ACMS Aces: Caleb Crawford

Caleb CrawfordSystem Administrator Caleb Crawford is one of the hardworking programmers of the Computing Infrastructure team. One of the things he loves about his job is that there is never an average day. “Some days I may be programming scripts or automating things,” he said. “Some days I may be debugging problems. Some days I’m compiling software…working on tape backups… [or] installing new servers, both hardware and software. All kinds of things.”

One part of his job is ensuring the security of Academic Computing & Media Services (ACMS) systems through what is known as “white hat hacking.” Unlike the hacking often reported in the news or portrayed in the popular media, white hat hacking seeks to identify security vulnerabilities so they can be patched, preventing others from gaining unauthorized access to systems or information. This proactive approach strengthens the security of servers and systems. “Knowing that there’s a problem and figuring out how it works and trying to get around it is satisfying,” Caleb said.

Caleb first began working for ACMS as a student technician. He moved from providing user support to fellow students into a programming role. Right before he graduated, he learned about an available career position as a programmer with the department. “I interviewed for that and I got that job,” Caleb recalled. “That started me off. I decided to stick with it because it’s always interesting. I always do different things [and] get to learn new technology.”

In addition to his computer skills, Caleb is a banjo and trombone player. He has played the latter with the UC San Diego Pep Band both as a student and as an alumnus. What might surprise people is the fact that he has also played the kazoo with the Pep Band. What makes a good kazoo player? “For the Pep Band, probably the ability to play really loud.” Caleb has also been part of the orchestra for some of his favorite musicals, including How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Jekyll & Hyde.

Thanks for everything you do to keep ACMS’s systems running smoothly Caleb!

ACMS Aces is a series of articles that highlights the dedicated employees of ACMS at UC San Diego. Keep checking back to find out more about the people behind the magic at ACMS!


ACMS Aces: Danny Thompson

Danny ThompsonDanny Thompson, Systems Administrator, is the newest member of the Computing Infrastructure team. He primarily oversees the workstations in Academic Computing & Media Services (ACMS)-managed computer labs, ensuring the computers function properly and installing software to facilitate requests for lab use by courses. “We respond to any issues where there’s a software conflict, [like when] a teacher needs newer or older software,” Danny explained. To make distributing software to computers easier, he recently helped migrate the department to a new software deployment system. He is using the slower period between spring and fall quarters to help transition five computer labs from Windows 32-bit to Windows 64-bit.

In addition to maintaining the lab computers, Danny works on ACMS servers from time to time. He recently fixed an issue to improve the download speed for course podcasts available through

Since arriving at UC San Diego two months ago, Danny has been impressed by the assistance available to campus through the ACMS Help Desk. “The people at the Help Desk are excellent. Most of them are trained above their position, which is great,” he said. The service that he is most impressed with is the Help Desk’s in-house repair facility, where residential students can bring their computer in to be diagnosed when they develop an issue.

Danny Thompson at Wasteland Weekend

Danny decked out at Wasteland Weekend.

Later this year, Danny will travel to the Mojave Desert for Wasteland Weekend, a four day Mad Max-inspired post-apocalyptic event that he volunteers at. This is his fourth year with the event and he helps host the Mushroom Cloud Lounge. “It’s a 2,000 square foot shaded structure with comfy seating that doubles at night as a dance club,” Danny explained, “We didn’t intend for it to become a dance club, but we had a good sound system and it became what the will of Wasteland wanted.” He spends his spare time throughout the year doing metal fabrication for vehicles and structures for the event. “I’m probably the only guy most people know that does hard manual labor for fun in his time off,” he admitted.

Luckily for everyone at UC San Diego, Danny’s computer skills are just as good as his ability to thrive in the (hopefully never to arrive) dystopian badlands. Glad to have you aboard!

ACMS Aces is a series of articles that highlights the dedicated employees of ACMS at UC San Diego. Keep checking back to find out more about the people behind the magic at ACMS!

ACMS Aces: Jim Rapp

Jim RappAcademic Computing & Media Services (ACMS) is privileged to have a number of long-time career staff. Assistant Director Jim Rapp, who oversees Instructional User Services, Help Desk/ResNet, and Campus Software Distribution, has been with the department for over 30 years.

