Device Replacement News – November ’22

About the device replacement programme

Device lifecycle logo

Device lifecycle logo

The New Ways of Working (NWoW) Programme is an ambitious project including a sub-programme to replace all University devices with a standardised, easy to support-and-use, modern and portable device. The project to replace these aligns closely with the University’s strategic aims in terms of new ways of working, and this Programme will work closely with Estates, Health and Safety and HR to ensure consistency across each of these working areas, with a specific focus on digital flexibility and efficient working.

November Update

In our last post Device Replacement October update, we told you about our plans for the coming weeks to get the next phase up and running.

We have placed an order with our suppliers for the next batch of laptops. This has meant we have been able to take advantage of a bulk order discount.

We have recruited a device lifecycle engagement analyst who will start at the beginning of December. Also, we have recruited two additional dedicated User Support technicians, who will start working alongside our experienced engineers next month.

The envisioning centre in the URS Building is almost ready to accept visitors, and we expect it to be live before the Christmas break. Booking a visit for specific areas will be arranged through our engagement analyst.

Pilot: Human Resources

Photo of a desk with computer equipment

Example of a hot desk for HR (not all equipment supplied by DTS)

During the last week of November, our User Support technicians will be checking with the assigned stakeholders in HR to make sure that everything is set up and working as they required. This is an essential part of the device delivery process; ensuring everything that was agreed at the start of the project has been delivered before customer sign off. 

Next steps

Once HR have signed off the work, we will move to the next group. For the last month or so, our Business Relationship Managers have been contacting their areas to find out more detailed requirements and this has fed into the information we hold about the age of all devices to enable us to produce a draft schedule of work. As a result, the next area will be Legal (before Christmas), followed by Student Services (after the Christmas break).

Further information

We are in the process of setting up new communication channels, in the meantime if you need information about the device replacement programme, please raise a ticket with the IT Service Desk who will pass it to the team.

If you need a new device, this has reverted to the pre pandemic process and should be arranged through your department.

Blackboard issues 7/11/22

Update: 7/11/22. This has now been resolved

There was a problem with the overnight import of enrolment data from RISIS into Blackboard, which meant that many students’ enrolments on Blackboard courses became disabled – i.e. students could not see the courses on which they were enrolled.

Any assessments due today will need to have their deadline extended by 24 hours.
Programme Administrators are already aware of this, and of what steps need to be taken.

DTS have identified the problem and we are in the process of resolving it. We will be running the enrolment scripts again and expect this process to be complete for all students by around 11:00 7/11/22.

The announcements in Blackboard regarding this will be updated when we are sure the issues are all fixed.

In the meantime, you can check the IT Status Page for updates.

Microsoft to Disable Legacy Email Protocols 01-10-22

What is happening?

Microsoft are making a mandated change on the 1st of October 2022 and will be retiring Basic Authentication for legacy protocols in Exchange Online.

About email and authentication

When you send an email from your reading.ac.uk or student.reading.ac.uk account, the email contains additional information which advises our Microsoft Exchange email server that you are authorised to send email from that email programme and email account. If you are sending email from an unsupported programme or account, you will get an error message.

The majority of apps, services and websites use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), i.e. as well as username and password you need to set up an additional check when logging in, whether via an app or by entering a code sent by email, phone call or text message.

There are some legacy programmes which use Basic Authentication, i.e. username and password only. Support for this is being removed by Microsoft in their Exchange email server on 1st October 2022.

What does this mean for me?

If you are using an email programme with only Basic Authentication, you will not be able to send emails from 1st October and beyond.

Who is affected?

This affects people who are using either an old or nonstandard email app, e.g.

  • If you use older Outlook email programmes, i.e. Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2013
  • If you are on a mobile device and using a non-native email app
  • If you use Thunderbird or Spark as your email client (mainly Mac users)
  • If you manually configured your email client, i.e. you put in your own information when you added your profile, which are now not recommended.

Who is not affected?

You will not be affected if your Microsoft Office is up to date i.e. you use Outlook 2016 or Microsoft 365, you use the built in email client on your mobile (e.g. Microsoft Outlook App), or you use email on the web.

