32. Retirements

OUCS will be saying farewell to several long-serving colleagues this autumn – Lou Burnard, Grazyna Cooper, Paul Davis and Roger Treweek. We wish them all well.

32.1. Paul Davis

I started at OUCS in September 1997 as Computing Teaching Officer, having applied to an advert for a one year temporary position which seemed to describe basically what I had been doing for four or so years in Kiribati - for the geographically challenged try an atlas or globe with latitude 1°28’N, longitude 173°02’E

Having been a Morris dancer for a while, my secret escaped fairly quickly when I found that I was a temporary replacement for another dancer. That year’s Christmas party featured a special couple of dances featuring the then Director and others from within OUCS. My apologies to Malcolm who since has become hooked! We practiced in what was the conference room, only to be told by Tony Hunter that the ceiling was shaking and bits of plaster were falling on him below.

After I’d been here about 6 months the BCS launched the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) which I was asked to explore to remedy a criticism from the North report that we didn’t send our graduates out with recognised IT qualifications. That turned into quite a focus for about 5 years, involving secondment to BCS 90% for a year to promote the Advanced ECDL qualification, membership of the syllabus board for ECDL and it’s International ICDL counterpart. As part of the promotion of the qualification I had a number of visits to the Middle East for training and examinations. On one particular trip to Dubai I got hit by a wing mirror on a truck that was rat running to avoid traffic, flew back overnight and went immediately to Nottingham to advise on exam results as the external examiner. Very jet lagged, black eye, elastoplasts holding the cut together - I looked and felt rough! Not all trips went horribly wrong and I received some superb hospitality in Egypt, Jordan, and Dubai including a trip to Petra and a VIP, behind-the scenes tour of the pyramids through the good offices of UNESCO who were the local ICDL licensee.

Reorganisation within OUCS resulted in the creation of the Learning Technologies Group, of which I became Deputy Head. Well that was the theory as I was asked after a little while to fill in as Acting Head while Stuart had 3 months in the US, and again for 3 months when the IT strategy was being planned. That second stint actually stretched to over 3 years with seemingly endless short extensions. This included the time that the original WebLearn was introduced, and then the start of it’s replacement.

And then onto the Groupware project which morphed into Nexus. A high-profile service across the whole University with a great team driving the implementation along and overcoming all the various obstacles along the way. But I’m not putting my feet up yet - we’re moving to Shropshire to a smallholding with some land and the possibility of becoming self-sufficient. With rental accommodation - the views are absolutely fantastic. Book early!

32.2. Roger Treweek

Roger Treweek joined OUCS in 1978 when networking consisted of two external links to the ULCC and UMRCC Supercomputing Centres which managed to reach speeds of 9600 bits-per-second. Much has changed since then and Roger has been involved with most of the networking changes at Oxford.

His early work has long been assigned to the annals of history and included much low-level programming in projects such as the linking of the University central ICL 2900 to DEC VAX(s) and developing the national FT- RELAY protocol conversion facility for file transfers that assisted JANET in its move from the Blue Book Protocol to the familiar Internet protocol (ftp) in modern use.

Perhaps the most important development was the introduction of a University Backbone Network. Initially this was based on FDDI technology which started out connecting together a modest number of departments but soon grew to cover all departments and colleges. As demand increased this changed to a gigabit ethernet technology, followed by an upgrade to the 10 gigabit backbone that we now all use.

More recent developments include the introduction of the FroDo network distribution units which enabled, amongst other things, the subsequent provision of a managed wireless service across the University.

The transfer of Telecoms into the (now) Network and Telecoms Group did much to advance the introduction of modern networked technology into this area with VOIP telephones now being the first choice where telephony is concerned.

All good things come to an end and Roger retires at the end of October. Technology still marches on - and there are lots of interesting things still to do - but it will be with someone else at the networking helm.

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