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SafeCom: 3 things to remember

Thursday, May 9th, 2019

In 2010 our campuses switched to the Safecom printing system, a centralised print management system with accounting capabilities.

The main motivations for its implementation were the ease of use, lower paper usage and reducing overall costs. Additionally the printing system provides secure pull printing with access control and full encryption, enable staff and students to print from anywhere and also reduces waste. More detailed instructions can be found on FIRGA’s website.

There are three things to remember when you use a Safecom printer:

After using a Safecom printer you have to sign off.

This is important for two reasons:

  1. If you remain signed in, someone else can use your print credits.
  2. Your credits are reserved by the printer for an hour after which it is released. If you don’t immediately print and go to another printer without signing off at the first one, your credits will remain reserved and it could indicate that you don’t have enough credits. This means that a person can only print at one printer at a time.

Make sure you have enough credits. 

Safecom cannot establish beforehand how many credits your printing will cost. If you start printing and you run out of credits, it will be problematic.

Select the correct colour option

Before you print, choose the appropriate colour option in the print interface on your PC. If the default is colour, it will cost substantially more. (price per page is listed on our Service Catalogue)


Protect your equipment against power outages

Sunday, March 31st, 2019

By now we’re used to the unpredictable nature of our electricity supply and started making changes to ensure our daily routine can continue 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.




Industry-wide shortage of processors

Tuesday, March 5th, 2019

Intel is facing higher than expected market demands, resulting in industry-wide supply tightness for their desktop and notebook processors.  While Intel is diligently working to maximize factory output, they expect supply to be short in Q1 and to remain tight through the end of the year. 

Dell and Lenovo, the Universities preferred suppliers of desktops and laptops, utilises Intel processors which means that there might be lead times in delivery.

Dell is however not disadvantaged in terms of supply compared to other IT providers.  Products most impacted by the supply constraints include certain configurations in the Latitude, Precision and OptiPlex product lines. 

It is important to note that these products will continue to be available, though they may be on extended lead time until supply ramps to meet demand. 


TechSmith Relay for lecture recordings

Thursday, February 28th, 2019

TechSmith Relay has been in use within Faculties and on personal devices by lecturers for lecture capture in multiple formats for a number of years. Recently, the Academic ICT department has been informed, with minimal notice, that TechSmith Relay will no longer support this self-hosted version of the software. The information provided by TechSmith Relay indicates that they will be focusing their efforts on developing a cloud-based solution. There are, however, no timelines available for if/when this will be available in South Africa.

What does this mean to lecturers and students?

Currently, the software is still fully functional. All licenses are still valid. However, should any changes (or upgrades) take place on our operating systems, this may result in a situation where the software is no longer compatible with our devices. Recordings are still accessible and downloadable in MP4/MP3 format for safekeeping, and we recommend that this continue as per normal. The content that has already recorded will not be lost.

What is ICT doing to provide a viable solution?

Since receiving this notice from TechSmith, we have been actively testing alternatives. We have also requested that a workgroup investigate sustainable alternatives and recommend a way forward for the University. This workgroup includes members of ICT staff/ Centre for Learning Technologies and the Computer User Area Manager team. This workgroup has been requested to provide feedback and initiate testing within the next four weeks. In the interim, all effort will be made to maintain the operating systems on the computers in lecture halls to avoid any potential issues with the software.

What is the alternative?

Our recommendation is that lecturers can continue with the use of TechSmith Relay for recordings for the next two months. We will notify all academic partners should the situation change in this time. However, should you be concerned about the stability of the TechSmith relay option, the SUNStream (Adobe Connect) plugin within SUNLearn is a stable and reliable alternative. Many lecturers already use this method for lecture capture and capturing any interaction with students who may be joining the classes via streaming. Assistance with user guides and/or training on using this option within your SUNLearn module will be provided via the CLT support desk

Lecturers may direct additional questions to the CLT support desk.

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


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