Tech Xpress Spring 2013
New App Provides Campus Bus Tracking
Many of us have made a mad dash to a meeting on the other side of campus and wondered, "Should I wait for the shuttle bus or start walking?" Now, thanks to a new app developed by the MTSU Mobile Development Team called MTBustracking, we'll have a decision maker right at our fingertips. The new app provides its users a way to view where the Raider Xpress buses are at on their routes at any time. The student-based team worked with Ron Malone, assistant vice president for Events and Transportation Services, and Tracy Read, manager of Parking and Transportation Services, to review the various options and decide the best approach. One option explored was an "out of the box" solution for a fleet management system with GPS devices. It was not the most cost effective solution for the University, and the Mobile Development Team decided to build a solution from scratch.
The MTBustracking system starts, as you might have guessed, on the buses. Transmitters that are mounted on each shuttle bus broadcast the bus's location when it is in motion. If the bus sits idle for an extended period of time, the location will not be broadcast. The server side of the system listens for the location broadcasts, and the Web service stores and relays the locations to the end-user. The Web service also provides personnel in Parking and Transportation Services a way to manage the system. They can turn tracking on and off for each bus and schedule times when buses will not be tracked (e.g. when a bus is scheduled for a long trip away from campus).
The mobile app map displays the bus route color and shows each bus's location as it travels around campus. You can preview the system at
Keep checking your phone for the next MTSU Mobile version download containing the MTBustracking functionality.
Current student MTSU Mobile Development Team members are Jason Bandy, Chelsea Rath, Matt Houglum, Robert Reaves, Reid Wiggins, and Chris Johnson.
MTSU Network Services has embarked upon an expansive project this year to provide complete wireless network coverage to the main campus. The project started this spring, with the College of Education receiving the first wireless upgrade in support of several initiatives in that building.
Each room was surveyed to determine if the current wireless coverage was adequate in terms of signal strength and capacity. The data was then modeled in special software, pinpointing the exact locations of where wireless access points were needed throughout the building to meet the new performance standards of MTSU Networking Services.
Through funding supplied by the Information Technology Division, the College of Education Building wireless network was completed, providing enhanced coverage and capacity to accomodate many more wireless devices, including smartphones, laptops, and tablets.
The next building to receive the wireless upgrade will be the James E. Walker Library. This building presents a serious challenge to wireless networking, with the book stacks and reinforced walls creating several layers of signal attenuating material. The survey and data modeling has been done, and the hardware and software has been recently ordered.
Additional buildings will be upgraded with priority based on several factors, including age of current equipment, student population served in that building, curriculum requirements, etc.
2012 Technology Quality Survey
During the fall semester, the Information Technology Division conducted a survey to collect information as to the satisfaction of the campus community with the quality of ITD-related services. Thanks to the input generated from over 500 responses, ITD gathered information to help direct strategic planning and priority setting for the next year. ITD intends to conduct the survey annually and use it to track progress in providing services to the campus.
The survey results pinpointed several priority issues in which ITD has already begun to address such as the state and quality of campus Internet access. To address that issue, ITD is in the process of upgrading the wireless network across campus to increase wireless coverage and signal strength in all areas. Dubbed "Ubiquitous Wireless," the project aims to accommodate the rapid increase in mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
Engineers representing Enterasys and Howard Technology Solutions are administering technical surveys in each building on campus to create an engineering design that details the technologies required to reach the Ubiquitous Wireless standard.
Following the completion of the engineering design, a list of materials will be created and priced. The building will then be placed on a priority list for an upgrade. The upgrade project will take approximately two years to be completed. However, students, faculty, and staff will notice marked improvement in high-traffic areas very quickly. Several buildings on campus have already received a wireless upgrade such as Scarlett Commons, Womack Lane in Housing, and the College of Education. The engineering design has been completed for the James Walker Library, and that building's upgrade process should commence in the very near future.
This represents just one of the many ongoing technology-related projects and is an example of how ITD intends to use the information collected from the survey to enhance the quality of the services it provides. Please look for next year's survey for a chance to provide input and suggestions.
Progress continues to be made on the Middle Tennessee State University Website Revitalization Project.
With a scheduled unveiling later this spring, the revamped MTSU site will sport a fresh new look designed to be viewed on all media including traditional desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. In preparation for the launch, members of the ITD Web Team and Marketing have been meeting with representatives from each of the University's programs to develop engaging Web page content to highlight each program's expertise and uniqueness.
