Oxford Materials IT Committee Meeting

2.00pm on Tuesday 26th October 21BR committee room


  • 1 Apologies for absence and Membership of the Committee
  • 2 Matters arising from the Minutes of the Meeting of 19 January 2004
  • 3 IT/AV – Matters for Discussion (attached)
  • 4 IT/AV – Head of IT Report (attached)
  • 5 University IT Users Group – brief verbal report (PJW)
  • 6 IT/AV expenditure - matters for report (PJW)
  • 7 Review of Policy Documents ((a)strategy and (b) policy docs attached)
  • 8 AOB
  • 9 Date and time of next meeting

Item 2. Matters arising from the meeting of 19 January 2004 as of October 2004

Items Completed:

Circulation of meeting agenda (Minute 2a)
After various postponements, this agenda was successfully circulated one week in advance of the meeting.

Ciculation of minutes of last meeting (Minute 2b)
The minutes of the last meeting were posted on the website and also circulated to itc@materials shortly after the last meeting.

Department databases (Minute 2c)
Attached is a list of the databases used by the department. There are a range of technical solutions in use. There is a strong desire to try to link the separate databases thus making them more relational and reducing duplication of data. IT staff will continue to work towards this goal.

Digital Authentication (Minute 2g)
OUCS have implemented single-authentication for web services at http://webauth.ox.ac.uk . Currently this department does not have suitable web-based systems requiring authentication. IT staff are tracking developments in this area and considering where Kerberos authentication could be used within the department.

IPX networking (Minute 2h)
Now that the Materials1 server has been decommissioned IPX networking has been turned off on our subnet. The single user from Research Services has found an alternative technical solution for connecting to his server.

Replacement Novell server (Minute 2i)
Everyone has been moved onto the new Novell server called Materials2, and the old server Materials1 has been turned off. It is planned that the old server will be upgraded and used as a test-bed for Groupwise software.

Undergraduate brochure (Minute 2j)
Adrian Taylor and Martin Carr successfully updated the Undergraduate brochure and copies were distributed to open day attendees for the 2005/6 intake. The website was updated accordingly. The cost was £5310 for 6000 copies.

Training of Admin staff on usage of Email (Minute 2k)
Individual advice on junkmail filtering and password changing has been provided throughout the year. Further training has been offered to admin staff and technicians.

Microwave link and fibre-optic link to Begbroke (Minute 2m)
The microwave link failed completely again in April and after delays from our service provider due to a lapsed contract with a sub-contractor, three out of four units in the link were replaced and the link made operational again. Overall the sage continued for three months. The fibre-optic installation is still progressing slowly but the end is in sight with a likely completion by April 2005.

Altiris Deployment software training (Minute 2r)
The OUCS training course on the use of Altiris Deployment software was cancelled.

Sophos Enterprise Manager testing (Minute 2s)
Since the department already runs Sophos managed centrally by Department IT staff, we were not selected as a test-bed for the Enterprise Manager software. OUCS are actively developing methods of automatic remote updating of the protection.

Library IT (Minute 2u)
A termly review of IT facilities in the library has been implemented scheduled in conjunction with the ITC meeting.

New Webmail interface (Minute 5b)
The new Webmail interface was implemented by OUCS in June. Overall feedback has been good, but most departmental users should use client software such as Outlook or Eudora, which has better features for managing email.

ISIDORE (Minute 5c)
The implementation of the new undergraduate admissions system ISIDORE was postponed from Michaelmas2004 to Michaelmas2005, however the graduate admissions is being phased in Michaelmas2004 with Department staff having access in April2005. Adrian Taylor and Laura Jones are the main department contacts whereas PJW and AMC are the technical contacts. Training will be provided centrally for all staff accessing the system. IT implications are minimal and communications with ISIDORE are good.

MML strategy (Minute 2t)
Long term strategy for the MML, including a rolling replacement plan for workstations has been put on hold until the appointment of the new MML lecturer. Meanwhile equipment purchases progress as funds become available.


A meeting of the Department of Materials IT Committee was held on Tuesday 26th October.
The following people attended: PJW, AMC, MB, AHM, RMP,CJDH, JAMS.
Apologies for Absence: None (No Absentees)

1. Apologies for Absence and Membership of the Committee

David Bucknell was thanked for his service to the Committee and Jason Smith was welcomed as his replacement.

The Committee proposed that future meetings would take place on Tuesdays of 3rd week of each term. The Committee would aim to report to Departmental Committee on the Monday of 8th week of each term.

2. Matters arising from the minutes

a) Department Databases

Resolve 2 (Grant Application Costing Tool) should be added to the list of Department Databases.

