Shared Services Update

It’s been eight weeks since the announcement was made regarding IT Shared Services.  Since that announcement, IT has been working diligently to transition and establish the road map to meet the critical objectives of this new service model. OIT has identified the following critical milestones for IT:

  • Integrate the infrastructure for Cox, Lyle and Law
  • Unify the ticketing system for tracking and managing customer requests across all IT groups
  • Establish the two governance councils
  • Design and implement a distributed desktop support and classroom support framework
  • Implement an e-forms tool to help further expedite processes across campus
  • Establish an ERP Steering Committee and begin streamlining the ERP processes
  • Complete the transition of individuals into the new Academic Technology roles

The timeline for each of these items can be viewed on our website.

On September 28, we completed the unification of the ticketing system.  Requests are now entered into the same application and can easily be transferred to the appropriate support personnel.  We will work on several changes to the customer request portal ( to provide a more robust support experience including live chat with the Help Desk staff, and access to the knowledge base to help resolve issues quickly.  Stay tuned for more information on these upcoming changes!

During the month of October, the IT Leadership team will meet with the various Deans, VPs, and leaders throughout campus to share the vision for Academic and embedded support.  In addition, several Open House meetings will be announced where faculty and staff can visit with the IT Leadership team and learn about the vision and plans. Please join us if you are able!


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Issues with Outlook for Mac and El Capitan

Looks like another major application is having problems with Apple’s latest OS release, El Capitan. This time, the popular email client Microsoft Outlook for Mac is having difficulty with the OS. The problem identifies itself when the application tries to connect to the server to sync email and the application locks up. If you use Microsoft Outlook, you are highly encouraged not to update to the last Mac OS at this time.

In an emailed statement to Computerworld, a Microsoft spokeswoman said the company is looking into the problem.

“We know that some users may be experiencing issues with Office 2016 for Mac running on El Capitan,” the statement read. “We are actively investigating the matter with Apple. Until there is a fix, we recommend people install the latest updates to Office 2016 for Mac using Microsoft AutoUpdate.”

The Project Manager for Outlook, Faisal Jeelani, recently commented on a post on the company’s support forum.

We are aware of the issue with Outlook 2011 on El Capitan and of Office 2016 on El Capitan.

We are working on a fix for 2011 and for 2016 we are working closely with Apple to resolve this issue as soon as possible. Unfortunately we do not have any timelines for either fix, please stay tuned and thank you for your understanding.

While Microsoft is acknowledging that users of its Office for Mac 2016 application suite are encountering frequent crashes and that their team is working on a fix, there is no timeline for an update. Until then, Microsoft suggests that users can work around this issue by running Outlook for Mac 2011 on Mac OS X Yosemite (version 10.10) or an earlier version.

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Password Managers: What are they and should I use one?

For those who are challenged with managing multiple different passwords for different accounts they might consider using a password manager, also known as a password vault.

Password ManagerA password manager is a piece of software that helps someone to organize their own passwords or pin codes. It typically is a local database that encrypts passwords and the database itself uses a master password to open it. Some types of password managers also acts as a Form Filler, where once a particular website is launched, and it prompts for a username and password, the password manager recognizes the request and will automatically fill the user name and password into the form.  This type of password manager can be used as a defense against “phishing” as it is setup to handle automated logins to a particular site, and will not work with an imitation or a look alike website.

Some password managers include a password generator.  In this case, when you define an entry in the database for a password, the password manager can generate a password that can be stored and used as needed.  There are also password managers that are available online.  This type of tool is a web based version similar to a desktop password manager, but allows for more portability.

Password managers have pros and cons.  Some of the pros are listed above, while one of the main cons is that if your computer (or phone if you have a password manager on your smartphone) is lost, so are your passwords.  Even though they may be protected and encrypted inside of the password manager, you no longer have access to that information.

(A few password manager tools are Keepass, Lastpass, Roboform, Kaspersky Password Manager and 1password)

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Early Issues with ExamSoft and El Capitan

Update: ExamSoft announces a new version of SofTest compatible with El Capitan is available now.

Update: ExamSoft announces a new version of SofTest supporting El Capitan will be available by the second week of November.

examsoftEl Capitan (OSX 10.11) was recently released to the public by Apple. While it is exciting to be the first one to use a new OS, if you use ExamSoft, we would urge you to wait.

At this time, ExamSoft’s SofTest is not compatible with El Capitan due to a vulnerability identified during the initial testing. If you are running El Capitan as your OS, ExamSoft will prevent you from downloading or registering SofTest on your device.  We urge you to please refrain from updating to El Capitan until an official support announcement has been made by ExamSoft.

