1. Save Money with Power Management Monitoring

Is your college or department under pressure to save money? Do you want to play your part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions?

If left switched on, a desktop computer and monitor will annually consume 920 kWh or around £110. If powered down after work, i.e. switched off over night, on weekends and during holidays the power and costs are reduced to only 198 kWh, around £24. To find out how OUCS and other groups have improved power management on their office computers and to get help in implementing your own green desktop computing initiatives please send an email to greenit@ oucs.ox.ac.uk or visit www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/greenit/desktop.xml

OUCS have implemented the University Power Management Monitoring and Wake- on-LAN facilities. Read on to find out more.

1.1. What is the Power Management Monitoring Facility?

The Power Management Monitoring (PMM) facility provides a graph of the total number of active nodes on a network. It thus gives a good measure of how many desktop computers are switched on throughout the day and night. The service does not record any personal data so doesn’t identify whose computer is on. The PMM was designed to visualize savings and to encourage individuals to power down their computer by letting them to see others are doing the same.

1.2. What is the Wake-on-LAN Facility?

WOL is an Ethernet standard that allows a computer to be turned on by receiving a network message (a.k.a. magic packet). We have integrated WOL with the OUCS Registration Service and HFS, allowing end users to remotely wake-up computers should they wish to connect to them. HFS can be configured to wake-up workstations shortly before the backup schedule and to turn them off post-backup.

Moreover, the OUCS Self-Registration home page (https://register.it.ox.ac.uk/self/index/) has a section, where users can set up a scheduled wake-up in the morning, so the computer is already on when they reach it.

1.3. How does a Unit Use PMM and WOL?

To use the University PMM and WOL facilities you need to install FiDo software on your network. The software is available free of charge and we provide documentation and limited email support during setup. You can use any Linux or Windows based computer to run the software, and if you host a VM environment we can provide a VM image.

Setting up Fido software can take between a few hours and a few days of work to complete, and requires experience in cetrificates, Java and networking.

We have found that many units do not have the resources to run yet another service so OUCS has decided to go a step further and offers The Fido - a ready-to-go, pre-set up device about the size of a small alarm clock which can be placed anywhere in your building where there are a spare power and ethernet socket. The FiDo hardware costs £100 and comes with a one year limited warranty. NSMS manages the FiDo for an annual fee of £400. This service includes initial device configuration, ongoing management and software patching. To discuss which option is best for you, please email greenit@oucs.ox.ac.uk.

1.4. Sign Up Now!

Over the last 12 months OUCS has worked with over 11 early adopter units to install, test and enhance the FiDo software so we can be confident of how it works in different environments. The managed FiDo service went into production at the beginning of April 2010. Remember, the sooner you get started on your green desktop computing initiative, the more money and greenhouse gas emissions you save!

For further information please see www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/greenit/wol.xml and www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/nsms/services/ wakeonlan.xml

2. Why OUCS Artweeks?

It is easier to ask how, rather than why, the idea of OUCS Artweeks came about. During 2008, a group of us began meeting together discussing how to create a community art project around sea and landscapes, recycling and the environment. We started off thinking first about using textiles and recycled waste, and then photography. The then small group were allocated workspace in the basement next to the OUCS band (pleasant if sometimes loud). The idea had been born and soon a typical OUCS mail list was formed and the idea began to take hold with a wider group participating. Now we have five photographers, textile artists and jewellery makers participating with more people still coming forward, some a little tentatively, for some offering the first public glimpse into their art and passion.

So that was the how, now to the why. Many would say it is because OUCS itself encourages its staff to be fulfilled in more than just their work. It is a place where ideas flourish and not all are directly related to work. We are, after all, innovative and talented at more than one thing, often bringing the same technical ability and creativity to our art that we bring to our work. Each artist has their own unique style and you will be able to find out more about the participants by looking at the OUCS

Artweeks web pages. www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/publicity/artweeks/

3. No More Dial-up

Now that so many people use commercial broadband services at home, usage of the OUCS dial-up service has declined to a tiny level. The service is running on obsolete equipment that is no longer maintainable and the high cost and risk of this has led OUCS to decide to terminate the service on 31 July 2010.

All users that we can see still using the service (fewer than 100) are being notified personally. OUCS is also running news items on the OUCS home page and here.

The text of the notification to users can be seen at www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/its3/resources/dialup.xml. See the same web page for links to web resources to help you choose alternative ways of connecting.

