Summer 2015: Sneak Peek from OIT

It’s hard to believe the Spring semester is almost over.  Summertime is always a very busy period for OIT as we strive to complete infrastructure projects or finish up new solutions before the Fall semester begins.  Throughout the summer, we will post updates on a wide range of projects.  However, here’s a sneak peek of a few of the projects scheduled:

  • New Mobile Application:  a new mobile application is being developed to deliver content from my.SMU to your mobile device.  New functionality will be deployed periodically throughout the year.  Look for an announcement later this summer for application details!
  • Wireless Upgrades: The team will be busy upgrading over 600 wireless access points and enhancing some coverage areas that have reported issues.
  • Distributed Antenna System: is in phase 2. By the Fall, the remaining residence halls should have strong cellular signal for all four main carriers.
  • Help Desk Relocation:  Yes, due to the Fondren Library renovations scheduled to begin shortly after graduation, the OIT Help Desk will be relocating.  More details will be announced soon so that you’ll know where to find us when you need us!
  • Voicemail to Inbox:  This project is featured in another post, but soon your SMU voicemail will be delivered right to your email inbox.

There are many other projects underway.  Stay tuned to the blog for more details and updates!

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Microsoft Forefront Replacement Coming this Month!

Microsoft is discontinuing support for and replacing Forefront, our licensed anti-virus application for SMU Windows machines, with a solution called Endpoint Protection.  OIT will begin deploying this replacement product via LanDesk over the next several weeks.

About Endpoint Protection

Endpoint Protection provides anti-virus and anti-malware protection, detection and remediation capabilities.  The agent runs in the background and daily scans to ensure your computer is free from malware.  If malware is present, it will attempt to clean it.  Machines that cannot automatically clean will appear on a report monitored by OIT.  A consultant is then dispatched to remediate the malware.  This new solution functions the same way as Forefront.  Other than a different icon, you probably won’t notice a difference!

About the Installation

  1. Microsoft’s System Center (the engine behind the new Microsoft Endpoint Protection) will be deployed to Windows computers running the LanDesk agent.  When this happens, you can ignore a pop-up alert from Forefront indicating that new software is being installed.  After System Center installs in the background, a new folder is created under “All Programs” called “Microsoft System Center 2012 R2″ which you can also ignore.
  2. endpointAs soon as Microsoft Systems Center installation is complete, Forefront will be uninstalled and Endpoint Protection will be deployed to the computer.  This process will cause two alerts to pop-up on your computer screen which you can safely ignore.  The first indicates that you need to update Forefront, and the second states that you need to install antivirus software.  Endpoint Protection will complete shortly after the two pop-up messages appear, and you’ll see new system tray icon.

The deployment is under testing within OIT.  We are scheduled to complete the test rollout on May 15.  Following the successful implementation, the deployment task will be approved for all SMU Windows machines.

Former Work-At-Home User Information

If you have previously used a home download of Microsoft Forefront on your home computers, a version of Endpoint Protection will no longer be available for faculty and staff to download for home use. For a free alternative, Microsoft offers Security Essentials, which is a free home version of Forefront for Windows Vista and Windows 7. If your home computer run Windows 8, antivirus and antispyware software is built-in, so no action is required unless you prefer a paid antivirus solution.
If you have any questions, please contact the Help Desk at 214-768-4357.
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Voicemail Replacement Project

The Voicemail Replacement Project is approaching the pilot phase. When the new service comes online, some exciting new features will be available. In addition to being able to check voicemail with your phone, staff and faculty will also be able to receive voicemail via email. This will provide a text voicemail transcription in your inbox. The new voicemail will integrate with the existing desktop phones, and users will have ability to manage email and calendar items via voice commands.

Unified MessagingWe anticipate that the pilot phase will begin after the end of the spring semester. If you are a faculty or staff member interested in being a part of the pilot group, please contact the IT Help Desk. The Voicemail Replacement Project is a part of the larger Unified Communications Project which seeks to enhance telecommunication services for the campus.

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Distributed Antenna Service (DAS): Cell Phone Coverage Update

By Amber Clark

The DAS Initiative to improve cell phone coverage across campus completed phase one of five on March 4th. All carriers (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon) are present in the Residential Commons.  Phase two is estimated to be complete this August and includes Residence Halls:

  • Shuttles
  • Mary Hay
  • Peyton
  • Virginia Snyder
  • Boaz
  • Morrison McGinnis
  • McElvaney
  • Cockrell McIntosh
  • Hawk
  • Martin

 

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Spam Filter Changes

In response to the ever-present threat of unsolicited email sent to campus, the following changes were made to the SMU email security service on Mospam-countnday, April 20:

  • Messages identified as “definite” spam will be dropped, instead of quarantined. These messages meet or exceed a threshold of 90 on a spam detection scale of 1 to 100. Users will have the option to opt-out of this policy and continue to quarantine “definite” spam by submitting a request to help@smu.edu.
  • A weekly digest email will be sent to users when spam messages are quarantined. This will include a summary of messages inbound to the user which have been quarantined as spam.
  • Quarantined spam will be deleted after 60 days. Previously, spam retention was set to 1 year.
  • Users will have an option to quarantine Marketing Messages. These emails typically advertise goods and services, and may have been directly or indirectly requested by the recipient. Users must send authorization to help@smu.edu to opt-in to this service.
  • Users can also opt-in to spam prevention policies which are more or less aggressive than default. These policies will change the thresholds of messages sent to the inbox vs. those retained by quarantine. Opt-in for these policies will also be handled by requests to help@smu.edu.