Action: AMC

b) Undergraduate Brochure

Adrian Taylor and Martin Carr successfully updated the Undergraduate brochure and copies were distributed to open day attendees for the 2005/6 intake. The website was updated accordingly. The cost was £5310 for 6000 copies, including the cost of all artwork. It was noted that the useful breakdown of the Department’s Publications should ideally include a per annum cost, such that items like the Undergraduate Brochure can be budgeted for annually.

Action: AHM

c) New Webmail Interface

IT staff should specify which email clients they support explicitly and encourage users to use them such that support may be more easily given to users.

Action: PJW

d) FibreOptic Link to Begbroke

PJW to inform the Department and OUBSP of the proposed schedule for installation of the Fibreoptic connection to Begbroke

Action: PJW

e) IT Disaster Recovery Plans

IT Staff should have disaster recovery plans ready for discussion at the next IT Committee Meeting

3 Matters for Discussion

a) Departmental Photograph

It was agreed that the Departmental Photograph will be taken by digital camera only. Requests for hard copies of the photograph will co-ordinated by AHM as usual and at similar cost to previous years. Electronic copy will be made available to Department members via the department website.

Action: AHM

b) Departmental Whiteboards

It was agreed that Department whiteboards in lecture theatres and meeting rooms are not the responsibility of IT/AV staff. This position needs to be clarified with the facilities manager, SHA. It was also agreed that (in conjunction with SHA) a 1-sided laminate instruction sheet should be prepared and left with each whiteboard. All members of department should be notified of these instructions by email.

Action: AHM

c) Wireless Networking

It was agreed that a pilot project for wireless networking should be undertaken in the QIPIRC. The Committee noted that the pilot project would need to be set up with:
i) specified start and end dates
ii) specific requirements from Users and IT staff, agreed at the start of the project
iii) an estimate of IT staff time needed and subsequent management of the actual time
iv) IT staff in full control of the wireless router
v) an assessment at the end of the pilot project, prior to any agreement for the continued use of the wireless router.

Action: PJW

d) Department Financial Support of Academic Staff IT Requirements

It was agreed that the IT Committee is to propose to the Departmental Committee that the department provides annual financial support to academics (defined as senior staff who are fully funded by the Department. Membership includes - Statutory Professors and Readers, University Lecturers, plus researchers and staff employed at grades RSII and above and in DL or ALC grades) towards the cost of their IT equipment necessary to carryout their departmental responsibilities. The level of support recommended is £200/year (from 1st August 2005 and thereafter) accumulating up to a maximum of £600 to be used for the purchase of IT equipment and consumables for use by the academic themselves.
The aim of the proposal is to help provide staff with the ‘tools they require to do the job’. The Committee is trying to appear to be transparent in its level of support and fair to all. It was noted that new members of staff may require more help than the budget actually suggested.

Action: PJW

e) IT Policy On Departmental Retirees

In order to obtain the university card status Retiree, the applicant has to be in receipt of a university (USS or OSPS) pension and has to be recommended by the Department Administrator usually on the basis of the person continuing to provide service or benefit to the Department or University. It was agreed that the following IT Policy on Retirees is to be presented to Departmental Committee for approval:

The IT policy for supporting Retirees is as follows:
Email: OUCS provide email to Retirees.
Hardware: Central department funds will not be used to purchase or replace IT equipment for retirees unless sanctioned by the Administrator, however retirees shall considered when reallocating redundant equipment for use in the Department.
Software: Site licensing of software is applicable to Retirees.
Consumables: Costs for consumables and printing will be considered on an ad-hoc basis.
Support: Retirees are eligible for support as per the published Department IT policy.
Access: Electronic access is controlled by IT staff but physical access is not.

Action: PJW

4. Head of IT Report

a) Teaching Laboratory (Laptops)

Six new laptops are ready for use in the teaching laboratory. There is scope for making the laptops available for use elsewhere outside of Full Term time. It was noted that the potential effect of loss/theft whilst on loan should be considered and emphasised to the borrower.

b) Library

The library annex computer has been removed as the annex has been closed and will be used for a different purpose. It was noticed that the annex computer was used for an IT skills test for certain interviews. It is suggested that a computer should be configured for this purpose in the library office, provided SHA and LJFJ agree.

Action: AMC

5. Oxford University IT Users Group Meeting http://www.ict.ox.ac.uk/oxford/groups/ouitug/

There was nothing to report.

6. IT/AV Expenditure

There was nothing to report due to the difficulties with obtaining reports from OSIRIS.

7 Review of Policy Documents

The Committee members are individually asked to review the policy and strategy documents attached to the Agenda and send their comments to PJW by 16/11/04, such that any changes can be incorporated and presented to the Departmental Committee in 8th week.

Action: All

8 AOB – Email Etiquette

It was suggested that a reminder to the Department on the uses of email and the uses of the Department email lists should be circulated again

Action: PJW

9 Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting will take place on Tuesday 1st February 2005.

The meeting closed at 3.40pm