How To Know If There is A Technology Outage

ITS has several ways of informing the Northeastern community of an outage, planned or otherwise. Here’s what you can do to stay in the know:

  • Follow the ITS Twitter account @NortheasternITS for the latest information concerning an outage.
    • NOTE: Do not tweet to notify ITS about issues. Please call ITS Service Desk at 617.373.4357 (xHELP), as it is staffed 24/7, and Twitter is not.
  • Visit the ITS System Status page, where you will find not only information from the status of different systems, but also posts and updates during outages.
  • Check out the ITS website – there is a widget in the top right of the home page.
  • Go to myNEU where major planned outages will be posted on the login page
  • Watch your email inbox for a message from ITS.

As always please report issues to the ITS Service Desk at 617.373.4357 (xHELP) or ITS cannot fix a problem that we are not aware of, so if you see something, say something. We are all focused on keeping everything running smoothly for the university and your assistance is critical.

NUwave-guest changes effective May 21, 2014 – Registration now required

In an ongoing effort to enhance the security of our campus wireless networks, Information Technology Services implemented changes to the unsecured wireless network NUwave-guest.

On May 21, 2014, ITS enabled registration requirements and a time limit for NUwave-guest access on the Boston campus. All other Northeastern locations will implement these changes over the summer. Individuals wishing to use the guest wireless network will need to register through a new guest wireless portal page, similar to those used by coffee shops and airports. These changes provide a greater level of security for our campus networks by limiting Internet access to identified guests visiting Northeastern for a certain period of time.

As a reminder, NUwave-guest access is intended for limited guest wireless access only. Northeastern students, faculty, staff and sponsored accounts must use the secure wireless network NUwave.

Registration Details

Individuals wishing to use NUwave-guest will need to register through the guest wireless portal registration page, providing their name, cell phone number and email address. Guests will receive a text message containing their user name and an access code to be entered into the guest portal login page for network access, on up to three devices. Additionally, there will be a new eight-hour time limit for NUwave-guest. Once the allotted time expires, guests will be required to re-register in order to receive a new access code to continue to use the guest wireless network.

Conference and Event Planners

ITS has worked with conference and event organizers to ensure a smooth transition. Organizers may submit a ServiceNow request one week prior to the event in order to pre-register attendees and provide wireless access for the duration of the event. For access beyond what is already provided with NUwave-guest, organizers may submit a ServiceNow request two weeks prior to the event date and ITS will work to provide the proper solution. Additional information on how conference and event organizers can provide wireless access to their attendees is located on the NUwave-guest Wireless Network FAQ page.

Want to learn more? Visit the NUwave-guest Wireless Network FAQ page.
Questions or concerns? Please contact the ITS Service Desk at 617.373.4357 (xHELP) or

Transitioning from Windows XP to Windows 7

Microsoft ended support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014. Faculty, staff and labs currently using computers running Windows XP need to upgrade to Windows 7. The ITS Spring 2014 Windows 7 standard image configuration is available and offers the latest software to the Northeastern community.

Microsoft officially retired Windows XP on April 8, 2014. For those still using Windows XP there are the following implications:

  • No support: Microsoft support, including online and phone-based technical support, will end for Windows XP. As a result, ITS will not be able to support Windows XP. Click here for a list of ITS Supported Computers and Operating Systems.
  • Security risks: Critical security updates will stop, making machines much more vulnerable to viruses, as hackers are waiting to take advantage of this insecurity. If your computer gets a virus your machine will not perform properly; it may shut down entirely; you are at risk for losing files and having your personal information stolen. Newer Windows operating systems offer much better security. If your machine represents a security threat to Northeastern’s networks, your network access will be revoked.
  • Software issues: Many vendors will no longer support products that are running on Windows XP. Additionally, ITS will no longer continue to develop and test applications for Windows XP.
  • Old technology: Windows XP was released 12 years ago, and was replaced by Windows 7 in 2009. It does not support HTML5 or the newest version of Internet Explorer nor does it support many modern hardware devices such as USB 3.0.

Verifying the version of your Windows operating system

Microsoft provides a page that will automatically check your computer and display which operating system you are on. Additionally, the page has instructions for manually checking. Determine your Windows operating system by clicking here.

Upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7

**Note: All computers must be backed up before the new operating system is installed.**

I have a Northeastern-image PC: Contact the Service Desk at 617.373.4357 (xHELP) to schedule an appointment to have your computer re-imaged and upgraded to the newly released Spring 2014 Windows 7 standard configuration. This will take a few hours.

I have a Northeastern-owned, non-imaged PC: Contact the Service Desk 617.373.4357 (xHELP) to get Windows 7 for local installation.

We are encouraging faculty and staff members to upgrade from Windows XP to Window 7 as soon as possible to ensure that we can accommodate requests in a timely manner. Please call the Service Desk at 617.373.4357 (xHELP) to schedule an appointment.

The reimaging process

Migrating an existing Northeastern-managed Windows XP computer to Windows 7 is an involved process requiring significant preparation and pre-planning:

  1. Prior to imaging, data must be backed up.
  2. The computer is wiped clean and the operating system re-installed with the NUnet image.  (approximately two hours)
  3. Data is then restored from the back up after the image is configured. (30-60 minutes)

Backing up your computer

Under normal circumstances it should take no longer than half an hour to back up a computer, although anomalies could run several hours. i.e. user has a lot of pictures, videos, etc.

Contact the Service Desk at 617.373.4357 (xHELP) for backup recommendations specific to your situation. Please be aware that there are certain security processes that must be followed for sensitive information.

