Tuesday, September 16, 2014

BIT Employee Announced as Winner of SDPB’s “Landscapes of South Dakota”

On August 19th, South Dakota Public Broadcasting (SDPB) put on the Landscapes of South Dakota photo contest in anticipation of South Dakota’s 125th upcoming anniversary and to coincide with “World Wide Photo” day.  The contest consisted of 4 categories, “South Dakota”, “Home”, “Work”, and “Connections”.  Applicants were allowed to upload a maximum of 4 photos per category.  There were prizes given to the top three photos judged in each category.  The end result was that SDPB had received well in excess of 800 photos submitted by 199 photographers!

Work: 1st Place
Look up when you work!
Keith Hemmelman
Keith Hemmelman, a Technology Engineer III at BIT, is an active member of the Central South Dakota Photography Club and also actively participates in the South Dakota Photography Facebook group.  Enjoying living in South Dakota, he takes as many photos of South Dakota as possible and makes our great state look spectacular!  His passion for South Dakota is one of the main reasons he took part in the South Dakota Landscapes photo contest. Keith approached the contest as capturing a day in the life of South Dakota. With plenty of vacation leave, Keith took the day off and roamed around Pierre and the countryside, taking as many photos of different subjects as he could find. The vast amount of photos gave him the opportunity to enter 4 photos in each category. Entering the maximum number accepted was not an attempt to win, but rather to contribute to this project. When the results were announced, Keith had not only won one category,  but he had won 1st place in two of the four categories! 
Connections: 1st Place
Prairie Connections
Keith Hemmelman

Congratulations, Keith! Your photos were outstanding.
To view quality versions of Keith’s photos as well as other winning photographs from the SDPB South Dakota Landscapes contest, click here! You can also view a collection of Keith’s photos on his personal website: http://hemmelman.zenfolio.com .

 *A full story of Keith and his hobby is being published in the near future. Don't miss it! Subscribe to the BIT blog today!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Insuring a Successful Purchase-Moratoriums

Moratoriums are for non-standard items and standard items on the BIT website where moratorium approval is required. When an agency purchases nonstandard or noncontract technology it must go through the BIT moratorium process. This process is in place to make sure that technology is compatible with state computer and network environment. BIT also evaluates security posture and support requirements of the product. In some situations the agency may be responsible for support.

Moratorium guidelines include the following:
  • Moratoriums are only for the item and quantity listed in the request.
  • New moratoriums are required for additional purchases or installations, even if they have been previously approved.
  • New moratoriums are required for full version upgrades of a previously approved item.
BIT uses a guideline of 5-working days to approve most moratoriums. Software moratoriums will take longer because the vetting process is more complicated due to security and licensing terms. BIT has significant amounts of experience in understanding software and hardware technology.  Our experience in software licensing is expanding every day.  It is to your benefit to take advantage of this expertise as soon as you have identified a technology need.

Bypassing the moratorium process brings about many challenges and risks for BIT and the requesting agency. A product purchased without BIT approval cannot be installed without BIT involvement.  The request will still have to go through it normal moratorium process regardless of the “crisis” situation. If the agency already purchased the product, the purchased product can still be denied and prevented from going into the state’s technology environment. In those cases, the agencies assume the financial responsibility and must work with the vendor for returning the product.

BIT will always work with the agency to find a solution, avoiding the moratorium processes may result in a very stressful event for all parties involved.   BIT understands that exceptions to our standards are needed on occasion.  Involving us early in the identifying stages of the request will allow for all of us to be successful in meeting the needs.

Please contact your BIT Point of Contact or visit http://intranet.bit.sd.gov/forms/mora/ for more information on the moratorium process.

A special thanks goes out to Eugene Thomas for providing us with this article!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Sioux Falls Half Marathon: BIT Employee Finishes 8th!

Nic Penning
Nic Penning found success while participating in the Sioux Falls Half Marathon over the weekend. The Half Marathon started at Howard Wood Field and wound through scenic Falls Parks, downtown Sioux Falls, bike trails, and ended near Sertoma Park. Along the way he was cheered on by over 500 volunteers that were on the course!

Nic had a good race and placed 8th with a time of 1:14:02 (5:39 Pace)! Below are the results of the top 25 finishers of the race.

Top 25 Results

Congrats, Nic-BIT is proud of your accomplishments!

To learn more about Nic’s passion for running and future plans/goals, check out the previous article on his life outside of BIT.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Midco #1 in Nation: Fastest ISP

When it comes to Internet speeds it is a known fact that the U.S. lags far behind other countries in the world, but there is good news-the U.S. is improving! Last year, Ookla's own Net Index country list rated the U.S. at No. 31 (19.1 avg. Mbps). This year the U.S. is rated at No. 25 with the national average download speed of 29.0 Mbps!
Fastes ISP 2014 U.S.- Overall
Source: PCMag

The entire top 10 fastest ISPs in the U.S. saw an increase in their Speed Index score over the last year. The fastest ISP in the nation is right here in SD! Midcontinet Communications (Midco) had the largest improvement in speed and landed in the #1 slot. Midco had an unmatched Speed Index of 46.8 (last year: No. 2 -27.8). That’s impressive improvement! Over the last year, Midco's download speed went from 33.1 Mbps to 46.8 Mbps on average. Remarkable, Midco upgraded to those speeds at no cost to the consumer!

