Monday, 25 October 2010

Facebook in Numbers

With credit to (October 2010)

500 Million active facebook users (same as combined population of the EU)
130 average number of friends for each user
4 countries who have banned it (Syria, China, Vietnam and Iran)
3 free meals offered to Facebook employees every working day. They also get a choice of complimentary IBM THinkpad or macBook Pro
100 languages including "pirate" that Faceboo's Translations application supports

Hoping to find time to see Fincher's film The Social Network this week

Monday, 18 October 2010

Estate Agent tells of road sewage ordeal (subtitle: Crapper in the Crap)

You probably couldn't make this up - even for a publicity stunt - for Sheffield Estates Agents Thomas Crapper (Sheffield Weekly Gazette last week). Most unfortunate - a candidate for HIGNFY.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Laptop Bar

On balance it appears to have been a good decision to turn the laptop bar back into a laptop bar.

Calderdale Mountain Bike Challenge 2010

On Sunday a number of friends entered the annual mountain bike marathon challenge of about 26 miles of the toughest off-road in Calderdale and possibly England. I was a DNF (Did Not Finish) in 2009 due to three punctures and lack of motivation to climb the final hill to Sowerby rather than downhill to home. The year before it was just over 5 hours. This year made a big leap to 4 hours 12 minutes which is therefore a Personal Best but unfortunately the fastest got round in 2 hours. I am definitely out of shape again and could have done rather better carrying at least a stone less ballast. Oh well, there's always next year. The pictures are the start at Millbank and Garry having a rest half way round on Midgely Moor. Full results and photographs here.

Monday, 11 October 2010

More University Visits

We continue our trail across the country visiting Business Schools and also taking time to visit the other campus highlights. THis last week has included Northumbria and Liverpool. The visit to Northumbria included a coupld of business meetings and a tour of the Library/Infomation Service and I particularly noted the Basement concept on the lower ground floor (like the floor that some call "the bunker" in JBP Building, the vending machines that are scattered liberally including on floors with books, and the open invitation to carry hot drinks around the building. What will they think of next those Librarians in Northumbria are on the edge of reason. Here are some snapshots.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

IT Services Newsletter #22

Welcome to another newsletter as we settle into the beginning of another academic session. While wandering around the campuses and speaking to various people over the last few weeks I’ve observed anecdotally that despite the doom and gloom in the economy generally, Bradford appears to have bucked the trend with recruitment of "good quality" students from both a national and international perspective. The increased student numbers means we are practically running most undergraduate courses at full capacity. We appear to have successfully supported the on-line pre-enrolment, enrolment and registration processes for key academic and administrative systems. As normal, there have been occasional queues and the odd process glitch however, for the vast majority of our students the overall intake experience has hopefully been positive from the IT Services perspective. Thank you to everyone who has helped to make that happen. More details on this follow.


Office Moves and Changes
There were a number of moves and changes over the last month and whilst the changes haven’t been to everyone’s liking, I think we have met the objectives of co-locating the IT infrastructure team and re-creating four more group study rooms for student use. We have also closed and are now in the process of fully relocating the open access student PC cluster at the back of the building (01.23 and 01.35). The communal "un-numbered" room is now set up with hot and cold water and seating on a trial basis. Last week I met with Steve Jenkins to run through all the designs from a couple of years ago as we begin to plan for the refurbishment of Level 01 proper although we do not yet have a timetable or budget for that. There will be a full consultation process of course once (if?) we get the approvals.

IT Systems Team

About UoB mobile app launched (also appearing in Mark Cleary’s October newsletter)
In time for the start of term we have launched the new ‘AboutUOB’ mobile service, bringing a wealth of information to student’s mobile phones. It’s a great example of supporting students and communicating with them through channels we know they have ready access to. Many thanks to John, Jacqui and all the other colleagues who have made this happen. We’ve got nearly 200 registered users already, mainly as a result of the fresher’s fayre. Of those 75% are iPhones / iPads, 15% are using the web based version, and 10% are other (meaning Blackberry). There’s evidence to suggest that Blackberrys are popular with students in our University. There is a flyer attached, Please make your suggestions on how this service can be developed for students and for staff – we are active members of the User Group and can influence future development.

Confirmation and Clearing
Receipt of A-Level results was handed over from the IT Systems to the SAINT team this year following the departure of Susan Fellows. The process worked as expected, so well done to everyone involved. The Clearing reporting suite was updated and used again, this time in conjunction with further reporting from Ben Clark in the user area. Decision-making was therefore possible due to accurate information reporting.

Mass enrolment of new students started a week earlier than usual, with training on the scanning operation preceding 12 days of enrolment. The 8 new scanners in the Great and Small Halls worked well under load and over the period a total of over 8,000 documents were scanned, containing approximately 100,000 images and all these were immediately accessible in eFile. On the ground support and management of the operation was provided.

Support for Disability Service
A process has been developed to automatically load the results from completed Dyslexia Monitoring questionnaires into SAINT. This is achieved by scanning the documents into eFile and populating the results directly into SAINT. This data was previously re-keyed by the Disability Office, 535 sheets were done on the first day of operation alone. The Disability Office is also using their scanner to digitise student files, with 560 having been created so far.

IT Infrastructure Team

All Systems are Green
A quick glance at the IT Service status pages, confirms that the infrastructure and core systems were "up and running" without significant interruption during the whole of September. Sometimes its the things that go right which can sometimes be overlooked, rather than recovering when a service has a problem (although that is equally important of course). Thanks to everyone involved for the pro-active monitoring of those key services during the critical periods.

Message from School of Computing Informatics and Media
Thanks for contacting me this afternoon, I would like you to pass on my thanks to Simon, Chris and Dave who have helped us over the last 2 months or so. Simon for supporting us with the Pharos system which seems to be working well and meeting our specialist requirements, Chris for his work on account synchronisation and Dave for helping us get RMS working in my team which we are now using extensively. All 3 have been very responsive to our needs and gone out of their way to help us. Their efforts will, I’m sure, have a positive impact on our users and improved the efficiency of our operations. Much appreciated.

RoamNet Changes for October
During October (and then it will be reviewed) the limitation on mobile devices that you can connect to RoamNet has been lifted at customer request – basically if you have multiple wireless devices you can now connect them on campus simultaneously. We will be monitoring the effect that this has on the network and on the service overall, with a view to extending if successful.

IT Support and Telecoms Team
It has been a very busy period for all in the team with the various physical moves and changes (like Student Central and student PC cluster imaging) and the setting up and tearing down of the Clearing operation, Great Hall and Small Hall configurations. Thank you for doing all of this and keeping the business as usual stuff under a reasonable level of control as well.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Cheap runabout for sale (nine eleven) - red braces optional

After six years together we are planning on ending our relationship. The elderly model is now approaching 30 years old (January) and is looking for a quiet retirement home with a like-minded car enthusiast who will enjoy the completely over-the-top, wind-in-the-hair 1980's experience with supercar performance for less than the cost of a new Ford Fiesta and with no depreciation either. So even though I know that this is highly unlikely (this car is definitely a niche within a niche) if you or anyone you know might be interested in an open-top Porsche 911 that won't fall to bits or cost you a fortune be quick as this one's currently available .