Street Team: Tablet or iPad – Worth the Expense?

With ads and news about the release of the latest tablet constantly bombarding the consumer market, you may be wondering if a small piece of technology is really all it is hyped up to be.

This past summer, I purchased an iPad 4 so I had a portable system for studying in China. 218415_10151521358298302_363919494_o

While abroad, it replaced my usual computer and was perfect for travel. I hadn’t thought about tablets too much before then though. My brother had gotten one as a gift and raved about it, but I did not really understand the allure until I got one myself. It was a blessing in disguise while abroad, as I could carry it around wherever I went. However, I did not realize just how much it would affect my study experience here back at Saint Joe’s. As the semester progressed, I began to compile a list in my head of good and bad things about having a tablet, which I’d like to share.


Lightweight, small, and portable

    I never carried around my laptop for classes because it was cumbersome and took up a lot of space in my bag. My iPad on the other hand conveniently fits into any school bag so I bring it to class almost every day.

Apple product compatibility

    I know many people believe this to be just a stupid gimmick to buy Apple products, but it really does come in handy. My iPad automatically syncs to my other Apple products and backs up to my iCloud.


    There are some really cool apps you can download that make your life ten times easier. Some examples are notetaking apps, comprehensive calendar apps, news apps, and social networking apps. I previously wrote an article on some cool apps which you can check out here (


    I love watching Netflix on my iPad in bed. It is probably one of my favorite ways to take a study break. The tablet is great because I can hold it any which way and it’s not as heavy or cumbersome to have in bed as a laptop. There are also some really fun gaming apps to pass the time. I generally check out what’s popular in the app store and download hours of fun.


    One of the biggest draws for people who purchase tablets is EBooks. I downloaded an app (OverDrive Media Console – Library eBooks and Audiobooks) that gives me access to my local library and its large digital collection of books.


I love being able to read at night, especially because I do not have a bedside lamp at school. I can freely download and read books for fun or I can also catch up on that last minute bit of reading for tomorrow’s class. Many users claim that they don’t like not being able to feel and physically turn the pages of a book. But for me, the iPad is often lighter than some of the books I read, I don’t fiddle with a physical bookmark, it’s easier to read at night in bed.



    This is probably the best part about having a tablet and one of the main reasons why I bought mine in the first place. I was required to bring a 500 page textbook to China. When I found out my weight limit for luggage was 45lbs, I looked into alternative ways to bring such a large textbook. I didn’t think I would use my iPad for textbooks other than that; I liked physically highlighting my texts and writing notes in the margins. The iPad allows you to do all this and more. You can highlight and make notations in any books and then search for them later. The ability to scroll through everything you’ve marked is wonderful for papers and studying for tests. You also can search for key terms. I especially like this feature because I tend to get books that are different from my professors. So if they are lecturing in class and start quoting a passage, I can immediately look it up and find it within seconds. I downloaded the Kindle app and got the majority of my textbooks for less than half the price of what they would’ve been at the bookstore. Some of my smaller books were even free! I love the fact that I have access to almost all of my books in one place and I can carry them all to class without having a 50+lb bag. It very convenient to have all my books with me at all times especially if I have a few minutes to read in the library, say if a class got cancelled or I have a meeting.


Silverlight/QuickTime software compatibility

    One thing I’ve noticed is that my iPad is not compatible with QuickTime or Silverlight, so I can’t watch things online like Hawkvision. You often have to download the apps for things like Hulu and Xfinity, and they don’t always offer the same content as on their website.

Netflix Facebook US Integration Screenshot


I did not purchase the Office suite for the iPad because it was a few hundred dollars and it got poor reviews. There are similar apps available such as Pages, but they’re also expensive and it is hard to share papers and projects with non-iPad users. I generally end up converting something or sending it to myself to fix later.


    One of the little things that always seems to get me is typing. I found it hard to type on such a small screen at first and I’ve always liked having something physical to push on a keyboard. I constantly make typos which then autocorrects the word to something entirely different. It has definitely been an adjustment.  One upside to a touch screen keyboard is that you can undock and split it so you can type using your thumbs as you would with your phone.


