Author Archives: Petar Mitrevski

Use Dropbox? Consider middfiles instead

We advise our community to use Middfiles for all file storage needs. In fact, sensitive information should always be stored on Middfiles.

Dropbox, one of the most popular cloud storage providers, has had several security flaws and breaches over the past year:
- In June, for four hours, anyone could access anyone else’s Dropbox files.
- Three other separate security flaws (or holes) were found this summer.
- Furthermore, FTC found that Dropbox was misrepresenting their security measures and protocols.
- In addition, Dropbox had changed then clarified its Terms of Service within a matter of days.

That’s why we promote Middfiles for “cloud” storage needs. Do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions around Dropbox, cloud storage or security. If you have questions specific to Middfiles, please visit our documentation page.

Blu-ray Playback in Smart Classrooms


Blu-ray projection (the ability to play Blu-ray discs) is being added to all new projection spaces or as we upgrade existing projection spaces (several each year). Currently, the following spaces can be used to play Blu-ray discs:

  • Dana Auditorium
  • Axinn 232
  • MBH 216, 219, 220
  • A viewing station at the Davis Family Library. The station is easy to spot as it sports the Blu-ray logo

We are working on a page that will provide more details around supported projection formats (what kind of media can be projected, and where). We will post an announcement when this page is ready. If you have any questions, please leave a comment here or contact the LIS Helpdesk.

Do Macs get viruses? (or “Just say NO to MACDefender”).

Viruses on Macs? You don’t say!
The Helpdesk is occasionally confronted with this question: Do Macs get viruses? The short answer is yes, they do. Actually, there are quite a few viruses, worms and trojans that target Macs (see the iAntivirus Threat Database). That’s why we offer antivirus software for Macs: Note that Symantec has been included on faculty/staff computers for several years. It’s also offered to all students (though we might not do a good job advertising that).

What’s MACDefender?
Recently, a new malicious software has been targeting Macs (SANS, Symantec, Cornell). The software is (deceptively) named MACDefender. Strictly speaking, MACDefender is not a virus, it is a trojan but for most people there is purely a semantic difference. It should be noted, however, that a computer trojan, much like its historical counterpart, relies on deception and requires our “help” to infiltrate a computer. Computer viruses and worms on the other side don’t depend, as much, on us humans.

How do you know if your computer has been infected with MACDefender?
Well, at this time, if your computer is infected with MACDefender you may see the symptoms outlined on the Intego antivirus page. However, a better approach would be to update your real Mac antivirus (you have one, right?) Here are the instructions for updating Symantec Antivirus for Mac and running a virus scan. Don’t have Symantec for your Mac? Get it now:

macdefender - fake antivirus

New Smart Classrooms in MBH plus a Smartboard

During J-term and February we built three new smart classrooms in McCardell Bicentennial Hall:
- MBH309
- MBH405
- MBH467

Rooms 309 and 405 have the regular assortment of technology (projector, 60×80 screen, laptop projection input, a multistandard DVD/VHS combo and a standard sound system).

By the way, the documentation for using these spaces is also online.

Room 467 has a similar setup as 309 and 405, however it also features a Hitachi short-throw projector and a Hitachi smart board. This semester, the Biology department is making use of the smart board. Hitachi has provided a nice tutorial for the smart board and we’ve put together a basic guide for using this classroom. I’ve also updated this post with two videos for the smartboard in use in 467. See the bottom of the post for the videos.

The new smart classrooms will also benefit the language schools, since we’ve equipped them with multistandard VHS and DVD players.

Kudos go to the Media Services crew – we designed and programmed the system on our own and Facilities Services assisted with the installation. We’ve had no support requests for 309 and 405 spaces, which attests to the quality of the design and programming of the system (the one adjustment we do need to make is provide a longer VGA cable). We also worked with the faculty that use the smart board in 467. I should note that the faculty were able to come up with some good modifications to our basic guide (it involved a digital tablet). The space offers lots of possibilities and needs some adjustments due to the HVAC vibrations but overall the projection is functional.

Next week I’ll post about the upgrade to the technology in Dana and the Old Chapel Boardroom. I promise to have pictures, too!

Here are the smartboard videos (show and tell from Hitachi).
Starboard part 1

Starboard part 2

New Senior Technology Specialist – Chris Tangora

Monday, Jan 24 is Chris Tangora’s first day in LIS. Chris is coming from UNC Charlotte and is taking the position of Senior Technology Specialist. He’ll be working closely with Brian Foley on supporting academic computing, as well as providing higher level Helpdesk services. We are very excited to have him on board.

Please join me in welcoming Chris to the Middlebury family!

Illegal File Sharing and the Higher Education Opportunity Act

In April 2008 the Department of Education drafted the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA). HEOA deals with unauthorized file sharing on campus networks and enforcement of this act’s provisions began July 1, 2010. Institutions of higher education must make an effort to comply with the provisions of this act. The Educause website provides an excellent overview of the provisions of the act, as well as suggestions for complying. Here’s a relevant excerpt from Educause’s site:

Several sections of the HEOA deal with unauthorized file sharing on campus networks, imposing three general requirements on all U.S. colleges and universities:

  • An annual disclosure to students describing copyright law and campus policies related to violating copyright law.
  • A plan to “effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials” by users of its network, including “the use of one or more technology-based deterrents”.
  • A plan to “offer alternatives to illegal downloading.”

To comply with the act, Middlebury College has undertaken the following steps:

  1. Legal alternatives to illegal downloading are described in the Computing Policies section of the handbook:
  2. Copyright laws and policies are published through Middlebury College’s copyright page (, as well as the Computing Policies section of the Handbook, in particular
  3. A plan is in place to combat unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials. The plan relies on a combination of packet shaping and NAC technology, as well as education:
    • Every year, students register their computing devices through our network registration process. Part of the registration involves reading and agreeing to our Responsible Use policy. Network registration is enforced through a NAC appliance from Bradford networks.
    • We respond promptly and regularly to DMCA notices. The College has a DMCA agent that promptly contacts the user that is in violation according to the DMCA notice. Repeated offenses result in loss of network access.
    • The use of posters that regularly appear in commonly used public spaces, such as the Davis Family Library.
    • This plan is reviewed periodically through the work of the security team.

Note that Educause offers a selection of Role Model Institutions that have implemented a variety of similar compliance strategies.