CUNYfirst migration, 8pm Wednesday, March 24th to noon, Sunday, March 28th

CUNYfirst will be unavailable from 8pm on Wednesday, March 24 until noon, Sunday, March 28th. This downtime is necessary because CUNY’s Office of Computing and Information Services (CIS) is moving the CUNYfirst application from the current hosting provider to servers located in the CUNY data center.

CIS has been preparing for this event for more than a year, and has been engaging in extensive testing and running the new servers for several months in parallel with the hosted environment. Some common questions about the migrations and answers are below:

  • Why were the dates selected? CUNY selected these dates to have the least impact possible on University business processes. The dates are before fall enrollment and FY21 procurement deadlines. They also align with the start of Spring Recess.
  • What exactly is happening? Right now CUNYfirst is run by a third-party hosting company on remote equipment. CUNY CIS is moving the application to servers located in the CUNY data center. This is primarily because the contract with the provider has ended and CUNY has chosen not to renew it. It will also allow CIS to have more flexibility in future upgrades and improve long-term planning.
  • Will I see any difference? Users are not expected to see any changes in the CUNYfirst environment. All addresses to get to CUNYfirst services will remain unchanged; and the software, applications, and data will all be unchanged from before the migration. Please note CIS is also freezing system changes in CUNYfirst for 20 days before and 20 days after the migration, which means CIS will be deferring any software patches or feature enhancements to CUNYfirst during this time.
  • What do I need to know? All access to CUNYfirst will be unavailable during the upgrade window. Students, faculty and staff should expect to not be able to enter any data into CUNYfirst or look up information in CUNYfirst during this time. Note that CUNYfirst will be unavailable, but all other services using CUNY Login will continue to work normally (Blackboard, DegreeWorks, etc.) However, services that receive CUNYfirst data will not receive that data during the migration.
  • What about Baruch services? Services that depend on CUNYfirst data will not receive updates. This mostly affects account provisioning for faculty and staff, and any processes which receive data from the 805 and 856 files. Since the migration is not occurring during an enrollment or add/drop period data changes are minimal during this time.
  • How should I prepare? If you work in an office that regularly enters data into CUNYfirst, plan for not being able to add data during the workdays of Thursday, March 25th and Friday, March 26th. You may wish to focus on other activities to support the office during this time. While you may be able to download certain data from CUNYfirst in advance, remember that data containing confidential information as per the CUNY Data Security Policy should remain on Baruch computers (i.e., access your office computer via VPN to work with that data.) If you are a student or faculty member, understand you will not be able to look up course information or rosters in CUNYfirst or otherwise change any personal information during that time.
  • What should I do if I have questions? Information about the migration may be available from the CUNY IT Help website. We will also update our webpage with information as CIS makes it available. If you need additional help, please consult the BCTC Helpdesk.

CUNY CIS and BCTC appreciate your patience during this process, and look forward to continuing to serve your CUNYfirst needs after the migration.

BCTC Firewall Replacement, Saturday, January 16th, 7am-9am

BCTC will be installing new campus firewalls from 7-9am on Saturday, January 16th, 2021.  These firewalls replace equipment that is nearing end of life and will support higher performance. There will be brief interruptions to the campus internet connections during this time.  In addition, all VPN connections that are active at that time will be disconnected and will need to be reestablished. Please monitor BCTC social media (bctcbaruch on Twitter and Facebook) for status updates at that time.  If you have trouble connecting to services after this service window, please contact the Helpdesk at helpdesk@baruch.cuny.edu

Background

The current campus firewalls are over 6 years old and are nearing the end of support by the vendor. In addition they do not support the latest versions of the firewall software available from the vendor which offers more advanced security features and up-to-date configuration options. CUNY initiated a project late last year to procure new firewalls for all the CUNY campuses. We began the migration plan by reviewing the existing firewall configurations and removing outdated rules and other ineffeciencies. We received the new firewalls from CUNY back in December and since then have been migrating the configuration from the existing firewalls to the new ones, and have validated the configuration.

The old firewalls are in a redundant pair that supports full failover and backup if a connection is disrupted or a problem causes a firewall to crash (which is incredibly rare). The new firewalls will also be in the same redundant configuration. On Saturday morning we will disconnect the redundant pair, and then physically move the network connections from one of the old firewalls to the new firewall. At that point we will test connectivity on- and off-campus to a defined list of services that will indicate that the connection is operating normally. Since the configurations are identical and we’re plugging the new system into the same ports as the old system, we expect less than a few minutes of disruption while the firewalls configure for the network. If that does not happen we will troubleshoot the connection, with the worst case scenario being that we switch back to the old firewall and regroup. If as expected the new firewall works correctly, we will then connect the second new firewall to the network and reestablish the high availability connection between them to preserve redundancy. The only actual disruption of service occurs when we move the physical fiber optic cables from the old firewall to the new firewall, and then the new firewall becoming known to the existing network, a process we expect to only take a few seconds but in no case should take more than 5 minutes.

