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Sept. 17 Tech Committee Meeting

  • I. Reports from our local experts:
    • A. Jim Burwinkle reported on a conversation he'd had with Tim Burton:
      • The main thrust of the near-to-mid-term will be reorganizing ITS for user-centric, distributed help.  But "distributed" doesn't mean geographically organized, so much as it means functionally organized; that is to say, there may not be as many ITS satellite stations like the one currently in Ritter, but there will be an office (in Xavier, perhaps) specifically for A&S problems.  The idea is that if one calls 4000, the call will be directed to the appropriate office (like the A&S office), where the helpers will be more familiar with the issues.  There will be a manager hired for the general-level service desk.
    • B. Jeff Abernathy added some details:
      • The idea will be that while there are different levels (general, college-level, or whatever) upon which problems may be handled, for the customer it will be seamless.  Management of the help-function can change assignments among helpers with flexibility.  We will probably hire a dozen new helpers.
    • C. Jeff and Jim reported on Google-Apps:
      • Bandwidth for using the university's web system is way up.  Some 25% of help-desk calls are for G-Apps; there are some growing pains, but  G-Apps has been reasonably well received.  Perhaps 25% of people are having problems making the switch from the old email system, problems with things that don't work the same under G-Apps.  The browser client Firefox has lots of add-ons that may allow people to use tools similar to what they had before.
      • There is some flexibility for allocating more memory for those few people who need a lot, up to 25 GB (3 times the default amount).  ITS won't offer support for other clients, as you can just hit Help at the upper right corner of the Gmail screen, then hit Gmail Help Center, then Access Choices: IMAP, which takes you to <>.  There are instructions there for the three most commonly sought mail clients, Thunderbird, Apple Mail, and  Outlook.  The next most popular ones are Eudora, Entourage (Jeff says they're supported, but they're not listed as such).  Users who wish to use one of the clients are encouraged to follow the directions.
    • D. Jeff reported on ITS plans for Classroom Support:
      • All the newer classrooms that are Registrar-controlled should (soon) have a phone for connecting with ITS.  This is an Internet Phone that should work even if the computer is down.  It connects with 4099, the dedicated phone life for emergency classroom support (i.e., "My class is meeting right now, and stuff isn't working!").  Ritter and Xavier, however, will take longer to supply with phones, as they have older lines.
  • II. We discussed Topics for the Future:
    • A. SLU website management:
      • 1. Currently, the website management tool is CMS (Content Management Services), which doesn't work so well for non-Windows machines. According to Jeff, a platform-independent client is in the works.
      • 2. There is some tension between competing goals for the SLU website:  Making it  useful for the outside world (controlled by Marketing & Communication) and making it useful for internal purposes (department-centric).  We may need to study this issue in some detail, as there are departments who are having problems.
    • B. Possible topics for our attention in the coming year:
      • 1. email
      • 2. classroom support
      • 3. SLU website
      • 4. faculty equipment refresh standards
      • 5. Banner
      • 6. Blackboard
      • 7. library tech
    • C. Functions of our Committee (from discussion):
      • 1. One purpose is to act as a communications channel between ITS and the College. To this end I will look into putting up a website for this Committee, containing at least minutes such as this, and perhaps including some feedback mechanism.  Another idea is to perhaps have each Department nor represented on this Committee appoint someone to be a Tech Representative to provide information to this Committee about the issues facing each Department.
      • 2.  We should also be prepared to to recommend college policy.  Possible topics:
        • a) SLU website management
        • b) faculty refresh rate
        • c) Department-controlled tech labs
  • III. Future meetings
    • A.  We'll continue meet on the third Wednesday of the month this semester, 11:00, Verhaegen 301.  Next meeting, then, is Oct. 15.
    • B.  I will invite John Veith of Marketing & Communication to a meeting (trying for next one) to tell us about  the University website.