IFAS COMPUTER COORDINATORS
NOTES FROM December 9th 2005 REGULAR MEETING
A meeting of the ICC was held on Friday, December 9th, 2005. The meeting was chaired and called to order by Steve Lasley, at 10:03 a.m. in the ICS conference room.
PRESENT: Nineteen members participated. Remote participants: Chris Fooshee, Kevin Hill, Joel Parlin, and Mike Ryabin. On-site participants:
Mike Armstrong, David Bauldree, Allan Burrage, Dennis Brown, Dan Christophy, Dan Cromer, Joe Hayden, Chris Hughes, Wayne Hyde, Dwight Jesseman, Winnie Lante, Steve Lasley, Ligia Ortega, Mark Ross and Joe Spooner.
STREAMING AUDIO: available here
Agendas were distributed and the meeting was called to order just a tad later than scheduled.
Report from the chairman:
While there have been no new members, Steve Lasley mentioned that we had suffered the loss of Gary Thompson, long-time UF employee who had worked for the IFAS software group since 1997 up until his recent death. Steve also reported that, at last contact, Jack Kramer was recovering well from his bypass operation and is looking forward to getting healthy enough that he can have surgery on his major stomach/esophagus complaints of the past year or more. We all send our healing thoughts his way. Steve also introduced Ligia Ortega, the new IFAS Web Manager, who was attending her first ICC meeting. The ICC welcomes her participation in this and upcoming meetings.
Recap since last meeting
Steve pointed folks to the notes of the last meeting for context but did not go into particular details.
Steve did, however, present a brief recap of the November 3rd ITPAC meeting. He noted that the ITPAC recommended publication of several IMMs and that administration moved rather quickly on those. We should all be aware of the new IT-related IMMs which have now been published:
These join the long standing (since Feb 1, 2001) 6C1-6.150-1 which officially instituted the ITPAC. Congratulations go to Dan Cromer and the entire ICC/ITPAC policy process for finally realizing this long-term goal.
- 6C1-6.150-2 formalizing and defining the role of the ICC, effective Dec 1, 2005
- 6C1-6.150-3 formally describing the IFAS "Computer Security, Support, and Operating Environment", also effective Dec 1, 2005
- and 6C1-6.150-4 stating policy related to IFAS Electronic Mail, which will become effective on Dec 27, 2005
Most of the rest of the ITPAC meeting was devoted to the Infostructure Taskforce report, which Joe Spooner will address later in this meeting. The next ITPAC meeting is set for February 8th, so be thinking of any issues or recommendations which we may which to raise there at that time.
Progress on standing issues:
Printer Migration Project Update: Dan Christophy arrived a bit late, but Chris Hughes reported on his behalf that the printer migration was complete. Any units who wish to migrate further printer shares to the IFAS print server are welcome and may contact Dan about doing that.
Remedy Project Update: In the absence of Dan Christophy and Dwight Jesseman, Steve did his best to relate the current status of the IFAS Remedy system. He demonstrated how a ticket now displays the OU Admin of the unit to which the ticket submitter belongs.
Steve asked if everyone had requested and/or received access to this site. Some indicated they had, but Mark Ross said he has asked for access months ago and still not received that. This lack of response seems to have already led Mark to drop the idea of making use of this system.
Steve related that e-mail notification to the OU Admin of the ticket creation is not occurring, nor is the ticket automatically assigned to the corresponding OU Admin. The ICC had expected those features and seemed unanimous in wanting them implemented prior to the system being advertised to all. Dan Cromer said he would speak to Dan Christophy about that.
When Dan Christophy arrived later, he indicated that he was unaware that those features were not in place and that he would follow up with Adam, the programmer, on that. Discussion with Dwight after the meeting clarified that these features were left out at the suggestion of Fran McDonell, whose considerable experience in these matters has led her to believe that such features would cause problems. The concern was that distributing things out so quickly in the workflow would lead to many tickets not being addressed at all, because not all OU Admins would be invested in doing that. The alternative is to have the Help Desk manage the queue and assign tickets manually as they deem fit--the problem there is that the Help Desk hasn't demonstrated a close working relationship with OU Admins that might suggest such assignments would be made in a timely fashion.
