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Daily Tech Update: Work-From-Home edition

We are all working hard to provide information and resources to the Miami community. IT Services has been especially busy ensuring that we as an institution are communicating successfully, collaborating effectively, and supporting each other throughout this time.

Part of that is making sure we are rising to the occasion and fixing problems as they arise -- using the community’s input, of course. We’re so glad to be contributing to the success of this endeavor. To that end, here’s a snapshot of the day-to-day goings-on of the IT Services folks on the front line:

 

Please continue to seek support if you have issues as we move forward with our new norm:

MiamiOH.edu/ITHelp

Announcement: Zoom is coming next week

Miami is officially getting Zoom, and our folks have been working hard to integrate it with our systems on the back end.

You will see an official announcement next week once everything is live. In the meantime, check out the IT news story about our fancy new tool.

Zoom set to go live week of August 3

Planned maintenance: Stress testing of single sign-on system

This Sunday morning, August 2, we will be testing the strength of our single sign-on (SSO) service, which allows Miami users to log in to resources like myMiami and Canvas without the hassle of logging in to each site every single time. The University's decision to start the semester all online means that the SSO service is going to be even more important in the coming weeks.

As always, check the IT Status dashboard for all upcoming work.

Previous Updates

July 29

Planned upgrade tonight: AppPortal unavailable at 9 pm

This evening, July 29, 2020, IT Services will be performing an upgrade on the production AppPortal servers.

This work will start at 9 pm. All AppPortal resources will be unavailable for about an hour.

Here’s the good news: Along with the upgrade, we will also be turning on a new web client that will be easy to use and a universal way of accessing AppPortal resources without bothering with setting up an application on your individual machine. In other words, you won’t have to worry about using the app on your computer; you just have to go to https://AppPortal.MiamiOH.edu in your favorite internet browser.

This also means that users with Chromebooks and Linux machines that previously could not download the Microsoft Remote Desktop application can now access the AppPortal!

Update on Zoom

IT Services is targeting next week for the go-live date for Zoom. You'll be hearing much more about this soon!

Google Chat tips and tricks

Last week, we flipped the switch and made Google Chat the default chat application in our Google Apps environment. Previously, we were using Hangouts, and Google recently deprecated Hangouts in favor of the sleeker, easy-to-use Chat app. You can do everything in Chat that you could in Hangouts -- and more. You can send messages, join meetings, and create rooms for ongoing conversations.

Read more at Google’s support site. Happy Chatting!

Now for some fun: We're all in this together

The folks behind all the technology you know and love at Miami are practicing good physical distancing and mask etiquette -- even our pets (and pet-like decorative statues…). Check out our Instagram for updates on masks, technology at Miami, and general Redhawk cheering!

July 17

Did you hear? We’re getting Zoom!

Zoom Logo

Yes, you read that correctly. IT Services has added Zoom to the video conferencing platforms available at Miami. More information will be coming soon about our go-live date, but rejoice! An enterprise version of Zoom will be available within the next couple of weeks to all current Miami faculty, staff, and students.

Read more about Zoom and other enhancements to our video conferencing toolbox.

Network failover testing and data center work this weekend

Just a reminder that IT Services will be completing its annual network failover testing on Saturday, July 18 from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. This testing enables IT Services to exercise the resiliency of our network systems to provide highly available and stable core communications systems for the University. Although no service disruptions are expected, there is the possibility that access to the internet and the Miami Data Center could be disrupted intermittently, from both on and off campus.

As always, you can view upcoming maintenance work on the IT Status dashboard.

Update on enhanced learning spaces

As was mentioned in a message to campus on June 15, IT Services, along with the Office of the Provost, academic deans, eLearning Miami, and the Academic Directors of Technology, are continuing to work on enhancing many of the learning spaces at Miami to successfully support flexible format instruction during the fall.

Read more here.

Fun stuff: National Emoji Day!

In more enjoyable news, today (July 17) is also National Emoji Day! What are your favorite emojis? Ours are usually animal based, but we have a special place in our heart for the ones that remind us of Miami.

June 17

Warning: NetWalker

There’s no rest for the wicked, and that apparently goes double for malicious attackers during a pandemic. A new-ish version of ransomware called NetWalker has impacted some schools and several health care providers.

Faculty, staff, and students can breathe easy: Miami has not experienced any Netwalker incidents.

However, it never hurts to be prepared. As we continue our work-from-home and learn-from-home lives, it’s even more important now that we remain vigilant and maintain a high level of security know-how. Protecting Miami’s data and resources is in our hands when it comes to our personal devices—so let’s make sure we’re doing our part.

Read some tips our security team has for avoiding NetWalker and other malware.

IT Success: Banner refreshes

Banner DEVL and TEST were both refreshed this weekend as part of the work to change the dates for the start of the Fall term. There’s a lot of work involved in something as innocuous-seeming as a date change, and our database administrators are working round the clock to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible!

If after this weekend’s refreshes you notice any weirdness in Banner (well, aside from the regular weirdness), please reach out.

Featured Knowledge: Duo account management

IT Services will be announcing some Duo-related news later this week. To prepare, why not brush up on your account management skills? Check out the Knowledge Base for all your Duo-related needs.

Duo: Account Management

Friday, June 12

Learning together

Last summer, the experts from the Enterprise Operations group hosted some lunch-and-learn sessions to share knowledge about several topics, including ELK and AppPortal. Well, great news for IT Services: These lunches are starting up again! We all learn a lot during these lunches -- and the Techsplaining 101 blog series was a direct result of the communications team attending these events.