4. A Brief History of the Dial-up Service

Now known more by its more Politically Correct name of the Dial-in Service, it has been around for nearly as long as OUCS has been located at 13 Banbury Road. A small number of large Post Office devices (the precursors of what came to be known afterwards as Modems - MODulation/DEModulators) were attached to the 7906 Communications Processor that handled up to 32 ASR Teletype terminals for the 1906A Central University Computer installed in 1971. The remote user devices were Acoustic Couplers that accepted a standard GPO handset placed into foam cups inside a smart wooden box after the telephone call to the OUCS equipment had been made. This link worked at an amazing 110 baud and these devices were the wonder of the age at the time.

Later the Modular One front-end (7905) would handle 300 baud lines and a Racal unit rack provided remote connectivity for as many as 5 simultaneous remote users. Security was, in those innocent days, covered to everybody’s satisfaction by the plain-text George III operating systems username and password. You have to remember that at that time the remote connections were mainly other computers: the personal computer was a (very) rich scientist’s toy costing at least the equivalent of one and a half years salary of us lesser mortals who had to make it all work.

The early PC boom years of the late 70s/early 80s saw the rise of the ICL 2900 and DEC VAX machines and a gradual dial-up equipment change from 300Bd through 1200, 2400, 4800 and finally 9600Bd handled post-1984 by first Gandalf PACX IV, followed by the Gandalf 2000 StarMaster asynchronous switch in 1986. By this time there were around 10 BT lines to play with connected to the famous Zoom 14.4 kBd modem sets.

In early 1996 the demand for multiple lines, the availability of an alternative telephone company to BT (ComTel) and the relief in the knowledge that now OUCS wasn’t the only entity in the business of digging up Oxford’s hallowed pavements led to the purchase of two Ascend MAX dial-up servers, one to handle 15 BT lines and a second to handle 15 ComTel ones via ISDN 30 multiline circuits. The additional requirement for ISDN connectivity was met by introducing a third MAX unit for the DataCentrix service that allowed small related units such as Energy Studies and Richard Dawkin’s offices to connect to the University backbone with multiple users. With staggering originality we named these boxes MAX1, MAX2 and MAX3. The process of hand-registering usernames and passwords had been an increasingly intensive and time-consuming chore, so these new MAXen were equipped with RADIUS servers linked to the Registration Server, thus automating the registration and authentication processes and providing connectivity logs, the content of which occasionally featured in various Proctors’ disciplinary hearings as College Bursars seemed to regard the service as the perfect opportunity to avoid the expense of data wiring in student rooms.

The service continued to grow and peaked at 150 lines split between BT and NTL (ComTel having gone through various name changes) plus a further 15 ISDN DataCentrix lines. The base hardware was renewed at huge expense around 1999 with the introduction of the final V32(bis) series protocol modems. The DataCentrix service was the first to become redundant and MAX2 was removed quietly and now slumbers in our Workshop, awaiting a call that will probably now never come. As each line continues to cost us £12 per month and with the number of lines actually needed now reduced to 18, the majority of remote users now coming in via broadband and as the Ascend MAX has not been maintainable for at least 5 years now we feel that it is about time to retire MAX1 and MAX3.

At 15 years old they have provided the most long- lived production service on the same hardware that we have ever offered - it is indeed time to say “Goodbye and Thanks!”

Geoff Lescott, University Network Controller

5. Prize Winning Erewhon

The Erewhon project did well recently at a large JISC program meeting. All of the projects represented were asked to take part in a trade fair and sell their outputs to other projects. Erewhon achieved the second highest sales figures, only beaten by the interesting TWOLER (https://sites.google.com/a/staff.westminster.ac.uk/twoler/).

After selling solidly for 2 hours, the Erewhon staff well deserved the prize of a magnificent magnum (ice cream, sadly, not champagne).

6. Keylogger Attacks

OxCERT has seen a recent large increase in numbers of compromised University accounts (SSO and Remote Access) being abused and believes that almost all of these cases are due to key-loggers or phishing attacks. To reduce further damage the following is now in place:

  • All Oxford University passwords that have been entered on a system that has suffered a keylogger attack must be changed.
  • OxCERT will request the usernames of people who have or are likely to have used the attacked machine within 30 days so that those details can be used to trace other incidents.
  • OxCERT will not immediately disable affected SSO or remote access accounts unless there are signs of current abuse but will require their passwords to be changed before any network blocks are lifted.
  • Remote Access accounts will have their password randomized so that once an account is unblocked the user can set a new password using online self- registration.
  • As with any such attack it is extremely likely that other passwords, including those for other services within the University, online banking, etc., will have been disclosed. Please make sure affected users are aware of and understand the guidance at www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/network/security/keyloggers.xml

Please watch out for further details of these changes in the OxCERT reports, published at www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/network/security/reports/.

