28 October 2003

creative commissioning

A new server for the use of new media staff and students has finally been commissioned.

creative, the server that was purchased among other things for staff and students in the School of Creative Communication to store their media files and develop static and interactive websites, has now been commissioned to use the University's Active Directory authentication system. Apple Professional Services undertook the work, which was paid for from a research fund. Spending a small amount of money in this way has allowed us to bring a service online that we would otherwise not have had the time or resources to complete this semester.

The contractor has provided us with the means to relatively simply give users (for example students in nominated subjects) access to server space and website development space (including the ability to create dynamic websites with PHP and mySQL) when these resources are required for assessment. Users can access their space from PCs or Macintosh computers on campus via the network, and remotely via ftp.

Access to the Microteaching Rooms

Changes to the way the Micoteaching rooms are locked is causing some problems for staff and students.

Last year Security advised us on a number of occasions that the Microteaching Rooms in Building 5 were found unlocked. Since these rooms contain videorecording facilities, there is some risk of theft, so closers were installed on the doors and the locks modified so the doors always locked when closed.

Now the doors are often found propped open (with no-one in the vicinity), or there are complaints that the rooms are locked and Security won’t open them because they are not Category A rooms. All Building 5 staff keys open the doors, but out of normal business hours it is sometimes difficult for staff and students with legitimate requirements to access the rooms to find someone with an appropriate key.

Where the booking is in the timetable (and the incident that led to this report is in the timetable), Security should open the room. It becomes a little more problematic when students are making out-of-hours bookings for the rooms to record their own presentations (as happens in a number of subjects). Subject convenors may need to give Security a list of students who might reasonably be expected to be given access to the rooms, and Security can then open the rooms if required for students whose names appear on the lists.

Video Projection in 9C25

Work has been completed on the installation of video and data projection facilities in the Division's Conference Room.

With the completion of the work from Millennium Audiovisual, the Division's Conference Room is now set up for video and data projection.

In the past, the TSU has accepted bookings through the helpdesk for this service, with a member of staff setting up and taking down the equipment as required.

Staff (and postgraduate students) requiring the facility will now be required to bring or book through the CRC any additional equipment they need for presentations in this room. Instructions for operating the equipment are supplied, and helpdesk will show members of staff how to connect the equipment and operate the system if required.

Courses and Subject database

The new UC Courses and Subjects database will go live on 31 October 2003 as the new UC Handbook.

The new UC Courses and Subjects database will go live on 31 October 2003 as the new UC Handbook. You can preview the database at http://www.canberra.edu.au/courses/ and any feedback should be provided to the technical or content contacts listed at the bottom of each page.

For a number of years the Division has had its own version of courses information which to a large extent mirrors the handbook information: we have been told on a number of occasions that our duplication of the handbook data is not appropriate and it should be removed, pointing at the official information instead. Now that the new database is in place, we should remove all the duplicate information in our own web pages and point at the “official” information instead.

We will lose the graduate profile links we have used in the past, but these may be out of date anyway.

Callista on Macintosh Computers

A recent presentation to Executive from the Callista implementation team revealed that it will not be possible, at least initially, to access the student management system from Macintosh computers.

Following the presentation from the Phoenix team at Executive on 17 October 2003, the Manager, TSU, contacted Apple Computer Australia in relation to the lack of Macintosh support for the Callista client application.

Callista Software Services (CSS: developers of the Callista Student Management System) is working towards a release in the first half of 2004 of a Callista client that will work on Macintosh. It is unclear whether the Phoenix team intend to take advantage of this version of the Callista software: from the comments at Executive they may be intending to roll out this update in July 2004.

The Callista client is a Java application that if developed in accordance with the Java standard should be able to run on either Macintosh or Windows. Java is a platform-independent programming language developed by Sun Microsystems. Java programs, or applets, can be launched from a Web browser, or run on a Web server, or may operate independently from the Web. Java is also increasingly being used for application programs like word processors, spreadsheets, and database front-ends.

While the current version of the Callista client should work on the Macintosh, there may be problems with the display of some of the reports that make the reports difficult to use.

At the University of Western Australia, a web browser will provide access to the Callista software to deliver services. It will run on Macintosh computers, although there will be some slight differences between the way it operates on Macintoshes and PCs. Web access to the system at the University of Canberra is being provided for students through Callista Web Connect (software developed by Callista): the Phoenix team sought clarification on whether an OPUS-like interface to Callista was to be included in the project, but it appears the web-access functionality for staff will not be available, at least not in the first release.

