UAB information technology professionals are invited to attend a free one-day technology conference in Birmingham on Oct. 1. 

The conference, TechJunction Alabama 2015, is being sponsored by TechBirmingham and a variety of national sponsors. UAB has joined many of the larger employers in Birmingham in endorsing the event. 

Dr. Curt Carver is a member of their advisory board and will be chairing the CIO panel during one of the sessions. The keynote address will be given by Brunson White, Secretary of Information Technology for the State of Alabama.
The event is free and open to all technology employees at UAB. There is no charge to attend this event, but advance registration is required.  Employees wishing to attend the conference should seek clearance from their supervisors before registering.
By Tatiana Kabakova

Back in the 1980s, a new way of doing business evolved as corporations began collecting, combining, and crunching data from sources throughout their enterprise. Their goal was to improve the bottom line by discerning hidden patterns and thereby improving the decision making process. Three decades later, this goal has expanded to include increased student achievement and other data-driven decision making processes.

In the past year, UAB has produced groundbreaking discoveries and innovations, delivering on the promise of “knowledge that will change your world.” The university’s overarching mission pillars embody the commitment to educate, advance research and discovery, care for the sick, respond to the needs of the community and use knowledge to establish Alabama as a progressive economic center that can change the world.

None of this is possible without cutting edge technology and advanced business analysis, which is one of the seven UAB IT strategic imperatives.

 On the student side, UAB IT currently has dashboards available for the following content areas:

  • Enrollment
  • Retention and graduation
  • Credit hour production
  • Admissions funnel
  • Active course registration
  • Graduating student career plan survey results

Each of the dashboards has drill-down capabilities that allow users to focus and dissect delivered information specific to their area of interest.

The census enrollment dashboard image shown below provides a good example of UAB diversity trends for the past five years.

Jon Corliss and his team are working tirelessly on supporting institution-wide initiatives concerning faculty and student engagements and student recruitment and retention. 

The Office of Associate Vice President for Development and Alumni is another BI (business intelligence) consumer. Cognos allows them to focus on two additional institution-wide initiatives: alumni engagement and campaigning for UAB.

In one month, 73 Cognos users utilized dashboards and reports, delivered by the business intelligence department and the Office of Associate Vice President for Development & Alumni, either to justify decisions or look for business opportunities.

The Director of Human Resources Information Systems, Rahul Thadani, and HR Administrative Systems manager, Jason Womack, reached out to UAB IT recently.  They indicated significant interest in using the Cognos platform for their BI needs.

Soon HR and UAB IT will be able answer questions such as: Which program is successful that prepares diverse students to lead, teach, provide professional services and to become the prominent scholars and societal leaders of the future? Which department is efficiently utilizing resources to stimulate innovation?

The future looks bright when UAB fosters an institutional, data-driven, decision-making culture that allows UAB to make informed and optimal decisions. 

Puri Bangalore

Researchers at UAB need a robust computer network to support their world-class work.

A new grant awarded to Puri Bangalore, associate professor and director of the Collaborative Computing Laboratory, will strengthen that network and increase its speed — tenfold.

Bangalore, who also serves as assistant director of the UAB Center for Information Assurance and Joint Forensics Research, received a $498,443 grant from the National Science Foundation to create a ScienceDMZ, a network to be operated by UAB IT that will allow UAB researchers to more easily and quickly connect with each other and with other institutions.

With UAB researchers working on projects that generate vast amounts of data, they need to be able to upload and download files and images quickly and securely, Bangalore said.

The goal in building the ScienceDMZ is to provide UAB researchers with 10-gigabit connections and key research labs with 40-gigabit connections, allowing researchers to communicate with each other and with researchers at other institutions at far greater speeds.

“Internally we can move faster, plus we can go outside, whether to upload or download data,” Bangalore said. “This promotes collaboration. Instead of waiting for data to transfer, researchers can be working.”

Bangalore said the network is essential to UAB’s success in research.

“If we don’t do this, we’ll be left behind,” Bangalore said. “Networking is the foundation. We now live in a digital world. Everything is digitally driven.”
This grant provides the foundation for UAB to build the 100 Gbps network — giving researchers a network they can depend on as they would electricity or water service at home.
“In an ideal world you would want (researchers) to take this for granted,” he said. “We just expect things to work. But obviously, someone needs to make sure they work.”

password 1

UAB is revising its password/passphrase policy to ensure better security for campus assets.

Beginning Sept. 15, passwords/passphrases will need to be 15 characters, but the passwords will expire after one year.

The new policy will be phased in; while users can change their passwords at any time at BlazerID Central, they will not be required to change their passwords to 15 characters until their current password expires.

Fifteen-character passwords are much harder to crack than eight-character passwords, making them more secure than UAB’s current standard. Once a password/passphrase expires, a user will never be able to reuse it.

A strong passphrase:

  • Is a series of words that create a phrase.
  • Does not contain common phrases found in literature or music. You can choose a sentence or phrase that is familiar to you, but use the first letter of every word as a mnemonic device.
  • Does not contain words found in the dictionary. You can replace certain letters in words with numbers, such as 1 for an I or L.
  • Does not contain your user name, real name or company name.

UAB’s passphrases must contain three of the following four characters: an uppercase letter, a lowercase letter, a number and a special symbol.