Please contact the OIT Help Desk with any questions about spam prevention at SMU, or visit our service page at http://www.smu.edu/BusinessFinance/OIT/Services/Email/SpamFiltering.aspx.

 

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The Stress-Free Way of Finding a Job

Graduation season is approaching, and for many graduates, while their academic career closes, their professional career is slowly opening its doors. That in itself is extremely stressful – but it doesn’t have to be.

Introducing: LinkedIn.

If you haven’t yet heard of this precious gift, LinkedIn is a professional social-networking site for creating connections (or “links”) between working professionals, including prospective employees with their desired employers, for example. These connections can occur at numerous levels. While we’ll explore its options in a bit, in layman’s term, it’s a Facebook for professionals, with over 187 million unique visitors per month.

To best describe how LinkedIn works, let’s use this scenario:

You log into LinkedIn and created a profile. This profile is extremely intricate, asking for information regarding education, volunteerism, employment history, honors/awards, projects, skills, interests, etc. You can also upload professional works, such as research papers, artwork, etc.

Once you fill this in (it can take a while), you would then upload a profile photo and launch their customized page, available for other LinkedIn users to see, include friends and prospective employers. However, LinkedIn offers many customization settings, one of them being security, so that you would be able to control how his/her profile is viewed.

Your  new profile page essentially serves as a modern, online resume. Deviating from the traditional paper-style resumes, LinkedIn offers you the ability to use this page as a showcase of your abilities and achievements. In fact, many employers will search LinkedIn for candidates, making their profiles the first thing that employers see. As you grow and gain more experience, you’ll start creating “connections,” that is, “friending” working professionals you know on the website. In essence, they serve as your virtual network, being able to endorse you for skills you may have specified, or refer your profile for employment.

How to get started

LinkedIn is such a thorough service that no blog post can truly, comprehensively cover its values and services. Instead, click over to www.linkedin.com and peruse the site, search for profiles, and see if LinkedIn can help you grow in an online, professional setting.

More resources

Thankfully, many online and in-person resources are available for your utilization to make you an efficient LinkedIn user:

The first is a set of eight only tutorials to get started with LinkedIn, available here.

The second, if you are an SMU student, is to visit the Hegi Family Career Development Center during their drop-in hours. There, experts can guide you to creating and maintaining an exemplary profile, as well as offer other quintessential services for starting your professional career.

And lastly, visit with someone who has a profile already, including, perhaps, your professor! See how they use LinkedIn and what the service has offered them.

Try out LinkedIn today – it may just land you your next job.

P.S. For some fast facts about LinkedIn, click here.

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Get it Together: Conquering the To-Do List

As finals quickly approach, it can be a real pain to keep all of your tasks, both personal and school-related, organized and on their way to completion. Sometimes, things fall through the cracks and throw your life into chaos.

Everyone has their own methods of managing their tasks, but if your methods don’t seem to be cutting it for your needs, you may want to switch it up with some digital methods!

A very common way to keep it all together is to have a to-do list. For ages this has been done with pen/pencil and paper. But what happens if you lose your list or it gets destroyed by an eager and hungry canine? All that work is gone! For online storage and syncing of your to-do list, there are loads of awesome tools for you to try.

Wunderlist LogoMy personal favorite has been Wunderlist. Wunderlist is a free to-do list platform (with a premium pay service available) that makes creating your to-do list and syncing it with all of your devices painless. With apps for not only your computer but also your smartphones and tablets, your tasks are only a couple of taps or clicks away! On top of that, it has a satisfying “DING!” when you finally check those tasks off of your list!

Wunderlist is available for iPhone, Android, Kindle Tablets (FireOS), Windows, and Mac.

Some other great services include Remember the Milk, which has apps for most mobile platforms as well as the ability to connect to your Google and Evernote accounts. Speaking of Evernote, it can also be a great way to keep a to do list on top of its stellar note-taking capabilities.

imagesAnother good option for a to-do list across all of your devices is Todoist. Also free with a premium pay option available, Todoist has apps and clients that are available on fifteen different platforms! Todoist would probably work best if you’re more business-oriented, since it also includes a lot of team collaboration features that aren’t found in other services.