    This is probably the bit that annoys me the most. I did not purchase a data plan with my iPad. So while I can have access to wireless almost everywhere I go, when it gets spotty half my apps don’t work. I went on a road trip and brought my iPad in the car with me. I didn’t realize that almost all games require the wireless to play. Also, if I’m in a spot where there is wireless access, but not a very good signal, apps won’t work. For example, the Google Drive app often won’t allow me to make changes on my documents if the wireless signal isn’t strong enough.


Our GA Claire also uses an iPad for her classes- “I use an app called Note taker HD (, it has a wrist guard for taking notes which is super helpful because I’m left handed. I like using it to draw on the slides the teachers post.  You definitely have to invest in good stylus for note-taking, I use one from Belkin. The bad ones don’t write as well so they’re much harder to take notes with. But even with a good stylus you have to practice to be able to write good notes. One bad thing about taking notes on an iPad is that some teachers don’t like you to have technology out while their teaching. They just haven’t fully accepted it. Also, not all apps are integrated, so file sharing with group mates is sometimes difficult. You end up having to convert a lot of files. The iPad is a lot less to carry and I like it for textbooks because I can easily search for a word. It has been much more convenient to find all the textual resources especially at end of semester for papers. I don’t really like using it for EBooks as much, but it’s nice that I can read in bed at night without a light.”


“If you’re willing to spend the money, it’s amazing”  and I totally agree. Despite the few flaws a tablet might have, it is the best purchase I’ve made in a while.

You may be looking for a gift for the upcoming holiday season, or simply interested for the latest innovation. Either way, tablets are increasing in popularity. If you are interested in starting a search for a new tablet, I would suggest checking out and other reviews carefully before making your decision.

Street Team: Academic Dashboard

Academic Dashboard – Andrew Wyschnskyj

             I recently contacted Gerry Donahue, Assistant Director of Business Intelligence and Analytics in the Office of Information Technology, about the Academic Dashboard.  The Academic Dashboard is a newly released tool, created by IT.   Gerry me some insight about how the Dashboard is used and what the purpose of the Dashboard is.  IT designed the Dashboard, with input from Faculty and College Deans, with the hopes of improving the campus environment.  The overall goal of having the Academic Dashboard is to make SJU a better place for all students and faculty in general.


The purpose of this article is to explain to my fellow students how the Dashboard can improve the lives of SJU students, so I had to find out how it works. The Dashboard takes different information and data from SJU’s administrative database and uses multiple tools that allow for easy access to the information. The Dashboard conveniently makes that information available for the faculty administrators and deans.  Those individuals will use the data from the Dashboard in the course of their decision making.  IT wanted to keep the tool as simple as possible so everyone can understand how the system works without needing advanced computer skills.

Some pieces of information that will be available are different class sizes, and how many sections there are for each course being offered. Different courses would benefit by having a smaller student to teacher ratio.  The Dashboard helps to determine that.  By having an appropriate number of students in each course, the students can have a closer relationship to the teachers and improve learning conditions. The teachers would have an easier time keeping track of all their students. Since the Academic Dashboard can show how many students are enrolled in each course, they may notice that the class sizes are getting bigger than what the University wants.  Because the appropriate people have access to this information through the Academic Dashboard, they will be able to make an informed decision to increase the number of sections available for students to take. This will not only benefit the students and professors, but the University as a whole by maintaining a distinguished standard of classroom environments.  Similar situations can be improved due to the availability of information in the Academic Dashboard. There may be certain courses that have too many classes available during certain semesters. This can lead to classes not being filled because the students enrolled in the class are distributed relatively evenly leaving openings in different classes. Now that this information is easily accessible they can make decisions to reduce the amount of sections for this particular course.


The Academic Dashboard is a great asset to the SJU community. There are many advantages to having the Academic Dashboard on our campus. Maintaining the Dashboard, and updating the system whenever necessary will help improve the experience the students have during their time at Saint Joseph’s University. It will also help make the faculty and staff’s lives easier by preventing a surplus or deficiency of students in each class. Overall it will help improve everyone who is involved with this campus, and we should be very thankful to have the Academic Dashboard at our disposal.