Reminder: Banner refreshes

Starting at 5 pm Friday, June 12, Banner DEVL will be unavailable. Then, once that refresh has completed, Banner TEST will be unavailable early Saturday morning until that refresh has completed. Everything will be back up sometime on Sunday.

This is part of the work being done behind the scenes to change the dates for the start of the Fall term. There’s actually a lot of work involved! Expect to hear more about this later.

Fun stuff: Sofia’s still cooking, and we’re still jealous

Just look at this pork chop. 

A pork chop over dressing on a plate

In Sofia Olaya’s own words: “Baked in cast-iron pan, my grandma’s dressing recipe on the bottom, chop on top and homemade chicken gravy. ‘Twas crazy good.”

Tuesday, May 19

Reminder: Campus-wide "blackstart"

Physical Facilities will be conducting the annual campus-wide power outage and testing event on Thursday, May 21 beginning at 7:00 pm and ending at 11:00 pm. Across campus, power will be lost and restored a number of times during the testing window and will cause loss of lighting and elevator use.

Hoyt Hall will be running on backup generators throughout the event, and so although impact should not be high in Hoyt, for those that may be onsite, please plan to vacate by 5:30 pm.

Security corner: Phishing attempts

IT Services has received reports of a couple of fraudulent email messages that appear to offer summer employment for students with the “department of Disability Resources and Educational Services.”

One version of the email claims to be from a particular professor, including Dr. James Duff. The subject line for these phishing emails is usually some form of: “Miami University Summer Employment Opportunity” or “EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY FOR STUDENTS ONLY.” The idea is the same: The email is a scam offering student employees money for assistant services.

For more information, please see our IT news announcement.

Some fun stuff: Virtual book club!

Several folks in IT Services have started a book club. The first book to discuss: Frank Herbert’s DUNE. They will be meeting virtually to discuss the book. Follow along at home!

Thursday, May 7

New feature: Google Meet in your inbox

During our time of increased need for telecommunication and collaboration, Google has come through with several features to enhance its Meet tool. Now, they have added the ability to schedule and start meetings right from your Gmail inbox. On the left-hand side of your inbox, you will see icons indicating you can join a meeting or start a meeting.

Read more on the Google blog.

Featured knowledge: G Suite apps

While we’re talking about Google, did you know there is a category dedicated to the G Suite in our Knowledge Base? Most of the articles here provide links to Google’s support site, where they have answers to frequently asked questions, helpful tips, and other important information.

Check it out now.

Feel-good stories: Technology bolstering community

Folks took some time to weigh in on how technology is helping us through the current challenges of working and learning from home, as well as helping us navigate our personal lives. 

In these uncertain times, it helps to know that you have a group of people around you who provide support and encouragement. And while we may not be able to meet in person, the Miami community has shown summarily that we are able to come together -- to get on the same page and step up for each other through these challenges.

Read the story.

Work-from-home victory: Student receives help from the experts

When one of Jeffrey Toaddy’s students needed help logging in to a particular server, Toaddy put out a call for assistance to senior director of technology Scott Campbell and senior security engineer Dennis Schwind. Within five minutes, both had joined Toaddy’s virtual classroom to help the student troubleshoot his issue. Now that’s what I call service!

Friday, May 1 (FriYAY)

Happy May Day, folks! Gather ‘round the virtual maypole and celebrate to your hearts’ content. We are ushering in spring and ushering out this semester. Let’s keep going strong.

Reminder: Remote work recommended toolset

We’ve made the transition to remote work and instruction, and though there are still a few kinks to work out, everyone is doing their best and coming together to support each other. Here’s a reminder of which conferencing tools you should be using as the recommended list for Miami.

Long story short: Use Webex Meetings, and if you run into issues, use Google Hangouts.

You’ll find information about using those tools by reading our article.

Collaborative victory: Undergraduate Research Forum 2020

The 26th annual Undergraduate Research Forum took place on Wednesday, April 29, after several weeks of collaborative work done by eLearning, IT Services, and the undergraduate research office. The entire forum took place via Webex, and our intelligent, resilient students were able to display their research and hard work to an interested audience.

Historically, the forum was only open to current students, faculty, and staff -- since it’s usually held in person on campus. Now, however, due to the virtual nature it was able to be opened up to alumni and interested members of the community, including some of the students’ parents. They are even thinking about hybridizing the event in the future so that Webex could be included in planning even when social distancing is no longer necessary.

Fantastic work, folks. This just goes to show what we can accomplish when we work together!

IT Help: Phone support

Are you having issues with your softphone setup? Trying to figure out how to get to your voicemail but can’t remember your PIN? Maybe you need to set up a new cloud-based faxing service. Well, good news: We have a one-stop support shop for all your telephony needs.

Check out our support form at MiamiOH.edu/phones.

Once you fill out the form, a support adviser will reach out to assist with your issue.

Wednesday, April 28

Security corner: Don’t take that internship

Once again, we are receiving reports of scammers trying to get students to sign up for “internships” from “professors.” Emails will come from an account claiming to be a Miami instructor offering obscene amounts of money for summer internships. Note the sender of these messages: They will often look like Miami email addresses, but don’t come from the MiamiOH.edu domain.

