Oxford Materials IT Committee Meeting

2.00pm on 23 Oct 2002 21BR committee room


  • 1 Apologies for absence
  • 2 Matters arising from the minutes (minutes attached)
  • 3 IT/AV - matters for report (PJW)
  • 3a Mailing List policy
  • 3b Printing policy
  • 3c Fileserver policy
  • 3d Support policy
  • 4 DMAC - matters for report (AC)
  • 5 University IT Users Group - matters for report (PJW)
  • 6 IT/AV expenditure - matters for report (PJW)
  • 7 AOB
  • 8 Date and time of next meeting: Wednesday 23 Oct 2002 at 2pm.


Minutes of the IT/AV Committee held at 2.00pm on 23 Oct 2002

Present: SA, MB, AC, Alex Cock, AHM, GM, RMP, PJW

1. Apologies: JTC, SA, (GM)

2. Matters arising from the minutes

  • a) 2d PJW to collate and circulate document summarising all Department databases and who iis responsible for maintaining them. In consultation with Alex Cock, suggestions should be made how these might be rationalised to avoid double entry. (carried forward) Action: PJW/Alex Cock
  • b) 2e Kay Sims has been asked and has agreed to help PJW with the website (e.g. DC homepages)
    RMP/PJW to circulate to office staff details of IT training opportunities and procedures and make it clear that the Department expects them to make regular us of these opportunities to improve their IT skill. Action: PJW/RMP
  • c) 2f MatLab has been installed in MML on HP workstation. It was suggested that a Departmental license should be installed on the Teaching Lab computer network. Action: PJW/Alex Cock
  • d) 2g Commercial screen-saver to be implemented on Teaching network machines. Action: PJW/Alex Cock
  • e) 2i The route for an optic-fibre link to Begbroke has been surveyed and a project timetable developed. We hope funding will be finalised and the go-ahead given this year, but we will need to renew the maintenance on the existing microwave link, in the interim as this is critical infrastructure for Begbroke. PJW to monitor progress. Action: PJW
  • f) 3a An email has been circulated to notices@materials stating Departmental Rules for posting to the list.
  • g) 3b Monitoring of the usage of the digital darkroom has shown that students are printing multiple copies of theses using the facilities at the Departments expense. Currently the department bears these costs. Such usage should be discouraged, and there is clearly a need for print monitoring. This will be implemented when the new fileserver has been installed.
  • h) 3d The IT support policy will be reported to the next meeting of DC and all members of department notified. A draft newcomers checklist document has been prepared, but this has raised numerous questions about the wider issue of the departmental induction procedures. A meeting (AC,RMP.PJW) will be convened to discuss the induction procedures further.Action: PJW

3. IT/AV Matters for report (PJW)

  • a) Fileserver Policy. Quotations are being gathered for replacement of the fileserver in the new year. The replacement fileserver will aim to continue existing provsion and add provision sufficient to offer standard desktop machines to research groups, offer critical backup/filestorage, and enforce print monitoring.
  • b) Firewall policy. The department is installing a firewall system based upon New Colleges system. Hardware has been purchased and software customised. Registraiton of machines and system testing will take place over the next few months.
  • c) IT support policy drafted at the previous meeting seems to be functional. Policy to be reported to DC at the next meeting.Action: PJW
  • Other activities were reported:

    a. IP addresses are in short supply. Currently we are still reclaiming old addresses, however we are also implementing DHCP with a mixture of static and dynamic addresses for registered MAC addresses. The firewall also allow/disallows access on the basis of registered MAC addresses. We are also investigating moving network devices and printers onto private IP addresses.

    b. Phones at Begbroke. Currently adding new VOIP phones for HEIF staff and some internal people, at a cost of £250 per phone. AC/RMP noted their thanks to IT support staff for efforts in coordinating this and other issues related to the HEIF staff. Given the plans for fibre-optic link to Begbroke, RMP will investigate strategy for getting a standard exchange installed at Begbroke in order to remove the need for VOIP phones. Action: RMP

    c. Anti-virus software. This year we have added almost all Windows machines to the departmental Sophos anti-virus system. Mac computers can run sophos, but not centrally. PJW to prepare anti-virus advice for users of Mac computers running either Classic or OSX. Action: PJW

    d. Backup. This year a concerted effort will be made to ensure that more users make effective use of the HFS/TSM automatic backup system freely available for all computers. PJW to prepare a summary of existing departmental backup schedules and to generate summary advice on suitable backup and archive procedures for research groups. PJW to edit the Departmental Facilities&Proceedures Handbook to advise newcomers of these backup facilities. Action: PJW

    e. Security. Swipe-card door-access systems are being reviewed and proposals for securing all buildings are due to be presented at RIC. The teaching-lab door-access has been delayed in order to be considered as part of the larger scheme. Computer security services have blocked one hack (NanoSIMS) and two counts of music filesharing. Formal reprimand letters will be sent to those members of department concerned. All members of department are to be notified of the recent change in the rules that explicitly forbid filesharing of music files and similar. Monitoring of this type of computer usage will become easier when the new firewall has been installed. Action: PJW
  • e) Databases - carried over.

4. DMAC matters for report (AC) http://www.materials.ox.ac.uk/teaching

Nothing to report. Since there is rarely anything to be brought to the attention of this committee, this standing-item will be removed from the agenda. Specific items will be raised as the need arises.

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

  • a) Ermine shutdown has been brought forward due to security issues. All users have been contacted already and will be transferred to herald or deleted before the deadline. http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ermine-shutdown
  • b) Spam email is becoming a serious issue for many people. OUCS recommends deleting and filtering. Unfortunately filtering is a compromise between losing useful messages and receiving unwanted messages. OUCS are investigating technical solutions (e.g. SpamArrest) and will keep IT staff informed.

6. IT/AV Expenditure

  • a) IT expenditure in the 2001-02 financial year was within the £43k budget by ~£1k. Real expenditure was compared to predicted expenditure and several items identified for inclusion in the future budget. Next years budget has already been set by RIC last June at £53k for centre site and £10.6k for Begbroke. This exceeds the currently estimated IT expenditure (attached).
  • b) Publications expenditure was presented by AHM who coordinates all production and storage of publications. (attached) More strict control of how many copies of department handbooks this year has lead to savings of £1400 down to ~£1225). The undergraduate prospectus was reprinted at a cost of £3850 for 3000 copies which should last upto three years. It was noted that a schedule should be put in place for re-writing the undergraduate prospectus and that a graduate prospectus was also planned.

7. AOB

  • a) Membership of the committee. SA had decided that it was not necessary for him to attend the committee. PJW to request DJHC to suggest a replacement EM-representative in place of GM and GDWS to suggest a replacement academic representative in place of JTC. Action: PJW

8. Next Meeting:

Wednesday 29 Jan 2003 at 2pm.

Meeting Closed 4.50pm