How can I tell?

A simple way to tell if you are affected is how you log in to get your email.

Basic authentication only requires a username (email address) and password, as shown in this screenshot:

Screen capture showing email and password

This is an example of a modern authentication request – it requires additional approval beyond username and password.

Image showing modern authentication method

What do I need to do?

There are several ways to mitigate this by either changing or upgrading your email programme, which are summarised below:

  • All users: Use webmail/Outlook on the web instead. You can access your University email account at https://outlook.office365.com/mail/
  • All users: Change your email programme to Outlook (2016 or 365) or another email client which uses modern authentication such as Gmail. Note that all staff and students are eligible to download Outlook 365 via Microsoft 365 Apps, following these instructions: KI 0202
  • Outlook 2013 users: Remove and re-add your account choosing “Microsoft 365” as the account type.
  • Mobile users: Change or upgrade your email programme to the Microsoft Outlook app.
  • Mac users: Update iOS to current version and reinstall the Apple Mail application
  • Thunderbird users: update to latest version of Thunderbird following these instructions: KI 1209
  • “Other” mail clients, remove and add back account choosing ‘Microsoft 365’ as the account type

For the technically minded, the full table:

Legacy protocol Description What uses it Solution
Exchange ActiveSync & AutoDiscover Used to connect mailboxes to Exchange online * Windows Mail

* Calendar

* Email clients on mobile device

* Mac OS

Use webmail/ Outlook online

Use Outlook 2016 or Office 365 or Outlook for mobile

Update iOS to current version and reinstall Apple Mail

IMAP Allows access to email without downloading it to the device. Email is read directly from the email service Email clients such as Thunderbird and Spark.

Outlook and Apple Mail when manually configured

Use webmail/ Outlook online

Use Outlook 2016 or Office 365 or Outlook for mobile

Update to current  Thunderbird app

Update iOS to current version and reinstall Apple Mail

MAPI Over HTTP Primary mailbox access protocol used by Outlook 2010 SP2 and later Outlook 2010 and newer email clients on mobile devices Use Outlook 2016 or Office 365 or Outlook for mobile
SMTP Authentication TCP/IP protocol used to send/forward email; it cannot receive messages Email clients such as Thunderbird and Spark.

Outlook and Apple Mail when manually configured

Update Thunderbird

Remove and add back account choosing ‘Microsoft 365’ as the account type

“Other Clients”

(Linux mail clients, custom mail clients, etc)

Any other protocols identified as utilizing legacy authentication Application should be up-to-date and added using modern authentication protocol such as ‘Microsoft Exchange’ or ‘Microsoft 365’ option

What happens if I don’t do anything?

If you don’t do anything, you will not be able to send any emails using your current method from 1st October. As this is mandated by Microsoft, DTS have no ability to grant an extension.

Further information:

This change is examined in further detail in this Microsoft article: Deprecation of basic authentication exchange online

What version of Outlook do I have? You can usually find the Outlook product version by selecting Help > About while in Outlook. Also see this article by Microsoft.

Creating a new Outlook profile to restore default settings: KI 1813 How to create a new profile in Outlook 2016 (Windows 10) 

Contact:

If you want any advice or have any issues, please raise a ticket with the IT Service Desk.

Changes to email distribution lists

Email distribution list logo

Email distribution lists are used throughout the university to send one email to lots of people simultaneously. These mailing lists could include people outside the University (external) as well as University staff and students. Up until now, we’ve used Mailman (https://www.lists.rdg.ac.uk/mailman) for creating the majority of mailing lists, whether for external or internal recipients.

Moving from Mailman Lists to Outlook Distribution Groups

What is happening?

