News

November 10, 2020 Mac users: recommendation to wait to upgrade to macOS Big Sur (11.0)

This Thursday, 11/12, Apple is making macOS Big Sur (version 11.0) available as a free update for all compatible Macs. Given the substantial changes present in this new release of macOS, ITS asks that you wait to upgrade your school-managed devices until we can certify that networking, security, and critical third party software all work properly.

Once we have determined it is safe to proceed with updates, we will send a follow-up message. Please proceed with other update requests from any web browsers and other applications such as Microsoft Office or Adobe Creative Cloud.

If you have any questions regarding this request or are experiencing problems after updating, please let us know by creating a help ticket.

October 14, 2020 New features coming to Google Meet

Google has recently announced a number of features that have been added, or will soon be added, to Google Meet. These include breakout rooms, whiteboards (using the Jamboard app), Q&A, and polling features, and Google will continue to tweak and update a number of other smaller features, such as centralizing security controls and adding background blur, among other changes.

For more information:

If you have any specific questions or require any support with Google Meet, please send ITS a ticket and we'll be happy to help.

September 21, 2020 Focus being decommissioned on Friday, Sept. 25

At the end of business on Friday, September 25, access to our previous Student Information System (SIS), Focus, will be disabled for all students, parents, faculty, and staff, with a small handful of exceptions (in the Registrar’s Office, Institutional Research, ITS, etc.). With the official launch this term of the Blackbaud SIS, all official student enrollments, attendance, grades, forms, and demographic information will live there going forward, and as Focus is no longer covered by the vendor’s support contract, ITS cannot continue to support the product for general use going forward.

Should you have any questions or concerns about this change, please contact ITS.

September 14, 2020 Securing the Human

ITS has received a sudden spate of tickets reporting problems accessing Securing the Human.

Be assured that we're aware of and are working the issue. We have no ETA on the fix, but believe that we're close. In the meantime, please neither attempt access nor report StH access issues.

So, for the moment, note that you are not responsible for completing your StH training. Once we restore access, we'll let all know and then you will be asked to complete the training.

Update: A bit of good news! ITS has solved the Securing the Human access issue, and so we'll be shortly sending out the individualized email that will provide your training assignments and deadlines.

Should you have any StH issues going forward, please open a ticket and we'll be there to assist!

September 11, 2020 Old Fashioned Mailing Labels in Blackbaud

If you need to run a set of mailing labels, Blackbaud has a quick and easy set of custom lists. Thanks, Dr. Boltz, for testing this week!

They have been assigned to all Teaching and Non-Teaching staff and can be found:

Faculty-->My Day-->Schedule and Performance-->Scroll way down on the right-->My Lists-->View All

They are named:

Mailing Labels Durham Juniors

Mailing Labels Durham Seniors

Mailing Labels Online Juniors

Mailing Labels Online Seniors

September 10, 2020 NCSSM virtual backgrounds available in Zoom!

Eight scenic photos of NCSSM are now available for you to use as virtual backgrounds in Zoom. If you’d like to set one of these as your background, follow these steps:

  1. Join or start a new meeting in Zoom.

  2. Click the up icon (^) next to Stop Video (or Start Video if you video is off).

  3. Select “Choose Virtual Background.”

  4. You should see 8 NCSSM photos among your options. If you don’t, you may need to update Zoom.

  5. To update Zoom, click zoom.us in the top menu bar, then click “Check for Updates.”

  6. If you still don’t see the NCSSM backgrounds, try signing out of and then back in to Zoom.

  7. To sign out, click zoom.us in the top menu bar, and click “Sign Out.”

If you still can’t see the NCSSM virtual backgrounds, please submit a ticket for ITS.

September 10, 2020 Zoom Waiting Room and Passcode requirements

Beginning September 27th, 2020, all Zoom Meetings must have either a Waiting Room or Passcode enabled. This is designed to further improve security and privacy, and limit the possibility of unwanted Zoom attendees (or "Zoom-bombing"). To limit the impact of this new requirement, ITS recommends that you make the change now to use either passcodes, waiting rooms, or both on your upcoming Zoom Meetings.

For more information about this change: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/360045009111. And for any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact ITS with a ticket.

August 31, 2020 How to import your class schedule into Google Calendar

For Faculty: To import your course schedule from the Blackbaud SIS into your Google Calendar, please use these instructions and instructional video.

Should you experience any issues following these instructions, or have any follow-up questions, please send a ticket to ITS to let us know.

June 22, 2020 Google Chat replacing Hangouts in Gmail on June 30

At the end of business on Tuesday, June 30, ITS will migrate from Google Hangouts to Google Chat, which will replace the older Hangouts instant messaging application in Gmail for all NCSSM account holders.


