The next meeting of Oxford University IT Users' Group representatives will be held on Tuesday 29th April 2003 at 14.00 hours in the Simon Wood Seminar Room of the Martin Wood Lecture Theatre, Parks Road.
1. Apologies for absence
2. Minutes of the meeting held on 14th January 2003
3. Matters arising
There were no matters arising.
4. Chairman's report from Pete Biggs
5. Computing Services - report available
6. Libraries - report available
7. Reports from other committees and groups
7.1 South East Region Computer Users' Committee - nothing to report from Peter Grout
7.2 Network Advisory Group - URL:http://www.ict.ox.ac.uk/oxford/network/nag/
7.3 IT Support Staff Group - report available
8. Items raised by representatives
9. Review of OUCS - see Terms of Reference below
10. Any Other Business
11. Date of next meeting
OXFORD UNIVERSITY IT USERS' GROUP
Item 5 - OUCS Report
1. HFS upgrade
The HFS has been awarded substantial funds for major enhancement of the basic infrastructure; £650,000 has been allocated to this from HEFCE and University funds. This upgrade will take the HFS to the next generation of tape technology and consolidate disk capacity (all SAN attached). This is a difficult schedule, as many parts of the system will be replaced or enhanced while still providing a full service. This upgrade, which will lay the groundwork for future scalability of the HFS, is underway and is scheduled for completion by Easter 2004.
2. Spam and anti-virus filtering
The necessary equipment has now been received and is being installed. This will be followed by a period of testing and reliability checking before it goes live.
3. 10Gb Backbone upgrade
The necessary equipment is not yet available for this, so it has been postponed. It is expected that the upgrade operation will now take place in Summer 2004. This should not prove a drawback as the current system is not running at capacity.
4. Denial of Service
At the end of January the SQL worm which brought chaos to the Internet caused problems at Oxford. However by the end of that Saturday blocks had been put in place and normal service was resumed. This was certainly faster than a number of commercial organisations and a number of universities who were out of action for a number of days after the attack.
At the end of February the University was subject to a hacker spoofing Oxford domain emails to AOL. The initial problem was quickly resolved, but it took some time for AOL to recognise that mail originating from Oxford was in fact genuine.
The connection to Janet failed completely in late February due to the carrier having faulty equipment in the fallback hardware, which was not repaired within the SLA timescale. UKERNA are pursuing this.
5. Briefing papers
Some short technology briefing papers and guides are now available on the LTG website. They cover topics such as RSS News feeds, Plagiarism, Video Conferencing, Digital Video, Accessibility and the Web and are aimed at complete beginners. They are available on the LTG website in the Reports and Guides section. http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ltg/reports/
Lawrie Phipps, Director of TechDIS who wants to come to Oxford to give a full day workshop on web sites and accessibility. A tentative date for this is the 25 or 27 June
6. End of an era - OUCS Intermedia Service
The OUCS Intermedia Service for disk conversion ended on 31st March 2003. This service provided a facility to translate between various disparate file types and media. The web page now indicates alternative (payment required) service providers. http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/mediaconversion/
7. Replacement for Ghost
The Altiris Deployment Solution (disk imaging software) site licence is now available for purchase by Units for installation on any machine (Unit, staff or student) within the Oxford University Site and also for staff portable machines. It cannot be used on personal machines off site. Software details can be found at: http://www.altiris.co.uk/docs/products/deploysol.pdf
The cost for a Unit is based on the FTE Staff Count. Once this is paid any number of copies can be registered to the Unit and departments that come under that Unit. Support and updates are free of charge. Price details are at: http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/shop/prices/index.xml?ID=body.1_div.5
8. New mailing lists
The Majordomo software is no longer ideal for the University's requirements, and its web interface had to be removed several months ago as it had a serious fault. OUCS has implemented a new mailing list service based on EZMLM, which offers better facilities, including a web interface for easy manipulation of subscriber lists, list configuration, etc. All new lists are now being set up using EZMLM. OUCS intends to close down the Majordomo list server on Monday 2nd June 2003. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org prior to 16th May to have your lists converted and moved onto the EZMLM server. You require a Herald account in order to own a list.. For more information, see http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/email/maillists/ezmlm/"
9. IT Literacy
How IT-literate are our students compared with those at other Universities, and how prepared will they be to face the brave new world when they graduate? To find out OUCS is running a year-long study which will survey IT literacy levels amongst undergraduates and graduates at Oxford finishing late Hilary Term 2004. We will be contacting IT support staff at departments and colleges to help in this in the near future.
