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Student Computing GuideOver the years, many students have felt lost when trying to familiarize themselves with the USF website. “I have no idea what I’m doing,” is a phrase heard often amongst new students when browsing through USF’s site. Well, students, the good people at ITS have heard you and have put together a guide that will relieve all of your stresses.

The Student Computing Guide was created as a convenience for students who have trouble utilizing the ITS website. The Student Computing Guide addresses basic policies, needs, and questions that many students may have. Maintained and managed by Nikki Williams, the director of Client Support Services, the guide is regularly updated to make certain that it continues to address students’ needs and answers all major questions that you may have.

One of the ways that Nikki has adapted to students’ needs is through the use of analyzing questions and service tickets. If there is a large number of students requesting a specific service, she finds a way to offer a quick response to this through the Student Computing Guide by creating a page for that specific request.

Above all, the guide is meant to be a resource for students, and Nikki feels that students can be a part of the solution. It is very important that ITS meet the needs of our students and provide useful and current information. “I believe the best way to know what our students need is to ask. I look forward to feedback and collaboration,” she said. So, students, check out the Student Computing Guide, and let your voice be heard by giving feedback in order to make things a little easier for you. Send your comments and suggestions to nmwright@usfca.edu.

Students in Parina LoungeFor the past few years USF campus-goers have witnessed the campus transform while under construction. Arguably one of the most significant developments for students has been the renovation of the Parina Computer Lab, which has become a popular location for students to meet up or study in between classes. Located on the third floor of the University Center (UC), just one floor above the USF cafeteria, Parina Lab now offers not only a convenient spot to eat, study, and relax while on campus, but it also offers a wide array of technology that students can take advantage of.

Installed along the walls of the computer lab are a dozen Mac Minis, allowing students to quickly print documents while on the go. Additionally, upgrades to the lab’s printers have been made so that students can print from virtually anywhere on campus. Parina is now home to two large Pharos printers that offer wireless printing capabilities, meaning that students may even print from a laptop.

Also in Parina Lab are eight PC desktop computers available for students who wish to use computers for an extended amount of time. The Breakout Rooms in Parina Lab have been a great success thus far, as students are able to use the four available rooms to study in a group setting without outside disturbances. These rooms, which are separated by heavy-duty sliding glass doors, contain Mac Mini’s connected to a 46” screen, as well as cable connections for both PC and Mac devices, simplifying the process of connecting personal laptops to a larger screen. The four large HD televisions available in these four rooms in addition to the two other HD televisions surrounded by comfortable sofa chairs in the main room of the lab give students to the ability to hook up their game consoles in Parina. Movie nights are another option for leisure, as the televisions host HDMI and VGA capabilities for a higher picture quality.

Parina Lounge Meeting Spaces

Mobile SecuritySecurity of mobile devices is an increasing concern as we are in the midst of a major shift away from desktop and laptop computers. Increasingly, people are using smartphones, tablets, and other portable gadgets and expecting to use them everywhere. As a result, professional hackers have also adapted by shifting their focus towards mobile devices.

There are various ways to keep your mobile experience safe and secure. Aside from maintaining patches, updating to the newest versions of software is a great way to keep your devices from being tapped into. Additionally, software updates fix more than meets the eye. While the average user believes that companies offer updates only for the purpose of offering new features, they are not aware that updates often simultaneously beef up security by fixing their previous bugs and blocking entry to malicious hackers.

The latest Mavericks Mac OS update is free, so regardless of whether you have an iPhone or MacBook Pro, it is essential that you update to the latest software in order to have your security up to par. Android updates are also free, so take advantage of the new features while also improving your mobile security.

Walter Petruska, USF’s Information Security Officer, suggested his own personal security tips. He advised that mobile users download the application ‘Lookout.’ “This application warns you about privacy settings when you browse websites or install applications.” Additionally, he explained, “Lookout, or applications with the same purpose, can also notify you when your software is outdated. It also alerts you to failed login attempts, snapping and emailing you a photo of the person  attempting to access your mobile.”   Reliable applications such as Lookout can be essential to providing a safe and secure experience on your mobile phones and other gadgets. And lastly, don’t forget to use a screen lock password and code, and don’t share your security codes and passwords with others.

MS Office LogoAs USF-owned computers are upgraded to Microsoft Office 2013, we’ve come up with a review of some of the most important new features and security information to help you get the most out of your updated Microsoft Office experience.

Microsoft has brought about various improvements with the Office 13 upgrade. The appearance has been updated to a modern interface along with a new set of start screens. More importantly, users now have the ability to work on Office documents from their computers, tablets, and mobile devices. By using the online SkyDrive, users are able to log in to Office from just about anywhere, allowing them reopen and continue working on their documents from other devices or while on the go. You can also save and open files from DonsApps Drive by installing Google Drive for PC or Mac.