Some of the features available in Chat within Gmail includes (from Google, with more details here):

  • 1:1 and group direct messages

  • Full-screen rooms

  • Bot integrations

  • Forward to inbox

  • Emoji reactions

  • Message edit and delete


The primary limitations of Chat versus the Hangouts instant messaging service it replaces are:

  • Your existing group chats in Hangouts will not transfer to Chat. You will have to recreate groups and Rooms in Chat. For a time, your existing Hangouts group chats will still be available at hangouts.google.com.

  • You will not be able to initiate phone calls or video calls from directly within Chat, but rather will need to initiate a Google Meet videoconference and share the link via Chat.

More of the limitations of this migration can be found here.


Between now and June 30, you can begin using Chat at any time using https://chat.google.com/. At your convenience, you can also install the standalone Chat app for Windows, macOS, Linux, and Chrome OS there using the Settings menu on that page (instructions here). Also, please use the following links to install Google Chat on your mobile device:


Thanks, and if you have any questions or concerns about this change, please let ITS know,

June 2, 2020 Mac users: recommendation to update to latest macOS release

To the NCSSM community's Mac users, ITS just wanted to follow up to amend our recommendation and say that we believe it is safe to upgrade to the latest release of macOS Catalina, version 10.15.5.

If you have any questions or concerns about updates on your school-issued computers, please let ITS know.

Our earlier message:

_____________

Esteemed Colleagues,

We hope this note finds you doing well. In ITS we have been coordinating our efforts to support the great work that you all continue to do during these extraordinary circumstances.

We have received several reports from Mac users that recent updates to their machine has impacted the quality of Zoom and Hangouts Meet videoconferencing. With that in mind, we ask that Mac users avoid any operating system updates until ITS can determine the root cause of this problem as well as give Apple time to remedy the issue on their end. Once we have determined it is safe to proceed with updates, we will send a follow-up message. Please proceed with other update requests from any web browsers and other applications such as Microsoft Office or Adobe Creative Cloud.

If you have any questions regarding this request or are experiencing problems after updating, please let us know by creating a help ticket.

May 11, 2020 Blackbaud SIS Resource Boards and My NCSSM

With the launch of Blackbaud SIS, we are excited to share all of the powerful new features that it offers, including one standout new feature called Resource Boards.

A Resource Board is a Pinterest-like wall of links to documents, websites, and forms that may be found on your Resources tab in Blackbaud SIS. On a Resource Board, there are links called posts which each have an associated image, title, publish dates, and expiration dates. Each post may be shown to all users or just a subset of those users (i.e. Residential parents, Residential students, Employees, Online Parents, Online Students).

Our incoming class of 2022 and their families have already been introduced to Blackbaud SIS and the Resource Boards. All of the information they needed for Welcome Day, placement testing, etc. was added to their respective Resource Boards. They now use Resource Boards in the same way we currently use My NCSSM for accessing important information.

In order to simplify the enrollment process for the students and families, we have decided to keep links to the resources they need only in Blackbaud SIS. They will not be using My NCSSM this coming school year. We will also be introducing the class of 2021 to Blackbaud SIS as they begin requesting courses. They too will be migrating to using Blackbaud SIS for bookmarks and information instead of using My NCSSM.

Noting these changes, we would like to make My NCSSM an employee-centric portal. You will still be able to access the same links, forms, and documents that you have access to now. However, all bookmarks in My NCSSM pertaining only to students and parents will instead be available to them through the Resource Boards in Blackbaud. Additionally, we will be doing some cleanup of the My NCSSM bookmarks this summer.

We look forward to training you on using Blackbaud in the near future if we haven’t already. If you have any questions or concerns about My NCSSM or Blackbaud SIS, please contact ITS.

April 29, 2020 Zoom 5.0 released, update required

Zoom has been updated to a new release, version 5.0, which adds the following new security features:

  • Adds a powerful new encryption algorithm that will add additional protection to meeting data and make it much harder to intercept or tamper with meetings. This enhanced encryption (AES 256-bit GCM encryption) will be turned on by default on May 30, and will necessitate everyone upgrade to version 5.0 of Zoom by that time.

  • Hosts and co-hosts can now report someone participating in a meeting that is being offensive or otherwise misusing Zoom, a feature available from the new Security icon.

  • A few other small security improvements, including a better experience when leaving or ending a meeting, minimum password length requirements, profile picture control, and more.

Please upgrade to the latest version of Zoom as soon as possible. To update your Zoom app on your device, please use these instructions.

For more information on this upgrade and the changes, please visit the Zoom blog.

Thanks, and if you have any questions or concerns about the Zoom application or security best practices, please contact ITS.

April 23, 2020 Google Meet Updates

Google has recently updated the Google Meet (formerly Google Hangouts Meet) videoconferencing tool with a couple of great new features:

If you have any questions or experience issues relating to these new Google Meet features, please let ITS know.

March 30, 2020 Zoom Security Changes and Recommendations, Part 2

First, we would like to thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to navigate an ever-changing situation with regards to Zoom, security, privacy, and the threat of Zoombombing.

