Friday, March 20, 2009

  • 'Just for you' days are near for UW staff
  • How (and why) not to share passwords
  • UW 'partnerships' span the Atlantic
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Three on the stairs]

Science and business students Stephanie Bell, Ashwini Namasivayam and Jessica Kozelmann are among the key organizers of the one-day conference "Fusion: The Economy of the Future" taking place tomorrow in Rod Coutts Hall. Speakers will range from UW's Jake Thiessen (pharmacy), Owen Ward (biology) and Elisabeth Adrian (career services) to experts from Dalhousie University, Canada's Technology Triangle, Deloitte & Touche and Princess Margaret Hospital.

Back to top

'Just for you' days are near for UW staff

Hundreds of staff members have signed up already and there’s room for plenty more, and Katrina Di Gravio can hardly contain her enthusiasm about the whole thing.

Di Gravio is UW’s director of organizational and human development, and it’s her office that is organizing the second annual Staff Conference, to be held April 6-7 — right after the end of winter term classes — with sessions addressing everything from stress to retirement.

The conference is billed as “2 more full days just for you”, but it’s not an all-or-nothing opportunity. Staff members can reserve for individual sessions, and Di Gravio is hoping that, especially in small departments, people will coordinate their schedules so that as many people as possible can attend “Providing Excellent Service” or “Event Planning and Event Management, There Is a Difference” or “Effective Conflict Management Strategies”.

A schedule of all the activities, including smaller workshops and five big keynote speeches in the Humanities Theatre, is available on the OHD web site. Registration for the conference also happens online.

Among the workshops is one that Di Gravio is especially keen to talk about: “A very interesting session called Know Your Neighbours will be running both days. The focus is on the services provided to staff from Police Services, Counselling Services, and the Safety Office. Information about your campus safety, how we can watch out for each other, awareness programs and also some training sessions that are run by these departments for the benefit of staff. i.e. healthy eating, stress management, WHMIS. The session is being moderated by our new Director of Police Services, Dan Anderson.”

One keynote talk that she’s stressing is “Understanding the Impact of Cultural Differences in Canadian Universities” by Lionel Laroche, an engineer and multicultural expert. He’ll speak at 10:15 on the second day of the conference (Tuesday, April 7).

Oh, and there’s food, with a scheduled lunch on the Monday in response to requests following last year’s event. Di Gravio explains: “While staff are getting their $6.00 Grab & Go Lunch at South Campus Hall, they will find space to lunch with friends and be able to visit the Staff Information Booths.

“Thirteen different areas of campus will be there to outline services and information that would be of use to staff members — everything from Athletics to Staff Association, Career Services to UW Fitness.”

Still hungry? “On the Monday evening for $14.00 there will be a ‘healthy cooking’ demonstration and meal with Daniel Lemay, our own red seal chef. Staff will be able to gather healthy cooking tips while enjoying Daniel's dinner creation. Tickets for both Food Events must be purchased in advance and are available at Brubakers, Bon Appetit and Festival Fare.”

Also during the Monday lunch hour there will be a “Passport to Health” fair providing health and lifestyle information and an opportunity for some direct interactions such as getting blood pressure checked. (At last year’s conference, the health services staff offering that service were actually able to identify more than one person whose health was alarming enough that they made a referral for medical attention or evaluation, Di Gravio says.)

“Relaxation Yoga” sessions are offered at day’s end on the Monday and midday on the Tuesday.

Most of the conference activities are happening during the usual working day, but “to insure that our evening staff are not left out,” says Di Gravio, “we are running two sessions on Monday evening: the Passport to Health, and a repeat of the session on Top 10 Financial Tips.”

Back to top

How (and why) not to share passwords

by Jason Testart, information systems and technology

March is Fraud Awareness Month, and when we think of fraud, we typically think of things like stolen credit/debit cards, identity theft, and phone scams. While these issues are very real, it's important to realize that something as simple as keeping your email password to yourself has a role in reducing fraud.

