QuickLauncher – New Feature for ReadyTalk

ReadyTalk

ReadyTalk, one of UCI’s conference calling solutions, has a new feature.  QuickLauncher is ReadyTalk software you can install on your Windows or Macintosh computer to facilitate the creation and management of  telephone and/or web-based conference calls.

The QuickLauncher resides in your taskbar and allows you to:

  •    Start and Join ReadyTalk Web Meetings with a single click.
  •    Start an Audio Meeting by having the audio bridge dial you into your meeting.
  •    Launch ReadyTalk’s full service Conference Center to manage your scheduled meetings.
  •    Invite others to your Web and Audio Meetings

As a reminder, UCI’s phone system has a built-in conference calling feature which can be used at no cost if all participants are using the UCI phone system.  (Toll charges may apply for calls to off-campus participants.)

OIT has published general information on ReadyTalk conferencing online.  ReadyTalk’s Getting Started page includes reference cards, training videos, and links for downloading QuickLauncher.

New Voicemail System Rolls Out

Voice Mail

Voice Mail

Early this year, following much planning and several announcements, UCI faculty and staff were migrated to the new OIT Voice Mail service, replacing the previous service known as “Infomail.”

Three years ago, NACS (now part of OIT) began an intensive process of exploring alternatives, as Infomail was no longer supported by its vendor, and spare parts to keep the system running were already scarce.  At the same time, voice mail technology was evolving, and NACS wanted to keep open the possibility of providing new functionality made available through modern technology.  Other criteria included the ability to emulate Infomail to minimize the impact on users, and security features to counter the rise in phone-mediated identity theft and other forms of fraud.

Once the Voice Mail system was selected as the best match to our diverse needs, NACS began a long process of working with the vendor to develop and test special purpose software so that the Voice Mail system could emulate Infomail. This project was quite successful, and only a few differences between Infomail and Voice Mail remain.

OIT plans to enrich the Voice Mail service over time with new features.  Already users are able to do some things not possible with Infomail, such as using a simple menu to configure your Voice Mail greeting to indicate why you are not in the office (e.g. vacation) and when you expect to return, rather than dictating a custom message for each absence.

More information on the new Voice Mail service is on line: a FAQ, and PDF documents offering a basic Users Guide, a navigation map, and a hierarchical description of Voice Mail features.

OIT Desktop Support

“Desktop Support” refers to the maintenance of desktop computers, laptop computers, smart-phones, and peripherals as well as assistance to the faculty, staff and students who utilize them.  Desktop support keeps operating system and application software current, keeps systems secure through patches and anti-virus software, and resolves problems that occur.  Desktop support is among the first IT activities to be consolidated.

Jeremy Paje, manager of OIT Desktop Support, began his IT career as a student at UCI in the late 90s.  After a few years helping develop a national help desk system for an outside company, he returned to UCI to work in desktop support for Administrative Computing Services (AdCom).  In 2008, Jeremy was promoted to AdCom’s manager of desktop support, where he supported 600 clients and 700 desktops with a team of four staff.

Jeremy supervised the roll-out of the Thunderbird email solution featured in the previous issue of this newsletter.

This year he was given responsibility for desktop support in the new central organization, OIT.  He wants his team to continue to be seen as “the friendly IT people” as their client base grows.  The consolidated unit will benefit from many of the tools and automated systems developed by AdCom’s desktop support group.

Jeremy’s team has long experience creating a quality desktop experience for staff.  A key tool, LanDesk, allows his team members to distribute software updates (“patches”) and other software over the network, and enables remote access for investigating and resolving system problems.  Through LanDesk, Desktop Support can also grant staff the ability to install custom software without administrative privileges.

OIT Desktop Support also manages a Sophos Enterprise Console system for distribution and update of antivirus software.

A new technology that OIT Desktop Support is promoting is virtual desktops.  This allows staff to use modest hardware on the desktop, and connect to a server for the operating system and computational power.  Advantages include access to one’s personal desktop environment from any console, centralized backups of business data, simple restoration of a non-operational program from a known image, and quick replacement of broken hardware because the data is safe on the server.

OIT Desktop support secures discounted software for staff through the Microsoft Consolidated Campus Agreement (MCCA), and develops hardware and software standards which promotes simpler troubleshooting and more consistent support.

Jeremy believes that standardization is an essential element to effective and economical desktop support.  Through standardization, Desktop Support can deliver lower-cost service, quicker turn-around time, more security, and more predictable outcomes.  At the same time, he understands that one size does not always fit all and occasionally exceptions to standards must be made to deal with special needs.

ReadyTalk: New Option for Teleconferencing

ReadyTalk

Conference calls are an economical way to meet with people, both on and off campus. They are an easy, effective way of cutting travel time and expenses, allowing participants to work from their own offices or wherever they can be most productive.

Web conferencing combines telephone conference calls with the use of a Web browser to share viewing of presentations and documents. By allowing all conference participants to view the same thing at the same time, web conferences can improve discussions, presentations, and explanations. Questions and answers are simpler and easier.

UC has signed a system-wide agreement with ReadyTalk to provide teleconferencing services to UC campuses.  Service options include inexpensive, reservationless conference calling, as well as higher-end operator-assisted conference calls.  Both kinds allow Web conferencing at no additional cost.

IAT-NACS has preapared a quick how-to guide for use of ReadyTalk conferencing services.  Individuals and departments who wish to take advantage of this new option can call ReadyTalk directly, and pay for the service with the UCI PALcard.

Conference Calls with UCI Phones

<br /> Cisco IP Phone

Conference calls make a cost-effective alternative to traveling to meetings.  UCI’s phone system supports conference calls for 3 to 8 people, including up to 6 off-campus participants.  For larger groups, commercial options such as QWEST are available.

For faculty and staff with a Cisco IP phone, even more flexibility is available with “meet me” conference calling.  This kind of conference call can support up to 16 users, any number of which can be off campus.  Once one or more parties have joined the call, the originator can leave the conference without disruption.  However, since this requires a special-purpose extension to be reserved for the conference, please call Telephone Customer Service (x4-5123) at least a day in advance.

Phone conferences can be enhanced with tools that allow on-line sharing of documents and desktops.  A systemwide agreement has recently been concluded with ReadyTalk, and other products are on the way.