A meeting of the University IT Users' Group was held on Tuesday 18th April 2001. The following people attended the meeting:
|John Jenkins (Chairman)||Oxford University Computing Services|
|Clive Dalzell||Careers Service|
|Malcolm Harper||Computing Laboratory|
|Jonathan Burt||Continuing Education|
|Dave Popplewell||Experimental Psychology|
|Peter Belk||Human Anatomy|
|Terry Campton||Information Management Services Unit|
|Gerard Robinson||Information Management Services Unit|
|Roger Shilcock||Modern Languages Faculty Library|
|Pete Biggs||Physical & theoretical Chemistry|
|David Tilley||Surveyor's Office|
|Susan Lake||Theology Faculty|
|Tony Brett||IT Support Staff Group|
|Everard Robinson||Oxford University Library Services|
|David Price||Oxford University Library Services|
|Carol Bateman||Oxford University Computing Services|
|Jane Brown (Minutes)||Oxford University Computing Services|
|Paul Jeffreys||Oxford Universoty Computing Services|
|Apologies for absence:|
|Bob Wells||Atmospheric Physics|
|Michael Stevens||Cairns Library|
|Robert Vanderplank||Language Centre|
|Philomen Probert||Literae Humaniores|
|Janet Mead||Occupational Health|
|Jasmine Hornsea||Occupational Health|
|Robert Chard||Oriental Institute|
|Alan Gay||Oxford University Computing Services|
|Amanda Peters||Taylor Institute Library|
The minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday 9th January 2001 were accepted as correct.
There were no matters arising.
John Jenkins had produced a written report which was placed on-line with the agenda, he added the following points:
1042.1 Review of IT Strategic Framework
This will be deferred until the next academic year due to the Divisions still being in the process of re-organisation.
1042.2 OxTALENT Survey on the use of IT in Teaching and learning in Oxford
There was a high response for this survey and a draft strategy covering the use of IT in teaching and learning will be developed from the findings.
1042.3 Fellows' Computing in Colleges and Departments
The policy document for support of Fellows' computing in colleges and departments has been written and will be adopted.
1042.4 New Director of Oxford University Computing Services
The new director of the Computing Services, Dr Paul Jeffreys, was welcomed.
1042.5 It Recruitment in Oxford University
There have been reports from around the University that vacancies for IT staff have been difficult to fill, due to insufficient candidates of an adequate standard applying for posts. The IT Support Staff Group are already looking into this issue and a more formal study may be required. This was strongly supported by the meeting (see also below, Item 1044.8)
1042.6 Increased Support for Multimedia
Peter Robinson has joined the Centre for Humanities Computing to cover multi-media support.
Alan Gay had produced a written report which was placed on-line with the agenda, he was not in attendance at the meeting.
Dr Paul Jeffreys is the new Director of the Computing Services and he introduced himself before adding the points below about the OUCS Report.
Dr Paul Jeffreys previously worked at CERN, the European Particle Physics laboratory in Geneva, and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. He joined the latter as an experimental particle physicist and gradually moved his focus more towards computing. For the last five years Paul was head of Computing and Resource Management and for the past two years he has been looking into the GRID and gaining the funding for it.
1043.1 Connection to SuperJanet4
The connection to SuperJanet4 was successful and testing is now being carried out for a new Firewall to cope with the faster traffic rates.
1043.2 Retirement of Sable
A reminder that Sable will be taken out of service on 31st July 2001.
1043.3 Information Flow
Two new mailing lists and a newsgroup have now been set up to ease the flow of information:
email@example.com - 'low volume' channel for important IT issues, compulsory for all registered IT support staff
firstname.lastname@example.org - normal means of sending general information, optional for registered IT support staff
ox.it - newsgroup for general IT issues of a non-confidential nature
1043.4 OUCS Annual Report
The OUCS Annual Report can now be seen on-line at: http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/internal/annrep/
David Price had produced a written report which was placed on-line with the agenda. David Price added the following points:
The primary interface for electronic journals is to be changed to TDNet in the next few days, the change over will be advertised.
1044.2 OXAM - Oxford Examination Papers Online
The OXAM system project has been well received but it was only a pilot project done with a low budget. The hard stage now is to hand over the project to others to run their own production. There may be requests to increase functionality and content, for example to include examiner's reports or to get direct access to the exam papers from other web sites. The system will hopefully move to the production phase relatively smoothly.