Attackers will forge email claiming to be from the helpdesk, and warning that your email account will be deleted unless you reply with your userid and password. This is known as a spear phishing attack. Nobody, including IT support staff, should ever ask for your password. Once the victim reveals this information, the scammer uses the email account to send what are known as "West African Letters", also known as Advanced Fee Letter Fraud, to thousands of email addresses. Long email address lists are built using addresses harvested from address books of other compromised email accounts. We actually don't know how many targets the scammers really have because automated filters on nexusmail catch and stop the floods of email before they get too out of hand. In 2008, Phonebusters, the Canadian anti-fraud call centre, had reports of losses totalling over $4 million from West African Letter Fraud alone. Phonebusters has tips on how to recognize fraud.

Some people think that there are instances where sharing a password is necessary, but usually this is not the case. For example, you might have some files on your PC that your boss or co-worker need to access while you are away. Instead of sharing your password, store the files on a file server. Your IT support provider can help set things up so that access to a folder is restricted to only those that need it.

Another example is that you might have a requirement for sharing email. For short term cases, you could make use of your mail system's "vacation" feature, or set up email forwarding to another email account. For longer term cases, it's best to set-up a new email address associated with a function, rather than an individual. The functional email address could then forward to one or more individual email accounts, or be designated as a shared account.

Avoid using shared accounts if you can. If it's unavoidable, then make sure there is someone responsible for managing access to the account.

Here are some tips to keep your passwords safe:

  • Don't share passwords with anyone.
  • Make a conscious effort to change your passwords regularly.
  • If you ever doubt the legitimacy of an email announcement, contact your IT support person for help.
  • Never store passwords in a file on your computer, unless the file is encrypted.
  • If you must write down a password, don't write down what the password is for. Keep it on your person or somewhere under lock and key. You should endeavour to memorize it in the long term and destroy the written copy.

Back to top

UW 'partnerships' span the Atlantic

a release from the UW media relations office

Waterloo researchers were successful in the latest round of the Transatlantic Exchange Partnership competition, with one UW-led project aimed at developing student talent with global experience in quantum information processing.

The competition, formally known as the Canada-EU Program for Co-operation in Higher Education, Training and Youth — Transatlantic Exchange Partnership, has funded two projects involving UW faculty members and researchers from other institutions in Canada, including Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, and the European Union. The federal Human Resources and Social Development department administers the program in Canada.

Ashwin Nayak, UW professor of combinatorics and optimization, heads the TEP project on collaborative student training in quantum information processing. The project, which involves Canadian and European partners, received $199,968 for a three-year period ending in 2011. The University of Calgary is the other Canadian partner in the project. The project will enhance student and faculty exchanges across several Canadian and EU institutions with strong research efforts in quantum information processing.

As computer and communications devices become smaller, the principles of quantum mechanics are increasingly more important. Quantum information processing studies the use of quantum mechanical operations in information processing devices. "We will consolidate and expand existing collaborations so as to provide a larger pool of talented students access to expertise available beyond their home institutions," said Nayak, also a member of UW's Institute for Quantum Computing. The students will receive credit for the international experience. The project will also provide a platform for developing standard courses on the rapidly developing field of QIP.

UW professor Jan Huissoon is involved in the TEP project on innovative project-based engineering curriculum development in mechanical and mechatronics engineering. The project, which received $200,000 in funding, is led by Conestoga College.

In 2007, Nathan Funk, a UW peace and conflict studies professor, joined colleagues at the University of Manitoba's Arthur V. Mauro Centre for Peace and Justice to initiate a Canada-EU university consortium for student exchanges in conflict analysis and resolution. That ongoing project received $200,000 in TEP funding for cross-cultural, interdisciplinary studies in peace-making and peace-building. It aims to provide undergraduate and graduate students with new insights and skills relevant to conflict resolution practice.


Back to top

Link of the day

First day of spring

When and where

Canadian Regional Boot Camp for Technology Start-ups 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., UW Accelerator Centre, R+T Park. Details.

Wilfrid Laurier University March break open house (Waterloo campus) 9:00 to 3:00.

FIRST Robotics Competition for high school students, Physical Activities Complex; public competitions today and Saturday, admission free. Details.

Travel slide show: Andrew Smith on Scotland and Austria, 12:15, Environment I room 221.

Knowledge Integration seminar: Eric Higgs, “On Connecting Dots and Clouds”, 2:30, Arts Lecture Hall room 113.