20 October 2003

Radio and television services: draft list

The current draft list of radio and television services, sourced from free-to-air terrestrial and satellite services, to be available around the Division where there are aerial outlets on the RF network.

Update March 2005 Note that the services are now up: see http://www.ce.canberra.edu.au/tsu/tv.htm for a current list of the available services.

The Division has been planning the development of a radio and television reception and reticulation service for a number of years now.

After much consultation and discussion, the radio and television services in the table below are expected to be available via the RF network in the Division once the infrastructure to receive the signals and reticulate them is installed in Building 20.

The project was originally expected to be completed by the beginning of Semester 1, 2004, but there are now delays while approval from the ACT Planning and Land Authority (ACTPLA) and the University's Buildings and Site Committee is obtained.






ABC TV [analogue]



Analog TV


TEN [analogue]



Analog TV


PRIME [analogue]



Analog TV


WIN [analogue]



Analog TV


SBS [analogue]

TerrestrialAnalog TV
6TVESpanishAsiasat 2MPEG TV
7RAIItalianAsiasat 2MPEG TV
8TV5FrenchAsiasat 2MPEG TV
9Bloomberg TV AsiaEngish & MandarinAsiasat 3SMPEG TV
10Channel NewsAsiaEnglishAsiasat 3SMPEG TV
11CCTV4Mandarin (?)Asiasat 3SMPEG TV
12CCTV9English!Asiasat 3SMPEG TV
13NHKJapanesePanamsat 8MPEG TV
14BBC World ServiceEnglishPanamsat 8MPEG TV
15ABC Services and FeedsEnglishOptus B1MPEG TV
16Commercial feedsEnglishOptus B1MPEG TV
Steerable dishMPEG TV
18ABC News RadioEnglishTerrestrialAM Radio
19Radio NationalEnglishTerrestrialAM Radio
202CNEnglishTerrestrialAM Radio
21REESpanishAsiasat 2MPEG Radio
22RAI RadioItalianAsiasat 2MPEG Radio
23French RadioFrenchAsiasat 2MPEG Radio
24Additional MPEG TVMandarin*MPEG TV
25Additional MPEG TVMandarin*MPEG TV
26Additional MPEG RadioMandarin*MPEG Radio
27Additional MPEG RadioJapanese*MPEG Radio
28Program GuideVideo onlyPCRGB

* To be sourced from the proposed fixed dishes once end users identify suitable services.

Satellite service guides can be found at (Note that not all services on these satellites are available in Australia due to encryption or beam coverage).

http://www.lyngsat.com/ http://www.satcodx.com/

14 October 2003

Wi-Fi networking

Report of Wi-Fi networking in Adelaide universities.

While in Adelaide recently to attend a conference, the Manager, TSU, took time to speak to some people regarding the rollout of wireless networking at the University of South Australia.

The University covers five campuses in the Adelaide metropolitan area, and a regional centre in Whyalla. The first part of the rollout was completed in July 2003 at the University's City West campus near the centre of Adelaide. Depending on finances, wireless networking is expected to be rolled out across the other Uni of SA campuses by the end of 2004. Staff and students supply their own equipment to access the network. They must download a Virtual Private Network (VPN) client to access the system, and use their standard login to access the network.

The VPN client, guides and configuration files are available for download to staff and students with Uni of SA log-ons. A website covering the use of the wireless networking resources is maintained at http://www.unisa.edu.au/ists/Wirelessnetworks/default.asp, where there are links to all the resources and information required (some accessible only to Uni of SA staff and students) to access and use the wireless network.

Users of the system are warned that malicious code may enter the University's network via a wireless connection, and are given detailed information about ensuring their computers are suitably protected. Staff are allowed to install the University's anti-virus software on their own computers, but students are urged to purchase their own anti-virus software and must install it themselves.

