Information Systems

Tech Talk

  • Update on UC Password Change

    Posted November 13, 2014

    We've heard from many of you about the UC mandatory password change as mentioned in the last two Tech Talks. Here are our most common responses to questions we've received about this:

    1) The letter, from Tom Barton, Chief Information Security Officer for the University, is indeed legitimate. The link in the letter is valid, too. Following the link should take you to a web page with a URL that explains the University of Chicago Password Refresh Campaign, with directions on what to do and how to do it.

    2) You have three weeks from the day the letter was sent to complete the password change. If you don't, you won't be able to access any services behind the CNet password, including the wireless network and the UC HR portal, ESS.

    3) Some users may need to enter the new password in certain settings on laptops, smartphones, or tablet computers. These include syncing your uchicago e-mail on these devices, managing your uchicago-secure wireless profile, and those who use the University's outgoing mail server ( in their Mail settings. The IS team has put together a web page detailing those instances you will most likely encounter. You can find it at:

    4) This password change does not affect our students or any employees who've changed their CNet ID in the last year, so there are folks who won't get the message from UC IT Services.

    if you have trouble establishing your new password, don't hesitate to contact the UC help information given in the letter.

    For those of you who have not used your e-mail account in some time and may have the password change letter sitting in that account, our best advice at this time is to call the UC help desk at 773-834-TECH and tell them you need help in gaining access to that account. If you still have questions or need help, please let IS know.

  • Adopting New Online Services: There's a Process, and Lead Time is Good

    Posted November 13, 2014

    In the last couple of years, the University has increased its involvement in reviewing contracts involving online technology services. After recent discussions with members of UC IT Services, the Bursar's Office, and the office of Payment and Procurement Services, it is now clear that essentially any proposed contract with an online technology vendor must be reviewed by the appropriate UC office before the Schools can take action on it. This process can take a fair amount of time, especially when the University and the vendor must reach agreement on changes to the standard vendor contract.

    While it is temping to view this level of scrutiny as bureaucratic or intrusive, the fact is that these agreements can be complicated and do not necessarily have the customer's best interests at heart. The University has people with the highly specialized skill and experience to dig way down in the fine print on these contracts and ensure that language is altered, deleted, or added to ensure that the Schools' and University's interests are being protected and well-served. Having seen these folks in action for a while now, those of us who work with them have gained a new appreciation for the difficulty of the work they do.

    So what does this mean for Lab?

    • When you, your grade level, office, department, or division is considering adopting an online technology service, you will need to alert the Director of Information Technology to that effect as early as possible in your deliberations. The more lead time we can give the folks at the University, the better. We put them in a difficult position when we hit them with ASAP demands on contract turnarounds. '
    • Keep in mind also that you are not authorized to enter into binding legal contracts on the Schools' behalf, including "click through" or "I agree" contracts that are so easy to zoom past when you find an online service you would like to use in your role as a school employee. Working with the Director of Information Technology will get you to someone who can take that action when the contract has been reviewed and approved.
  • What We Are Up To

    Posted November 13, 2014

    The Middle School iPad pilot is under way, with the second pair of teachers using the iPad carts for the next couple of weeks....several a/v repairs have been completed in the last week....we have a major recycling pickup happening this week as we begin preparing for our temporary relocation while Judd is being renovated....a new test server is going live to help vet updates to programs we run...working with Admissions to expand access to their database for greater efficiency in processing applications....preparations for the HS laptop pilot launch are 98% complete and should be a go by this time next week or sooner...working with Dave on new bids for a/v equipment in the GPAH...preparing for an IS mini-retreat to brainstorm strategies to adapt to changing conditions..doing online safety talks for 8th grade and 5th grade (6th and 7th are done) print server is up and running as plans near completion for implementing Uniflow, Proven's print management software..assisting Catherine Braendel on reworking web pages from different offices...enjoying a frosty beverage at First Friday but talking shop anyway...working with UC networking to improve wireless signal strength in weak areas...supporting folks having trouble with the CNet password change...writing blog posts and tweeting a bit...working with Fountain Walker and Dennis Crawley to change the configuration of computers at security stations...getting down to just 10 new teacher laptop after distributing more than 120 of them...and more.