'Two-Spirited Individuals' Aboriginal workshop and ceremony 2:30, St. Paul's College chapel.

Executive Awards Gala with presentation of 2008-09 Federation of Students awards, 6:30 p.m., Federation Hall, dinner and dance tickets $15.

Fine Arts Film Society “classics of the Asian erotic film”: “Viva Erotica” (1996), 7 p.m., East Campus Hall room 1220.

UW’s Indian Connection presents the semi-formal Tashan, fashion show and Indian dinner, 7:00, Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex, tickets on sale in Student Life Centre.

Drama department production of “Mad Forest” by Caryl Churchill, tonight and Saturday 8 p.m., Saturday 2:00 p.m., Theatre of the Arts, tickets from Humanities box office, 519-888-4908.

Engineering play (details to be announced) Friday and Saturday 8:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

College Royal annual open house, University of Guelph, Saturday-Sunday. Details.

Niagara Falls visit and winery tour organized by International Student Connection, Saturday, buses leave Davis Centre 10 a.m., tickets $20 from Federation of Students office.

Environmental Students Society annual semi-formal, Saturday 6:30 p.m., Federation Hall, dinner and dance tickets on sale in Environment building coffee shop.

Global City Partnership launch of its its 0.7 Challenge, with keynote speaker Marc Kielburger, Free the Children, Saturday 7 p.m., Wilfrid Laurier University athletic complex, tickets $10. Details.

Optometry building electrical power shut off Sunday, 7 to 11 a.m.

Continuing education instructor Patsy Marshall, “High Performing Teams”, Monday 12:00 noon, Kitchener Public Library main branch.

Mechatronics engineering design symposium, 30 projects by fourth-year students, Monday 1:00 to 5:00, Student Life Centre great hall.

Co-op Students of the Year award presentations Monday 2:00, Tatham Centre room 2218.

Germanic and Slavic studies presents Peter Boehm, Canadian ambassador to Germany, “Looking Ahead During Troubled Times”, Monday 2:00, Environment I room 132. Details.

UW Senate meets Monday 4:30 p.m., Needles Hall room 3001.

School of Social Work, Renison UC, presents “In from the Streets: The Health and Well-Being of Formerly Homeless Older Adults” Monday 4:30, Renison chapel lounge.

Arriscraft Lecture: Anne Lacaton, Lacaton & Vassal, Paris, “Recent Work”, Monday 6:30 p.m., Architecture lecture hall, Cambridge.

Deloitte Speakers Series presents Michael Malcolm, former UW faculty member, founder of Kaleidescape Inc., “Creating a Technology-Based Company” Tuesday 11:30, Davis Centre room 1302, reservations e-mail c3hudson@

QPR suicide prevention presentations: March 25 session cancelled; Monday, April 20 (11:30 to 1:00, Math and Computer room 4068) still available, register ext. 33528.

‘Waterloo Bell — Bell for Kepler’ lecture by artist Royden Rabinowitch, at Institute for Quantum Computing, 475 Wes Graham Way, March 26, 7:00 p.m. Details.

TVO's AgendaCamp with Steve Paikin, March 29, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Davis Centre. Live broadcast March 30, 8 p.m. Details.

PhD oral defences

Electrical and computer engineering. Shady Shehata, “Concept Mining: A Conceptual Understanding Based Approach.” Supervisors, Fakhreddine Karray and Mohamed S. Kamel. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Monday, April 13, 10:00 a.m., CEIT building room 3142.

Chemistry. Liguo Kong, “Internally Contracted Multireference Coupled Cluster Method and Normal-Order-Based Automatic Code Generator.” Supervisor, Marcel Nooijen. On display in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Monday, April 13, 2:00 p.m., Chemistry II room 361.

Civil and environmental engineering. Yong Yin, “Stochastic Analysis and the Identification of Parameters for a Contaminant Source Release History.” Supervisor, Jon F. Sykes. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Tuesday, April 14, 12:00 noon, Engineering II room 3324.

Optometry. Lakshman Nagapatnam Subbaraman, “Protein Deposition and Bacterial Adhesion to Conventional and Silicone Hydrogel Contact Lens Materials.” Supervisor, Lyndon W. Jones. On display in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Wednesday, April 15, 9:30 a.m., Optometry room 347.

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin