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Tech Briefings

Timely Info for Power Users and Stanford's Technology Support Community


Held Friday afternoons in Turing Auditorium, Tech Briefings are informal, interactive seminars on computer-related topics of interest to the Stanford community. These sessions are intended for power users, Expert Partners, and those with IT responsibilities, but are open to everyone - faculty, staff, and students. The Tech Briefings, led by knowledgeable ITSS staff or other IT professionals, run from 2:00 to 3:30 P.M. No registration is required - just come on by and learn something new. No fees. No fuss.

Turing Auditorium is Room 111 of Polya Hall. See this map to Polya Hall.

The success of these sessions depends on you! Questions from attendees are strongly encouraged. Topics are announced in advance through the techbriefings mailing list and on this web page.

Because we are presenting emerging technical topics, please feel free to contact the Tech Briefing coordinator with any questions, comments, suggestions, or concerns. Call 723-4391 or send email to

Fall 2006 Tech Briefings

September 29: Using Open Source Software and Other Freebies (a.k.a. Alternatives to MS Office and Sound, Video, and Graphic Manipulation software)
October 13: Understanding the New Mailman List Service
October 20: BigFix
October 27: Voice over IP – An ITS Service Release
November 3: WWW/CGI Services
November 10: VBA for Access and Excel
November 17: Webmail
December 1: Filemaker Pro 8.5
December 8: Captivate

Other Tech Briefings will be scheduled as needed.


Date Topic Presenter(s)
September 29

Using Open Source Software and Other Freebies (a.k.a. Alternatives to MS Office and Sound, Video, and Graphic Manipulation software)

Do you wish you had office applications at home? Is your department running out of funds because you're spending too much on licensing fees for tools like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Illustrator, and Photoshop? Come to this Tech Briefing as our instructor, Mark Branom, demonstrates Open Source and other free alternatives. Topics will include, Audacity, Picasa, Google Spreadsheets, Google Page Creator, and Writely.

Mark Branom (IT Services)
October 13

Understanding the New Mailman List Service

IT Services is happy to present a new feature-packed mailing list service called Mailman to replace Majordomo. In addition to numerous new features including spam filtering, fully moderated lists, and list archiving with an integrated web interface, the Mailman package also delivers much better performance and reliability. If you want to know what this means to you as a list owner and/or list member, then attend this Tech Briefing. You'll learn how to do the same things with Mailman that you're doing currently with Majordomo, and we'll also talk about the migration of your lists from Majordomo to Mailman. See for more info. Also download the PowerPoint slide presentation from today's talk.

Tim Torgenrud, and Kathleen Baker (IT Services)
October 20


Everyone knows BigFix can patch computers, but did you also know BigFix can help...

Improve overall Workstation, Server, or Laptop security for computers on or off the Stanford Network:

  • Ensure that Antivirus is installed and running with up-to-date engine & definition files
  • Manage Firewall, Spyware and other on-endpoint security applications to keep them running and current
  • Detect, Identify, and remediate compromised computers
  • Detect, report, and handle unauthorized applications, services or configuration settings
  • Scan your network to identify unmanaged assets and "rogue" devices such as unauthorized routers, switches, wireless access points, etc.
  • Serve as an independent audit of existing security and configuration management tools

Maintain optimal device configuration to reduce help desk calls and end-user down-time

  • Push out registry changes
  • Maintain a standard desktop configuration
  • E-mail reports on a regular schedule or alerts when non-compliance or failed remediation occurs
  • Update 3rd-party applications such as Firefox, Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Reader, etc.

Reduce Costs

  • Create a customized inventory of hardware and software installed
  • Track application usage to detect unused/underused programs and reduce software licensing costs
  • Consolidate or eliminate software that duplicates BigFix functionality

· Sneak Preview :  Power Management to track usage and optimize power settings for reduced energy consumption

Stacy Lee (IT Servcies) and representatives from BigFix
October 27

Voice over IP – An ITS Service Release

Dominga Zepeda will be presenting Voice over IP, an IT Services fall service release.

