Friday, 30 May 2014

Project and Development News for May 2014

With News for May 2014 (covering April 2014)

Business Activity Projects

Apart from a few additional requests Sharp have now completed installing printers for the MSP service.
They are now removing personal printers from the campus.
The project is starting to wind down, but final closure will not occur until July.
  • Staff going live shortly.

Other Developments

  • Print & Design: MFDs in the libraries will be configured and updated during the week commencing 25 April as the devices need servicing and parts.
  • Print & Design: Print The tender for outsourced print has been awarded to a number of suppliers for litho processes.
  • Print & Design: P&DS have a Process Improvement Unit event scheduled for 7-9 May to streamline financial process.
  • Space Management: Two vacancies have arisen in the Drama Studio due to the retirement of one member of staff and the resignation of another.
  • Space Management: A new Head of Performance Venues has been appointed with a start date of 28 April.
  • Space Management: The tender for new seating in the Drama Studio has been awarded to Hussey Seatway Ltd. Design and will be installed around July/August.
  • Space Management:The tender for new staging in the Octagon Centre has been awarded to Sico Staging and ordered for delivery early July.
  • APME Meeting:Janine Barraclough attended the APME Executive meeting in Glasgow to finalise conference planning and discuss other APME business.
  • Loughborough University: Janine and Michelle Barraclough attended an event at Loughborough University hosted by Canon and EFI Fiery; the suppliers demonstrated their ecommerce solution, Digital Store Front and colleagues from the Loughborough Print Service presented their experience of working with DSF.

Communication and Collaboration Projects

3 workstreams have been prioritised and initial meetings set up. These are as follows:
  • Enquirer and Applicant Portal - Led by Christina Edgar, Student Recruitment & Admissions
  • Alumni - Led by Andy Cooper, Alumni
  • MyAnnounce - Led by Malcolm Roberts, Student Services & Sara Kouchakji-Allen, Corporate Affairs.
  • There has been a major re-think about the shape of the project moving forward from the roll-out of new MUSE. With the new technology we have in place we can offer access to services to a wider range of people than before. For example, Enquirers and Applicants can now log in to the portal and there is the possibility for targeted announcements to this group. There is an also an aspiration to deliver services such as HEAR to Alumni via a Portal, although a first step for this would be to provide accounts for them and there is already a project running on this with which we will liaise.
  • A partial block to uSpace spaces and groups was applied on May 1st. If you are still using uSpace you will need to ask to have the block lifted. However you only be given temporary access and this will be revoked on June 13th.
  • uSpace users are now actively being contacted and asked what they would like done with their uSpace resources.
  • If you are thinking about moving your learning and teaching content from uSpace take a look at our Learning and Teaching transition information to see what your options are.
  • We have contacted people with active uSpace content so we can support their transition to other services. If you have not been contacted and think you should have been, complete the form on the projects page.
  • No new spaces and groups can now be created

Other Developments

  • University Website: Responsive website testing is taking place and will be rolled out in May.
  • CMS: The NUS have offered the future use of their chosen web CMS event booking service to the whole of the University.
  • IP Telephony: Departments have been allocated IP conference units as IP telephony is deployed so they can manage their own conferencing.
  • Google: Google add-ons went live by default in April.
  • IP Telephony: New hardware, to add resilience for IPT, has been added to the Brunswick data centre which mirrors areas in the Computing Centre
  • myAnnounce: Work is taking place within the myAnnounce system to split staff and student targetted emails. Student Services have agreed to take on moderation for student messages as soon as possible. Moderation of staff messages still needs to be negotiated

Corporate Information Projects

  • A prototype solution has been developed for handling personalised email for Visitors/Offer Holders via the existing CRM system. This will be tested during May by staff from the five pilot departments (Modern Languages, Civil Engineering, Human Communication Sciences, Maths and Sociology).
    Design/development work has commenced on a solution for Enquirers and this should mainly involve additional work on the search functionality for generating email recipients. The remaining solution for Applicants will subsequently be addressed and will involve similar work.
This project is just starting.
CiCS and colleagues from the Medical School have started piloting the system changes for internal department lists. These are principally to allow departments to manage incidents internally by recording contact information in lists that describe relevant specialism within their department. For CiCS, this will be driven by services in the Service Catalogue.
  • Upgrade of live system and Scan Manager on Managed W7 desktop end of this month
  • CiCS devising training and documentation for working group testing.
  • Workshops looking at the current process are about to start, further workshops will be planned which look at the “to be” processes.