For an example of a message similar to this, please see this news article from earlier last year. (Yes, we see these kinds of messages frequently.)

Collaborative victory: Undergraduate Research Forum 2020

The 26th annual Undergraduate Research Forum took place on Wednesday, April 29, after several weeks of collaborative work done by eLearning, IT Services, and the undergraduate research office. The entire forum took place via Webex, and our intelligent, resilient students were able to display their research and hard work to an interested audience.

Historically, the forum was only open to current students, faculty, and staff -- since it’s usually held in person on campus. Now, however, due to the virtual nature it was able to be opened up to alumni and interested members of the community, including some of the students’ parents.

Fantastic work, folks. This just goes to show what we can accomplish when we work together!

Featured knowledge: Remote Lab

To reserve and use computing resources provided by Miami’s computer labs even from home, students can use the Remote Desktop Services to reserve a connection to a lab computer in real time.

Read more in the Knowledge Base.

Wednesday, April 22

Today is Administrative Professionals’ Day! Miami wouldn’t run nearly as smoothly as it does without the help of our admin staff, so please take a minute to thank them today (and every day). To our wonderful admins in IT Services: Thank you for all you do!

IT Help: Phone support

Are you having issues with your softphone setup? Trying to figure out how to get to your voicemail but can’t remember your PIN? Maybe you need to set up a new cloud-based faxing service. Well, good news: We have a one-stop support shop for all your telephony needs.

Check out our support form at MiamiOH.edu/phones.

Once you fill out the form, a support adviser will reach out to assist with your issue.

Reminder: Remote meetings etiquette

As we continue to work and learn remotely, we’re all still figuring out how to effectively use remote meetings to accomplish work. Whether you’re using Webex, Hangouts, or Slack, there are several points of decorum to follow. Here are a few of them:

  • Make sure all meeting participants know how the technology works before the meeting occurs. We have an extensive section of the Knowledge Base devoted to remote tools and support portals for each: MiamiOH.edu/RemoteTechToolkit
  • Be intentional about asking for interaction during meetings, i.e., ask specific people to respond instead of waiting for input after asking a vague question of the entire room. Those kinds of open-ended questions invite silence and then inevitable cross-talk.
  • If you’re not talking, mute your microphone. Cross-talk is one thing, but listening to the ambient noises of your home (e.g., dogs barking, children going in and out of storm doors, the dryer buzzing) can be distracting to coworkers.
  • Schedule breaks. Don’t make people sit through hour-long or two-hour-long virtual meetings. We’re all going through these challenges together, and a little compassion and kindness goes a long way.

Featured Knowledge: Remote Tech Toolkit

It’s worth restating: Don’t forget that we have an extensive list of tools and guidelines for use in the Knowledge Base.

MiamiOH.edu/RemoteTechToolkit

Friday, April 17

We made it to another Friday! How are you holding up? Today is National Haiku Day, so here’s something a little different to start out our daily update:

IT Services victories: Calling program

Our folks participated in the student calling campaign spearheaded by the Provost’s office, and it was a huge victory. We are trying to ensure that every student has the resources they need to succeed even during these challenging times, and the thing that we need to remember is: Everyone is going through the same thing right now. Our folks volunteered to do these check-ins with students as a show of support and solidarity, and nearly 10,000 students have been reached.

Reminder: Faxing is online!

For the duration of the remote work/learning directive, you may still receive faxes to your on-campus machines. There are nearly 100 physical fax machines still on campus. To ensure you still receive the information sent via fax, please set up the software-only solution XMediusFAX.

Read how to change your fax service to XMediusFax in the Knowledge Base.

Featured Knowledge: Canvas category

We have an entire category in the Knowledge Base for Canvas. Whether you’re a student, instructor, or staff member, there are guides for helping you figure out how to best use Canvas to your instructional advantage. Common errors and troubleshooting tips can also be found here, as well as instructions on how to use Webex within Canvas.

Check it out now!

Thursday, April 16

Tech wins: User notification success

The update to the user notification app went in this morning with no issues. Users won’t have noticed any difference -- this update was done to improve reliability of the login process.

Huzzah!

Something fun: Journaling during the pandemic

The Miami University Libraries are asking for submissions to an historic project about the impact of COVID-19 and how the Miami community is handling the pandemic. They’re asking folks to submit journal entries detailing the emotions and activities of their days. From the library website:

Everyone’s everyday life has been touched or disrupted since the first appearance of the current pandemic, COVID-19. The adjustments we make, the emotions we feel, and the actions we take will one day be the subject of historical studies.

In an effort to capture the lived experiences by members of the Miami University community, the Walter Havighurst Special Collections and University Archives invites you to keep a journal documenting your life during this pandemic. Journalists may type or write by hand, transcribe news, draw or compose memes, compose poems, gather stories and so forth. No stress needs to be placed on “good grammar”, spelling, or style. The emphasis is on self-expression, candor and a willingness to be a social commentator.

Events are changing by the day. They are specific to you, and to your families and friends and communities. Please start writing now!

Find more on the library website.

Reminder: IT Status

Our status dashboard is the place to see all of the planned maintenance, ongoing outages, and uptime activity on all of our biggest services. For instance, the aforementioned notice regarding login system upgrades is currently on the site. If you are experiencing difficulties with technology, or are curious about upcoming activities, this should be your first stop.

