two undergrad commencements, summer GSRs, network performance, and scallion nation

Bill Maurer
Wednesday May 6 16:39:21 PDT 2020
    Dear grad students, faculty, lecturers and staff,

    A few important updates today: First, due to the large number of
    graduating undergraduate students who have indicated their desire to
    participate virtually in an online commencement, Social Sciences will be
    holding TWO undergrad commencements this year. Just like a normal year,
    but: online, with short, prerecorded speeches by our two commencement
    speakers, and a professional reader reading all graduating students' names
    (one will include the MA students; there will be a separate, campuswide
    PhD virtual ceremony, too). Students will also have an opportunity to
    submit 6-seconds words of a celebratory image or video. This is all being
    organized by the campus, with input and footage from us. But we'll be
    planning other fun things to help our students and their families to
    celebrate, too. I just thought it was heartening news to share: that
    our students, in spite of everything, want to participate, and in the
    large numbers we have come to expect.
    Second, Associate Dean McBride has just emailed faculty and graduate
    program directors with guidance on hiring graduate student researchers
    for the summer. Faculty, please do take note! Vice Provost Gillian Hayes
    continues to work at the campus level to secure additional sources of
    funding for grad students, too--please pay attention whenever you receive
    an email from her office.
    Third, we're surveying the faculty and lecturers currently teaching, as
    well as students taking classes this Spring, in order better to assess
    what is working, what is not, and what resources we will require as we
    roll out Summer and prepare for Fall. In addition, I'll be emailing the
    chairs and department managers very soon a template to help them assess
    their departments' needs to support remote instruction in the Fall. All
    of this will help us figure out what resources we need and where to
    deploy them. Thanks in advance for your assistance.
    And finally, faculty members will have seen a message from OIT regarding
    network performance issues (mainly related to Uni Hills). I'll paste it
    below. But thanks to the persistence of our own faculty (most recently
    a certain Professor Richardson...!), and some backchannel communications
    on my part, it looks like OIT and the campus will also be exploring other
    ways to address the problem. For now--please check out the options below,
    which hopefully will help some of you with the connection problems you've
    been experiencing.
    In other news: I had no idea I was part of a movement. But I am pretty
    sure I'm never going to join the Yen-Mann Breadbaking Society...
    Thanks for all that you are doing, and please stay safe!

Office of Information Technology


The Office of Information Technology (OIT) is aware that some of you are
experiencing internet performance issues that are negatively impacting
your ability to work and teach remotely from your homes. This message
contains information on self-service options that may assist you in
resolving connectivity problems.

Broadband Internet 
The highest performance Internet option is to use a broadband Internet
service from a service provider such as Cox or AT&T. If you experience
internet performance issues, take the following steps:

    1. Test your network speed.  Here are two test tools you may use:>

    2. Try using an Ethernet cable to connect directly to your router.
    Network performance is often significantly limited by using WiFi
    wireless networking.  You may want to test and compare the speed
    when connected with a cable vs with WiFi.
    3. If you suspect slow WiFi, try moving closer to your WiFi router.
    4. Report network performance issues to your Internet service provider
    and ask about your options for improving the performance.
    5. Call your Internet service provider to request upgrade options. Cox
    offers up to 1Gbps service. Even during a slow network performance
    event, a 1Gbps service should be faster than a 150Mbps service.
        1. Many providers are offering discounted services or deferred
        payments due to Covid-19.
        2. If cost is an issue, you may be able to work with your department
        to request temporary reimbursement from COVID-19 funds.
    Cox and AT&T broadband Internet service provider information:
    Cox: Support  | Available Plans.  AT&T: Support, 855.419.3048  | Available Plans

Mobile Device Wifi Hotspot
If you are unable to connect satisfactorily through your internet
broadband service consider using your smartphone as a WiFi hotspot and
increasing your data quota to unlimited.

    1. Contact your mobile phone service provider to ask them to enable
    mobile hotspot functionality/tethering. There may be an extra charge,
    but some providers are providing this temporarily for free.
    2. Request a temporary increase in your data usage quota to
    unlimited. Many providers are providing this temporarily for free.


    * This option will probably not provide better network performance
    than your broadband Internet service from Cox or AT&T.
    * The network performance of this option is also dependent upon the
    strength of the cellular data signal inside your home, so your
    performance will be variable depending upon your location and which
    cellular provider you are using.

Mobile Wifi Hotspot
Consider contacting your mobile phone service provider to obtain a mobile
WiFi hotspot device/service. The mobile devices cost about $80, but are
often included free with a minimum number of months of service. The
monthly service costs about $40/month, but may be less expensive if
bundled with your existing mobile phone service plan.


    * This option will probably not provide better network performance than
    your broadband Internet service from Cox or AT&T, but may perform
    better than using your smartphone as a WiFi hotspot.
    * The network performance of this option is also dependent upon the
    strength of the cellular data signal inside your home
    * There is currently limited availability of the hotspot devices,
    but some providers may have more inventory available.

On Campus Options
Returning to your campus office to perform remote instruction is also an
option, if desired. The governor’s order and our campus mandate allow
for educational exceptions, which has been interpreted to mean that
if faculty want to use their office or assigned classroom for remote
instruction, they can. Please check with your unit’s administrative
leadership regarding building closures and availability.

Next Steps
UCI is working with the residential internet provider, Cox Communications,
on options to increase network speed to its single-family residences
within University Hills. This week, Cox has made some incremental
improvements that should improve performance for some parts of the
University Hills community. In addition, we have experienced positive
results testing an AT&T cellular WiFi hotspot in a University Hills
home, which may be a good short-term solution for some faculty. OIT will
continue to share updates about solutions as we learn more.

We are committed to your success in this new world of remote teaching
& learning.

Brian Buckler
Director, Network and Telecommunications Services
Office of Information Technology