Secondly, we would like to announce two improvements to Zoom security that will be made by default for all new meetings beginning Monday, April 6:

  • Waiting Rooms, which allow hosts control over who does and who does not get admitted into a Zoom Meeting, will be turned on by default.

  • Passwords will be enabled by default for all new meetings as well. To minimize the impact for anyone connecting to Zoom Meetings, the password will be included in the link so that students and participants connecting from Canvas, calendar invitations, or emailed invitations will continue to do so with one click. For anyone connecting manually using a Meeting ID, however, a password will be required. Please refer to these instructions for adding or changing a password for an existing scheduled meeting.

These changes will make it much harder for a bad actor from outside of NCSSM to join a Zoom meeting. In order to make sure that you are up-to-date and as safe as possible from any security vulnerabilities, be sure to also take a moment out to check and make sure that you are running the latest version of the Zoom client on your device(s) using these instructions.

We apologize for any inconvenience these changes may cause, but ITS and TLC are available to assist with any training or technical issues that may arise as a result. Should you have any questions about these new changes for Zoom, or your class(es) experiences someone from outside of NCSSM joining or exhibiting inappropriate behavior, please let ITS know as soon as possible.

March 23, 2020 Zoom recording updates and guidance

Due to unforeseen issues, the Zoom feature that allows you to record classes and meetings automatically as they start has been disabled. Any faculty using this feature will now need to manually record each Zoom meeting by pressing the record button. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

If needed, we recommend creating a reminder using Google Calendar, sticky notes, etc. to help remind you to record each class or meeting.

When recording your meeting in Zoom, ITS and TLC recommend using the Record on this Computer option and then uploading the video recording to Google Drive to share with your students. You can then share a link in an Announcement in Canvas or via email. Here are some step-by-step instructions for this process.

Alternatively, should you opt to use the Record to the Cloud option, you should no longer use Zoom’s Cloud Recordings to share your recorded class with students. Instead, please use these instructions to access and share these videos in Panopto.

If you experience any issues with these systems, please contact ITS. If you have any questions regarding remote teaching best practices, please reference this guide from TLC or email tlc@ncssm.edu.

February 3, 2020 Adobe Flash going away this year

Adobe announced a few years ago that Adobe Flash, which had been commonplace for interactive content and video on the web for a number of years, would no longer be updated or distributed as of the end of 2020. Open standards have been replacing Flash content for a number of years and given the greater security risk of Flash and its inability to scale to mobile devices, Adobe and browser developers such as Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Mozilla have decided to phase out their support for Adobe Flash in a gradual process that is already underway. By the end of this year, it will no longer be safe to use Adobe Flash content in any way as a part of your courses.

This being the case, Adobe Flash will soon stop working in all major web browsers. This has been a very gradual process over the last several years. For instance, in Google Chrome after July 2018, sites required explicit permission to run Flash after every browser restart. After July 2019, Flash was disabled by default, but can still be enabled in settings. By the end of 2020, however, Flash support in Chrome will be completely removed. There will be no supported workarounds to enable Flash content to work.

For more information on each major browser's response and plans for phased discontinuation of Adobe Flash, please review the following links:

This being the case, we strongly recommend faculty migrate away from using Flash-based content in course content and curricula as soon as possible. This includes animations and videos that are based on Adobe Flash that are being utilized in your Canvas course or as a part of class activities and assignments. For non-teaching staff, if you are using websites or apps that require Flash, we recommend finding an alternative as soon as possible.

If you have questions about this need to migrate to alternate content or you need assistance identifying what may or may not be Flash content, please contact ITS.

November 1, 2019 Google Groups Directory and update

In conjunction with departments from around campus over the last several months, ITS has made a number of adjustments to Google Groups in order to create a structure and naming scheme that will allow for each campus, physical and virtual, to have its own groups. This has largely been done by creating campus prefixes for many groups, including dur., onl., and soon, mor.

To help with finding Google Groups' names and email addresses, ITS has shared a web app with the community called Groups Directory. You can get to this app by going to the Google Apps menu from within Gmail (the nine dots in a square at the top-right, per the screenshot below). You can use this app to view a full list of Google Groups at NCSSM using the display all groups option, or you can also use the search field to look up Google Group memberships for individuals.

If you have any questions or issues regarding this app, or relating to Google Groups in general, please send ITS a ticket to let us know.

October 18, 2019 Welcoming a new staff member to ITS--Chavis Crawford

Please join ITS in welcoming its newest staff member, Chavis Crawford, who joins us in the Client Support Specialist role at the ITS Help Desk after having worked at both UNC Chapel Hill and Orange County High School. He will be handling help desk requests, assisting with Focus and Canvas, and helping with other forms of technical training. He is from Raeford, NC and has been a resident of Durham, NC since 2010. In his spare time, he likes to spend time with his wife, daughter, family and friends, play his Xbox, watch football and basketball, see a few shows on TV, all while keeping up on all IT trends to provide support in the best way possible.