MiamiOH.edu/ITStatus

Wednesday, April 15

Upgrades: Caller ID on softphones

On Monday morning, IT Services implemented an update to the softphone services that allow people working remotely to use their Miami phone number when making calls from their homes.

Essentially, we enhanced the softphone configuration to align the caller ID of Miami users to match the caller ID presented from their Miami-affiliated desk phones. In other words, when you use our softphone apps (e.g., Jabber or Webex Teams) to make phone calls, the person on the other end of the line will see that the call is coming from your 513-529-xxxx number, instead of an unknown number or potential spam.

Please test to make sure the caller ID for your softphone is displaying as expected. If it is not correct, or if you experience any other issues, please submit a help ticket at MiamiOH.edu/phones.

Planned maintenance: Login system upgrades

IT Services will be implementing changes to the User Notification Service within the Central Authentication System (CAS) on Thursday, April 16 at 6 am to improve the reliability of the login experience to Miami resources. During this maintenance activity, we do not expect any disruption of service to CAS.

The User Notification Service presents requests for information during the CAS login, such as the State of Residence request form, Student Contact Information, and Google Terms of Service.

If you notice any problems logging in to Miami resources following the update, please contact IT Help at 513-529-7900.

Tuesday, April 14

Notice: Login system upgrades

IT Services will be implementing changes to the User Notification Service within the Central Authentication System (CAS) on Thursday, April 16 at 6 am to improve the reliability of the login experience to Miami resources. During this maintenance activity, we do not expect any disruption of service to CAS.

The User Notification Service presents requests for information during the CAS login, such as the State of Residence request form, Student Contact Information, and Google Terms of Service.

If you notice any problems logging in to Miami resources following the update, please contact IT Help at 513-529-7900.

Scam alert: Proctorio “cheating engine” is a virus

This message was sent to undergraduate and graduate students on Monday, April 13.

The Proctorio team reached out to Miami to alert us of a product currently being advertised to students as a “Proctorio cheating engine.” The security team at Proctorio has investigated this product and has determined that it is a virus.

If you see any references to such an engine, please do not click on the information or download any apps to your computer. This could potentially allow hackers access to your data and could be an expensive problem to mitigate.

In today’s online learning climate, you should be extra careful with your information. Don’t click on links in suspicious-looking emails, treat unsolicited email and spam with a high degree of skepticism, and make sure you’re taking advantage of two-factor authentication where it’s available (e.g., for online banking accounts and shopping profiles).

If you have already downloaded a similar scam product or clicked any links referring to a “Proctorio cheating engine,” please contact IT Help immediately. The IT Help support desk can be reached via phone at 513-529-7900 or initiating a live chat at MiamiOH.edu/ITChat.

You’re invited: Undergraduate Research Forum

The 26th annual Undergraduate Research Forum will take place online via Webex this year. IT Services has been working closely with the folks organizing the event to make sure participants and audience members get the same amount of interaction and exchange of ideas they would normally get in the physical world. There are quite a few students signed up to do poster presentations via Webex.

Read more about it on the blog of the Miami University Office of Research and Innovation.

Monday, April 13

Upgrades: Caller ID on softphones

On Monday morning, IT Services implemented an update to the softphone services that allow people working remotely to use their Miami phone number when making calls from their homes.

Essentially, we enhanced the softphone configuration to align the caller ID of Miami users to match the caller ID presented from their Miami-affiliated desk phones. In other words, when you use our softphone apps (e.g., Jabber or Webex Teams) to make phone calls, the person on the other end of the line will see that the call is coming from your 513-529-xxxx number, instead of an unknown number or potential spam.

Please test to make sure the caller ID for your softphone is displaying as expected. If it is not correct, or if you experience any other issues, please submit a help ticket at MiamiOH.edu/phones.

Security corner: Be aware of phishing

As we covered in our work-from-home security tips, scammers don’t sleep even during a global pandemic. We’re asking Miami users to be extra cautious during this time, as we’ve seen several new scams trying to take advantage of the current difficulties.

We received notice about a new phishing attempt that looks to extort money from recipients. This message states that the recipient needs to send Bitcoin currency to the sender or the sender will release a supposed video involving the recipient. Read an example of the email on the IT News site.

Remember, folks: Students, faculty and staff should treat unsolicited email and spam with a high degree of skepticism. If you receive a similar email, simply delete the message and do not reply, and do not open the message, or click any links provided. If you have already responded to this message or clicked a link, please contact IT Help immediately.

Planned maintenance: Login system upgrades

IT Services will be implementing changes to the User Notification Service within the Central Authentication System (CAS) on Thursday, April 16 at 6 am to improve the reliability of the login experience to Miami resources. During this maintenance activity, we do not expect any disruption of service to CAS.

The User Notification Service presents requests for information during the CAS login, such as the State of Residence request form, Student Contact Information, and Google Terms of Service.

If you notice any problems logging in to Miami resources following the update, please contact IT Help at 513-529-7900.

Friday, April 10

We made it to another Friday, folks. How are you holding up? Here are some positive (paw-sitive?) thoughts from our first family: President Greg Crawford, Doctor Renate Crawford, and Ivy.

Reminder: Webex security

This is a friendly reminder that security updates were pushed to Webex this week to deal with the issues regarding “Zoom bombing” or uninvited guests coming in to meetings and sharing inappropriate content. We made meeting passwords mandatory, so if a guest doesn’t have the meeting link and password, they won’t be able to join. Students will also not be allowed to join meetings anonymously -- if they have a Miami login and have authenticated to Miami resources using their UniqueID and MUnet password, they will automatically be able to join without using the Webex password.