Other Developments

  • CI SAG: Project Proposals will be available at every CI SAG to aide discussions and advise SSB on priorities.
  • EFM Project: The EFM Project is to restructured and will go back out to tender in the next few months with a new business case and costings
  • SAP: The SAP annual patching round has been completed.
  • Student Systems: The RACI model for the processes which lead to students being formally registered is nearing completion.
  • CAS Project: Project Manager of the CAS Project is Richard Shenton.
  • Student Systems: Electronic Confirmation testing will commence at the end of April with user testing in June and a pilot in July.
  • Student Systems: Students will not be allowed to change their parchment name without official documentation whilst they are current students.
  • Student Systems: Ombiel are to give us a Webinar on their Student Attendance Monitoring app.
  • Digital Preservation: Digital preservation, a University strategy and the need for a high level spec for a library system was discussed at the CI SAG.
  • Freedom of Information: A new report format for FOI requests received by the University is to be put to the UEB Information Services Sub-Group.
  • uReports; The contract to support Cognos has been awarded to a new provider.

Help and Support Projects

Other Developments

  • IT Support: Certain members of staff will work shadow the Incident Coordinator to more fully understand the processes involved, with the aim of contributing towards improving the process beyond the Helpdesk.
  • MySustainablePrint: Calls to the Helpdesk have increased by roughly 20% since the roll out of MSP.
  • Visiting other Institutions: The IT Support Development Manager and Incident Coordinators have completed the visits to other Universities to see how they run their Helpdesk and IT Support.
  • Windows XP end of life: Meetings are ongoing between Faculty/Departmental IT Support staff with regard to Windows XP end of life

Infrastructure Projects

Other Developments

  • Filers: Planning for Netapp software upgrade over Easter.
  • Oracle/Solaris: Oracle/Solaris blade chassis running at full capacity and more blades may need to be bought.
  • Storage: Several Netware servers are running at maximum capacity resulting in poor performance at certain times; our contingency plan may have to be put into operation.
  • Storage: Embryonic testing of clustered windows servers as an alternative to Novell solutions & providing HPC general purpose storage integration are ongoing.
  • Database: CMIS database is moving to a new database on a linux machine, which will improve individual service manageability and removing dependencies.
  • Directories and Authentication: Planning to turn off old portal and JET hardware; JET LDAP functionality will be provided by PROP, for those apps that need that data.

Learning and Teaching Projects

Regulations Finder version 2 has gone live. This enables searching of programme regulations and provides module information, including details of pre-requisites/co-requisites.
The PROMS interface with the CMIS Timetabling System is live, providing regulations information to the timetabling process.
The PROMS Late Amendments Workflow is in QA awaiting user testing and is planned to go live for the start of the Late Amendments Period on 2nd June.

Other Developments

  • Lecture Capture: MyEcho classroom capture is now working on the managed desktop.
  • Teaching Space: A group of senior academics and colleagues from professional services have been discussing ways of teaching over the next 10 years and how that should influence the design of space.
  • Text Messaging System: Faculty of Social Sciences will be piloting the text messaging system for cancelled and rearranged lectures for the rest of the academic year.
  • MOOCs: First MOOC is nearly finished and second one will be launched shortly. Stats very promising and more MOOCs will be delivered in the future.