7. New Bodleian and Connection Moves

The New Bodleian doesn’t only house books. In a basement room of this building OUCS has a major distribution point for voice and data connections to a large number of buildings. In preparation for the New Bodleian redevelopment the OUCS Networking team will be moving all the equipment (and cabling) to another building in the same area. This is similar to what OUCS did a few years ago for the Ashmolean but on a larger scale.

We have identified a new location (a basement room in Old Indian Institute) and it is being prepared for its new use. It will then be fitted out with new equipment and the equipment commissioned ready for use. There is also some civil works to do so as to be able to install the necessary new cabling.

The next stage will be the long process of disconnecting all the cables to the existing location and re-establishing them to the new location. When a cable is cut there will obviously be a break in service to those units connected via that cable until it has been reconnected to the new equipment. We will do this one cable at a time and aim to keep outages to a minimum. Outage times will depend on individual circumstances and will vary between a few minutes (best case) and a whole day (worst case).

This work is scheduled to take place during the whole of the summer vacation. The exact schedules for the work depend on factors still to be determined but will be advertised in advance and after discussion with individual units. IT support staff throughout the University have already been informed of the initial plans and OUCS will, of course, maintain close communications with all affected units.

For the phone moves, each affected unit has already had discussions with Telecoms over their particular case and the options for moving (some of) their phones to VOIP. This constitutes the major part of the work as there are a lot of phones to be moved across.

The backbone data connections involve fewer moves as they are done on a unit basis. The affected units are:

  • New Bodleian and Nuneham Courtenay
  • Old Bodleian
  • History Faculty
  • Music Faculty
  • University College
  • St Hilda’s College
  • Radcliffe Camera
  • Harris Manchester College
  • New College
  • Ruskin School
  • Christ Church
  • History of Science Museum
  • Exeter College
  • Merton College
  • Clarendon Building
  • Hertford College
  • Jesus College
  • Philosophy
  • All Souls College
  • Queen’s College
  • Wadham College
  • Oriel College
  • Lincoln College
  • Examination School
  • Magdalen College
  • Balliol College
  • Brasenose College
  • Corpus Christi College
  • St Peter’s College: Annexe (Cambridge Terrace)
  • St Edmund Hall
  • St John’s College
  • Pembroke College
  • Oxford Internet Institute
  • SERS incl VOIP (phones)
  • University Church
  • Campion Hall
  • Rothermere American Institute
  • Trinity College
  • Engineering Axis Point Osney
  • James Martin 21st Century School
  • Botanic Garden
  • Littlegate House - History, Philosophy, IAUL, Clubs Committee and Continuing Education

Exact changeover schedules for voice and data will be agreed with all affected units nearer the time. Meanwhile, please take this as advance warning of what will happen, pass the message on and ensure that everyone is aware of the work that will have to take place over the summer.

8. News from the IT Learning Programme

www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/itlp

8.1. Trinity Schedule

The IT Learning Programme schedule for Trinity Term is online and open for booking at www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ itlp/. This term as well as running our popular courses in Office, digital imaging, web publishing and statistics we have a number of new courses and a series of new lunchtime courses. Read on to find out more….

8.1.1. Digital Images: Capture, Correct and Control

Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 June

A two day workshop aimed at those new to working with digital images. You will use your own camera and be shown how to capture, correct and control your images.

8.1.2. Digital Film Making

Monday 21 - Friday 25 June

A 5-day workshop, run by the Oxford Academy of Documentary Film, aimed at preparing you to use digital film in your research or project. Each workshop provides a generic understanding of digital filmmaking. The workshops are taught by expert tutors who have made films professionally and for research purposes. There is a strong emphasis on practical film production techniques.

www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/itlp/courses/detail/TATC1

8.1.3. Writing for the Web

Wednesday 30 June

The Web presents a number of challenges to writers, not least ensuring that visitors can find the information they are looking for and that it’s easy to read. This one-day course, delivered by an external expert, concentrates on showing you, step-by-step, the process of writing material specifically for the Web.

8.1.4. Film Documentary Workshops

In just one week you can learn the skills to present your research as a short video. We show you how to use a camera, structure the documentary and edit the video and audio. It’s easier than you think!

www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/aatc

8.1.5. Nexus Courses

The Nexus team received over 4,000 responses to their survey on usage of the new groupware system, and many people are missing out on some of the fundamental concepts to improve productivity. We have therefore designed two new courses to address the issues raised: Nexus for Academia and Nexus for Admin, are available in Trinity term.

8.1.6. Weblearn Courses

The following courses are available in Trinity term.

8.1.6.1. WebLearn: Fundamentals

This is a starter course, aimed at users with little or no experience of the new WebLearn VLE.