DTS assesses software used at the University to ensure it meets current standards and requirements. Older programs that can’t meet these demands are being replaced and phased out, and Mailman has fallen into this category. For this reason, we are now tackling replacing Mailman with the solution depending on the recipients of the list:

  1. Lists that have internal recipients – these are moving to Microsoft Outlook Distribution Groups (this project has been underway for a while and you may have already been advised and moved to Microsoft Outlook Distribution Groups)
  2. Lists that have external recipients – these will be moving to a new service called LISTSRV (this project is currently in a trial period with a select number of lists; there will be a further post with more information soon)

I’ll explain more about Microsoft Outlook Distribution Groups later in this post, with links to our Knowledge Item articles which will guide you through the main functionality.

Some background

The decision to move away from Mailman has not been taken lightly. The main issue we face with Mailman is that there has been nobody updating or supporting it for several years (last release was 2016).

  • No developer = no patches or updates
  • No vendor = no support
  • No patches or updates or support = security risk

With no changes since 2016, Mailman is increasingly open to vulnerabilities.

  • The Mailman admin panel has not been available offsite since Christmas 2021 due to security concerns which cannot be fixed.
  • New features to improve email security, such as Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) and Safelinks cannot be implemented.
  • Emails from Mailman lists are being marked as Junk or Quarantined. This means that emails coming from reading.ac.uk are being treated as suspicious.

Outlook Distribution Groups (for internal addressees)

If your Mailman list only contains internal recipients, then we are turning your list into an Outlook Distribution Group.

What are the benefits?

We are all familiar with using Microsoft Outlook, so the main benefit is that there’s no new interface to learn, and its contained within your Microsoft 365 environment so no new software to install and manage.

Here are some other benefits:

  • Global Address Lists – There’s no need to remember lengthy email addresses of the Distribution Group. They are all visible in the Distribution Group section of the Global Address Lists in Microsoft Outlook desktop or web app.
  • Software is up to date – Microsoft ensures the application is patched or updated to avert security vulnerabilities and users don’t need to do anything.
  • Better message delivery times – Posts are speedily delivered i.e. Mailman lists currently step through 13 hops (different servers) in order to get to recipients. With the new system, this is now cut down to 3.
  • Managing membership is easier – There’s no need to remember URLs or open a web-based link to manage members. Avoiding such unnecessary step also cuts down on delivery times and remove ghost members.
  • Accurate Membership list – There’s no need for Distribution Groups owners to unsubscribe a leaver as Active Directory is automatically updated. Currently, there are duplicate email aliases, inactive/leavers that cause Non-Delivery Reports (NDR) in Mailman Administrators mailbox on a daily basis. Removing inactive/leavers also cuts down on delivery times.

Key information for existing list owners

Much of the functionality of Mailman is also available in Outlook, but here are a few things that you need to be aware of:

  1. Most mailing list subscribers shouldn’t notice any difference. 
  2. Emails sent to a Distribution Group will appear to come from the sender. If you don’t want your name to appear on the email, please use a Shared Mailbox to send the email (e.g. “IT Communications”). The same is true of sent items, they will appear in your Sent items unless you have sent from a role-based account, in which case they appear in the Sent items of that account.
  3. Any messages you receive about your Distribution Group will come into your inbox (or, if you used a Shared Mailbox to send a message, it will come into that inbox). For example, if you need to moderate a message, you will be notified via your inbox.
  4. Moderating and approving posts can only be done through the web interface (outlook.office.com)
  5. You can only add members who have an @reading.ac.uk email address. If you need to add external members, please contact the IT Service Desk.

Instructions for using Outlook Distribution Groups

How to access your distribution list: You can access your Distribution Groups via Outlook Online (outlook.office.com).

How to send posts to a distribution list: To email your members, put the list address in the To field of a new email (or the BCC field, if you don’t want your recipients to be able to see and contact all members of the Group).

Group Manager admin tools: The preferred way to administer your lists is through Group Manager, which is available on Apps Anywhere.

Outlook Web tools: You can access admin tools through Outlook Online (outlook.office.com).

Note: some lists do not appear in the Global Address list. If you cannot find yours, please raise a ticket with the IT Service Desk to perform these functions.

Further information

The best place to get up to date information for Microsoft products is from Microsoft themselves. This support page is about Outlook Distribution Groups: Microsoft Outlook 365 distribution group support page

Contact

If you have any questions or require advice, please contact our IT Service Desk.

