Thursday, October 9, 2014

Employees of the Quarter Announced at BIT

In honor of these individuals’ outstanding performance and dedication to the Bureau of Information and Telecommunications, state government and the citizens of South Dakota, we gladly recognize them for their high standards of excellence in their duties.
 
Dan, Jan and Tanya, we thank you for all you do to improve state technology services - you all make a difference!
 
Dan Maxfield has been recognized for his high standards of excellence in the support and expansion of data center virtualization.
 
Almost 2 years ago, Dan was hired into the BIT Data Center Integration Team.   The focus had been on finding someone able to support BIT’s need for additional people in the area of virtualization and our VMWare product suite.   We were fortunate to have Dan step forward and we hired him for the position.  Dan brought to BIT existing experience and knowledge of VMware. Since he arrived at BIT, Dan has continued to build on his past technical accomplishments and has shown himself a willing team player. Dan recently earned the classification of 2014 vExpert and was asked to serve on the International VMWare User Group (VMUG) Content Committee.  This is the group that determines the focus of publishing from the International VMUG group to all its members. His daily efforts, his excellent presentations to educate others in BIT, and other tasks he takes on within the team as well as his positive approach to serving our clients have been the hallmarks of his time with BIT. 
 
What many people outside the Integration team probably don’t know about Dan is that his experience at his previous job in his home town of Hill City also allowed him to dabble in other areas of civil service.  Some of those included, participating in the City Commission of Hill City as well as eventually taking on the responsibility of being elected Mayor!  Outside of work Dan enjoys many activities, much of which he shares with his family: wife Arlene, and children Kristi and Matt.
 
So two years into his state career, BIT’s Honorable Mayor Maxfield is today a valued member of the Integration Team helping BIT keep moving the State ever further into the new and highly expanding world of virtualization. 
 
Jan Newman has been recognized for her high standards of excellence in project management.
While not a face seen daily in the Kneip Building, Jan Newman’s voice certainly rings familiar across many a conference call and Lync meeting in BIT.  Acting in roles including senior programmer, business technologies manager, senior analyst, and most recently Technology Engineer; Jan’s talent contributions have improved BIT and state government for 28 years.  While originally based out of Pierre, Jan currently lives and works from the Siberian-suburb of Watertown.  Combining knowledge of technology and industry trends, an ability to translate technical jargon into plain English, attention to detail and the persistence to keep herself and others on schedule, Jan remains a first choice for administering and leading long-term, high-risk, high-visibility, cross-divisional projects in BIT.
 
Jan’s current portfolio of work includes the I/T Asset Management research and evaluation efforts, the South Dakota Broadband Initiative, and the Dept. of Education’s  School Nutrition & Food programs.   Historically she has participated in the I/T Governance Processes project, Y2K remediation, Continuity of Operations Planning, Intergovernmental Preparedness for Essential Records, Joint Application Design (JAD) sessions, telemedicine project, standard establishment, research and one of the original versions of the BIT newsletter.  Her programming experience includes applications for the Office of the Attorney General, Department of Revenue and the Unified Judicial System. Prior to state government, she had experience with the Sperry Univac (most of you are going to have to use the Google machine to know what that was…), payroll and pensions.

Jan’s dependability, organization, and ability to quickly become well-versed on the wide gamut of technical variances of her cross-discipline task load has been paramount not just to her success in BIT, but to BIT’s success as a whole.  Her success proves how far one can go with an Accounting and Economics degree from SDSU.  Jan was one of the original BIT teleworkers paving the way for many others to work in office locations outside of Pierre. 
 
Outside of the office, Jan enjoys spending time with her husband George and cooking all of his wild game conquests.  Her adult children Vance, Keith, and Danielle keep her busy though she is convinced that spoiling her growing basketball team of grandchildren is her new life’s passion.  Finally, she is adapting to the new family hunting dog despite the early morning responsibilities of walking the beast. 
 
 
Tanya McDermott has been recognized for her high standards of excellence as a project lead for BIT. 
 
Tanya is a Software Engineer for the Bureau of Information and Telecommunications Development Team 4.  With over 7 years of service with the State of South Dakota in this field, she has proven to be a valuable employee to have on the team. 
 
