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Tech Briefings - Fall 2011

Timely Info for Power Users and Stanford's Technology Community


Held every Friday, Tech Briefings are informal, interactive seminars on computer-related topics of interest to the Stanford community. 

No registration is required. This is your opportunity to get technology updates from and ask questions of subject-matter experts.

Sessions are led by knowledgeable University IT staff or other IT professionals, and run from 2:00 to 3:30 P.M.

All Tech Briefing sessions are held in Turing Auditorium (Polya Hall, Room 111).

Have an idea for a Tech Briefing? Click here to let us know

Questions? Comments? 
Contact the Tech Briefing coordinator at

Fall 2011 Tech Briefings

Google Analytics: Search, Social, and Conversion Optimization
UNIX at Stanford
Multitasking: How it is changing the way children and adults think and feel 
Sept 30 No Tech Briefing scheduled
Oct 7 Mobile Device Management - Update
Oct 14 SCRIBE: A Document Conversion Platform for Stanford University
Oct 21 Securing the Road Warrior
Oct 28 Fear, Dread, and Blood-curdling Terror: How to worry about security as much as you want to (or not) 
Nov 4 FileMaker 11 and FileMaker Go for iOS
Nov 11 Accessibility and HTML5 - Where are we today? 
Nov 18 Drupal Modules: The What, When, Where, Why, and especially How
Dec 2 Open Source Lab - Open Source Software at Stanford 
Dec 9 VMWare Overview
Date Topic Presenter(s)
Sept 9

Google Analytics: Search, Social, and Conversion Optimization

This talk will discuss hidden gems of analytical techniques for optimizing your search, social, and online campaigns with a goal toward maximizing some objective function: such as engagement, conversion, or other goals.  Learn from Google Analytics, and other popular and free tools such as Insights for Search, Keyword Tools, etc.

Phil Mui, Ph.D, Group Product Manager for Google Analytics.

Sept 16

UNIX at Stanford

UNIX is the command line operating system that governs the main Stanford file system infrastructure, including all of the content found on the main Stanford web pages. Understanding how UNIX works makes it easier to manage, create content, and manipulate files on the Stanford servers.

In this session, learn basic UNIX commands, file structure and management, as well as some of the most useful and popular tools like:

- File structure/management (mkdir, cd, rm, mv)
- Editors (EMACS and Pico)
- Setting your .login and .project files
- Creating aliases
- Email (Pine, elm, mail, mh)
- Newsreaders (slrn)
- Finding people (finger)
- Finding machines (ping, traceroute)
- Granting access (pts)

Come with questions, and we'll do our best to answer them!

Mark Branom, University IT
Adam Seishas, University IT

Sept 23

Multitasking: How it is changing the way children and adults think and feel  

For those who missed Prof. Cliff Nass' presentation at last spring's IT Open House, we'll show the video of his talk on his team's highly cited research on electronic multi-tasking.  After the video, Dr. Danielle Lottridge, Prof. Nass' Post Doctoral Assistant on the project, will fill us in on the research completed since the spring and answer questions about the video and about current and future research efforts.

- Cliff Nass - Professor, Communication, Stanford University (via video)

- Danielle Lottridge, PhD -  Post Doc, Communication, Stanford University

Sept 30 No Tech Briefing scheduled  
Oct 7 Mobile Device Management - Available now for iOS devices

Mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad have become ubiquitous on campus. Mobile devices are expected to outsell traditional personal computers this year. Unfortunately, many users are unaware of their inherent security risks. Security features common on desktop and laptop computers are inconsistently applied across mobile device platforms. On a laptop, we have come to rely on anti-virus software safeguarding our system, but few mobile devices have such software. While most personal computers on campus are password-protected, few of us configure our mobile phones with a password or PIN to protect it against unauthorized use. And, since mobile devices are easily (and frequently) misplaced, the potential for unauthorized access increases.

This briefing will cover the policy changes regarding mobile devices and the basics of what you can do to protect your device today. We'll also offer a look at the new Stanford Mobile Device Management tool, available nowl. The MDM tool allows you to quickly and easily implement the basic security recommendations.  

Ammy Hill, University IT
Oct 14

SCRIBE: A Document Conversion Platform for Stanford University

 Stanford University now has an online document conversion system transforming files into alternate (and accessible!) formats.