Read more about the security changes we made to Webex.

Update: Google Meet enhancements extended

When it became clear that we were going to need to transition to remote instruction and work, Google pushed some much-appreciated enhancements to their Hangouts Meet video conferencing platform to allow more participants and allow everyone to record meetings to their Miami-affiliated Google Drive. The good news here is: Google informed administrators this week that they have extended these enhancements through the end of September.

As a reminder: Webex Meetings is the recommended teleconferencing platform used by Miami. However, in times where Webex is having issues or users are more familiar with Google tools, Hangouts Meet is the recommended backup solution.

Something else to get used to: The name of the tool is changing to Google Meet. The icon is still the same, but Google is dropping the “Hangouts” portion of the name.

Featured Knowledge: G Suite Category

Looking for more information about Google Apps for Education? Our Knowledge Base has you covered, as usual.

Find out more.

Thursday, April 9

It bears repeating: Social media connections

This is a reminder from yesterday that IT Services has an active Twitter and Instagram presence where users can find technology tips and tricks, get the latest on current service status, and see what our tech folks are up to.

We have also been asked to show our support for Miami by engaging with the official Miami accounts -- @miamiuniversity on both platforms. If you’re comfortable doing so on your personal accounts, please share the posts coming from these accounts and show that we are one Miami community -- we’re all in this together.

Something cool: Accessibility maze

Web content accessibility specialist Laura Fathauer found a neat tool that simulates some of the challenges that people with disabilities face when online. From the site:

“The Accessibility Maze was created to help those new to web accessibility experience firsthand what it is like to encounter those barriers.”

It’s essentially a game that, as you play, shows these different challenges. It puts in perspective why we do what we do in terms of making our website and classroom content accessible. Check it out!

Accessibility Maze

Wednesday, April 8

Reminder: WFH Security

We continue to hear about users at other institutions and businesses experiencing certain kinds of issues with Zoom calls -- namely, thrill-seeking anonymous disruptors posting inappropriate content and engaging in general tomfoolery. Remember: Webex is our recommended tool for teleconferencing, for both classroom and meeting purposes.

We recently updated our work-from-home security guidelines.

Get connected with IT Services on social media

Did you know we have an active Twitter and Instagram presence? Find technology tips and tricks, get the latest on current service status, and see what our tech folks are up to.

We have also been asked to show our support for Miami by engaging with the official Miami accounts -- @miamiuniversity on both platforms. If you’re comfortable doing so on your personal accounts, please share the posts coming from these accounts and show that we are one Miami community -- we’re all in this together.

Featured Knowledge: AppPortal

The AppPortal (Remote Desktop Service) allows users to stream applications that aren’t physically located on their machines. This means that even if your computer isn’t “beefy” enough to run high-powered applications like Visual Studio or doesn’t have access to operating system-specific tools like Microsoft Access (there isn’t a macOS version), you can stream those apps through the AppPortal.

Information about the AppPortal can be found in - you guessed it - the Knowledge Base. It’s part of our Remote Technology Toolkit.

Tuesday, April 7

How to invite guests to Webex meetings

When scheduling meetings in Webex, setting a meeting password is required. These passwords are automatically created by Webex and sent to all registered/invited participants via email. The password also appears on the event invitation in Google Calendar.

Users who are already logged in to a Miami resource (e.g., their Webex account or Miami email) won’t have to input the password.

But what about people from outside the institution? We often work with vendors, community members, and others who need to have access to these Webex meetings as well. That’s where the passwords come in. These invited users will need the password in order to be granted access. This cuts down on uninvited guests hijacking calls for nefarious purposes.

More information about security settings in Webex can be found on the IT News site.

Kudos corner: Canvas data collected for Provost

When Miami transitioned to fully remote instruction and work, the Provost and others in the office of enrollment management and student success (EMSS) needed access to information about instructor use of Canvas... and needed it in three days. They wanted to be able to make accurate recommendations, ensure instructors are using Canvas effectively, and meet accreditation requirements, especially now that it’s the primary method of instruction delivery.

A number of folks from IT Services collaborated with eLearning, the College of Engineering and Computing (CEC), the Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness (OIRE), and EMSS to create a way to collect Canvas data so it could be analyzed and accurately reported to the Provost. The team got everything up and running in record time, provided the Provost’s office and departmental chairs the critical information they needed.

We aren’t stopping. The Business Intelligence team is going to take the groundwork laid by this team and look to add the data into the University data warehouse to potentially create dashboards for future use, and OIRE will maintain reporting plus IT Services will look to optimize data integration with Canvas.

Thanks to Jeff Toaddy, Chris Edester, Bill Roi, Roxanne Storer, Ryan Baltrip, John Harrelson, Sarah Matthews, Scott Sportsman, Cynthia Govreau, Lindsay Carpenter, and many others.

Kudos!

Monday, April 6

Happy Monday, folks!

Important tip: Change faxing to software-based service

For the duration of the remote work/learning directive, you may still receive faxes to your on-campus machines. There are nearly 100 physical fax machines still on campus. To ensure you still receive the information sent via fax, please set up the software-only solution XMediusFAX.

Read how to change your fax service to XMediusFax in the Knowledge Base.