Recently Tanya has been assigned the project lead on several projects including the Documentation for Eligibility Modernization System Replacement and the Ambulatory Payment Classifications (APC) Outpatient Pricing projects.  She excels at working on projects that have multiple stakeholders.  Her clear strength is her ability to relate to clients in a respectful and empowering way. 
 
In addition, she has a knack for mentoring which is most likely related to her experience as a teacher at Northeast Community College. Tanya collaborates well with her co-workers, going out of her way to have a team approach in working with clients while maintaining accurate focus on her clients’ goals.  She goes “above and beyond” what is asked of her.   
 
This born and raised Nebraskan has two children Savannah (8) and Kaiden (4).  She volunteers to assist the YMCA with their basketball and soccer programs.   Her exercise of choice is boxing.   She has a bachelor of science from Wayne State College and went on to get her masters from University of Phoenix in Computer Information Systems with an emphasis in project management.    She also has two years towards her doctorate. 
 
Again, congratulations and thank you all for your efforts.  BIT looks forward to many more years of these three being  valued members of our team!
 

September Longevity Recognition for BIT Employees

BIT recognizes staff in honor of their outstanding performance and dedication to our agency, state government and the citizens of South Dakota. Below is a list of those BIT employees that were recognized for longevity in the month of September. Congratulations and thank you for your years of leadership, commitment and dedication to the State of South Dakota!

Keep up the great work!

Kevin Sarvis                            DATA              13 years
Cheryl Voigt                            DATA              35 years
Joy Nye                                  DATA              46 years


Linda Peterson                        DEV                32 years
Barrie Sargent                         DEV                15 years
Jeremy Schultz                       DEV                11 years
Bruce Kinder                           DEV                8 years
Kurt Nussbaum                       DEV                13 years
Joanne Peterson                     DEV                36 years
Joseph Watson                       DEV                16 years
Mary Ann Word                      DEV                19 years
Rhonda Peterson                    DEV                28 years
Kim Wieczorek                       DEV                22 years

 
Marty Keegan                         TELE               18 years
Bradley List                             TELE               16 years
Jeanne Mertz                          TELE               20 years
Cami Shouldis                         TELE               13 years
Thomas Eugene                     TELE               26 years
Michael Waldner                     TELE               7 years
James Fry                               TELE               9 years
Ronna Masteller                      TELE               16 years
Brian Singleton                        TELE               32 years
 

Chad Anderson                       SDPB              15 years
Laura Dimock                         SDPB              13 years
Brian Gevik                             SDPB              9 years
Rex Kinnear                            SDPB              31 years

 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Digital Dakota Network (DDN)-Videoconferencing Services

The Digital Dakota Network (DDN) is a fully equipped digital videoconferencing network designed to help South Dakotans overcome the remote geographical challenges within our state.

Primarily designed for distance education, DDN video systems have been placed in every public school district and nearly every high school throughout South Dakota. Many communities may have multiple systems where utilization is heaviest. Other educational sites that connect with DDN are the state’s Universities, State Technical Institutes, tribal schools, private schools, and even health care facilities that provide outreach training.

Videoconference connections are not limited just to South Dakota or traditional education users.  Special educational events are often scheduled through DDN to give all South Dakota public schools an affordable option to bring in outside programs or speakers. Examples of such use are classroom sessions from: NASA, the US Forest Service, the Badlands National Forest, Mt. Rushmore, the Keystone Mammoth Site, the outdoor campus and coming soon educational sessions from the Sioux Falls Great Plains Zoo.

Non-education users include State Government, non-profit organizations, for-profit businesses and other clubs/organizations. (Fee’s may apply for profit/non-profit users)

What are the benefits of using this type of network conferencing system?
There are many benefits to using the DDN for conferences in-state, out-of-state and around the world.
  • Minimizes travel time.
  • Reduces meeting expenses.
  • Increases productivity.
  • Intra/Interstate and global connections.
  • Connects communities.
  • Bridging services for multipoint videoconferencing.
  • K-12 classes can interact with students from across the state and world.