Jim started with ACMS in the Instructional User Services group, which assists departments, instructors, and students involved in classes that ACMS supports. “We work directly with the instructors to get information about the software that they want to use for classes for the upcoming quarter,” Jim explained. “It can be as simple as Ted access, the learning management system. It can be as complicated as setting up individual accounts for students with access to specific software.”

Instructional User Services also administers the Instructional Computing Plan (ICP) , through which departments express their interest in new instructional computing resources. Decisions were recently made on requests for instructional technology received through the 2015 ICP. Jim was pleased with how the decision process went this year and is monitoring deployment of the approved tools.

Jim also oversees the ACMS Help Desk, which “is a one stop shop for anybody who is a consumer of services that we provide. Those services span the gamut of all 16 units within ACMS. The Help Desk employs not only full time staff but student workers as well.” There is never a dull day at the Help Desk, as revealed in an ACMS article from last year. The Help Desk team also covers ResNet, the residence hall and apartment Internet network, which “involves making sure that they have access to the equipment they need to connect to handling any problems that come up, providing information when they’re coming in, and collecting the equipment when they leave.”

“Campus Software Distribution is involved in access to software packages for which there is a campus-wide license,” Jim said in highlighting his final area of responsibility. Licenses are often acquired for instructional purposes but shared with campus when they can also benefit research or administration. Campus Software Distribution works directly with departments to coordinate licenses and software downloads.

Jim has always enjoyed helping others, which made his work with ACMS a natural fit. “One of the things that I like best about working here…is that when somebody asks a question, they really are interested in the answer I can provide,” he said.

Going back even further than Jim’s time with ACMS is his enjoyment of kite building. He found that the Conyne delta kite is best suited to San Diego. “It works in light winds and doesn’t come crashing down when the winds pick up,” he said. Another favorite design is the facet kite. Jim has flown a facet kite he made in 1980 annually at a kite festival at Mariner’s Point. It is no small kite, essentially a 10-foot cube (10’ x 10 ’x 10’) with 300 square feet of sail.

Thank you, Jim, for all of your years with ACMS. You’ve always been a high flyer!

ACMS Aces is a series of articles that highlights the dedicated employees of ACMS at UC San Diego. Keep checking back to find out more about the people behind the magic at ACMS!

ACMS Aces: Treb Padula

treb-padulaElectronics Technician Treb Padula is the newest addition to Academic Computing & Media Services’ (ACMS) audiovisual (AV) installation team, which upgrades or adds AV systems to rooms across campus.

Treb works on the Lecture Hall and Classroom Refresh Project, which is finishing its third year of improving lecture halls and classrooms. “UC San Diego isn’t just keeping up with classroom technology. We’re on the cutting edge with the touch screens and projectors,” he said. “I’m blown away by the opportunity to work on systems like these.” He has ample basis to make such a statement. Treb joined UC San Diego after nearly ten years of experience at CSU Stanislaus where he performed similar AV installation work. One of his first projects was a similar classroom refresh project that added projectors to all of classrooms, a transition that Treb worked on for five years.

Other AV installations that Treb works on take place through ACMS’s AV Design & Installation recharge service, which is open to all campus departments. He recently finished an AV Design & Installation job upgrading two rooms at Geisel Library.

Treb also works with Media Event Support to provide sound reinforcement services at events around campus. He sets up microphones and speakers prior to the start of the event and runs the mixer board during the event. His first experience in sound work came in his college job working events for the local parks and recreation department.

One of Treb’s favorite pastimes is listening to audiobooks. He particularly enjoys experiencing each work’s approach to its source material. “Audiobooks have really become an art form,” Treb said, “and there are so many different types. There are wonderful, full cast, ensemble audiobooks that are done wonderfully and they suck you in. It’s like you’re watching a movie. Then there are audiobooks where someone is reading the book to you. Autobiographies are some of the best because often it’s the author reading them and that makes it really powerful.” Treb singled out Michael J. Fox’s autobiography Lucky Man and Wil Wheaton’s reading of Ready Player One as outstanding audiobooks.

Treb, at right, in with his steampunk stilts

Treb, at right, in with his steampunk stilts (click for larger view)

In his spare time, Treb and his wife participate in cosplay, especially at conventions like Comic Con. Their steampunk costumes have won contests and been featured in magazine spreads, which should surprise no one since Treb’s includes stilts.

