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Protect your equipment against power outages

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

By now we’re used to the unpredictable nature of our electricity supply and started making changes to ensure our daily lives can continue as normally as possible in spite of it.

But have you considered the effect these irregular power surges might have on your appliances at home and the office? To ensure you don’t suffer any serious damage, there are a few measures you can take.

the-light-bulb-371652_6401. Regularly check the load shedding schedule.
This is important since you can’t protect your appliances if you’re not sure when power will be shut down. There are various ways to do this, including Eskom’s Twitter feed, website, as well as various apps. 

2. Switch off and unplug
Before scheduled load shedding, turn off and unplug or disconnect all your electrical appliances. By doing this, you will avoid a sudden strong surge of power to your device which could damage sensitive electronic circuitry.

It is also important to unplug computer power cables from plugs, as well as telephone cables.

3. Use surge protectors
As mentioned above, power surges could damage your appliances. To prevent this, you can also fit plugs equipped with surge protectors which will lessen the surge. Just remember, even if you use surge protectors, it’s still safer to unplug devices entirely.

4. Get a power bank
These useful little things are portable chargers which you can charge your phone and any other USB device with. With their help, you won’t be stuck without your cell phone or tablet while the rest of the world is shrouded in darkness.

They are readily available at online stores like Takealot and are not that expensive considering the convenience.

5. Get a UPS
A UPS or Uninterruptible Power Supply functions as a surge protector, but with also has a built-in battery, and can provide a constant power output for up to an hour. A UPS is merely a backup system to buy you time to protect appliances and save data. 

6. Backup
Backing up your data shouldn’t be done only when load shedding is prevalent. It should be part of your weekly routine. If you know load shedding will take place, do regular backups while working or before the scheduled power outage. This will ensure you don’t lose important work.

 

[SOURCE: www.eskom.co.za, www.mg.co.za, www.fin24.com, www.mweb.co.za, www.property24.com]

 

2018 in review

Thursday, December 6th, 2018

What an exciting year we’ve had! As I’m writing this, we’ve just entered another hour or two of load-shedding, and I’m thankful for a reliable laptop on battery power.

In the centennial year of the University, a number of bold decisions were finalised to launch some of the largest renewal projects in the last two decades.

The successor systems for two core administrative applications, Student and Financial Management, were evaluated, selected and approved by the Rectorate by the end of November. Both  applications, to be implemented over the next two years, are modern and innovative in important aspects:

  • The systems will be implemented in the cloud and developed and maintained by leading international vendors. This is a major change for the university, having developed and maintained the legacy applications in-house for more than 25 years.
  • The platforms serving these applications will be located in the cloud, and not on campus like before. This will have a major impact on the nature of our work and will enable us to utilise resources in new ways to improve our services to the university.

As far as we’re aware, no other university in South Africa has migrated these applications to a cloud based platform yet.

The IT Division has been hard at work to improve the quality and sustainability of our services. In August, we submitted the two-year Quality Improvement Report to the institutional Quality Committee, which was accepted with acclaim. The report mentioned important improvement milestones, like the establishment of a new governance body for information and technology management, the Technology and Information Committee, as well as many organisational, infrastructure and service improvements.

Another major achievement for the year is the development and implementation of the ICT Partner Portal, a system to streamline and manage all work streams for ourselves and our partners, colleagues and clients. Since implementation in September, about 80% of the service processes in the IT Division has been defined and configured in the system, and more than 17000 incidents and requests were processed in three months. The system is designed to provide transparency to the workflow and completion of tasks to all process stakeholders – users or clients, service staff and management.

The year will also be remembered for the steep increase in cyber-attacks, especially phishing attempts. A dedicated cybersecurity function was established to deal with the rising threats, and to our dismay, we noticed a significant percentage of manpower being absorbed by this phenomenon.

We are also sad to see a number of colleagues leaving our team, some retiring and others to greener pastures. We wish all of them well, especially Callie van der Merwe and Thys de Wet, who spent their entire career at Stellenbosch University.

