Author Archive: Phillip Bohl

InfoComm 2012 — a Audio Visual Candy Shop

I just returned from InfoComm 2012 in Las Vegas.  Having attended technology trade shows pretty steadily for nearly twenty years, I can say this was not anywhere near the biggest I’ve seen or even the most amazing but it was easily as interesting and valuable.

As I have posted on this blog before, we recently received a generous grant from Pepperdine’s central administration to update our classroom technology.  With that grant in mind, it seemed like a no-brainer to attend the AV industry’s top convention and exposition.

I spent a great deal of time in the Crestron booth (many in the industry noted with concern that one of the oldest and largest AV component manufacturer’s, Extron, chose to not host a booth this year) learning about their latest offerings, especially their new lecture capture system that is impossibly easy to use. Crestron specializes on control systems and other electronics related to AV; competing directly with Extron and AMX.  These three companies are the top three in AV control systems.

One of the brightest spots in my brief time at InfoComm 2012 was my meeting with Mr. Mark Valenti of the Sextant Group, a leading AV Consulting firm.  I first met Mr. Valenti a few months back at the ABA Bricks, Bytes, and Continuous Renovation conference in San Diego where he presented on the future of learning spaces.  After a brief conversation about what we’re planning to do in our classrooms here at Pepperdine, Mr. Valenti took me on a cook’s tour of the show and introduced me to some very helpful people and some very interesting technologies.

Interesting technologies?

Tidebreak’s TeamSpot
TeamSpot

TeamSpot enables seamless collaboration on a large shared display between multiple devices.

Sharp 90″ LED
Sharp 90" LED Display

No need for expensive projector and screen installs with the newest 90″ LED display from Sharp!

Crestron Capture LiveHD

Crestron Lecture Capture

Affordable lecture capture from Crestron. It’s easy to use and has no recurring fees!

Floor Outlets in the Smith Atrium

Welcome back students!

I hope you had a relaxing and fruitful break and are ready to get back into action now.  As you may have noticed, there have been a couple of changes around the school.  The most noticeable would be the new carpet and new furniture in the lounge area downstairs.  There has also been the installation of new electrical outlets in the Atrium floor.  They look like this:

New Outlets in the Law School's Smith Atrium

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The middle section is vacant space, please do not open these ports or insert anything in this area:Nothing to see here!

 

 

 

 

 

To use a power outlet, just pull back the spring-loaded plastic cover to provide access for your power plug, and plug it in, as seen in the picture below:

Pull back spring-loaded cover to reveal outlet

Pull back spring-loaded cover to reveal outlet

Server Racks Moved in Record Time

We are thankful that things went very well today with moving the servers to their new server room.

Thanks to David, Gil, and Matt for their devotion to our customers, our systems, and our services.

This afternoon with a pretty small window and short notice we saw an orderly shutdown, disconnections, fiber move, server move, rack placement, reconnections, system restarts, and system verifications … all in under 75 minutes!

I believe it is noteworthy that this is only the third time we have moved our servers since 1998 (two of those time were in the last three weeks).  No real problems with a quick return to all services.

Well done guys!

 

In order from Left to Right:

  1. Old server room (note the 1992 carpet color)
  2. Gil setting things up in the temporary location
  3. New room under construction
  4. New entrance was a closet in the law library
  5. Freshly painted server room ready for occupation!
  6. Moving two rack enclosures at one time
  7. Powering up the systems in the new space

Whiteboards in C, D, and E

Whiteboards for C, D, and E

Whiteboards for C, D, and E

Yes, it finally happened.  Whiteboards in classrooms C, D, and E!  After many struggles with the chalk boards, especially over the past two or three semesters, whiteboard material has been installed in those three classrooms.

We went for a special material called “Walltalkers” from RJF International, a worldwide leader in engineered polymer manufacturing.  This surface is not the same material you see in traditional whiteboard installations which is porcelain over steel or melamine over masonite, rather it is kind of like a high gloss vinyl attached to a flexible substrate that is glued onto the wall or in the case of classrooms C, D, and E glued to the blackboard (after proper surface preparation).

Like any whiteboard, these whiteboards must be maintained with regular cleaning and like any whiteboard, you don’t use permanent markers on them.

We prefer that you use only Quartet branded markers and FELT erasers.

The Eraser preference is related to the fact that the normal whiteboard erasers have sharp corners that could gouge the surface of the walltalker boards — so FELT only please.

Enjoy the whiteboards!

SOL Server Room — a New Home in an OLD spot

So you may have notices some changes at the School of Law since finals last December.

One of those changes you are not likely to notice right away is the fact that the School of Law’s server room is in brand new digs — but pretty much in the same place — just a different door location.

It’s true, a long overdue update and remodel of the server space came about due to a project to improve service to our Clinical Law Program clients. Using existing space, a new suite of office space was created for the Clinical Law Program. This construction project took place right in the same block of space where the server room had been since 1998. As it happens, the space allocated to the server room was a bit more than was absolutely necessary for the School of Law servers so that room was scaled down with the excess space going to the Clinical Law Program. In the end, the server room is a great new space with the necessary power, data, security, and cooling.

As you can imagine, moving all the servers and racks for a server room out and then back in can be a crazy proposition, especially if you want to continue to provide those services from a temporary location. Thanks to our friends in Campus and Construction Planning, University IT, and our own great team in Information Services, we were able to coordinate the move out of the old space with great success. As I write this, we are in the process of coordinating the move back into the new space.

A move entails more than just turning off computers and unplugging. In addition to providing notice to customers, each system must have each of its myriad processes shut down in an orderly fashion. The network connections in the racks go through a managed switch that is connected directly to the campus network backbone via fiber. The connection and disconnection of the fiber must be coordinated with University IT’s Network Engineering group. We also have to have the fiber itself relocated from the temporary location to the new room — a fairly simple process on its face but something that requires expertise (and insurance), if only in the event of problems.

For these reasons, this kind of move is best done during off-hours for customers but on-hours for vendors, IT staff, and Information Services staff. As it happens, we have very few customers this week and should we get approval from the LA County Building Inspector this afternoon, we’ll move as soon as possible to take advantage of this window of opportunity.

Our initial plan was based upon projected construction scheduling that said we couldn’t get into the new room until Sunday January 8th. We would have to install ASAP to be prepared for classes and customers on Monday January 9th. Coordinating an installation on a Sunday is problematic owing to the number of groups involved — we had it scheduled but for something like this, should a problem occur the ability to solve it in the time allotted and on a Sunday makes some folks anxious (me).

Thanks for your patience and understanding in this process.

Happy New Year!

Blackberry Smart Phones and Pepperdine

Google Announces Gmail on Blackberry No More (Nov 22)

http://googleappsupdates.blogspot.com/2011/11/deprecation-of-gmail-app-for-blackberry.html
 
Please take note of this change in considering your smart phone purchases and mobile contract commitments. This change effects faculty, staff and students.
 
For some time now, our support for Blackberry devices at Pepperdine has been complicated by changes to that platform and Microsoft’s Exchange email system. With the recent well-publicized system instabilities in the Blackberry network services, it is prudent to recommend users look to other platforms: Apple’s iPhone, the various Android phones, or Microsoft’s Windows mobile platform for working with University systems.
 
This change by Google removes one of the primary work around’s with users attempting to conveniently receive University email on their mobile device.
 
Feel free to contact David Dickens, x4047 david.dickens@pepperdine.edu for how this change could effect your device and service and for consultation on new purchases so that we can continue to provide you with the best mobile device services in the future.