Computing Services

The department behind IT services at the University of Bath

Topic: Computing Services

Mandatory Panopto client upgrade, 21 July 2017

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📥  Computing Services

Panopto have confirmed that users will need to upgrade their Panopto client, you can read their instructions and upgrade your own lap tops and macs.

Staff and students can contact IT Help and a supporter will be able to install the upgrade on managed PCs and Macs.

End users will be forced to update after 21 July. You will be prompted to the download link and the software will not work until its updated.

Thank you for your understanding.

 

 

Skype for Business whiteboard, poll or Q and A page

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📥  IT Literacy

Hi again,

Since writing my last blog on using Skype for Business, and receiving a question on the subject on one of my training sessions, I’ve had a play with a few additional Skype for Business features that I’d like to share with you. These features are available if you’re in a video call, audio call or Instant Message conversation.

The three items are:

  1. Whiteboard
  2. Poll
  3. Q&A page

These items are all accessible through the Present button () – just click on the button and click on More to see the three options. Note: the Present button is greyed out/unavailable if you’re conversing with someone who’s not using Skype for Business.

If you select Whiteboard the whiteboard will appear on your screen and those of everyone who is included in the conversation:

Anyone can place items onto the whiteboard. By default, you can type text onto the whiteboard – just click where you want to place it and type (everyone will see your text as you type it). A tool bar to the right of the whiteboard enables you to do some other things, including:

  • Change the mouse pointer to a pen, so you can draw, try to write, etc. and change the ink colour (you could, for example, ask each contributor to use a different colour), if you wish,
  • Draw straight lines or a square/rectangle or circle/oval, again, setting a different colour before you draw it,
  • Select a highlighter to help you emphasise something,
  • Select a laser pointer to draw everyone else’s attention to what you’re talking about (can’t really see this working with an IM, but might be useful if you’re talking),
  • Save a copy of the whiteboard (click on the three dots, select Save As, then select where you want it and give it a name).

If you select Poll you will see this window:

Type in the question, type in each of the possible responses, or Choices.  Change the Poll name from Poll to something else, then click on Create to launch it into the conversation for everyone to make their selection. As choices are made, you will see percentages appear next to each option. You also get to close the poll when you want to.

If you select Q & A Instant Messaging gets switched off and everyone will see a window inviting them to type a question:

Anyone can ask a question, but only those who are presenters can answer questions (using an Answer option that appears under the question).

If you have had/do have a go at any of them, please add a comment to say how useful they are in the real world, any problems/limitations you encountered and any workarounds or fixes you’ve found.

Finally, if you work at the University of Bath and have not used Skype for Business (maybe you’re waiting for a web cam and headset), just have a go at sending an IM. If you're not sure how to do that, or want to know more, book onto a Skype course, it will be good to see you!!

Bye for now,

John

 

The decommissioning of Legacy Email systems

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📥  Communications & Collaboration, Computing Services

As many of you will be aware, just over two years ago the University of Bath moved its Email and calendars to Microsoft Outlook. Since then work has been continuing behind the scenes to decommission the old services and move partner organisations.

We are pleased to report that this work is nearing completion with the last of the legacy systems due to be decommissioned at the end of July 2017.

In 2017 to 2018 Computing Services hopes to move the Microsoft Outlook system forwards by upgrading to the latest release, Outlook 2016. This will enable new collaboration and document sharing features to be introduced as well as a range of other improvements and enhancements.

As a reminder the legacy Email systems included:

  • imaphost.bath.ac.uk
  • smtphost.bath.ac.uk
  • mailhost.bath.ac.uk

Many thanks

Computing Services

 

SAMIS unavailable, 18 and 19 July 2017

  

📥  Computing Services

SAMIS will be unavailable Tuesday and Wednesday 18 and 19 July 2017 while we upgrade to version 9.3.  We need time to back-up the databases and complete underlying work on the servers and databases before the upgrade starts.  For this reason, we ask users to stop using SAMIS at 5pm, Monday 17 July 2017.

Unavailable applications

The following applications will be unavailable for the duration of the upgrade:

  • SAMIS on the web (includes Unit Evaluation and Coursework Coversheet printing and scanning)
  • SAMIS Desktop Client
  • Application Tracker
  • Online Applications
  • SAMIS bookings (PG Skills, University Open Days, UCAS Open Days)
  • Applicant username and password generation
  • Registration Online (ROL)
  • Business Objects (SAMIS-related reports only)
  • Student Lookup
  • User account creation & some other Computing Services' user account tools

Data to / from SAMIS and other systems will not update during the upgrade. If you are responsible for any technical interfaces to / from SAMIS, please ensure that your connections to the database will not be attempting to run during this period. Systems that provide data to or get data from SAMIS include:

  • Moodle
  • LMF
  • HUB
  • CareerHub
  • PURE
  • Room Service
  • Exam Timetable
  • Agresso
  • UCAS
  • Student Loan Company
  • Students' Union (MSL)

Thank you for your patience while this necessary upgrade takes place.  We expect to have all SAMIS related systems available again by 9am, Thursday 20 July.