1044.3 New Posts
Two new posts have been established to support key developments of the libraries' electronic services, both with important liaison roles with other IT sectors in the University.
Tony Brett asked if OxLIP will support Windows ME and David Price replied that he has not been aware of any problems in the short term but would like to hear from anyone who does experience a problem. A rewrite of the OxLIP interface will hopefully be completed within the next few months and this will enable more cross platform support.
1044.5 OxLIP and Secure VPNs (Virtual Private Networks)
OUCS are examining the possibility of introducing a VPN (probably using Cisco hardware) which could be used for off site access to OxLIP services and David Popplewell asked if there would be a University strategy for a secure dial-in service. A VPN provides secure private connections to network applications and the ability to send critical information securely over the Internet. A VPN would therefore allow secure access to the university network and the Intranet from around the world and is extremely important for the University's IT strategy.
Jonathan Burt added that Continuing Education have been looking into this possibility for their remote students in Africa and they would greatly appreciate a central system.
Pete Biggs said that VPNs do pose a security problem because they bypass the Firewall. Please contact OxCERT to discuss the security issues before going ahead.
David Price supports the notion of a central scheme for a secure VPN, especially since the next stage of Athens will devolve authentication to individual HE institutions.
OUCS agreed to continue looking into the practicalities and security risks involved with such a system. [ACTION John Jenkins]
Everard Robinson did not provide a written report for the meeting but he added the following points:
1044.6 Support for OLIS
There will be a move towards the Windows 2000 platform over the next two years and this summer Windows 2000 will become the recommended platform for OLIS. There may still be some problems in supporting some of the OxLIP databases. If anyone is planning to run OLIS applications on Windows 2000 PCs please contact Libraries technicians, Sean Robinson or David Hill (Tel: 78275) for advice on the Windows 2000 installation, to ensure it will work satisfactorily. More details can be found online at: http://www.lib.ox.ac.uk/software and then using lib.staff and librarian as id and password to login.
1044.7 Automated Stack Request System
Two extra working groups have been set up to assist with the automated stack request system (ASRS). One group is looking at a fall back system if the ASRS fails, the other is testing all aspects of the system before it goes live, to ensure that everything is working satisfactorily.
There will be a phased implementation, hopefully in the summer, after all the testing is complete. Problems have been identified with printing to network printers and new software is being purchase to overcome this. Shortcomings with the catalogue which make ASRS less effective than it might be will not be resolved before going live as at least half a million records still need updating or improving. Improvements essential for the system to work will however be carried out. A fuller report on the ASRS should be available at the next meeting.
Everard gave his support to the chairman's plea for looking into the recruitment of IT Staff.
There was no written report from MIS and Margaret Taylor was not in attendance.
1046.1 South East Region JANET Users' Group
There was no representative from this Group as Bob Wells has left the University. See Item 1048, Any Other Business, below.
1046.2 South East Region Computer Users' Committee
There was nothing new to report from this Group.
1046.3 Network Advisory Group
The minutes from the last meeting can be found online at: http://www.ict.ox.ac.uk/oxford/network/nag/. There was nothing further to add.
1046.4 IT Support Staff Group
Tony Brett gave a verbal report on behalf of the IT Support Staff Group, the following points were made:
Gerard Robinson raised the issue of mailing list reply-to address 'munging'. He asked if majordomo could be configured so that the sender can decide whether to reply to the list AND the originator or not.
Pete Biggs said that it is a requirement for the mailing list software to be the sender of the message, and not the original person. If the message is forwarded then the sender is the original person. Vacation messages should be sent to the sender and not to the reply-to address, if this doesn't happen it is a problem with the original mail software and not with majordomo. The reply-to in majordomo is configuarble and the default can be set to the original sender or the list.
It was agreed that for the IT Support Staff mailing lists majordomo would be configured so that the reply-to address was that of the original person who sent the message and not the mailing list. [ACTION John Jenkins]. [Note: this change was actioned straight away, post meeting]
The Representative for the South East Region JANET Users' Group, Bob Wells, has left the University and a replacement is required. The new Representative should be a joint one with the Colleges' Group IT Group and they will be asked at the next meeting. Anyone interested should contact John Jenkins at OUCS.
There will be no summer meeting this year as there are no new service introductions requiring this additional meeting in the calendar. The next meeting of the University IT Users' Group will be a joint one with the Colleges' IT Group on Tuesday 16th October 2001.