Statistics
700 video conference units registered to the state server
15,000 videoconferences held statewide: FY 14 (July 1, 2013 – June 30, 2014)
18,500 hours of videoconferences held (FY 14)

Combined Services
DDN systems can be interconnected to maximize videoconferencing efficiency through increased geographic coverage. For example, a motivational speaker from Japan could be brought in via the interstate system and routed to any of the receive sites. Conversely, a locally originated program could be sent to almost anywhere in the world.

How to obtain the service:
DDN staff can be reached from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (CT) Monday through Friday by calling (605) 773-3333 for scheduling or technical assistance. Technical help line is 800-567-8345 and is staffed during all conference hours.
          Website information located at http://bit.sd.gov/ddn/
          Online scheduling form http://bit.sd.gov/ddn/forms.aspx

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Life Outside BIT: Keith Hemmelman

Capitol Lighting
Keith Hemmelman
You may recall a past article this month featuring Keith Hemmelman, a BIT employee, who won SDPB’s “Landscapes of South Dakota” photography contest. Today the BIT Blog gives you the background story on Keith and how he became a skilled and accomplished photographer.

Keith first became interested in photography as a teenager, an interest that came from his mother who was always taking photos of his family. Keith remembers getting a booklet many years ago published by Kodak that went over the basics of photography and had a variety of examples showing the results of various techniques. The final product that a camera is able to capture was amazing to him.

The book led him into photography. Keith has no formal training or experience with photography, most of what he knows has been self-taught. His participation in photography has varied greatly at different levels for many years, never really taking it seriously until the introduction to digital cameras approximately 10 years ago. The fact that he worked in the computer field helped speed up his transition to digital photography. Keith bought his first digital camera, and never looked back to film. Photography has become his hobby and he hopes to always keep it as a hobby and source of enjoyment.

Keith currently shoots with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III camera and his most used lens is a 24mm-70mm f/2.8 lens. He does have other lenses that he uses quite often depending on whether he is shooting landscapes, wildlife, events, or portraits of the family. Keith is an active member of the Central South Dakota Photography Club and also actively participates in the South Dakota Photography Facebook group. His main goal is to capture landscapes or moments in time and present it such that it catches the viewer’s attention.


Collage of Four Images:
Traveling Vietnam Wall, American Flag, Fireworks, Vietnam Memorial Statue
Keith Hemmelman

Keith has advice to other interested in photography:

1. Start small! That doesn’t necessarily mean to buy the cheapest or smallest camera, but rather curtail your desire to go out and over purchase camera equipment. You can learn the basics of photography with almost any camera.

2. Consider joining a local photography club if there is one available. If not, look to the internet, such as Facebook, to find a photography group to join.

3. For someone who is completely new to photography and doesn’t know where to start, Keith highly recommends a book by Bryan Peterson titled “Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition”. It will help explain the basics of photography, including the most important item being the “photographic triangle”.

4. Just get out and shoot. Look at your results, ask questions, and learn from it!

You can visit his personal photo website to view many of his photos. The web address is: http://hemmelman.zenfolio.com .

Photography is what you want it to be regardless of the quality or content of your images or what someone else might think. So if you’re happy, then you are doing something right!

 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Fall Career Fair Season Underway for BIT


BIT took part in the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology career fair in Rapid City last week. BIT spoke with many students, collected resumes and conducted 5 interviews on site. A long list of contact information of students interested in summer internships with BIT was compiled as well—we will inform those interested students in January when the internships become available.

This year’s career fair was the largest to date for the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology! On September 23rd, 153 companies from 28 states and Canada gathered together in Rapid City to recruit the top notch students that SDSMT produce.  Approximately 1,200 SD Mines students took part in the massive career fair looking for full-time and part-time job openings as well as summer internships.  Statistics show that nearly 76 percent of SDSMT students graduate with at least one internship or co-op experience, and 98 percent of students either have a job in their field of study or go on to graduate school after commencement.

Click here to view a list of future fall career fairs that BIT will attend!




Friday, September 26, 2014

Increasing High-Speed Internet Usage Across All of South Dakota

Over the past 3 years, over $1 million dollars in funding has been awarded through 154 grants in 74 communities across the state of South Dakota. The purpose of the funding was to purchase equipment needed to increase usage and adoption of high-speed Internet (broadband) services in order to improve economic opportunities and the overall quality of life.

