Monday, March 27, 2006

University Council

Tomorrow I'm discussing ASU's technology strategy at a meeting of the University Council. With luck, I'll be in a position to podcast it.

In the meantime, here's a link to a draft of the presentation. Real homespun graphics. Note the two small arrows at the upper left and upper right to move forward and backward. There are also some short presentation notes beneath each slide.
Readers of my blog and the TechPlan wiki won't find any surprises here I don't think, but this is the 20 minute version of where I think we're headed.
As interesting to some is what I won't be covering in tomorrow's meeting, namely a new organization diagram for central IT. I'm planning on discussing the details of that reorganization at an All-IT meeting on the 12th of April. Details to follow.


Monday, March 20, 2006

Everybody to the Limit . . .

I've done a fair amount of tech support in my day. As a grad student at MSU, I worked with a team of grads and undergrads, providing tech support to researchers at the Case Center for CAD/CAM. I've done my time on a software help line too.

But most of my tech support has been more local and seasonal. I specialize in Christmas tech support, for members of my family. Christmas at my house consists of my boys, my wife and I all unwrapping a bunch of new tech gizmos and then rushing off to the four corners to "install" them. Things are better now, as my kids have grown old enough to do most of their own support. But I have spent untold hours of Christmas vacation searching the net for drivers and patches, installing, booting, rebooting, watching progress guages count in irregular intervals to 100 in order to get some new toy to do its thing.
This was all brought home to me a couple Fridays ago on a visit to the Polytechnic campus. I was working in the Computing Commons at about 6:00pm, waiting for traffic to thin out. Just me and the lab monitor. Nice. A professor walked in, with a digital camera that ASU had loaned to him an hour or so before. Said he was having trouble getting his laptop to recognize it.

Now this is just the thing that Christmas tech support is all about, so I figured here was my chance to do a good deed for the day. So after the lab monitor had tried what he could think of, I invited the good doctor over to my laptop to give it a go.

Of course, as it turns out, the camera was pretty old. No simple drivers, no installation disk. After a half hour or so of goofing around with drivers, patches, downloads, web searches and the like, we found one of those desperate solutions you find when you're looking hard...A Finnish web site with a goofy know edit some .inf file by removing three strategically placed semi-colons, uninstall the camera, then reinstall it and ignore all warnings...the kind of thing that never works...but at 6:45 on a Friday night, you'll try anything . . .

And lo and behold, it did work. On my computer. And half an hour later, after a lot more back and forth, it worked on the professor's computer too. Crisis averted. Good deed done.

But it really made me wonder. How can we hope to provide that level of support to every member of the community? The level of "work at it till we solve it, no matter what". But if its your problem, that's the only kind of support that is worth anything to you.
Any ideas?


Saturday, March 11, 2006

What's Going On?

Marvin Gaye . . . Man, they don't make 'em like that anymore. Heard it Through the Grapevine . . . How Sweet It Is . . . or my favorite, The Ecology -- better known as Mercy, Mercy, Me . . .

Oh, mercy mercy me
Oh, things ain't what they used to be
No, no Where did all the blue sky go?
Poison is the wind that blows
From the north, east, south, and sea

At one level, Marvin's song is about his feelings of powerlessness in the face of ecological destruction. But as with most great songs, it can operate at more than one level.

For me, it also speaks to how uncomfortable change can be. Change can be very exciting, but the uncertainty of it can sometimes knock you off your stride. For some of the folks in IT here at ASU, particularly here in the Computing Commons, the idea of restructuring is proving both exciting and intimidating. Despite assurances that the world isn't going to be turned completely upside down, it's weird when you're not sure what's going to happen next.

So, to borrow from another Marvin Gaye classic, I'll try my best to tell you what's going on...


Friday, March 10, 2006

Library chat . . .

The day after Valentine's Day I had the opportunity to talk with a folks from the University Library system. The library put together a three-part podcast of the session -- in three parts because, if you can imagine it, we spent more than an hour and a half discussing the University's technology strategy and the future of the digital library.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Early returns are in . . .

If you haven't already done so, check out the early returns from the 1:1 Technology Survey. The target population of the first phase of the survey is students who will take classes on the ASU downtown campus this coming Fall.

The results so far confirm that personal technology is the norm among students. Survey results confirm that an overwhelming majority of students report owning a computer (97%). Sixty percent say they own a laptop and thirty-one percent report owning both a laptop and a desktop.
The full 138 page report shows the detailed results for each question. For me its confirms that, at least for the survey respondents, technology is a surprisingly important part of students' lives.

The survey continues and we are hoping it will give a better picture of technology use here at ASU on a program by program basis. More here as the results come in.