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Blackboard Upgrade


Blackboard Learn will be upgraded over the holiday break to add new features, increase stability and improve the system look and feel.

Important notes about the upgrade:

  • Blackboard will be unavailable Dec. 30-Jan. 4 with service returning Jan. 5.
  • There are no changes in course site creation or course copy. Any sites already created will be migrated automatically.
  • New course size limit of 1.5 GB.
  • Drop-in help will be available in Riverfront Hall, Room 301, from Jan. 5-9. Click here for the schedule.
  • Blackboard support specialists will be available for consultation and assistance at the Zone in the Interactive Learning Center (ILC) from 8 a.m.-Noon, Jan. 5 and 6, and from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Jan. 12 and 13.

Visit Blackboard upgrade information to read more about the new features and get answers to frequently asked questions.


Support for Windows 8.1 and Mac OS X 10.10

windows 8 dot 1 is now available at boise state university

The Office of Information Technology is pleased to announce support for Windows 8.1 and Mac OS X 10.10 for faculty and staff desktop and laptop computers owned by Boise State.

Information on Windows 8.1 can be found on Microsoft’s website.

Details on Mac OS X 10.10 are on Apple’s website.

The Office of Information Technology now officially supports OS X 10.8, 10.9, and 10.10, so if you have a Mac with 10.7 or below, you’ll need to update your computer’s operating system to comply with support standards.

If your computer is not supported by OIT, please contact your local area or network administrator for upgrade information.

To schedule an upgrade for an OIT-supported computer, contact the Office of Information Technology Help Desk at 426-4357, email, or visit

The Programmers of the Future are Yourselves

The future of programming

There are many clubs in life. The this or that club, with this or that requirement, showing you have this or that skill, interest, skin color, bulk grocery need, gender role or gentrification matrix.

One such club is that of Programmer.

This mythical creature is supposed to take a few classes in rapid, overlapping succession and then expected to distill that mess into a monetizable derivate encompassing the past 50 years of computer science research, if not the next.

One problem with clubs is they are self perpetuating – acquiring those like themselves, the status quo persists, old ideas are forgotten, new ideas aren’t given time to develop. Burnout is practically expected at Amazon. And one author laments even their lack of evolutionary fitness.

The divide between the Programmer and others then is large. Many projects fail if this chasm isn’t bridged. Many succeed to production but lose the spirit of the idea or produce software that’s hard to use or maintain.

What should we do from a 50,000 foot view? I’m not going to tell you; yet. Ponder it while I blather on.

What are Programmers to do? Obviously they’ve been down this road and if they had a good answer, it would probably rival Bible sales on Amazon. Day-to-day nuts and bolts aren’t able to solve the problem on their own. There’s only one Eiffel Tower, though the materials which made it were nothing uncommon (I didn’t research this, but it seems to be made primarily of iron and rivets). Maybe what we need is an idea, as espoused by one programmer Bret Victor, who’s risen to the surface. Something to follow on principle.

I think he’s on the right track, and not because of any particulars but because he aims to adhere to a principle. If you make the decision to go to war, all subsequent decisions are bad choices too, IMHO. Bret feels bad when ideas die so he finds easier ways to keep them alive.

The above talk is two years old, so what’s happened since then? Was he on to something?

Yes. Apple has come out with an entirely new language called Swift, with its Playground which allows you to visualize your coding as you go.

Swift was partially inspired by Lighttable – a project by Chris Granger to create an IDE. Launched on Kickstarter with similar goals to Bret’s in mind, Swift hit $316,720, much more than its sought-after $200,000 goal. It has served as the basis of a new product called Eve which recently received $2.3M in funding from Andreessen Horowitz.

Lighttable itself is made up of Clojure code, which another programmer Bob Martin has espoused could be the last programming language you’ll ever need. Uncle Bob says we could even standardize on it like so many other aspects of modern day life, which make it navigable and fruitful.

Just as an aside, the Clojure community is really great, unlike many of the other development communities making the news these days. They are very inclusive and try to give grants to women and minorities so they may attend their conferences.