It may be that we need to request a hybrid model where those OU Admins who specifically want to be informed of tickets from their users have those automatically assigned, and the remainder are handled by the HelpDesk. The respective OU Admins could be notified of ticket creation via e-mail, in either case. Steve will attempt to ascertain the opinion of the ICC on this via the ICC-L prior to our January meeting in the hope that we can successfully conduct certain aspects of our business outside the formal monthly meetings. The infrequency of our meetings has been frustrating a number of individuals who have been pressing for more rapid implementation of matters for which ICC input is needed.
Note from the future: Mike Ryabin related that he had past favorable experiences with Avaya's Unified Messenger. This product integrates with Exchange and provides voice and electronic e-mail routing of Help Desk calls. Mike mentioned that he had contacts with the company should anyone wish to learn more about that product.
Status of e-mail domain name change project:
Steve noted that, after informing the ICC prior, Dan Cromer had sent an IFAS-ALL message notifying everyone of the upcoming e-mail changes. An IMM has been published relating to this and a website has been created explaining the details. Chris Hughes has also created a website where anyone may go to determine if a particular Gatorlink username is already in use or not: http://itsa.ifas.ufl.edu/checkgatorlink. This site is more user-friendly than the already existing Userinfo page which is more useful to OU Admins for this and other issues. Steve noted that he had discussed the upcoming e-mail changes with his own faculty at their monthly faculty meeting and he encouraged other ICCers to do the same.
Dan Cromer wanted everyone, particularly those off-campus, to know the procedures for changing Gatorlink usernames. Those had been detailed in the formerly mentioned IFAS-ALL e-mail:
"To change a GatorLink username, those who work on the main Gainesville
campus must take their GatorOne ID card to the GatorLink Computer
Services offices, CSE E520. For sites outside of Gainesville, e-mail
mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org with UF ID, current GatorLink username, and
requested new GatorLink username. Requestor will be contacted by an OIT
Helpdesk staff member for coordination. To make the choice of a new
username easier, since users may not otherwise know if a name is taken,
Dan is still considering others methods, but these will suffice for the interim. Joe Hayden pointed out that many off-campus people do not have Gatorlink IDs. Unfortunately, the lengthening of the Gatorlink username beyond the current 8 character limit has been postponed indefinitely. Until that change is made, many cannot entertain using the last name, possibly in combination with initials, for their Gatorlink username. Allan Burrage noted that there will be a problem for those currently using the Gatorlink e-mail address as their official address who later wish to change to a more descriptive username upon the availability of the longer option.
It was decided that Dan Cromer should raise this issue to UF IT administration as the opportunity arose. It was suggested that allowing a time-limited alias (say one year) might be a good way of handling such problems. It was noted that this will be a UF-wide issue and is not limited to just IFAS. Joe Hayden pointed out that a lack in continuity for e-mail delivery during such address transitions can easily translate to a loss in revenue and that this matter needs to be carefully considered so as to prevent that.
Mike Armstrong was concerned about being informed during the upcoming e-mail addressing changes--regarding the exact timing of changes that affect CREC, real-time updates of how that progresses, and consequences of any problems that might arise. Chris Hughes assured him that Dwight would keep us all well informed of his progress as that work was being accomplished during the final days of the year.
Microsoft contract support for IFAS:
Steve asked if support is still being handled on a case-by-case basis. That is indeed the case. Chris Hughes said that we have some support for Vista, which he believed amounted to about 200 hours via the TAP.
Review of our anti-SPAM methodologies:
Steve reminded everyone of Dwight's recent e-mail to the ICC regarding improvements to our system:
"Non-released version 1.8 of SMTPTracker allows for limited keyword
and SPAM Confidence Level (SCL) setting. IFAS made a request to the
programmer to have this feature added to the application. We wanted
this feature specifically for E-mails sent to ListSERV lists. The
feature allows for us to set an SCL for E-mail bound from
@lists.ifas.ufl.edu and @lists.ufl.edu. In all my initial testing the
feature is working as designed. E-mail sent to ListSERV lists for
either UF or IFAS, when received should have an SCL of 0. If you
find a UF or IFAS ListSERV generated E-mail in the Junk E-mail Folder
after 11/28 please let me know."