Paul Sherlock, Director of IT Services at Uni of SA was quoted in a press release from Netgear (the company which supplied the base stations), saying "A big issue for universities will always be space, especially as student numbers increase. As university learning environments become increasingly online focused, student demand for on-campus PC workstations keeps growing the actual space to put them in doesn't," Paul said. "Our solution was to provide a wireless network that could be accessed using the students' own notebook computers from anywhere in the campus, ultimately relieving the demand on the PC workstations. Now, both students and staff are able to access teaching and learning resources more freely. Visiting staff from other campuses can hook up to the network effortlessly." [see http://www.netgear.com.au/pressroom/press_releasesdetail.asp?id=107 for the press release]

Electrical Testing in the Division

After a long lead time, the testing of the Division’s electrical equipment has begun.

The University's electrical contractors, Gungahlin Electrical, has commenced the testing and tagging of electrical equipment in the Division. The Division has agreed to this electrical testing to demonstrate its duty of care in relation to the safety of electrical equipment used by staff and students.

Staff need to be tolerant of the needs of the contractors to test equipment, which will need to be disconnected to be tested.

The contractors are required to test all pieces of electrical equipment they find: whether the property of the University or not. Any piece of electrical equipment in the University needs to be tested, and untested or failed equipment should not be plugged in.

Two TSU staff members are to attend a CIT course this weekend that will give them the authority to do minor testing and repairs so that the operations of the Division can proceed without too much intrusion.

Network Storage for Divisional Students

Client Services Division has begun to enforce 20MByte quotas on student home drives.

Recently Client Services Division has begun to enforce quotas on student home drives. The 20MByte limit on student home drives was always specified, but not enforced until recently.

Students in the Division of Communication and Education, especially journalism, new media and ICT in education students, routinely require more than this amount of space for their work, so the enforcement of the quota has left them without sufficient network storage space.

In the short term TSU has made available space on the Division's servers on an ad hoc basis where requested. This is a manual task and quite labour intensive, and the experience the users have in accessing the space can be confusing.

In the long term the Division will need to increase the amount of storage available to those students with legitimate needs beyond those that can be satisfied with the storage made available through Client Services Division. TSU is currently engaged with an outside contractor to provide some automation to the process, so that additional space can be made available to students in nominated subjects without too much effort on our part, while there is storage space available.

Satellite Dish installation

Update on the installation of the satellite dishes on Building 20.

Installation of the satellite dishes on Building 20 has hit a bit of a snag: Facilities and Services Director Graham McDonald has informed our preferred supplier that there are a number of issues that require approval and checking before the project can go ahead.

These include approval from the Buildings and Site Committee and PALM (or its current successor organisation). As well it is necessary to check the strength of the supporting beams in line with the equipment to be installed. To ensure adequate strength it will be necessary for a Structural Engineer to be given the appropriate information to enable them to carry out the calculations.

We are trying to resolve these issues with the various parties.

Equipment loss

More loan equipment has been damaged.

There has been a significant increase in instances of loss or damage to loan equipment in the Division over the second semester. In the last two weeks, a portable computer has had its screen damaged, and one of our new Sony miniDV video cameras was damaged beyond repair before its second use.

There is still no clear indication of what has happened to the camera, but during its second loan it and the other items in the kit were discovered to be covered in corrosion. Investigations are continuing but no-one seems to be able to tell us what happened to the camera: it appears that something like mineral water was spilled into the camera case sometime before it was opened during its first loan in the new media lab on Friday, 3 October 2003. After being cleaned up and stored with still some of the liquid apparently remaining in the case until the following Wednesday, the camera and its accessories became extremely corroded.

The camera cannot be repaired and is unusable.

IT Loan 2004 Bids

The IT and Infrastructure Committee has reviewed requests for expenditure from the Division’s 2004 IT Loan Account, and has made recommendations to the Executive on priorities for expenditure.

The Divisional IT & Infrastructure Committee gave its initial assessment of bids received from the Division for expenditure from an IT Loan account for 2004. A updated list with ratings will be distributed at the Executive meeting on Friday.

Major features of the bids so far recommended by the IT & Infrastructure Committee include:

  • Upgrade to the ICT in Education student lab to replace failing PCs, and to the teaching lab to allow presentations to be streamed over the Internet;
  • Upgrade to the New Media Lab to bring it more into line with current technologies;
  • Server Upgrades for the Division to ensure higher reliability of the Division's network services;
  • Some production equipment upgrades to ensure compliance with OH&S requirements;
  • Additional data projectors in some of the Division's teaching spaces; and
  • A new photocopier to replace the OcĂ© in Building 1.

IT & Infrastructure Committee will finalise a recommendation to the Executive at the Committee’s next meeting in early November.