Non-ITS labs and research equipment currently using Windows XP

To upgrade these machines, please contact the Service Desk at 617.373.4357 (xHELP) for assistance with upgrading multiple computers or for assistance with research equipment.

Recommended specifications for running Windows 7

  • 1 GHz or faster 32 bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor.
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 50 GB hard drive space
  • A DirectX 9 compatible graphics processor, with a Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) driver 1.0 or higher.

New computers

If you require a new computer, please directly contact the administrative staff member who handles purchasing for your department. They will assist you with the procurement process.

Relevant Articles:

Microsoft – Windows XP retirement page
CNET – Windows XP starts countdown to end-of-support on April 8 – Migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7 tutorial
PC World – Making the transition from XP to the Windows interface
Computerworld – XP’s retirement will be hacker heaven

Blackboard upgraded to Service Pack 14 (SP14)

Cross-post from Academic Technology Services’s Blackboard @ Northeastern blog
On December 22, 2013, Blackboard was upgraded to Service Pack 14.

New features found in this upgrade:


The Achievements tool allows instructors to designate criteria for issuing rewards to students in the form of both badges and certificates. Students can see which rewards they have earned and what is required of them to receive additional rewards, providing insight into learning progression toward defined competencies. More Information | Video

Accessibility Improvements

This Service Pack introduces an innovation that improves Blackboard’s navigation experience for all users, but especially sighted keyboard-only users, through page header and landmark aggregation. There are also enhancements to Test Availability Exceptions and Content Editor Math Formulas which are helpful for accessibility.

More Information | Video


New calendar replaces the old calendar tool. Faculty and students can view institution level, course and personal events in a single calendar view. More Information | Video

Content Editor Math Formulas

This Service Pack brings a new editor that is based on JavaScript. This removes dependence on Java, enabling full math-editing capabilities on platforms that cannot run java in browsers including iOS. The new math editor also supports the editing and display of LaTeX formulas. More Information

Content Editor Math Formulas

Course Menu Enhancement

Viewing the folder structure of the course now always opens in a new window, to ensure users have the space needed to read the expanded contents. More Information

Course Menu Enhancement

Grade Center Improvements

Blackboard has made several improvements to grading and Grade Center. (1) My Grades Ordering & Design Update, (2) Define “Score Attempts Using” setting from the “Options” page, (3) Test total points adjustment, (4) Grading Schemas greater than 100%. More Information

Grade Center Improvements

Groups Management

The Groups Management Building Block provides the ability to (1) Easily see which students are in which groups (2) Easily see and modify group memberships (3) Avatars are now available to distinguish among users (4) Choose and manage membership for groups sets with an improved workflow (5) Import and export groups and group memberships (6) Sort columns, perform bulk actions for deleting groups, and create Grade Center smart views for one or more groups on the All Groups page (7) Optionally, manage tool availability for all groups on the All Groups page. More Information | Video

Inline Grading

For interactive tools and assignments, you can view, provide comments, and grade student-submitted items without leaving the tool page. More Information | Video

Restrict Tests by Location

Restricts a test so it can only be taken from a set range of machines (by IP addresses). This feature will require setting up the IP address ranges with the Blackboard Administrators group before the test. More Information

Retention Center

The Retention Center is an instructor-only tool that enables teachers to give focused attention to students who need it. It replaces the Early Warning System feature with easy workflows, while retaining all existing Early Warning System data and rules. From the Retention Center, you can communicate with struggling students and help them take immediate action for improvement. More Information | Video

Test and Survey Options

(1) Test Availability Exceptions: new settings have been added to the Test/Survey Options page, available after the test or survey is added to a content area. The new settings allow instructors to select one or more groups of students and make a number of exceptions to the already established availability settings. Instructors can use exceptions to provide an accommodation to a disabled student, or provide accommodations for technology and language differences.

(2) Show Test Results and Feedback to Students: after they complete a test, results and feedback are available to students. By setting up rules, instructors can set the release of progressive feedback to keep test results secure and prevent cheating. More Information

Date Management

After you have copied a course, speed up the transition of old dates to new ones relevant for the new course using Date Management. From Date Management you can adjust availability dates, due dates, and adaptive release dates within a course. You can choose to update the dates automatically or manually from one convenient location. More Information | Video

Course Message Notifications

Course messages are private and secure text-based communication that occurs within a course and among course members. Although similar to email, you must be logged into a course to read and send course messages. Before Service Pack (SP14), the only way to know if you had any new course messages was to constantly log in to your course and check. In SP14, course messages are part of the notifications framework. Anyone enrolled in a course can receive notification that they have new messages from the Updates area in My Blackboard. More Information | Video


The Discussions building block that was incorporated into this Service Pack changes the discussion board user interface in two primary ways: (1) The thread detail page has been thoroughly redesigned while maintaining all of its current functionality. (2) Instructors now can require students to first post to a forum before they can see other students’ posts. More Information

If you have any questions about the service pack upgrade, please contact or the Service Desk at 617.373.4357 (xHELP).

Start the academic year off strong – with a strong password

As the fall term starts, SecureNU reminds you to have a strong password. Mashable recently posted a great infographic about password protection, highlighting the Top 10 weakest passwords of 2012. Don’t make your accounts vulnerable with an easy to guess password.

To change your password, log into myNEU and click the My Profile icon.

Below are some tips:
How to create a good myNEU password
Why good passwords are important
The webcomic Xkcd takes a (somewhat) serious look at password strength