Friday, September 07, 2012

Grievance filed regarding SJSU Next Gen Technology Project

To SJSU Support Staff


As many of you know, our university is rolling out a whole series of new technologies and is putting some of them into a production mode without training support staff on the proper use and support of these technologies. Many of these are under the name of “Next Gen Technology Project” and include WebEx Collaboration, Next Generation Learning Spaces, Unified Communication System, Wireless Network Expansion and Campus Next Generation Network.

Yesterday our union, the California State University Employees Union (CSUEU) Chapter 307, filed a grievance on this. We feel this is a violation of our collective bargaining agreement, specifically article 22.2 which says, "Employees shall be provided necessary training appropriate to any newly assigned job duties or equipment as determined by the appropriate administrator."

A copy of the grievance is on the Internet here:

The remedy our union is proposing is, "SJSU will take any and all actions required to be sure these technologies are not put into a production mode until all support protocols are established, support staff are given appropriate training and all CSUEU represented users are given appropriate training on using and supporting these technologies. Technologies that have been inappropriately rolled out will be rolled back until this is accomplished."

Since this is a group grievance I am very interested in feedback from CSUEU represented employees on this topic.

Please use my non-SJSU e-mail for correspondence:

It's my hope this grievance lead to a rethink of how these new technologies are being deployed at SJSU. In my opinion, in the long run, this will be better for everybody and will lead to improved outcomes for the entire campus community. We need to have these issues addressed to be able do our jobs: to use these technologies efficiently and to support our customers effectively.

I invite your input.


~Steve Sloan
Vice-President and Shop Steward
CSUEU Chapter 307

Thursday, August 23, 2012


This is seriously FUBAR:
Students waiting in line to get their SJSUOne passwords reset in Clark Hall. I am the only person who can do this in person until 1 pm. The process takes 15-20 minutes per person. Students, faculty and staff stand in line for hours. When I go to the bathroom, on break or to lunch: the process stops!

This is actually a short line. At times yesterday there were 8-10 people in line.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Understanding our help desk

At the SJSU Information Technology Support Services (ITSS) Help Desk, sometimes called the SJSU Help Desk, we are not a dedicated help desk. In fact if your vision of what a help desk does is based on common industry standards; you might say we are not a help desk at all. We are a computer lab which supports over 500 users on an average M-Th semester day. We check out laptops, we schedule and assist users of a busy conference room and we also perform help desk functions. Sometimes our lack of focus on one task interferes with our ability to perform some basic help desk tasks, like answering the phones.

Here are just a few common scenarios:
  • As a help desk, there are four ways people can seek out our support. We offer walk-up support, online support via e-mail and iSupport, phone support and support via our Web site. If we are assisting walk-up customers and running the lab, at the same time, our ability to cover phones may be compromised.
  • If our support representatives are busy checking people into, or out of the lab, assisting students in the lab, assisting users of our conference room or checking laptops in and out of the lab our ability to cover phones may be compromised.
  • We are currently on reduced summer hours and have made further cuts to conserve funds. We only have two students covering early mornings and late afternoons. If one is already on the phone, on an extended call with a customer, and the other is covering the lab our ability to cover phones may be compromised.
  • If a student assistant is on a break, in the rest room, and/or one or both of our full-time support staff is/are out (in a meeting, on sick leave, on break, in training, or on vacation) our ability to cover phones may be compromised.
  • After 4 p.m. we are sometimes busy helping customers in the lab who are trying to wrap up their work at 4:45 p.m., when we close.
  • Sometimes lab customers complain about the noise generated by the phones, and people talking on the phones. Our students have been told not to turn the phones down; but this has happened.
In addition to being a help desk/computer lab, and the other tasks previously identified,  we also support software licensing and distribution for SJSU. Also, we have a somewhat vague lead role supporting iSupport, SJSU's ticketing system. Plus, we are planning on how we are going to be supporting two LMS platforms in the coming term.