Ultimately, the goal is to create one University site containing lots of information in lieu of many disparate sites. The University's current site consists of more than 17,000 pages and has grown organically to a point where it has become challenging to navigate, especially for potential students who are not familiar with the University. The revamped website aims to trim away extraneous or esoteric information in order to become less cluttered and confusing for potential students interested in attending MTSU and will play a part in the University's focus on retention and graduation.
The Web Team has been working closely with Creative and Visual Services to obtain vibrant images for the new site, and Marketing and Communications has contracted with an independent videography company to create videos to highlight the University's programs. These videos will be posted gradually after the site officially launches. Marketing and Communications is also gathering quotes from various MTSU students and alumni to help personalize the new site.
Stay tuned for further developments.
When Routers go Rogue
A"rogue router" is a network device, most commonly a commercially available wireless router, that is placed on the MTSU network without prior permission of ITD Network Services.
Typically, commercial routers, such as Linksys, D-Link, etc., have a network service called Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) enabled by default. This automates the process by which a home user obtains an IP address from the router, allowing that user to connect to the home network, and subsequently to the Internet.
We use DHCP across the network at MTSU as well, however, we have specific information that is relayed to each computer, tablet or other device as it connects to our network.
When a rogue router is connected to the network, it can intercept the DHCP requests from the device, responding with incorrect information. It appears to the user that they are connected to the University network, but in reality they are only connected to that rogue router. Network Services has technology in place to track down unauthorized network devices such as rogue routers, but it remains a time-consuming process.
We encourage all students, faculty, and staff to consult with Network Services at 615-898-5753 before attempting to attach any wired or wireless router, switch, or other network equipment to the University enterprise network.
Reaching the Help Desk
The MTSU Help Desk is here to assist on all technological needs throughout the University. In-person Help Desk service is available from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday in the basement of the Cope Administration Building. The Help Desk is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by phone except on University holidays and when classes are not in session. You can reach the Help Desk by dialing 898-5345 or by emailing email@example.com.
If your laptop is giving you problems, the ITD Help Desk may be able to assist you. The Help Desk can help with wireless and virus issues. Bring your laptop to the basement of the Cope Administration Building where hands-on help is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. When the volume is heavy or if your computer is heavily infected with viruses, you may have to leave your laptop with the Help Desk.
What Determines Wireless Signal Strength?
As the number of students continues to increase, so do the numbers of wireless user devices that are connecting to the MTSU wireless network. Wireless technology is continuing to evolve and is being used more often on campus.
One of the most common questions that arrive from wireless users is about signal strength. Signal strength is exactly what it indicates, the strength of the wireless signal from the wireless access point to a wireless device and the reverse.
The closer in proximity the wireless device is physically located to the wireless access point the stronger the signal strength is between the access point and the wireless device. The signal strength coincides with the data transfer rate between the wireless device and wireless access point.
The stronger the signal strength the higher the data transfer rate. An excellent signal strength can offer from 54 megabytes to a 100MB data transfer rate, and this also depends on the radio technology that is being used. A weak signal will offer poor signal strength and will have data transfer rates down to around 4MB to 10MB, and again it depends on the radio technology being implemented.
The result is the closer a wireless device is located to a access point the stronger the signal strength with high data transfer rates, and the further a wireless device is located from the wireless access point the weaker the signal strength and lower the data transfer rates. Wireless signal strength is affected by more than just distance. Building construction material type and interference from unauthorized Access Points, and other devices can also be a factor. For more information, visit http://www.mtsu.edu/itdnet/wireless_itdnet.shtml.
MTSU has a number of computer labs available for student use.
Five "University Computer Labs" are available for all students, faculty, and staff with a current MTSU ID. These labs are:
University Computer Lab at BAS
Business and Aerospace Bldg., S137
Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, except for university holidays and when classes are not in session
University Computer Lab at KOM
Kirksey Old Main 350/351/360
Monday through Thursday – 7:30 a.m. – 9:15 p.m.
Friday – 7:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Closed Saturday and Sunday
University Computer Lab at LRC
(Temporarily Located in the Walker Library)
Monday through Thursday – 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Friday – 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Saturday – 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Sunday – 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.
University Computer Lab at James Walker Library
James Walker Library, second and third floors
Monday through Thursday – 7:30 a.m. – 12 a.m.
Friday – 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday – 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday – 1 p.m. – 12 a.m.