Chavis can be reached at chavis.crawford@ncssm.edu or 919-416-2858, and will be located in the ITS Help Desk office in ETC-012. If you need to request his assistance, or that of any other ITS staff member, please send us a ticket and we'll be happy to assist you as soon as possible.

June 18, 2019 Technology installation in progress for Woolworth Room

The Woolworth Room is in the process of getting some exciting new technology, including a new screen and Chromebox, as well as a capable new camera and mic system, which will enable both wireless screen-sharing and remote participation in meetings. This new equipment is still being installed and tested and is not ready for use yet, however, we expect that it will be available for use this July, and instructions for its use will be made available in the space as well. If you have any questions or concerns in the meantime, however, please let ITS know!

June 7, 2019 Google Group mailing list changes for next school year

Following the end of the academic year, ITS will be renaming and reorganizing Google Groups, which function as our institutional mailing lists, to account for the needs of multiple campuses. They will either remain institution-wide or they will be subdivided into Durham, Morganton, and Online.

When you return for the 2019-2020 academic year, many Groups will be renamed to fit a new hierarchy and naming scheme. Next year's rising junior classes already fit the new model:

  • dur.2021 (Durham Class of 2021)

  • dur.2021f (Durham Class of 2021 Families)

  • onl.2021 (Online Class of 2021)

  • onl.2021f (Online Class of 2021 Families)

ITS will provide a full directory of Google Groups at the start of the next school year. If you have any questions or concerns in the meantime, please don't hesitate to send us a ticket to let us know.

April 11, 2019 GitHub Enterprise now available to the NCSSM community

I am pleased to announce that GitHub Enterprise is now available to the NCSSM community. GitHub Enterprise is a private GitHub environment for NCSSM students, faculty, and staff that enables unparalleled collaboration on coding projects. Like GitHub, which is the largest host of source code in the world, NCSSM's GitHub Enterprise has a variety of powerful features for students and developers at every programming experience level, including (but not limited to):

  • access control

  • bug and issue tracking

  • feature requests

  • individual wikis for each project

  • project and task management

  • easy-to-use analytics

To access GitHub at NCSSM today:

  • Navigate to https://github.ncssm.edu or GitHub Enterprise from the bookmarks list on My NCSSM

  • Click Sign in with SAML

  • Authenticate using your NCSSM Google account

That's it!

Additionally, free software and services are available to the NCSSM community from GitHub, called the GitHub Student Developer Pack, for all students, faculty, and staff that authenticate to a new web portal. A description of this software can be found here: https://education.github.com/pack. To get access for yourself, please sign in at getgit.ncssm.edu.

Lastly, we have some documentation on the ITS Wiki available here to help you get started: http://wiki.ncssm.edu/index.php/GitHub. There is also a great deal of helpful documentation available from GitHub as well. Additional GitHub training opportunities will also be scheduled in the coming months.


Thanks, and happy coding! If you have questions or issues regarding access, please send ITS a ticket.

March 13, 2019 Introducing the new Confidential Mode in Gmail

Gmail now has a new Confidential Mode, available to all NCSSM accounts. This mode enables the prevention of copying, pasting, download, printing, and forwarding of the message text and attachments of a particular email message. You can also set message expiration timeframes, revoke these messages at any time, and also require the use of an SMS passcode in order to view the message contents. To enable Confidential mode, open a new Compose window and click on the padlock/clock icon at the bottom of the message window.

Please keep in mind that this new feature does not prevent someone from taking a screenshot of a message text or attachment, however, it is useful and effective in preventing the accidental forwarding of messages with contents that only specific authorized individuals should be able to access.

For more information on how to use Confidential Mode, please refer to the following documentation from Google: https://support.google.com/mail/answer/7674059. You may also send ITS a ticket should you have questions or concerns that we can address.

November 28, 2018 Introducing new features in Google apps

ITS is pleased to announce some helpful new features available in Google apps, thanks to NCSSM's subscription to a new service called G Suite Enterprise for Education. First, there are a number of new features available in Google Hangouts Meet videoconferencing. In particular, this includes the ability to record meetings to Google Drive, toll-free dial-in access, and support for up to 100 simultaneous participants (up from 25). Please see the screenshot below to see how to record a videoconference.

Second, there is a powerful new app called Cloud Search available from the Google app menu or here, which is able to search instantly for content across your NCSSM Google account, including Gmail, Drive, Groups, Sites, and more. Please see the screenshot below to see how to access Cloud Search.

For now only employees have access to these new features, which will also be gradually rolled out to students in the future. If you have any questions about any of these new capabilities, please do not hesitate to send a ticket to ITS.