I think metaphors are helpful in building a mental image. So, please forgive me for offering a couple of metaphors:
  • During the semester we are open from 8:00 am to 9:45 pm. Our staffing levels are similar to a Starbucks. We support all SJSU's students and employees and applicants, and anybody else who may have business with SJSU. (One manager recently said, that can total up to 100,000 people.) We have two staff leads, one morning and one evening (when we are on semester hours.) We also have 5 to 25 student assistants who work from 5 to 20 hours a week, depending on assigned staffing levels and their availability.
  • I know folks expect us always to be able to pick up the phone when it rings. Unfortunately, we have to staff based on the resources we have. A help desk can be like a fire department. If all of the fire-personnel are out putting out fires and the phone rings, there is nobody in the fire station to answer the phone. But, if there are no fires and no phone calls; you have a lot of fire-personnel sitting around making chili. When there are no fires we seem overstaffed. But, there is no way to schedule fires in advance. Like the fire department, if all our available staff are already on calls, we may not be able to answer a ringing phone!
I am attaching a photo of our lab. It was taken early on a morning when we were not busy. In the photo you can see our help desk, two students, the lab of 34 computers behind them and the metal cabinets on the right side of the frame where our checkout laptops are housed.
We are always looking for ways to improve service. Our role is on the verge of another huge expansion. Especially as we consider the support roles that are still undefined supporting new initiatives including VDI, Cisco and the migration of student e-mail to Google. Without either a huge infusion of resources, a re-imagining of the concept of "help desk" at SJSU and/or a focusing of our mission, I am not sure how we are going to succeed.

Blow the Whistle on Government Fraud, Waste, and Abuse

This is from From Shawn Bibb, SJSU's CFO & Vice President for Administration and Finance:
The California State Auditor is your confidential avenue for reporting any type of improper activities by state agencies or employees. It is your responsibility as a government employee to report any type of fraud, waste, or abuse, which ultimately protects scarce budget dollars. Moreover, with the significant influx of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, it is important for you to be alert to any suspected misuse of these funds and report them to the California State Auditor.

If you report an impropriety, you are protected by the Whistleblower Protection Act, which:

  • Requires the State Auditor to protect your identity (except from law enforcement);
  • Prohibits intimidation, threats, or coercion by state employees that could interfere with your right to disclose improper governmental activities.
In 2010 alone, the State Auditor received 4,203 complaints from state employees and members of the public. Such complaints triggered investigations that have revealed millions of dollars in wasteful spending in recent years, such as:

  • Two departments wasted $580,000 in state funds by continuing to lease 5,900 square feet of office space that had not been occupied for more than four years.
  • A department employee misused state time and equipment to teach at a state university and to give presentations for a professional organization during her work hours at a cost to the State of $70,105. 
  • A department supervisor misused the time of two subordinates by assigning them to perform clerical or administrative duties rather than providing direct care to patients, resulting in a loss to the State of $110,797.
San Jose State University
Jim Cimino, Office of the AVP, Human Resources
UPD Building, 3rd Floor
One Washington Square
San Jose, CA  95192-0046

You have three ways to confidentially report information to the California State Auditor:

Call the Whistleblower Hotline at:
866-293-8729 (TTY)
916-322-2603 (Fax)

Mail information to:
Investigations, Bureau of State Audits
555 Capitol Mall, Suite 300
Sacramento, CA 95814

Submit a complaint online to:

(Note: complaints not accepted via email.)

You may also call the California Attorney General’s confidential whistleblower hotlines at:
800-952-5225 or 916-322-3360

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My view on a new LMS at SJSU

San Jose State University is in the process of either choosing a new Learning Management System (LMS) or staying with the current LMS, Desire2Learn (D2L). Much has been made on campus, and in the media, over the very real frustration on the part of students, faculty and staff over the fact that SJSU has had five different LMS systems in the last 15 years.

An LMS Advisory Committee was formed and earlier this week this committee presented its final report, recommending SJSU switch from D2L and switch to Canvas, a new cloud based LMS. SJSU Provost Ellen Junn is the one tasked with making the final decision and she has said she will make that decision early next week. The choice appears to be between D2L and Canvas.

Even if D2L is selected, they will be rolling out version 10 of D2L soon; so big changes are coming either way. D2L version 10 is said to be very different from previous versions of D2L. Whichever choice is made, I hope the current user authentication method (UAM) for the LMS gets changed from the current custom UAM for D2L to our single sign-on UAM solution at SJSU, SJSUOne.

In the previous semester we received 2,135 customer contacts regarding D2L at the help desk I work at (the SJSU Information Technology Support Services (ITSS) Help Desk in Clark Hall.) Since all we currently support for D2L at this help desk is the D2L UAM, it is a pretty accurate statement to say, almost all of these customer contacts were related to how customers authenticate to D2L.

The current version of D2L requires the customer to log into MySJSU to get their username and then use their SJSU ID as their default password (that last part is hardly secure.) Since MySJSU now uses SJSUOne as their UAM, users of D2L have to already have their SJSUOne password to get their D2L login credentials.

It does not seem very user friendly for our faculty, students and staff to have to have one password for one UAM to get access to the credentials for another another UAM.