10. Admin Staff Training
OUCS are running special training courses for Admin Staff outside of main term time (Tuesdays 15th and 22nd July). In a new course we have tailored our IT Essentials course specifically to cover essential skills needed to use your computer effectively. See details at http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/courses/detail.xsp?code=ABB
Additionally on 24th, 25th July at various times we are looking at sessions to improve Word Processing skills covering mailmerge; tables, tabs and indents; and styles, headings and automatic table of contents. Each session is 2 hours long and allows for consideration of common problems and sharing of solutions.
Item 6 - Systems and Electronic Resources Service Report
21st April 2003
The OLIS catalogue now has 8,243,032 copies of 5,202,683 titles.
The Automated Stack Request System has now moved from the project phase to become a main stream operation. It has generated increased demand for material from the Bodleian book stacks. It has recently been extended to include deliveries to the Bodleian Oriental dependent libraries. Total requests since the major phase began are:
|Michaelmas Term week 1||8741||Hilary Term week 1||9315|
|Michaelmas Term week 2||8288||Hilary Term week 2||9377|
|Michaelmas Term week 3||8232||Hilary Term week 3||9945|
|Michaelmas Term week 4||8834||Hilary Term week 4||9941|
|Michaelmas Term week 5||8766||Hilary Term week 5||10644|
|Michaelmas Term week 6||8953||Hilary Term week 6||10701|
|Michaelmas Term week 7||9117||Hilary Term week 7||10673|
|Michaelmas Term week 8||7789||Hilary Term week 8||9663|
|Christmas Vac week 1||6884||Easter Vac week 1||8167|
|Christmas Vac week 2||4530||Easter Vac week 2||7663|
|Christmas Vac week 3||278||Easter Vac week 3||8323|
|Christmas Vac week 4||2235|
|Christmas Vac week 5||6649|
|Christmas Vac week 6||8174|
2. SPAM Email
Currently the Bodleian email server is filtering each day around 800-1,000 inbound emails messages tagged as SPAM by the Computing Service. As each message may be going to multiple recipients and to email lists which distribute them further to multiple recipients, this is preventing the delivery of many thousands of spam messages each day and represents a major reduction in annoyance to users.
3. OXAM - Oxford Examinations Online
An OXAM working party has been established by Catherine Hogan, comprising representatives from the Examination Schools, MIS and the Libraries. Usage continues to be high and over 380,000 exam papers have now been downloaded since the service was established. The main problem continues to be the need to use the OUCS dial-in or VPN service for remote access (for policy reasons). Increasingly, departments are asking for direct links to individual papers from their own web pages, rather than simply the OXAM home page, which is not easily achieved with the current software.
The libraries are contributing to the centrally-supported, Bodington-based, Virtual Learning Environment (VLE - http://www.weblearn.ox.ac.uk). Recent useful inclusions are Electronic Resources FAQs and Electronic Resources Basics. All the resources available through the Library Services section of WebLearn are fully accessible to anyone logging into the VLE. Introductory sessions on WebLearn have been given for library staff .
5. Electronic Resources Committee Website
The new ERC website was launched on 17th March at http://www.ouls.ox.ac.uk/erc/. New features include:
6. Electronic Resources Support Material
As part of the ERA (Electronic Resources Awareness) initiative two publications supporting the use of electronic resources have been produced. The first is a short leaflet entitled Guide to Electronic Resources and the second is Electronic Resources FAQs which offers more substantive information. Topics covered include remote access, use of TDNet, OxLIP CD support and so much more. Both are available on OxLIP and the Electronic Resources webpage. Hardcopy versions of the leaflet are available from SERS.