Microsoft also provides Mac iOS and Android versions of Office for use on mobile devices. And Office 2013 supports touch screen use for those with Windows 8.

Office also offers additional updates and features that can help ease the stress of creating and editing a document. It now offers Word PDF editing, meaning that users are now able to edit PDF documents using Word. In PowerPoint, the formatting task pane has some new and improved options that have simplified the process of creating a presentation. Excel has had a makeover, and it is most noticeable in the new charting system, which has a very simplified and cool look. Office 2013 also offers many more graphic options, from Word Art to graphs and fonts. In addition to all of these features, the spell checker has been revised and there are a number of new templates.

In terms of security and protection, Office 2013 has new controls that allow better management of tasks and space. New group policies have also been inputted to offer a more granular management of user and security settings.

With Microsoft Office 2013, users gain access to the many benefits of the new system. This system ensures continued compatibility and security for all Microsoft users, including the students, faculty and staff of USF.

Ken Yoshioka of the Center for Instruction and Technology put together training materials regarding Office 2013. If you have any more questions about how the Microsoft Office upgrade can help you, browse to http://www.usfca.edu/its/learning/cit/officeupgrade/. Click here for a transition brochure.

We are currently at the halfway point in our deployment of Microsoft Office 2013 to the USF community.  Please contact ITS Help Desk if you want Office 2013 sooner, or if you prefer to opt-out of the Office 2013 upgrade and remain on Office 2010.

Opinder BawaPrior to his arrival at USF on December 9, Tech Times writer Umar Issa had the opportunity to interview Opinder Bawa, USF’s new Vice President for Information Technology Services and Chief Information Officer. Bawa was most recently the Chief Technology Officer for UCSF, and Chief Information Officer for the UCSF School of Medicine. In these roles he provided leadership in technology, innovation, strategic planning and delivery of solutions and services across research, education and patient care.

Bawa has over 20 years of experience in business solutions, client engagement, information technology, consultative approaches and business development. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from City University of New York and a master’s degree in Business and Information Technology from University of Phoenix.

Umar Issa – I wanted to start off by getting a little background information and history – where you grew up, where you studied, and how you ended up in the tech world.

Opinder Bawa – Originally, I am from India, however, I was born in Cairo, Egypt while my parents were living there. My father was a diplomat from India to various countries around the world, so I literally grew up all around the world. My family would move to a new country every three years for my entire life up to my late teens. It was a fascinating way to grow up, and I became a global, multi-cultural person before I even knew what the words meant. One of the last assignments for father was the Consulate in New York. I went to high school there and also graduated from City University in New York.

A few friends of my parents suggested that I look at computer engineering because it was just emerging. That’s actually the time when IBM came on the scene and Apple was just starting with the Macintosh. It was envisioned that computers were going to be one of the most important areas of change and revolution, so that’s how I ended up working in computer science. Lucky for me it ended up being so true!

UI  – Can you talk about your transition from New York to your rise in Silicon Valley?

OB – Once I finished my education in New York, I actually went back to India to work for a couple years. I ended up working with an American company in India, so, it was another testament that the world was shrinking and that we were becoming more global. That’s where I realized that if I would be working for an American company, the best place for me to be is in the United States. I came back in 1988 and ended up working for a small software company that was eventually bought by IBM – Metaphor Computer Systems. I started to look at things from a different perspective because I wanted to build software and also understand what it takes to implement these solutions.

What I learned was that it takes an incredible combination of the technology, the processes and management, fiscal conditions, the right business ownership, executive buy in and having a great technology team. That’s probably when Silicon Valley leaders began to take note of me [because I realized that].  Being a part of a few startup software companies gave me a great understanding of quality software, but, I realized I’m most passionate when I am actually a part of an organization that is implementing technology that strives to conduct change within themselves – that are innovative. My links to Silicon Valley, the corporate world and the startups have made it an incredible experience for me to be able to bring those innovative approaches and technology into the organization I work for and the industries that need it the most: Education and HealthCare. It’s not about building more products or being a technology leader, it’s the combination of bringing innovation into those organizations that cause a dramatic shift or supports a business paradigm shift.

I believe that the higher education industry is in the process of a major transformation, where it is undergoing a lot of market pressures, and all sorts of fiscal pressures.  At the same time, the technology needs of key stakeholders like students and faculty, have grown in their sophistication, resulting in substantially higher expectations, rightly so. One of the cores of this transformation, as well as prior ones over the past century, was the realization and implementation of futuristic technologies. Personally, it’s fascinating to be a part of a transforming organization and industry, and knowing that digital technology is a core part of that transformation. That’s what makes me wake up every morning to go to work and think “… it’s going to be a good day….” It’s about turning our strategies for the future into a real plan that’s executed over a period of time.