Questions about Mac OS upgrade should be directed to the Help Desk.

If you need to access your ExamSoft account, please visit Log into the account under the ‘Administrator/Faculty’ area.  If you forgot your password, use the ‘Lost Password’ link to have it resent to you.

Post Updated 10/02 to include information about Mac OS upgrading and ExamSoft account login.

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Wi-Fi Assist and Managing Cellular Data

Apple recently released iOS 9 with a new feature called Wi-Fi Assist. Wi-Fi Assist allows the device to use cellular data to keep your internet connection active in areas where the Wi-Fi signal may not be very strong.

Smart Network Switch

Andriod’s Smart Network Switch

Android has had a similar feature for some time called Smart Network Switch. To the chagrin of some users, they are finding their cellular bill higher as data overages have been incurred. With application management, you can find it possible to leave the feature on and still not rack up huge data charges.

Disabling Wi-Fi Assist

Disable iOS 9's Wi-Fi Assist

Disable iOS 9’s Wi-Fi Assist

Let’s start with how to disable the Wi-Fi assist. Some users may just want to turn the feature off and not risk those charges.

To disable Wi-Fi Assist:

  1. Launch Settings.
  2. Select Cellular.
  3. Scroll to the bottom.
  4. If the switch for Wi-Fi assist is green with an |, the feature is enabled. If it is colorless with an O, the feature is disabled. To turn the Wi-Fi Assist off, tap the green switch.
  5. To enable the feature, tap the switch again.

If you are concerned about the possibility of an extreme amount of cellular data usage and the fees that may come with it, we recommend disabling the Wi-Fi Assist, or Smart Network Switch in the case of Android users, feature off and manually controlling when your device is on Wi-Fi vs cellular network. Continue reading

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Phishing Exercises Coming Soon.

PhishingNo. It’s not about fish doing Zumba.

Twice per year, SMU conducts a simulated phishing exercise where the University sends a simulated phishing message to employees based on the types of phishing messages we have most recently received.  Last year, over 100 SMU accounts were compromised due to users falling victim to these attacks so we are committed to reducing our click through rate through user education and awareness.  When we started the simulated phishing awareness campaigns in 2013, we saw a 40% click-through rate.  In 2014, we reduced that click-through rate to 20%.  In our first campaign of 2015 that number had dropped to just 10%.

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SAS e-Learning Available

SASOIT is working with SAS to provide self-paced e-learning for users of SAS software. This SAS Education Analytical Suite will allow you to study SAS programming at your own pace and convenience, at no cost, from the comfort of your own computer.

To access the SAS Education Analytical Suite, you will need to activate the training under your SAS Profile. These activation codes are available from the Help Desk. Just contact the Help Desk and request the SAS e-Learning activation code. Anyone with a valid SMU account is eligible to receive the activation code for e-learning.

SAS Analytics technology in a bundle specifically designed for teaching and research in education. Licenses for the Education Analytical Suite come with unlimited access to these SAS e-learning courses:

SAS Programming Language

  • SAS Programming I: Essentials
  • SAS Programming II: Data Manipulation Techniques
  • SAS Programming III: Advanced Techniques and Efficiencies
  • SAS Macro Language I: Essentials
  • SAS SQL I: Essentials

SAS Enterprise Guide (point-and-click interface)

  • SAS Enterprise Guide 1: Querying and Reporting (newest version of the course)
  • SAS Enterprise Guide 2: Advanced Tasks and Querying


  • Introduction to Statistical Concepts
  • Predictive Modeling Using Logistic Regression
  • SAS Enterprise Guide: ANOVA, Regression, and Logistic Regression
  • Statistics 1: Introduction to ANOVA, Regression, and Logistic Regression

Also available, by request, is the Associated e-Learning with SAS Enterprise Miner.  The Associated e-Learning with SAS Enterprise Miner training includes:

  • Applied Analytics Using SAS Enterprise Miner
  • Rapid Predictive Modeling for Business Analysts
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Faculty and Students: Receive free hands-on-training for Mathematica

hoswm-mainWolfram has created a new outreach program that gives faculty and students free hands-on training for Mathematica and SMU has been invited to participate.

Join a free online training session to learn different ways to interact with Mathematica—enter queries through free-form input and the Wolfram Language, create notebooks, perform symbolic and numeric calculations, generate 2D and 3D graphics, create interactive Manipulates, analyze data, and turn your notebook into an interactive presentation. This is an exciting opportunity to learn directly from the authors of the book Hands-on Start to Wolfram Mathematica and Programming with the Wolfram Language and ask questions during the interactive Q&A. Participants will need access to either Mathematica for the desktop or Mathematica Online to utilize the hands-on aspects of this training.

