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July 2011 Newsletter
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Hamilton College




July 2011

In this Newsletter:

From the Editor

Google Announces Face-lift and More Storage!

Personalizing Your HillConnect Environment

ITS Welcomes Ryan Aumiller

Business Process Improvement Activities

Planning for the New HR/Payroll System Underway

ITS Website Redesign - What Do You Think?

Learning Opportunities - Still Limitless Possibilities!

ITS Newsletter Archives

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From the Editor- Maureen Scoones

While we all try to seek a little relief from the latest heat wave, read on to learn more about the latest changes planned by Google and about plans to upgrade our current HR/Payroll system. Think snow!

Google Announces Face-lift and More Storage!- Maureen Scoones

At the end of June, Google announced it was working on a project to bring us a new and improved Google experience. All Google applications are getting an updated look and mailbox sizes are growing from 7 GB to 25 GB. When describing the impending changes to Gmail, Google states "...we're embarking on a series of interface updates to help strip out unnecessary clutter and make Gmail as beautiful as it is powerful."

As Google Apps for Education customers, we can expect to see the changes over the coming weeks and months. We do not know the specific date when we will see the changes, but we will make every effort to let you know as soon as we receive more information.

In the meantime, the images below will give you an idea of Google's intended changes (you'll see the HillConnect logo where the Gmail logo appears). More information on the Google-wide effort is available in the official Google Blog.

Mail
Calendar

Click on image to see larger version

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Personalizing Your HillConnect Environment - Maureen Scoones

Sometimes Google releases an enhancement, but you wonder, "what were they thinking?"

A number of people have been asking about the new yellow importance markers. The intent is for you to more easily locate your important messages. Unfortunately some are finding the little markers to be more of a hindrance than a help.

To remove the markers, follow these steps:

  1. In the top left corner of the screen, click on the gears icon and then select Mail settings.
  2. Click on the Priority Inbox tab
  3. In the Importance markers: section, click in the radio button next to No markers.
  4. Click Save Changes.

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ITS Welcomes Ryan Aumiller - Maureen Scoones

Ryan will join ITS in the position of Desktop Systems Administrator within our Desktop Integration Services team on July 25, 2011. He will be responsible for providing a broad range of services to support, maintain, and develop Hamilton's desktop computing environment. Ryan comes to us with over 20 years experience in the technology field, most recently working as an Information Systems Technician and Lab Systems Administrator at the Pratt School of Art at Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute. Welcome Ryan!

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Business Process Improvement Activities - Maureen Scoones

A little more than a year ago, a campus-wide Business Process Improvement Committee (BPIC) began meeting to identify candidates for process improvement that have the potential to save significant college resources. In October 2010 the Committee recommended to and Senior Staff endorsed a project to automate the current hourly student and staff payroll process (see below: Planning for the New HR/Payroll System Underway). During the spring 2011, the BPIC shared suggestions received and recommendations made with the relevant offices for follow-up and further action.

The Committee recently met to talk about potential activities for the coming year, realizing the projects currently underway are quite complex and not yet complete. We can't address all needs as quickly as we would like, but continued discussion about how we define, store, retrieve, and use data helps all of us better support Hamilton's mission.

To that end, our focus during the coming year is to:

  1. Continue to discuss current and future database needs across campus and develop a repository that details any databases currently in use that are external (e.g. FileMaker or Excel) to our central system. Since the tools we have available to us are changing rapidly, we want to be able to help you work as efficiently as possible. Our goal is not to remove FileMaker completely, but rather to use it where it is the best tool to meet the needs.
  2. Educate the campus community about the capabilities of our central information system. That is, what types of information (student, employee, financial, etc.) are already stored in our central system and if you need that information, how do you go about getting it?
  3. Continue to update the campus community on progress to improve our business processes.

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Planning for the New HR/Payroll System Underway - Maureen Scoones

Over the next 18 months, ITS will be working with members of the campus community to transition our current HR/Payroll system (Kronos) to a new system (Datatel Colleague HR/Payroll), bringing it online by January 1, 2013. Not only does this system generate our paychecks each month, but it also integrates with and feeds other systems on campus, e.g. the directory. Since the new system is an expansion of our current central information system, i.e. student and alumni data that we see in WebAdvisor, Blackboard, and the Alumni directory, to name a few, our options to get the systems talking to one another to provide timely and accurate data is greatly enhanced. In addition, the new system will result in significant cost savings to Hamilton.

Speaking of paychecks, transitioning to this new system will allow us to automate the payroll process for all hourly employees, including students. During the transition, the green, gray, or blue time sheets are still required to generate the payroll for hourly employees, but upon completion of this project, these handwritten sheets and manual calculations will simply be fading memories.

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ITS Website Redesign - What Do You Think? - Maureen Scoones

Back in October 2010, ITS began working on redesigning our home on the web. Unfortunately, the new version won't be ready by the start of the fall semester, but we've made much progress and would like to get feedback from the campus community on the usability of our new design, intended to make it easier for you to readily find the information you need about our services. Not all of the functionality is working at this time as we want to know what you think before we revamp all of our pages. Please click on the feedback link on the page and tell us what you think.

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Learning Opportunities - Still Limitless Possibilities! - Maureen Scoones

On-line Learning Opportunities

ITS subscribes to an online training library, Lynda.com, that contains over 1000 video tutorials you can access 24 hours a day, seven days a week. According to Lynda.com:

  • Learn software from Adobe, Apple, Microsoft and more.
  • Classes for beginners to experts.
  • Learn at your own pace: Play, pause, rewind.
  • Watch one tutorial at a time, or a whole course.

New Videos

Lynda.com recently released two new tutorials that aren't about learning a new piece of software, but you may be interested nonetheless:

New Ways of Learning

Lynda.com also recently released a plugin that makes it possible for Windows users to watch any Office 2007 or Office 2010 application tutorial (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) from directly within the application. It's still considered to be in beta, therefore I'll be testing it out and will let you know what I find.

Please contact Maureen Scoones (mscoones@hamilton.edu, x4178) if you are interested in accessing these tutorials or have any questions about this service.Hands-on Learning Opportunities

SiteManager classes and working sessions continue to be offered. Whether creating a page for your administrative office, academic department, student organization, or your own professional page, SiteManager, Hamilton's own web editing tool, can be used to create your web presence.

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ITS Newsletter Archives

All past issues of the ITS Newsletter are available on our website.

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