Mark Ross relayed two basic complaints from his users regarding spam:
- Offensive e-mails are being delivered to the Junk E-mail folder
- A lot of internal e-mails are still going directly to the Junk E-mail folder
Mark's understanding is that little can be done about these issues. The former is due to our policy of delivering all e-mail--a policy which the majority of us seem to support. The latter seems to occur, at times, even for senders who have been specifically added to the safe-senders list. Chris Hughes was interested in seeing an example from Mark so that this could be investigated.
Steve noted that we do have more flexibility with this new version, so we can at least entertain suggestions now on settings that might improve the situation, should we wish to make recommendations.
Status of move to IF-SRV-WEB:
Marshall Pierce did not attend the meeting, so Steve gave a brief update on where he believed we were with this. For those who have not been listening to the weekly IT/SA staff meetings (if-admn credentials required), Steve explained that we have a new web server, if-srv-web, to which both if-srv-web01 and if-srv-web02 are being migrated. Nearly all the sites have been transferred already. Initially, those are being set in DNS as being located at the original site name, but prefixed with "dev-". This will allow the site admins to test each site before they are placed into production. IFAS OIT has hired an OPS programmer who will be available to assist as needed with any changes necessary for successful migration. The details of how to coordinate this are under consideration and notifications should be going out before too much longer.
Steve noted that roughly 70% of the sites will move over directly with no problems at all. Other sites will have various levels of issues with changes in moving to IIS 6; for example, with using the new CDO libraries for E-mail forms which have replaced the old CDONTS routines. Some sites may need (or would be advised) to change how they do database connections--moving to a DSN-less connection. For those using utility DLLs from the IIS4 Options Pack, those dlls may be registered on the new server and continue to work as before (one example from Steve's direct experience is the Counters Component).
The ICC and ITPAC sites, as well a few others, are already in production on the new server. The new server has the .Net Framework version 2 installed and will support all the new Microsoft application systems. A great and free way to check some of those out is via the Express editions. Steve encourages you to take advantage of this one-year free download opportunity. Perhaps the iso images for those various tools (Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition, SQL Server 2005 Express Edition, Visual Basic 2005 Express Edition, Visual C# 2005 Express Edition, Visual C++ 2005 Express Edition and Visual J# 2005 Express Edition) could be made available on the IFAS software site? Steve has been going through the tutorial that comes with Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition and is greatly impressed with how easy it has become to do data-driven web applications.
Dennis Brown asked about the status of the Microsoft AntiSpyware Beta. It was noted that the beta program has now been extended, via a new version, through July 31st of next year. Dan Cromer mentioned that the software is available on if-srv-file01, but Chris Hughes warned people that the default configuration will block our login scripts. This program is not recommended for production use in our UFAD environment until its official release and enterprise management of its configuration via GPO can be implemented. It is quite suitable for recommendation to home users, however.
There was some discussion as to how our use of McAfee VirusScan 8.0's "unwanted programs" feature has greatly mitigated the need for anti-spyware programs. The usefulness of block lists was also debated. Mark mentioned that he has found spyware block list files useful w/o adding the overhead of having yet another constantly running application. Allan Burrage has not implemented these at CREC and still sees VirusScan as keeping the spyware problem in check--without the potential for blocking some things that may be desired. Mark noted that the blocking of JibJab has created a minor furor for him :-).
Status of new file and SQL servers:
Chris Hughes reported that these are in and are close to being built. The fileserver will be configured as one large volume of about 7 TB with 200 GB set aside for Volume Shadow Copy, which will allow users to restore files they have deleted for themselves (up to the last 200 GB of changes). Chris wants to put Windows 2003 release 2 on the new file server before it is placed into production. The reason for that is its improvement in how it handles FRS and DFS. we are looking for R2 to be placed on the multi-purpose servers (MPS) in order to help with replication issues there. The replication has been greatly improved via compression and granularization of changes as well as by allowing rate limits to be configured. This, in turn, may allow us to implement RIS on remote sites.