8.1.6.2. WebLearn: Making your Site Work

This is an intermediate course which covers the design and structure of WebLearn sites and the effective use of a selection of WebLearn tools.

8.1.6.3. WebLearn: Migrating your Content

If you’re a user of old WebLearn you need to migrate your content to the new WebLearn system. This course covers how to export content from suites, rooms and specific tools, including MCQs.

8.1.6.4. Learning and teaching: using technology tools

(in collaboration with the Oxford Learning Institute) This course allows you to reflect on how technology tools may contribute to the development of a rich, supportive learning and teaching environment, with some reference to the use of WebLearn as a VLE.

8.1.6.5. Plagiarism: WebLearn and Turnitin (lunch time session)

The Turnitin plagiarism detection service can be used for assessed essays and also for general formative purposes to improve student academic skills. You will have a chance to submit a sample document via the WebLearn Assignments tool which is integrated with the Turnitin system.

8.1.6.6. Surveys and course feedback

The WebLearn Evaluations tool allows the creation of on-line surveys which can be delivered free of charge to Oxford staff and students, or to the general public. Such surveys may be used for course experience feedback, or general data gathering purposes.

8.1.7. make: Lunchtime Sessions

make: is an opportunity to learn and showcase the creative use of the software and technologies that we teach on our courses. In Trinity term we are putting on a series of lunchtime sessions where academics and staff will be showing how they have used software creatively in their work.

8.1.8. New Staff? Sign up for “Breakfast at OUCS”

New members of Oxford University staff are warmly invited to join us for breakfast at the Oxford University Computing Services. Over croissants and coffee, we will introduce you to the many important services at OUCS that are available to you for your work or research. The next Breakfast at OUCS is Friday 21 May. Book online at

8.2. Advanced IT Certification

If you or your staff need to use technology to increase productivity have a look at the ECDL Advanced modules. This internationally recognised certification provides objective verification of individual’s skills. It will enable your business to assess and plan workforce training and ensure staff skills meet business needs.

You do not have to have completed the core ECDL to start the Advanced modules. For more information see: www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/itlp/ecdl_gen.xml

8.3. Apple Training Centre - Update

In Hilary term we ran another successful Final Cut Pro 101 course. If we have enough interest we will run this course again in Trinity. We have also had some enquires about Logic and Aperture Apple Accredited courses. If you are interested in Final Cut Pro, Aperture or Logic but haven’t let us know please drop us an email at appletraining@ oucs.ox.ac.uk

Throughout Hilary term we continued to run our extended programme of short Mac courses. Over the Easter period we upgraded the teaching room to use Snow Leopard, and a new course is running in Trinity term. We also continue to run our Adobe, iLife and podcasting courses.

8.4. Date for Your Diary - OUCS Red Carpet Event Thursday 17 June

Oxford’s IT in Teaching and Learning Awards 2010 hosted by OUCS

The OxTALENT annual awards recognise those who have made use of ICT to foster learning and academic practice at either undergraduate or postgraduate level. Awards can be given either to individuals or to teams. Applications relating to the development of more effective links between teaching and research or to improving students’ digital literacy skills will be particularly welcome. Winners and guests will be invited to celebrate success at a red carpet reception on Thursday 17th June.

Contact the OxTALENT team via oxtalent@weblearn. ox.ac.uk if you would like to know more about the OxTALENT 2010 competition or visit www.ict.ox.ac.uk/ oxford/groups/oxtalent/awards.html

8.5. Download to Improve Your IT Skills

Courses at the IT Learning Programme cover a range of IT skills to help you with your work, all designed specifically for a university audience. But if you missed the course which covered that key topic, or if you can’t wait till next term’s schedule, you can look at the course materials now. The ITLP Portfolio is now available online, hosted in WebLearn.

Any member of the University can visit the ITLP Portfolio at http://tinyurl.com/portfolioITLP (where you will be asked to give your Oxford username and password).

Here you will find many of our popular courses, grouped in categories, and a variety of support materials:

You can download a course book in pdf form, to browse online or perhaps to print out a few relevant pages for later reference

You can download fresh copies of the exercise files that are needed to try out the practical tasks covered in a course (please don’t send your finished work in to us for marking – you must be the judge of when you have sufficiently mastered a skill!)

There are links to the course descriptions, so you can read about upcoming taught courses and decide which you should attend, then proceed to book a place

Many of our teachers have provided extra information to support their courses, with links to interesting websites, collections of tips and tricks and late-breaking news about software developments

Short videos demonstrate a particular technique, to guide you towards trying it for yourself

University members have been using the Portfolio with enthusiasm since its launch, to help them decide which courses to attend, or check the pre requisites for a course they plan to attend, as well as catching up on courses they have missed.

