called the “Compatibility Pack for Office 2007” and is a free downloaded from Microsoft. The update is found here: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/products/HA101686761033.aspx
Office 2007 can read and write the previous file format. It is possible to configure Office 2007 to always use the previous file format so that you can open the document on machines that do not have the compatibility pack installed.
If you need to configure Office 2007 to always use the previous file format, open Word and press the Office Button at the top left, then choose Word Options. Click the "Save" tab at the left, and change the file format beside "Save files in this format" to Word 97-2003 (*.doc") for the previous format. Repeat this procedure for Excel and PowerPoint.
An Office 2007 compatibility pack for Macintosh computers is not yet available. To address cross-platform compatibility issues, Microsoft personnel currently recommend “…that Mac users advise their friends and colleagues using the 2007 Office system to save their documents as a “Word/Excel/PowerPoint 97-2003 Document” (.doc, .xls, .ppt) to ensure the documents can be easily shared across platforms.” http://blogs.msdn.com/macmojo/archive/2006/12/05/converters-coming-free-and-fairly-fast.aspx
December 04, 2006
ITS Redesigns Website
ITS has recently redesigned its website in order to provide more comprehensive and integrated information about IT services. The new structure is service based and has integrated information from several separate sites into one; it provides general service information and support documentation in a single location.
The revised site has five key areas: Accounts & Passwords, Services & Support, Hardware & Software, Guides & Resources and About ITS. ITS is continuing to expand the information provided on this site. A number of areas have been identified for expansion, including e-learning services and research computing, and additional role-base guides are scheduled to be developed in the new year.
As part of the revision process, ITS took this opportunity to revise the look of the site so that it is consistent with the look of the U of S homepage.
November 20, 2006
Welcome to the ITS Announcements blog!
Welcome to the ITS Announcements blog! ITS announcements will provide you with information on new services, system status, upcoming training, alerts, news and more.