Apart from finding the best to-do list service for your needs, another important part of managing your tasks is to get into a routine and stick with it! You’ll be surprised how much more work you can get done.

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Office 2016 for Mac is Coming!

Mac users seem to have been forgotten by Microsoft Office developers since the last version was released in 2010. However, the folks in Redmond have finally announced that a new version of Office is on the way! Office 2016 is rumored to be released sometime this fall, and should also become available in our Office 365 offerings at that time, as well. Check out some of the features and improvements that will be coming in the new version thanks to some early screenshots from Microsoft:

Office-2016-for-Mac-1-1024x588One of the biggest additions to Office is deep integration with Microsoft’s cloud services, including SMU’s OneDrive service! Now your files can be accessible from anywhere without the difficult setup that was required in Office 2011.

Office-2016-for-Mac-5-1024x600If you would like to use Outlook as your e-mail client but never liked the look and feel of the Mac version, the new version of Outlook for Mac mimics the look and feel of the Windows version, so you no longer have to learn how to use multiple interfaces if you use both PC and Mac.

Office-2016-for-Mac-3-1024x600Excel is greatly improved as well, not only looking more like the Windows version but also providing better compatibility with functions from the Windows version. There will also be more analytical functions available, as well.

Office-2016-for-Mac-4-1024x600

As for PowerPoint, it also sports a whole new look and the addition of a “control center” for your presentation that can display your notes, upcoming slides, and the current slide on your laptop’s screen while only the current slide is projected to your audience.

And the best part about the new Office for Mac, the feature we’ve all been craving…OneNote for Mac! The beloved note-taking software that has graced Office for Windows for years finally makes its Mac debut. This is an excellent addition for any digital note-taking addicts.

 

Office 2016 for Mac has been released to a select few so far for testing purposes, but should be released to the public, along with Office 365 users, later this year.

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The New Apple Watch

By: Kristina Harris

With the launch of Apple Watch pre-sales, we decided to put together a table to compare and contrast the new technology and two of its biggest competitors, Google’s Android Wear Gear Live and Samsung’s Gear S.

Click below to see an enlarged image:

smart watch chartThings to consider

  • Apple Watches have music playback, but without a headphone jack, Bluetooth headphones must be used.
  • There are 38 different ways to customize the Apple Watch while for Samsung’s Gear S, you can only choose between white and black.
  • “Digital Touch”, which includes features such as sending your heartbeat and hand-drawn sketches to other smartwatch users, is exclusive to the Apple Watch.
  • The Apple Watch has 8GB of storage compared to the Gear S and Gear Live’s 4GB, but only 2GB and 75MB of storage is able to be used.
  • While the Apple Watch has great reviews so far, the biggest complaint is the battery life, with 18 hours being the least amount of time of life amongst all smartwatches.
  • If you noticed the $17,000 price tag on the Apple Watch, don’t fret. This is only for the version that comes with the 18-Karat Yellow Gold Case and a Gold Buckle.

After hours of research, here is my advice. Apple gives its products well-needed improvements as the months go on. If you do not want to be stuck in the early adopter phase, wait for them to fix the kinks that new technology inevitably has, or even wait until the next version. Many critics said the interface is comparatively difficult to use, so if you are newly interested in giving smartwatches a go, you might start off with a more established product like the Pebble to see if a smartwatch meets your lifestyle needs. If you’re absolutely loving it, consider the admittedly charming Apple Watch or one of its competitors. One thing is for sure: this is one device that does not deserve to be abandoned in the back of your junk drawer.

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Adios Internet Explorer

Windows-10-Spartan-Browser-to-Integrate-Cortana-Feature-for-More-User-Friendly-ExperienceBy: Shayan Gaziani

In August of 1995 Microsoft released their first version of Internet Explorer (IE). A revolutionary feat at the time, eleven generations later IE has fallen behind rivals (such as Google Chrome, Safari, and Firefox) in terms of speed, ingenuity, and modernism.

A solemn farewell.

Twenty years later, Microsoft is pulling the plug.  As noted by The Verge, the company revealed IE’s fate this past January. While the browser will still exist, function, and be available for download, maintenance will soon cease. Earlier this month at Microsoft Convergence, the company’s marketing chief Chris Capossela revealed plans for the future.

“We’re right now researching what the new brand, or the new name, for our browser should be in Windows 10,” said Capossela. “We’ll continue to have Internet Explorer, but we’ll also have a new browser called Project Spartan, which is codenamed Project Spartan. We have to name the thing.”

Moving on.

Project Spartan is set to be officially released along with Windows 10 later this year. According to a blog post by the IE team, “Spartan provides a more interoperable, reliable, and discoverable experience with advanced features including the ability to annotate on web pages, a distraction-free reading experience, and integration of Cortana for finding and doing things online faster.”

Information for this post was provided by The Verge here and here.
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