The funding was made available through the South Dakota Broadband Initiative (SDBI), a project managed by the Bureau of Information and Telecommunications (BIT). This project provided opportunities for expert consultation, unbiased technical advice, and the acquisition of much needed robust enterprise level equipment. Grant funds were used to purchase technical devices and equipment, such as networking and wireless components, firewalls, and computers.

The grant funding, was available for any Community Anchor Institution (CAI) such as libraries, medical and healthcare facilities, K-12 schools, institutions of higher education, public safety offices (fire, ambulance, police, etc.), government offices (city, county, state, tribal, etc.), and other community support locations (YMCA’s, United Way, Boys & Girls Clubs, etc.).

These grant awards are quite diverse, and provide previously absent opportunities for the awardees, their communities and ultimately its citizens. For example, city and county offices are now offering secured public Wi-Fi at commission and board meetings, schools and libraries have more computers, faster networks and secured wireless access for students and patrons. Community centers have the opportunity to offer more technology access to their members and visitors.

Some South Dakota locations are difficult for providers to reach customers with high-speed Internet. Now, if citizens live in these very rural areas where their Internet capabilities are limited these grants help provide a location where they can gather to utilize high-speed Internet. These community anchor locations with publicly available, safe, and secure high-speed Internet access make a huge impact in our communities.

SDBI has created a document to showcase how each CAI utilized the grant funds. The document summarizes the equipment purchased and how it will be used to improve their community through increased usage and adoption of high-speed Internet services. The document can be found on the SDBI website at http://broadband.sd.gov/Docs/Awarded_Grant_Usage_and_Summaries.pdf.

Break down of the Community Anchor Institutions

#
Community Anchor Institutions Improved
34
K-12 Schools
31
Libraries
16
Medical & healthcare facilities
4
Public Safety offices
4
Higher education
42
Municipalities, Government & Tribal Offices
23
Community Support Locations

About the South Dakota Broadband Initiative:
 
South Dakota’s participation in the State Broadband Initiative is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce through the National Telecommunications & Information Administration. The purpose of the project is to identify high-speed Internet availability along with facilitating the integration of broadband and information technology into local economies. Broadband technologies can be a significant contributor and competitive advantage to growing our rural economy in the 21st century.  For more information, please visit http://broadband.sd.gov or connect with us at facebook.com/Broadbandsd or @Broadbandsd.

About the South Dakota Bureau of Information and Telecommunications:
The South Dakota Bureau of Information and Telecommunications (BIT) strives to provide a reliable, secure and agile infrastructure, deliver valuable services through advanced technology solutions and retain a highly skilled workforce to directly support clients and the services they provide to the State of South Dakota. BIT provides a variety of services, including: project management, technology integration, software and hardware, hosting, email capabilities, voicemail and phone services, document imaging, network storage, help desk support services, GIS, ongoing technology maintenance and much more. For more information, please visit bit.sd.gov or connect with us at blog.bit.sd.gov or @bit_sd.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Programmer-Analyst, Valued Team Member and Friend


Doug Hauf
BIT Development was having a very difficult time finding applicants who wanted to do mainframe.  One applicant came in for an interview with a Java background but said he was willing to do anything.  That started Doug Hauf’s career with BIT.  We certainly did put his willingness to the test.  He jumped into JCL, COBOL, and Natural within the first couple months and then we threw WebMethods and C#.NET at him.  Doug never wavered.  He asked lots of questions and kept asking until he fully understood the topic.  He would laugh and say, “Well, I learned something new today.”  He was always willing to try anything we gave him.  He was always willing to learn to the point he would go home and try to find software to install on his personal computer or books to read so he could keep improving his skills. 

On the personal side, Doug was always happy and friendly.  His attitude and demeanor was calm and joyful no matter how crazy things around him were.  His little half-smile and laugh were always at the ready.  Doug was a natural story-teller and frequently would give us stories from his past or humorous things that had happened recently.  No matter what was happening, Doug would find humor in it.  We remember the day he got locked inside his apartment…only he could tell that story…what a hoot!

A lot of Doug’s stories were from times with his family.  He often talked about fishing with his dad.  His family was so important to him and he would often share memories of times with his parents and his aunts and uncles. 

We lost a valued team asset and a good friend.  Doug, we know you are having fun…we will miss you!