Welcome to the team Treb!

ACMS Aces is a series of articles that highlights the dedicated employees of ACMS at UC San Diego. Keep checking back to find out more about the people behind the magic at ACMS!

ACMS Aces: Sean Osterthaler

sean-osterthalerMuch of what Academic Computing & Media Services (ACMS) does for UC San Diego is made possible by servers and applications working smoothly and efficiently in the background. Sean Osterthaler leads a team of system administrators who work diligently keeping this vital infrastructure running.

Sean, in collaboration with his fellow managers in the ACMS Computing Infrastructure unit, oversees the maintenance and support of computer software configurations in the ACMS instructional computing labs throughout campus as well as the server infrastructure that supports these labs. He is the main OS X system administrator in ACMS and often goes into computer labs to troubleshoot issues related to Mac computers. Sean’s experience in the Apple computing environment runs deep. He has multiple Mac computers at work and at home, has owned nearly every model of iPhone since its introduction in 2007, and even uses a couple Apple TVs at home. He’s also keeping a close eye on the progress of the new Apple Watch.

In addition to supporting the computer labs on campus, Sean and his team are instrumental in supporting the GoVirtual online computing labs where students can access many of the same software packages found in campus computer labs using their own devices. Student use of GoVirtual has increased over the last couple of years, but Sean hopes that an even greater number start using the service. “We keep close watch over the performance of the systems, examine what appears to work well and what doesn’t, and stand ready to bring more resources to bear should the need arise in order to ensure that this is—and continues to be—a valuable service for the campus community,” Sean explained. “We are constantly looking for and evaluating ways in which we could improve the service.”

Sean often works on innovative computing projects. “Part of working with technology is understanding that there is always something new and exciting around the corner,” he said. Over the last two years, Sean has been involved in the Electronic Notebook project in collaboration with Professor Kim Albizati of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. ACMS supplied resources and support to bring electronic lab notebooks into upper division chemistry courses, replacing paper notebooks.

“One of the things I find most rewarding about working in a University environment is being able to readily see that the work I do really does make a difference. The work that we do here at ACMS has a profound impact on the lives of thousands of UC San Diego students in that education these days is heavily entrenched in technology,” Sean said. “Everywhere you look you see people using some sort of electronic device, many of which are accessing the email, file storage, software application, computing/instrumentation resources, and other services either in part or wholly provided by ACMS.”

Sean is one of several career staff at ACMS who started working with the department while attending UC San Diego as a student. In 1999, he accepted a full time position with the department and has been here ever since. “I love working in academia and you can’t beat the beauty of La Jolla in terms of workplace locale,” Sean said.

One of Sean’s favorite spots in San Diego is Double Peak, largely thanks to its gorgeous sunset views. He is the proud papa of Sasha the chocolate Labrador Retriever and Scooter the miniature Schnauzer.

The next time you use a computer lab, think of Sean and his team. Their work keeps everything running smoothly. Thanks Sean!

ACMS Aces is a series of articles that highlights the dedicated employees of ACMS at UC San Diego. Keep checking back to find out more about the people behind the magic at ACMS!

ACMS Aces: Chuck Rose

Chuck RoseThe Academic Computing & Media Services (ACMS) Help Desk is students’ central source for technology assistance on campus. Chuck Rose is the Help Desk/ResNet Manager and oversees the support provided by the Help Desk.

“There is no typical day at the Help Desk,” Chuck said. The knowledgeable technicians at the ACMS Help Desk routinely answer questions about residence hall networking, email, and computer lab printing—and even that only begins to scratch the surface. They spring into action when service outages arise to resolve them quickly. Chuck described the two biggest issues handled by the Help Desk: “Almost every day we see something having to do with viruses [or] malware…and there’s usually always somebody that comes in to talk to us about wireless issues.”

The ACMS Help Desk can address so many different issues because of the cross training technicians receive. This gives them the breadth of knowledge required to serve the varied needs of students, faculty, and staff. These technicians are supported and reinforced by the Help Desk career staff. “I’ve surrounded myself with a staff that [is] amazing,” Chuck said, “and that’s what allows us to do good work at the Help Desk.”