November 12, 2018 Windows-based computer users, ITS seeks your help

On Monday, November 12th, ITS will send an email to employees who use a Windows-based computer. The email will contain a link to download software that allows ITS to improve the Windows update experience on their computer. A tutorial will be provided on how to install the software and ITS expects the process to take less than two minutes to complete. Your prompt cooperation in this matter is greatly appreciated.

November 5, 2018 Please be cautious about phishing and ransom messages

ITS reminds and encourages the NCSSM community to remain vigilant about phishing messages and ransom demands. If you receive any suspicious email messages, or if you specifically receive a message asking for payment in exchange for compromised information, such as a password, please send the original email headers to ITS using these instructions. We will investigate and endeavor to block.

And please remember never to pay or respond to these types of messages! Most ransom demands are hoaxes, where information is gleaned from previous major account breaches (such as Yahoo, Adobe, etc.) to make the demand seem authentic.

October 8, 2018 New Google feature: Smart Compose

For those using the new Gmail, Google has recently added the new Smart Compose feature, which makes suggestions about common phrases, addresses, and other information to help speed up email composition. Enabled automatically, you can turn this feature off under Settings > General > Smart Compose and then selecting Writing suggestions off.

For more information, please read this update from Google. And if you have any questions or concerns regarding this feature, please let ITS know.

September 26, 2018 New security software available: Malwarebytes Endpoint Protection

A new suite of security software is now available from ITS: Malwarebytes Endpoint Protection. Over the next few weeks, you may notice a new icon on your Windows-based PC or Mac for the Malwarebytes software and should also begin seeing notifications for scans. This is expected behavior for this application.

Please note that no action is required on your part to begin using Malwarebytes Endpoint Protection. ITS will be remotely installing this software on all school-owned Windows PCs and Macs. For more information, see Justin Fleming's email from Monday.

September 24, 2018 Beware of malicious actors exploiting Hurricane Florence

In the event of a major natural disaster, such as Hurricane Florence, malicious actors often post links to fake charities and fraudulent websites that either solicit donations for victims or deliver malware.

ITS recommends that everyone adhere to the following guidelines when reacting to solicitations for donations and related:

  • Exercise extreme caution when responding to individual pleas for financial assistance such as those posted on social media, crowd funding websites, or in an email, even if it appears to originate from a trusted source.

  • Be cautious of emails or websites that claim to provide information, pictures, and videos.

  • Do not open unsolicited (spam) emails or click on the links or attachments in those emails.

  • Never reveal personal or financial information in an email or to an untrusted website.

  • Do not go to an untrusted or unfamiliar website to view the event or information regarding it.

  • Malicious websites often imitate a legitimate site, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (e.g., .com vs .org) so ensure the link goes to the correct website.

You may also want to see the UNC System's Hurricane Florence response page.

September 18, 2018 Network outage yesterday, recommendations for connecting devices

Yesterday afternoon, the campus experienced a network outage that impacting the wired and wireless networks. ITS apologies for the inconvenience of this outage for those who were working on campus yesterday. If you experience any lingering network issues on campus today, please contact us by ticket to let us know and we will assist as soon as possible.

This outage was caused by two separate, unrelated events:

  1. A power blip in Bryan occurred around 1 PM. Emergency power kicked in but failed to disconnect when the power came back on. Additionally, Watts and Bryan appeared to have no emergency power for an extended period of time.

  2. At approximately 2:15 PM, an employee attempted to plug in a desk phone that they had unplugged prior to the storm, per ITS recommendations. In the process of reconnecting their phone, this employee accidentally created a network loop, which in turn caused a broadcast storm that saturated our bandwidth with our Internet Service Provider (MCNC) which made the network unresponsive.

    • Note: Before you reattach devices that you've disconnected from the network, please contact ITS with a subject containing "Network reconnection" and also your building name and office number. If you've already reconnected your device(s), you do not need to contact ITS.

The cause of the latter issue is pictured below:


In order to prevent this issue from occurring in the future, please be careful not to plug both ends of an Ethernet network cable into the wall jacks in an office or classroom. When reattaching a Polycom desk phone to the network, more specifically, please attach one end of a network cable to the appropriate wall jack and the other end into the following port on the back of the phone:

If you have any questions or concerns about connecting any devices to the NCSSM network, or if you require ITS assistance in the process, then please send us a ticket to let us know.

September 11, 2018 Computing best practices for severe weather conditions

In preparation for Hurricane Florence, ITS has developed recommended best practices for computing when preparing for severe weather.

Please take a look at the following article on the ITS Wiki, and if you have any follow-up questions or concerns, please send ITS a ticket and we will be happy to provide further assistance to help make sure your data and your devices are safe.


http://wiki.ncssm.edu/index.php/Computing_best_practices_for_severe_weather_conditions

August 23, 2018 Please Re-subscribe to the Residential Academic Calendar

A recent update to the Residential Academic Calendar in Google Calendar caused some members of the NCSSM community to be unsubscribed. In order to re-subscribe, please visit the NCSSM Calendar at https://www.ncssm.edu/calendar/. On the right-hand sidebar, you will find links to subscribe to the Residential Academic Calendar, the Distance Education Academic Calendar, the Student Activities Calendar, and the Fine Arts calendar. We encourage you to subscribe to all of the calendars. Please note that you can toggle them on and off in your personal Google calendar.