ITLP Portfolio of course materials is at http://tinyurl.com/portfolioITLP

The Trinity Term schedule of taught courses is at www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/itlp

9. Weblearn

9.1. WebLearn Test Building Closing

As part of the migration to the new WebLearn, the Old WebLearn’s Test Building will close on 21 June 2010

All material in the Test Building will become inaccessible on 21 June 201, and it is your responsibility to move anything that you want to keep by this date. We would recommend that you either move the material elsewhere in old WebLearn or into new WebLearn. There is an ITLP training course outlining the process of moving material into new WebLearn, to book a place, visit: www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/itlp/courses/detail/TOVC.

If you have any questions then please contact weblearn@oucs.ox.ac.uk

9.2. Help and Training

The approaching summer period is a good time to embark on the migration process. OUCS runs a hands- on course through the IT Learning Programme entitled: WebLearn: Migrating your content. In order to attend, please book a place online. Two courses are scheduled for Trinity Term 2010, and booking opens 30 days before each course:

Tuesday 25 May, 14:00 – 17:00 and Monday 28 June, 09:15 – 12:15

If you have already attended a Migration course then extra face-to-face help is available on Friday mornings (during term time) by booking a place for the WebLearn Drop-in Surgery at Computer8, or by appointment with the WebLearn team via weblearn@oucs.ox.ac.uk.

9.3. WebLearn: Migration of Materials from Old WebLearn

Important dates:

  • 21 June 2010: old WebLearn Test Building closes
  • June 2011: old WebLearn service becomes read only
  • July 2012: old service will be decommissioned

The old WebLearn service (Bodington) is being phased out and replaced by the new WebLearn service which is already in production. We would like to take this opportunity to remind users that it is up to individual departments or colleges to either archive their old WebLearn materials, or migrate them to the new system by the deadline of June 2011. We encourage departments and colleges to plan and complete the migration of their materials as soon as possible, rather than waiting for the end of the parallel service period.

Old WebLearn now includes ‘Export’ features to create ZIP files of all material, which can be downloaded, and then uploaded and unzipped in the new system. It is no longer possible to request an area in old WebLearn.

The Test Building will close on 21st June 2010, and from that date it will no longer be possible to access material stored there.

Our research has shown that the vast majority of users intend to review their material and reorganise it as part of the move. View the migration process as an opportunity to re-design, update, enhance, simplify (consolidate) and improve your resources currently in the old system. This will enable you not only to take advantage of the features in the new system, but also to re-think the pedagogical options to enhance the learning experience for students, and the organisational options for other audiences.

OUCS offers a consultation service to units before they begin migration; we would like to offer advice on best practice – the structure of material can be simplified in the new service and there should be far fewer ‘sites’ that there were ‘rooms’ in the old system. If you have a large amount of material to move, then contact the WebLearn team for a private consultation regarding the best way forward: weblearn@oucs.ox.ac.uk.

9.4. Proposal to Remove Blogger and Presentations Tools from WebLearn

The next release of Sakai (the software upon which new WebLearn is based) will not contain the Blogger and Presentation tools and for this reason we are proposing that they be phased out of WebLearn’s toolset.

Ideally we would not include them in the next major release (probably due at the start of HT 2011), however, if this would seriously inconvenience users then we will consider delaying this to the end of academic year 2010/11.

This is just an exploratory note to ask people who rely on these tools to contact us so we can discuss the impact of any changes. If this affects you then please send an email to weblearn@oucs.ox.ac.uk briefly explaining your use and giving the URLs of the sites where the tools are used.

9.5. Colleges: Supporting Students Before They Arrive with WebLearn

Now that students are supplied with their Oxford SSO credentials before they arrive at University they will be able to access WebLearn in advance of starting their studies. Reading lists and documents can be circulated and formative assessment carried out so that new students are able to ‘hit the ground running’ when they arrive.

A WebLearn site for pre-arrival students could contain the following:

  • links to other University systems including the libraries
  • an outline of basic skills that will be needed
  • an electronic welcome pack containing:
    • links to departmental resources
    • link to the Student Union
    • link to the Newcomer’s Club
    • links to relevant societies
    • things to do upon arrival
    • ‘catch up’ materials (for students who have taken a gap year)
    • a link to admissions
    • information about English language courses (often useful for graduate students)
    • reading lists
    • an electronic copy of the handbook
    • a link to the skills portal
    • information about tutorials
    • maps and information about accommodation
  • an area for new students to converse with their peers; (obviously suitable volunteers must be identified to act as mentors):
  • a discussion Forum to discuss worries
  • a wiki with useful info built up by existing students

If any colleges would like a face-to-face chat about using new WebLearn in this way then please send an email to weblearn@oucs.ox.ac.uk

9.6. How Do I Find Free Images for Use in WebLearn?

The Weblearn team has been using Flickr to find photographs with a Creative Commons licence to liven up Power Point presentations and WebLearn sites as well.