Supporting students, faculty, and staff is the top priority for the ACMS Help Desk. To achieve this goal, Chuck and his staff are trying to create a culture that encourages technicians to do whatever it takes to help get issues resolved. Central to this effort is the servant leadership model, which Chuck explained is “different than your traditional top-down leadership and much more focused on the idea that leaders are there to support the people who report to them.” Technicians who self-identify as “leaders among leaders” get the opportunity to go through servant leadership training so they can be effective resources for their fellow technicians. One of the things that satisfies Chuck the most about his role at the ACMS Help Desk is getting to be part of the personal and professional development of the student and career staff.

Last year Chuck was elected as the Clerk of the national board of ResNet Inc. “I take the minutes during our monthly meetings but also get to provide direct input on our discussions,” he said in describing his duties. The board’s primary work is organizing ResNet Inc.’s annual student technology conference, which provides an opportunity for those involved in educational technology to share information and network with each other.

If you ever have a technology problem, Chuck and the ACMS Help Desk team are there to help. Contact them today!

ACMS Aces is a series of articles that highlights the dedicated employees of ACMS at UC San Diego. Keep checking back to find out more about the people behind the magic at ACMS!

ACMS Aces: Jordi Olimon

Jordi OlimonVideo comprises approximately one third of online activity. Accordingly, it comes as no surprise that UC San Die­go faculty are using this medium to supplement their courses, specifically by creating instructional videos watched by their students online. Producer-Director Jordi Olimon is one of the Academic Computing & Media Services (ACMS) video professionals supporting their efforts.

Jordi has recorded hundreds of videos and is involved in every facet of their creation. He helps faculty write scripts, creates graphics, records video, performs postproduction editing, and uploads finished products for distribution. Jordi frequently moves between different types of video. “Some people come in and do problem solving on the board, whereas other people might create these really lengthy presentations that get really complex,” Jordi explained.

To best capture equations that would be done on a blackboard in a classroom, Jordi uses the Learning Glass, which allows faculty to write on a transparent glass surface maintaining eye contact with the viewer while being recorded.

Working on instructional videos is exciting for Jordi, especially because he is a recent UC San Diego graduate. “It’s something that I enjoy doing. The fact that I get to do something that I like and then other people get the benefit from it by making their lives easier [is] one of the nice things about [my job].” One reason that he is enthusiastic about creating instructional videos is that he is helping to create resources that did not exist when he was a student. “I wish I would have had access to this type of material back then,” Jordi said.

Jordi has a breadth of experience in video production. In addition to his work on instructional videos, he has worked on short films, small commercial films, music videos, and a small independent feature film. “I’ve done a little bit of everything,” he said. “[Video is] a medium that I really like working with.”

As the academic year nears completion, Jordi is already looking ahead to a busy summer. Several different faculty groups are already planning recording sessions with ACMS. Jordi will be involved with many, if not all, of these projects.

More information about how ACMS can support for flipped, online, and hybrid courses, including video production and instructional design, is available.

ACMS Aces is a series of articles that highlights the dedicated employees of ACMS at UC San Diego. Keep checking back to find out more about the people behind the magic at ACMS!

ACMS Aces: Adam Davies

Adam DaviesThe Media Teaching Lab supports undergraduate media production courses across all departments. Media Production Specialist Adam Davies recently joined the team that keeps the Lab running.

Adam’s favorite part of the Media Teaching Lab is the equipment check out service. This gives students access to cameras, tripods, jibs, sliders, microphones, light kits, and reflectors are examples of items. “We have so much great equipment and honestly a lot of people don’t know about the equipment checkout,” Adam said. Getting a piece of equipment back in the checkout rotation is a source of particular pride for Adam, especially if it was one of the pieces he has learned to repair since starting at the Lab.

The Media Teaching Lab also provides a variety of video production workshops. Adam has taught courses on some of the cameras available through the equipment checkout service as well as lighting techniques. “The lighting [is] actually my favorite,” Adam said, because he gets to demonstrate how many different pieces of equipment students can checkout from the Lab to good lighting. Interacting with students in workshops and at the equipment checkout facility has been the most rewarding part of Adam’s work. “They’re very focused on getting better at their craft,” he said.