The beneficial improvements of Midco and the continuous efforts to provide superb service to their consumers are greatly appreciated. Most citizens of South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin have the option of receiving these impressive speeds!

Read the full version of the fastest ISPs of 2014 on PCMag here!

21st Annual BIT Golf Tournament

We have another BIT Golf Tournament in the books! This year marked the 21st consecutive year of holding this event. This time around we had 19 teams sign up which was near the top of any year previous. The 2014 BIT Golf Tournament was held on Thursday, September 4th at the Hillsview Golf course, an 18-hole course located near the Missouri River in southeast Pierre. It was a superb day spent in great weather conditions, although the wind was a bit gusty (hey, no one can complain about bugs)!

The format of the tournament was a four person scramble. Teams had the option to purchase additional one-putt’s (used on any hole x 4) to benefit their game throughout the day.   To add a level of difficulty, each team had to follow special hole rules. For example, hole #3 was a “Pick 1 Club” rule-each player selects a single club before anyone tees off.  Each player must have a different club and it cannot be a putter and they must use that club the entire hole!  Participants also had the chance to win pin prize for the longest drive, longest putt, etc.

At the end of the day there was a variety of golfer prizes and awards handed out. The following are the results from this year. Feel free to pat these folks on the back in recognition of their achievement!

Upper Flight:
  1. Zach Reeve, Jim Reeve, Wayne Lauck, Kim Smith  -11 
  2. Lisa Rae, Brad Remmich, Gayle Varty, Brook Varty  -8
  3. Andy Ogan, Dan Pollema, Jered Schock, Chass Beving -8
Lower Flight:
  1. Brad Samuelson, DJ Hausmann, Deanne Booth, Brenda Thomas +3 
  2. Brandy McBride, Joey Schillinger, Dennis Stout, Andy Hubbart  +3
  3. Dino Brooks, Mark Heier, Travis Newling, Tim Waters  +6
The 2014 BIT Golf Tournament-a successful and relaxing day spent with great people. Congratulations to this year’s winners, to everyone for participating, and to Hillsview Golf Course for hosting us once again!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Reset Your Brain

Did you catch our article on time management? If not, you can find it here! Within the article we mention that an important aspect of any productive day is to take breaks where you don’t think about your work. No matter how busy your day, take time for yourself! It seems as though this time of year is one of the busiest for most. It’s times like now, when we feel like we don’t have even one minute to spare, that we need to take a break the most! We focus best when we take regular breaks.
Here are some tips:
  1. Set a timer- Find a rhythm that works best for you. Set your timer for 30-50 minutes and then remove your mind from your work (take a quick walk around your floor, get a cup of coffee, etc.). These blocks of time will provide you a stretch to work on those important projects with high ranking while staying focused. The time away from the desk will help you rejuvenate your mind before continuing again.  **State employees must adhere to BHR employee policy. It is the policy of the state of South Dakota to allow employees a 15 minute rest period every four hours if the work load permits. The break, however, is not guaranteed.
  2.  Don’t Skip Lunch- Working through lunch may show your supervisor that you are dedicated and a hard worker, but it can also make the rest of your day difficult. Take your lunch break to think about things other than your big project, nurture your body and give yourself the much needed energy to continue with a productive and efficient work day!
  3. Enjoy Nature- Our brains are programmed to reset when we experience the sublime. When you are feeling bogged down, get outside and enjoy the scenery and fresh air. This is the time to let your mind wander! If you can’t get to the outdoors, turn your favorite music on and take five minutes to get lost in the beat.
  4. Vacation-Yes, there is such a thing! Even if your “vacation” consist of one lousy day at home doing absolutely nothing, it will help. Unplug your technology; don’t even think about checking that email! This is the time to work on your personal projects, read a book, or watch TV. This single day away from your desk will refresh your brain, which is just what you need to hit the ground running the next day!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

#HuntInSD: Department of Tourism

The South Dakota Department of Tourism is continuing the success of #HiFromSD (check out all the shared pictures at http://www.travelsd.com/hifromsd) into the fall shoulder season for leisure travelers. In addition to #HiFromSD, Tourism will also be encouraging hunters to share their photos of their South Dakota hunting experience using the hashtag #HuntInSD. Tourism will again use Tagboard functionality to house those photos on www.TravelSD.com/HuntInSD.
Look for the official launch of #HuntInSD the first part of September. While you wait, help give their campaign a little push by going back through older picture on your social media sites and tag some hunting photos with the hashtag. Or, of course, you can use it anytime soon to share new content on what you’re most looking forward to this hunting season. Tourism would appreciate any assistance in getting some starter photos up there so that when their visitors look at the page there are already some great posts!