Welcome New Members!

Hopefully, we've gotten to welcome each of you in person either at our orientation session on Wednesday or at the SSCC Consulting office. If we haven't though, please drop by Social Sciences 4226 to pick up a packet of information and to sign up for a 45 minute computer orientation session. We will be doing a group orientation this morning (Friday) at 11:00 in 4226 Social Science for anyone who missed Wednesday's orientation. The amount of computing resources available at SSCC can be overwhelming and a 45-minute orientation is time well spent even for the most experienced computer users.

Consulting Office Experiencing Delays

Due to the large volume of requests we are currently receiving in our Consulting office, expect a longer than usual delay in hearing back from the SSCC staff person assigned your problem. This is especially true for PC support requests which may take several days. We are usually able to tend to other requests within one business day. If you wish to inquire about the status of your request, contact Nancy McDermott, Director of SSCC.

Bringing PCs into the Building

SSCC has the following policy in place for all computers connecting to the building's network for the first time:

  • Any computer brought into the building that will use the building's wired network must be taken to the SSCC Consulting office, Soc. Sci. 4226, for scanning and any necessary installation/update of antivirus software. This process usually takes about two hours. It's taking even longer now because of the high volume of requests. SSCC's Consulting Office is open 8-12, 1-4, Monday through Friday. Computers only connecting to DoIT's wireless network do not have to be scanned, although we are happy to do so.
  • Computers connecting to the building's wired network must be registered before they will be given any access to the network. This includes access to web pages, email, network drives, and servers. To register your computer, plug in to the network, open a web browser, and you will automatically be directed to a web form. This form and the registration software it runs (NetReg) will gather information including your name, how to contact you, and a unique identifier for your computer (the MAC address). This way, if we identify a problem with a computer we will be able to contact the owner, locate the computer, and fix it quickly.

If you don't log into the PRIMO domain or you use the building's wireless network, it is extremely important that you keep your operating system patched and your antivirus software up-to-date. If you need assistance, contact our Consulting office by phone at 2-9917, by e-mail at, or drop in 4226 Social Science 8-12, 1-4 M-F.

SSCC Publication, Keeping Your PC Secure, contains a lot of very useful information, especially for home PCs, or any other PC that doesn't log in to PRIMO.

Mac users -- There is no need to bring Macs into the Consulting office for scanning. Just make sure you are running Software Update monthly.

SSCC's Fall Training Schedule

SSCC's Fall training schedule is now available on SSCC's training web pages. Once again we are teaming up with Sociology 365, Computing in Social Research, so you'll find many topics offered Tuesday/Thursdays, 9:30 - 10:45, including several SAS classes. Remember that all SSCC training sessions (including Soc 365 sessions) require preregistration. Register early before sessions fill!

The Continuing Fight Against Spam

Some users have noted an increase in spam messages that are not being filtered by SpamAssassin, and we want to update you about our efforts to fight this continuing problem.

Rest assured that SSCC staff hate spam as much as you do, but stopping it is easier said than done. The human brain has a marvelous capacity for recognizing patterns: you can identify whether a message is spam or not at a glance. Computers cannot. Spam filtering rules are becoming more and more complex, but the spammers are clever people too and continue to find ways to fool them. What's more, the sheer quantity of spam continues to increase. If you get ten spam messages a day, a filter which is 97% accurate might let in a spam message once every three days. If you get 100 spam messages a day, you're likely to see three missed spam messages every day.

Beginning Tuesday, September 8, we will be taking the following steps to try to improve the accuracy rate of SpamAssassin's filter:

  1. We are lowering the default threshold for what is considered spam from five to four. In our experience this significantly reduces the amount of spam not filtered without leading to messages being misidentified as spam.
  2. We will be removing all current "nobounce" lists. SpamAssassin is very good at not marking real mail as spam, so very few users need to put anything on their nobounce list. What's more, spammers can make their mail appear to come from anyone they want, and some make an effort to choose addresses which are likely to appear on a nobounce list (for example, they can make spam sent to addresses appear to come from one of those addresses). If you know that some mail you receive is likely to be marked as spam, contact the consultant and we'll help you create a new nobounce list.
  3. We have set up our email server to automatically update the rules used for filtering spam, and will be tracking accuracy statistics so we can tell what's working and what's not.
  4. The most important step you can take is to put spam SpamAssassin doesn't filter in your "not legit" folder so SpamAssassin can learn from its mistakes. This doesn't mean you'll never see spam like it again. SpamAssassin keeps track of how often words appear in real mail and in spam, and it takes time for those numbers to shift. But given enough messages to analyze, that information becomes SpamAssassin's best way of recognizing spam.

Furthermore, the only method we have as staff of knowing how much spam SpamAssassin misses is to look at the number of messages put in not legit folders. If you just delete a missed spam message, it will not be included in our statistics on SpamAssassin's accuracy.

We wish we could promise you that these steps will stop all spam from reaching your Inbox. They will not. But they will help, and we will continue to do everything we can to fight the problem of spam.

FTP Replaced with SFTP

As part of our continuing effort to replace all programs that transmit usernames and passwords in clear text, today we replaced FTP with Secure FTP. Both our Linux FTP server ( and our Windows FTP server ( are now using SFTP.

If you use FTP on one of our Linux servers, replace the ftp command with sftp (e.g. sftp If you use FTP from a Windows computer, we suggest you use SecureFX, which is site licensed for use by UW faculty, staff and students. Our new publication Transferring Files Using SecureFX gives instructions on installing and using it.