If you have any questions about the purpose and function of Academic Dashboard, please contact the TSC!

Street Team: Motorola’s Project Ara

In case you missed the technology news this past week, Motorola teamed up with Dutch designer Dave Hakkens to create a new kind of phone. The following video came out earlier this summer, and it caused quite a commotion among technology lovers and phone manufacturers alike.


The concept “Lego” phone was just a figment of imagination for many, a Utopian phone that would never be mass-produced. That changed when Motorola, a Google-owned company, picked up the Phonebloks design for Project Ara.

“We want to do for hardware what the Android platform has done for software – create a vibrant, third-party developer ecosystem,” the firm posted in a blog.

“To give you the power to decide what your phone does, how it looks, where and what it’s made of, how much it costs and how long you’ll keep it.”Through Project Ara, users will be able to customize a phone based on their wants and needs. Unlike phones on the market today, if you break your screen, wear out your battery or just decide you want an upgrade, you can keep your existing phone and update it with a new part.

There has still been a lot of negative feedback about the phone’s practicality and durability. (you can take a look at one of the main reddit thread about Phonebloks here: Some of the most common complaints have been that the phone will not have all of the features of a regular smartphone because there will be limited space for the blocks. For a regular smartphone, designers cram in all of the pieces and find the best way they fit together. Without this process, consumers would have to solve the jigsaw of compiling their technological needs onto a small space, not an easy feat! Users may have to sacrifice things in order to have the things they want. So while it may be practical to ditch your storage for more battery if you only use the cloud, you could not get more storage and more battery at the same time without sacrificing something else. The end-result may turn out to be a bulky, unstable, and unattractive.

Nevertheless, Motorola is launching a pilot-phone to gain feedback and create a Project Ara community. It will certainly be interesting to see just how the Google company executes this project. Experts predict they will be launching a developers kit sometime this winter, so be sure to keep an eye out for this environmentally conscious phone in the future!

Street Team: Emergency Notification System (ENS)

The winds started picking up and everyone knew it was coming. Superstorm Sandy, one of the costliest storms to ever hit the United States, was scheduled to hit Philadelphia on October 29th. Pennsylvania was in a state of emergency and Philadelphia had shut down its public transportation system.  Everyone on SJU’s campus was preparing for the storm but as Sandy hit, members of campus began to realize that our methods for communicating emergencies were lacking. The existing system served its purpose, but it could be better and reach more people.  At the time, the Emergency Notification System (ENS) was used to communicate via text and email.  In the case of an emergency, we wanted to be able to reach as many people as possible, as efficiently as possible.

The Office of Information Technology (OIT), including User Services, Media Services, Web Services, Project Management, and Telecommunications, created an updated version of ENS to better notify students, faculty, and staff in the event of an emergency. The yearlong project has been a collaboration among a number of departments on campus.  OIT’s charge was to hear from various SJU constituents what they’d like to see in the ENS and build the technology.

The first phase of the new ENS project was modifying the system so emergency communication was extended to encompass text messages, email, RSS feed (on MySJU,’s campus status page, notification bar and the campus TV system), as well as the University’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.  Because we are aware that most people are plugged into some form of technology most of the time, we wanted to reach SJU employees and students through their mobile devices. The pictures below show what you would see displayed on and the university’s status page in the event of an emergency:



Procedures were also simplified and clarified during this update to the ENS.  A select group of people are designated to determine the message and communication channels if and when there is an emergency on campus. These administrators then fill out a form to identify the emergency and check off what form of communication to use. This form is then sent to an alias in The Office of Public Safety and Security.  Public Safety will then sends out the outage or emergency notification to communicate the issue with the rest of campus. There are monthly tests of the system in order to test its effectiveness and key employees are routinely trained. Just last week, the emergency notification system was utilized to inform students of the Philadelphia water main break. In the future, there may be more updates to the system, but for now, it covers everything imaginable.

So, while the few emails and texts you get may be annoying at the time, you can be assured of your safety knowing our campus will be ready in case of an emergency.


