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System Technology Summit 2016


Texas A&M System IT Summit

The annual Texas A&M University System Technology Summit is scheduled for February 16-18, 2016 and it’s going to be bigger and better than ever! When it comes to next year’s training budget, Summit is going to get you the biggest bang for your buck.

This year we are crowdsourcing the Summit! You’ll find us on reddit at /r/techsummit. Want to hear about something specific at Summit this year? Know a colleague that would make an extraordinary speaker? Didn’t like the fish for lunch? Join the conversation and submit or vote on ideas.

The 2016 Technology Summit offers:

  • A beautiful and convenient location at Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas (did we mention you can visit the rainforest during the conference?)
  • A valuable opportunity to network and learn from colleagues across the system
  • A variety of sessions across six tracks, from technical to leadership and project management

Summit registration opens June 25th, so bookmark and check back to get in on early registration pricing.


Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015 Area Events No Comments

Texas A&M System Technology Summit

You are invited to attend the new Texas A&M University System Technology Summit (formerly the TTVN conference) February 10-13, 2015 in Galveston, Texas. The Technology Summit is open to all Texas A&M University System employees and features 32 interactive sessions in four tracks:

  • General IT: sessions include Zero day threats, Managing Macs, DevOps, eSignatures;
  • Learning Technologies: sessions include Mobile technology in class, Learning analytics, Next gen learning spaces;
  • Web: sessions include Mobile first, Continuous integration and testing, Usability; and
  • Shared Services: Syncplicity, Digital signage, Two factor authentication, and 5 more sessions.

Additionally, we will hear from both the System Digital Media Center of Excellence and the System Council on Academic Technology and Innovative Education. The Summit is designed to give you plenty of time to network with your colleagues around the System, speakers, and our exhibitors.

There are three pre-Summit workshops on IPv6, mobile site development, and effective teaching available at an additional charge.

Register before February 1, 2015 to get the early-registration rate and be entered for the chance to win an iPad.

For details and registration information, visit

We hope to see you there!

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015 Area Events No Comments

uweb Presentation – New Date

We now have a new time and date for the uweb presentation on server exploits.  For a brief reminder of topic highlights, see our previous post.

The presentation will now be Tuesday, December 9 at 3:00.  For those wishing to attend the live event, we will be in Room 2605 of the General Services Complex.  The presentation will also be broadcast over TTVN on Channel 6.  (Reminder again for Mac users to see TTVN’s instructions for getting connected at

Thursday, November 20th, 2014 Area Events No Comments

Notes from UWeb Accessibility Presentation

I apologize to those of you who tried to watch the UWeb and experienced sound difficulties. The session had some good content that I’m sure we all wanted to here, so I will provide a recap here. (Anyone who was there — if I missed anything, got something wrong, or if you just want to add your take on it, please add a comment to this post.)


Our presenters were Brittany Olsen and Kyle Boatsman from IT Risk Management. They work with web accessibility and brought us an update on tools available to university developers to get our web sites made accessible.

IT Accessibility Web Site

One of these tools is the IT Accessibility Web Site. The site has been completely rewritten and was just launched a few weeks ago. It is designed not only to have all of the information you need about accessibility, but also to be user friendly for those who might not have a whole lot of experience in the field.

One of the features of the site is content that is broken up by audience. There is separate content written specifically for developers, for designers, and for content contributors. While the content does cover the legal aspects of accessibility, the more useful parts are the tools and tips that are provided. These save local web developers lots of time from having to track down and learn all of that information on our own. It also provides links to outside resources where you can learn about accessibility in further detail.

Accessibility Classes and Consultations

Kyle and Brittany don’t just monitor web sites and hand out reports on our sites. They try to actively engage the university community and help us improve our pages. One of the ways they do this is through partnering with Employee Development to teach accessibility classes. Kyle has both an introductory and an advanced class that are (at least currently) free for any university employee. You can sign up at I can personally vouch for the usefulness and quality of these classes. I would highly recommend developers attend the advanced class, even if you have been doing accessibility for years. The introduction class is also great for designers, managers, and content contributors who need at least an understanding of the topic but not necessarily the details on how to implement it. If you have several people in your department that you would like to run through the course give them a call and they can set up a special section just for your group.

