Information Systems

Tech Talk

  • Pretty Please Use the Online Ticketing System

    Posted September 17, 2014

    Given the current and anticipated growth in the number of people, spaces, and resources we need to support, IS is looking to be as efficient and consistent as we can in recording and tracking all incoming help desk requests. Using the online ticketing system is the best way to achieve this goal. We ask that you use the ticketing system to submit your requests as often as possible.

    It's not that we don't enjoy talking to you on the phone or in the hallway, because we do. But we also want to be fully transparent and accountable for a well-run help desk operation, and the more loose ends there are from hallway stops, phone calls, and "as long as you're here" requests, the harder it is to keep track of things. When tickets come into the online system, we all see them and can communicate with you from inside the ticketing system rather than have random emails flying around.

    The fastest way to send in a ticket is via e-mail. Instead of e-mailing the IS address, send your e-mail to webhelpdesk followed by the usual at ucls dot uchicago dot edu (the address is spelled out here to avoid attracting spam since Tech Talk is posted on the world-readable IS web site). The system will know who and where you are and create a ticket from the body of your e-mail.

    The other way is to go to the web page at helpdesk.ucls.uchicago.edu and enter information into the form you'll find there after you log in with your LabNet ID.

    If you have questions or comments about your support ticket, you can enter them directly into the Notes portion of the ticket; just remember to hit the Save button in that field when you're done. If we have status updates for you, you'll find them there, too. Please don't enter a second ticket to ask about the status of an earlier ticket containing the same request. Use the Notes field in the ticket you opened.

    We recognize that the kind of problem you're having may preclude your going to the online form or sending an e-mail, so report those kinds of items via phone or in person as needed. Thanks for considering this change in what for many is a long-time behavior, If you would like an in-person demo on how to use the system, we're happy to provide it. Let us know.

  • Printer Upgrades Coming

    Posted September 17, 2014

    In addition to the now-completed replacement of existing MFDs with Canon machines, we have also made a significant investment in a number of new Kyocera stand-alone printers to replace our oldest HP models. We could not stretch the budget enough to replace all the stand-alone printers we have along with the MFDs, but that is our eventual goal, and this year's acquisition will put a big dent in it. Rob and the help desk team will begin those replacements soon and will be in touch as needed in affected areas.

  • Using the Everyone List: A Plea for Prudence

    Posted September 17, 2014

    Like all internal mailing lists at Lab, the "everyone" list is for conducting the day-to-day business of the Schools. Though defining what that means can be elusive at times, it has been suggested by some that there might be room for senders to exercise more restraint when considering what to send to that list.

    Some sent items clearly do not belong on any other list besides Open Forum: puppies to give away, tickets to sell, solicitations for charity events not connected to the Schools, and so on.

    Other items are clearly school business: water shut downs, broken elevators, personnel changes, notice of school events, and so on.

    However, a number of sent items in any given week fall in a gray area in which the content is surely of concern to some, but probably not everyone. Or perhaps the connection to our daily school business is there, but is less direct or harder to discern by a critical mass of people who receive it. These are the messages that tend to trigger the complaints Curt gets in his default role as e-mail traffic cop, and lately he has received several.

    Clearly, these are judgment calls, and it's hard to imagine a set of rules or a policy that would address all the use cases out there. Also, part of the list's value is its immediacy; if we were to moderate the list, someone would have to play gatekeeper, which creates a bottleneck no one really wants.

    So before you send a message to the everyone list, kindly take a moment to be sure its contents really are of sufficient urgency and importance to have it show up in the inboxes of every teacher, administrator, and staff member. Consider sending to Open Forum first to see if you can achieve the goal for your communication without involving everyone. About 120 people use that list, so you're getting the word out. Another option is to send your message to a list that is a subset of the everyone list; each division has its own alias for this, and there is one each for all faculty and all staff. If you want those addresses, let IS know, but we can't post them on Tech Talk, which becomes a world readable page on LabNet once it's published.

  • Printer Upgrades Coming

    Posted September 17, 2014

    In addition to the now-completed replacement of existing MFDs with Canon machines, we have also made a significant investment in a number of new Kyocera stand-alone printers to replace our oldest HP models. We could not stretch the budget enough to replace all the stand-alone printers we have along with the MFDs, but that is our eventual goal, and this year's acquisition will put a big dent in it. Rob and the help desk team will begin those replacements soon.

  • A Service You Didn't Expect from IS

    Posted September 17, 2014

    With a few avid cyclists in the IS group, please be aware that for faculty and staff, we always have a bicycle pump and tire levers available if you are running a little low or need help changing a flat on your bike (we don't have tubes, though). Schrader or Presta valves are the supported pump platforms :-)

DIT Bits Blog

  • Sharpening the Saw: the Benefits of Travel

    07/25/2014 11:07 AM

    As I complete my 16th year in this position, there have been many opportunities to reflect on all that's happened since I shifted my role as an educator from classroom teaching to directing our school's technology efforts. 


    As I was flying home from Memphis the other day, looking at the landscape below reminded me of the many opportunities I've had to travel for this job, whether representing the Schools doing presentations, attending conferences, or  taking classes or workshops.  If I were to take time to list them all, I'm sure it would be at least 30 trips or so including most major cities in the US, Vancouver,  and a few smaller cities as well. 

    Whether it is NAIS, InfoComm, ISTE, Lausanne, or other events, I am always grateful to have the support of my school in sending me to these events. Travel is costly these days, and I know some peers in other schools who are not able to travel as often as I am. I appreciate these opportunities and strive to make the best of them. The learning curve in this job never flattens; in fact, it seems to get steeper with each passing year, so what I learn has been critically important to what I do. As Covey says, "sharpening the saw" is a habit of the highly effective. There is no doubt, however, that these journeys have more benefits than the learning that takes place in the course of the event itself.

    • Getting out of town and away from the immediacy of the daily grind also allows time and mental space for reflection, regrouping, and resetting priorities.
    • Organizing a new presentation also forces me to focus intently on delivering a meaningful session with a level of clarity and brevity that sometimes eludes me as the demand to juggle many projects at once affects my daily work.
    • Networking with peers at other schools gives me a good reality check on where Lab is compared to other schools in the public, parochial, and independent sectors. I always come away amazed at how similar our challenges are and how hard-working, caring, and talented school IT leaders can be. Schools don't change very quickly, but being in a field that does makes for a lot of heavy lifting for IT leaders that cause them to either adapt or move on to something else. The added perspective helps rekindle my idealism and energy to bring the best thinking of IT leaders everywhere to what we do at Lab.
    • Developing better relationships with vendors is also of real value. Whether I am happy with a vendor or not, there is nothing like face-to-face time to engage them in frank conversations about their products or services and the future directions they may be taking. The best vendor relationships become true partnerships, and that is not something that can happen over the phone or in a webinar. 
    What professional travel plans do you have in the year ahead? What goals do you hope to accomplish by investing time and money to make these trips happen? I'm not quite ready yet to formulate my travel plans for the year, but if history is any indication, I'll almost certainly be headed wherever best fits the goals I have for the year.