OXFORD UNIVERSITY IT USERS GROUP
A meeting of the Oxford University IT Users Group was held on
Tuesday 12th January 1999. The following people attended the meeting:
- Kit Bailey (Chairman), Plant Sciences
- Bill Platts, AISU
- Gerry Brush, Biological Anthropology
- Clive Dalzell, Careers Service
- Terry Campton, Clinical School, IMSU
- Jonathan Burt, Continuing Education
- Peter Robinson, Educational Technology Resources Centre
- Dave Popplewell, Experimental Psychology
- Everard Robinson, Libraries Automation Service
- Nick Woodhouse, Maths/IT Committee
- Roger Shilcock, Modern Language Faculty Lib.
- John Tiffany, Ophthalmology
- Richard Chard, Oriental Studies Faculty
- David Harper, Paediatrics
- Tom Currane, Pharmacology
- Pete Biggs, Physical & Theoretical Chemistry Lab.
- Neil Hoggarth, Physiology
- Rosemary Painter, Public Health & Primary Care
- Roger Crawford, Queen Elizabeth House
- David J. Price, Radcliffe Science Library
- Valerie OSullivan, Radiology
- John Jenkins, Said Business School
- Susan Lake, Theology Faculty
- Michael Teper, Theoretical Physics
- Alan Kendall, University Safety Office
- Sue Brooks, Computing Services
- Alan Gay, Computing Services
- Alex Reid, Computing Services
- Carol Bateman (Secretary), Computing Services
Apologies for absence:
- Marcus Banks, Anthropology
- Tony Lynas-Grey, Astrophysics
- Bob Wells, Atmospheric Physics
- John Elder, Biochemistry
- Peter Grout, Chemistry
- Tom Anstey, Institute of Molecular Medicine
- Robert Sherlaw-Johnson, Music
- Jasmine Hornsey, Occupational Health Service
- Robert Taylor, Physics
- Mark Dean, Ruskin School of Drawing
- Derek Siveter, Univ. Museum of Natural History
- Manuel Berdoy, Veterinary Services
- Diana Sibbick, Wellcome Unit for History of Medicine
- Robin McCleery, Zoology
971 MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETING
- The minutes of the meeting held on 2nd October 1998 were accepted as
972 MATTERS ARISING
972.1 Minute 964.2 - Joint Meeting with Colleges
- Carol Bateman had taken the proposal to have joint meetings with the
Colleges IT Group to their meeting in week 3 in Michaelmas 1998.
They had felt that the meetings should normally be separate but were
willing to have a joint meeting in Michaelmas 1999. Carol Bateman will
report back to the Colleges IT Group.
- Kit Bailey suggested that sub-groups which are not represented on the
IT Committee (such as the IT Support Staff Group) could more easily
report via a joint University and Colleges IT Group.
973 CHAIRMANS REPORT
- Kit Bailey had produced a written report which is now available with
the other reports on the web. He explained the re-organisation of the
committee structure which Nick Woodhouse is implementing. The main aim
being to allow the IT Committee to concentrate on strategic planning and
the technical detail would be discussed by the Technical Review Group. A
new General Purposes Committee will deal with all non-technical matters
which had formally been dealt with by the IT Committee. The membership
of the TRG would be opened to people with technical expertise from
across the University. This new structure will mean that the IT
Committee will now only meet once a term and hopefully the amount of
paper work and multiple discussions would be reduced.
- He also expressed concern about the reduction in help desk funding
since more than a third of all RAWP-funded departments have opted out of
the help desk service. He wondered how the help desk service could be
974 COMPUTING SERVICES REPORT
- Alex Reid had produced a written report which was placed on-line with
the agenda. He added some further details about some of the items.
- The HFS has had a large upgrade and new disks have been added.
