Need to conceal some unflattering surroundings during a video conference call? You can now blur your background when in a conference or meeting in Microsoft Teams.

To start a meeting with background blur, on the Choose your audio and video settings screen when you’re joining the meeting, move the blur slider — the one to the right of the video slider — to the right. FYI, this only works for scheduled meetings.

To turn on background blur during a meeting, click More options > Blur my background.

Microsoft is still working on making this available to all devices.

To find out if it’s available on your device, just try the methods described above.

Note:  Background blurring might not prevent sensitive information from being visible to other meeting participants.

Learn more about Microsoft Teams at UAB here.

Learn more about background blur here.

If you’re a Duo user, you already know that the best thing about the 2-factor authentication service is that you never have to change your BlazerID password again. But hopefully you also know that the easiest way to use Duo 2-factor authentication is with the push notification through the Duo app.

The Duo Push is the easiest method for using the 2-factor authentication tool, and it’s recommended by UAB IT. When you click the “Send me a Push” button when logging in, you’ll get a notification on your mobile device to open the Duo app. When you open it, the app displays a green button and a red button. Touching the green button completes the 2FA login process, while the red button cancels it. If you’re expecting a Push and haven’t received it, open the app and then swipe down. This often brings up the Push notification and allows you to complete the 2FA process.

You also can use the Duo app to generate a passcode, and this feature works even if your device has no Internet connection or cellular signal. When you’re at the Duo portal, click the “Enter a Passcode” button. Then, in the Duo app on your phone, click the down arrow to the right of “UAB-BlazerID.” This generates a six-digit, one-time code that you can type in to the Duo portal in order to complete the 2FA process.

These two methods are much easier to use than receiving passcodes from Duo via SMS texting. 

If you do not see the “Send me a Push” option in the Duo portal and only see a button for entering passcodes, your phone may not have been properly enrolled for use with Duo when you first created an account. All iPhone and Android phone users should have the Duo app installed and should use it for logging in with Duo. If you have an iPhone or Android phone and only see the “Enter a Passcode” option in the Duo portal, contact AskIT at 996-5555. A Help Desk representative can help ensure your phone is properly configured so you can use the Push or generate a Passcode features.

For additional information, all Duo users are welcome to visit uab.edu/2factor to learn more about using Duo with the phone or tablet of their choice.

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Learn more about leveraging the power of computers to grow the depth of our investigation and research at Research Computing Day on Wednesday, Nov. 7.

Research Computing Day at UAB is an annual event that welcomes discussions on science, engineering, the arts and humanities focused on the drive to open new research frontiers with advances in technology.

The event, which opens with a welcome from UAB Vice President and CIO Curtis A. Carver Jr., Ph.D., will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Alumni Theater at Hill Student Center. Register here. Lunch will be provided.

UAB is home to the state’s fastest supercomputer, named Cheaha after Alabama’s highest peak. Whether computers are used to increase the accuracy of a model, to interpret the ever-growing stream of data from new image collections and instruments or to engage with peers around the globe, UAB’s status as a leading research community depends on the ability to incorporate these capabilities into the research process. The focus of this year’s Research Computing Day will highlight successes, preview enhancements and be an opportunity for the community to help shape strategic direction.

New Assistant Vice President for Research Computing Ralph Zottola, Ph.D., will provide a review of what he has heard from faculty to date about their research computing needs. Other topics include:

  • Supporting world-class science on a Leadership-Class Supercomputing System, with Glenn Brook, Ph.D., from the Joint Institute for Computational Science at Oak Ridge National Lab.
  • Research Computing Use Cases, with Jelai Wang and John-Paul Robinson
  • Research Data Landscape, with John Osborne, Zottola and Robinson
  • A panel discussion on research engagement beyond high-performance computing, moderated by Zottola.

Learn more about UAB research computing here.

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Statistical software Stata is now available free for active students, faculty and staff at UAB.

Stata an integrated statistical software package that provides everything you need for data analysis, data management and graphics. Stata is primarily used by researchers in the fields of economics, biomedicine and political science. Stata obtains and manipulates data and has a command line with a graphical user interface.

Here’s how to access Stata:


Training resources:
Stata is the latest software title to be offered free; earlier this year, UAB IT began offering NVivo for free as well. NVivo and Stata presented UAB IT with an opportunity to provide free software to empower researchers, students and staff at minimal cost. Other software — such as Adobe Creative Cloud, which is offered at a significant discount — often represents significant costs the University cannot absorb. 

The 1809 update of Windows 10 may have a bug that is causing data deletion for users who choose to manually push the update. UAB IT is advising students, faculty and staff not to upgrade to the 1809 update on their own.