  • CNet Password Change Update: Please Read Carefully

    Posted October 31, 2014

    If you are a school employee and have not changed your CNet password in the last year, you can expect to receive an e-mail on November 3rd from University IT Services asking you to change your CNet password. This letter will be signed by Tom Barton, Chief Information Security Officer for the University. The letter will include a link. Following the link should take you to a web page with a URL that explains the University of Chicago Password Refresh Campaign, with directions on what to do and how to do it.

    This email will be sent to your email address, which many of you have chosen to forward to your Lab School ( email address. We know that at least some of you either don't know or have forgotten you have a e-mail account, or have chosen not to forward that account to one you use more frequently. IS is working with UC IT Services to figure out the best way to determine who is in this situation and how best to assist you in dealing with the password change.

    There will be a window of three weeks in which you can make the change. For more information about this change, visit this IT Services link:

    Two options are available for increasing the strength of your password. Choosing the passphrase option means entering more characters, but does not require different kinds of characters (upper case letter, lower case letter, symbol, number). That makes it easier to type in on smartphones and iPads. The other option uses the same rules as your current password about including different kinds of characters, but increases the minimum length of the password.

    Some users may need to enter the new password in certain settings on laptops, smartphones, or tablet computers. These include syncing your uchicago e-mail on these devices, managing your uchicago-secure wireless profile, and those who use the University's outgoing mail server ( in their Mail settings. IS is working up a web page with information on these items which should be posted early next week. You'll be advised when that web page goes live. If you need help with these items in the meantime, come on down to the Judd lower level and we'll be happy to help.

  • Happy Halloween!

    Posted October 31, 2014

    Here's a nerdy jack-o'-lantern for you.

DIT Bits Blog

  • Slice of Life

    11/12/2014 12:22 PM

    Every now and then, I have a day that touches almost all of the different facets of the work I do. I offer this brief recap of just such a day for those who might wonder about what a technology director does besides sit at a computer answering e-mail, or those who may be considering pursuing a tech director position after succeeding in other education technology roles.

    8:30: Convene a meeting of senior IT staff to make sure our message to Lab users about an imminent, first-ever forced password change by the University covers all the right bases while remaining concise. We decide to put a web page together that covers all the gory details that are necessary but don't really fit in the main message going out. 

    9:00: Take part in Executive Team meeting. Updates from Admissions, the construction team, the Communications director, and the Director prompt numerous discussions of how best to navigate upcoming events, school communications, and decisions that need to be made about the Gordon Park Arts Hall. 

    10:30: Complete a handful of help desk tickets involving audiovisual systems; gather and deliver portable speaker sets to support a 5th grade Haunted Hallway project for Halloween. Answer a dozen or so e-mails.

    11:30: Meet with a Middle School teacher to learn more about her plans for participating in the iPad pilot. We go over her instructional goals, apps she has selected to achieve those goals, and how to set a proper level of expectation with students about using the pilot iPads.

    12:00: Meet with a fellow administrator over lunch to discuss personnel issues, how best to manage her time and increased demands for communication she is currently experiencing. 

    1:00: Impromptu discussion with an IT staffer looking toward some major life changes and seeking counsel on how best to navigate them.

    1:30: Do some investigation of a reported possible instance of a Facebook-related social media policy violation. Formulate an appropriate response but hang on to it until I'm sure it's needed (the person involved came in the next day and all was worked out, no violation occurred).

    2:00: Participate in a consultant-requested conference call doing research on the mobile laptop/iPad cart industry. She asks me about market trends, design considerations, experience with various vendors, and more. It goes much longer than I thought it would. I don't normally accept such invitations, but bad cart design has been a pet peeve of mine over the years. 

    3:30: Sit in on a good-sized meeting to work through different points of view on proposed changes to the construction of the Assembly Hall. I get to mostly listen as the the different stakeholders exchange thoughts, ideas, and concerns and decisions are made. Some of the changes may affect the IT side of things, so it's good I'm invited to be there.

    4:45: Complete draft of biweekly newsletter, including the carefully-composed item we went over at the 8:30 meeting. Take five minutes to find an appropriately nerdy carved pumpkin to add to the newsletter.  

    5:20: Head home.