Flickr’s Advanced Search page has an option to only find photos with the Creative Commons (CC) licence – in general the CC licence will allow use within WebLearn.

You can also search for videos and screenshots. Remember to credit the source of the photo, it is usually required but even if it is not, it is courteous to add attribution.

Remember that you should always take a copy of the photo and save in the Resources tool. As attribution is generally required it may be a good idea to save the URL of the photo on the “Edit Details” page of the uploaded photo.

Links

9.7. WebLearn Pilot of the Evaluations Tool

The Evaluations tool in WebLearn can be used to design, administer, deliver and manage electronic questionnaires for the purpose of course, lecturer or tutor evaluation, feedback and review. Although responses remain anonymous, the course administrator can track who has or has not completed the evaluation, and can elect to send reminders to those who have not. The tool can also be used to gather responses for other forms of research and analysis.

The tool is currently being piloted at Oxford University until the end of Trinity Term. The aim of the pilot project is to build up expertise in the use of the tool and to expand its use and support. If you would like to participate in the pilot then please email weblearn@ox.ac.uk.

10. News from the Nexus Team

10.1. The Project Ends, the Service Begins

The Groupware Project came to a close on 31 March 2010, meaning that Nexus is now fully an OUCS service. The occasion was marked by the Project Board which met for a final time on 25th March.

The Nexus service team comprises Daryl Theobald, Srilak Wikramanatni, Thomas Mill and Matthew Gaskin who all have a variety of expertise in supporting the Microsoft platform and associated technologies. Mark Norman has rejoined the team as Service Manager, and Paul Davis will remain as Training and Communications Manager (with particular responsibility for the SharePoint service provided by Nexus). Mike Fraser, who has been managing the project in Mark’s absence, will drop back as overall group manager.

The Groupware Project has involved staff from across OUCS, including a number who were seconded to the project. Peter Jones has led the technical team and, together with Dominic Hargreaves and others within the Systems Development and Support Team, has been responsible for ensuring the migrations from Herald to Nexus happened as smoothly as possible. Peter and the Registration team also developed the ‘glue’ that enabled integration between Nexus and user registration.

Ian Senior has contributed to the customisation of the SharePoint service and developed documentation in collaboration with other members of the Information Services and Help Centre teams. Rob Eadie was our specialist trainer from the ITLP – Rob will continue to develop and run Nexus courses as a key focus of the ITLP section.

10.2. User Survey

During the project 33,622 mailboxes were migrated from Herald, and at the time of writing there are 43,585 mailboxes in total on Nexus.

Everybody was invited to comment on the migration experience from Herald and the usage of the new system. In total 4,432 people responded, and 1,509 submitted free text comments. These comments are still being analysed to ensure any remaining issues are addressed.

The first survey took place in November 2009 and feedback through this survey demonstrated that there needed to be an improvement to the web-based calendaring experience. The Project Board subsequently approved the purchase of the Messageware software suite, which was offered by Nexus from January 2010, improving functionality for sharing and displaying calendars.

The overall satisfaction showed that fewer than 10% of respondents were unsatisfied, with 66% recording they were satisfied or very satisfied with the new service.

10.3. Sharepoint

Towards the end of Michaelmas term we issued a call for Nexus Sharepoint early adopters. Over 30 distinct departments or colleges responded, requesting 115 SharePoint sites to support a mixture of committee work, research collaboration, University clubs or societies, and MySites for maintaining personal profiles. Early adopters will help determine the priorities for the future development and implementation of the service.

10.4. Enhancements

Part of the integration ‘glue’ mentioned above includes additional functionality available to users via https:// register.it.ox.ac.uk/self/nexus. Nexus users can change Spam email filter settings, preferred email address, email forwarding, and show email usage and quota. Additionally IT support staff can now request Project accounts which can be used to manage room and resource bookings.

10.5. Future Development

As with all OUCS services, there is a development plan for Nexus described in the OUCS five-year plan. In particular, we are in the process of defining projects to upgrade to both Exchange 2010 and to SharePoint 2010 during the 2010/11 academic year; and to develop better integration between Nexus and WebLearn, especially in connection with calendar data and publishing cycles that encompass both services.

In the meantime, it is planned to add further facilities to the ITSS registration interface to allow for requests for increased quota and delegation of some other routine functions which are best addressed locally.