Mark asked Dan Cromer how many units have bought into the fileserver. Dan mentioned Mark, Winnie and Steve's units as being the three and Wayne Hyde indicated that he believed Wildlife would be interested as well if contacted. Dan believed that there is no great rush in working out the details of unit funding, but Mark encouraged Dan to work on arranging the terms of what those units would be contributing and what they would get in return--sooner rather than later.
Mark asked how files might be moved from his server to the central server, indicating he had issues with using robocopy for that due to users still being on the system. Chris Hughes was confident that robocopy would work well; his experience with using it on the MPS proved to him that it is up to the job. One simply does the file moves all at one time regardless of who might be using the files, moves the users over to the new shares and then runs a quick cleanup move to get any additional file changes that may have occurred in the interim.
Chris explained that the SQL server is going to be running the 64-bit versions of both the OS and SQL Server, which should give us a hefty benefit in performance.
Office install point:
Steve asked Wayne Hyde if this was something which he was going to have responsibility over, and Wayne said that he had not yet been told. Steve mentioned that there are two issues with the default transform currently:
- The installation works fine, but ends in an error message--which may be disconcerting to some end users.
- Outlook is not configured to use the Outlook contacts--which then must be configured manually
Note from the future: John Sawyer, who originally set up this installation point, was kind enough to respond to these issues via e-mail as follows:
"The Office Install Point error is most likely caused
by the last update added by an ITSA staff member which
may have had the wrong MSP file in it. There are at least
two different downloads available for patches.
One is something like "full" and the other is "client."
There should be a log created during the install that can
be used to find which file should not be there. I always
tested it under VMware after adding the updates. The gotcha
is that the ohotfix.ini file is what controls the error
message title and usually only has the name of the last
update added. Sometimes, it took more than one try to get
Mark Ross noted that he uses his own custom transform. He asked if there could be a standard "official" location for storing those and any transforms others may use. Since no one is currently assigned that task and since Chris Leopold was not available for comment, this matter will have to be tabled for discussion at some later date.
Using Outlook/Exchange capabilities for handling ICC business:
Steve noted that our use of Outlook for ICC meeting scheduling seems to be working well. A number people appreciate the ease with which this method adds the appointment to our calendars. We also expect to use the voting features more in the future.
Proposal to upgrade all of IFAS to Windows XP SP2 and Windows 2003 Server by Dec. 31, 2005:
Steve related that he is down to just a few Windows 2000 machines and many others indicated likewise. Dennis Brown asked if anything would be happening soon that would affect Windows 2000 computers and make it unwise for them to continue being on the network. The answer was no, but the advantages of a single platform are great in terms of providing good support.
Chris Leopold was unavailable for comment, but Steve mentioned Animal Science is on the wallplate and seem very happy with it. Microbiology is also going that route. For, any unit who has a Centrex phone system, moving to the wallplate makes good economic sense due to cost savings on the phone lines by using VoIP. Other units may opt for wallplate at their own discretion, but the remainder of our units will not move until things change.
Status of OU admin training materials:
Dan Christophy re-iterated that he knows nothing about Dean Delker having responsibility for this. It appears that this is not going to happen unless Dean takes the initiative on his own to follow through or until someone in authority clearly directs Dan Christophy on the matter. It is clearly not a high priority for IT administration at this time.
Status of listserv confirm settings (plus discussion on allowing HTML posts to IFAS-ALL-L):
Dan Cromer said that Joe Joyce has approved this, but that it is waiting on dispensing with the e-mail changes, when we should have the staff time to implement this correctly. That will include the development of web-bases documentation followed by end user notification and finally the changeover itself.
Regarding allowing HTML posts to IFAS-ALL, most felt that was a bad idea and the rest didn't really care one way or the other. Consequently the topic was quickly dropped.