Research Projects

The Project is at the Feasibility stage. A Problem Definition Workshop was held on 19th May and we are evaluating the outcome of that. Areas to be looked at include: Processes, System Integration, System Development and Expertise As the Project Definition is yet to be approved IRIS is not formally a project yet.

Other Developments

  • Iceberg: New login nodes have been brought into service, which will address perfomance issues with particular types of application access.
  • Iceberg: To address space issues with the /fastdata HPFS, the data retention time has been reduced from 90 days to 60 days.
  • Research Projects: A Google site and Group (hpchub) group has been set up to replace the old uSpace HPC support forums.
  • Licences and Applications: Updated versions of Matlab are being installed on Iceberg and the Insigneo SGI machine.
  • Research Data Management: Work streams are now being established for the N8 RDM and Systems Architecture work.
  • Research Administration: Modifications to URMS for Horizon 2020 have been completed.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Truecrypt security announcement

Recent news online has suggested potential security problems with the popular encryption software, Truecrypt.

The official Truecrypt website has been modified and the version of Truecrypt available has been updated to 7.2. 

We need time to verify the claims made on the Truecrypt website. In the meantime we have carried out a risk assessment and our advice is as follows:

  • If you are using the previous version of Truecrypt* then you do not need to take any action at this time. Even if the claims are true then the risk to your data is negligible.
  • You must NOT download or attempt to use Truecrypt 7.2.
We are continuing to investigate and will provide further information as soon as possible. If you have any questions please contact the CiCS Helpdesk. 


*  You can find out what version of Truecrypt you are using by going to Help > About in the Truecrypt software. The previous version, 7.1a, was available from 2012 - May 27th 2014.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

eBay hacked - our advice

As you may have heard, eBay has been hacked and they are advising their customers to change their passwords.

As it is always good practice to change your password periodically we encourage you to do this. However, you must not change your password by clicking a link in any email you have sent as there is likely to be a spate of opportunistic phishing attempts by criminals wishing to exploit eBay's troubles. 

More importantly, if you have used your University password for eBay you must change that now.

  • To change your University password go to the web address: https://www.shef.ac.uk/cics/password - type it in directly; do not follow a link!
  • To change your eBay password always go direct to their website and follow their password reset instructions. 
  • Remember, you must never use your University password for any external web services.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

CiCS wins Gold in Green Impact Award

For the second year running we won Gold in the Green Impact awards, organised by the NUS. This not only demonstrates our own commitment to sustainability but the effect that we have on the entire University community through our support for IT across the campus and beyond. The My Sustainable Print project, the on-going work to make our data centres more sustainable and the work we are doing in Voice and Data were key factors in our success.

The ceremony took place in the Octagon and we were presented with the award by Paul White, Deputy VC. One new departure for the scheme has been Green Impact Student Homes, where students are encouraged to work with landlords to improve the energy efficiency of student houses, improving insulation, upgrading white goods and so on. We may have the impression that our students are all wallowing in centrally heated luxury these days but clearly this is not the case!

We were able to make use of a Green Impact Personal Assistant, Kaspar Raasman, a student in business studies, who conducted an Energy Audit and interviewed Team Leaders to help us a get a better understanding of the challenges we face when implementing green initiatives. This was very valuable work and one of the key things  he reported back was that we need to keep vigilant throughout the year and make sure the Green Impact’ message doesn’t get forgotten once fanfare is over. So the job doesn’t stop there - we will keep reminding if you of the need to be sustainable, hopefully without getting on your nerves too much!

Friday, 2 May 2014

Student Systems Project Website Launched

Student systems refers to those IT systems and associated processes supporting the management of all phases in the student lifecycle including: student recruitment, admissions, finance, support, course management, assessment and graduation.

The Student Systems Project aims to ensure the University can deliver efficient student processes. The first phase seeks to make a decision about the type of solution needed. It will also focus on securing funds and planning for future phases of the project.

A new website with full details has been launched at www.shef.ac.uk/ssp


A partial screenshot is included below but the full website has much more info.