UI – What are the differences between working in Silicon Valley and now working in higher education and how has your role changed in this new industry?

OB – I think in 2006, CIO Magazine wrote an article around how an IT leader can move from one industry to another, and what the challenges are. Very few have done that successfully, and I am honored to be among those few who have [and] was included in the interview[s]. I shed light on my move from Silicon Valley into the medical industry, because I had worked for an east coast medical center for a while. I also spent some time studying the medical industry and higher education, because I realized that both would also be changing drastically with technology.  It’s one of the key reasons I spent some time at Boston Medical Center which was invaluable in learning the basics, the experiencing the differences first hand.  I ultimately joined UCSF to help them formulate and realize their ambition to become a leader in the use of technology in the healthcare industry.  This week, at one of the largest annual events in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, i.e. Dreamforce. UCSF and its digital technology initiatives are part of the center stage.  It is humbling to know that I had a part in bringing them together.

So to summarize, it’s not about leaving or moving away from Silicon Valley. It’s about bringing Silicon Valley to these industries. What I (and my IT team leaders) do is build bridges between institutions like UCSF and USF and Silicon Valley, as well as the technologists and investors in these organizations. Because we are in the midst of a digital transformation, Silicon Valley brings an immense amount of value to these institutions that have an incredible talent pool.  I believe I’ve tapped into them, helping institutions to leverage their best assets – their students, faculty, researchers, and practitioners – and doing that to the highest degree possible.

UI – Looking forward, you are now the new Vice President of ITS and the Chief Information Officer of USF. I’m curious as to whether or not you have any changes that you would like to [make] upon your arrival to USF.

OB – You know, I make an effort to understand what the technological needs are at the institution, whether or not there are operational or project issues that require my immediate assistance. What are the long term strategic plans that we envision for the organization? What are some of the out-of-box ideas floating around?  I typically don’t make any dramatic changes partially because any significant changes you make early on are usually not your best calls – unless you have a major problem on your hands.

So, I first make sure I understand the landscape, the issues, the organization we have, the business aspects, the institution’s values, and so on. I end up taking some time, usually three to six months before I start making navigational recommendations and changes.  I also count on, substantially, key inputs such as from the IT Directors, Deans, Chairs and business leaders.

UI – Is there anything else that you wanted people to know about you, or anything that you wanted to end on?

OB – Umar, I really can’t imagine what it is that people wanted to know about me (laughs).  It would probably begin with the fact that I am here to help formulate and realize visions; whether it’s a student and faculty who want to work on an idea, or business transformations with technology solutions.  I have an open door policy, prefer to meet in person when I can and work out win-win scenarios.

Unbeknownst  to many people in the USF community, ITS offers many discounts to students and faculty on various PC and Apple software products.  Through the USF eStore (estore.usfca.edu), discounts are available on over 190 tech-related products. Walter Petruska, USF’s Information Security Officer, states  the eStore offers “The products that are most useful for students because they either need [this product] for a course, they have asked for it, or the faculty has requested its availability for the student.” Microsoft Office365, Adobe Creative Cloud, VMware Fusion, and Parallels are just a few of the many products that have been made available for free or  greatly discounted purchases.

The eStore offers two different software programs — Dreamspark and Personal Software Purchases. Every item listed on the DreamSpark page is a Microsoft-based program, and is offered free exclusively to students and faculty. Personal Software Purchases offers great discounts on Adobe and various other tech-related goods for students, faculty, and staff.

Access to DreamSpark and Personal Software Purchases takes just a few simple steps.

  1. Log into USF Connect
  2. Access your Student or Employee tab
  3. Once you reach that page, the links for both DreamSpark and Personal Software Purchase will be visible on the left side of page for easy access

DreamsparkEach DreamSpark purchase comes with two copies of the software products, allowing users to install their new software to more than one computer or device. However, it is very important when purchasing items from the eStore that you keep in mind the End User License Agreement, which states that the items being purchased not be resold or used to make money.

Petruska also made a point to remind students to take advantage of these discounts before they graduate. “Many times, USF alumni realize that they need one of the products that we have available through the eStore, but unfortunately, they are no longer eligible for the discount.”

Also on the eStore page you can find links to Student Computer Purchase discounts on Apple and Lenovo computers, USF Perks discounts on a variety of products for Faculty and Staff, free credit reports, free antivirus protection for your personal computer, and more.

So what are you waiting for? Access USF’s eStore today for some amazing discounts that you can’t ignore!

To help students explore their choice of degree programs and make reasoned and informed decisions about their course of study, the University Register and ITS launched DegreeWorks, USF’s new online degree audit system, on October 7 in time for Spring 2014 advising.