Status of WSUS:
Chris Hughes said that every computer has been added to the system and Windows 2000 machines are fixed as part of the logon script to include the necessary Windows update client--if that is not already installed. The only issue is with laptops which are part of UFAD, but are not on our own network when updates are required. Right now, the update server is on public IP, so updates will be received via http even when someone has their laptop at home or elsewhere. When we distribute WSUS out to the MPS, however, there will be an issue of those being unavailable for that (unless VPN'ed) due to them being on private IP. Moving the MPS to public numbers isn't looking like a good solution for that, but Chris has another plan involving DNS zones.
Status report: Joe Spooner
Steve related how, at the last ITPAC meeting, a fairly complete report had been presented. That was again modified somewhat based on feedback from ITPAC, but Steve had heard no more about its status since then. Joe related that he had just e-mailed Pete Vergot about that and Pete responded to the Taskforce by saying:
"I met with Dr. Joyce and he requested that we add in some costs
of each of our action items that may have a funding request and
add in some detail from the Polycom Taskforce committee. I have
asked Ashley and Dan to give me some figures and we are now
working on integrating them into the document. I hope to have a
draft for you the beginning of next week."
Joe Spooner said he expect us to start seeing some of these recommendations get implemented the first quarter of next year.
Regarding the Polycom Taskforce committee, Steve explained that the committee no longer had a chair now that Jane Luzar has left for the Provost's office. Steve said that he had raised that issue to Dan Cromer who in turn contacted Joe Joyce on the matter. Steve has heard nothing further on this, but noted that his recent experiences using Polycom for both the monthly Entomology and Nematology Faculty meetings with many RECs and for Extension In-service training to both RECs and county offices, indicate there are still many coordination issues that require addressing, such as:
- Scheduling meetings and finding out that a different non-Polycom meeting is going on and that remote's site mic is on, but they can't hear requests to turn it off (has happened with Live Oak the last two IPM in-service training meetings).
- Inability to tell who is actually in a meeting, so an organizer must take time to poll each site for participants at beginning and end.
- Wanting to have in-service trainings, potentially, at all counties and RECs at once.
- Bandwidth issues with providing streaming video for absentee attendees to provide recorded input to meeting.
- Inability to record and stream a conference later.
- Data collaboration issues concerning data for meetings.
Wayne Hyde is our new IFAS ISM:
Steve explained to Wayne that the ICC had been trying to get a Network Security Sub-committee going, but that it never really got off the ground, due it part to difficulties of getting folks to participate. Steve indicated that he hopes Wayne makes the attempt to revive that, because security concerns often require greater depth of consideration than we can provide in our monthly ICC meetings. The hope is that such a committee could provide recommendations to the ICC for consideration there.
ePO reorg and exclusion lists
Wayne expects to be taking ePO over from Chris Hughes before too long, but Chris is currently working few hours and that may have to wait until he returns to a more normal schedule to have the time to turn that over properly.
Steve reported that he had a Bagle infection on a machine that had turned off the Network Associates services and that machine had not updated for 4-5 weeks. He asked if that raised a flag anywhere in our system whereby it could have been caught earlier. Chris Hughes stated that currently it does not, but that will be fixed before long. Chris noted that, in the interim, we can request (via e-mail to him) a number of reports which might assist us in finding machines that require updating or whose agents haven't checked back in a particular period of time. One of the things Chris has been working on is to use the WSUS APIs to dump the data directly to a text file which he could then import into SQL Server. The idea there would be that those could be made available as a report that Admins could sort by their OUs. The APIs are rather complicated, however, and rapid progress on that is unlikely.
Plans for re-enabling Windows firewall for IFAS (GPO:IF-Firewall-Windows Clients)
Chris Hughes suggested that we wait until the new IP plan is in place, because there are many IP #s included in the firewall settings that would just have to be redone if it was implemented earlier. This is another matter for which Chris Hughes will need to provide information to Wayne before he can take that over.
The only other security issue that Wayne had seen was that some of Joe Spooner's machines had evidence of the Sony DRM rootkit on them. Wayne believes we should try to determine what IFAS machines have been affected--probably via login scripts--so we can address that.