7. MAAS Media Online
We have registered Oxford to access MAAS Media Online. This service brings together the work of the MAAS (the Managing Agent and Advisory Service jointly run by the British Universities Film & Video Council and the Open University's Rights Department) and the national data centre EDINA at the University of Edinburgh. In a rolling programme of releases, selected full-length and segmented non-fiction films will be delivered for download and re-use by teachers, scholars and students free at the point-of-access.
8. History of the Book
The "History of the Book", a collaboration between Oxford and Princeton set up in 2001, is now available at http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/hbook/.
9. Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership (EEBO-TCP)
We have been continuously working on improvements to the front-end and the functionalities of the Oxford EEBO-TCP mirror (http://www.odl.ox.ac.uk/eebo). It now incorporates a number of local modifications, including but not limited to improved rendering of gaps, graphics and the display of tables, a method of alerting the user to the presence of illustrations and musical notation, and the possibility to download texts in their original SGML encoding. In the future, the Oxford mirror will be updated simultaneously with the original Michigan server. OXLIP users now go through this Oxford EEBO site in order to get to the images and texts.
There has been a substantial increase in the number of texts sent to and processed by the keyboarding companies, with a view to increasing production levels by the Michigan and Oxford teams. This Recruitment for a third Text Encoding Reviewer in Oxford, as part of the plan to increase production levels, has just been completed and an appointment made.
10. Oxford Digital Library
Michael Popham has been appointed Head of Oxford Digital Library from 1st May 2003.
11. The Oxford Digital Library Development Fund - Launch of the Second Round
At a meeting of the ODL DF Editorial Board on Friday 7th March, presentations were made and reports given on the eight First Round Development Fund Projects, details of which can be found on the ODL website (http://www.odl.ox.ac.uk). It has been agreed that the remaining £186,000 should be disbursed in two further rounds. The Second Round was launched at the end of March with a Call for Expressions of Interest (see http://www.odl.ox.ac.uk). Timetable for the Second Round
OULS continues to be deeply indebted to the Chair, Professor Kathryn Sutherland, Secretary, Dr Nigel Berry and all other members of the ODL Development Fund Editorial Board for their invaluable support.
OXFORD UNIVERSITY IT USERS' GROUP
Item 7.3 IT Support Staff Group
Work has been progressing steadily towards producing a report on ITSS job classification and grades, despite the extra pressures on MIS with the roll-out of OSIRIS. This report will be prepared once we have information about the grades and grade system.
It was suggested at our last meeting that an 'ITSS Experts List', linking members of ITSS around the University with fields in which they would be able / prepared to provide advice to peers, would be useful. This is being worked on, with a view to publishing such a list on the ITSS web site.
The 8th IT Support Staff Conference is now confirmed for 26th June at Keble College in the newly-built Sloane-Robinson Building. Registration will be 20 pounds and will open on 5th May, Closing on 30th May. We will be putting up full information on the ITSS web site shortly.
OXFORD UNIVERSITY IT USERS' GROUP
Item 9 Review Of The Oxford University Computing Services
As part of the University's programme of regular departmental reviews, the Oxford University Computing Services (OUCS) will be reviewed in July by a panel appointed by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Services and University Collections).
The panel's terms of reference are:
'To review and report to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Services and University Collections) on:
(a) the development of the Computing Services since the last review in 1996 and any significant changes in context and services since then; and
(b) in light of (a), the role, priorities and future direction of the Computing Services;
bearing in mind the level of resources likely to be available within the University.'
The panel will be chaired by Professor David Clary, Head of the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Division. Its other members are Professor Alan Bowman, Classics, Professor Bill Dutton, Oxford Internet Institute, Mrs Annette Haworth, University of Reading, and Dr David Popplewell, Experimental Psychology.
The review panel welcomes submissions. They should be sent, by Monday 23 June, to the panel's secretary: Dr Nigel Berry, University Offices, Wellington Square, Oxford, OX1 2JD. (email@example.com).