We apologize for any inconvenience. If you have any trouble re-subscribing, please submit an IT Help ticket.

July 30, 2018 E-Reserves

For the last several years, most scanning done by copiers at NCSSM has been uploaded to a network share called E-Reserves, to which all staff have access. This is a temporary repository designed for access and download of scanned documents immediately following a scan. While this has been a convenient way to access scanned documents, there has also been a recurring concern regarding sensitive data (such as grades, financial records, and medical information, for example) being scanned, uploaded to E-Reserves, and then left without being deleted for a long period of time. Given this concern, earlier this summer, ITS began enforcing the nightly removal, at 3:30 AM, of all data scanned to E-Reserves that isn't saved to one of its subfolders (used by the Business Office, Human Resources, and others).


That being the case, please be sure to download and remove any documents you scan to E-Reserves each day, and immediately following each scan, in order to prevent any data loss and mitigate the risk of sensitive documents being seen or accessed by others.


If you have any questions or concerns about E-Reserves, scanning, or secure computing, please contact ITS.

July 2, 2018 New out-of-office feature for Google Calendar

Google has recently introduced a new out-of-office feature for Google Calendar. When creating an event, you will now have the option to select the "Out of office" entry type. Google Calendar will then automatically decline invitations that fall during that timeframe. Google Calendar is also adding additional features around your working hours, allowing you to set different hours for each work day. For more information, please refer to the following announcement from Google: https://gsuiteupdates.googleblog.com/2018/06/better-manage-your-work-and-personal_27.html

If you have any questions regarding this new feature, please contact ITS.

June 11, 2018 Migration to new phone system (July 4th week)

ITS is pleased to announce the scheduled transition from our existing phone system to Dialpad, a cloud-based communications platform, starting July 2nd. Dialpad will offer greater flexibility in how we handle calls with the option to have your NCSSM number on your cell phone or computer and email notification of voicemails. ITS will be offering multiple training sessions during the summer (including in August when faculty return). Likewise, we have posted the following training modules on our wiki at http://wiki.ncssm.edu/index.php/Dialpad.

In the next few weeks, you will receive an email regarding activating your Dialpad account (it may go to your Spam folder so keep an eye out for it there). Please activate your Dialpad account by following the instructions provided in the email.

If you have any questions regarding the phone migration, please contact Chris Lee.

June 11, 2018 New Gmail interface available

ITS would like to remind the community that a new version of Gmail is now available for all NCSSM accounts via an opt-in option. Featuring a refreshed design, the new Gmail incorporates a number of new features, including: snoozing, smart replies, new warnings for suspicious messages, and a handy new sidebar on the right for Calendar/Keep/Tasks, among several other changes and tweaks. Additionally, coming in the near future to the new Gmail will be a new confidential mode that will remove the option to forward, copy, download, or print specific messages.


We encourage the NCSSM community to go ahead and opt-in and try using the updated Gmail over the summer. Subsequently, the new Gmail will be the default option for all faculty, staff, and students at the beginning of the next school year.


To enable the new Gmail design, click the settings cog at the top-right and then click Try the new NCSSM Mail. If you do not yet see this option, please refresh Gmail and then try again.


For now, should you decide to return to the previous Gmail design, you may choose to return back to the "classic" design using the settings cog and Go back to classic NCSSM Mail.


For more information on this new Gmail design and its features, please check out this article from Google.

Thanks, and as always, if you have any questions or concerns with which ITS can assist, please don't hesitate to let us know.

May 17, 2018 Removing old, and wrong, names and email addresses in Gmail

If you find that incorrect names or old email addresses sometimes appear when you are composing a new email message, for example, for retired former employees or individuals' names prior to a name change, there is a procedure for removing them from your list of suggested recipients.

Note: At this time, these types of addresses cannot be universally removed for everyone at NCSSM, but must be removed on an individual case-by-case basis by each user.

To remove these addresses, please use the following procedure, which is also now documented in the ITS Wiki with the addition of screenshots:

  1. Go to your NCSSM email.

  2. From the Google app menu/grid at the top-right, select Contacts.

  3. Either search for the contact information you want to remove in the search bar at the top of the site, or select Frequently Contacted on the left-hand side to browse the contacts you have emailed that have been saved.

  4. In the list of contacts, next to the contact information that you want to delete, click the three vertical dots on the right-hand side.

  5. From the menu that appears, click Delete.

  6. If asked to confirm to "Delete this contact?" click Delete.

  7. Optional: If you happen to click on a contact you want to remove, you can also select the three vertical dots and select Delete from that menu, as well.

