Oxford Materials IT Committee Meeting

A meeting of the Department of Materials IT Committee was held at 11am on Tuesday 23rd October 2012 in the PR Meeting Room.


  • 1 Apologies for absence and Membership of the Committee
  • 2 Matters oustanding from the previous meeting
  • 3 Matters for discussion (attached)
  • 4 Head of IT report (attached)
  • 5 Finances (PJW)
  • 6 AOB
  • 7 Date and time of next meeting: Tuesday 29th January 2013 at 11am in PR meeting room


See minutes below.




The report below summarises activities since the last meeting of ITC, as categorised by topic. The report is intended for record rather than for discussion at ITC meeting although queries may arise.

Admin Network Staff changes included Carol->Lorraine and Toni->Zoe->Jo. Several software packages were upgraded due to security alerts. New computer supplied for Lorraine Laird and replacement computers for Librarian and Alana. Also purchased two scanners (Toni, Lorraine). GDWS was migrated off Novell to a standalone pc.

Teaching LaboratoryAll computers were given a check-over before Michaelmas term. The teaching laboratory is due to for a full review this academic year.

Lecture theatres / meeting rooms All rooms checked at end of term and before start of term. New video conference system installed in 21BR. Department also now has a WebEx account for video conference meetings.

Digital Print-room A second-hand printer was obtained free from LMH to act as a spare for our aging HPCLJ5500n printers. Over the summer we have been conducting a trial using remanufactured toner cartridges in the print-room colour printer. The potential cost saving is significant (£45 versus £160 per toner) however our tests have encountered problems with reliability and increased jamming so we have changed to a different supplier (£60/toner) and are continuing to test whilst monitor performance. The equivalent printer for admin staff still uses original toners. The metal-strip binding machine failed and has not been replaced. There is still the binding machine in reception conveniently located close to stores which supplies the metal strip binders.

Library New computer for librarian and replaced failed librarypc2 with trickle-down pc.

MML Increased usage of the clusters has led to regular problems with crashed nodes causing inconvenience to users and sysadmin however a solution seems to have been implemented successfully. Allinea DDT was purchased and installed for Daniel Jones. AK has departed but the cluster landau has remained in Oxford and is being used remotely.

EM The online equipment booking system is being rewritten to replace the Cothi system.

MFFP As part of a DTN a series of lectures in 21BR are being broadcast to York University. A Tandberg Edge95 video conference system was installed in 21BR and tested. IT staff are attending the start of each lecture to troubleshoot any connection problems.

OMCS The BegbrokeNano website was replaced.


PSecurity updates were applied to (9) pmwiki sites and (10) cmsmadesimple sites. However www.materials and www-solar.materials still need attention in order to be upgradable to the current version of CMS made simple.

New sites http://biomaterials.materials.ox.ac.uk http://gadest.materials.ox.ac.uk Also several websites are under development to replace existing sites:
http://www-em.materials.ox.ac.uk (pmwiki) EM/Gareth Hughes
http://www-eia.materials.ox.ac.uk (pmwiki) AIK

Publications Over the summer about 20 people requested business card printing. Department handbooks were printed and bound for the new year – thanks to Chris Akinola. Total numbers of handbooks required have decreased, due to only providing electronic version of lecture synopses, however the process was still rushed due to late supply of electronic copy.

Network More than 16 second-hand 10/100 network switches have been obtained for free from Engineering Science which can be used as spare replacements for any switches that fail. There have been numerous communications with NG about setting-up a separate network linking her group areas at Begbroke.

Security Sophos was upgraded to version 10 department-wide and the new web-content functionality was enabled to block access to website known to cause infections and to advise users if websites are suspicious. An incorrect virus definition in Sophos Antivirus broke at least 270 instances of Sophos all around the department and took many days of work to fix. Almost all computers have now been migrated to the new Sophos Enterprise Console management system on our new virtualised server infrastructure. Similarly almost all computers have now been migrated to the new virtualised Microsoft Windows Update Server. A new system has been implemented to enable users to change their department passwords online https://pwm.materials.ox.ac.uk/pwm. A handful of systems have required reinstallation due to virus infections. The Jeol2200 was blocked again due to infection. The Jeol2200 router has been replaced and further attempts at disinfection are still being undertaken. Mysql injection attacks were reported by OxCERT and investigated and the old Begbrokenano website was decommissioned. Several changes to the department firewall rules were implemented.

Disposal WEEE disposal happened on 4th Oct. [48 CRT monitor, 16 printers, 18computers plus lots of other waste electronic components.]

