Oxford Materials IT Committee Meeting

2.00pm on Tuesday 1st February 21BR committee room


  • 1 Apologies for absence and Membership of the Committee
  • 2 Matters arising from the Minutes of the Meeting of 26th October 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 AOB
  • 8 Date and time of next meeting

Item 2. Matters arising from the meeting of 26th October 2004

Items Completed:

Department Databases (Minute 2a)
Resolve was added to the list of department databases.

Undergraduate Brochure (Minute 2b)
The annual costs were added to the breakdown of publications.

New Webmail interface (Minute 2c)
A list of supported email clients was circulated to notices and the website updated.

Fibre optic link to Begbroke (Minute 2d)
The department and OUBSP were informed by email about the timescale for installation of the fibre optic connection. Currently on schedule for April 2005.

Department Whiteboards (Minute 3b)
A 1-sided laminate instruction sheet is in preparation. One will be left with each whiteboard. All members of department will be notified of these instructions by email.

Department Financial Support of Academic Staff IT Requirements (Minute 3c)
The proposal to provide financial support to core academics for the purchase of IT equipment and consumables was taken forward to the Departmental Committee which agreed funding. The scheme is to be implemented to start in August 2005.

IT Policy On Departmental Retirees (Minute 3d)
The policy on IT support for Departmental Retirees was taken forward to the Departmental Committee which did not raise any objections. The policy was added to the main IT support policy.

Library (Minute 4b)
The library computing facilities have been reorganised to have one PC in the book room and one PC in the periodicals room. The PC in the book room is to also be used for work-related exercises. Both PC’s have been upgrade to have flat panel displays. A separate PC will be provided elsewhere for preparation of exam papers.

IT support Policy (Minute 7)
The IT support policy has been updated taking account of feedback from committee members and the revised policy has been published on the department website. The IT strategy has also been updated.

Email etiquette (Minute 8)
Guidelines were circulated by email informing/reminding all members of department about the uses of email and the uses of the Department email lists.

Item 3: IT/AV Matters for Discussion : 1 February 2005

a)Gigabit backbone connection.

b)Email and shared Calender server.

Item 4. IT/AV Head of IT report : 1 February 2005

Admin Network
Only George and Pippa, remain to be upgraded from NT to XP. Printing problems with OSIRIS have been resolved by OSIRIS technical team, but numerous problems remain with the reporting software tools.

Teaching Laboratory
Printing problems were resolved by replacing the mono printer and replacing a faulty new toner in the colour. Some issues with the new microscope computers are being monitored. The annual turnover of 4 computer took place.

Lecture theatres / meeting rooms
Faulty video cables replaced in HR and BR lecture theatres. Regular checks required. The QIPIRC meeting room now has the new video conferencing equipment and training has been received. A digital video camera has been purchased and the DJHC’s Hume-Rothery lecture recorded with a view to producing a digitally edited version of the lecture. The feasibility of linking the Hume-Rothery lecture theatre and Oxford Room at Begbroke is being investigated.

Digital Darkroom
No problems. All three computers are frequently fully utilised.

The two computers were reorganised and screens replaced. The library annex was closed and converted into the archive room.

Ralf Drautz appointed as 5-year modelling fellow. Full professorship still not advertised. New storage array ordered and new project to build a test-cluster is being formulated.

All EM computers have been imaged. The server remains functional but not upgraded.

Website and personal homepages were updated on the basis of Research in Progress 2004. Some areas are still being developed: Industry, PeopleContacts, Alumni, Schools.

Researches in Progress was finalised and 150 copies printed. An A4 schools flyer was produced and 150 copies of the OxMat CD were distributed. A summary of the status of the publications including financial aspects is attached.

Re-wiring of the ground-floor of 21 Banbury Road is complete but work on the 1st floor has been post-poned due to funding delays. Telephones in 21 Banbury Road are being converted to run over the data network infrastructure. The old-style network in 21BR should be turned off by Easter, with the last few users having a temporary cabling until the main re-wiring reaches them.