OS X Mavericks Upgrade Policy

*This message is intended for employees and faculty members who have a Mac issued to them by Saint Joseph’s University.  If you have a computer running Windows, this email will not apply to you.*


On Tuesday, Apple released the new version of their operating system, OS X Mavericks.  What’s different about this release is that they’ve now offered Mavericks as a free upgrade within the App Store on all Macs running their previous OS, Mountain Lion.  As in the past, users are reminded that they should not perform an upgrade on their Mac such as this.  Operating system upgrades have many unforeseen issues, which result in hardware and software incompatibilities, application and data loss, and significant disruption to the configurations and customizations implemented by the Office of Information Technology.  An upgraded Mac may have to be wiped and redelivered with a supported version of the Mac OS X when incompatibilities arise.


If you have already performed the upgrade, you should contact your I.T. Liaison, or our Technology Service Center, so they can determine the next steps that should be taken.  Attached below is a picture of what the upgrade option will look like within your App Store updates.  If you are presented with this as an available update, please ignore it.  Any other updates that are available can be installed yourself or by contacting the Technology Service Center.  IT will continue to test new operating systems and work with the different departmental liaisons so that we can properly support the community and provide the best computing environment possible.



If you have any questions, please contact the TSC!




Windows Service Center Scam

Fresh off the heels of last week’s Crypto Locker issue comes a new threat to Cyber Security : the MS Windows Service Center Scam.

More involved than just an e-mail hoax, this scam involves users receiving a phone call from someone claiming to be a customer service representative. “The main pitch is that there have been complaints from the user’s internet service provider stating the existence of a severe problem with the computer with respect to viruses. The how’s and why’s of the contact between the service provider and the service center is usually left to the victim’s imagination, which in most cases gets slowed down upon hearing the two terms “Microsoft” and “virus”.” (Internetcleaner, 2013) During the course of the phone call, the unsuspecting user will be referred to a website where they can download a program which they are told will remove the virus from their computer.  What actually happens, however, is that “. . .a malware gets installed on to the victim’s machine, which apart from showing that there are a huge number of viruses on the machine, also makes sure to collect all of the user’s personal data from the computer. The malware is also quite apt at concealing its true purpose as it is supposed to cling on to the machine and record all of the victim’s future online correspondences and data entries.

Apart from that what’s stated above, the other side of the card is not uncommonly, money. If someone provides a service, they are sure to charge for it as well. The repair fee is definitely quite exorbitant considering the irony of the word “repair” and to add to the woes of the victims. . .” (Internetcleaner, 2013)

Another particularly malicious aspect of this scam is that the so-called customer service representative will offer to take control of the user’s computer remotely.  If the user allows this, the individual on the other end of the line can access the user’s private information while installing malware designed to capture passwords, banking account numbers, e-mail account details, and other useful information.

Remember, companies like Microsoft do not contact their users to inform them that they may have a virus on their computer.  They also do not solicit banking or credit card information for the purposes of charging a fee for the removal of viruses.If you receive a call like this, it’s best to hang up and scan your computer for viruses.  If you find that your machine has been compromised, please contact the Technology Service Center immediately at  X2920 for assistance.


Internetcleaner. (2013, June 3). Clean Internet Charity The Official Blog of the Clean Internet Charity Foundation. Retrieved from Clean Internet Charity:

Cyber Security Presentations

Just a reminder that IT Training will present “Cybersecurity: Protecting your Data, Protecting Yourself” in the Mandeville Teletorium on the following dates and times.


Tuesday October 22nd: 11:15 – 12:00

Wednesday October 30th: 5:00 – 5:45


If you have any questions, please contact the SJU Technology Service Center at or Ben Jezierski, IT Training Coordinator at  Additional information on this topic can be found on our Facebook page

Spotlight: Media Services

The Office of Information Technology (OIT) has a great deal to offer the Saint Joseph’s University campus, but there are some departments within IT that many people may not have heard of and therefore cannot take advantage of.  OIT is comprised of User Services, Application Services, Computer Services, Network Services, System Administration, Telecommunications, Web Services, Office of the CIO, and Media Services.  Over the next few months, we will be highlighting the individual areas and the work they do for campus.