Where do I get software from?

At the University of Reading, we provide free access to commercial level software including Microsoft Office 365 (Teams, Word, Excel), plus academic software such as MATLAB, NVivo, SPSS etc.

These are available to access in three different ways, depending on the type of software you require. In this article we will talk about the places to get software from, and provide links to detailed Knowledge Item articles with instructions on how to use them.

1. Microsoft 365: Office.com

Staff and students

Microsoft logoAll the main Office applications are available to download for free from your Office 365 home page, for up to 5 devices (note that for staff one of these is your work computer).

Instructions: How to get Office 365

Find out what is included: https://www.reading.ac.uk/digital-technology-services/service-catalogue/office-365

2. Curriculum applications: AppsAnywhere

Staff and students

Apps Anywhere logo AppsAnywhere is our most widely used system for accessing applications, this service allows you to launch over 180 different apps. AppsAnywhere can be used with both University owned computers and also your own personal devices.

You can launch AppsAnywhere by clicking this link: https://appsanywhere.reading.ac.uk/

For staff, to request software on AppsAnywhere, please follow this form: Request Software for Labs

Find out more about Apps Anywhere: https://www.reading.ac.uk/digital-technology-services/apps-anywhere

3. General Applications: Software Center (SCCM) or Company Portal

Staff only

We use the Software Center or Company Portal to distribute a few applications which cannot go on Apps Anywhere because of the way they are licenced or need to be installed.

Whether you have the Software Center or Company Portal will depend on when your device was purchased and set up for the University. Some software, such as YuJa Learning Capture, is available on both Software Center and Company Portal.

Software Center

SCCM logoSoftware Center is an application installed on most older University Staff computers (pre 2021) and allows you to install certain applications that are unable to run via AppsAnywhere.

We have a knowledge article that explains how to access software via the Software Center: Installing applications from the Software Center (University staff PC)

If you have a newer device, delivered after March/April 2021, you’ll need to head to the Company Portal:

Company Portal

Company Portal logoCompany Portal is an application installed on most newer University Staff computers (anything purchased after March/April 2021) which allows you to install applications that are unable to run via AppsAnywhere.

We have a knowledge article that explains how to access software via the Software Center: Install Software from Company Portal on an Autopiloted device

What if I need software that’s not available on any of these systems?

If you need software that you cannot find on any of these systems, please take a look at this form, which will help you to log a ticket to get access to software that is not available. Install/use New Software (desktop/laptop installed)

For some software there may be a different process to have it installed, depending on the licencing of the software, complexity of the software and/or the amount of people that will be using the software. However, by logging your request via this route, DTS will be able to guide you through the process.

Important: Please do not install any software you are not sure about. By using the authorised software delivery services on this page, you will get an up to date, supported version of the software you need.

Need more help?

As always, if you require any further assistance, please get in touch with the DTS Service Desk who will be glad to help guide you.

New look IT Service Desk emails

We have designed a new streamlined look for the automatic emails sent out by the IT Service Desk. Several of you said you missed our emails as they didn’t stand out as anything important, or they weren’t laid out well so you couldn’t find the information you wanted easily.

The following screenshots show the new emails which will be coming shortly.

New ticket

Here is an example of the email you will get when you log a call.Screenshot of new ticket email

Ticket update

Here is an example of an email telling you about an update to your ticket. If you want or need to reply to the message, you can do this by clicking the “Track my ticket” button, which takes you straight to that particular ticket:

Screenshot of update ticket emailTicket completed

Finally, this is the ticket completed email, with a meaningful reason for closure (usually job completed). If you want to re-open the ticket or have comments to make, clicking the “Track my ticket” button takes you back to that particular ticket on the Self Service Portal.Screenshot of ticket complete email

Further information and contact

You can use the IT Self Service Portal to look up your ticket, add information and give us feedback, and we’ve highlighted this in the new emails with a “track my order” style button. We hope this will make it easier for you (and us) to provide you with an efficient service.