Helpful reminder: Virtual Meetings etiquette

Scheduling virtual meetings and synchronous classroom activities is a different beast than planning face-to-face meetups in many ways. Some quick tips:

  • Make sure all meeting participants know how the technology works before the meeting occurs. We have an extensive section of the Knowledge Base devoted to remote tools and support portals for each.
  • Be intentional about asking for interaction during meetings, i.e., ask specific people to respond instead of waiting for input after asking a vague question of the entire room. Those kinds of open-ended questions invite silence and then inevitable cross-talk.
  • Schedule breaks. Don’t make people sit through hour-long or two-hour-long virtual meetings. We’re all going through these challenges together, and a little compassion and kindness goes a long way. 

Kudos corner: Oxford power outage

A power outage in Oxford on Thursday (including areas of campus) provided people with the opportunity to reach out and help others.

Some staff members who had been accessing their on-campus desktops remotely from home found that they weren't able to connect, as their devices had been shut down by the outage and hadn't come back on with the return of power. A few people leapt to their aid and drove to campus to turn on machines. Thanks to those folks who were willing to help!

Kudos to these heroes!

Friday, April 3

Important update: Webex passwords now required

IT Services has decided to require passwords on all Webex meetings. This requirement will go into effect on Tuesday, April 7, at 7 am.

Note: This setting will only apply to newly created meetings going forward. If you want to make sure your current meetings are protected from intruders, please delete and reschedule them.

A longer explanation and more updates will be forthcoming on the IT News site.

Helpful tools: Accessibility toolkit

The AccessMU team has worked with the Miller Center for Student Disability Services to produce the Remote Learning Accessibility Toolkit. This includes resources for students, faculty, and staff to ensure materials are still accessible and that everyone has an inclusive Miami experience. Information about how to receive extra time for online exams, incorporate universal design principles in your video presentations, and host an accessible online event are just a few examples.

Learn more now.

Fun stuff: Can’t stop the music

Tim Gruenhagen is up to his usual shenanigans with his home recording system (professional grade!). He put together a new parody song for us -- R.O.C.K. from Home! We put it to images of our WFH lives.

 

Thursday, April 2

Partners in instruction: eLearning site for Webex

Our friends and partners in eLearning have stood up a robust site dedicated to Webex and using it as an instruction tool. For faculty making the transition to online learning, this site could be a great resource.

eLearning resources: Webex

Reminder: Record your Webex meetings

One handy way to use Webex is to record meetings to re-listen later. Need to remember the tasks you were given during a meeting? Conducting an important interview that you need to transcribe? Having access to a recording could make a difference.

  • Tip: You can also record meetings using the Webex integration in Canvas.
  • Tip: To find your recordings, go to MiamiOH.edu/Webex.

More information about using Webex in Canvas can be found in our Knowledge Base.

One caveat here: It may take a few hours for your recordings to be available. Please wait 24 hours to receive your recording before calling IT Help.

Kudos corner: Credit/no credit options for students

Yesterday, the University flipped the switch on allowing students to opt for credit/no credit for their coursework this spring semester. That required some back-end work that would not have been possible without the help of our developers and database administrators. Team Pi and DBA Dean Harris worked quickly to make the necessary changes, not to mention project manager Erin Mills got everyone together and on the same page in record time. And so, to all involved: great job!

Wednesday, April 1

Happy first day of April! It may be April Fools’ Day, but we’re still here with that daily content to keep you informed. To quote CIO David Seidl: “[W]hatever pranks you may play will be pulled on people you’re going to be stuck with for a while. Caution may be the better part of valor!”

Good to know: Teleconferencing privacy tips

Earlier this week, The New York Times reported on how the attorney general of New York was looking into privacy concerns surrounding the popular conferencing application Zoom. As companies and institutions have moved to remote work and instruction, scammers have of course started to take advantage. Users have been surprised by uninvited meeting attendees interrupting meetings and generally being nuisances. Some scammers have even been known to pop into meetings and throw a phishing link into the chat window.

While Zoom is not the recommended tool for University purposes, the attention on Zoom security provides a good reminder to secure your Webex meetings. Here are some tips for ensuring that your meetings are private:

  • Set passwords for Webex meetings, and then only provide them to users who will be attending
  • Don’t share your audio PIN with anyone
  • Don’t click on links in chat from people you don’t know

More information on best practices for securing meetings can be found by visiting Cisco’s support portal.

Featured Knowledge: Teleconferencing solutions

Webex is the University-supported teleconferencing solution. If you have issues with Webex, we recommend doing some troubleshooting and, if that doesn’t work, moving to Google Hangouts Meet. Recommendations for working and learning remotely via teleconferencing, including some troubleshooting tips, can be found in the Knowledge Base.

Guide: Teleconferencing solutions

Tuesday, March 31

Let’s jump in!

Personal Rooms in Webex

Did you know you have a personal Webex meeting space? If you go to https://miamioh.webex.com/meet/UNIQUEID, and input your own UniqueID at the end of the URL, you essentially have your own meeting room for collaboration and chatting that you never have to schedule.

This is a static space. Invite attendees via that link, your email, or your phone number. Read more about personal meeting rooms on the Cisco Webex help site: Start a Cisco Webex Personal Meeting Room in Modern View

Helpful tip: IT Help homepage

Here’s a quick shoutout to our IT Help portal. From here, you can put in a ticket yourself, contact IT Help, search the Knowledge Base, and more right from this useful dashboard.