Media Services (previously ITDL) is generally known campus wide as the classroom support specialists, but the department offers much more than that.  Media Services is divided into three teams: Classroom Support, Engineering, and the Production Team.

The Engineering Team focuses on upgrading technology in classrooms. The team has been working hard to create and uphold a general standard for all classrooms. Besides the normal in-class computers and projectors, they install special equipment upon request. Their goal is to create a campus where the learning spaces meet the needs of faculty and advance student learning. Their most technologically advanced classroom is Merion 174. It is a new collaborative technology classroom designed to support the expansion of the Communication Studies program. Some other technologically advanced classrooms include Mandeville 295, 310, and 313. Cool equipment they have installed includes a wireless desktop sharing system where students can project their desktop image to the class, and an interactive display that acts like a virtual whiteboard where teachers can annotate notes and save them.



Classroom Support is available to help maintain the classroom equipment. Media service has offices located on both in Merion and in Barbelin to reduce wait time if a problem arises on either side of campus. The team also performs routine checks on all the equipment to eliminate problems before they start. They have a monitoring system set up so they can remotely troubleshoot issues and pinpoint troublesome equipment.



The Production Team is where creativity meets technology. For students, the production team loans out equipment, such as projectors, cameras, tripods etc. They also provide troubleshooting for cameras and major-specific equipment for communications and film students. Faculty can make requests for recording, setting up and recording a class, editing, authoring and copying DVDs, or setting up live stream events for guest lecturers. The production team works with faculty and staff to create concepts for projects and can arrange outsourced services such as voice overs or sound mixing.

The production team is currently involved in some really interesting projects. They are currently compiling a documentary of the history of SJU by interviewing around fifteen people who have been on campus over various decades. The video will highlight how the campus and culture has change, especially since changing from an all-boys school. They are also working on creating a video about the Bolivia exchange trip available to faculty and staff every other year. The exchange includes an immersion trip for SJU faculty and staff to learn about the culture and lifestyle of the local people, and a trip to SJU for Bolivian educators on the off years. You can view some of the production team’s other projects on the SJU YouTube page, and occasionally in the news section of the SJU website. Past projects include the virtual tour on the SJU webpage, a video on summer scholars found at and our own TSC video. The video they made for the TSC recently won the Communications Award of Excellence in the category of Short Promotional Video/Audio from SIGUCCS (Special Interest Group on University and College Computing Service) and can be found at

Follow these links to check out some more of the production team’s videos:


The staff that make up the Media Services department are:

Jim Wilson: Director & Chief Engineer

Mark Beideman: Manager, Classroom Services (SJU alumnus)

Ben Ellis: Manager, Media & Event Services (SJU alumnus)

Ed Basile: Tech Operations Specialist

Justin Fowler: Engineer

Mike Gallagher: Video Production Director (SJU alumnus)

Angela Gisondi: Senior Tech Ops Specialist (SJU alumna)

Gary Greco: Senior Tech Ops Specialist

Dan Moretz: Video Production Technician

Michael Troy: Tech Ops Specialist

Kyle Tucker: Assistant Engineer

Jason Ward: Tech Operations Specialist


To contact Media Services:


Call Main Campus x1170 or Merion Campus x3360

For high-end production projects contact Ben Ellis at

*The production team is happy to partner with other departments to improve their image!


Crypto Locker Holds SJU Files Hostage

As was mentioned in a recent IT Alert, numerous campus computers were infected with a very serious, destructive piece of malware called “Crypto Locker”.

Wikipedia defines malware as “software used to disrupt computer operation, gather sensitive information, or gain access to private computer systems.[1] It can appear in the form of code, scripts, active content, and other software.[2] ‘Malware’ is a general term used to refer to a variety of forms of hostile or intrusive software.[3]

Malware includes computer viruses, ransomware, worms, trojan horses, rootkits, keyloggers, dialers, spyware, adware, malicious BHOs, rogue security software and other malicious programs; the majority of active malware threats are usually worms or trojans rather than viruses.[4] In law, malware is sometimes known as a computer contaminant, as in the legal codes of several U.S. states.[5][6] Malware is different from defective software, which is a legitimate software but contains harmful bugs that were not corrected before release. However, some malware is disguised as genuine software, and may come from an official company website in the form of a useful or attractive program which has the harmful malware embedded in it along with additional tracking software that gathers marketing statistics.”