As well as the formal classroom training, Brittany and Kyle are also available for individual consultations. They can provide advice on your site, answer detailed questions, or whatever you need. Be aware that give their schedule this won’t be something they can do immediately when you call them, but they try to get to your issues as fast as they can (probably a couple of weeks timeframe, depending on time of year and what they have going on at the time.)

WorldspaceSynch and FireEyes

Many of you who have been here for a number of years may remember that the accessibility team had a tool that ran a scan of all Key Public Entry Point (KPEP) websites and had you log in to test your site and report problems being fixed. You might also remember how there were many false positives and other problems that made the software difficult to use. We have now upgraded to the new version of WorldspaceSynch, and many of these problems have been solved. The new scanner is starting to look at sites across campus, and KPEP owners will be notified soon to start setting up accounts and using the new system.


WordspaceSynch is the software that IT Risk Management is using as an enterprise level scanner. It gives them the ability to to a lot of the compliance legalisms that other tools don’t offer. This is not to say that you must use it as your only or main resource. Kyle mentioned the SiteImprove product that the university offers to departments and mentioned that its user interface is still nicer in many ways.

Once the program gets underway, the WorldSpaceSynch scan will be run weekly, so web owners should get regular reports on the accessibility health of their sites. It is not something that you can use as a real time development tool though. You can’t request a scan at any time, you have to wait for the weekly report. Another tool, like SiteImporove or FireEyes is probably better for development testing.

Accessibility Standards

The scanner will be set to run against the WCAG 2 guidelines at Level AA compliance. This is the accessibility threshold that is becoming accepted as “the standard” within the web development industry and by the US Department of Justice and Department of Education. Settlements from lawsuits against universities and corporate entities usually include requiring adherence to WCAG 2 Level AA, so it makes sense for us to set the bar there.

A question was raised about Section 508 and how we should address it. Section 508 was originally created as a requirement for agencies doing purchasing with federal dollars. WCAG 2 is a newer standard, created by people with an understanding of the web and accessibility needs. In many ways WCAG 2 Level AA includes what’s in Section 508, extends it, and makes it easier to understand. A refresh of Section 508 has bee proposed, and it would be heavily influenced by WCAG 2.

A followup question was asked about what Level A, AA, and AAA means. In a nutshell, WCAG 2 guidelines are broken down by three levels of conformance. Level A is the most basic requirement and AAA are the most strict. The WorldspaceSynch is not set up to monitor for Level AAA (but for you overachievers who want to go for it you can contact them and they can configure it for you.) For a more complete explanation of the compliance levels, you can start on the IT Accessibility web site and find many outside site dedicated to explaining it.


FireEyes is a companion software to WoldspaceSynch. Both are made by the same company. Instead of an enterprise scanner that can report on the while university, FireEyes is a browser plugin for Firefox that lets you scan one page at a time. In order to use FireEyes you enter your university NetID and connect to the server that powers WorldspaceSynch. This means, then, that you are getting the same results from FireEyes as you will get in the universal scan that Brittany and Kyle send you.

FireEyes integrates with the FireBug plugin that many of you probably already use. This means that you can use the in-browser code editing to test changes and make sure they are accessible rather than having to upload them to the server and re-load the page to test. This makes FireEyes a very good tool for real-time development.

A demo of FireEyes brought up a question about one of the WCAG guidelines…the text/background color contrast ratio. Kyle mentioned that this is probably the most common problem they are currently seeing…content text and background color that are not sufficiently different in color and shade. If you need to check colors, the IT Accessibility site should link you over to several tools that will let you determine if two colors are sufficiently different. Be particularly careful with shades of gray. Gray text on a gray background is common and commonly presents a problem.


Thank you all for your interest in web accessibility and your support for the UWeb team. Brittany and Kyle are both dedicated to improving the Texas A&M web, so please get in touch with them and take advantage of the resources that they make available.

We hope to do more UWeb meetings and create a closer-knit web community on campus. If you have any topics that you would like to hear (or even better talk about yourself!) please give us a call.

