Monday, 21 October 2013

Programme Regulations


The new Programme Regulations Online Management System (PROMS) system is currently being populated with 2013/14 information. Departments will be able to view their regulations on the new web pages during October or November, and the new system will be available for Departments to update their programme regulations for 2014/5.  Training on how the new system works is planned for December.


Monday, 14 October 2013

NVivo on the University Desktop PCs

NVivo is a research application used for analysis of unstructured data including free text survey responses.

Since the launch of the new desktop based on Windows 7 it has been difficult to install and make available to students and staff. There were compatibility issues and the need for accounts to be modified.

However, all users should now be able to run Nvivo10 on the University Desktop without the need to request that their accounts be modified. However, Nvivo is still only available on certain PCs due to outstanding compatibility issues with other software. 

PCs running NVivo can be found in the IC in classrooms 3 and 4 and all machine on floor 4.


NVivo can be made available in selected teaching or staff machines in departments upon request.

Firefox updated on University of Sheffield Desktop


A new version of Firefox has been released in to the Software Center for staff and students on the University Desktop. The new version, Firefox 17.08, fixes a problem we have been having veiwing PDFs within the browser which, had been causing a fair amount of trouble for students in recent weeks.

Friday, 11 October 2013

MOLE update

After a lot of hard work fixing MOLE, we're now happy with its continued stability. We will be continually monitoring it and actively identifying opportunities to further improve its performance. 

If you are planning any assessments in MOLE as always please let us know by contacting mole@sheffield.ac.uk 

Thank you for your continued patience as we worked on this. We are truly sorry for the inconvenience it has undoubtedly caused.

Previous updates can be found here

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

We're having problems with PDFs in Firefox...

Unfortunately, we are having problem where students are unable to view PDFs using Firefox on student computers. The problem seems to be affecting university computers in the IC, libraries and student computer rooms.

If you need to view a PDF from MOLE or any other website you can use Internet Explorer. Or, in Firefox, you can save the PDF to your filestore by right clicking on the link to it and selecting 'save link as'. If you do decide to save your PDF, make sure it has a name you recognise and that it's saved somewhere you can find it, then you can open it in Adobe Reader.

We are working on a new version of firefox which, will fix the problem with PDFs and are confident that it will be available to you soon. In the mean time if you're having problems with PDFs please let us know. You can either talk to our staff in the Information Commons or send us feedback here.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Top tips for keeping your smartphone secure

The ICO has just published a great guide to help keep your smartphone secure.



The tips are applicable to all smartphones (Apple, Android, Blackberry and Windows) and should only take a few minutes to set up.

Feel free to get in touch with us if you have any further questions about smartphone security or need any help with the tips covered in the guide.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Eduroam maintenance tomorrow morning

At 6:30 tomorrow morning, Tuesday 8th October, we will be doing some work on the technology that supports our eduroam wireless. We don't expect you to see any impact for those of you that are awake and connected to eduroam. However, eduroam will be at risk for around 15 minutes. If you find that you become disconnected or that you are unable to connect between 6:30am and 7am, just wait a few minutes and retry and you should get connected.

Migrating staff filestore in October

Over the summer we have purchased and set up some new, more powerful hardware to run our virtual server environment. We have been systematically migrating services from the older environment to the new one and have already successfully moved students' filestore

The migrations will take place throughout October, with work beginning at 7am on the scheduled day. Each filestore server will be unavailable for 15-30 minutes whilst it is moved, with your shared areas and personal filestore, u:drive, being affected. If you are using a University Desktop computer or a managed Windows XP computer before 8am on the day your server is scheduled for migration, make sure you can see your u:drive and your shared areas before you do anything, to avoid losing any work you might start. 

Once the migration is complete, everything will look and work the same for you. All your files and folders will appear in the same place they always did.


Here is the proposed schedule:

Ashopton - Wednesday 9 October
Langsett - Thursday 10 October
Windleden - Friday 11 October
Ladybower & Stfdata01 - Monday 14 October
Froggatt - Tuesday 15 October

Ogston - Thursday 17 October

Friday, 4 October 2013

Telephone calls charged centrally

At the start of August we changed the way we recharge University departments for telephone lines and calls in order to simplify the process and to eliminate unnecessary administration.

Now when we pay the bills of our various telephony suppliers, the process is complete. Whereas, previously, we’d then spend a great deal of time across the whole institution passing relatively small sums of money about: all completely unnecessary. It’s difficult to put an exact figure on the time (and hence money) saved, but it will be many thousands of pounds each and every month.