Materials2 (netware server), Altiris(deployment), Nomad(antivirus) all remain unchanged. Materials1 was upgraded and reinstalled with as a netware testbox. Databases (DHCP server, webserver, databases) now also runs antivirus and is due to replace nomad. A new server has been created for resolve2. Languard (security, network monitoring) was decommissioned due to inadequate hardware and the services moved to Sus(windowsupdate, security, network monitoring).

No changes. Some telecoms issues for directorate users.

No major breaches, however firewall still needs fixing. The new Microsoft anti-spyware tool seems good at protecting against spyware, and should be recommended to users.

Begbroke Directorate
Due to the departure of Mike Sloane a full review of IT within the Begbroke directorate was carried out. On-going support is being provided at roughly 20%FTE of PJW. This increased workload will be monitored carefully. Further development of the IT strategy for Begbroke is required.


A meeting of the Department of Materials IT Committee was held on Tuesday 26th October.
The following people attended: PJW, MB, AHM, RMP,CJDH, JAMS.
Apologies for Absence: AMC

1. Apologies for Absence and Membership of the Committee

Alex Cock was on holiday.

2. Matters arising from the minutes

a) IT Disaster Recovery Plans (minute 2e)

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

Action: PJW/AMC/MB

b) Departmental Photograph (minute 3a)

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. (Photograph scheduled for May 2005)

Action: AHM

c) Wireless Networking (minute 3c)

A pilot project for wireless networking has been undertaken in the QIPIRC since 24 Nov 2004. The time spent by IT staff has been roughly 5hrs total, including configuration and log checking. Ten devices have used it to-date. There is full logging of connections by MAC addresses. The device will be configured to accept MAC addresses that have been previously registered with IT staff to increase security. The wireless hub is fully under the control of IT staff. It is proposed to extend the pilot project and reassess at the next IT meeting.

Action: PJW

3 Matters for Discussion

a) Gigabit networking

The strategic planning, financial implications and timescale limitations of moving towards providing gigabit network capability within the department were discussed. A document outlining possible implementation is to be circulated for the next meeting.

Action: PJW

b) Email and shared calendar server

The perennial problem of Microsoft Outlook users requesting shared calendaring capabilities were discussed. Although the likely number of users is small, a pilot project installation of a Microsoft Exchange Server will be undertaken, subject to time constraints, to run in parallel with the on-going pilot project to install Groupwise, the equivalent package from Novell.

Action: MB/AMC

4. Head of IT Report

a) Lecture theatres / meeting rooms

The university-wide CETL bid for funds to support teaching has been successful but funding has been cut. A meeting on April 12th will apportion funds between departments. It is hoped to fund a project to link lecture theatres between Begbroke and central site in order to hold joint lectures.

Action: PJW/AMC

b) Publications

Researches in progress and the department website have been updated for 2004-5 (RMP noted thanks to PJW and AHM). The per-copy cost of the printed document Research In Progress 2004-5 are £2.79 (150copies). The per-copy costs of the Undergraduate Prospectus are 89p (6000copies).

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

a) IT Metrics

Input to the university-wide IT Metrics project surveying existing IT facilities/capabilities is due this term.

Action: PJW/AMC

b) Anti-virus software

The free university site-license for Sophos Enterprise Manager has enabled the department to fully automate updating of virus identities. Users will have noted an increased frequency (4hrly) of updating of their Sophos Anti-virus software.

6. IT/AV Expenditure

A verbal report was give by PJW. A breakdown of IT expenditure according to OSIRIS appears to tally with paper records apart from a few minor queries. Expenditure currently appears to be in-line with the budget for 2004/5. .

7 AOB – Theft of data-projector

One of the two portable data-projectors was stolen recently. After some discussion it was decided not to immediately replace it, but instead to monitor usage levels. AHM will email notices about the increased need for advance booking of the remaining data-projector. AHM will update the Photographic Unit webpage to take account of this change.

Action: AHM

8 Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting will take place on Tuesday 10th May 2005.

The meeting closed at 3.15pm