Friday, 27 January 2012

A Very Google Week

It's been a big week for Google Services at the University.

Google+

First we formally announced the launch of Google+ at the University. From February 1st Google+ will be enabled for all staff and students over the age of 18* We will not be activating the service, just enabling it. It is an opt-in service; if you wish to use it you can set up your University account but if you take no action Google+ will not intrude upon your life.

Always keeping abreast of modern IT services and culture we activated Google+ as soon as we had verified that it didn't compromise other services, but before we had learned about its features and prepared support materials. In the current IT climate we are aiming to speed up the release of new services with the expectation that our users do not need the same level of help and support as in previous years. I hope we've got the balance right!

* As regards the over 18s constraint, no sooner had we announced the activation of Google+ than they changed their conditions and made Google+ available to anyone over the age of 13. This now removes the uncomfortable situation of us offering services to some students but not others.

Google Web Pages

In a previous blog post we outlined how the web team had enabled new features on the CMS web site. For the launch of Google+ and the continued support for Google Apps we've incorporated some new features into our Google web pages. There's plenty of room for improvement but we've made a nice start.

The new Google+ pages can be seen here and the shiny new web pages showcasing our collection of Google services can be seen here.


Google Drop-Ins

People tend not to need training courses like they used to, but there's still a need to see good practise and find out what can be achieved using IT services to the max. To help staff get the most from our Google services we are piloting a series of drop in sessions taking place every Monday throughout February 2:00-3:30 in Hicks K17. If you have any questions just pop along, no need to book.

Google Privacy Policy



There's been much publicised changes to Google's privacy policies. Essentially, Google now allow your data to be shared between your apps. No-one else can see your data but for example your preferences in email can now be applied to your Google Docs. CiCS has reviewed the new privacy policy in detail and does not believe there is any cause for concern. However, it is likely that your Google searches will start to return results that are more targeted to you as an individual. Is that a good or a bad thing?



Monday, 16 January 2012

Mappin Computer Rooms Open 24 Hours During Exam Period

Computer Rooms ME03 and ME04 in the Mappin Building are open and available for student use 24 hours a day during the exam period, 16th January to 4th February.

Between them, ME03 and ME04 contain 188 PCs for student use, all featuring widescreen monitors, a USB slot, CD Writer, CD Player and DVD Player. The rooms offer full wireless coverage and contain 4100, 8150 and colour printers.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Antivirus Update

The University's standard antivirus software, McAfee 8.5,expired at the end of 2011. Sort of! It was certainly publicised that it would expire although it seems that it's life has been extended somewhat as it continues to work. However, support for McAfee 8.5 will expire and at that point many computers will cease to be prtected from modern viruses.

As a result, CiCS has taken the decision to switch our recommended antivirus protection to alternative products which recently have seemed better equipped to deal with modern viruses.

For University-owned or leased PCs we recommend Microsoft Forefront, for presonally owned PCs we recommend Microsoft Security Essentials and for Macs we recommend Sophos. All of these are available for staff and students to install on their computers at no cost to themselves.

Our antivirus web pages have been updated with more information and installation instructions and can be found at:

http://www.shef.ac.uk/cics/antivirus

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Improvements to Room Booking Enquiry System

We have made some improvements to the Room Bookings system, specifically to help people when booking rooms that they are not familiar with. In addition to the text description of each room and its facilities, there is now a collection of pictures.

The first two pictures show the outside of the building and its position on the campus map, as seen for the Alfred Denny Building below:

The next three pictures show views within the specific room selected as seen for room A04 below:


We hope this will help staff select the ideal teaching room for their needs. You can browse or search the Room Booking Enquiry System via the link below.

Room Booking Enquiry System