Monthly Archive for March, 2010

Malware and It’s Removal on Home Computers

The CSC and campus support have been seeing an increase in malware applications over the last few months.  In most cases, malware can be harmless, but by design can cause lost productivity, due to unsolicited pop-ups and processing delays.  One current example of malware is “Antivirus Pro 2010”:avpro2010virus
 
This appears to be a Windows-based application that promises a remedy for security ills, but is, in fact, anything but.  It is generally classified as a “rogue” program because it displays fake scan results, creates fake malware files in order to trick the user into thinking that they are infected, and is installed by malware – sources of which can be undetectable.  For the home user, the issue then becomes one of eliminating the malware, which anti-virus and anti-spyware software cannot often resolve.
 
One proven method of eliminating malware has been shown to be in a free solution:  Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware (http://www.malwarebytes.org/index.php).  This is a free program that effectively eliminates many of the malware variants “in the wild” today.  Although learning this application is easy, the time it takes to scan a hard disk drive may take several hours.  Malwarebytes’ does offer a paid version which offers real-time protection, scheduled scanning, and scheduled updating.

Thanks,

Mike Z.

Goal oriented information gathering

Our institution has just finished setting the institutional goals for the year 10-11 under the new leadership team. One of these goals is to “Prepare the institution to move to a culture of quality, including quality based accreditation (AQIP).”

To earn AQIP accreditation, an educational institution will be assessed by nine AQIP Categories (R1). Of these nine, number seven is most pertinent to IT:  “MEASURING EFFECTIVENESS, examines how your organization collects, analyzes, distributes, and uses data, information, and knowledge to manage itself and to drive performance improvement”. Translated slightly into a formula, it is: data -> information -> knowledge -> performance improvement -> goals.  To put it simply, information requirements from/for decision makers should contribute to the realization of the institutional or individual goals.

Traditionally, information requirement gathering falls into a mixture of push and pull model. With push model, the IT designers basically say to the users “here is the data we have, we will give them to you and do with them what you like”. IT staff don’t always ask what organizational goals specific information is helping achieving.  Sungard’s ODS is typical example of this model. Pull model is where users tell the designers “I want this, give it to me”.  One would think, with users asking for information, there is a better chance of relating the information usage to the organization’s goals. But, in reality, it is not always the case. This approach tends to work better for more data-savvy managers than others. According to one 2005 ACM article, “Several surveys indicate that a significant percentage of data warehouses fail to meet business objectives or are outright failures” (R2). The same article further suggests the use of goal oriented model to gather information requirements.

Within Davenport University, as the new long/short term goals become clear, specific and individualized, and decision making becomes more data driven, plus the institution’s quest for AQIP and Baldridge certifications, there will be new matrixes set and measures used to evaluate the success/failure of the established goals. Naturally, there will be a surge of new information needs from functional business units. From the University’s point of view, the burden lies with anyone involved in the process, both IT as well as departmental information users, to tie the institution’s information needs to its overall goals, and by doing so, enhance the possibility of achieving the overall University goals through information usage. It is not a burden for IT only or functional business departments only. It is a shared burden and calls for many iterative phases and close co-operations among all units and personnel involved.

R1. http://www.aqip.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=107&Itemid=135

R2. http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1097002.1097011

The ēno is here!! The ēno is here!!

No, it’s not a big, goofy bird; it’s the new interactive whiteboard from PolyVision. For those who are familiar with the Walk-N-Talk and the other Smart Boards currently throughout Davenport classrooms the ēno boards are the latest and greatest from PolyVision.

Although the ēno resembles a whiteboard, it is much more.   The ēno uses a stylus which either functions cursor or a pen.

enostylus

The stylus is a Bluetooth device designed for the ēno so it cannot be used on anything besides the ēno board.  Removing the cap to the stylus turned the stylus on.  You may need to give the board about 5 or 10 seconds to recognize that the pen has become active.  After a couple of test taps on the board to see if it is working, you are good to go.

You will also notice a magnetic strip with 20 different symbols.

magstripeno

Sometimes the symbols on the toolbar are in different placement than what is shown, so don’t be surprised if this picture is not exactly the one that is in the classroom.

toolbarmageno

The main symbol on the toolbar to become accustomed to using is thecursor-peneno

By tapping this symbol with the stylus, you will change between the mouse being a cursor (used for advancing Power Point slides or opening programs) and a pen (used for drawing). 

 If you would like to request training on any of the technology in the classrooms please contact the CSC at extension 1212 and let them know what type of training you would like.  This has been a very brief overview of the capabilities and use of the ēno interactive white boards, please request training and schedule time to become familiar with this new technology.

Thanks,
John

Bringing Clouds to the Davenport Wide Area Network

We all know that the network has become a key component to any successful institution.  Network bandwidth provides us with prompt access to information and process that allows us to learn and do more, better and faster than ever before.

As the technologies of online information distribution get better, so does the demand for more bandwidth.  Websites move from static text to audio and video rich portals.  Downloadable content becomes on-demand streaming.  Desktop and Server-based computing move to Cloud Compting.  The network must scale with the technologies that rely on it.

To rise to this challenge, Network Operations has started a new project to provide a next-generation network for the University.

History –

Davenport’s WAN (Wide Area network) is comprised of T1 circuits that ride between sites.  Each site has two T1 circuits that provide 3 megabits of bandwidth.  Some sites, such as Midland and Holland, however, have more bandwidth through a fiber optic connection.  All circuits connect remote sites back to the Grand Rapids data center, and the Internet.  This is called a hub-and-spoke topology:

weathermap-cacti-pluginphp1

As you can see from this image, sometimes those pipes get full!  Kalamazoo, for example is busy downloading 1.95M of data.  Lansing, on the other hand is very busy uploading 3M of data back to the data center.  That doesn’t leave much room for other users.

With the hub-and-spoke topology, how does data get from Livonia to Warren?  Right!  It must travel to Grand Rapids.  This adds load to the already busy Data Center circuits and network hardware.

It’s time to upgrade.  We need a network that will allow us not only to meet today’s needs, but easily expand to meet future bandwidth requirements.

The Upgrade

To meet today’s needs, and those of the future, we are moving from the hub-and-spoke topology to a redundant fully meshed Wide Area Network.  Each site will attach to two separate networks provided by Merit Networks and US Signal.  Rather than point-to-point connections, we will connect to the network itself, represented by the clouds in this example diagram:

wan20101

 

The network clouds allow us to map routes directly between sites.  Warren, for example can communicate directly with the Data Center or Kalamazoo.  Don’t worry, ALL SITES will be connected to this network.  In fact, we will be upgrading the following sites right away:

  • Warren from 3M to 10M
  • Livonia from 3M to 10M
  • Lansing from 3M to 6M
  • Grand Rapids Data Center from 45M to 200M

The WAN, as a whole, will move from an aggregate of 63 megabits to over 260 megabits.

As needs rise for other sites, we will be able to quickly add needed bandwidth.  Increases to existing network connections could occur through carrier circuit upgrades or even more Fiber builds. 

The keys to a successful network are capacity, redundancy and flexibility.  The new Davenport WAN will give us strength in all of these areas, allowing us to meet the bandwidth needs of today and into the future.

Sports Camp Live!

Sports Camp Registration is live! Currently only lacrosse is being featured but coed soccer, girls basketball, and boys basketball will all be coming on Friday, March 12.

This is one of the first e-commerce sites featuring a drupal module that will be rolled out into many up and coming drupal installs allowing for quick e-commerce application rollouts.