Microsoft has rolled back the Windows 10 update and is advising anyone who downloaded it but has not installed it yet NOT to install it.

Learn more here.

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The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees on Friday, Sept. 21, approved phase three of the construction plan for a new UAB Technology Innovation Center.

The $26.5 million facility is scheduled for completion in November 2020 and will house much of UAB’s technology infrastructure, including the Cheaha high-performance computing cluster, the fastest supercomputer in Alabama. The Technology Innovation Center, which will replace the Rust building, will be located at the corner of 17th Street South and Ninth Avenue South.

“UAB’s students, researchers, faculty and staff inspire IT,” said Vice President and Chief Information Officer Curtis A. Carver Jr., Ph.D. “This new center will facilitate the collaboration and technology that can fuel your innovation, so you can change the world.”

The University is moving forward with plans to renovate the Cudworth building, which houses administrative, applications and help desk areas of UAB IT. Renovations are set to take place in multiple phases to create new, modern work experiences for all employees.

UAB IT has automated the application for degree process, saving hours of manual work previously done by the Office of the Registrar.

Nearly 1,600 applications have been submitted through the program for fall 2018 from the undergraduate and graduate students.

The automated application minimizes manual mistakes, maintains accurate information and allows us to respond more quickly and process the applications more quickly," said Rhonda Stevens, assistant registrar for UAB. "And we have easy access in the system to make changes autonomously."

The new application provides significant automation, replacing a paper-based workflow that touches students, advisors, department chairpersons and associate deans.

Once all approvals are in, the application programmatically enters all pertinent degree information into the appropriate Banner form, replacing previous manual work.

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When you need technology help, you need to be able to find it fast — so you can get back to work.

UAB IT has launched an updated IT Service Portal that allows you to more quickly and easily order services, software or equipment; find answers; or report something that’s broken.

The updated IT Tech Help Portal is designed to give you a more streamlined customer experience.

  • The portal is more easily searchable — you don’t have to be logged in with your BlazerID to search the knowledge base or the service catalog.
  • It will take you fewer clicks to get to what you need — whether that’s ordering Adobe Acrobat or reporting that your laptop won’t connect to the network — and browsing is more intuitive.
  • When you are logged in, you get a personalized experience — your tickets are right on the front page, and you can communicate about them to UAB IT more easily within the portal.
  • The portal is mobile friendly.

Next month, UAB IT will stop supporting legacy email protocols such as IMAP, POP3 and SMTP.

This is not a change that will affect most email users on campus.

Beginning Oct. 12, UAB IT will begin provisioning all new user accounts without legacy protocol support for accessing the user’s Office 365 UAB.EDU email account; these protocols include Exchange ActiveSync (EAS), Messaging Application Programming Interface (MAPI), Exchange Web Services (EWS)
Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP), Post office Protocol version 3 (POP3), and Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP).

Beginning Oct. 19, UAB IT will cease supporting any connections for existing UAB.EDU user addresses using the IMAPPOP3, and SMTP legacy protocols.

While most modern mail clientswill continue to function, we recommend that users connect to their UAB Office 365 email through one of the following ways:

  • Via the Outlook 2013 (or later) desktop client
  • Using the most current version of Outlook App for iOS/Android
  • By connecting to Outlook on the Web (mail.uab.edu) using a supported web browser

Users who determine that they have a business need for using a legacy protocol should contact AskIT and request a security exception. Please note, this change does not affect appliances (such as printers) sending via SMTP; this is for Office 365 UAB.EDU user email accounts only.

Since Jan. 8, 2018, Duo Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) has been available as an optional protection mechanism for UAB users. Disabling legacy mail protocols is required to ensure that malicious actors cannot bypass 2FA by using a legacy protocol that is not compatible with 2FA.

If you have not signed up for 2-factor authentication, we encourage you to do so at uab.edu/2factor to better protect your accounts and UAB data. As an incentive, if you use 2FA, you never have to change your BlazerID password again (unless the account is compromised).

If you have any questions, please contact AskIT or 205-996-5555.

A unique new phishing attempt is targeting email inboxes across campus, using compromised accounts to reply to existing messages.

The phishing email may be sent by someone you know and have the following message:
Phishing091218

Do not click on the image. It is an attempt to steal your information.

To report suspected phishing to AskIT, email it to phishing@uab.edu or download the PhishMe Reporter button for one-click reporting in Outlook.

To better protect your UAB accounts, sign up for 2-factor authentication using Duo.

Backtoschool Employeev2 DS copy

UAB employees can get $150 off a new Dell computer at TechConnect, UAB's on-campus technology store.

Celebrate back-to-school and the start of the football season by stacking two promos — $100 off a Dell laptop of $499 or more and $50 off for UAB employees. 