Check it out.

Featured Knowledge: Blast your cache

Having a hard time logging in to a particular service? Is your browser constantly crashing? Is your computer loading web pages too slowly?

Sometimes the fix is a simple clear of your browser cookies and cache. Our Knowledge article about how to, as they say, “blast your cache” is one of the most-visited pages in the KB.

Read more now.

Fun stuff: Foodie edition

Quarantine is turning out to be a net positive for IT Services folks and their cooking skills. Several people have professed to turning to making their own noodles -- a fun way to pass the time and also a great way to make the food stores stretch.

Monday, March 30

Welcome (virtually) back to class, students! And faculty and staff: Welcome back to another week of remote work. Let’s dive into today’s update:

Support tip: Help for softphones is available

As class once again ramps up, please take a minute to familiarize yourself with the video conferencing and softphone options available, if you haven’t already. Our guide for recommended remote work tools is a handy place to start.

If you run into issues using any of the recommended technologies, please visit MiamiOH.edu/phones and put in a request. We are working through these tickets quickly (the Network Services team has completed more than 300 tickets related to phones and conferencing in the past couple weeks) and are staying on top of requests.

Featured Knowledge: Webex in Canvas

It is recommended that instructors use Webex in Canvas for remote classwork. Here is a handy guide in our Knowledge Base that has more information on that integration and how it works.

Guide: Use Webex in Canvas

If you have issues using Webex in Canvas, contact IT Help at 513-529-7900 and we will get you the support you need.

Now for the fun stuff

If there’s anything we know how to do in IT, it’s relax after a long, fulfilling day of keeping the University online. To that end, we have several things planned for the coming weeks to keep each other engaged. And, appropriately enough, we’re using technology to do it:

  • Virtual scavenger hunts
  • Netflix Party movie night
  • Online gaming using tabletop simulators and other platforms

On a more serious note, our fearless leader and CIO David Seidl had some words of wisdom this weekend about making sure we’re staying in touch with one another. These are challenging times, and reaching out to friends, family, and loved ones is one way to stay grounded.

Friday, March 27

It’s Friday! How are you holding up? We’re still working on getting you the information you need, when you need it. Let’s see what’s new today.

Internet 101: How does it work?

You may be wondering: How does the internet work, exactly? Why are your download speeds good one day and poor the next? We’ve come across this handy reference for what the internet looks like from a simplistic angle.

Troubleshooting internet connectivity issues is something everyone should know how to do. Here are some quick tips:

  • Check the network icon on your computer to see if your device recognizes any access points nearby
  • Make sure the proper network cables are connected. If you are on a wired connection, check your ethernet cable (the one that runs from your computer to your router)
  • Reset your wireless router
  • Check and see if your firewall or security software is blocking any connections

Recommendation: Remote work tools

We’re all making this transition together, and with it sometimes comes the frustration of not knowing what tool to use. We have put together a list of recommended conferencing and communication tools that are supported by the university. Long story short: Use Webex Meetings, and if you run into issues, use Google Hangouts.

You’ll find information about using those tools by reading our article.

Featured Knowledge: Change my caller ID on my desk phone

This still works for folks who are using our softphone solutions (Jabber or Teams).

Learn more.

Thursday, March 26

We have a lot of stats to share with you for today’s daily update.

Conferencing is on the rise

There were a lot of increases in Webex usage this month for the Miami community (go figure):

  • We went from 200,000 in meeting minutes to 1.7 million meeting minutes, and the month is not over
  • We went from 1,000 Webex Meetings to 7,300 Webex Meetings
  • Recording went from fewer than 40 recordings per month to 600 recordings with about half actually being watched

Globally, Cisco reported around 10 billion meeting minutes so far in March (in sharp contrast to 5 billion meeting minutes in February).

Google Hangouts averaged 2,089 sessions a month over the past five months. This month, so far, we have had almost 14,000 hangouts and meetings.

Support interactions are on the rise, as well

  • 40 percent more calls over this time last year
  • 106 percent more tickets for setup and configuration help with computers
  • Overall satisfaction rates from our surveys increased from 90 to 94%

WFH success: Crafters unite!

One side effect of all of us being home is that our side projects (or our side projects for our side projects) are close at hand. So another way we have been connecting with each other is showing the projects we’re working on. It turns out: Some of us are quite crafty! Here’s a short list of what we’ve been doing:

  • Sewing masks for hospitals
  • Crocheting blankets
  • Learning animation design
  • Painting the house

Wednesday, March 25

Support spotlight: Regional Technology Services

As we all rushed to take the University online last week, several teams have gone above and beyond in terms of helping our users and making sure they had the support they needed. Our partners in Regional Technology Services are knocking it out of the park in several areas.

Numbers: From March 8 to March 24, the regional support team closed 254 tickets (the top of the charts). With only seven people on the team, that would be amazing by itself, but there’s more: Out of 47 survey responses, they received 45 surveys with perfect scores.

They have been setting up faculty and staff with equipment, checking out computers and scanners, and installing necessary software on staff devices (e.g., the VPN client, SPSS licensing, and mapping drives). Even before the work-remote directive, they had been working to set up virtual labs so that students can access software from outside the campus network.

Important tip: Remote computer access

If you find yourself needing to access your desktop and cannot do so remotely, you need to contact your local Technology Support Representative (TSR). We have seen situations where employees need to remote into desktops that have gone to sleep; in this situation, returning to campus to power on your devices should be the absolute last resort.

