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Notes from February 3, 2005 ITPAC Meeting:
notes by Steve Lasley
Streaming Audio from the meeting.
The meeting began with Jim Selph, County Extension Director, DeSoto County, discussing the difficulties that he is having, along with various other IFAS Extenson staff and clients, in finding publications within the EDIS on-line publication system. As his office does a lot of "print on demand", the ability to confidently find articles being requested is important, and not being able to do so reflects poorly on IFAS to its clients. The example Jim gave involved searching for "pasture fertilization" vs. "forage fertilization". Jim felt that, since these were synonymous terms, that the search results should be similar--and they are not. EDIS programmer, Petraq Papajorgji, explained that the search was based on locating the search terms as character strings within the documents, and that the engine had no keyword contextual assocations included and would not understand synonyms. Software designer Howard Beck suggested that it might be better to use the publication number if one was trying to pull up a particular document. Howard also said that a massive keyword index is being developed that could include knowledge of synonymous terms. Jim Selph then mentioned that he hadn't tried pulling up documents by their publication numbers in the last three months because he had never been successful prior in retrieving by document number. Howard responded that, although these things are tested, problems should be brought to their attention so they can be resolved.
Dan Cromer made a point of order, suggesting that this topic was outside the purview of ITPAC. Dan suggested that problems with EDIS should come first to the Editorial Advisory and Publications Steering Committees. Dan requested that this matter be deferred to those groups.
Jim said that he didn't necessarily know the best place for resolving this, but that the issue is important, involves IT, and needs to be resolved. Jim said he will specifically ask all the agents in his district to provide, in writing, problems which they have using the EDIS system. Jim will then forward these on to the EDIS technical staff so they may be addressed and resolved.
Allen Wysocki, Assistant Professor, Food and Resource Economics and MAB Grad. Program Director, asked whether the original IFAS publication numbers could continue to be used or whether EDIS DLNs (digital library numbers) were supplanting those. Howard Beck reported that both were valid and Ashley Wood, Director IFAS Information/Publications Services, said that either could be used at the discretion of individual departments.
Steve Lasley provided follow-up to several items discussed at the last ITPAC meeting, and raised a new issue as well.
The first item was the ICC committee's Recommendation for a UF-level solution to correct "DisplayName" field problems affecting Exchange Global Address Book functionality. Steve reminded ITPAC members that the issues involved included end-use control over the way names appeared in the GAL (global address lists) and encouraging an alphabetical ordering by last name so the GAL would sort usefully. Steve reported that this matter is indeed being acted on at the UF level and its implementation is expected to be completed soon. Once complete, we can begin notifying users of how they can modify their own display names via the MyUFL webportal.
The second item for follow-up was the ICC recommendation for a new IFAS e-mail address naming convention. Steve reported that a few things have been happening at the UF level in regard to UF user accounts. On 12 Jan, UFAD began provisioning all active Gatorlink accounts into active directory. Previously, certain categories of people, such as alumni, emeritus and students prior to taking classes, had not been represented. This will put UFAD on par with other Gatorlink-based services in terms of supporting our entire user base at UF. Later this year UFAD intends to mail enable all these accounts, thus putting them all in the GAL. This move will highlight more than ever the need for IFAS to move toward a single namespace for e-mail accounts.
Steve reminded ITPAC that at the last meeting we had supported moving toward a "email@example.com" format for our e-mail addresses. This will create some problems in that there are currently 260 conflicts where the username portion of current IFAS e-mail addresses are already claimed by others within UFAD. Chris Hughes reported that, to facilitate this change in e-mail address format, a program can be written to handle bounced e-mails addressed to our previous e-mail accounts, which would notify the senders of how to contact those people via the new address format. This is a fairly complicated program to write, however, and we would need funds to contract that out. Steve also mentioned that another issue is the need for a different domain (portion to the right of the "@" in the e-mail address) for service accounts (accounts assigned to services rather than individuals). This is needed because Gatorlink does not allow service accounts and a separate domain is required to assure there are no conflicts with Gatorlink. This would necessarily lengthen service account e-mail addresses, however, and that is a concern. One solution to a number of technical issues would be to move to a "firstname.lastname@example.org" format and forward all Gatorlink accounts to our Exchange server. This would free up the "@ifas.ufl.edu" domain to be used for service accounts. It would also allow for the automatic creation of IFAS e-mail accounts and unit staff would no longer have to coordinate new persons obtaining two separate e-mail addresses.