  8. The deleted name/email address combination will no longer appear as a suggestion when you compose an email.

If you have any questions regarding this procedure, please don't hesitate to contact ITS.

May 11, 2018 Resource Reservations Update

After receiving feedback about the proposed rollover to scheduling resources in Google Calendar instead of Resource Reservations (aka Booked), the consensus is to maintain the existing Resource Reservations for all NCSSM Resources (classrooms, vehicles, conference rooms, etc). With that in mind, the June 1st restriction in Resource Reservations has been removed and is open for scheduling during the summer and the upcoming academic year. If you encounter any problems accessing/creating reservations, please let us know by creating a Help Ticket.

May 4, 2018 NCSSM Network maintenance announced

On Saturday, May 5, from 7:00 AM-8:00 AM, ITS will be applying firmware updates to our firewall. There will be one or more short outages during maintenance.

Outages are expected to be brief, but the entire maintenance window is reserved.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact ITS.

May 1, 2018 New Gmail interface now available

A new design is now available for Gmail for all NCSSM accounts via a new opt-in option. This new design incorporates a number of new features, including snoozing, smart replies, new warnings for suspicious messages, and a handy new sidebar on the right for Calendar/Keep/Tasks, among several other changes and tweaks. Additionally, coming soon to the new Gmail design will be a new confidential mode that will remove the option to forward, copy, download, or print messages.

To enable the new Gmail design, click the settings cog at the top-right and then click Try the new NCSSM Mail. If you do not yet see this option, please refresh or close and re-open Gmail and then try again.

Should you decide to return to the Gmail design that you've been using for the last couple of years, you may choose to return back to the "classic" design using the settings cogand Go back to classic NCSSM Mail.

For more information on this new Gmail design and its features, please check out this article from Google.

April 26, 2018 You Need to Turn Off Adobe Flash

Adobe has announced that Adobe Flash, which has been commonplace for interactive content and video on the web for a number of years, will no longer be updated or distributed as of the end of 2020. Open standards have been replacing Flash content for a number of years and given the greater security risk of Flash and its inability to scale to mobile devices, Adobe and browser developers such as Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Mozilla have decided to phase out their support for Adobe Flash in a gradual process that is already underway. By the end of 2020, it will no longer be safe to use Adobe Flash content in any way as a part of your courses.

In advance of that deadline, Adobe Flash will stop working in all major web browsers. For instance, in Google Chrome after July 2018, sites will require explicit permission to run Flash after every browser restart. After July 2019, Flash will be disabled by default, but can be enabled in settings. By the end of 2020, Flash support in Chrome will be completely removed.

For more information on each major browser's response and plans for phased discontinuation of Adobe Flash, please review the following links:

This being the case, we would like to strongly recommend actively migrating away from using Flash-based content in courses as soon as possible. This includes animations and videos that are based on Adobe Flash that are being utilized in your Canvas course or as a part of class activities and assignments.

If you have questions about this need to migrate to alternate content or you need assistance identifying what may or may not be Flash content, please contact ITS.

April 20, 2018 Wireless Network Maintenance

On April 22, from 7:00 AM until 8:00 AM, ITS will be installing security and stability updates to our wireless network. During the required controller and access point reboots, all wireless services on campus will be unavailable.

Outages are expected to be brief, but the entire maintenance window is reserved.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact ITS.

April 20, 2018 Hiding grade summaries from students in Canvas

By default, Canvas enables students to view grade distribution information for assignments in their courses. This data includes highest scores, lowest scores, and means. This option cannot be disabled globally, but rather, can be disabled on a course-by-course basis for teachers that would not like students to be able to view this information.

To disable grade summaries for students in your Canvas course(s), go to Settings > Course Details > more options (scroll to the bottom of the page) > Check the "Hide grade distribution graphs from students checkbox".

For more information, please refer to the Canvas documentation found here: https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-12715-415292749

April 18, 2018 Calendar change for rooms and vehicle requests

Starting in June, resource reservations for conference rooms and vehicles will be integrated into Google Calendar. Employees will have the ability to schedule requests from within their own calendars and will no longer need to have a separate calendaring system for resources. With that in mind, entries will not be accepted in our current reservation system past May 31. Instead, ITS will be sharing access to the Google-based resources as well as provide training materials on using the new system next week. Please contact Chris Lee for any questions you may have about this upcoming improvement.

April 19, 2018 Regarding the two "Matching Gift Confirmation" emails

Yesterday at 11:18 AM, two emails were accidentally sent to everybody with an NCSSM email address. The emails came from do-not-reply@cybergrants.com.

The emails are legitimate, in the sense that they do come from who they say they're from, and concern legitimate NCSSM business.