According to Ron Gerling of Instructure, Canvas will support SJSUOne as a UAM. If D2L is selected I hope it can also be made to work with SJSUOne. As an Instructional Designer myself, I know that other pedagogical considerations must trump user authentication methods as a basis of selecting an LMS.

However, I do hope the UAM is included in the decision making rubric. I know it would make life a lot easier for a lot of folks if the new LMS would work with SJSUOne. Learners who are not frustrated will have better learning outcomes.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The end of San José State’s local area guarantee

According to an e-mail sent to the campus community by SJSU President Mo Qayoumi:
We have decided to proceed with plans to end San José State’s local area guarantee effective fall 2013. This means SJSU will no longer accept all CSU-eligible applicants, including some from Santa Clara County high schools and community colleges. The changes come after a series of heavily attended public hearings, and in the wake of severe budget cuts.

San José State will maintain a local area preference in the form of a lower admissions threshold for local applicants to the catch-all, undeclared major. SJSU will require all applicants to select first and second choice majors. Local applicants not admitted to their majors will be eligible for, but no longer guaranteed, admission as undeclared.

A new program known as “Spartan Pathways” will serve CSU-eligible undergraduates who do not meet the SJSU-minimum admission criteria. At least 100 enrollment slots will be provided to local applicants. SJSU will also re-double efforts to move continuing students toward graduation, in response to concerns raised at the public hearings.

We will submit the new admissions guidelines to the California State University Chancellor Charles B. Reed for his approval. The chancellor will report his decision to the CSU Board of Trustees. The guidelines will provide SJSU with tools to reduce enrollment, but this reduction does not need to be permanent.

If the state funds SJSU adequately, then SJSU will open its doors to all CSU-eligible California residents. After all, SJSU belongs to all Californians.

Mo Qayoumi

Friday, February 24, 2012

SJSU tearing down the tower as a symbol of SJSU

San Jose State University's tower has been an icon of our university as long as I can remember. I started at SJSU as a student in 1979 and it was our symbol.
To me the tower symbol said, "this is a great university." Employees were awarded Tower Pins for good service. The tower was not only a substantial imposing landmark, it had historical significance at the CSU's first campus. But, the tower has been slowly torn down as a symbol of SJSU. I guess they didn't want us to be confused with icons like Berkeley's Campanile or Hoover Tower?
First they changed the logo. But vestiges remained of the tower as a symbol of SJSU. Our campus ID cards, have, until now, been called Tower Cards. Yes folks, that is changing now too.
SJSU is in the process of re-branding its Tower Cards, they are going to be called SJSU ID Cards. Yes, I know it's technically an accurate description of their function. But, it is about as sexy and exciting as the DMV. To me, it is another step toward mediocrity. Once again we seem to be saying, "what do you expect, we are not Cal or Stanford after all."
The tower will still stand on our campus, but what will it stand for?

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Nikon Introduces D800

Nikon introduced the D800, what it called, "A new Nikon FX-format digital SLR camera with the world's highest effective pixel count–36.3-million pixels–for noteworthy definition and image quality."
Not only does this camera have the ability to capture film quality stills, it will be able to shoot incredible high def video. I am very excited about this camera.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Resources for EPUB and eBook creation

Author Liz Castro has a number of great resources available for those interested in creating eBooks in the open EPUB format. This is of special interest to those who want to use Adobe InDesign for this task. I used her book EPUB Straight to the Point as a text for a graduate course at SJSU I co-taught on this subject. If this interests you in the slightest, I urge you to check out this link.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Using FileVault 2 on Lion

In this presentation by MacWorld we are shown how to use FileVault 2 on MacOS X 10.7, Lion. The presentation starts off, "Apple latest Mac operating system, OS X 10.7 Lion includes FileVault 2, the latest version of Apple’s method of file encryption. In this how-to, we'll go through the steps on activating FileVault 2 for your Mac's internal startup drive."

Thanks Ezequiel Cothran for sharing this with me. It is good to read through everything here to be thoroughly ready to secure your data. Especially read the comments! Use at your own risk.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Security in Mac OS X Lion

According to technical communicator, Phil Stokes, "Security in OS X Lion is a big problem that not many people are aware of." In a recent blog post Stokes wrote:
Security in OS X Lion is a big problem that not many people are aware of, and here’s why: your Lion computer contains the install/recovery disk on the internal drive. That means anyone with a basic knowledge of Mac and Lion can start up your mac and reset your passwords, thereby accessing your user accounts and all your personal data.
Stokes informative post suggests ways to secure a Lion system including removing the install/recovery disk, setting a firmware password and/or using FileVault 2 (FV2). Stokes said, "Apple, of course, thought about this problem. Their own solution is to encourage you to use FV2 to encrypt all your data. Indeed, this is the BEST solution."
If you support Mac OS X you need to read this!