We welcome your feedback about the new email design, and would also like to hear from you if you have any suggestions about improving them. Please contact me via the Feedback section on the IT Self Service Portal, or you can email me directly.

Jubilee holiday closure: 2nd and 3rd June

The IT Service Desk is closed on Thursday 2nd and Friday 3rd June 2022 for the Jubilee holiday.

TheQueen's Platinum Jubilee logo IT Service Desk will close at 6pm on Wednesday 1st June, and will reopen at 8am on Monday 6th June. This means there will be no telephone service (6262) or ticket processing between these dates.

The IT counter in the library will be open as normal 11am to 5pm Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th June.

Greenlands IT Service will be closed on Thursday 2nd and Friday 3rd June, and will be open Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th as normal.

Please visit reading.ac.uk/dts for details of our weekend opening hours.

 

World Password Day May 5th – Update your password!

World password day logo

World Password Day takes place on Thursday May 5. It was set up in 2013 as a day set aside for people to update and strengthen their passwords.

The average person has over 100 different passwords for various apps, websites, and online services. In practice most of us re-use the same handful of passwords, and ignore prompts to “update your password” until we are forced to do something. Unfortunately, there are an increasing number of people who will take advantage of this. 

What is the risk?

Password protection is one of the most important things you can do to safeguard your personal, professional, and sensitive data. Without a strong password, you risk:

  • Giving hackers easy access to your most sensitive accounts
  • Breaches to multiple accounts that share the same or similar passwords
  • Attacks by keystroke loggers who steal common login credentials
  • Loss of data through shared (and easily stolen) passwords

How do I make my passwords stronger?

Strong and secure passwords are crucial, especially now that most of our work is done online. Even if you have strong passwords, they need changing regularly as they may have been exposed in a data breach. The strongest passwords are:

  • At least 12 characters long
  • A mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special symbols
  • Not based on your username or other personal information
  • Unique to each account

Our Password page has some more guidance for creating a stronger password.

Further information and reading

As well as the Password page, DTS have several pages dedicated to Cyber Security, https://www.reading.ac.uk/digital-technology-services/cyber-security

For more general information about keeping yourself safe online, have a look at the National Cyber Security Centre website.

Hybrid meetings – how DTS can help you

As people return to campus, we are getting lots of questions about hybrid meetings. As there are no specific hybrid meeting rooms on campus (although some departments have set up their own), you may find yourself trying to arrange a hybrid meeting using only your own equipment, or the technology in a teaching space.

This article explains how DTS can help you with practical support and loan equipment, and also what is available to purchase on XMA to help transform your meeting experience.

Hybrid meetings work best where you have equal remote and onsite participants. It could be best that all attendees join the meeting either remotely or in person so that everyone has the same experience and are more likely to participate equally. If this isn’t possible, then here are a few ideas to equalize the experience:

One person meeting in a shared office

  • Inform the people around you when you have a meeting
  • Use noise cancelling headphones which will a) signal to those around you that you are busy or on a call, and b) cut down on background noise.
  • Mute yourself if not speaking

If you end up with several meetings in a shared office, make sure you are all using headphones.

Meeting in a shared office (2-3 people)

  • Find a space to sit together so you can share one display/camera if possible
  • Use a USB/Bluetooth speaker to avoid issues with echo, feedback and lag (attach speaker to one device, keep the others on mute)
  • If someone has a webcam, attach it to the laptop or monitor

Meeting space or room (4 or more)

If you have several people in the same meeting, consider using a meeting room or even a classroom. These will have a monitor display on the wall which will improve the experience.

  • Connect a laptop to the monitor (you will need an adapter for a Surface) and turn it to face the room to use it as the camera/speaker
  • A laptop camera can only capture two or three people. A separate webcam has a wider field of view.
  • You may need to move chairs so that everyone is captured on camera (classrooms are set up for one person in front of several attendees)
  • Share the meeting to the screen so that everyone can still be seen.