A number of individual unit-run mail servers have been phased out following successful migration of users to Nexus, and over the next year users from Medical Sciences and UAS will be migrating from local groupware services to Nexus, thus allowing a true cross-university service.

11. NSMS Prices Held!

In these financially challenging times good economic news is a rarity. NSMS have bucked this particular trend. Charges for NSMS services will be held at the 2009 2010 level for 2010-2011. In addition, the pricing model has been simplified to further reduce any administrative overhead to our clients. Please contact nsms@oucs. ox.ac.uk for more details.

12. NSMS Wake-on-LAN Gateway Service

NSMS is now providing a managed Wake-on-LAN (WOL) gateway service for Colleges and Departments. Why would you want to use this service? To save money. Using the WOL service helps reduce the energy consumption of desktop computers and by switching off just 5 desktop computers and their monitors at the end of the working day the annual management costs of one embedded managed gateway from NSMS can be recouped. The NSMS WOL service provides a small network device that simply plugs in to your network. The device requires no local staff effort, it is fully configured and managed by NSMS and should it fail it would be replaced within 2 working days. So, not only can you participate in the University’s GreenIT initiative, you may well be able to save your college or department money. www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/nsms/services/wakeonlan.xml

13. Students and Digital Technologies - Thema

You may recall that OUCS conducted an investigation (Thema) into the use of digital technologies by students on taught Master’s programmes in Oxford from 2007–8. It was funded by the JISC Learner Experiences of E-learning programme. The project outputs are now finally available.

An executive summary, specifically targeted at stakeholders within Oxford University, can be found on WebLearn at http://tinyurl.com/themasummary The document contains recommendations for the key groups: academic staff, librarians and IT support staff. The project was, of course, overtaken by developments such as the new WebLearn, migration to Nexus and continued expansion of wireless provision; nevertheless, there are nuggets here and there for technical staff to draw from.

Please feel free to quote and/or circulate the executive summary as you think fit.

Other project outputs that you might find informative or useful are on the main project website at http://thema.oucs.ox.ac.uk. They include:

  • The full report on students’ use of digital technologies
  • The online survey questions
  • Eleven narrative case studies compiled from students’ contributions to the project
  • A version of the executive summary for general consumption (i.e. Oxford-specific references removed)
  • A report on how we conducted the project (for readers who are into social science research methods)

14. OSS Watch Newsletters

OSS Watch publishes a monthly newsletter that showcases specially selected content and blog items from OSS Watch along with news and events. We distribute print copies of the newsletter at events that we attend and we make online versions of the newsletter in PDF format available to view or download. The full list of newsletters is at www.oss-watch.ac.uk/newsletters

The theme of April’s newsletter is the importance of establishing a governance model for your project. We often hear people say that ‘It’s too early’ to formally describe your project’s governance at project start up but that is actually the perfect time to draw up a governance model. Detailing responsibilities and describing how decisions are made does not lead to a situation where a project team loses control, quite the opposite, it enables the project team to clearly set out the way in which the project will operate. It also helps to develop an engaged and open community where everyone knows what is going on and potential contributors know exactly what to expect. You can find out more about governance models through this newsletter’s featured article and the selected blog pieces and if you’d like any help in drafting your own governance model then do get in touch, we’re here to help.

15. How to Recover Your Entire System

A complete system failure can be a traumatic event. The first thing to do is not to panic. While the HFS is not suited to recovering your full system, it can help in restoring your (user) data. The steps outlined below while general in nature should, in most cases, get a system back up and running. They do, however, gloss over much of the detail in recovering / reinstalling your system files, for which your local IT support should be engaged. The steps below assume that you have made regular and effective backups of your data to the HFS. In most cases you will need access to an administrator account on the machine you are working on. In all cases you should engage your local IT support wherever you face difficulty.

  1. Install or repair your Operating System files. Update your system to the latest security and service packs. Ensure that you have network access to the Oxford Network. Remember, this will all take some time.
  2. If you have repaired your system - rather than installed a new system, some or all of your application programs and data may still reside on your system. Check this and, if your TSM program is still there, you can skip the following steps and just use this to restore any missing data as per platform specific instructions on using TSM Backup and Restore.
  3. If no TSM client software exists on your machine, register a new desktop account with the HFS. Using a new account prevents accidentally overwriting your backups of your old machine with backups from your new machine.
  4. Download and install the latest TSM client.
  5. Now follow the platform-specific instructions for restoring your data to another machine. These exist for windows platforms and for Mac, Linux/Unix and Netware using the command line client. Remember That your current machine must be running the same Operating System as your old machine. The TSM software does not support cross-platform restores - i.e. restoring files from a Windows system to a Mac or vice versa.