Lastly, a word of appreciation to prof Stan du Plessis, our new Chief Operating Officer, for the first full year of his leadership and support. We are inspired and eager to enter 2019 with renewed energy, after a short period of rest.

Best wishes for the festive season!

Attie Juyn

Before you leave …

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

The December holiday is right around the corner and we’re sure you, just like us, can’t wait to switch off your PC and start relaxing.  But before you leave, there are a few things you can do now to ensure that your return is seamless. Here are a few tips: 

  1. Activate your Out of Office function on your sun.ac.za Outlook mailbox and indicate in the message when you will be available again in case someone needs to contact you. Also, indicate who will be responsible during your time away and add their email address to your Out of Office.
  2. Make sure that your relevant work-related data is accessible for usage by your colleagues while you are away. However, do NOT give your password to colleagues when as this poses a security risk.
  3. If your sun password might expire during your holiday, rather change it before you go. If it expires while you are away you will be locked out of your account and it will cause unnecessary stress to deactivate it in January. 
  4. If you need any assistance, log a service request on the ICT Partner Portal and one of our technicians can assist you.
  5. Information Technology will also be closing, like the rest of the University, on 22 December and opening again on 2 January. If possible, please log your IT requests as soon as possible before you leave. If you have a critical problem, it might be difficult to assist you a day before you leave or on the last Friday since suppliers also close over the festive season.

The last swipe for Phonet

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

When’s the last time you swiped your staff or student card through one of the readers shown on the photo to the right? We’re hoping not recently since this particular technology is on its way out.

The Phonet system has been in use since 1998 and was the brainchild of, now retired, Prof Piet Bakkes, previously affiliated with the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. In recent years usage has decreased rapidly, but a few of these devices are still used for printers and photocopiers on campus.  There are currently 58 machines still operating on the Phonet system in 28 different buildings. 

As with any technology, Phonet has reached the end of its lifespan and will have to be switched off by the end of the year. The reasons for its termination are various:

  • We no longer have support from the developer to upgrade and improve the system;
  • This is the only existing system still utilising the staff or student card’s magnetic strip. Other systems on campus already use the card’s chip to read credits;
  • We no longer have enough magnetic card programmers available for next year at registration;
  • No parts are available to upgrade the devices;
  • The server running the software cannot be upgraded and is, subsequently, posing a serious threat to the security of the rest of the campus network.

Phonet will be switched off for students on 7 December and on 31 December for departmental accounts. For the few remaining users of the system, we advise switching to a newer system before these dates.

For more information, please contact Joshwane Newman at jsnewman@sun.ac.za.

New IT online request service

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

Information Technology recently implemented a new, user-friendly request and incident logging system for staff and students. Our aim was to deploy the system in such a way that you weren’t affected and the process of logging calls remained simple. The only difference is our new, clean and user-friendly look. We would like to encourage you to make use of the online logging system, also known as the ICT Partner Portal, to ensure faster service. 

Log in on our ICT Partner Portal at servicedesk.sun.ac.za.

The ICT Portal is the central point where you can easily log your IT-related issues without calling the IT Service Desk. Here you will also be able to keep track of the progress of your requests online.

As soon as you request a service or log an incident or error, the system automatically assigns a call number. The call number will appear in future email correspondence and updates related to your call. This will ensure that calls are grouped together and the information is easier accessible and better integrated. 

Even though the platform interface looks different, you will be able to perform the same actions as before. Staff and students are automatically registered as users – you only need to log on at servicedesk.sun.ac.za with your SU username and password.

This is what the new interface looks like:

Alternatively, if you prefer not to use the online logging service, you can send an email to help@sun.ac.za. This will automatically log your request on our system. Keep in mind that if you use this method, it will take slightly longer to attend to your call as a helpdesk agent has to classify it first.

If you’ve recently requested a service by sending an email you might have noticed that the confirmation email looks slightly different. Your email will include a reference number, for example, ICT-123, your name and links to view your request. By clicking on the link, you will be diverted to the ICT portal where you can view the status of your request and leave a comment for the technician working on your request.

This is what the new email from IT will look like when you request a service:

For any additional enquiries, please contact the IT Service Desk at 021 808 4367.

 

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