The sale is available in-store only. Just show your UAB ONECard to receive the employee discount.

Visit TechConnect on the first floor of the Hill Student Center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.



NVivo, a data analysis software, is now available for free for UAB students, faculty and staff.

NVivo is built for qualitative and mixed-methods research. It provides a place to organize, store and retrieve your data more efficiently, save time, and rigorously back up findings with evidence.

With NVivo, you can import data from almost any source — text, audio, video, emails, images, spreadsheets, online services, social and web content, and more.

With advanced data management, query and visualization tools, NVivo allows you to ask complex questions of your data so you can discover more.

Here’s how to access NVivo:

  • For UAB-owned systems used by faculty and staff, contact AskIT at 205-996-5555, or request the software here
  • For personal machines, visit uab.onthehub.com, sign in to the site with your BlazerID and password, and search for NVivo.

NVivo offers online and face-to-face courses to help users get up and running with the software. View available courses and access free learning resources.

UAB IT is offering a new tool through Office 365 to help you connect with teammates.

Microsoft Teams is a chat-driven application that can be used for quick communication, online conferencing, sharing files, and more.

Teams integrates with all Microsoft Office 365 apps, so you can collaborate and share files in SharePoint online, Project and more.

Teams has desktop and mobile apps to make it easier to communicate in the office or on the go, and you can even create different channels within your chats for different projects or subjects — and punctuate them with emojis or even gifs for the right sentiment.

Employees in UAB’s two newest buildings — the Collat School of Business and the redesigned School of Nursing — are among the first on campus to have new internet-connected phones.

The VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) phones will be installed across campus in an 18- to 24-month project to transition from traditional phone lines to internet transmission.

The new Cisco phones offer clear audio quality and special features including voicemail to email capability.

UAB IT is finalizing the schedule for the next phase of installation, which will include buildings on the west side of campus this fall.

In all, more than 8,000 new phones will be installed over the next 18 months to two years. Once the entire campus is outfitted with new phones, new collaboration and mobile features — including Cisco Jabber — will be available.

UAB IT is making changes to make Office 365 Groups easier to create and manage.

A new naming policy will allow any user to create an Office 365 Group from Outlook or Outlook on the web. The group naming policy will enforce the naming prefix of “GRP-“ to newly created groups. Learn more about how to use Groups here.

In mid-August, UAB IT will also add an Office 365 Group Expiration Policy, which will help ensure that inactive groups are removed from the system as usage of Office 365 Groups increases. The expiration policy will be configured with a group lifetime of 365 days. Group owners will be notified via email 30 days, 15 days and one day prior to group expiration. The email notification will include a link to renew the group if desired. If a group expires, it will be recoverable 30 days after expiration.

Because Groups could be created in different ways, such as through the Office 365 Planner app, you may not realize you are an owner of a Group.

Note: When the expiration policy is enabled, any groups currently older than one year will be set to expire in 30 days. The first renewal notification email will be sent within a day of the expiration policy being enabled. Additional notifications will be sent as outlined above.

UAB IT has found a way to reduce costs for University-provided cell phones without sacrificing plan capacity.

UAB IT will be reducing the rate plans for cellular phones with 600 and 1000 anytime minutes, saving customers $13 to $25 per affected line without running the risk of overage costs.

Rate plans for the lines affected will be reduced to 400 anytime minutes, but because minutes are pooled across our academic, business and healthcare units and UAB IT diligently monitors use, there is no risk that overages on minutes will result in further costs. Overall, this change will provide a significant savings for UAB.

These savings will take effect as of the Aug. 1, 2018, invoice cycle.

AVP CTO Named DS

Brian Rivers has been named associate vice president and chief technology officer for UAB following a national search.

Rivers, who has served as UAB’s chief information security officer since 2016 and as interim CTO since last fall, begins his new role July 1.

“UAB IT hires world-class talent, and we are delighted when opportunities arise for internal candidates who are committed to helping UAB IT reach its highest potential,” said Vice President and Chief Information Officer Curtis A. Carver Jr., Ph.D. “As we continue our strategic roadmap, Brian brings innovative ideas to help empower our campus community.”

Rivers has more than 20 years of experience in information technology and more than a decade of experience in senior leadership roles. He has held a variety of responsibilities in the areas of process control, software development, systems administration, networking, and information security. He has led a multitude of large-scale, transformative initiatives in environments ranging from higher education to 24x7 manufacturing to nationwide sales and marketing. He has always effected significant positive change through building strong relationships, creating understanding and agreement, and consistently following through on commitments.

"Information technology is empowering learning, research and patient care now more than ever," Rivers said. "This is an exciting time and I’m grateful to be a part of it."