Adam Davies teaching a workshop

Adam (left) teaching a workshop on lighting

Adam graduated from the Pratt Institute with a degree in film. Prior to joining UC San Diego, he worked as a freelance stop motion animator in New York and is currently completing a stop motion short film that has been in production for several years. “We finished shooting in October and then two or three hours after I finished the last frame of animating I had to hop in a taxi at 3:00 a.m. to come to the airport to fly to San Diego,” he recounted. The film is currently slated to be finished this summer.

Visit the Media Teaching Lab’s website to find out how Adam can support your video production needs (plus see film and video tidbits curated by the Lab’s staff).

ACMS Aces is a series of articles that highlights the dedicated employees of ACMS at UC San Diego. Keep checking back to find out more about the people behind the magic at ACMS!

ACMS Aces: Bill Homan

Bill HomanWith 18 different units, Academic Computing & Media Services (ACMS) does a lot to meet the instructional technology needs of UC San Diego. Examples include making sure that classrooms have current technology and running Ted, the learning management system. The department continually seeks to make the most of its resources to provide the greatest benefit it can. Technical Project Manager Bill Homan is part of realizing this goal.

Bill describes his work as “setting a structure and a foundation and coming up with standards for how we want to approach projects. The goal is to find a way to do them more efficiently and more effectively.” Since joining ACMS, Bill has helped the department clarify its priorities to ensure that resources are assigned appropriately. “We’ve recognized what our priorities are and really tried to identify across the organization what is most critical for us and understand what needs to be done first and what needs to be done immediately thereafter, and so on down the list,” he said. Since starting with the department in February, Bill has found that ACMS “has an incredibly talented team that has done and continues to do amazing things. The goal is to organize and find out if there’s a way to more effectively manage all the projects against the existing resources that we have.”

After working as a project manager in the private sector for over 10 years, Bill jumped at the opportunity to bring his skills to UC San Diego. He still has “a smile on my face because I’m walking into a university that is a student-driven, campus learning environment.” He has gotten to know the campus by running after work, taking him not just around the track, but through the paths and trails that weave throughout campus.

A longtime resident of San Diego, Bill enjoys the fantastic climate and variety of things to do and see in the area. His travels are often related to baseball, his favorite sport. Destinations have included touring Major League Baseball stadiums to see games and visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. He recently caught several spring training games in Arizona.

No matter what comes next for ACMS, Bill will help the department contribute towards our student-centered, research-focused, service-oriented public university.

ACMS Aces is a series of articles that highlights the dedicated employees of ACMS at UC San Diego. Keep checking back to find out more about the people behind the magic at ACMS!


ACMS Aces: Lara Sievert

Lara SievertLara Sievert recently joined the ranks of audiovisual professionals at Academic Computing & Media Services (ACMS) as a member of the Media Event Support team.

Lara brings two skill sets to her position as a Senior Producer/Director. The first is video production. Lara records special events around campus at the organizers’ request. After collecting footage, she performs postproduction work like adjusting audio levels or color correction before delivering the finished video. The second is setting up, operating, and striking sound systems for use at special events. Sometimes Lara operates the sound system and records video on the same job. In particular, she particularly enjoys covering lectures that take place on campus because they give her the opportunity to learn about the leading edge research that takes place at UC San Diego.

Lara hopes that more of the campus will start using Media Event Support’s live webcast hosting service. Some of the webcasts she has worked on have even been streamed to other UC campuses. ACMS has provided webcasting services for the Dart NeuroScience Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center Seminar Series since Fall Quarter 2014.

Recently, Lara helped develop the new photography service offered through Media Event Support, researching the equipment and software needed. Lara has long had a passion for photography. Her first exposure came in courses she took in high school and college and she has continued pursuing photography outside of work.

Prior to joining ACMS, Lara worked at University Centers supporting meetings and events. She also worked in the television industry as a production assistant and later, much to her surprise, as an audio engineer. “I didn’t think I’d ever learn anything about audio, but what I learned is that good audio is essential to any video production,” Lara said. These skills help her create excellent audio at special events with Media Event Support’s microphones, speakers, and sound systems.

To learn more about what Lara and the Media Event Support team can do for your special event, visit the Media Event Support website. Welcome aboard Lara!

ACMS Aces is a series of articles that highlights the dedicated employees of ACMS at UC San Diego. Keep checking back to find out more about the people behind the magic at ACMS!