The Voice over IP Tech Briefing will provide a high level overview of the following:

  • what VoIP technology is;
  • how Stanford is implementing it;
  • how, in conjunction with Net-to-Jack and Net-to-Switch services, it  can save your department monthly data and telephone costs.

The presentation will also cover the benefits of having IT Services replace your existing switches (at no added cost while under either one of these two services) and monitor your network 24x7

Don't miss out, learn about how this new technology can work for your department!

Dominga Zepeda (IT Services)
November 3

WWW/CGI Services

Central campus web services recently went through a much needed update in September.  Learn how the changes impact your use of the services (e.g., there's no longer any need to reference -- the general WWW and CGI services have been merged under the URL) and also learn how the web services fit into the general technology service offerings that are available via the central campus infrastructure.

Tim Torgenrud (IT Services)
November 10

VBA for Access and Excel

Shane Devenshire holds the prestigious title of being one of only 40 Microsoft-designated MVPs in Excel in the world. He has authored and co-authored dozens of books and articles on Excel and Access. Shane has been consulting and teaching in Excel and Access for over 20 years, and consistently delights customers and classes with his extensive knowledge. If it can be done, Shane will know how to do it. If you are a frequent user, don't miss this presentation!

Shane Devenshire, Mentor Training
November 17


The Webmail system is going through an upgrade in early November.  Come attend this session on November 17th and learn about the changes.    Learn about the performance improvements that have been put in place.  Learn about server-side filtering to make it all work more "automagically" with your IMAP folders, learn about the interface changes (e.g., the address book uses the Stanford Directory!) , and learn a little bit about the "mobilemail" feature.

Tim Torgenrud (IT Services)
December 1

FileMaker Pro 8.5

Phil Smith, Business Account Manager and Alexei Folger, Senior System Engineer from FileMaker Inc. will be on hand to discuss and show FileMaker 8.5 and other exciting news from FileMaker.

You'll learn interesting ways of using the new Webviewer feature in FileMaker 8.5. Also discussed will be the new new PHP api for FileMaker and new opportunities for publishing FileMaker databases to the web.

Phil Smith and Alexei Folger (FileMaker Pro)
December 8

Captivate and Contribute

Adobe Systems has launched two exciting new product releases, Adobe® Captivate™ 2 and Adobe® Contribute™ 4. Product experts will review the new features and benefits of both products and answer questions.

Adobe Captivate 2 can be used to author scenario-based training content; repurpose content; use zoom-in and gray-out features to focus attention; customize skins and menus; speed up authoring with new workflow improvements and tighter integration with the Flash authoring tool, Breeze™ and image-editing tools; enhance your blogs with screencasts or export audio for podcasting; create many different content types with flexible deployment options - without you having to learn Flash.

Web designers and developers, website administrators and managers come learn about how Adobe Contribute 4 lets you update existing websites and blogs quickly, easily, and safely. Content authors and contributors can edit or update any website or blog in three simple steps, dramatically reducing editing time. Maintain website integrity and look-and-feel with Adobe's Macromedia® Dreamweaver® templates. Post and publish content from within Microsoft Office applications.

John Schuman (Adobe)

Coming in Winter Quarter (dates tentative):

  • Microsoft Vista and Office 2007 - January 19
  • Updates from Apple - January 26
  • Adobe Acrobat 8 - February 2
  • Stanford Desktop Tools - February 9

Links to Previous Quarters

Click on these links to previous quarters to see the Tech Briefings/TGIF topics we have presented in the past. Links to handouts for most presentations are also available at these sites.

Subscribe to the Tech Briefings Mailing List

To subscribe to the Tech Briefings Mailing List, send email to with the message

subscribe techbriefings

Tips for Presenters

So, you're going to give a presentation at an upcoming Tech Express. 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 Tuesday, 12-Dec-2006 11:12:40 AM

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