Your local IT Support may offer a desktop imaging service that can restore a base image of your Operating System (and applications ) to your machine.

In the absence of the above, there is a huge amount of support information on the web on the topic of recovering your Operating System. Using search terms such as ‘Windows System Repair’, ‘Mac OSX Archive and Install’ and ‘Unix System Recovery’ amongst others, should yield a large amount of good information.

Among the many reasons why the HFS does not itself support a full-system restore are:

  • Recovery from installation media is quicker, easier and more reliable.
  • Restoring your system files over a pre-existing system, even a partially-broken one, is not supported and usually leads to more corruption.
  • The HFS no longer backs up much of the Operating System.

16. Projects at OUCS

As well as major, high profile projects such as Nexus and Weblearn, OUCS is currently working on several other big projects.

OUCS can help with your research projects including project planning, advisory services for research projects already underway, technical support and end of project activities such as dissemination and archiving. See www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/rts/rtsservices.xml

  • A new MDX room following redevelopment of the New Bodleian (see article on this).
  • Wireless roll-out
  • Core User Directory – we are seeking funding to take forward this major development in Identity Management services.
  • IT Regulations – we are assisting in updating the IT Regulations, in the light of changes in structures, and also changes in technology. Part of this will see a change of perspective with reference to P2P. This is awaiting ratification by Council.
  • Mobile Oxford – this service continues to grow in functionality, use, and popularity. We hope to open source the code around Easter and now have several other Universities who wish to collaborate on its development. The service, using our code, will be rolled out at Brookes over the next 6 months.
  • Videoconferencing – we are seeking funds to take forward our training and service provision for videoconferencing in the light of growing demand. As some of you will know we are also currently trialing Cisco’s WebEx service.
  • OpenSpires – this is taking the iTunes U service to the next stage by investigating using open creative commons licences for distributing material.
  • Humanities IT Review – OUCS has been asked by the Head of the Division to undertake a major review of the current and future IT needs of all the faculties.

Information about OUCS projects can be found at www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/rts and www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ltg/projects.

17. Keep Up to Date with Facebook, Twitter and Software News

17.1. Become a Facebook Fan of OUCS!

On Facebook? Want to check out the latest from OUCS? Join us on www.facebook.com/pages/Oxford-United-Kingdom/Oxford-University-Computing-Services/8392886673 or search for “Oxford University Computing Services”

17.1.1. Is Tweeting your Thing?

OUCS updates are tweeted too - see twitter.com/oucs. Why not follow OUCS projects such as Weblearn, m.ox, Run Coco and more while you are there?

17.1.2. Software News

For latest news on software, site licences, bulk buys, etc. see www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/sls/newsletters/

17.2. Software News

For latest news on software, site licences, bulk buys, etc. see www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/sls/newsletters/

18. Departmental Review Approaching?

Did you know that OUCS can compile and send you a brief report on your department’s use of OUCS’s facilities? You can then use the data as you see fit. There are a number of ways to contact us: see www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/about/contact.xml

19. Webex – Beats Snow and Ash Clouds!

Don’t cancel your meetings because you can’t travel, as long as you have a internet connection you can use Webex to run your meetings from wherever you are. Share presentations, documents, applications or even your desktop with participants at the University or across the world. For more information visit www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/webex or contact webex@ox.ac.uk.

20. Internships at Oxford University Computing Services

Oxford University Computing Services are offering internships to Oxford University Students only. This is an exciting opportunity to join our committed IT work force and we are looking for students from various backgrounds. The internship will offer you valuable work experience that will help in your future career, as well as being part of a key project for the University.

All internships will run for eight weeks between July and August 2010, and you will be paid £10.06 an hour.

The seven vacancies available are:

  • Looking at Automating Content Management Upgrades
  • Developing E-learning Case Studies
  • Developing the University’s Mobile Oxford Services
  • Upgrading our Mailing List Service
  • Making WebLearn Video Tutorials and Guidance Sites
  • Oxgarage: Developing a Document Conversion Web Service
  • Hierarchical File Server (HFS): Porting TSM client to Microsoft Installer

These are all described at www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/publicity/internships/ in more detail.

To apply please request a fuller job description for the internship(s) you are interested in from recruitment@oucs.ox.ac.uk and then send your CV making sure that it addresses the essential and desirable criteria, to OUCS’s Personnel Office, OUCS, 13 Banbury Road or recruitment@oucs.ox.ac.uk. Your CV should arrive no later than 12.00 noon on May 7th 2010. To repeat, this scheme is only open to current students of Oxford University.