Developed by the Office of Accessible Education, the SCRIBE platform converts text and image-based files, such as PDF, JPEG, TIFF, MS Word, and HTML into text-based formats for use in word processing applications, web browsers, or in apps for mobile devices. SCRIBE also supports the conversion to popular mobile device formats, including ePub, Kindle (mobi), DAISY, and MP3 using high-quality voices.

The service is free to the Stanford community and we need your feedback to plan our future development!

Sean Keegan
Associate Director, Assistive Technology, Office of Accessible Education
Oct 21

Securing the Road Warrior


In an increasingly mobile society where staying connected is key, how can we ensure that our personal and corporate data are protected?

Mark will offer practical advice gleaned from his experience in traveling worldwide as an information security consultant, and seasoned with topics from today's news. 

Topics include:
- mobile devices
- motel and airport business centers
- interacting with the TSA and Customs
- the role of passwords, encryption, and VPNs
- some threats are not electronic…
- what to do when the inevitable happens

Mark Mellis, Information Security Office Operations
Oct 28

Fear, Dread, and Blood-curdling Terror: How to worry about security as much as you want to (or not)

You can fill your whole day reading news about the latest information  security problems, if that's the way you want to spend your time.  In this presentation, David Hoffman of the Information Security Office will talk about some recent highly publicized security topics, how much of a threat they really are, and how you can nevertheless lead a happy life.

 David Hoffman, Information Systems Specialist, Information Security Office
Nov 4

FileMaker 11 and FileMaker Go for iOS

FileMaker 11 has some great new features including built-in charting, and the folks from FileMaker will be giving some examples of solutions using these new features.

They'll also be showing FileMaker Go for iOS. FileMaker Go allows you to take your FileMaker files with you on the iPhone and iPad. You can also connect to FileMaker files being hosted with FileMaker Server. Phil and Alexei will discuss the opportunities with this powerful iOS application.

Phil Smith and Senior Systems Engineer, Alexei Folger from FileMaker
Nov 11

Accessibility and HTML5 - Where are we today?

One of the stated goals of HTML5 is to make it easier for authors to create accessible web content with a minimum of trouble. By employing Universal Design concepts, the next generation of web technologies and content will be more accessible to end users, yet easier to author and implement. But are we there yet?
HTML5 introduces a number of new elements & attributes, form controls and other new features that will be of benefit to all users, including those with various disabilities. Yet there remains much controversy and discord over aspects of HTML5 and accessibility, leaving many content authors confused, frustrated and unsure exactly what they should be doing to ensure accessible content.
We’ll review the goals, the tools, the support (or lack of) and practical solutions that you should be using today, and what we can expect as we continue to move forward.

John Foliot,
Stanford Online Accessibility Program

Nov 18

Drupal Modules: The What, When, Where, Why, and especially How
Note: The previously scheduled session, Mobile Data Visualization at Stanford using Roambi, will be rescheduled

This is a practical session covering module basics. Learn what modules are, when to use contributed modules, where to find them, why choose one over another, and —step-by-step— how to install modules in both Drupal 6 and 7. Examples will showcase some of the top contributed modules and how they can improve your site.

Questions answered by this session:
- What are modules?
- When should I use contributed modules?
- Where can I find contributed modules?
- Why should I choose one module over another?
- How do I install modules (step-by-step)?  

Sharon Krossa

Dec 2

Open Source Lab - Open Source Software at Stanford 

Join Mark and Irina as they demonstrate the multitude of Open Source tools available to the Stanford community. Learn about how you can save your department money by using these mostly free tools instead of expensive commercial alternatives. 

Mark Branom, University IT

Irina Zaks, Law School Library
Dec 9

VMWare Overview

Virtualization is the creation of a virtual version of things like hardware platforms, operating systems, or other types of devices.

In the past 10 years, virtualization has become a COOL and IMPORTANT way to reduce your carbon footprint.  VMWare is the company that introduced all this cool technology to the world.

Join us to discuss the benefits of cloud computing through virtualization both on the server and desktop side. We hope you leave this session with some idea of how you could apply this type of technology in your workplace.

Kevin Carlson, VMware

Previous Quarters of Tech Briefings

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Tips for Presenters

So, you're going to give a presentation at an upcoming Tech Briefing. Find out what services we provide and what's expected of you. Refer to this PowerPoint document Tips for Presenters for guidelines on preparing for your presentation. You will find templates, as well as other useful information regarding timelines, marketing, and resources.

Last modified May 15, 2012