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Classroom Support Enhancements

In addition to upgrading the technology equipment in several classrooms, we are also working on a few new processes to provide quicker response to classroom calls as well as keep faculty informed of maintenance issues in their classrooms.

Emergency Response:

  • We currently have 4 full time staff on the AV/Event Support team.  These individuals are currently serving as first responders to classroom calls.  They also have a team of student workers and the OIT Desktop Support team to assist as backup.
  • As we implement the shared services model in IT, there will be embedded desktop support technicians throughout campus.  These individuals will be responsible for providing quick classroom response due to their location.  They will continue to be dispatched from the Help Desk, but can provide a quicker response time as they will be in near proximity of the classrooms in their area.

Classroom Maintenance

  • When classroom technology fails and requires maintenance, the AV team will first attempt to install temporary equipment in the room that day to be used until the room is unoccupied for maintenance to occur.  Carts are being compiled with the necessary equipment and will be stored in various buildings on campus.
  • The AV team is implementing a notification process to alert any faculty that are teaching in an impacted classroom of the technology issue and if temporary equipment is available.  The faculty will be notified via email throughout the fulfillment of the maintenance activities.
  • A webpage has been built which will automatically display a list of any classrooms that are currently under maintenance as well as a status of these rooms. The information is available at
  • We are also in the process of implementing new management tools to provide reporting, health checks and possibly even remote capabilities for the classroom equipment.  As these tools are implemented, many issues can be prevented or resolved quickly without dispatching a technician.

Finally, we realized that our instruction sheets in the classroom were not updated following the upgrade of equipment in several rooms.  We are working on new instructions and will ensure that these are accurate and available in all classrooms quickly.

We will continue to look for opportunities to improve our classroom response service as it is a critical component for instruction!

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A Sneak Peek at New Technology Services

There are several exciting new services that will be available to the SMU Community during this Academic Year.  The following are a few projects that are underway to deliver new technology to the campus community.  Each of these will be highlighted in various blog posts and newsletters over the next several months.

Box (File Storage replacement for Locker)

BoxLocker.SMU and Bstore.SMU will be replaced by a popular file storage solution, Box.  Box was selected for the replacement service as it will offer unlimited storage for all faculty, staff and students in addition to providing a robust and more user-friendly interface!  Box is a cloud-based system that allows you to store documents online so you can access, manage and share them from anywhere (in
cluding your mobile devices).  This project has just launched, so a timeline will be provided in a future update.

Canvas:  New Learning Management Tool

CanvasAs announced by the Provost, Blackboard will be replaced by Canvas for the next academic year.  OIT is working closely with the Center for Teaching Excellence and the Office of Assessment and Accreditation to coordinate the transition to Canvas.  Many faculty have begun using Canvas this semester as a pilot group.  All faculty will have the option to transition to this new platform for the Spring semester.  Blackboard will be decommissioned in June of 2016. Workshops, migration options and other resources will be made available throughout the semester to ensure a smooth transition to Canvas.

LyndaCampus: Online Training for the SMU Campus offers over 2,000 self-paced training classes on a variety of applications.  Click here for more details about this service.

Duo (Two Factor Authentication)

Duo provides two-factor authentication before accessing various applications or content. This requires both your SMU credentials and a quick verification process that can be completed with the click of a button on a mobile device.   OIT is currently reviewing the list of applications to select the appropriate ones to integrate with this extra security component.  Our intention is to protect the most sensitive information first, such as direct deposit information and other financial information.

Unified Messaging (New Voicemail for On Campus Phones)

Unified MessagingWe are currently in the pilot phase of the new voicemail replacement project.  During the summer, we migrated approximately 75 accounts to the new system.  We will begin the campus wide implementation during the month of October.  This new service will deliver voicemail messages straight to your email mailbox.  A speech-to-text transcription will be included in the email message along with the actual audio file.  In addition, users can call into the voicemail system to retrieve messages as well as access email, calendar appointments and more.  If an individual calls your number but does not leave a message, a missed call notification will be delivered to your email as well.  All of these features (and more) can be controlled from the options menu within

Power BI (Business Intelligence Application)

Power BiThe Power BI service was recently enabled via Office 365 for faculty,staff and students. This online service enables you to find and visualize data through dashboards, shared reports and more.  To activate Power BI, you must login to with your username and account password.  Select the Power BI icon to begin the activation process.

We look forward to bringing these new solutions to the SMU Community during the upcoming academic year.

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