Software Windows Fortran compiler still needs renewing. Department has joined Earth Sciences and Engineering in adopting Scientia time-tabling software and is working towards implementation for January 2013. Implictly the use of Scientia will require replacement of room booking system. Will Hanrott is working 5%FTE to support our use of Scientia.

Disaster Recovery and Backup Ironman raid array corrupted. 4Tb was recovered before reinstallation.

New Device registrations May: 12; June: 15; July: 13; Aug: 6; Sept: 33;


A meeting of the Department of Materials IT Committee was held at 11am on Tuesday 23rd October 2012 in the PR Meeting Room.
The following people attended: APD, PJW, AMC, KSc, CA, RT, SCB, EG, KSu.
Apologies: Phil Edmondson (who was abroad).

1. Apologies for Absence and Membership of the Committee

PJW circulated a request for a representative for Fellows to replace Grigore Moldovan. Both Phil Edmondson and Kumar Sundaram offered their services therefore it was decided that both will join the committee.

Over the summer JDM resigned from ITC. PJW has been speaking to CRMG about possible replacement academic representative. [After meeting Jonathan Yates has agreed to join committee.]

2. Matters arising from the minutes

(Items marked with * were not for discussion at the meeting)

a) *IT disaster recovery plans (Minute 2a)
PJW will expand documentation to include more details about these servers and services which need to include service/server location, failover design, backup location(s) and specific configurations. Levels of ‘disaster need to be defines and procedures to recover services written.

Action: PJW

b) *Podcasting (Minute 2b)
There has been no progress converting the schools liaison audio material into a format which could be used to start a series of audio podcasts.

Action: PJW/SCB

c) *PC maintenance – OUCS computer hardware breakdown service (Minute 2c)

PJW has now incorporated warranty expiry information into an online database of IT assets. Warranty information is being populated as new assets are registered.

A process is still required for (automatic?) notification of owners that their warranty is due to expire and directing them to the IT services hardware breakdown scheme if warranty is required – such as for laptops.

Action: PJW/CA

d) IT strategic plan (Minute 2d)
PJW still needs to rework the draft strategy document into a questionnaire.

Action: PJW/APD

e) *Server Infrastructure upgrade (Minute 2e)

The virtualising of the Department servers, including the file server replacement is on-going. There is a question of load to the SAN occasionally causing non responsiveness. For this reason further testing of the file servers is being undertaken. A plan to migrate groups of users is also being formulated. One or more of these groups may be asked to help with load testing. The overall aim is to migrate all users with the minimum of disruption.

Action: AMC

f) *Photocopying and Printing (Minute 2g)
When time permits the network printers will be migrated from the old iPrint server with Pcounter print monitoring to the new iPrint servers with Papercut-MF print monitoring.

Action: AMC

g) Draft Information Security Policy (Minute 3b)
The majority of this meeting was devoted to discussion of the supporting documents concerning the new University Information Security Policy.
- http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/media/global/wwwadminoxacuk/localsites/legalservicesoffice/documents/Information_Security_Memo_1_Aug_2012.pdf
- http://www.ox.ac.uk/media/global/wwwoxacuk/localsites/gazette/documents/supplements2012-13/Information_Security_Policy_(1)_to_No_4998.PDF
- www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/network/security/ISBP/toolkit/
PJW to prepare a one page summary of ITC advice for DC.
- The University Information Security Policy requires departments to have a local Information Security policy.
- ITC recommends DC appoint a Departmental Information Security Officer (who will need to work with others, notably APD and AOT plus others, to develop the local IS policy)
- ITC recommends DC allocate some secretarial support to help manage collating inputs from all staff, to help prepare draft policy, and to help manage annual review of assets.

Action: PJW

h) Website – Athena Swan (Minute 6a)
The Department was awarded the Athena Swan Silver status which was advertised on the department website as a news item and as permanent logos on the recruitment webpages. APD has changed the Facilities & Procedures handbook into the Department Handbook adding extra information relevant to Athena Swan, and further new content will be developed under the new Athena SWAN committee.

i) Website - Contacts (Minute 6b)
PJW implemented a new webpage to make it easier for people to contact people by role. http://www.materials.ox.ac.uk/contacts/roles.html
In addition the new Department Handbook now contains extra information about the roles of individual department staff.

3 Matters for Discussion

There were no other matters for discussion.

4. Head of IT Report

A written report was circulated with the agenda. (see above)

5. Finances

PJW reported verbally that 2011-2012 finances were slightly over budget (£31.5k versus £30k) mainly due to the Origin expenditure £3416 budgeted into 2010-11 falling within 2011-12. PJW to circulate financial breakdown to the committee.

Action: PJW

6. AOB


7. Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting is on Tuesday 29th January 2013 at 11am in PR meeting room.

The meeting closed at 12.40am