Wednesday, October 31, 2012

November is Google Awareness Month 2012

November is Macalester's Google Awareness Month! Join ITS all month long for drop-in sessions and find out how the innovative collaboration features of Google Apps for Education can help you get the job done! 

New Compose Window in Email

Today, October 31, 2012 Google introduced a new compose window in our Macalester email. Visit the Official Gmail Blog for more information on this new feature.

New Compose Window

Fast: Compose messages from your inbox.
SimpleRedesigned with a clean, streamlined look.
Powerful: Check emails as you're typing, and even compose two messages at once.

Opt In and Switch Back

We are now in the opt-in phase of Gmail's new compose and reply experience, which means that you can give it a try temporarily, and then switch back to old compose. To opt in, follow the instructions that appear on your screen. To switch back, click on the More options drop-down button in the lower right corner of the new compose window and select Switch back to old compose.

After switching back to old compose, you may try out the new compose experience—just click the new compose experience link located at the top right of a compose window.

If you have additional questions about the new compose and reply feature, contact the ITS Help Desk at

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sharing songs, movies, games, and software is a crime: Don’t do it!

Many people are still confused about the issue of illegal downloading of copyrighted material such as music, videos, and movies. They believe that if they just share files with others, and don't charge for the files or otherwise make any money from file sharing, there is no problem. As a recent case in Brainerd, MN has demonstrated, however, two federal laws are clear: THIS IS WRONG.

The No Electronic Theft (NET) Act makes it a crime to reproduce, distribute, or share, electronically or otherwise, copyrighted works such as songs, movies, games, or software programs, even if done without any commercial purpose. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) demands an effective response by the College when notified of potential copyright violations. Both acts are capable of imposing very serious penalties.

Protect yourself (and Macalester College). Use legal sources. Music can be found at Music United and movies/TV shows at Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

These tips are offered as part of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, one event coordinated by the National Cyber Security Alliance, a non-profit public-private partnership focused on cyber security awareness and education for all digital citizens.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Alert: Network Maintenance Day, Saturday 10/27/12

After consulting with key stakeholders in campus offices, ITS has scheduled a regular system maintenance period for Saturday, October 27 2012 during Fall Break.  Beginning at 6:00 AM and ending by 12:00 noon, we will be performing upgrades, testing connections, patching, rebooting and doing other tasks to keep our critical campus information systems running efficiently.

Internet access should remain unaffected.  All other networked services will be unavailable, completely or intermittently, during the maintenance period. A very brief listing of services that will be down for maintenance include (but are not limited to) email, networked printing, file servers (G: and H: drives), Banner, Argos and Macalester's Web server. You may wonder "will [service X] be down too?" Almost certainly, the answer is "Yes, it will be down."

If you have questions or concerns, please contact Ramón Rentas at or 651-696-6633.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Internet Service Fully Restored and Stabilized

As of 12:40 PM today, Wednesday October 17, Macalester's Internet service has been fully restored and stabilized.  We have identified the cause of the problem and are working to prevent a recurrence.  Please note, this morning's unplanned outage is completely unrelated to the planned maintenance our Internet Service Provider will be performing overnight.  (As a reminder, tonight's maintenance should take down Internet access for approximately fifteen minutes, sometime between 11:00 PM 10/17 and 5:00 AM 10/18.)  If you have questions, please call the ITS Help Desk at 696-6525.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Alert: Brief Internet Outage, Overnight 10/17 - 10/18

Tonight, Wednesday October 17, Macalester's primary Internet Service Provider will perform maintenance on our Internet connection.  This maintenance will cause a 15-minute interruption to our
Internet service sometime between 11:00 PM and 5:00 AM.  The outage is likely to happen early during that window.

The outage will affect all of this ISP's customers, not just Macalester College.  No on-campus IT services (such as Moodle, Banner and file storage) should be affected.  We apologize for the short notice on this outage. If you have any questions please contact the Help Desk at 651-696-6525 or

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Alert: File Server Upgrade Saturday 10/13

Macalester's file server - your G:, H: and M: drives, plus Webfile - will be upgraded this Saturday morning, October 13 beginning at 8:00 AM. This upgrade should take approximately two hours, and the file server should be available again after 10:00 AM. All other campus IT resources, including Internet access, Google Apps, Moodle and Banner, should remain up and running normally.  Please plan to log out of the server before 8:00 AM Saturday morning.  If you experience problems after this upgrade, please try logging in again or call the ITS Help Desk at 651-696-6525.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Use a passphrase (instead of a password) for better security


Current research suggests that password length far outweighs other factors, including complexity and rate of change, in terms of providing security. Using a passphrase instead of a single password has been found to more secure and is easy to remember. This is because it is okay to use ordinary words, provided they are random enough to foil simple guessing. This is also what provides its length. A passphrase such as “battery-staple-Burma-correct” would be easy to remember and with 28 characters, plenty long.

Spaces are not allowed because of technical limitations. Passphrases should be between 15 and 30 characters long. Any of the following special characters could be used: % * + - : ? _

See the ITS Safe Computing website for more information:

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Alert: Limited Phone Outage Tonight, Thursday 10/4/12

Telephone service will be interrupted this evening, Thursday October 4, in Olin-Rice, Humanities, Art, Theatre and the Language houses. The outage will begin at 4:30 PM and should be completed by midnight tonight.

To protect your phone from future lightning strikes, we are updating the electrical grounding on our voice cables.  This update will stop all telephone service in these buildings starting at 4:30. Any incoming calls will go directly to your voice mailbox.  Phone service will be restored as we reattach phones to the cables: the first phones to be reattached will be out for only a few minutes, while phones further down the list will be out for a few hours.

We regret the inconvenience, but this work must be done. We hope to minimize the disruption by making this upgrade late in the day. If you have questions, please call the ITS Help Desk at 651-696-6525.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Alert: Moodle Maintenance Thursday October 4

Moodle will be unavailable from 8:00 - 8:30 AM on Thursday, October 4, so that we can update the system.  If you have any questions, please contact the ITS Help Desk

Monday, October 1, 2012

Networking Problems Resolved

The networking problem reported earlier this morning has been resolved.  Full wireless and wired network access have been restored across campus as of 9:40 AM. The problem was with our DHCP service, the tool that distributes network addresses to computers.  People with computers already connected to the network by 8:30 AM probably did not notice a problem, while some people trying to connect after that time (via wireless or wired connection) could not do so. If you are still unable to connect, please restart your computer and try connecting again.  If the problem persists, please call the ITS Help Desk at 651-696-6525. 

Original posting: 

Alert: Widespread Wireless Service Outages
As of this morning, Monday October 1, many individuals are unable to connect to the network wirelessly. ITS Infrastructure staff are aware of the problem and are actively working to restore wireless service. We will update this entry when more information is available.