A number of ITPAC members, including Jane Luzar, ASO Dean of CALS, and Dawn Mendoza, Admin Assistant at Ag Bio Engineering mentioned that they already advertise their Gatorlink e-mail addresses to clients. Dale McPherson, Coordinator of Admin Services for the Dean for Extension, stated that "UF" is the best branding we can have--that it is much more widely recognized than IFAS itself.
Danny Colvin, Director of Research Programs at the Citra Research Unit thought that having "ifas" as part of the e-mail address was valuable as an IFAS branding tool--in addition to any standard signature line that might be added.
After much discussion, a motion was made that ITPAC recommend IFAS standardize all e-mail user accounts to the "GatorLink@ufl.edu" format with a goal of completion by July 2005. This motion passed unanimously.
To address the possible issue of loss of branding in moving away from the "@ifas.ufl.edu" format, a motion was made for IFAS to supply a standardized signature block which could be included in e-mails. This motion passed unanimously as well.
Steve then reported that UF is also working on the difficult job of deprovisioning accounts within UF as a whole. Within IFAS, the ICC has been trying to promote ways to build that into our processes for managing the computer resources of people moving into and out of IFAS within UF as well as those moving within IFAS. Deprovisioning is an important security issue--particularly now that we are part of a larger directory structure.
Steve also gave a brief update on the recommendation for changing IFAS IT e-mail client support. At the last meeting, ITPAC supported this recommendation provided the new version of Outlook is first made available to everyone and users are informed that support for other clients will be dropped. Steve reported that IFAS IT is still working in cooperation with the ICC on the implementation details for enabling an Office 2003 upgrade across IFAS. The goal is to make it available to all, but the best method or methods are yet to be determined.
Introducing a new issue, Steve reported that our antivirus solution will halt support for Windows 98 on June 31st of this year. Consequently, Steve moved that the ITPAC support the need to take measures to locate and either upgrade, replace or isolate from the network, all Windows 98 machines by 1 July 2005. This motion passed unanimously.
At this point, Steve introduced Joe Spooner, chairman of the ICC IT Charter Sub-committee. Joe presented the intention of his committee to develop an IT Charter that would describe and schedule the implementation of best policies and practices for delivering IT services within IFAS that are reliable and meet end-user needs on a continuing basis. Joe presented this as being a revisit of and logical update to the Infostructure Task Force report of 1997.
Discussion on this matter focused on the issue that this really should be handled via a new Task Force appointed by the VP. The matter ended in a motion that ITPAC recommend an Infrastructure Task Force be appointed for this purpose by March 1st 2005. The motion passed with the exception of Russ Rouseff, Professor, Citrus REC, Lake Alfred. His concern was that committees are not necessarily the simplest or best method for implementing changes. Russ later said he was willing to withdraw his negative vote providing that this effort was clearly faculty driven and addressed their needs for becoming more efficient in being able to do their jobs.
Pete Vergot raised an issue that he and his people are experiencing in passing files around internally, particularly with images from digital cameras. They have wanted to set up listservs for workgroups and use those to e-mail files among themselves. The current size limits on attachments make this difficult. Dan Cromer reported that is it not best practice to use attachments to move files around. Dan said we need to make it simple to share files in another fashion. A public share does exist at \\ad.ufl.edu\IFAS\Public that could be utilized, if proper training was implemented. Dwight Jesseman mentioned that UFAD has now made this facility available across all of IFAS. It was suggested that Dan Cromer’s staff continue working on this issue via training or whatever means necessary.
Dan Cromer addressed the Microsoft Campus Agreement and how it applies to our county staff. Any UF faculty and staff can use the licenses for current OS upgrades and Office products; but machines not owned by the UF are not eligible. Chris Hughes pointed out that county staff can come within compliance by us making sure that they are included in next year's count for the agreement. IFAS IT will contact Mike Conlon to ensure that this happens.
Dan Cromer provided a number of IT informational items. He reported that we will be working with UF to provide a centralized Help Desk trouble reporting system. Dan also reported that the Blackberry server is now in service. The transition to AD is completed thanks to the outstanding efforts of Chris Hughes and company. IT staff continues to work on associated problems, but the transition has been accomplished. Dan noted that there are training issues with the videoconferencing system. A system user book is planned to be ready by March that will detail how to use this system. Once instructions are in place, unit heads will be asked to inform faculty of the availability of this equipment for use.
The next ITPAC meeting is planned for May 2005.
last edited 5 February 2005 by Steve Lasley