University Computer Lab at Adaptive Technology Center
James Walker Library Room 174
Monday through Thursday – 8 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Friday – 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Saturday – 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday – 1:30 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Residents of Corlew, Lyon, Smith, Womack Lane, and WoodFelder residence halls have access to computer labs in their buildings.
• In addition to the University Computer Labs, many departments have labs for classes, research, and general use.
• TheResNet Help Desk can be reached at 898-5891. For further assistance, contact the ITD Help Desk at 898-5345.
Information Technology Resources Policy
The Information Technology Resources Policy covers appropriate use of IT resources on campus to support the University's goals and objectives and is written for all users ranging from students to system administrators. Users of MTSU's IT Resources have a responsibility to follow policies, procedures, standards, and laws; these may be internal to MTSU or external to the University. The user's responsibility includes protecting the resources from misuse and attack and also not using resources in connection with for-profit or unauthorized not-for-profit purposes. In addition, illegal file sharing is a violation of the policy since it violates copyright laws, consumes campus bandwidth, and can allow malicious software to access the systems. Users are encouraged to read the entire policy at http://www.mtsu.edu/~itd/policies/itres_policy.html .
Star1 - Long Distance
Telecommunication Services is proud to offer you the MTSU long distance service, Star1. This service allows you to make low-cost, long distance calls from any campus residence telephone. Star1 offers low rates that can save you money over alternative long distance services.
Long distance calls are made through Star1 using an authorization code assigned to you by Telecommunication Services. If you are interested in Star1, please contact Telecommunication Services at 898-2991. Information on rates is also available by calling 898-2991.
Star1 Services for Students
MTSU residence halls rooms have one, touch-tone telephone line with two jacks for which students provide their own telephone sets for telecommunication services. Residence hall telephone lines include the following features:
• Call waiting
• Three-party call conference
• Call transfer
• Last number redial
• Data privacy on demand
• In addition to the features above, students may also subscribe to voice mail, and caller ID
• Private telephone lines
Caller ID service is available for purchase by resident students. Caller ID is billed through the Star1 long distance system for $5.00 per month. Resident students can also combine this service with voice mail for $7.00 per month for both, also billed through the Star1 long distance system. MTSU Telecommunication Services provides the caller ID feature only. It is the responsibility of the user to provide a telephone that will display caller ID information.
Voice mail service is available for purchase by all students. Voice mail is a service that provides your own personal voice mailbox to answer incoming calls when you are on another line or away. This mailbox makes it easy to store and record messages with technology that is superior to that of an ordinary answering machine.
Voice mail is billed through the Star1 long distance system for $3.50 per month. Resident students can also combine this service with caller ID for $7.00 per month for both, also billed through the Star1 long distance system.
A private telephone line may be provided to a resident student room if telephone cable is available. There are three payment options for a private telephone line:
• Monthly - $30.00 per month plus an installation charge of $30.00. The student must prepay the installation charge and the first month of service, or a total of $60.00, before service will be established. Subsequent months of service will be billed at $30.00 per month through the Star1 long distance billing system.
• Semester - $150.00 per semester, which includes the installation charge. If choosing to pay on a semester basis, the student must prepay for the entire semester, $150.00.
• Yearly - $300.00 per year, which includes the installation charge. If choosing to pay on a yearly basis, the student must prepay for the entire year, $300.00.
Payment for a private line also includes caller ID and voice mail at no additional charge. The student is responsible for any long distance charges incurred on the line. If a Star1 authorization code is used to place long distance calls, the long distance charges will be billed monthly through the Star1 long distance billing system.
Moving the private telephone line to another room will result in a service charge of $30.00.
To establish any of the above services, please visit the Telecommunication Services office, located in the Telecommunication Building room 200, to complete an application.
If you are a student who has applied for voice mail, caller ID, or a private telephone line through Telecommunication Services, please remember to cancel service if you are not residing on campus. You will continue to be billed for these services, unless you call Telecommunication Services at 898-2991 to cancel services.
Cable TV service is provided to campus dorm rooms and to the common living area in campus apartments. Additional service may be requested for private bedrooms in apartments for $11.00 per month. MTSU's cable TV service provider, Campus Televideo or CTV, provides an all-digital solution that does not require a set top box. There are even 8 channels in high definition or HD; 96 channels are available. The available channels are numbered from 3 to 181 with a digital tuner and 102 to 195 with a digital to analog converter. Since the cable TV service is all-digital, a digital TV or digital tuner is required. TV's manufactured in the last few years have digital tuners. If you have an older TV that only has an analog tuner, you will need to acquire a digital to analog converter (DTA) to connect to the system. DTA's are available for purchase for $60 from Telecommunication Services. Some standard DTA's for over-the-air reception will not work with this system. To request Cable TV service, please visit the Telecommunication Services' website, http://www.mtsu.edu/itdtele.