When users log into BlazerID Central to change their passwords, they will automatically be prompted to enroll a phone number in the Identity feature, which allows users to more easily reset a BlazerID password/passphrase without having to contact AskIT.

UAB IT is also actively pursuing a contract for a password manager for faculty, staff and students. 

Researcher awards

UAB IT is building the largest academic compute cluster in Alabama and a powerhouse network that will be the foundation for groundbreaking research at the university.

A series of grants and other financial pledges will strengthen the current network that supports researchers at UAB, enabling better collaboration and innovation.

UAB has received $2 million in funding from several entities in recent weeks:

  • Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer Curt Carver, working in partnership with numerous departments, received a $500,000 grant from the Alabama Innovation Fund for a three petabyte research storage array.
  • UAB IT received $500,000 from the university’s Mission Support Fund, the largest grant to date from that fund, for research computing equipment.
  • Associate Professor Puri Bangalore, director of the Collaborative Computing Laboratory, received a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to create a ScienceDMZ and separate research network that will allow UAB researchers to more easily and quickly connect with each other and other institutions.
  • Dr. Richard Marchese and the Office of Research and Economic Development have pledged $500,000 in ongoing operating funds for research computing.

HPC septembernewsletter“Advancing research and discovery is a fundamental pillar of our institutional mission. This enterprise-wide strategic investment in our research computing infrastructure is a necessary step to providing our researchers with a competitive edge and propelling UAB forward as one of the most dynamic and productive research universities of the 21st century,” President Ray L. Watts said.

Considered together, these enhancements will quadruple UAB’s current computing capability and storage and lead to a more than tenfold increase in networking speeds. Increased computational power adds capacity and will enhance the performance of UAB’s scientific modeling, imaging, genetic and statistical workloads. The first purchase under the new funding is being installed this summer, a new cluster that will be integrated into the existing research computing system, where it will complement existing storage and OpenStack on-premises cloud computing resources.

The UAB research committee, led by Dean Iwan Alexander, is considering even more ambitious capabilities as a component of a research computing strategic plan so as to empower UAB researchers. UAB’s motto of “knowledge that will change your world” is increasingly being created at UAB by UAB researchers.  

UAB Chief Information Officer and Vice President for Information Technology Dr. Curt Carver has delivered a video and presentation detailing UAB IT's plans for strategic technology improvements.

"UAB IT is listening intently to campus, so that we can act intentionally to meet the technology needs of faculty, staff and students," Carver said.

welcomeback students3

Whether you are a new or returning student at UAB, you may have questions about technology on campus.

Here are some guides to get you started:

UAB IT Quicklinks (printable version)

How to get your computer ready for UAB (printable version)

Antivirus software

And here are some security tips:

Keeping your password secure

Protect yourself from phone scams
Fiber cables serving Denman Hall were accidentally damaged by a construction crew Thursday, affecting service to the UAB network, physical security network and Apogee ResNet at the residence hall.

Telephone service at Denman was not affected.

Construction crews have begun replacing the conduit and fiber cables, with service estimated to be restored by early next week.

We apologize for the interruption of service, which was out of our control.
UAB faculty members have a new online tool to help them manage their professional information — a place to document grants, publications, professional activities and teaching.  The Faculty Profiles system is currently being rolled out across the UAB campus.

The tool automatically downloads publications from eight major indexing sources into each individual profile. Grants data is downloaded from IRAP.  Publications that are not captured automatically or grants that are not included in IRAP can easily be manually entered. Two additional features document teaching activities (drawn from Banner, the student system) and other professional activities, as selected by each faculty member. Altogether, the Profile provides each faculty member with a single system in which to manage their accomplishments.

Faculty Profiles is also designed to foster cross-disciplinary collaborations, while standardizing reporting of faculty activities. The tool creates a profile page for each faculty member, viewable by other UAB faculty members. No confidential information is posted to the profile.

“This is a wonderful tool that centralizes our accomplishments,” said Dr. Midge Ray, associate professor of Health Services Administration, School of Health Professions and faculty coordinator for the UAB Faculty Profiles tool.

“The new Faculty Profiles system is a great tool for compiling a list of publications for our quarterly department faculty meeting, our annual report and our faculty pages for the departmental web site,” said Dr. Cynthia Owsley, the Nathan E. Miles Chair of Ophthalmology and Vice Chair for Research Administration, UAB.

Faculty in Health Professions, Engineering, Optometry and the Libraries have been trained on the tool, and it is currently being rolled out to the Schools of Dentistry and Medicine and College of Arts and Science. The School of Education is on target for training in fall 2015, Ray said.

The development and implementation of Faculty Profiles, a Symplectic Elements software, has been overseen by the Faculty Activities Committee, which includes representatives from all of the schools and the college and libraries.
Adobe Acrobat Pro X will reach “End of Core Support" on Nov. 15, 2015.

"End of core support" means that Adobe will no longer provide patches for this version, and any exploits discovered will not be corrected. Since Adobe will not support this version after November, it will become a security risk.

UAB IT strongly encourages users to upgrade to a newer version of Adobe Acrobat. 

Adobe subscriptions are available under the IT Software Library website under Adobe Software. You may also submit a request to AskIT directly from this website.