The chief technology officer position oversees innovation and operations of technical infrastructures and applications across the enterprise as well as the management of the departments supporting infrastructure delivery, voice and data communications, and academic and administrative information systems.

 “I would like to thank the members of the search committee, led by Jason Johnson, for their hard work identifying excellent candidates for the position,” Carver said.

Members of the search committee included Johnson, executive director for IT client success; Ken Pruitt, assistant vice president for IT applications; Rachel Moorehead, executive director for infrastructure and operations; Dr. Lauretta Gerrity, senior associate vice president for research administration; Dr. Stephen Yoder, associate vice provost for academic administration; Tim McMinn, assistant vice president for financial affairs; and Joan Hicks, chief information officer for the UAB Health System.

New phones that offer clear audio quality, voicemail-to-email capability and other new features are coming to UAB — the first phase of a transition from traditional phone lines to internet transmission.

The new phones will use VOIP technology — or voice over Internet protocol — and will be phased in over 18 to 24 months. Once everyone on campus has a new Cisco VOIP phone, even more advanced features will be available.

New Cisco phones have been installed in a handful of departments taking part in a pilot program, and buildings on the west side of campus, including the new Collat School of Business and School of Nursing buildings, are scheduled to get new phones over the next three months.

Employees in the pilot groups who have received the new phones said the new features and quality

“The audio quality is amazing,” said Joey Jones, information systems specialist for the School of Optometry dean’s office. “They are easy to operate, and recent calls have been especially helpful. The ability to connect a Bluetooth headset is also very nice. … We are very happy.”

While there are a number of new features, those who have the new phones said they are easy to use.

“I love the new phones and they are really simple to use,” said Anthony Purcell, assistant vice president and chief of UAB Police.

UAB IT is nearing completion of installation of the system that will run all of the VOIP phones — a system that will take up a fraction of the space of the current traditional phone lines.

On July 24, UAB IT will hold a town hall meeting with telephone representatives from across campus to discuss the project and begin to co-author the implementation schedule for the new phones. The town hall will be held at 4 p.m. at Cudworth Hall Auditorium.

UAB IT will implement a variety of training methods — including in-person training, videos and print and online guides. As new phones are installed, UAB IT will be on site in each building or department for two days to offer technology support.

In all, more than 8,000 new phones will be installed over the next 18 months to two years. Once the entire campus is outfitted with new phones, new collaboration and mobile features — including Cisco Jabber — will be available.

For a majority of UAB employees across campus, if you don’t have a computer, you can’t do your job.

So UAB IT has put a priority on improving response time to get your equipment fixed or replaced.

In the past six months, UAB IT has improved the problem resolution time of its Desktop Services team to average under one day — and reduced the time it takes to replace a desktop computer to less than two hours.

Those response times, along with a number of other improvements, earned UAB IT a 2.5 maturity rating from industry-leading customer service consultant HDI — up from a 0.8 in just eight months.

“Our employees have always put customers first, but now they have better tools and processes to help them focus their efforts,” said Jamie Witter, associate director of IT Client Services. “I’m proud of their commitment to our customers and the efforts they have made toward improvements.”

Among the improvements in UAB IT:

  • Incident resolution time improved from 3.02 days in September 2017 to less than one day in May 2018.
  • Processes have been improved, including one that helps ensure less than two hours of downtime to replace a desktop computer.
  • Fifty percent of incidents are now resolved remotely.
  • Customer satisfaction improved to 4.8 in May, on a 5.0 scale.
  • Procedures are in place to help improve employee satisfaction.

“Our goal is to get you back to work as quickly as possible, so that computer downtime doesn’t disrupt the work you do to educate students, research problems and run the University,” said Curtis A. Carver Jr., Ph.D., vice president and chief information officer.

AVP ChiefTechOfficers DS Brian

The second of two presentations from candidates for UAB’s chief technology officer will take place at an open forum June 22.

Brian Rivers, UAB’s chief information security officer and interim CTO, will present his ideas for the position from 3 to 4 p.m. Friday, June 22, at Cudworth Hall Auditorium.

Rivers has more than 20 years of experience in information technology and more than a decade of experience in senior leadership roles. He has held a variety of responsibilities in the areas of process control, software development, systems administration, networking, and information security. He has led a multitude of large-scale, transformative initiatives in environments ranging from higher education to 24x7 manufacturing to nationwide sales and marketing. He has always effected significant positive change through building strong relationships, creating understanding and agreement, and consistently following through on commitments.

Candidate Tim Brown, executive director of the Northwest Regional Data Center at Florida State University and a former director of IT infrastructure services at UAB, presented his ideas on June 11.