23 November 2004

2004 IT Projects

Major projects funded in 2004 include:

New and replacement computers
245 new and replacement computers were purchased for the Division, including staff desktop, portable and student lab machines, covering replacement for three student labs; replacement of all the existing computers in the ILTC plus 20 new ones; portable computers for loan from the CRC and ILTC. Also 10 new servers were purchased: 7 new ones for the video recording and reticulation system, and 3 replacements for older servers.

Staff desktops for all full-time academic staff in the School of Languages and International Education, and some desktops used by part-time staff in the School, are being refreshed with new computers all capable of receiving, recording, editing and saving to DVD or streaming server, analogue television services from the RF reticulation system (the services available include foreign language services in Spanish, Japanese and Chinese, as well as the local analogue free-to-air channels, SBS World News, and a number of English-language news programs).

Data projection
Seven new data projectors were installed around the Division.

As required by the NILL group, four SmartBoards have been fitted around the Division, and anotherone installed in one of the teaching labs.

Mini Disc recorders
With the change in format of the mini disc recorders during the year, the Division purchased a number of the older format. The older format is compatible with other Divisional equipment, whereas the newer, HD format is not compatible. High maintenance costs with older recorders meant replacing them was sometimes more expensive than purchasing new ones, where stock of the older format was still available.

Digital SLR still camera
The Division's photographic service is now fully digital, with Alan Nicol purchasing a Nikon D70 camera and parts for taking marketing photos and documenting Divisional activities. No more waiting for processing, scanning images and managing bits of film and paper photos: the results are available immediately for print or electronic delivery. Also no more film processingreduces ongoing costs.

Microteaching upgrades
The Microteaching rooms can now be used to videotape presentations, lectures, demonstrations, counselling interviews and a range of other activities using 2 cameras, a computer, and/or the SmartBoard. VHS and miniDV formats for recording and playback to monitor or video projector are both supported; the sound quality has been greatly improved; and lighting will be renewed soon. It is even possible, with some additional hardware (and expertise), to stream the live activities in the rooms over the Internet.

eMeeting Videoconferencing
The hardware and software required to allow videoconferencing between desktop computers has been purchased and will be installed for testing in January. A one-year trial licence of Marratech eMeeting will be available in calendar 2005 to see whether the Division (or the University) can use this approach to teaching.

The limited twelve-month licence we have purchased will allow for one unlimited "auditorium" session at a time, where any number of participants can join in, and 20 "mix-and-match" seats that can be used in any combination to provide say two concurrent 10-seat tutorials, or four 5-seat tutorials, or any other combination up to twenty concurrent participants.

A perpetual licence will cost around $70,000 for the same capacity, with an annual maintenance charge of $12,000 ($82,000 in the first year including the maintenance charge, then $12,000 per year after that for software maintenance and support), should the University wish to continue with the service after 2005.

Participants will be able to video and/or audio conference (if they have a video camera and microphone), text chat, and share a whiteboard or screen shots of applications and presentations with the whole group. While the licence for the server software that allows all this to happen is expensive, the end-user's client is free and can be downloaded from the Internet for Macintosh, UNIX or Windows computers.

Satellite reticulation and recording
The ongoing saga of the satellite system continues, but huge progress has been made: six terrestrial and 11 satellite television services, and three local and four satellite radio services are now available on the RF networks in Buildings 1, 5, 9 and 20, and linked to the CIT. A Video on Demand Server with 10 TB of storage (that should be enough for over 3,000 hours of high quality video, including backup and working files) is installed and being commissioned, and as a trial the First Test between Australia and New Zealand was available streaming live over the University network in full digital splendour if you knew where to look.

MacWorld San Francisco 2005

IT & Media Services Manager is off to San Francisco.

The Apple University Consortium has awarded Manager, IT & Media Services a scholarship for the January 2005 MacWorld Conference and Expo in San Francisco. Eight scholarships were awarded to people from Universities throughout Australia, including UNSW, Monash, Curtin, Newcastle, UWA, UQ and ECU. See the Apple University Consortium website for more information.

Callista for Macintosh computers

The new student management system doesn’t necessarily run well on all platforms used on campus...

While the latest release of Callista is now Macintosh compatible, the University has decided not to support it for Macintosh computers because of security concerns. The Technical Services Unit has therefore implemented an alternative, interim, solution where Macintosh users in the Division are provided with secure network access to PCs running Callista so they can do their jobs effectively.