Already these interactive programing environments have spread to DJs creating live music and 3D game designers creating games in the latest gaming engines, and more. I’ll insert a couple of samples below worth getting a feel for.

Hopefully you can see the line between programmer and artist or user starting to blur. But what if we try close it further?

Chris talks on his blog about how people are already programmers of sorts via Microsoft Excel, and while Excel falls short when extended to full-on programming, it may be worth fixing.

So finally we get to the pièce de résistance which Chris says is out of date, but you get the idea…

Persistent in all these Programmers’ thoughts is that we don’t know everything (or anything), and not only is that liberating but the greatest things were invented or discovered by people just like you and me.

The Programmer club can end, the chasm gone, the cliffs eroded. In the future you’ll be a Programmer, just like everyone else, although I suspect you’ll still have an easier time getting a date.

The author, Michael Lopez, can be reached @mal on Twitter.

Marc’s Tech Moment: “I Just Want It to Work”

Marc Dhoore

Everybody wants technology to “just work” without having to think about it. But with the increasing variety of cloud storage, desktop productivity and collaboration software available, making your software and hardware work seamlessly depends on choices you make.

The Office of Information Technology in invested in making Boise State services function as seamlessly as possible, but to experience this simplicity requires you to use supported Boise State software.

It’s easy for us to show you how to use Google Drive, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Boise State video via Camtasia Studio in the classroom. It’s not as easy to figure out the best way to use SugarSync, BrightCove, and Zoho.

Our Help Desk manager, Marc Dhoore, elucidates the ease of providing support when University software and services are utilized:

Avoid a “Bah Humbug” Holiday Scam

Photo of card being swiped at store

The holidays are a time for eggnog, family and festive meals, but there’s also a dark side to the season: the scammers and hackers who are ready to pounce on the unaware.

And this season may turn into a free-for-all for fraudsters thanks to a few trends that are prompting criminals to set their traps for unmindful consumers. The bad guys have a wide variety of tricks up their sleeves, from fake charities to “phishing” schemes aimed at tricking holiday shoppers.

One difference this year is that these holidays may be the last for magnetic-strip credit cards, which are easier to hack. A new security standard going into effect next October will introduce the “chip and PIN” cards favored in Europe, notes Yaron Samid, chief executive of BillGuard.

Since Target’s massive breach last December, more than 100 million card holders have had their data stolen. BillGuard, which offers an app that allows consumers to monitor for fraudulent activity, expects more data breaches at retailers this season.

For a list of tips to protect your data and avoid holiday scams, see

The Log of Truth

The Log Lady

One of the biggest challenges of rewriting myBoiseState is figuring out how to take the existing features and move them over to a new platform, while at the same time developing new features and services based on feedback from the University community.

We’ve identified about 50 items currently existing in myBoiseState today which must be replicated in the new system. Thankfully we’ve already done much of the foundational work necessary to do this efficiently, but these 50 features and functions are a lot for a team of web developers to build into a new platform with a new user interface.

The time this will take serves to limit the scope of what new services we can add to a new myBoiseState for our first release of the updated system in 2015.

To date, we’ve received over 300 requests for new features to add to myBoiseState. Some of these requests are for myBoiseState Mobile, but most are intended for

Obviously we can’t add all 300 features to the next release of myBoiseState, so we must prioritize all of the requests, and then allocate necessary research, development, and testing time to bring them to fruition.

Enter the Backlog

Feature prioritization takes place via the Backlog:

screen shot of our back log system

Items 1-10 out of more than 300 in our current Backlog.

As requests for new services (or changes to existing services) are received, we add them to a list of all requests we’ve compiled since development on the original myBoiseState system several years ago.

We call this list the Backlog.

Additional information for each request is gathered to identify if a feature is only intended for a specific population (e.g., students) or the entire University community, as well as other pertinent details about business cases, related services, the University’s strategic plan, compliance, etc.


Prioritization of Backlog items is determined by feedback from students, faculty and staff; by key departments and areas; by mandates from University executives; and by our own abilities to develop and deliver. In addition to over 2,000 items of feedback received since we first introduced myBoiseState, team members consult with the Office of the Registrar, Financial Aid, Student Financial Services, and other areas to solicit needs, ideas and suggestions. Results are prioritized as appropriate, and continually refined during the project lifecycle.