- Trans-Atlantic Traffic - OUCS is looking at strategies for rapidly
identifying wayward systems which suddenly have excessive
trans-Atlantic traffic. Alex Reid compared the Oxford traffic with the
Cambridge, Manchester and Reading information. Manchester and Reading
introduced compulsory web caching in 1998 and there was a clear decrease
in their trans-Atlantic traffic. It was noted that the Oxford proportion
of total traffic had stayed consistently at about 4%. Not many
Universities have introduced caching and it was mainly the smaller ones.
If many others introduce it then Oxfords proportion of usage is
likely to increase. It is not yet known how charging will be done; it
could be that the rate will stay the same and it is done on proportion
or it could be related to past usage or the size of the institution. The
IT Committee is charged with controlling the usage and if usage charging
is to continue there seemed little alternative to passing them onsince
this is a method of control. Samples of pages have been checked for
content a spam email will be sent warning people about access to
- Help Desk - Alex Reid reported that he hoped that the details about
the use of the Help Desk would be available by the end of February. From
1st August undergraduates would be directed to their college or
- The University currently spends £180,000 per year on Microsoft
products. A proposed new site-licence deal would cost £210,000. The
new licence for the Corel suite is £5,000. Star office is also
available. Pete Biggs asked about other platforms for Corel; the Solaris
version is expected shortly. Star Office has Linux/Windows versions.
JISC has commissioned a study of alternatives to Microsoft products.
- Kit Bailey asked about progress with setting up the IT Support staff
register. Progress has been slow due to key staff having left.
- Clive Dalzell asked about the use of the cache since he was finding
that it was much slower when using the cache for UK sites. Some testing
has been done and they will be repeated.
975 LIBRARIES REPORT
- Everard Robinson and David Price had produced a written report which
was placed on-line with the agenda. The following notes were added:
- Solaris 2.6 has not provided the anticipated improvement in
- An independent backup device is being installed in place of the HFS.
- GeoWeb access to OLIS was launched at the end on November
additional functionality will be provided in the next release.
- GeoPAC has been installed in a few libraries but is not currently
suitable for public workstations as it allows readers to save the
results on the hard disk.
- The Hand Press Books and ESTC databases are available free from
- There are various difficulties with running the CD-ROM databases with
them being available on Netware and Windows NT.
- The use of a thin client system is being explored but it is
976 ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION SERVICES UNIT
- Bill Platts had produced a written report which was placed on-line
with the agenda. The following notes were added:
- The University Offices are steadily converting to using Windows NT
and this will be followed by a move to Office 2000.
- There are some performance issues to be overcome in the new
payroll/personnel system which is being piloted shortly.
- There will be a GUI interface developed for the payroll/personnel
977 REPORTS FROM OTHER COMMITTEES
977.1 South East Region Janet Users Group
- The minutes are placed on the web at http://www.ja.net/usergroups/.
There were no comments.
977.2 South East Region Computer Users
- Peter Grout had produced a written report which was placed on-line
with the agenda. There were no comments.
977.3 Network Advisory Group
- The minutes are placed on the web at
http://www.ox.ac.uk/it/networks/nag/. Alan Gay summarised the main
concerns raised at the meetings and in particular:
- The problem of people running ftp/mail servers - this is being looked
- Mail relays are being identified and closed down.
- IT support staff in Colleges and departments do not have a clear idea
about what to do when there is a network problem.
977.4 IT Support Staff Group
- Pete Biggs gave a brief verbal report mentioning in particular that
the group was looking forward to a meeting with Nick Woodhouse to
discuss their concerns about the employment of IT Support staff.
978 ANY OTHER BUSINESS
978.1 Year 2000
- Alex Reid reported that a new group had been set up by the Registrar
for the Y2K project. All departments should have certified for
compliance by the end of December 1998 but since there had not been much
response this deadline had been extended to 31st March 1999. A
questionnaire needed to be completed. Charles Curran from OUCS has been
seconded to this committee which is being chaired by the Registrar.
979 DATE OF NEXT MEETING
Tuesday 20th April 1999 at 14:00
- Carol Bateman
- 19th January 1999