However, due to an error within NCSSM, they were accidentally sent to everybody, and not to just those for whom the emails were intended. NCSSM administrative and technical staff are looking into ways to prevent any future occurrences.

The good news is that you may delete the emails. They contained no malware or anything that might harm your computer. Do not respond to the solicitation as it's still in process.

To those that reported the email, thank you. It's your continuing vigilance that, more than anything else, will keep our network secure. A double thanks to those that used the ticketing system and attached full headers.

Please feel free to contact me or any member of ITS with any questions.

April 18, 2018 Secure Your Home Network

You may have heard in the news about Russian attempts to exploit home networking equipment. A very easy way to make your home network more secure is to change the default management password on your cable or DSL modem, access point/router and any other networking equipment you use. Instructions for doing so are dependent on the make and model of equipment you're using. In addition, most of these devices have a setting to allow or disallow remote management of the device. You should disallow remote management.

April 9, 2018 Phone Call Fraud Alert

A report from another UNC System campus indicates that fraudsers are contacting their staff and students attempting to obtain personal information. ​The fraudsters represent themselves as calling from from NC BlueCross + BlueShield. They have consistently used the number 305.818.5223 for calls. We have indications that this number is also being widely used for personal information skimming from others outside the UNC System. Our report from the affected campus indicates that the callers seem to have some basic information that could have been gleaned from a breach of a healthcare provider or perhaps BCBS itself and are attempting to "fill in the gaps" (the fraudsters' own phrasing), soliciting SSNs and other sensitive, personal information. Should you receive such a call, please hang up immediately and notify ITS through a ticket (http://wiki.ncssm.edu/index.php/Send_ITS_a_Ticket) so we can track this activity and notify the appropriate authorities.

February 28, 2018 Phishing training for the NCSSM Community

The NCSSM community faces a persistent and ever-evolving threat of phishing attacks, via emails falsely claiming legitimacy in order to either steal credentials or infect computers with malware or ransomware, for example. To enhance our community's preparedness in the face of these dangers, ITS will, in the coming weeks, begin a campaign of phishing training for the NCSSM community. These training exercises, utilizing new and sophisticated tools from SANS (the same vendor that provides Securing the Human network security training on an annual basis), will incorporate realistic phishing simulations that will be developed by ITS staff and sent out to the community.

You are encouraged to treat these phishing simulation messages as you would any real phishing email message. That being the case, you should continue to report any suspicious messages to ITS using the instructions posted on the ITS Wiki and not to click any links in these suspicious messages.

In the event that you were to open one of these phishing simulations and click on a link, you would be presented with a screen like the one below, for example:

As always, if you have any questions about this training or network security more generally, please reach out to ITS.

Thanks for your continued vigilance in the face of our many security threats.

February 14, 2018 Firewall Maintenance

On February 17 from 7:00 AM until 8:00 AM, ITS will be installing a security update to our perimeter firewall. During the required reboot, all services on campus will be unavailable and all services with the exception of Google services will be unavailable from off campus.

While the expected disruption is expected to be less than 10 minutes, please note that the entire maintenance window is reserved.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact ITS.

January 21, 2018 Nutanix Maintenance

Our January 22 maintenance to correct the hardware failure was successful. We're now going to schedule more work on the Nutanix server to increase performance and reliability. We've scheduled this work on Tuesday, February 13, from 10:00 AM until 4:30 PM. We may schedule additional maintenance intervals for this work as needed.

While we expect no downtime due to this work, it remains a possibility. All Nutanix-resident services are potentially affected; among them are network authentication, Focus, Booked, Central Stores, printing and the ITS wiki.

As always, please contact ITS if you have questions or if we can be of any assistance.

January 19, 2018 Nutanix Maintenance

We're still working to correct the small hardware failure on our Nutanix virtualization server, which we'll address starting at 4:30 PM on Monday, January 22, 2018.

While we expect no downtime due to this service, it's a possibility. All Nutanix-resident services are potentially affected; among them are network authentication, Focus, Booked, Central Stores, printing and the ITS wiki.

As always, please contact ITS if you have questions or if we can be of any assistance.

September 14, 2017 New Version of the NCSSM Calendar

New version of the NCSSM Calendar

Over the past 2 years we have tried to show all of the various events we have happening on campus. Employees, parents, and students all need separate event information so we had separate Google calendars for Academic events and Activities on campus. Now, all official NCSSM Google calendars are synced with the new NCSSM calendar and users may select which they want to view. It is accessible in My NCSSM in the right side menu for employees, parents, and students.

To find the NCSSM Calendar:

Select Academic Calendar on the right side menu of My NCSSM.

To view the calendar:

Check or uncheck the checkboxes to turn on/off the calendars.

To subscribe to calendars:

Select one of the subscription links in the right sidebar subscribe to a calendar. You must have a Google Account to subscribe.

See the NCSSM Calendar at https://www.ncssm.edu/calendar/

See instructions in the ITS Wiki.