We also look at historical feature requests; many new items we’re adding were originally requested back in 2012. We’re playing catch up.

Prioritizing the Backlog also helps to prevent scope creep, which is the the bane of every IT project (and deserving of its own post at a later date).

The myBoiseState Backlog serves as the single source of truth for what we’re bringing to the next version myBoiseState, and is the well from which we’ll continue to draw to add additional features and services down the road.

Connect Securely. Connect Remotely.

Use VPN to connect remotely and securely

Six weeks from now you’ll be Hawaii for winter break (dream with me). You’re really excited to leave work behind but there’s one report you’ll have to finish while you’re on vacation and you’ll need access to email and your departmental network drive.

You’ve read about how to stay safe on public wi-fi and why you should use VPN but you think to yourself, “Do I Really Need to Worry About Security When I’m Using Public Wi-Fi?”

Yes. When you use public Wi-Fi at hotels, airports, coffee shops, etc., you should use VPN to connect securely to the Web and to Boise State services.

Why Use (What Is) VPN?

Virtual Private Network (VPN) software creates a secure and encrypted Internet connection for your computer. Using a VPN means you can safely connect to unknown networks like at airports, hotels or coffee shops without people being able to snoop on your Web browsing or steal data off your computer. VPN also allows you access to Boise State network services like your departmental or personal network drives.

How to Get VPN Software on Your Boise State Laptop

Faculty and staff need to contact the Help Desk to get a VPN account. Then, you’ll need to download and install the Boise State VPN software.

Students can download and use a free service like CyberGhost or follow the links in this article about “Why You Should Start Using a VPN (and How to Choose the Best One for Your Needs).”

Contact the Help Desk at 208-426-4357 (HELP), or chat if you have questions or want to get your VPN set up now–before you take off to Hawaii for winter break.

Rewriting myBoiseState

Rebuilding my boise state

As the hub of your Boise State online experience, myBoiseState gives you integrated sign-on access to many of the services you need as a student, faculty or employee. It also serves as an information gateway for timely notices, systems status, events, campus organizations and social media.

But the current version of myBoiseState has problems we must address. You’ve told us it’s “information overload,” and you’ve asked for new features and customizations we can’t efficiently deliver in the system as it exists today.

So we’re creating a new myBoiseState.

  • In this new system, you’ll get to determine if Facebook or Twitter feeds show up when you log in.
  • You’ll decide if you want to see athletic schedules, campus news, or upcoming campus events.
  • You’ll access more services using integrated sign on, so you won’t have to log in again after signing in to myBoiseState.
  • myBoiseState will work much better on mobile devices, which is vitally important as mobile will soon constitute the majority of our online connections.
  • Most importantly, we’ll be able to scale myBoiseState to add more features and services at regular intervals as time goes on.

This project involves a variety of teams and organizations throughout the University, and won’t happen overnight. We want to do it right, not rush it out and fix it later. You’re invited to keep track of our progress by bookmarking this site, subscribing to our RSS feed, or following us on Twitter @boisestatehelp.

“myBoiseState is your Boise State. Unified. Personalized. Mobilized.”

What do you want to see in the new myBoiseState? Add your voice to the 2,000+ feedback items we’ve received by emailing

Blackboard Downtime Scheduled November 28-29


Blackboard will be unavailable Friday, November 28 beginning at 6:00 am due to maintenance.

The system should be back up and available for use by 6:00 am on Saturday, November 29.

Google Apps Unlimited Storage


A few weeks ago, we told you that Google announced unlimited storage for Google Apps for Education users.

Well, good news!  This feature has been rolled out and you now have unlimited space for your Google Account here at Boise State!

You can now store as many files and email messages as you want.  Individual file sizes have a limit of 5 TB.

If you have any questions about this new feature or would like more information about Google Apps, contact the Office of Information Technology Help Desk at 208-426-4357 (HELP) or