What does it do?

Crypto Locker is a very specific type of malware known as RansomWare that does exactly what the name implies, it holds you ransom. Computers infected will immediately begin encrypting files on local disk drives as well as network drives, such as your J: and S: drives, with a private key that is only known by the malware. When any such file is accessed, a popup window is displayed (as shown) informing you that it was encrypted and that the only way to get them unencrypted is to pay the perpetrators $300.

What should you do if you find that you are infected?

If you receive the message above, you should immediately turn the computer off. Then, if you have a laptop, bring it to the Technology Service Center (TSC) in SC 129. If you have a desktop, contact the TSC at 610-660-2920 to arrange a pickup. IT specialists need to run various software utilities to remove the malware completely from the computer. Note: IT will have to hold your computer for several hours, if not days, due to the complexity of removing Crypto Locker as well as the volume of systems that are infected at this time. Plus, due to the limited supply of loaner systems, we cannot guarantee that one will be available to everyone who requests a loaner.

What is OIT currently doing about it?

At this time, OIT staff members are doing many things to limit the effects of the malware, fix the systems that are infected, and prevent any further spreading. This includes:

  • Cleaning all infected systems on a one-by-one basis as they are identified.
  • Disabling access to network shared drives, typically mounted as the S: drive, in order to prevent further damage to files residing on those drives.
  • Implementing stronger measures on the SPAM-filtering software to reduce the number of malicious ZIP files delivered to individual mailboxes. We are currently blocking over 98% of them.
  • Working with our Anti-Virus software vendor, Symantec, to determine a better means of cleaning up infected systems and preventing further infections.
  • Scanning the network for additional systems that may be infected.
  • Implementing additional Windows security policies to help prevent it from spreading further. Note: We recommend that all Windows users restart their computer as soon as possible to ensure that these new policies take full effect.

What are the plans for moving forward?

Once we are reasonably sure that the infection has been fully contained and no further spread is possible, we will start addressing means of restoring access to share drives and fix the files that have been affected. At this time, there is no known method of unencrypting files. The only method of restoring access to these files is to restore them from a backup. Unfortunately, if the backup is also compromised or the file is too new to be part of a backup, there is no way for it to be restored.

How did the computers get infected?

We believe that the primary way computers on campus got infected with Crypto Locker is by people opening an attached ZIP file within a fraudulent e-mail message. Over the past few days, several such messages have been sent to numerous SJU faculty and staff and we have linked the infections with a number of these messages. Below is one such example of a fraudulent message that has been linked to this malware outbreak.

It has been reported that other methods of infection include clicking on malicious links on websites and in social media tools, but we have not verified that at this time.

What can you do to avoid being infected?

First, you should NEVER, EVER open an attachment sent from someone you do not know, even if it appears to be someone from SJU. In the example above, the message appears to be coming from someone named “Deon Tillman” with e-mail address “”. But if you were to look this person up in a University Directory (which is available at, you would find that this person does not actually exist, at least at St. Joe’s. We highly recommend that everyone do this for any such messages.

Second, look at who the message is sent to in the To: field. Looking at the same example above, it shows as being sent to someone else. This is usually a tell-tale sign of a fraudulent message. If you receive a message that is not addressed to you or a well-known distribution list (such as a departmental list like you should NOT open it.

Are we the only ones being affected?

No, this seems to be a well-established scam that has hit many other universities, corporations, and government agencies. The perpetrators are doing so well that they’ve upped their ransom from $100 to $300 since they first started and are rumored to be generating over $300,000 a month from the scam. Below are some news stories and web posts that we’ve found about Crypto Locker and various incidents of it:

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Technology Service Center at or x2920.