DegreeWorks replaces the current Curriculum, Advising and Program Planning (CAPP) degree audit tool and provides both a comprehensive overview and detailed analysis of a student’s degree progress in real time, allowing students to make reasoned and informed decisions about their course of study, all aimed at successfully completing their degree on time.

Students and advisers can also generate “what if” scenarios for different majors or minors. The project was coordinated by Kevin Wilson and Cole Moyer of the University Registrar’s Office, Sarah Reed of the Law School, and David Kirmse of the USF Project Management Office.


SANS – Securing the Human (STH) & National Cyber Security Awareness Month (October) 2013.

ITS Network & Security Services (NSS) is pleased to continue to offer Information Security Training in a virtual learning environment. Interested Students, Faculty, and Staff are eligible to enroll in this exciting SANS-STH training program. Please e-mail our ITS Help Desk at itshelp@usfca.edu to request enrollment.

Please note: you must be a current Student, Faculty, or Staff member and contact us via your USFconnect e-mail account to request enrollment. Space is limited and enrollment will be provided on a first-come, first-serve basis. Continue Reading »

USFmobileThe USFmobile app, available for Apple iOS and Android, allows students, faculty, and staff to connect to a variety of university services on the go.

Here are some of the resources on USFmobile:

  • Class Schedule – USF class descriptions and schedules
  • Athletics – Access latest game scores, schedules, and news
  • Directory – Look up faculty/staff contact information
  • Events Calendar – Find out what’s going on across campus
  • Koret Health and Recreation Center – Access exercise class schedules and building hours
  • Library Services – Search entire library catalog, find stack locations and more
  • Transportation – Find out when the next bus will arrive, and access Muni/BART schedules
  • Laundry – Check on the status of washers and dryers on campus
  • The Pool – See what’s going on at USF’s social media outlets
  • Housing – Check out rental listings around campus
  • ITS – Help Desk hours, Computer Lab hours, Student Computing Guide, and more

A new version of USFmobile is currently under development and should be out in the Spring.
USF recently initiated a Mobile Strategy, which focuses development and expansion of university content for mobile devices. Priorities include:

  • Mobile web: Admission content that specifically guides students at all levels and parents of undergraduates through the admission process from requesting information to applying.
  • Mobile app: Campus tour
  • Mobile publications: Admission and Development publications
  • All other USF web content and publications

For any questions regarding USFmobile, email itshelp@usfca.edu, or check it out for yourself at m.usfca.edu or by downloading the app. You’re just one click away from having USF campus resources in the palm of your hand.

No FishingIt may look like an innocent email from your bank, or even mimic a familiar website. But, that attachment you just opened from a ‘safe’ email address is a phishing scam aimed at harvesting your identity and stealing your personal information. Say goodbye to the phrase “it will never happen to me.”

According to USF’s ITS website, “Phishing is the act of attempting to acquire information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details (and sometimes, indirectly, money) by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.” The dangers of phishing are more than real, as attackers mimic trusted websites that you are familiar with, claiming that they are your bank, delivery service, or even family member. By opening a link or attachment from an email sent to you from an unverified source, your machine could become a victim to a ‘drive-by download’ or infected attachment whereby malware is embedded into a website or attachment in an attempt to attain your private information and steal your identity. This material can be used by an attacker for many different purposes‒and all done under your name‒which can lead to unsafe and unwanted consequences.

“Any email user, company, institution, etc. can be a target of phishing attacks, and USF falls into this scope targets,” commented Nick Recchia as I asked about USF’s recent decision to implement PhishMe, a faculty/staff phishing education program. Following Fordham University’s adoption of PhishMe, USF is the second AJCU school to leverage this service.

FishermanITS has continued to strengthen measures against real phishing scams, and further protection from these dangers will develop through educating the targets of phishing scams‒USF faculty and staff. PhishMe provides education by way of simulated phishing attack emails. In a real attack you may get lured in, click a link, and not know what is going on or what will happen until it is too late.  However, in a PhishMe simulation after clicking on a link (or opening an attachment) you’ll receive instant feedback that your action was not wise and education material will be presented.

Over the course of a semester, faculty and staff can expect to receive up to six PhishMe related phishing simulations through this newly implemented program at USF.

Phishing scams can come from any email address and any company, and while ITS is doing as much as possible to prevent attacks and malware from entering the USF network, ultimately it is your decision to open an email or mark it as unsafe ‘spam’. So, when checking your emails on a daily basis, take a few seconds to decide whether to double-check that the link you are about to open, or the attachment you are asked to download is authentic, verified, and safe. After all, it is much easier to spend a few seconds double-checking an email than it is to deal with stolen personal information.

Worm on a hookFor more information on PhishMe, the dangers of phishing scams, and solutions to dealing with phishing attacks, please visit http://www.usfca.edu/its/security/seta/phishme/

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