Steve reported seeing a student's personal laptop that was malware-infected with the symptom being that the device manager showed absolutely nothing. He wanted others who might run across this to know that he found a solution in running http://swandog46.geekstogo.com/aproposfix.exe in safe mode. Steve is still going to recommend rebuilding that machine, but it did restore the device manager and a subsequent run of WinSockFix got the network adapter working again.
Dennis Brown asked if anyone had seen a problem related to the announcement by the UF security team that AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) bots are spreading by sending messages to the contacts of infected users. Wayne said he had not seen any affected machines, but that CNS currently had the campus DNS servers redirecting "saftp.buddy-pictures.info" to 18.104.22.168 (infosec.ufl.edu). They were suggesting that other DNS managers may want to consider doing the same to prevent hosts within their network from continuing to receive control instructions from the IRC server. Allan Burrage noted, and Wayne confirmed, that VirusScan 8.0 is currently set to block IRC ports. This should mitigate problems further, so that a machine which became infected should not be able to communicate with the server to cause further problems.
Note from the future: John Sawyer reported in on this issue later as well. His much appreciated comments follow:
"IRC bots, including the recent AIM bots, almost
NEVER use standard IRC ports so the blocking of
IRC ports in McAfee VS8 is useless. I don't think
there were any infections within IFAS, which has
been a nice trend since WSUS went into production."
Report(s) from IT/SA
UFAD - status of standing issues regarding NMB assignment and displayname
Chris Hughes reported that the NMB logic is going to be changed soon so that NMB is never automatically assigned except for students. This leaves it completely up to each department's directory coordinators to add and remove NMB settings when people enter or leave a department. Chris said that, according to Warren Curry, there are termination reports that are supposedly being sent to DSA's listing those who had been officially terminated in their units, but Dan Cromer (the DSA for IT) reported never having received one of those. Chris Hughes hopes to get such a report for all IFAS and re-distribute that out to the various OU Admins. Chris noted that about 4500 users were migrated to UFAD and we now have about 6000 users--those new ones are not due to new jobs being created, but rather to the fact that we are not cleaning up when folks leave.
Aside from the problem that we often don't know when it is appropriate to do so, the http://itsa.ifas.ufl.edu/remperms site is the method for handling people for whom we have removed the NMB. That site removes permissions to IFAS resources and handles removing their mailbox and sets a forward to Gatorlink as well. One must be careful, however, to check that their Gatorlink doesn't remain forwarded to IFAS--otherwise a mail-loop will be created.
Dwight Jesseman has access to changing the Gatorlink forwarding, if you cannot get the assistance of the person in doing that. Dwight reported, however, that some people have a Gatorlink account, but no Gatorlink mailbox. For those, he cannot create a mailbox to set a forward and they are stuck with a mail-loop.
Prior exit procedure discussion. We had an extended discussion of the exit processes or lack thereof. Not getting an e-mail forwarding address from a person exiting IFAS can cause problems. Until we can improve exit procedures or provide an improved process for all this, Dan Cromer would like to handle these on a case-by-case basis. He continues to try to urge administration to stress the importance of the unit directory coordinators and work methods into the evaluation process which will better assure that those important jobs are handled correctly.
Chris Hughes asked for a status on moving the IFAS Directory to use the IFAS OU. Dan reported that Dr. Xin is busy with other tasks currently and that matter will have to wait.
Chris Hughes reported that he has been designated by Chris Leopold as the TAP lead for IFAS. Chris wants to know of any units that are interested in participating in the Vista TAP, how many computers you wish to have involved, and at what stage (beta 1, beta 2, RC 1, RC 2 and RTM) you wish that involvement. He will then get interested parties the deployment tools as the time arises. Kevin Hill asked if Vista betas would work under VMware. The belief was that they would, but Chris reminded Kevin that the TAP program requires VISTA on production machines and a virtual machine would not meet that criterion.