Friday, January 27, 2012

SJSU Alerts: SJSU Dorms Intruder

Sent to the campus community:

Alert S J S U 12:58 p.m.
Update regarding Joe West Hall intruder. Suspect in custody. Reminder: Please immediately call University Police at 924-2222 to report suspicious persons and activities. Remember to always lock your dorm room door and be aware of your surroundings.

ALERT S J S U 8:19 a.m.
This is a follow up to our emergency communication regarding a male dressed in black trying doors, entering rooms and groping the victim in Joe West Hall. University Police have completed an extensive floor by floor search. The suspect is still at large. However, at this time, you may resume normal activities. Immediately call University Police at 924-2222 if you see suspicious persons or activities and remember to keep your dorm rooms locked.

Alert SJSU 5:04 a.m.
Male suspect in his twenties dressed in black tried doors in Joe West, entered room and groped victim. Suspect last seen on third floor. Please ensure that your doors are locked. University Police on scene.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cool things I saw at Adobe yesterday

Here are some cool things to check out for folks interested in the worlds of animation and electronic publishing:
  • Adobe Edge
    No, this animation was NOT done in Flash. This is Adobe Edge. Edge works on a timeline interface you may recognize from Flash Pro, After Effects and Premiere. It uses HTML5 + CSS + Javascript to produce animations without Flash, animations that will run on iOS devices like iPads and all other devices that use modern browsers. Adobe Edge is currently in development and can be downloaded for free.
  • Liquid Layout
    Scroll down to the post Dynamic Liquid Layout in InDesign (MAX Sneak Peek) to see one of the most exciting developments for electronic magazines I have ever seen! Watch Kiyomasa Toma, giving you a sneek peak on Liquid Layouts in InDesign. Sorry, the permalink to the specific post did not show the same video.
  • iBooks Author
    We also saw a presentation of Apple's iBooks Author. The presenter said, this will give you an idea of some of the functions we can expect to see in CS6.
This is turning out to be one of the most exciting and game changing periods in electronic publishing since electronic publishing rendered the world of hot wax and rubber cement obsolete. Maybe, even more so!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sexually biased user interface for SJSU employee e-mail?

Click on the image above to see image larger.
Am I being over sensitive? I don't think so. The user interface for employee e-mail provide for employees by Google at SJSU includes this (un)Funny Quote of the Day - James Russell Lowell - "On one issue at least, men and women agree; they both distrust women."
Remember, this is for work e-mail at our university that teaches diversity and gender sensitivity.
Is this what we have to put up with when we contract out?
Is it really appropriate for us to have to ignore our core values to get a product and/or service for free?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Safety Alert: Robbery At SJSU Duncan Hall Shuttle Bus Stop

This was sent to the campus community by the university via AlertSJSU:

San Jose, CA - On Wednesday, January 18, 2012, at approximately 12:45 PM, a robbery occurred in front of the SJSU Duncan Hall shuttle bus stop located at the corner of S. 5th St. and San Salvador St. The victim reported that he was walking near the shuttle bus stop when one suspect hit him on the head and a second suspect took his cell phone. The victim was not injured during the incident and there were no weapons seen. The suspects were last seen running westbound on San Salvador St. away from the campus.

The first suspect was described as a black male, adult, in his early 20's, 6'02" -6'03" tall, wearing an orange or red jacket. The second suspect was described as a black, male adult, in his early 20', 5'11" - 6'00" tall, wearing dark clothing.  The victim did not report the incident until approximately 3:30 PM that afternoon.

Anyone who may witnessed this incident or has information regarding the incident is urged to call the San Jose State University Police Department.  Those wishing to remain anonymous can email/text their information to: or text/call: (408) 337-2919.

The SJSUPD reminds campus community members to be aware of their surroundings, and to immediately report crimes to the police department. In an emergency, always Dial 9-1-1 or use a campus blue light phone.

UPD reminds campus community members to be aware of their surroundings, to avoid walking alone at night, and to immediately report crimes and suspicious activity to the police.  Evening Guide Escorts can be requested by calling the UPD directly at (408) 924-2222. 

In an emergency, life threatening situation, or crime in progress, always Dial 9-1-1, or use a campus blue light police phone. 


San Jose State University Police Department
One Washington Square, San Jose, California 95192-0012
Phone: (408) 924-2222 -- FAX: (408) 924-2229
E-mail: -- Website:

TipNow Anonymous Reporting :
Text / Email: or Text / Voicemail: (408) 337-2919