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November 3, 1993

                               MINUTES

                         Computing Committee

                    Information Systems Building

                          November 3, 1993

                               3:30 PM

 

 

  PRESENT:     K.B. Rojiani, Sean Arthur, Gregory Brown, John Burton,

               David Goodyear, Bill Richardson, Harlan Miller,

               Bhaba Misra, Terry Rakes, Frank Schima, Peter Shires,

               John Tombarge, Michael Williams

 

  ABSENT:      Earving Blythe, Scott Johnson, Katherine Johnston,

               George Libey, Gerry McLaughlin, Lawrence Skelly,

               Jay Stoeckel, Ernest Stout, D.B. Taylor

 

  VISITOR(S):  Barbara Robinson (Computing Center)

               Joe Tront (College of Engineering)

 

 

  AGENDA ITEM 1:  MINUTES OF THE OCTOBER 6 MEETING  (ROJIANI)

 

  Motion made, seconded and passed to approve the minutes of the

  October meeting.

 

 

  AGENDA ITEM 2:  COMPUTING CENTER ANNOUNCEMENTS (WILLIAMS)

 

  A server which handles part of the Campus-Wide-Mail system had a

  security failure last month.  The problem with the system's

  structure was quickly corrected, but passwords were compromised

  and the system had to be disabled and rebuilt.  Users were asked

  to re-register with a new password in order to assure system in-

  tegrity.  The Computing Center is taking measures to be certain

  all production systems are secure.

 

  This experience demonstrated that many users are choosing poor

  passwords which can be easily guessed by "crack" programs running

  on desktop hardware.  Some central systems use filters to reject

  commonly used passwords such as names or words.  Although users

  often don't like the restrictions, password filters may need to

  be installed on other hosts.  Requiring that passwords be changed

  at regular intervals does not appear to increase security, since

  the need for frequent change encourages users to give less

  thought to their choices and to write them down as well.

 

 

  AGENDA ITEM 3:  ADMINISTRATIVE SYSTEM MIGRATION PLANS (WILLIAMS)

 

  Last month the committee suggested that owners of major applica-

  tion systems which are dependent on the mainframes be asked to

  develop a plan for migration to the distributed environment which

  is expected to evolve over the next few years.   A motion was

  made, seconded and passed to approve a draft letter and send it

  to the owners of the largest, most critical systems.   The Com-

  puting Center will participate in developing statements of strat-

  egy and timetables for these systems over the next six months.

  Owners of other applications will be approached later.

 

 

  AGENDA ITEM 4:  COMMITTEE ISSUES AND AGENDA

 

  o   Site License Subcommittee (Robinson)

 

      The subcommittee met October 29 to discuss nine proposals.

      Various questions arose for most requests and letters seeking

      clarification have been delivered.    A general problem con-

      tinues to surface as some proposals frame requests in terms

      of local needs and fail to  offer a plan that considers gen-

      eral campus requirements.

 

      Proposals still under consideration include Matlab, Acrobat,

      Atlas Geographic Information System, Systat,  and Microsoft,

      Macromedia and selected Lotus products.  The committee will

      meet on  November 9 to continue the evaluation.

 

 

  o   Committee issues (Arthur)

 

      A temporary subcommittee met to discuss the focus of the Com-

      puting Committee.  The plan is to appoint ad hoc subcommit-

      tees to focus on topical issues. The transition from

      mainframes was identified as the primary concern and several

      areas of interest were named:

 

      1)Technical support:  How can technical support be optimized

      in a distributed environment?  2)Data access/security/format:

      Can the transition be used as an opportunity to make Univer-

      sity databases more accessible without compromising security?

      3) Training/retraining:  How can resistance to change among

      technical support  personnel be managed?

 

      This list of issues will be refined and prioritized.

 

 

      AGENDA ITEM 5:  ADDITIONS TO THE AGENDA

 

      A question was raised concerning Information Systems' support

      of Apple Macintosh computers in the Faculty Development pro-

      gram.  The Computing Center is not reducing support for any

      desktop system.  Such support has been historically low.  New

      projects designed to promote uniform computer literacy re-

      quire that Information Systems leverage its resources as much

      as possible.  Projects such as the pilot Faculty Development

      Institutes, where Macintosh systems were initially chosen by

      the participants, have demonstrated that Macintoshes are con-

      siderably easier to support than PCs running Windows.    This

      is particularly true in areas where there is little computing

      technology in place.  A principal goal of Information Sys-

      tems' technology investments is to promote high functionality

      with maximal user independence.  No  attempt is being made to

      standardize desktop technology across the campus.  As tech-

      nology continues to evolve, other choices may be more appro-

      priate in the future.  While Information Systems expects to

      continue investing in Macintosh systems, at least in the near

      term,  other areas are free to make their own choices.

 

      Recent figures show that expenditures on campus for Macintosh

      systems are fairly close to those for Intel-based machines.

 

 

      The next meeting will be held on December 1 at 3:30 p.m. in

      conference room D in the Information Systems Building.

 

      Meeting adjourned at 4:45 p.m.

 

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