 

Reviewing the Surface Hub

  

📥  Computing Services

Recently, the Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies (CSCT) purchased a Microsoft Surface Hub. We asked Rubina Kalra, CSCT’s Digital Communications Coordinator, about the benefits of the Surface Hub.

It's a digital whiteboard

Use the Surface Hub in team meetings and take the ideas with you

How many times have you been in meetings to discuss a complex idea on a whiteboard and had to frantically write down the ideas in your own notebook? Do you remember the day when you had to find a substance from the lab that would remove the everlasting stains of marker pens?

Microsoft Surface Hub allows you to scribble on their expandable canvas. As soon as you grab a Surface Hub pen (stored on the sides of the display), the screen launches the whiteboard app. Two people can simultaneously write with different colours, since each pen has its own ID. The Hub's screen can read up to three pen inputs and up to 100 finger inputs at once.

You no longer need to frantically take notes in your own diaries. Once done, a person can simply email the canvas to anyone. This way, when you leave the room, you take the ideas with you.

Attendees can join remotely

Ever wished your project partner in Brazil could join you in the whiteboard discussion or your group presentations? Using Skype on the Surface Hub, you can hold engaging and productive video conferences. You can share what’s on your screen and invite their input in it.

It's intuitive

If you’re familiar with using a smartphone, you will be just fine using the Hub. For example, you can open up a blank canvas and add screenshots of other images on the screen, zoom in and out using your fingers and scribble your notes on it.  If you would rather project your own personal device on the screen, the Hub offers various ways of doing so.

The 55” Hub is easily portable on a rolling stand so you can take the meetings wherever you like.

You can get in touch with Computing Services if you want to try using the Surface Hub in a team meeting.

 

Weekend IT maintenance, from 4pm Fri 14 Jul

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📥  Computing Services

We are carrying out work which will increase the resilience of our IT services.  The work begins at 4pm, Friday 14 July and a number of services will be unavailable for the weekend, 15 and 16 July 2017.

Affected services include:

  • Centrally managed mailing lists – messages sent to @courses.bath.ac.uk, @staff.bath.ac.uk, @residences.bath.ac.uk and @buildings.bath.ac.uk mailing lists after 4pm on Friday 14 July will be delayed and delivered once the server is powered back on Sunday 16 July.
  • Balena HPC
  • Kerboros Admin – no new Unix accounts or password changes
  • LMF
  • Managed Print Service. The Emergency Print Service for Canon printers will be available
  • 3 software applications: Mentorgraphics for Team Bath Racing, Tekla Structures and AIMMS
  • UniDeskLR

Availability of IT services:

Many IT services will be available throughout the weekend including Wi-Fi and email.  The University Print Service (Sharp) will be available in the Library. We will post updates about the maintenance at status.bath.ac.uk.

Thank you for your patience while we carry out this necessary work.

 

Nightly IT maintenance will affect Wessex House, levels 1 to 5 from 3 to 14 July 2017

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📥  Networks

IT maintenance is taking place that will affect the night time availability of IT services on levels 1 to 5 of Wessex House for  two weeks.  An outside contractor will be working from 3 July to 14 July to upgrade the network.  This is an important part of the University’s summer refurbishment plans.

What this means for you:

The network, Wi-Fi and phones will be unavailable, nightly, between 7pm and 5am.  The work begins Monday 3 July and ends Friday 14 July 2017.

No contractor will need access to your office but the work will affect the IT services in Wessex House (Levels 1 – 5).

Many thanks for your understanding while this improvement work is carried out.

 

Statement about the Petya ransomware attacks

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📥  Security

It’s been widely reported that a new ransomware worm has been affecting a large number of companies around which has the appearance of the Petya ransomware, though it comes with new abilities to spread within networks.

The bad news is that the severity of damage caused is very high and by  the time you see a warning message it is likely to be too late:

  •  In addition to using the vulnerability used by the recent WannaCry, it can also spread using hijacked account credentials using legitimate windows processes which has allowed it to spread very quickly within confined networks
  • The encryption mechanisms are very good so unencrypting data is likely to be impossible.  The communication mechanism has been disabled so even if payment was made, the key to decrypt the files would never be released

The good news is that worldwide spread will hopefully be contained:

  • It is likely that the main initial infection came through a compromised update to a piece of Ukrainian tax software
  • The malware only spreads to local computers or ones it is already connected to, it does not reach out across the internet looking for more victims

Whilst we have already patched the vulnerability used in WannaCry and have other protections in place, we will be looking to increase the measures in place to increase security.   Even with these protections in place there are no guarantees that a widespread ransomware infection would not strike us and everyone should take their own responsibilities seriously:

  • Do not open unexpected documents from unknown sources or if they seem suspicious
  • Avoid clicking embedded links found in unexpected emails
  • Apply patches to home computers and reboot work computers frequently to allow them to install

More information can be found from a number of trusted sites such as the BBC.