As we plan for other future network upgrades in anticipation of being able to support in-person and hybrid learning in Fall of 2021, the new network switches being installed will support higher-speed connections between campus buildings and the CUNY ring connecting to the Internet. The new firewalls have high speed interfaces that will allow us to fully benefit from the connections to the new network equipment. For now we are using the connections for our existing network.

How Instructors Can Hide Exam Grades in Blackboard

  1. In the Blackboard course, go to the Grade Center (in the lower left Course Management/Control Panel area)
  2. In the exam column’s header cell, click the down arrow: Downward arrow in Blackboard
  3. In the pop-up menu, select “Edit Column Information”

Edit Column Settings

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Scroll down and select “No” for the “Show this column to students”

Show columns Option in Blackboard

Note that the instructions say: “Select No for the second option to hide this column from students in My Grades which prevents the student from viewing the exam grade even if the test is automatically graded.

  1. Click “Submit”

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To display the grades later, the instructor only needs to choose “Yes” instead of “No” for the option “Show this column to students” and this will reveal the exam score to each student.

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NOTE: the steps above hide the overall exam grade.  To ensure that students do not see their scores on individual questions of the exam, make sure you have selected the appropriate settings in the “Show Test Results and Feedback to Students” section of the “Test Options” for your exam.  The most straightforward way to hide question scores and other information is to make sure that none of the checkboxes is selected in this section:

Screenshot of Blackboard Show Test Results Option
 

If you would like to show students some of the information in the “Show Test Results and Feedback to Students” section, please refer to this PDF guide (10 pages):

https://www.baruch.cuny.edu/bctc/intech/documents/ConfiguringTestResultsandFeedbacktoStudentsonBlackboard.pdf

 

Access to Adobe Creative Cloud after October 30th

The University’s free student, faculty, and staff access to Adobe Creative Cloud ends on October 30, 2020.  

After October 30, the following Adobe Creative Cloud licensing will be in effect at Baruch: 

For students

Students who are enrolled in courses that require Adobe Creative Cloud use can continue to use the software without interruption.  If your course has been identified as requiring Adobe Creative Cloud, your entitlement through your CUNY Login will continue to work after October 30. 

 All other students can access Adobe Creative Cloud from the Baruch online labs located at https://onlinelabs.baruch.cuny.edu/. The online labs can be accessed using your Baruch username and password.  
 
Creative Cloud entitlements for students will be revised on a per-semester basis. 

For faculty and staff:  

Faculty and staff currently who previously received an Adobe Creative Cloud account authenticated by your Baruch email and Baruch username can continue to use the software without interruption. 

If you are faculty or staff and need access to Adobe Creative Cloud you should contact the BCTC Helpdesk for further information. 

Dealing with PDF forms

One of the side effects of our remote work environment is a different understanding of how online documents and signatures work.

I personally have been living in the electronic document world for a while now–a standard workflow for me is receiving an electronic invoice, opening it in Acrobat (either Acrobat Pro or Reader) and signing it:

This usually works well. However, there are documents that faculty and staff need to sign that are PDF forms. PDF forms are specially formatted to allow users to enter data into specific form fields. For whatever reason Acrobat does not allow documents designed as PDF forms to be signed in Acrobat.

Fortunately, there is a simple workaround (at least on Windows, see below for the issue on a Mac): You can fill out the form in Acrobat (again, either Reader or Pro) and then “Print” the document, but print it to a PDF instead of a normal printer:

“Microsoft Print to PDF” is available on any computer with Microsoft Office installed. Users with Acrobat Pro may also see an “Adobe PDF” virtual printer in your printer list. Either will work.

When you print to PDF you will get a file dialog asking you to name the file to save. I recommend using a different name than the original form.

When you print the PDF you will get a new PDF with the form fields filled out that you then can use the “Sign” functionality in Acrobat Reader or Pro to sign normally, and then email or send the file to the appropriate offices. As always, remember that email cannot be used to send information (such as social security numbers, bank account information, etc.) classified as “Confidential” by the University’s Data Classification Standard. Offices who request such data will provide you another mechanism to share that data with them.