Using AV and smartboards: https://www.reading.ac.uk/digital-technology-services/facilities-index/av-and-smartboards-in-university-teaching-rooms

How to use a classroom tech table: https://blogs.reading.ac.uk/teaching-learning-facilities/user-guides/

How technology can help

Noise cancelling headphones

High-quality headsets using a noise-cancelling microphone will reduce background noise, allowing your caller to hear your voice more clearly. Many people use these to concentrate as well, and they can help indicate to others that you are on a call or busy.

Examples with good stock levels on XMA:
Jabra Evolve 20 UC Stereo https://he.xma.co.uk/Product?pid=4999-829-209
Sennheiser SC 165 USB Headset Head-band Black https://he.xma.co.uk/Product?pid=508317

Speakers

Using a USB or Bluetooth conference speaker can be helpful when a small group of people gather in one room for a hybrid meeting with remote participants. All in-room participants can share a single speaker connected to just one of the laptops to eliminate the feedback from using multiple mics and speakers.

There are several available on the XMA Hub, for example the NeoXeo SPK 140 Bluetooth speaker: https://he.xma.co.uk/Product?pid=X130B13006 

Video cameras

There are limitations with a laptop camera as it is only set up to show one person. An additional webcam will have a better picture and show a wider view of the room, for example the Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000 Webcam (https://he.xma.co.uk/Product?pid=T3H-00012), some also have microphone/speaker built in.

If you have a lot of video meetings with several people, you may want to get a portable video camera, such as the Logitech ConferenceCam Connect which is suitable for up to 6 participants in one space. DTS have a few of these we can loan you for one off meetings, or you can buy your own from XMA. https://he.xma.co.uk/Product?pid=960-001034

Support from DTS

Did you know that DTS can provide you with technical support for hybrid and live events? There are three types of event that we offer support for:

  • Virtual Live Events and Meetings – Teams (remote support)
  • Video Conferencing (remote support)
  • Hybrid Live Events (present in room whilst streaming online, excludes teaching)

A technician will help set up and prepare for the live event or meeting and will be on call via Teams Chat for any problems during the event (this service is free for up to three hours, but must be booked in advance).

In addition to this, we also offer AV equipment/demo training and equipment loans.

You can request any of these services by completing a short form on the IT Self Service Portal:

Support for Audio Visual Equipment and Events: https://uor.topdesk.net/tas/public/ssp/content/detail/service?unid=3578b7fc528041f491b77026185fe538

General guidance

Although the tools we are using to communicate may have changed, office etiquette hasn’t. Working in open plan offices and hot desks means it is even more important to respect and be mindful of your colleagues. You may need to agree rules about whether meetings are allowed in shared space, for example, or all share calendars to find out who else is attending the same meeting so you can arrange a room. *This will be covered by the “Ways of Working” strategy group.

Further reading

Logitech guides to video meetings: https://www.logitech.com/en-gb/video-collaboration/resources/think-tank/articles/setting-up-video-meeting-space/introduction.html

Microsoft article on hybrid meetings: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/project/the-new-future-of-work/articles/hybrid-meetings-guide/

TEL guides for using Teams for online teaching sessions (also applicable to hybrid meetings): https://sites.reading.ac.uk/tel-support/microsoft-teams-meeting-help-index/

About holding hybrid meetings (includes diagrams of possible set ups): https://u3asites.org.uk/code/u3asite.php?site=1144&page=0

LinkedIn Training courses: Hybrid meetings (linkedin.com)

Digital Skills for Staff

Image of someone using a laptop touchpadOne of the long term aims of DTS is to raise digital confidence across the University, by providing expert IT training to help plug skill gaps or explore functionality in our standard Microsoft applications and other key areas. We have created a suite of UoRLearn Courses using professional LinkedIn Learning content, delivered in bite-size, easy to navigate video tutorials.

Go at your own pace, try exercises for consolidation and incorporate new techniques and tips into your day-to-day work using Microsoft applications including Outlook, Teams, Excel and PowerPoint, from beginner to advanced. Increase your knowledge of applications such as Matlab, EndNote and NVivo, or expand your digital savvy around Digital Security and Digital Productivity.

For more information, please refer to the Digital Skills for Staff webpage.