Combined with the recent changes to the way that mobile phone bills are being handled (we think we have saved approximately £200,000 per year in not having to process 1,000 bills once a quarter) and the many other savings we are trying to put in place around telephony, we are going someway to help the Department meet one of its aims in being more efficient and streamlined. 

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Secure your computer, pretty please!

This is a really simple bit of good practice but something that we often forget.

If you leave your computer logged in then any accounts, or information you have access to, are at risk. As embarrassing as it may be to come back and find yourself with a goat on your desktop we also have to remember that we all have access to sensitive information and systems.

Your computer should be protected with a password and set to lock when left unattended. Your screensaver can be set on a timer but it's much better if it becomes second nature to enable the screensaver as you leave your desk.

Update on MOLE performance problems, October 2013

As you may be aware, CiCS staff have been working with our suppliers all week to maintain a usable MOLE service whilst investigating the causes of intermittent performance problems.

Following the installation of some patches the MOLE service has become more stable but is still not running at full performance levels. The my MOLE navigation panel is also running at reduce functionality as depicted below:  



Live classroom teaching can now be undertaken with the understanding that some individual sessions may crash or timeout.  However, tests should not be delivered via MOLE.

To continue to provide this level of service we will restart MOLE during its usual Friday morning at risk period to install more patches.  The service will be unavailable 04:00-07:00 and should be considered at risk all Friday.

Updates on our progress is available on our service status page. A history of all updates to date is reproduced below:


Update 4th October 11:00

MOLE has been successfully restarted and remains stable. Live classroom teaching can now be undertaken with the understanding that some individual sessions may crash or timeout. Significant assessments should not be delivered via MOLE. 

Update 3rd October 13:40

Following the installation of patches from our supplier, MOLE is now more stable. Live classroom teaching can now be undertaken with the understanding that some individual sessions may crash or timeout. Significant assessments should not be delivered via MOLE. 

MOLE will be restarted during its usual Friday morning at risk period and will be unavailable 04:00-07:00. It should be considered at risk all Friday.

Update 2nd October 16:10

We're continuing to work on MOLE but its status remains the same: available but at risk and not stable enough for live teaching in a classroom where students are likely to be performing the same actions at the same time.

Update 2nd October 14:00

The MOLE service is still available but at risk and we are continuing to work with our suppliers to fix the bug and restore MOLE to full service.

Update 2nd October 10:42

The MOLE service remains available but at risk. We are continuing to work with our suppliers who have identified a bug and have suggested some promising workarounds which we are implementing. For the time being we still recommend against using MOLE for live teaching in a classroom where students are likely to be performing the same actions at the same time.

Update 1st October 16:05

MOLE is still running and we are continuing to work with our supplier to maintain and improve it. We still advise that MOLE should not be used for live teaching.

Update 1st October 13:30

The MOLE service is still running and we are continuing to work to maintain the service and improve its performance and stability.

However, for the time being we advise that academic colleagues do not use MOLE for live teaching until we can confirm it is working reliably.

Update 1st October 11:15

We are continuing to have problems with MOLE and we are working closely with our supplier to try and resolve this. CiCS staff are working to maintain the service whist investigating the underlying cause.

We appreciate what a disruptive impact this is having and apologise for the difficulty that it is causing. For now we recommend that academic colleagues do not use the service for teaching until we can confirm that it is working reliably.

Original Post 1st October 10:05

The MOLE service is currently running at reduced capacity and should be considered at risk.

MyJob/MyTeam new theme update.

Just a quick update on the work we did last night on MyJob / My Team. Unfortunately we ran into some complications which means the University theme has not been applied. Everything is working as normal, so nothing to worry about. We will work out the complications then reschedule putting on the theme.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Increased Filestore


After a carefully planned sequence of software and hardware upgrades by our storage team, we are pleased to say that everyone now has a minimum of 2GB of filestore. This is a huge improvement on what we previously offered and something that many of you have been asking for. So now you can save more work on your u: drive without worrying about filling it quite so fast.

SAP Browser Issues


Recently a software update on MyJob caused the payslip viewer to stop working in Safari and Chrome web browsers. We have been working hard to resolve these problems and we are pleased to tell you that you can now view your payslip in Safari once again, although it is still not possible to view your payslip in Chrome. You can also view your payslip in IE and Firefox and we’ll let you know once we have a fix for Chrome.