Thursday, June 12th, 2014 Area Events No Comments

UWeb Meeting Reminder

Our next UWEB meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, June 11, at 3pm. The meeting will be held in the Gilchrist (TTI) Building in research park, room 102. TTVN will be setup. The live webcast will be available through TTVN on Channel 6.

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014 Area Events No Comments

UWEB Meeting: Meet the web accessibility team and learn about web accessibility updates

The next university web group meeting (Wednesday, June 11, 3:00 pm) offers a friendly update on web accessibility, featuring Brittany Olsen and Kyle Boatsman from IT Risk Management. We will try to find a TTVN enabled room, but refreshments will be provided as an incentive for attending in person.

Brittany and Kyle will talk about who they are and what services and initiatives they offer, preview the newly launched IT Accessibility website, and give an update on campus web accessibility scans. They will help you prepare to run your website through the new version of WorldspaceSync, the university-wide accessibility checker, as well as the FireEyes plugin.

Please RSVP this week if you plan to attend. In the past, this topic has attracted large numbers of participants, so we want to find a room with the right size. Once we finalize a location we will let you know.


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Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014 Area Events No Comments

IT Forum Meeting

— I’m reposting this announcement for anyone how might have missed it. I highly encourage anyone in the IT community to show up for this one or catch the video stream.

IT Forum dedicated to Fiber incident and repair plans

The next IT Forum is December 14th at 3:00 p.m. in the Rudder 601. Dr. Pierce Cantrell, Dr. Walt Magnussen, Dr. Pete Marchbanks and Mr. Willis Marti will provide details of the incident and the upcoming repairs. The floor will then be opened for questions.

All campus members are invited to attend this special forum. Feel free to invite members of your department. A live broadcast will be available on on channel 20.

Friday, December 9th, 2011 Area Events No Comments

The return of bonfire (

Bonfire Remembrance and Memorial site goes live

Bonfire Remembrance and Memorial site goes live

Just a quick note to say that we just launched a new Bonfire Remembrance site at The site takes the old Bonfire site that was launched shortly after the collapse in 1999 to keep people updated and then left as a kind of online remembrance and merges it with the Bonfire Memorial site that we inherited. In both cases, time and broken links had caught up with both sites.

But with the 10th anniversary of the collapse and the 100th year of Bonfire, the activities and need for a better web presence was needed. But for this to happen as quickly as possible, we needed help. And we got some great help.

Big shout outs to David Swanson and the folks at the MSC who offered up the old URL, and Shawn and the DoIT folks who helped us get a site up in Drupal. The Bonfire Remembrance Committee provided me text for pages and Bryan and Trent in our Division knew where the right photos were.

Now that the site is live and in the DoIT system, it can be maintained much easier by folks on the Traditions Council, the MSC, the Bonfire Remembrance Committee (since most if not all of those groups have access to/already use DoIT’s Drupal instance).

Ultimately, this isn’t really about the site but the fact that so many people pitched in to help. These are the kinds of projects I always enjoy , and again my thanks to everyone who offered time, support, insight and assistance.

Monday, November 2nd, 2009 Area Events, Miscellaneous No Comments

IT Forum

Don’t forget the IT Forum this week

601 Rudder Tower
Wednesday, July 29, 2009 • 3:00 – 5:00

St. Edwards University the preferred information technology training vendor
will be discussed.

Allison Oslund will discuss registration in the new Code Maroon system.

Willis Marti will discuss the availability of the Identity Finder Console.

Rob Brenner and Justin Hao will describe the status of TAMULink and
deployment of 802.11n.

Jamie Horgan, Principal Consultant for NeuDesic, will present on the value
of using SOA as a small scale solution. This presentation will describe
lessons learned by Mr. Horgan in his fifteen years of experience leading and
developing custom enterprise solutions.

Monday, July 27th, 2009 Area Events No Comments

Events this week

Don’t forget, there is a meeting of the IT Forum today at 3:00 in 601 Rudder. Topics will be: SIMS Access Time Line;  SSN Scanning Update; LDAP and Shibboleth Update; Understanding Security Threats

On Friday UWeb is getting together at 11:00 in 101A of the GSC.  We will be talking about social media, both in general and in how it is being implemented here on campus.

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009 Area Events No Comments