MTSU'S Wireless Network
MTSU has an extensive wireless network available for use. Coverage zones include several courtyards, most eateries, the Walker University Library, many lounges, all residence hall lounges, and most classroom areas. Additionally, higher speed coverage (54 Mbps 802.11g) is available in some areas. Coverage is constantly expanded and upgraded.
To use the MTSU wireless network, you need an "802.11b" or "802.11b/g" capable wireless network card. These cards will say "WiFi" on them and/or on the package. "WiFi" means that the card adheres to the WiFi standards and should work without problems with the MTSU WiFi compatible network.
For wireless access within the coverage area on campus, simply configure the wireless software to use the wireless network WLANMTSU. Make sure WEP and WPA are turned off (this is usually the default setting). It is important to choose "Infrastructure Mode" in the wireless software. Choosing "Any Available Network" or "Ad Hoc" modes could create an unsecured situation by connecting your computer to another wireless computer. Open a web browser to any page, and it will automatically be redirected to the MTSU Wireless Network login page.
To begin your session, enter your PipelineMT username and password for full access.
The nature of wireless activity makes the network occasionally weaker in some areas and stronger in others. Most wireless network software includes a small graph that can be utilized to determine the strength of the wireless signal in a particular area. Machines with internal wireless cards may notice slightly less coverage, as the internal antennas may not capture the wireless signals as well as external type adapters. The coverage area map is a general schematic; actual coverage varies based on numerous factors that include but not limited to: type of network adapter, PC battery power, number of people in the area, and season.
Wireless technology is less secure than connections used on a home computer. It is recommended that for any transactions that involve sensitive data that SSL or SSH encryption is used. Many Web pages are SSL-enabled. Look at the Web address to determine if the site is SSL-enabled. If the URL begins with "https" instead of "http" and has a small padlock icon appearing at the bottom of browser window, then it is SSL-enabled and any data sent and received is encrypted.
If you have any questions or problems, please call the Information Technology Help Desk at 898-5345 any time, or you can stop by the Help Desk in the basement of the Cope Administration Building Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ITD assistants will be available to answer your laptop questions.
National Do Not Call Registry Available
The National Do Not Call Registry allows consumers to restrict their personal telephone numbers, including cell phone numbers, from telemarketers. The registry has been accepting requests to restrict telephone numbers since June 2003.
For residential subscribers, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) prohibits those attempting to sell consumer goods and services by telephone from calling telephone numbers that appear on the National Do Not Call Registry. However, there are some exemptions, which are as follows:
1. Telephone solicitors may still call in response to an express invitation or permission by the person being called.
2. Solicitors may call on behalf of a not-for-profit organization if a member of the specific not-for-profit organization makes the call.
3. Soliciting is allowed if the person or entity making the telephone call has had a business relationship with the person being called within the previous 12 months
4. Solicitation is permitted if the business calling does not sell or engage in telephone solicitation and does not make more than three calls in any one calendar week.
During its inception in 2003, the National Do Not Call Registry placed an expiration period of five years on registered telephone numbers. Numbers exceeding this five-year period were to be automatically dropped from the registry, necessitating the need for consumers to re-register their personal telephone numbers. However, because of pending amendments to the five-year expiration clause, the Federal Trade Commission will not be removing telephone numbers from the National Do Not Call Registry upon expiration. If passed, telephone registrations will never expire, unless the consumer removes his or her telephone number from the registry, or the National Do Not Call Registry database administrator removes the telephone number because it was disconnected or reassigned.
A consumer who has registered on the National Do Not Call Registry, but continues to get telemarketing calls outside of the exceptions mentioned above, may file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. To file a complaint, visit www.donotcall.gov/complaint/complaintcheck.aspx. Information needed in order to file a complaint includes:
1. Date of the call
2. Name or telephone number of the company that called
Filing a complaint is a simple and quick process, and helps with enforcement, as violators of the National Do Not Call Registry could face fines up to $11,000 per incident. For more information about the National Do Not Call Registry, including the status of the proposed amendment, or to include your personal telephone number on the list, visit www.donotcall.gov/.
Please note: business numbers may not be included on the list. Therefore, telephone numbers belonging to MTSU cannot be included on the registry.