Viewing by month: December 2013

Dec 26 2013

End of Support for Internet Explorer 8 in CoursePlus

As Microsoft will officially end support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014, and the University is pushing everyone currently using Windows XP to migrate to newer operating systems before that time, we will officially be ending support for Internet Explorer 8 and blocking access to CoursePlus using Internet Explorer 8 starting on May 27, 2014.

The Center technically stopped supporting Internet Explorer 8 for CoursePlus and online courses almost two years ago. However, you could still sign into online courses using Internet Explorer 8 until May 2013, and you can currently sign into CoursePlus using Internet Explorer 8. This will end on May 27, 2014, however, when you will no longer be able to sign into CoursePlus using Internet Explorer 8.

There are numerous reasons for this change. First and foremost, security is a major issue. Once Microsoft stops providing support and security patches for Windows XP and Internet Explorer 8, security experts uniformly predict massive and ongoing exploits against these tools, making them unsafe to use on the Web. Second, in order to create the tools that faculty and students alike need in CoursePlus, we have to use technologies that are not available in Internet Explorer 8 (a Web browser that is currently four years old). Finally, the number of people using Internet Explorer 8 has plummeted, and it takes significant financial resources to continue to support a browser that fewer and fewer people are using.

If you are using Windows XP, you can continue to access CoursePlus after May 27, 2014, if you use Firefox or Chrome as your Web browser instead. JHSPH IT fully supports Firefox and will happily install it on your computer if you need them to do so.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 9:49 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Dec 20 2013

CoursePlus Outage on Friday, December 20, 2013

CoursePlus was unavailable from approximately 11:10am until 12:35pm today, Friday, December 20, 2013. The cause of the problem was the School's master course catalog database. CoursePlus is deeply tied to the School's master course catalog database. CoursePlus cannot operate without the inforation in the School's master course catalog database. The course catalog database was being updated this morning with course information for the 2014-2015 academic year, and in the process, data about courses in the current acdemic year was removed. As a result, problems with the School's master course catalog database caused problems in CoursePlus and no courses were listed in CoursePlus and no one could sign in to CoursePlus to get access to their courses.

Online courses were not affected by this problem, and students could access online courses without issue during this time. If a student relied on accessing online courses through CoursePlus only, and never browsed to the online courses website at http://distance.jhsph.edu/, the student likely would have thought the online courses inaccessible as well.

We know that it was very frustrating for CoursePlus to be down on this, the last day of the term, and we apologize for the downtime. We just could not run CoursePlus without the data from the School's course catalog.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 1:12 PM - Categories: CoursePlus

Dec 3 2013

Are You Using a Supported Web Browser?

Web browsers are updated on a regular basis. Companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft (and the Firefox Foundation, of course) introduce new security, performance, and application features on a regular basis to make the Web as a whole a better place. Companies usually only support a subset of all possible Web browsers for their applicaitons. Google, for example, only supports the current and previous version of any Web browser for Google Apps (Mail, Drive, etc.). For example, Google only supports Internet Explorer 10 and 11 and Safari 6 and 7 as those are the current and previous versions of those Web browsers.

The CTL also only supports specific, recent versions of Web browsers for online courses and CoursePlus. The list of supported browsers for CTL sites can be found here. If you're not using a supported browser, you will run into problems, and you'll probably get a message when trying to log in to online courses or CoursePlus that your Web browser isn't supported. 

If you've been taking online courses for a while, you may be in a situation where you are using an unsupported Web browser and may not know it. Safari 5, for example, stopped being supported in June, 2013, but there are still some students who use this browser. While you can sign into online courses with that unsupported browser, you will likely run into problems with the courses and may find yourself unable to sign in with little warning.

If you are using Safari 5 or versions of Chrome or Firefox below version 15, you will not be able to sign into online courses as of December 26, 2013. You should upgrade to a newer version of that browser as soon as you can.

Posted by Brian Klaas at 9:30 AM - Categories: General | Online Courses

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