Dennis Brown asked why someone might want to participate. Chris responded that it would provide access to new OS features early and give admins early experience with deploying that within their departments. It also permits us to provide input into the development process for features that we may not like or may, in our opinions, require changing. There is some risk to doing this, as some features may not work, but we do have very good support from Microsoft for getting any problems corrected quickly. There will be training in late January on this after which we will start doing deployments on campus. Chris is excited about some of the advertised features, including the ability to do remote rebuilds on a machine w/o affecting a user's programs or data.
Removal of WINS
Chris Hughes does not believe that we have any applications in IFAS that require WINS and would like to remove our WINS servers. This will break the NETBIOS aliasing that was done during migration, but Chris hopes that few references still exist for access via those older aliases. Dwight Jesseman was concerned that end user notification be made prior to doing this, but many mentioned that end users would not be able to understand the issue and consequences in any case. CREC volunteered to be guinea pigs on this and other remote units could try that by having the WINS entry removed from the DHCP. We might try a test on campus sometime in January to see how it goes--we could easily turn it back on as necessary should problems arise.
Progress on DFS implementation
Chris restated that the new fileserver will exist as a single share within DFS. If you have a server which you wish incorporated into DFS, please contact Chris Hughes sometime next year and he can assist with that.
SMS - Anyone interested?
Chris Hughes said that SMS will be installed on the MOM backend server and if you are interested in using it, please contact him. This will probably be available around February. The AD schema extensions for that and for Win2K R2 will be deployed sometime over the holidays.
The need for UF and/or IFAS to consider negotiating a contract price on packaging software to build MSI files
Mark Ross had raised this issue. Mark feels that we should try to pool our resources on this, especially if we are going to go with SMS. Chris Hughes mentioned that SMS can deploy applications that aren't packaged as MSI's and could alleviate the problem considerably. Kevin Hill mentioned that he has tried using AppDeploy.com, which offers some MSI packages, but without much success. Regardless of how it is done, however, it is not a simple process. Chris Hughes mentioned that he has a license for Wise for Windows Installer that he would be glad to let someone have for IFAS use.
Means for finding what machine a user last logged onto and/or what user last logged onto a machine:
Steve mentioned an interesting thread that was on the ActiveDir list regarding using a login script to store, within a user account's attributes, the name of the last machine logged onto, or in the machine account's attributes, the name of the last user which logged onto it. Chris Hughes said this would be very easy to setup if it was desired. Steve feels this would be a very worthful feature to add to our configuration.
Increasing ICC meeting frequency
Dwight stated that he would like more frequent meetings, say twice a month. He feels that implementation of various items is often delayed unduly by needing to wait until the next ICC meeting for feedback. Steve stated that he could not donate further time to supporting such an increase in frequency. He suggested, rather, that we consider handling more issues over the ICC-L or via Outlook voting. Granted, this method may not work for extremely controversial issues, but Steve feels that many items could be more quickly handled by other means in-between our official monthly meetings.
It was also mentioned that simple status items could be handled outside our meeting times by having IT/SA prepare formal documentation on those which could be posted and distributed. That would free more meeting time for discussion of the more disputable items, rather than taking up meeting time simply informing people of where things stood on various issues.
Dwight also believes that we apparently must rely on the ICC and its members to get information out to users on changes. He feels that meeting more often would help with doing that. The problem there is that only a small number are frequent participants in the ICC in any case. It is those users who do not have an IT support person who takes advantage of the ICC that are the real problem.
Steve re-iterated his belief that an opt-in list that was well managed and maintained would be a superior method of providing end-user notification. Steve continues to insist that, although we might not like it, we can only reach those who want to be reached. Providing information in a way that people find useful and informative is our best bet for success--but that would require the allocation of resources that currently don't exist. In the past, suggestions there have included hiring an OPS communications major in lieu of assigning current staff to the issue. While this issue continues to be a great concern to IT staff, IT administration has not felt its importance outweighs other competing needs; hence, no progress has been made on this.
The meeting was adjourned at approximately 12:20 pm and a good number of us went to On The Border for an enjoyable holiday computer-nerd luncheon that was kindly organized by Dennis Brown, the ICC's vice-chairman.