Friday, December 21, 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Have a great holiday break!

As you should know, Siena College will be shutting down again this year from December 22 to January 2. The campus will be closed.

This includes I&TS. While we will be keeping an eye on things and may come to fix problems, it may not be possible to do so in a timely fashion. If things do go down, it may be longer than usual to get them up and running.

Files can be accessed from home via Citrix. This lets you work on files remotely without downloading them to your computer. Use the icons on the left side of the screen to access your "My Documents" and run Office and other programs. "My Documents" on the left side of Citrix also gives you access to your other network folders: the H: drive, etc. If you click on a file, Citrix will open it in the appropriate software (Word, Excel, etc.).

If you do need to upload or download a file, use Web Folders. You can upload into your My Documents via web folders, and then move it to other folders via "My Documents" on Citrix.

E-mail is available on the web via Outlook Web Access.

If you have questions or problems, send an e-mail to the Call Center or use the Webform.

Hope your break is a good one!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

356,000 impressions

In the beginning of the term, we put a new printer in the library 24-hour computing lab.

We've had to replace the fuser. Over the course of the term, it made 356,284 impressions. Luckily, the default in the lab is for duplex printing, so the total number of pages (including single sided) is 187,006. If those pages were put end to end, they would stretch over 32 miles, all the way from Siena to Saratoga Springs. That's 37 cases of paper for one printer alone.

This is why we're looking into print management.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My second computer

The second computer I worked with was the Olivetti-Underwood Programa 101.

It was about the size of a very large typewriter. The big selling point was that this actually had memory: five memory banks that would hold up to 22 characters (all numbers plus a decimal). You could split the memory in half -- ten banks of 11 characters.

This wasn't where you'd assign a variable; you had to remember which memory location you saved a file. So you'd enter, say, 10, and then put it into the "A" memory bank. If you needed it back, you'd have to bring it back from "A" -- and if you forgot and brought it back from "A/" (called "A split"), you'd get a different number.

The calculations showed up on a paper calculator tape. After you were done, you saved the program on a magnetic card.

The calculator could add, subtract, multiply, or divide. No square root key -- I worked up a program to calculate them via Newton's Method as one of my assignments (it was solely used for math class).

It was a useful teaching tool. When I took computer courses in college (BASIC and FORTRAN, the programming was much easier not having to remember the exact memory location where the data was being stored.

Our high school spent $2000 to get it for the students in 1969. Today, you can get better functionality (except for the programming aspect) with a $5 pocket calculator.

Monday, December 17, 2007

My first computer

Here it is: Digi-Comp1

It could be programmed (by moving the little plastic tubes you can just see in the picture) to do things like count to ten (or even eleven!) in binary. You pulled the plastic handle on the right to change the numbers on the left depending on how the tubes were placed.

Just the thing to make you the hit of the science fair. Makes a great Christmas gift! (In 1963).

Friday, December 14, 2007

I&TS Newsletter online

The Winter 2008 I&TS Newsletter is now available Take a look at what’s new and upcoming at I&TS.

Articles include:

  • Convergence: a look at the future of computing by Steve Fredette of TAGSolutions.
  • Print Management: plans to implement print management to save paper in the open computing labs.
  • How safe is your password?: tips on making it safer.
  • Impatica: new software that reduce the size of PowerPoint presentations.
  • Citrix Program Neighborhood.
  • And more.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Preventing disaster

Are you running Windows Vista? Great.

But before you do anything else, do the following. Now!
  1. Do this now!
  2. Click on "Control Panel"
  3. Click on "User Accounts" (if this doesn't display, click on "User and Family Safety" first).
  4. Click on "Create a Password Reset Disk" on the left panel.
  5. Decide what to use as a disk. It can be a CD, a flash drive, or even an iPod. Plug in or put the device in a drive, wait a minute and select it from the dropdown list.
  6. When prompted, enter your current password.
  7. Click "Next."

Once the disk is created, remove the device/CD and put it in a safe place. Did I mention you should do this now (if you haven't already)?

Why is this so important? Because if you forget your Vista password (or if it becomes corrupted), you can reset it. It's a simple process and can get you up and running in a minute or two.

Without the disk, you will have to find software to crack the password, and then hope it will do the job. You could be without your computer for quite some time.

Here are more detailed instructions.

Do this now and not when you realize you need it -- because that will be too late.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Getting the word

As you may have noticed, Siena is now offering E2campus as an emergency notification system.

E2campus lets you sign up for text messages via your cell phone. If there's an emergency, you will get instant notification that there's a problem.

I did much of the research into this sort of notification. It's become a big area after the Virginia Tech shootings, and colleges are trying to find ways to get the message out that works better than e-mail. Since students are becoming more used to texting, that's the way that most systems go. It's certainly a better method of notification than e-mail, since most people carry their cell phones with them even when they may not be near a computer.

You need to create an account to be notified. Siena will not be sending a lot of messages (with luck, we'll never need it). But it's important to sign up to make sure you aren't missed.

If you have questions about how the system works, contact Sandy Serbalik.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Masters of the Universe

I have seen the future of computing (again), and it's Google Docs.

Well, not entirely. And not quite yet. But one day.

If you're not familiar, Google Docs is an online software suite. If you sign up for it (and, like all things Google, it's free), you have a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation software. I've already talked about their new presentation software, but overlooked the other elements (which have been around longer).

These are all nice, basic versions of the type of software, useful for 80% of all documents. The word processor doesn't allow for the sophisticated formatting of Word 2007, but most users don't need that. The spreadsheet may not have some of the more esoteric functions, but for general use, it's plenty good.

The real strength of the application, though is the use of the web. You can give others access to your documents -- to read and to collaborate. If two people are working on a document, they can change it in real time (and others can edit things, too -- you'll see the changes as they make them). There's also an automatic feature that keeps track of all revisions; you can go back to any version of the document from the time it is created.

At this point, this doesn't replace MS Office, but this sort of collaboration is definitely going to be big in the corporate world. Microsoft is trying to establish something similar, but their Sharepoint system is much more clumsy and awkward. Eventually, they will have to offer something similar to Google's ease of use.

It's worth setting up an account. Even if you don't collaborate, having documents available on the web is well worth the cost.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


I&TS manages hundreds of computers in labs and in faculty/staff offices. We also manage dozens of systems ranging from Banner, to Citrix, to others.

And with so many systems, there's always the chance of something breaking down. And while we monitor most of the systems, we can't check out every single computer that might have a problem.

That's where we need your help. If you discover something wrong with a computer, let us know. This is especially true of lab computers. Sometimes, when something isn't working, users will move on to another computer or use a workaround. And then the next person at the computer is faced with the same problem, which never really gets the attention it deserves.

If you have a problem, let us know. An email to the Call Center only takes a minute, and will let us know there's a problem. You can also fill out the Call Center help request form. But if we don't know about an issue, we won't be able to fix it.