Follow the instructions in the Knowledge Base for troubleshooting remote desktop connections and contacting IT Help to get in touch with your TSR.

Featured Knowledge: AppPortal System

For more information about troubleshooting remote desktop services (RDS), otherwise known in the Miami community as the AppPortal, visit this category of the Knowledge Base. There are plenty of tips for getting set up and accessing particular apps, like Kronos.

Read more: AppPortal System

Tuesday, March 24

Security corner: Working from home

We have compiled a list of cybersecurity tips for that work-from-home life. As we adjust to working and teaching remotely, cybersecurity has become more important than ever. Taking our work home with us also brings our home into the work -- so we need to take the proper steps to protect our homes from malicious actors, who never seem to sleep, even during a pandemic.

Read more here.

Featured knowledge: Choosing a softphone

Miami supports two softphone applications: Webex Teams and Jabber, both from Cisco. Which one do you choose? In this Knowledge Base article, we give you some things to consider.

Guide: Choose a softphone app

WFH Life, Or Keep Calm and Send Memes

We’re still in high spirits after the first week of the remote-work directive. Here's what we've been up to:

  • Learning who is good at memes
  • Keeping each other in good spirits with uplifting content about kids, pets, projects, and more
  • Playing online bowling games instead of going to Oxford Lanes (not the same, we know)
  • Having fun with our leadership and their pet moose (see featured photo)
  • Creating, creating, creating! Network services manager Tim Gruenhagen wrote and recorded a parody song about working remotely. We think it's awesome.

We’re still here, and we’re still working to make this transition easier for you.

Monday, March 23

Planned maintenance: Sign-on service moved to AWS

On Monday morning at 6 am, IT Services moved all off-campus traffic for our single sign-on service to Amazon Web Services (AWS).

This essentially means that for folks logging in from off-campus locations (which is nearly all of us now), your authentication is being funneled through AWS. We have been planning this move for quite some time, and we wanted to make sure it wouldn’t change anything for our users -- in fact, logging in is even faster now with AWS resources behind it.

This change is one of many essential steps forward in our cloud-appropriate strategy and disaster recovery efforts. By moving a portion of our authentication services to AWS, we are creating critical redundancy for logins, thus helping ensure that our users will continue to be able to access Miami resources even in challenging times.

It also means we’re still doing the same kinds of good work you expect from us.

Something cool: Cisco Webex Network Test

Wondering if your internet connection is up to the challenge of running a Webex Meeting from your living room? There’s a tool for that!

Cisco Webex Network Test

Boots on the ground: Technology Support Services

We’ve heard constant praise for our TSS folks. They have been running around like mad, physically getting people across campus up and running. Here’s a short list of what they’ve been up to:

  • Getting folks set up with the software -- and at times hardware -- they need to work remotely. Examples of software include the AnyConnect VPN client, Jabber, Webex, mapped drives (NoMAD)
  • Troubleshooting Webex issues with the Network Services team
  • Helped set up and test the virtual call center and emergency call services
  • Assisted with the Faculty Senate Webex meeting when President Crawford announced remote instruction
  • Helped the president, provost, and general counsel set up their virtual meetings and technology needed for the WFH transition

In other words, our TSS folks deserve a lot of the recognition for helping people physically work and teach remotely.

Day One: March 20, 2020

We've been working from home for four days now. What have we been up to?

Troubleshooting: Webex edition

More schools and businesses are moving to remote work in response to Coronavirus concerns. This has led to some issues this week with the Webex service as the technology works overtime.

In an effort to accommodate increased demand, Cisco Webex has been adding resources and improving uptime. However, there may still be growing pains in the coming days as we continue on this new work-from-home journey. Please bear with us. Check Webex's Global Service Status page if you continue to have issues, as they will update their site regularly.

Troubleshooting: Softphone audio

Part of the growing pains of going fully remote also lies in the fact that now we are reliant on software tools and the internet to communicate with one another. Jabber and Webex Teams are both now being utilized as softphones -- that is, you can make phone calls with the software and it will look like you are calling from your desk at Miami.

Part and parcel of using a softphone, however, is ensuring your audio tools are up to the task. We have made a list of recommendations for choosing and using microphones and speakers in the Knowledge Base, but in short:

  • Make sure your mic is high quality. Internal microphones on most laptops are usually sufficient.
  • Mic placement: Put it close to your mouth without touching.
  • When in doubt: Test it out. Make sure you can be heard and can hear the person on the other end -- before the meeting, if at all possible. Conscript an unwitting coworker into the testing process.

Beyond the office: Our new (virtual) reality

IT Services isn’t just working hard. We’re finding our new normal, and that includes all the personality that one might expect from such a diverse group of people.

We’re working on ways to keep each other engaged. That has come in myriad forms:A photo of a whiteish pink cockatoo with someone smiling in the background.

  • Sharing photos of our desk spaces.
  • Posting memes and funny cartoons to keep the mood light.
  • Posting pictures of what we’re cooking.
  • Introducing each other to pets and kids when video conferencing.

Some ideas are in the works for remote Netflix parties, and the regular pub-goers still chatted via webcam on Wednesday evening. There is even talk of a live music concert happening via Webex Meetings. The bottom line is: We’re in this together, and we’re going to get through it.

See you on Monday for a fresh look at what we’ve been up to.