Unfortunately Adobe Acrobat on a Mac does not allow you to print to PDF, asking you to save the PDF instead, which will not make the document editable. We are exploring options for determining the best way to handle this. For now the option of printing to paper, signing the paper, and scanning the signed form back into a PDF is probably the best option (and I believe the option most commonly used when we were working on campus.)

Zoom Meeting Changes

Please be advised that as of September 27th, all Zoom meetings will either require a passcode or a waiting room. There are more details available at https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-ushttps://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/360045009111.

Please note that according to the CUNY Zoom Security Protocol, all CUNY Zoom meetings should have a password as per CUNY policy. Having a password or a waiting room are two important ways to reduce the possibility of Zoombombing in your meeting.

How to Request and Use a Loaner MiFi Hotspot

T-Mobile Hotspot

 

Baruch College students who do not have Internet access at home may request to borrow one of the MiFi hotspots that the University has provided. The units use a T-mobile plan that is covered by the University.  There is no cost to students.  The loan period is the semester.

The supply is very limited.  Priority will be given to students based on financial need.

To submit a request

  1. Log into CUNYfirst and select the Technology Needs Request Form.
  2. Answer the questions about your Internet access and available technology.
  3. Respond “yes” to the question, “If you could borrow a device from your College for coursework, would you?”
  4. Select “Other” for the answer to the question “If yes, what kind?”
  5. Enter “hotspot”.
  6. Accept the loan agreement after reading it.
  7. Confirm your mailing address.
  8. Submit the form.

To Connect to Wi-Fi

The T-Mobile hotspot has been pre-configured and is ready to use. When you receive the device please do the following to start using it.

  1. Press and hold the Power button for 3 seconds to turn on device.
  2. Power LED light settings:
    a. Light off –power is off.
    b. Light on, solid – power is off, device is charging.
    c. Light on, blinking – power on, operating normally.
  3. When the device is on, press the Power button quickly to go through device menu and information. This will toggle the display to show Home screen, data usage, Wi-Fi name, Wi-Fi password, Web Admin URL, and back to Home screen.
  4. You will need the Wi-Fi name and Wi-Fi password to connect to the hotspot.
  5. On the device you want to connect to the Hotspot; find the Wi-Fi name (FranklinT9####). Click connect and enter the Wi-Fi password from your hotspot display.

To Change the Password

  1. Connect your Wi-Fi-capable device to the T9 Wi-Fi.
  2. Open a web browser and navigate to http://mobile.hotspot or http://192.168.0.1
  3. Click Settings in the navigation area.
  4. Select the Wi-Fi Settings tab.
  5. Change the password that appears in the Password field.

Resources

How Baruch College Students Can Request to Borrow Equipment

Baruch College’s equipment loan program provides students with Chromebooks, iPads, laptops, and other devices that support online learning.   At this time the equipment is being mailed to requesters.  There is no cost to borrow equipment and the loan period is for the semester. 

To Submit a Request:

  1. Log into CUNYFirst.
  2. On the CUNYfirst entry screen look for the section headed “Tell Us Your Tech Needs”.
  3. Click on the link to the “CUNY Technology Needs Form.”
  4. When the Survey Portal appears click on “Tell Us Your Tech Needs”.
  5. Answer the questions and submit the form.

Here is a video of the request process.

What Happens After You Submit the Request?

The technology loan staff review the request to make sure that the item is in stock.  If there is a problem with the request, you will be notified by email.  Otherwise, the information you submitted on the form will be used to produce the shipping label to get the device to you via UPS.  Shipments are done twice per week.  As soon as the item is ready to be shipped, you will receive an email message that will provide the information you need to track the delivery.  If you do not hear anything in a few days, it means that you submitted the request just after a shipment batch was prepared.  Your device will be included in the next shipment batch.  Please do not resubmit a request, because a duplicate order will cause a delay in shipping the item in the original request.

 

Remote Access to our Student Computer Lab

Baruch students can now remotely access the software on the computers in the main student lab (Kaplan Center) using BCTC’s new Online Labs application (https://onlinelabs.baruch.cuny.edu).

This is especially helpful for students who are working with devices that cannot support the installation of software that is required for their courses.

This remote access service is designed for the use of software that is installed on the lab computers.  It should not be used for software that is delivered via the CUNY Virtual Desktop (https://www.cuny.edu/about/administration/offices/cis/virtual-desktop):  SPSS, SAS, ArcGIS, Mathematica, Maplesoft and Matlab).  Also, it should not be used for access to Adobe Creative Cloud in classes that require its use.

Access is limited to Baruch students.  Faculty and staff should continue to use VPN to access the software on office computers.

Arthur Downing
Vice President for Information Services and Dean of the Library